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. ;)

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Homer For The Fourth

This year we spent the 4th of July weekend in Homer. We’ve been to Homer a handful of times. Whenever we fish/camp/clam down that way we always do it out of Ninilchik and try to spend at least a day in Homer. We’ve never actually spent a significant amount of time there, so we were really looking forward to this trip.

Since it’s a pretty long drive, we decided it would be best to drive over halfway and spend the first night in Kasilof. We spent the night at Crooked Creek RV Park. It was late when we arrived. We quickly set up everything and then headed to bed. The next morning we woke up and went fishing along Crooked Creek, which was a short walk from the campground. As always, Lillian enjoyed playing in the water while everyone else fished.

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After not much luck in the fishing department, we loaded up and headed to Homer. It was a gorgeous day. We stopped at a lookout right before town and took some pictures. Hazel was napping, again, but I woke her up and forced her to be in the pictures with us. Mean mom right here.

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We made our way to the Homer Spit, a 4.5 mile strip of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay, and set up shop at Heritage RV Park. The rest of the day was spent walking up and down the boardwalk, going in and out of little shops, checking out boats in the harbor, and chasing birds. The girls and I ended each day with ice cream (Alaskans, Frosty Bear Ice Cream Parlor is where it’s at). Blake may or may not have ended each day with a Duck Fart in the Salty Dawg Saloon. ;) When in Rome…

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The next day was the 4th of July. We woke up (to rain) and dressed the girls in festive little outfits that had to be worn over animal print Cuddl Duds, because… Alaska. They looked ridiculous. We spent a lot of the day snuggling in the camper. Lillian and I headed to the beach while Hazel napped. After nap time we went fishing, then out for pizza on the boardwalk. Glamping at its finest.

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On Sunday we drove to town for breakfast. When we got back to The Spit it was time to pack up and head home. I panicked a little when I realized we were leaving and hadn’t taken Hazel down to put her feet in the sand. It was her first time on a beach at the ocean and these milestones shall not go undocumented. Also, it was a good opportunity for Lillian to run off some energy before the long ride home.

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We had a fun weekend. Camping right on The Spit was such a cool experience. But it was kinda weird spending the 4th of July with 5 layers of clothes on and no fireworks. Fireworks in July in Alaska are pretty pointless. We’ll just have to make up for it on New Year’s Eve.

Until Next Time,
Briana

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent the weekend camping. We headed north and camped along Petersville Road, hoping to get some up-close views of Denali. Alas, the clouds moved in as soon as we got there, and in true Alaska form, they stuck around all weekend.

This was our first camping trip with the girls, so Blake and I were a little nervous going into it. I was worried it would be a disaster and that we’d never want to do it again. Thankfully, they were happy little campers. The only hiccup was Hazel waking up every morning around 6, because it was so light out. I’ll be making blackout curtains before our next trip.

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We spent some time at Peters Creek one day. Lillian loved throwing rocks in the water and did not want to leave. Hazel napped most of the time, until Lilly woke her up for a picture.

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Uncle Willy and Dani were along for the adventure. They offered to watch the girls for a bit, allowing Blake and I to do some exploring on the 4wheeler. Petersville Road is an old mining road. The pavement ends about 10 miles in, we camped around mile 15, and took the 4wheeler all the way out to mile 32. This is where the Petersville State Recreational Mining Area begins, an area set aside by the state for citizens to pan and mine for gold. The scenery was beautiful. Hopefully we can make it back on a clear weekend.

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It rained a little on our last night, but that didn’t stop Lilly. She ran around and jumped in puddle after puddle of mud.

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IMG_7849(1)We had so much fun exploring and enjoying the outdoors. Our first camping trip of the season was definitely a success.

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This weekend we are headed to Portage Valley. But first, blackout curtains. I can’t sew, so they won’t be anything fancy. Hopefully they’ll work a little better than the black garbage bags we were using. Here come the Griswolds! ;)

Until next time,
Briana

 

 

An Alaskan Style Pumpkin Patch

In October we did what all young families do in the fall… we visited a pumpkin patch. And by pumpkin patch, what I really mean is a reindeer farm with a handful of pumpkins scattered around a field. An Alaskan style pumpkin patch! It turns out we decided to go on the busiest day of the month, so by the time we arrived there were literally 10 pumpkins left in the field. But that was ok because we were really there for the reindeer anyway.

We visited this same pumpkin patch last year and had a blast.

I was looking forward to heading back with Lillian, knowing she was at an age where she could enjoy it more. She had a fun time picking out a pumpkin, checking out the reindeer and elk, and running around the farm. She had a bit of a meltdown in the hay maze (after getting trampled by big kids!!), but it was nothing her dad and a few Crunchies couldn’t fix.

