Last month marked our sixth together in Alaska. It's hard to believe that it's already been half a year. Before I left, I was full of so many questions. Now that I'm here, I, more than anything, just have an increased desire for adventure. Ever since I was little, I wanted to go somewhere else, and do something bigger, but it's safe to say that location isn't everything. While we are in the land of plenty, where you can just stick a net in a river and catch fish (without bait!), it's evident that if I want something, I must pursue it! We've barely scratched the surface, but we have gone on some mini adventures. Join me on a walk through our first six months here in Alaska!
One of the most remarkable things to me (and I'm easily impressed) was that the rivers were so frozen we could walk on them. Not only that, but as we were walking, snowmobiles (or snow machines as they're called here) would whiz by. In fact, it is on the rivers that sled dog races like the Yukon Quest and Iditarod are ran. You'll see some fancy moments below where we huge out by the river as snow fell. It was one of the rare times we dressed for aesthetics as opposed to function. It's so cold most of the time, "cute" isn't even an option, but it was warmer on the day we walked around the river. The snowy white "ground" behind me is actually ice.
First though, what better place to begin than with our sweet Nacho, who found that despite the snowy conditions, sun-bathing on our dining table was a warm and suitable pastime.
In the chill of winter, ice fog settled around Fairbanks. Sometimes we even saw sun dogs. At times, the air was icy and looked like glitter swirling around in the sunshine. In the image below, I attempted to capture the glow created by the sun shining through the fog. This winter I hope to photograph the fog more adequately, because it's almost surreal and like nothing I've seen elsewhere.
Once things thawed out, we took advantage of the abundant trails and walkways, minutes from our home. Creamer's Field is a local favorite.
We've taken advantage of the Farmer's Market here which always has great local pop-up restaurants, where you'll see Jeff scarfing down something delicious. We are always entertained by the Alaskan oddities. Antlers, extension cords connected to cars and huskies: oh my! Despite the unique things that seem somewhat bizarre at first, it is clear that Alaskans are proud to be Alaskan. They are loyal to the things of their state, and at times it feels I'm in a foreign country because of their strong devotion.
One Sunday we decided we were ready to see the mountains. While Fairbanks has mountain views, they're actually quite difficult to see if it's not a clear day. Despite their distance, it's obvious they are shockingly enormous. Sometimes I still mistake them for clouds. At only a couple hours away, it was to easy to get an up close look at Denali. While we didn't the best view of Mt. Mckinley (turns out you actually have to like… hike… to see it close. ha!), we still saw some glorious peaks and adorable travel pieces like this VW bus.
We've found that once it warms up, Alaska fully embraces their ability to grow plants and beautify the landscape. Anywhere plants can be planted, they will be planted. It's as though winter makes everyone here especially grateful for the warm weather, so they do all they can to make the most of it. Ann's Greenhouses for example was a labyrinth of plants. I just wondered around and soaked up the nature around me the day I went. This summer, I've often wondered why more states don't take advantage of the warmer months. It's already growing a sense of appreciation in me, and I look forward to how it further changes my perspective.
Plants brought themselves out of the woodwork, and for a month or so we were overwhelmed with lilacs. At one time, birch tree pollen filled the sky and looked like snow. It's no wonder those trees are so abundant here! Additionally, this area is overflowing (pun intended) with microbreweries. Denali offered 49th State Brewing Co while in Fairbanks we've visited HooDoo Brewery and Silver Gulch. Not only are these brews local, but they're delicious! Google a list of Alaskan breweries and you'll see what I mean.
We also did some exploring down Chena Hot Springs Road, hiking trails, and watching the river. We commonly found piles of moose poo (which is so much more frequent than I ever realized) but have yet to run into a moose in the wild. Though we've safely seen some from our vehicles. :)
Six months in, it's clear that Alaska has so much to offer. This post has barely scratched the surface like I said, as I've attempted to keep it to our personal experiences. The offerings of Alaska stretch so far outside of our accomplishments in our short time here, and I cannot wait to see what crazy awesome things happen. This story is to be continued, until then---happy summer all!