All the Alaska, Part 2

This is the continuation of our Alaskan Adventure saga. If you like look at pictures of other peoples’ vacations, check out All the Alaska, Part 1!

On Thursday, we woke up and had the most amazing breakfast ever. Our Airbnb host said to help ourselves to any of the salmon in his freezer, so we made up a wicked salmon scramble for breakfast.

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After breakfast the plan was to drive to Homer to take the ferry to Seldovia, which is a town that’s not on the highway system. You can only get there by boat or plane. So the following conversation takes place:

Hulk: “What time is it?”

Me: “11:30”

Hulk: “Okay. It’ll take us about four hours to get to Homer, and the last boat leaves at 6:00. So we should pack up and head now.”

*Leisurely, non-rushed packing ensues*

*I Google map the directions*

Me: “Google says it’s six hours to Homer.”

Hulk: “What time is it now?”

Me: “11:50”

Hulk: “And the boat leaves at 6:00?”

Both of us: “@!#$%!@#$”

Lesson learned, one inch on a map of Alaska is, like, driving across three states in the lower 48. Or driving through a couple countries in Europe.

It was a pretty drive, but we didn’t really stop to take pictures.

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Long story short, we made the boat with about 10 minutes to spare. Plus, the captain was running late anyway so we didn’t embark until 6:30. Plenty of time for more pictures!

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Once safely in Seldovia harbor we met with our host.  For our stay in Seldovia, we were hosted by a very gracious family through couchsurfing.org (if you’ve never used couchsurfing.org for travel, I highly recommend it if you’re the adventurous type!). We arrived right at dinner time, and there was another couchsurfer staying with us, along with some friends of our hosts. It was a beautiful dinner party filled with warm conversation and wonderful food!

The next day, I explored the property a bit. It was very different to what I was accustomed to back home! The folks here are very self-sufficient, and while there was electricity there was no indoor plumbing. We quickly learned how the outhouse works (pretty self-explanatory) and figured out where the wash house was. They also had a huge, beautiful garden where they grew most of their food. And while they had WiFi I choose not to connect to it, opting to stay as “unplugged” as I could from the outside world for as long as I could 🙂

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The view from the front porch. Hello, bay!

 

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The hosts’ bunkhouse, where we slept. Soooooo cozy!

 

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Hulk heading to the wash house to brush his teeth

After breakfast our host took us to the local community center where she led a yoga class. It was just the thing we needed after sitting in the car half of the day yesterday! Then we explored the town a bit. We ended up at the Seldovia harbor looking for otters. No otters, but tons of jellyfish and other wildlife.

 

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Carvings by a trailhead for the Otter Trail
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Boats ‘n’ jellies

 

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Panda sighting! (Panda is our hosts’ dog)

 

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Harbor view

We had lunch by the harbor, then headed out for a hike on some local trails. This was by far the most fantastic part of the whole trip for several reasons.

Since folks around here are very self-sustaining and live off the land as much as possible, our host was a mushroomer. She knew several mushroom varieties that were safe for eating and whenever she hikes she keeps a lookout for her favorites. I had never mushroomed before, let alone foraged for food anywhere more “natural” than a farmers’ market, so it was really fun keeping a lookout for mushrooms. Many of the pretty ones we found were poisonous, and our host encouraged us to ask questions and keep looking for them.

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These we called “angel wings” and are very delicious, but hard to find.

 

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These are not edible, but it was just really pretty and I wanted to take a picture.

 

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Here they are, “hedgehog” mushrooms everywhere! They’re the big brown spots under the leaves.

Next to the huge score of mushrooms were blueberry bushes. I don’t think I ever just ate stuff from the forest before (except that one time at girl scout camp when I found a mulberry tree that I totally recognized and identified and helped myself; the camp counselors freaked out that they were poisonous berries and I got in trouble), and it felt so fun and, well, nourishing to eat berries right from the bush.

