As many of you know, Eva and I spent a month in Alaska this past summer, visiting my sister. My sister and her husband moved to the Kenai peninsula in 2010 and since Alaska is one of the many places on my "Bucket List," I took advantage that I finally knew someone who lives there and invited myself up :) Flights to Alaska aren't cheap so I knew I wanted to spend a good amount of time there to get my money's worth. I'm not going to go into full detail about every thing in AK because that would take forever, as it is, I am breaking up my trip into four posts because there's so much to do in Alaska and I can't fit it all in one.
For those of you who are curious about flights, you can get tickets from TX to AK for anywhere from $550-$1400+ depending on when you buy your ticket, how far in advance, how many stops you make, whether you fly economy or first class, and what airline you choose. I bought mine a few months in advance and got a great deal considering summer is the busiest time to fly there. We flew Delta and only had one stop in Salt Lake City on the way there and one stop in Minneapolis on the way back...not too shabby.
We flew into Anchorage, which is a decently sized city with all the modern amenities you would find anywhere in the lower 48. One thing about visiting Alaska in the summer: they have daylight for like 18 hours each day. When we flew in, it was light at 1am. As summer time wound down and the solstice approached, they started losing daylight. In winter it's the opposite. I won't go into detail about Anchorage until my very last post so that's all I'm going to say for now. I wasn't staying in Anchorage since my sister doesn't live there, so I had to decide if I wanted to take a $100 connecting flight from Anchorage to Kenai or have my sister drive the 3 hours there. Now I'm normally one to choose flying over driving any day, but Alaska is so beautiful, that I really would recommend driving wherever you go in the state. I promise, you will not regret it, especially if you're driving to the Kenai Peninsula. You'll see snow-capped mountains, the ocean, waterfalls galore, rivers, etc...
Told ya it was beautiful, and you haven't seen anything yet.
We stayed with my sister the entire month we were there. She lives in this charming cabin in the woods:
Kenai is a small town, but Soldotna (a slightly larger town) is only 15 minutes away. Most people go to Kenai to fish but I was going to relax, and relax I did. On days we didn't go out for activities, I mainly took time to read and read and read some more. It was marvelous. Kenai has a nice public library that was surprisingly well stocked.
Eva reading in the library's children section:
We also spent a lot of time outside because my sister lives right on the Kenai River and it is beautiful out there. Even though it was July, we kept bon fires going every night.
Eva's favorite thing about bonfires? Why making s'mores of course!
Actually, eating the s'mores was her favorite part :)
I mentioned that people went to Kenai to fish. That's sort of an understatement. It's considered the fishing capital of Alaska. Summer time tourists come out in droves to catch salmon.
You can see a few of them dip net fishing on the beach, behind Eva.
People wait and wait for the salmon to come in, then they go nuts.
Here's a picture of some of the ones my brother in law and his father caught in the river. I think they had 40+ within 2 or 3 hours.
Another thing you're likely to see a lot of in AK....moose. They are everywhere and all along the road there are signs asking motorists to "Give moose a brake."
What I wasn't expecting to see in AK were grizzlies out in the wild, but yes, they are there (I mean, I knew they were there, but I didn't think we'd actually see them).One night we were outside the cabin talking and guess who showed up across the river from us? A momma grizzly and her two cubs. I'm not gonna lie, I was in awe but also terrified because grizzlies run and swim fast and they could have crossed over to where we were faster than we could probably run inside.
I don't think visitors to Alaska really understand how dangerous it can be to run into one of these creatures. A few weeks after we left someone was mauled and killed by a grizzly in Denali. Most of the locals carry guns when they're out fishing; they know better. If you're going to AK to walk the trails and fish, I recommend doing some research on safety precautions before you go. You should know about how to store your food and snacks, trash, etc... and what to do in case you do run into a brown or black bear. Enough about that.
The majority of the activities we did were on trips to Homer, Seward, and Anchorage, but Soldotna was a really cute town. Two of the restaurants there (Buckets and St Elias Brewing Co) had great food. There's also a cute park in Soldotna that Eva just loved. It's probably one of the nicest parks we've ever been to.
The park is next to the river and has a nice little trail next to it that people like to walk and fish off of. Here's Eva being a little terror on our walk:
You've probably noticed that we're wearing coats and sweaters in most of the pictures, that's because it was 50 degrees most of the time we were there (yes, 50 degrees in July)...and raining...more of a constant drizzle actually. It was a welcome break for us Texas girls from the 100+ degrees back home. Eva loved all the rain. Here is an action shot of her jumping in puddles outside the cabin. She doesn't have a twin, the action shot just produced two of her :)
We didn't fret over the weather because there were also several sunny days in the 60s. We REALLY enjoyed those days.
There's so much to do in AK that it can be overwhelming to do it all in one trip. Just remember to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take time to smell the flowers....
Just don't stick them up your nose!
Hope you enjoyed reading part one of our AK trip, sorry it's like 7 months late. I tried to cut down on the number of photos because I took hundreds of pictures and it was hard to choose just a few. Hope you'll stay tuned for part 2: the Homer Spit. "See" ya soon!