Monday, June 29, 2015

Tourist Season

I'm back! What a busy few weeks it has been.  Since I last wrote, Nathanial and I had a great visit with my parents, celebrated the solstice and I even made it on the news with my job.  More on all of those things in another post.  Nathanial's grandparents are visiting us this week so I thought I would share some of our go-to activities.  We're becoming quite the tour guides these days.

If you come to visit, we will take you to:

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Wildlife Conservation Center is easily one of our favorite places in the whole state of Alaska. We've been 5 times in the 8 months since moving to Anchorage. As the name implies, the center is dedicated to conservation of Alaskan animals. They take in injured and orphaned animals and try to rehabilitate them. Those that can't be released into the wild, stay at the center.  I like to think of it as an open air zoo.  It's neat to see so many types of animals roam in large spaces. The mountain views aren't bad either.

Here are some of the shots we've taken on our trips there:

                                       My Dad took this awesome shot with a high powered lens.

The population of Wood Bison in Alaska was dwindling, so they actually spent the last decade raising a new herd.  They released them into the wild last month.

This time of year makes visits especially fun because there are lots of baby animals running around. The Center is raising a set of orphaned moose right now & I'm in love. I keep petitioning N for a pet moose but he hasn't bought into it yet.


Even Jeff Corwin (of Disney & Discovery Channel fame) thinks the moose are film worthy.

He was filming on our last visit.  

Flattop Mountain
The trailhead to Flat Top Mountain is only about 10 minutes from our house. During the winter, it was a favorite spot of ours to check out the sunset and watch for the Aurora Borealis.  This time of year it still makes for a great scenic overlook.

You may also recognize it from our Christmas card. I much prefer the area when it's not covered in snow.

Day Cruise
Regardless of the weather, Alaska is one of the most beautiful and majestic places I've ever seen. Winter or summer - it's easy to see God's handiwork in the beauty of the scenery. One of the best ways we've found to take it all in is by glacier cruise (or whale watching trip.)  Not only can you see glacier calving, but you'll probably also see puffins, otters, bald eagles and even whales. 

We'll take you to some unique eateries. From the world's best pepper steak at the Double Musky Inn or a reindeer dog from a street vendor, you'll definitely try something new.

Waterfalls and Creeks
Not much is more peaceful than the sound of water running through a creek or waterfall.  We've found some great spots.

I took this picture. It's amazing how much better photos on a digital camera look.

Saturday Market
Every weekend in the summer, a few hundred vendors set up tents at an outdoor market. It reminds of an event my hometown always had when I was growing up, so we love to take visitors to it.  Lots of unique gifts & music.

Mountain views and animals abound in Alaska.  Birds were never of any interest until I moved here and now even they are captivating.  And of course, we're always on the lookout for moose.

Can you spot the muskrat in this picture?

I spy a mom and two baby moose.

We still have a few weeks without guests this summer, so come see us! We'd love to show you Alaska.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

TBT: Weekend Edition (Moose, Plants and Procrastination)

I've found that I tend to work best under a deadline. The longer I have to do something - the longer it will take; give me a short window to get it done and I make it happen.  This is a blessing in my line of work because I'll often get last minute client requests.  It doesn't bode so well in my personal life, because then I do things like starting a new renovation project instead of dusting when my parents are coming to visit.  Needless to say, it has been a busy week with not a lot of sleep. But I'm happy to report everything got finished.

Here's what we've been up to the last few days.

Finally Registering my Car 
I resisted changing my license plates over for as long as I could; I'm a proud Texan afterall.  Plus, out of state license plates tend to get you some grace if you aren't the best driver.  But after 8 months of living in Alaska, my Texas tags finally expired. Rather than risk getting a ticket, I spent several (3+ hours over the course of two different days) at the DMV.  The waiting was almost as horrendous as Houston rush hour traffic but this time I at least walked away with something. I'm now the proud owner of Alaskan license plates (side note: I was one of the first 500 people to get these bear plates.)

Seeing Wildlife
My office participated in the local Relay for Life over the weekend.  Nathanial and I stopped by their tent on Friday evening. The event was staged next to the biggest duck pond I've ever seen. There were ducks and geese EVERYWHERE.

Then on Saturday, my training group had to run through the woods (roots, brush and all) to avoid a moose mom and calf on the trail.  Alaska- where you run off road to avoid the moose that's on the paved trail.

(The moose is in the shadows. I figured if our coaches didn't want us running by the moose, they probably didn't want me getting close to take a picture either.)

I organized a painting class for a group of ladies at church. It was so fun and I'm happy to report that this painting (compared to the two others I've done) isn't one I'm embarrassed to hang.

I also painted parts of two of our bathrooms because when you take down the old light fixture and old contractor grade mirror, there are sections of the wall that you didn't need to paint before.

Procrastination at its finest.  Why vaccum the house when you can start on a new project that involves melting liquid nails to scrape it off the wall?

Mostly of the flower variety but I planted some asparagus in a pot so that makes me a real gardener, right?

One of the things I loved about our house when we bought it was the landscaping - such green, lush grass, and the prettiest flower beds. Most of the plants didn't survive the winter, so over the weekend I dragged Nathanial to go pick out plants.  He earned his patience badge for sure because I had absolutely no plan walking into the nursery. I insisted on going down every aisle (of a very large greenhouse) before I decided on flowers and color schemes. You can imagine how much fun that was for my very analytical, engineer minded husband.  We bought quite a variety.

The weekend was so busy, we decided to put off planting until Monday night after work.  That is, until we got a burst of energy Sunday night and decided to tackle it.  Alaska - where you still have enough light between 10 p.m. and midnight to demolish and replant a flower bed.

We pulled all the old plants and a lot of the soil out to make room for the new plants and good new soil we bought.

 I think we used 12 bags of soil.  I have to admit it was kind of fun getting to play in the dirt.

We finished about 12:15 which was fun until our alarms went off for work a few hours later.

Some of the pansies from the previous owner survived the winter and sprang back up.  I liked them but didn't think the colors went with the new plants we bought.  Until I can get a new planter, I replanted them in an extra storage tub.  After a few days of rain - they are actually doing the best out of all the plants. Ha. Classy.