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I DID take photographic evidence of the blueberry plant, just in case it really wasn’t blueberries and I die someone can identify what I died from

After our foraging, we continued along the trail and reveled in the natural beauty.

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Doesn’t this mushroom look just like in Super Mario Bros? I have a feeling it is poisonous and will probably not give me super powers.

We then came to a secluded cove off of the bay.

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Next we climbed up and over the cliff to beach #2, aptly named White Rock Beach”

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2015 09 11 Emily and Tim White Rock Beach

 

At this point my phone died and I couldn’t take more pictures. 😦

But then we went to a third beach, and this one had tons of beach combing potential. We filled our pockets with rocks, shells, even a sea urchin shell. I picked out a special rock for each of the kids. Kids love rocks.

The next morning we had to pack up and make our trek to the Anchorage airport. Our Alaskan Adventure was coming to a close, so nature gave us one last gift and parted the clouds so we could see the volcano in the distance from our hosts’ front porch. Dormant volcano, for now.

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On our way to the ferry we were still keeping a lookout for wildlife. Our host said that it’s common to see a bear alongside the road this early in the morning, but alas we were bear-less. They seem less scary if you’re in an enclosed, moving vehicle. However we did find tons of starfish in the low tide. They were crazy brilliant colors like Skittles. It was like an alien invasion.

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Goodbye, Seldovia!

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The  boat ride was cold, so Hulk borrowed my beanie.

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We made it to the airport in time for one last Alaskan brew. And that’s when I decided I want to brew beer.

 

 

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My hair looks pretty shiny for now showering for six days!

Meanwhile, the kids survived the Gramma and Grampa invasion.

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It’s always good to “get out of Dodge” as my folks say. It was a total jackpot trip, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our Airbnb and especially our Couchsurfing hosts for showing us a fantastic time in this beautiful part of the world. Hopefully we will be able to explore more beautiful places and have many more adventures to come! Also, after this trip I realized I need to go to the beach more often. Seriously, we live, like, an hour away. Or just get out into nature more often; this should be a regular thing.

As always, go make it a great day in your own part of the world!

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All the Alaska, Part 1

I finally went through my Alaska pictures, so get cozy ’cause here’s a run through of our Alaska vacation!

Hulk and I headed out Sunday night.

Yay! No kids!
Yay! No kids!

We had an amazing view of San Francisco as we headed out.

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For the flight Hulk slept while I enjoyed a beer and caught up on some reading.

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We arrived in Anchorage pretty late, so we stayed in a hotel by the airport our first night. The next morning we figured we’d kick around Anchorage and see what the cool kids are up to. Turns out on Labor Day, the cool kids are somewhere else. After a hike around the bay,

Not without beautiful scenery, of course
Not without beautiful scenery, of course

we headed up to near Denali to check in to our Airbnb cabin.

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Wait, no. That’s the brewery.

But it might as well have been the cabin. We went there literally every day evening when the hours of drinking were appropriate. If you end up in Talkeetna, Denali Brewing Company is amazing! I loved every single one of their beers, especially the Abbadon.

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This is what a glass of happy looks like

After we were done sampling the local brews, we finally checked in to our cabin.

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Very “Alaska,” no?

We “oohed” and “ahhed” at the super fun quaintness of the cabin we drove over to nearby Talkeena to check out the goings on.

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Awkward selfie!!

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Of course we had to dine on some local fare. I had a smothered halibut that was so not Whole30 and so worth it, while Hulk demolished some king crab, complete with crab shell shrapnel at the poor couple eating next to us.

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The only bear I saw

Tuesday we wanted to do some tourist-y things like ziplining, but it was raining buckets. So we went with plan B and drove up to Denali State Park to see the famed highest point in the continental U.S.

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Well, that was the plan. In practice, it’s usually too cloudy to see the peak. On a rainy day, you’re lucky to see mountains. Good thing they have an infographic there, so you know what you’re missing.