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Even though this took place way back in October, I still wanted to post about it and share the pictures. They kinda have a Christmasy vibe with the reindeer, right?!?!

I hope everyone is enjoying these last couple days of hustle and bustle before Christmas. Things are finally slowing down around here. We got all of our Christmas cards mailed, a few goodies baked, a tree chopped down and decorated, and last night we finally visited Santa. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Much love,
Briana

Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farm

Located just north of us is a magical place called Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farm. It’s a U-Pick farm, where you pick your own produce to take home for a very reasonable price. A few weeks ago they had a Harvest Festival to celebrate the season and share the bounty of their farm. This could not be left off of our “fun things to do while Blake is gone” list.

We woke up to gorgeous weather on the day of the festival, so Lillian and I were extra excited.

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There was lots to do on the farm. Hayrides, face painting, a petting zoo, a leaf fight pit, yummy food, great entertainment. The list goes on and on. And you guys, they even had a real live unicorn!!

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All that looked and sounded great, but we spent the entire day walking through the fields and picking produce. Lillian loved playing in all of the mud puddles. It was fun to let her loose and watch her run through the fields. Finally, an activity where she could run free and I didn’t have to be running after her yelling “NO”.

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Serious running face. She’s gonna be fast like her daddy!

We picked broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage to take home. It was all delicious.

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I took Lillian’s shoes off to change her socks after we were done in the fields. This is what I found… and this is how I know she had an awesome time.

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It was a good day. Happy fall y’all!

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xoxo,
Briana

Alaskan Adventure | Clamping

Last June, when Lillian was just 2 weeks old, we went on a weekend clamping (clamming/camping) trip on the Cook Inlet with a bunch of our friends. Yes, we are those parents… but even with a newborn we had such a fun time. We couldn’t wait to do it again!

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When the season rolled around this year, we checked the tides and booked a weekend stay at our favorite campground. The place we stay at is the best. The owners are so nice, very laid back, AND they have cabins for rent. This is the perfect campground for people with small children. We bring Lillian’s pack’n’play and she can nap, stay dry if necessary, keep warm, and go to bed at a normal time, while everyone else hangs out all day and night by the campfire.

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The beach we went clamming on last year was actually closed for clamming this year due to a significant decline in the abundance of clams. We were forced to clam on a different beach, which turned out to be a total bust. We got clams, but nothing close to our limit. Blake and I aren’t big fans of eating them, so we weren’t heartbroken that we didn’t have bags and bags of clams to take home and fill our freezer.

Lillian had a great time running on the beach and playing in the water and sand. I knew she would love it and couldn’t wait for her to get out there! And yes, this is how we dress for the beach in June. ↓ Jealous? Doubt it.

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Lillian loved carrying around the clams once we got back to the campground. I know they look disgusting, but they are actually pretty tasty if you clean and cook them right. We had them for dinner that night!

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We had such a fun weekend of clamping and can’t wait to do it again next year! This is definitely going to be a yearly ‘thing’.

In other news, we are so excited for our month of visitors! My parents and little brother arrive on Friday. We have a lot of fun things planned. I’m hoping the weather cooperates. When they leave, we have a two day break and then Blake’s parents arrive. It should be a fun and busy month full of many more Alaskan Adventures!! ;)

xoxo,
Briana

The Perfect Weekend

I can’t imagine my first Mother’s Day weekend being any more perfect. As I’ve mentioned 392 times, the weather has been amazing here. We spent all weekend outside enjoying it.

On Saturday we went to the lake. We had a nice time relaxing, playing games, eating, and tending to Lillian. Alaskan Vampire Baby does not love the sun. We made a shady area with a bunch of chairs to keep her happy. But she’d just crawl or walk out of the shade and scream because she was in the sun again. Funny how that works.

She loved playing with our friends’ dogs and playing in the dirt. She was the dirtiest she’s ever been, so obviously she had a good time.

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empty Stella bottle = favorite toy of the day

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there were bald eagles everywhere

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and she's out

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On Sunday I was pampered by Blake and Lillian. They got me a few gifts and made me brunch. One gift was lilies for our front yard. Blake and I planted them while our Lilly took her afternoon nap. I hope they grow here because they are so beautiful.

Later in the day we went on a hike. The weather was great and the scenery was amazing. You can’t beat a sunny day in Alaska!

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checking for salmon

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Relaxation. The outdoors. And my people. My first Mother’s Day was perfect. All week Blake and I have been mentioning how it was the best weekend we’ve had in a long time. It really was.

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day weekend!

Much love,
Briana

Alaskan Adventure | Iditarod & Fur Rondy

A couple weeks ago we checked two items off of our ‘Alaska Bucket List’. The Iditarod and the Fur Rondy winter festival!

