Road Trip!

Last month we headed out on a little weekend road trip. We’ve explored a lot of this state, but mostly in the summer time and mostly south of where we live. And by a lot, I mean as much as we possibly can with small children, a limited road system, and no private plane or boat. For something different we decided to head north and explore some of Interior Alaska.

Day 1: We left the house at 7am and drove almost nonstop for 7 hours, until finally arriving at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Chena is a popular winter destination located about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. I will say, it’s not the fanciest place I’ve ever been, but it’s definitely very Alaskan. The main attractions are hot springs rock lake, the ice museum, and the northern lights. There were people staying from all over the world, all hoping to see the northern lights.

Our favorite attraction was the pool. After grabbing a bite to eat at the resort restaurant, we headed to the pool and spent the rest of the day there. The girls had a blast! Lillian found a friend and was swimming all over the place in her Puddle Jumper. Hazel just chilled out in her floatie with a cute little smile on her face. They weren’t able to sit in the hot springs but could sit in the outdoor hot tub. Pretty cool stuff when you’re one and two years old. ;)

IMG_4671

IMG_0289

IMG_4394

IMG_4682

Day 2: The next morning Lillian and I went to the pool. Again. After we checked out of our room, we took a tour through the ice museum. The ice museum was interesting. Unfortunately, the girls were getting hungry and tired so we kinda rushed through it.

On to The North Pole. I mean, North Pole. North Pole, Alaska. I have been dying to visit North Pole, ideally around Christmas time but I’ll take what I can get. North Pole is a little town south of Fairbanks, where it’s Christmas year-round. We had lunch at a restaurant featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives, visited the famous Santa Claus House, and stopped to take pictures in front of the ‘Welcome to North Pole’ sign. There’s not a ton to do in North Pole, but it’s one of those “go there just to say you’ve been there” type places. Personally, I thought it was great. The street lights look like candy canes. How cute is that?

Next up, Skinny Dicks Halfway Inn. Oh my gosh, I feel dumb even typing that. It was a highlight for Blake, so I guess I better mention it. Just like I’ve been dying to visit North Pole, he’s been dying to have a beer at Skinny Dicks. Our first summer in Alaska he and his buddies actually planned an entire motorcycle trip around Skinny Dicks. They ended up running into snow near Denali National Park and had to turn around and head home. He’s been bummed out about that trip for three years. Seriously, three years. He finally got his wish. He and my brother had a beer in the bar and browsed the gift shop. The girls and I had a snack in the car and stretched our legs. Good stuff.

Our last stop on Day 2 was our rental house in Healy. Blake found a nice little place with a great view. We spent the rest of the night eating and watching Netflix. The perfect way to end a busy day.

IMG_4471

IMG_0322

IMG_4410

IMG_0325

IMG_4456

IMG_0328

IMG_4439

IMG_4523

IMG_4504

IMG_4512

IMG_4568

NYPM8239

IMG_4564

Day 3: We had planned to head right home, maybe stopping for lunch along the way. However, we woke up to beautiful weather and decided that we might as well take a drive through Denali National Park. The park entrance is only a short drive from Healy, in the direction we were headed. How could we not? We’ve been through the park a few times, but only in the summer and fall when it’s pretty crowded. It was a treat to be one of the only vehicles on the park road. The highlight (maybe of the entire trip) was when a small herd of caribou crossed the road right in front of our vehicle. Blake spotted them a long way out and could tell that they were looking for a place to cross. So we sat and waited and sure enough, they crossed… right in front of us! Very exciting.

When we reached the turnaround point of the road we got out to take a short hike. There are few things in life Lillian loves more than hiking. She’s such a little explorer. She’s always leading the way and sprinting down the trail. At one point she wanted to go down by some water. Of course, Uncle volunteered to take her down. The rest of us stayed on the trail and watched. When they got back she said, “Mom, it’s pretty dangerous down there. You gotta stay here. You can’t go down there. It’s too dangerous for you.” Ooooook, Lillian. Got it. ;)

On the drive home we had bluebird views of Denali, maybe the clearest I’ve ever seen. It was breathtaking. We did make one last stop in Trapper Creek for lunch before heading home.