Whatever, it’s still pretty.

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That's Hulk's "I can't believe we drove two hours to look at clouds" face
That’s Hulk’s “I can’t believe we drove two hours to look at clouds” face

As we were driving around, we caught some of the mountains peeking through the cloud cover. They looked so imposing from the road.

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After all the rain hiking, beer!

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The next day was slightly less rainy, so I started off with a walk around the “neighborhood”

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Then we drove North again to Denali National Park

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Not a selfie!

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Between the leaves turning and all the rain, the mountains were literally all the colors.

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We even got an awesome rainbow out of the deal. Perfection.

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We had lunch at a hotel that overlooked, like, everything.

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You know, because we like to rough it. Oh look, more beer!

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On the drive back, the clouds slightly lifted so we could get a good peek at the mountains.Alaska 2015 108

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Still no sight of THE Denali mountain peak, though. These were all of the piddly lesser mountains. If I paid more attention to that infographic yesterday I would probably know the names of them. But here’s two people that don’t quite care.Alaska 2015 115

And then more beer.

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Then the REAL adventure began …

Ugh. Reality.

i made it back from Alaska, free from rogue bear attacks!

   
Except for the teddy variety, of course. Who could not love Ralph the Bear. 

We saw lots of mountains, got rained on, and drove 1,000 miles because like idiots we assume that 1″ on a map of Alaska can’t be very far. Just a note: Denali to Homer is a very long drive.

  
A scenic drive, but a long one.  

  
Hooray, pretty scenery!

  
And now it’s back to reality. And work. And child-rearing. And all those things that make up your life while simultaneously make you want to escape them.

Make it a great day!

Are We There Yet?

Another hump day, eh? I’m just wrapping the day up and trying to decide how fancy I want to go for dinner. I am having a few rough Whole30 days. Sort of getting sick of the meat-n-veggies all day e’ry day, you know? And it’s not just that. I can always find something to eat that makes me happy.

Like sashimi and a side of steamed broccoli, courtesy of date night! Don’t worry, I packed my own coconut aminos (much to Hulk’s amusement, “Really? That’s a thing?).

But I have a major feeling of “I’m not there yet” that’s bugging me. Not just the end of the 30 day program, but the fact that it’s Day 21 and I am still having major food cravings and non-healthy tendencies that I was hoping I was sort of over already. Hello, extinction burst. I felt so amazing so soon this round, that I figured the rest would be all happy downhill-ing on a flying unicorn.  Not so, it seems. My sleep the last few nights has left a little to be desired. Trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night (but I go back down again right away), and not feeling rested when I awake. I’m suspecting a little life stress is the culprit. Add to the table the fact that I’m having a hard time socially with not going to lunch with the team at work, passing up on the occasional happy hour, and avoiding some social situations because avoiding food seems like more work than just not going to the event.

I also am not sure how I’m going to handle the reintroduction period. My 30 days is up two days before Hulk and I leave on vacation for a week. Originally, I wanted to do a proper 10-day reintroduction protocol where I introduce one eliminated food at a time and see how I handle it. But with travel, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to eat clean enough to do a proper evaluation. So I can just do the best I can and go through with the reintro, stay as Whole30 as I can on the road and just accept that it won’t be as clean as I’m used to, or say “screw it” and eat whatever I want because hey, vacation!

Fortunately we’re going to Alaska, so I have a feeling the food choices while limited should have some healthy options (ALL the salmon!) and I shouldn’t stress about eating Whole30-ish. Then I can pick it up when I get home. But I don’t want to stress about food during a legit vacation, either. If it was just work travel or something that’s one thing. But a big vacation to a dream destination we’ve been planning for months makes me think again on how big of a stickler I want to be about food. I just want to enjoy what the area has to offer, and not have to stress, “what kind of oil did you use to cook that chicken?”

Whole30 veterans, how did you handle reintros? I have yet to do a “proper” one.

Go make it a great day!