The Last Frontier

The Last Frontier

We would love to show you every little bit of our Alaskan adventure but because it was so hard to pick and choose among the 210 pictures we took in the 7 days we were there, you are just going to get a small taste of the big cookie that was The Last Frontier.

We arrived in Anchorage at 11:45 at night and the sun was still shining. Alan and Lizzie Skinner were kind enough to put us up for a few days, and to cover the windows with dark curtains so we wouldn’t be tempted to stay up all night watching the sun not set. The next morning we headed out with the rest of the Team in Training group for a dinner cruise in Seward. We were lucky enough to get there in time to enjoy the beautiful harbor and even to see some fishermen weighing their catch. There were three halibut–the smallest was 65 lbs. The other two weighed as much as Micah and me–individually (I’m not telling how much that is, sorry). Once we got on the boat the adventure really began. Before we even got anywhere we saw a seal tossing around its dinner and a sea otter sunning its feet. By the time they brought us back to dock we’d seen two otters, puffins, sea lions, a few bald eagles, a fjord, millions of birds, and three mountain goats. We also saw a few glaciers and some of the dead forests (stands of trees that were killed and preserved by the salt water they were exposed to when the land dropped) left over from the Good Friday Earthquake in 1964. We also caught a glimpse of our first moose on the way home.
You can never get enough wildlife when you are tromping through Alaska, so we stopped off at the local nature conservatory on Wednesday. We fed elk, watched an orphaned moose be fed from a bottle, and learned that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette. Micah wants one. The musk ox weren’t nearly as entertaining as the bison, and the brown bears definitely outshined their black brothers. One of the moose showered us with rainwater which was kind of exciting. It was well worth our time.You can’t go to Alaska without gawking at the blue tinted glaciers sliding down the valleys. We made our pilgrimmage on Thursday to Portage Glacier, where they have a nice Visitor’s Center as well as a great view of the glacier, the glacial lake, and, if you are lucky, a few icebergs. The bergs we saw were technically to small to be called icebergs, but I can’t remember what the term for them is, so if you are interested, look it up. The VC had lots of fun things to take pictures of, as you can see . . . We checked into our hotel when we got back to Anchorage and spent Friday “resting” before the big event on Saturday (see previous post). Of course we went to the Pasta Party with the rest of the TNT participants where they tried to make us cry by showing us pictures of all of Honored Teammates from the different chapters and having a leukemia survivor tell us about how he was diagnosed with leukemia just weeks before his wife gave birth to their first child, a boy who was diagnosed with a heart condition and went in for surgery the same day he started chemotherapy. Their medical bills got up to $250,000 a week and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helped them out so much. Then their son died and the survivor’s wife forbade him from leaving her and now they have another son who is just one year old and the cutest thing you ever did see.

On Saturday . . . wait, what did we do on Saturday . . . hmmm . . . oh, wait. We ran 26.2 miles in 4:01:15. That’s right. How could I forget? And then even though our legs wanted to fall off, we still walked around Anchorage trying to find a grocery store to buy stuff to make dinner out of on Sunday. Oh, and ice cream. We cut our ice cream consumption off 100% the week before the marathon, so we had to make up for lost time. Plus it was Greg’s birthday on Sunday and we had to celebrate some how. We also went to the TNT victory party where they served delicious food and tried to get us to dance (I would have been all over that if the DJ hadn’t been having a bad night).

We went to church on Sunday with the Skinners. I must admit that it was somewhat of a shock to be surrounded by white people in sacrament meeting. Luckily the Samoan ward met right after their ward, so we got our fill of muumuus, sulus, and brown people. It was nice to spend the rest of Sunday relaxing with the Skinners. I must admit that I fell in love with Tyler and I was a little bit sad when he had to go to bed at 8:30. But he probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the hot chocolate and TimTams like we did, and I don’t think he would have had the discipline it takes to play Runs & Trios, Mexican Train, or Kings Corner. And he certainly would have been crankier than we were when we realized it was 1:00 in the morning (it was still light outside, can you blame us?) and Alan had to go to work in the morning.

It was most unfortunate that he did because he missed our outing
to the Botanical Garden. This is where Micah and I got carried away with our supermacro zoom, although, as you can see, some of the pictures turned out really well. We’re thinking of making a calendar. Or selling some of them as desktops. What was really sad was that we didn’t catch the slow-motion tumble Tyler took, although we did get the results. Remember that Tyler is only 13 months old, and surprisingly steady on his legs, especially considering the rough terrain. Micah and I were marveling at his skills from behind when he turned around and started walking towards us rather than following Lizzie, who was out in front. If it weren’t for the fact that he totally face planted, I would have thought he just decided he had walked enough and was going to take a nap on the trail. He went down on his knees, then put his hands down, and just when it looked like he was going to gently lay his head on the dirt, his face went hard into the dirt and his feet went up. We all rushed to his aid, but he didn’t even cry. What a trooper.We didn’t think our trip to Alaska would be complete without paying homage to the reason the state is inhabited in the first place, so Tuesday evening found us at Indian Valley Mine for a round of gold panning. Although we were close enough to the highway to see the cars passing, we certainly felt like we were deep in the mountains, what with the dirty and naked mountain children running around. The mine and business is owned by a nice little family who are proud of the fact that they don’t own a TV and make their children do push-ups if they misbehave. They also had a tip jar on the counter that was labeled “Kids College Fund.” I thought I could get along with them quite well. When all was said and done, our hands were nearly frozen from the water but we had a few lumps of gold to show for our labors. On the way back to Lizzie and Alan’s we stopped at the Anchorage temple for a few minutes to have our picture taken there, too. It was a great way to end our adventure in the land of the midnight sun. We’d love to have a summer cabin there someday.

One thought on “The Last Frontier

  1. Wow. Those are some pretty amazing pictures. That fish is HUGE! I also like the one of the otter on it’s back (I think it’s an otter). My favorites by far though are the ones from the Botanical gardens. They are so amazing, they look professional. I think I really would be tempted to stay up all night just to see something NOT happen, namely the sunset. Well, I’m glad you guys had a good time, it sounds like it was a blast, and thanks for taking pictures so I can visit Alaskas vicariously through you.

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