$20 and 100,000 Sky Miles got our family of six to Anchorage Alaska to visit my sister Cathie and her family last week. It was an amazing and beautiful adventure. I will let the pictures do most of the talking. We arrived on the night of summer solstice so the daylight was endless and kept us playing around the clock.
The first morning of the trip we spent at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was so beautiful. None of the pictures will give Alaska justice. There is one of the almost 20 moose we saw on our first day just over Caleb's shoulder.
There were lots of cool trees. Cathie and I have eight kids seven and younger between the two of us. The kids didn't slow us down much - in fact, they kept us quite busy.
The Cara Tree.
Caleb and Colter in a twisty tree.
A little after 10 PM Josh, Keith and I went biking from Flat Top to Hill Top. This was one of the highlights for Josh because we just biked down hill. This picture was taken around mid night and our faces say it all. I have never mountain biked so I was wide eyed and nervous and Josh was in heaven.
One afternoon we went rafting down Campbell Creek which runs through Cathie's back yard.
We went to Beluga Point in the Cook Inlet to whale watch, we didn't see any, but we had fun. Josh has made a tradition of rock balancing when we go on vacation.
It was hard enough to get the kids in the picture at the temple, to ask them to be reverent would have been way too much.
Most of the beaches around Anchorage have quick sand, but we did learn about one beach we could hike to. Emi and Cara thought they were going to Mexico and enjoyed the water and sand in their swim suits. I don't think the temperature ever even hit 70 while we were there, but it was nice in the 60's with a jacket.
Andy spent day after day throwing rocks into the ocean, the lakes, the rivers, and the streams. He was so content.
We went to a real working gold mine, the Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine. Luckily Emi hit the guy up for money when she turned in her panning equipment. Between the kids there were eight tiny gold flakes and the guy was willing to trade them for a candy bar each. I thought that was a heck of a lot better than loosing them.
We did the Hand Tram Hike near Girdwood. There is a hand tram that hikers use to get to the other side of Glacier Creek canyon. Here Cathie is crossing with a bunch of the kids.
It was a beautiful canyon. I have no idea how deep it was, but here is an attempt to show. I had no idea that I would be hiking though rain forest in Alaska.
On the other side of the canyon was another river with a beautiful waterfall.
We spent our final three days and two nights at the Upper Ohmer Cabin in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. About a quarter of a mile from the road was the small Upper Ohmer lake and cabin. We stayed in the only cabin on the lake which was 3-5 yards from the waters edge. It was the Alaskan dream complete with a row boat. (I sure wish I would have taken a picture of the cabin.) Even though we had a cabin it was CAMPING. The cabin had plyboard bunk beads and no running water or electricity.
The kids had a great time and got really dirty. The bummer of the trip was the mosquitoes. I have never seen as many mosquitoes as I did on this trip. They were terrible. We came home covered in bits even though we used a lot of repellent. Andy's souvenir from the trip is going to be a scar above his eyebrow. We aren't really sure what happened, but he hit it against something at Cathie's house.
Caleb got to shoot the bb gun.
Josh is always available to entertain.
Ali was the perfect baby on the trip. She is almost four months and slept 10+ hour nights. She was flexible and rolled with the punches. Really I can't think of one single thing that was hard about her on the trip, just the extra 15 pounds she added to my already out of shape body as I packed her on the hikes.
Unfortunatly while we were there the salmon were not running like they were supposed to be. Josh spent a couple of hours fishing the Kenai River and we looked for salmon at the Russian River and didn't see anything. BUT Caleb, Colter and Cathie did see two black bear. We also had to hit our brakes for a black bear crossing the road near the cabin.
Caleb's favorite part of the trip was fishing, even though there were no salmon. Josh caught a few trout in the lake.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing the salmon jump up the river at Russian River Falls. It was almost a five mile round trip hike which was like a walk around the block for the Coombs family but was totally exhausting for my family. Luckily the little ones got to take turns riding and even napping. Keith and Cathie are so strong I think they could have carried all eight kids all by themselves.
It was incredible to see the strength of the salmon jumping up the falls.
Our final hike was Bear Mountain. It provided an incredible view of the many lakes in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
It was really the trip of a lifetime. Thanks so much to the Coombs Family for making it so great! We love you and miss you! Now that we have come to visit you can move back to Utah!