IMG_4704

IMG_4588

IMG_4614

IMG_4597

IMG_4631

IMG_4788Traveling with kids is an adventure in itself. The girls are pretty good travelers, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about how they’d handle all the driving, sleeping in weird places, and getting in and out of their car seats so much. They did so great! I packed a ton of food and books to keep them entertained. We didn’t even have to bust out an electronic device until the last half hour from Chena and from home. Proud mama right here! Towards the end of the trip Lillian was actually excited to get back in the car because that meant we were headed to a new and exciting place. When we buckled them in after our final stop for lunch she said, “Where we going now guys?!?!” We felt bad telling her that we were headed home.

Until next time,
Briana

p.s. I did a quick calculation and we traveled about 850 miles in 3 days. Not bad.

 

Camping | Seward Waterfront Park

Last weekend we went on our first camping trip of the season. We’ve been eager to get out after a long 9 month hiatus. This trip was worth the wait.

We’ve never camped in Seward before because 1) we normally prefer more secluded/rustic camping and 2) Waterfront Park is first come first serve and always fills up fast. We hoped that if we headed to Seward before tourist season we could get a waterfront site offering views of Resurrection Bay that would trump almost all the rustic/secluded camping we’ve ever done. Our plan worked. We pulled into the park late Friday afternoon and had our choice of waterfront sites. Although, it did fill up hours after we arrived. Pretty sure everyone had the same idea we did.

We spent the rest of the day and night setting up, eating, throwing rocks, picking dandelions, and relaxing around the campfire. All the flowers in the pictures are dandelions. Lillian kept saying, “Mom, look at these beautiful daffodils I picked for you. Wanna smell them?!” and Hazel’s nose and mouth were yellow the entire trip from huffing them. Kids are the best.

Bedtime was a little shaky. It usually takes a couple of weeks to figure out what sleep arrangements work best in the camper. Also, IT’S SO LIGHT OUT!! But we all slept in until 9 the next morning, so it wasn’t that bad.

IMG_6664

IMG_6795

IMG_6687

IMG_6770On Saturday morning we woke up to gorgeous weather. We had breakfast outside and then went for a walk. Just a short walk down the bike path from our campsite was a great playground. It was nice to sit in the sun with Blake, enjoy a cup of coffee, and watch the girls run around the playground. They had so much fun.

IMG_6919

IMG_6872

IMG_6825

IMG_6848

In the afternoon we went for a drive out to Exit Glacier located in Kenai Fjords National Park. We didn’t do any hiking or glacier exploring. The main reason for the drive was so Hazel could nap in the truck as we wanted her to take a good nap after the night before. When she woke up we headed back to town to get gelato at Sweet Darlings. Lillian was so excited to pick out her own flavor. She went with strawberry and it’s all she could talk about for at least an hour. Hazie Girl and I shared the pistachio. It’s the best!

That night was another relaxing one around the fire, yelling at Lillian to stay close. She is so outgoing and social and wants to be best friends with everyone she sees. She’ll run up to random kids and hug them and introduce herself. One dad hanging by the water with his son said she told them “I’m Lillian, on vacation from Eagle River.” Luckily all of our neighbors and passersby were so nice. There were plenty of kids and dogs that didn’t mind her company.

IMG_0613

IMG_6968

Casting lesson - proud dad!

IMG_0597

IMG_6994

IMG_7018

Major Fail: Forgot the roasting sticks. ↓

IMG_7046

Before heading home on Sunday we had breakfast, walked the beach, picked more dandelions, and then made a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center. It was the first time we’ve ever been there. The touch tanks were a hit with Hazel and both of the girls (and Blake, too) loved watching the seals and sea lions.

IMG_0634

IMG_0655

IMG_0651

IMG_0668

IMG_7192

IMG_0704

IMG_0700

IMG_0681

IMG_0718

IMG_0715

IMG_0712

IMG_7073

IMG_7110

IMG_7155

IMG_7164

IMG_7108

On the way home, Lillian thanked both Blake and I multiple times for taking her camping. That made all the planning, packing, setting up, lack of sleep, taking down, and unpacking worth it. And although Hazel can’t verbally express her gratitude, she did sleep most of the way home, which is like the best ‘thank you’ we could ask for.

IMG_0730

xo,
Briana