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!

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 …

SoCal Family-Palooza, Part 2

Wow! This week went by so fast. We have been enjoying all the family hijinks and shenanigans of our San Diego vacation.

Every day we hit the beach. Every day. I got so burned tan!

Hulk went surfing. It was his first lesson ever. This is the best my iPhone camera could do to capture the memories, apparently it’s not good for long-distance sport shots.

Other than laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing, we also toured the USS Midway in San Diego off the Navy Pier.

I’m on a boat!

I also indulged in some horchata,

Pretended to be healthy by eating salads,

And enjoyed some homemade pesto with basil straight from the garden. Perfect topping for both pasta and tilapia, it turns out!

And lots of undocumented snacks.

Time to pack the bags and head to the airport, to join with the real world once again. Boo, real world.

 

 

 

A South Lake Weekend

Hello! Long time no blog! When I miss a few days, it’s always so hard getting back into the habit again. I never know if I should recap all that I’ve missed, or just start over again with what’s current. But we had a lovely weekend away, and it would be just poor form to not mention it.

Last weekend Hulk and I took a couples’ trip to Lake Tahoe, where my company is hosting a weekend getaway for employees and their spouses. I have been looking forward to this weekend for weeks now, as I loooove visiting Tahoe! For the record, I brought my computer fully intending to blog while we were away, but hotel internet was $12 a day and I am too cheap for that. So I just chilled and disconnected instead.

Normally when we vacation as a family we stay at North Lake, but this time we are experiencing South Lake. I won a raffle at work for one of the top floor suites at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe. Woot!

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We arrived at South Lake Tahoe around 6:00, just in time to join some coworkers for happy hour. We hung out for a while enjoying the margaritas (well, Hulk did) and live band. Then once everyone else was ready to hit the casino floor, this granny-mamma called it a night around 10pm and we hit the super comfy bed in the suite. I am not a gambler; my money is better spent just throwing it in the street. We slept in until 10am! I don’t remember the last time I slept in that late.

Later Saturday afternoon we had a picnic on the beach. It did not suck.

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After sleeping in all morning and laying on the beach all afternoon, Hulk and I were a bit antsy so we checked out the hotel gym. It was pretty spacious for a hotel gym.

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Hulk tried to photo bomb. He was a little disappointed it wasn’t more obvious.

Then in the evening we did a riverboat dinner cruise. Salad, steak, and chocolate cake for dessert surrounded by Emerald Bay scenery.

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We saw the “super moon” rise above the mountains. Believe me, it was more majestic than my crappy, grainy iPhone picture.

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Sunday morning was an all-you-can-eat buffet. All the food. I didn’t want to be tempted by all the desserts, so I ate a couple chocolate-covered strawberries and took pictures of the rest. Mmm, pie.

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Then Hulk and I went for a quick hike up at Eagle Falls before heading back to the city.

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Not a bad weekend. Now it’s back to “normal,” whatever that is. I don’t have any travel scheduled in the near future (yay!), just maybe one more trip in August. Then I go have a baby and come back next year to a new project (hopefully!).

So that’s all why I’ve been all MIA lately. Hopefully if you follow me on Instagram (emilyrocksroad is my handle) you’ve been seeing my check-ins. I’m a bit more reliable on Instagram.

Are you much of a gambler?

When was your last weekend away?

Okay, time to catch my train. Go make it a great day!

 

Even More Catching Up

Hey, kids! What’s happening? I suppose it’s time for my monthly check-in, don’t you think?

First, a piece of random coolness. Apple’s developer conference (WWDC) is going on this week across the street, and they always have really cool entertainment that we can see from our living room. Last night, Bastille was playing! I didn’t realize it was them until they started playing “Pompeii”, and I about had a stroke. I grabbed the binoculars and jumped around like an idiot. OMG, I love this city.

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I know it’s kind of a crummy picture. I have a lousy camera and dirty windows. But that big bright spot in the park is THEM!

Anyway, Squish and I just got back from a deliciously long weekend up at Lake Tahoe. My folks decided to host a family reunion of sorts up in the mountains for the whole family. View from our back porch:

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It was horrible, I tell you. We did lots of beach bumming, hiking, and a little stand up paddle boarding, my new favorite. Finally, a board sport I don’t feel entirely incompetent at!

The cool part was Squish and I took the train from SF to Tahoe. Amtrak has a stop in Truckee, about a half hour from where we were staying. Squish was going nuts about riding a train “just like Thomas [the Train cartoon]!”

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I tell you, if I could always take the train when traveling with small children, I would. It is so much more freeing than riding in a plane or a car. Squish and I could wander the train cars as much as we pleased so we weren’t forced to sit in our seats the whole time, which is key when you have a very busy toddler. There was a lounge car with huge windows and chairs to view the beautiful scenery as we rolled along. And hot dogs.

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And as we traveled up the mountains they would announce historic facts and point out significant geographical features of interest. I got my nerd on, too!

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Apparently when Squish was playing with my phone he changed the filter on my camera. I didn’t notice for most of the train ride, I just thought the train made all my pictures turn out yellow. I am not a photographer.

And now it’s back to real life. I have some work travel coming up, we have some guests visiting, and baby #2 is cruising along and doing its thing. I have my 20 week ultrasound in a few weeks where we find out the sex. Hulk’s still hoping for a girl, and I don’t really care either way. I’ve finally stopped the daily puking and feeling like I’ve been hit by a fatigue truck all the time, so I’ve been able to resume some of my normal activities, like cooking and being around other people. I might even meal prep this weekend! Great heavens! Someday I might go back to the gym. Someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because after trying to hike around the mountains last weekend I found I am woefully out of shape and it’s going to be a major battle getting back to where I want to be. But the beauty is I have all the time in the world to get that done, if and when I choose to.

Okay, that’s it for now. Make it a great day, a great weekend, and I hope to check in next week!

 

The One About My Wisconsin Adventures, Volume Two

The day back from a long-ish vacation weekend is no joke. I was flying around from when I woke up at 5:30 to when I finally pulled the plug at 8:30, completely exhausted. And I never finished my weekend recap! Bah. 

Anyway, I went on a super awesome trail run again through Willow River State Park on Sunday. It was my “long run” day, so my goal was six miles. My watch said I ran six, but my Runkeeper GPS app said I ran 7.5. I trust my Garmin more, so we’re calling it six.

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It was a cool, cloudy morning. Perfect running weather.

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ImageI got lost after the falls. The trail abruptly dumped me into some campsite. I wandered around the RV’s until I found the trail picked back up on the other side.

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Then I got back to my folks’ house, cleaned up, and prepped for a party. I was too busy running around with a beer in one hand and a sangria in the other to take any pictures. The Screamin’ Deans played, there was way too much delicious food, and I got to see a whole bunch of family that I never see, and meet some of my folks’ friends. Apparently I am the “phantom daughter”, since most of their friends know my brother and sister, but I’m never around.

Aaand, the whole family, together again.

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Come Monday, the six miles + sangria caught up to me, so I decided to take it easy and stretch my legs on a quickie bike ride with my dad’s bike. I rode to the St. Croix riverfront to check things out. It was cool and cloudy again.

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Gosh, it’s Labor Day! Why isn’t anyone at the beach?

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Then we flew home. It was great to see everyone again, and Squish really enjoyed his time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Plus, it was a face plant-free weekend! Yay, Squish!

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“Whatever. Just never let me stop swinging.”

That’s it for the long weekend wrap-up. We’ve been busy getting back into the swing of things, hitting up the gym, and making Costco runs. You know, all the fun stuff.

Time to run off and go do stuff. Make sure to make it a great day!