On the first Saturday in March we headed into Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the 42nd Iditarod sled dog race. The “Last Great Race On Earth”. It’s a 1000 mile race from Anchorage to Nome. The whole thing blows my mind. I cannot believe people are willing and able to do this race. It is CRAZY to me!

We had such a great time cheering on all the mushers and sled dog teams as they started on their journey. The streets of Anchorage were packed with fans and spectators from all over the world. I’m so glad we were able to experience this awesome event.

The winner finished early this morning in 8 days and 13 hours. The musher in second place (the musher we were cheering for) finished just two minutes later. So close!

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After all the teams were off, we spent the rest of the day enjoying the Fur Rondy festival. As I’ve mentioned before, Fur Rondy is a 10 day winter festival held in Anchorage. There are tons of events going on throughout the festival. It’s a lot of fun {and fur} for the whole family.

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One of the main events of the festival is the Running of the Reindeer. It’s like the Running of the Bulls in Spain, but with an Alaskan twist… Reindeer! Blake and a couple of his buddies participated in the event. Of course he made his way through hundreds of people to be at the front of the starting line. I’m sure anyone that knows Blake is super surprised. I was busy video taping so I didn’t get any pictures. But I did search the internet far and wide to find some pictures of Blake.

Note: Everyone dresses in crazy costumes to do the race. That’s why Blake looks so amazing in all these pictures. ;)

We had a lot of fun enjoying this Alaskan celebration. We are already looking forward to next year.

IMG_4571(1)Until next time,
Briana

Blaker’s Birthday

On Sunday was Blake’s birthday! I had been asking for weeks how he wanted to celebrate and he kept playing it off like it was no big deal. Still, I wanted to do something special to celebrate his day. Since we are a “more experiences, less stuff” type of family, I decided to round-up some of our closest friends and head to Alyeska Resort for the weekend.

Alyeska is located in the little town of Girdwood. It is just a short drive from Anchorage, along the scenic Seward Highway. The drive is beautiful year-round. This was our first time making the drive in the winter and it did not disappoint!

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When we arrived at Alyeska, a few of us went skiing and the others explored the resort hotel bar. My plan was to stay with Lillian so the birthday boy could hit the slopes. But Blake insisted that I ski and since it was his birthday, I complied.

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We all met up for a late lunch at the top of the mountain. Lillian hammered a huge bowl of seafood chowder and decided to spit out a cracker right as our family photo was taken. Stinker.

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After lunch we hit up the pool and hot tub to relax a bit. We went to the Double Musky Inn for Blake’s birthday dinner. It was delicious! I was sneaky and asked the waiter to bring Blake a birthday dessert, candle and all. Everyone in the restaurant joined in to sing Happy Birthday. Lillian was so funny during the singing. She froze and got really shy. Pretty sure she thought we were singing to her. Such a sweetie.

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We had a great weekend at Alyeska. I have been to my fair share of ski resorts and Alyeska is definitely my new favorite. Great location, reasonable prices, nice runs, no lines, and the views are breathtaking! You really can’t beat the mountain and ocean inlet views it has to offer. I also want to mention (for my fellow Alaskans) that the entire area was very family-friendly. We had no problem taking Lillian anywhere… and I mean anywhere. ;)

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Until next time,
Briana

Alaskan Adventure | Fishing Prince William Sound

In August Blake and I were  invited to go on an overnight fishing trip in the Prince William Sound. Our friends have a big ocean boat and they were nice enough to ask us to go out with them for the weekend. Do we have the best friends ever or what?! I was a little lot nervous about leaving Lillian, though I knew she would be in great hands. After days of being persuaded (and Blake begging), I decided it would be a healthy and much-needed break.

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Best. Decision. Ever. We left early on a Saturday morning and drove to Whittier, where we docked the boat and got on the water. From there, we headed out to the middle of nowhere to find some fish. And find them we did! We caught tons of silver salmon and a few cod-fish. We also dropped some prawn pots, Deadliest Catch style. :)

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Day 1

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Day 1 – first fish of the day

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Day 1 – pulling pots is tough work

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Day 1 - a few of the silvers we caught

Day 1 – a few of the silvers we caught

We had such a fun day fishing, chatting, enjoying some adult beverages, and relaxing on the water. At sunset we dropped the anchor in a nice little bay, made some dinner, had a few more adult beverages, and eventually headed to bed. We woke up early Sunday morning and did it all over again!

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Day 2 – waking up to a beautiful view

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Day 2 – one of the many glaciers in Prince William Sound

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Day 2

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Day 2

I can definitely say that this was the best time I have had since moving to Alaska. Easily. We were surrounded by the most beautiful scenery imaginable. The weather was gorgeous. The company was great! The mountains were blue. The fish were biting. Good times all around.

We cannot thank our friends enough for taking us with them. We made great memories that will last a lifetime! I am still smiling and laughing about some of the stuff that happened on that boat.