Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Alaska - Stop 1

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Our first stop in Alaska was to visit with our college friends the Hunsaker Family! They are living their dreams out here in beautiful Alaska! And we haven't seen them in many years. In fact the last time I saw them, I had 3 kids and they had 1. They now have 4! They welcomed us with open arms to their beautiful home. 35 acres of beautiful forest in Alaska. They are starting out growing Alaska Peonies, and their property is just beautiful! The kids all became instant friends, more like cousins. She'd made a delicious taco bar for us, with Moose meat! Authentic Alaska!

Next day they took us to church at this beautiful log chapel. Afterwards we went for a scenic Sunday drive. They took us to drive the Hatcher Pass, where we hiked up to a little lake. The kids had so much fun throwing rocks and just playing together. Next was wild blueberry picking. While the blueberries were not plentiful, we learned a valuable skill here. They are grown in a short, low lying bush and are hard to find. And we got to try Moose Berries out too. The kids did not care much for these, too tart. I didn't think they were too bad. Much better than soap berries.

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Afterwards we headed back for a late dinner, even though the sun was still high in the sky. Sierra made delicious Sockeye Salmon on the grill. They had just caught a winters worth of Salmon a couple weeks ago. The flesh is a bright red. I'd never seen Salmon that color before. Sierra filled me in on several types of Salmon, saying this kind was her favorite for the grill. It was absolutely delicious! She made it 3 different ways so we could get different flavors. David, who has never liked Salmon in the past, and usually won't try it, LOVED it! He went back for seconds. And then Sierra brought out the fresh made Salmon cakes, and we all had several of those! So Yummy! I should have taken pictures! For dessert, She took the blueberries and made a compote for the top of vanilla ice cream! We were all in food heaven.

The next morning we spent a few hours in the garden helping to weed. The kids pitched in and did a good job. Calvin didn't care for the weeding, but helped split and pile wood up for winter. That afternoon we headed into town to a local park and lake, and the kids had a blast kayaking and rowing an inflatable boat. It was nice to just enjoy life in Alaska. That evening Ben, David and Calvin built a chicken tractor to help with the weeding. I had never seen that before.

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                                          She was proud of her hard working hands!

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The next day we packed up and in the afternoon we all headed to Portage to camp overnight outside of Whittier.

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Wednesday morning we all take a small boat cruise out in the Prince William Sound, out to see some wildlife and Glaciers calve into the ocean. We saw lots of otters and seal lions. We visited Surprise Glacier and watched it Calve several times. We ate lunch looking out over the beautiful blue ice. A large amount finally came down off of it. You see the ice falling first, and then you hear it. And it's loud, like thunder crashing. It created a wave that was sent out into the bay, you could see it breaking where ice was under the surface of the water, like a reef. It was really cool!
We picked a cruise in the Prince William Sound because it is calm and protected waters. We missed out on seeing whales there. Had we gone to Seward to a Glacier cruise, we'd have seen more sea life, and most likely whales. The calm waters were nice thought, no one got sick!

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To get to Whittier you have to pass thru a 2.5 mile train tunnel. It is timed with the train, so they only allow cars through once an hour. It's $38 dollars to pass through. And they have 6 lines for cars, RVs and trucks to line up for the appointed time. You have to go through this same process to leave town, except there is no fee to leave. Whittier is a small town, mainly owned and run by the railroad. The port is ice free in the winter and a very protected harbor.

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While waiting to leave town we had our last chance to say goodbye to our friends, The Hunsaker Family! The kids were sad to leave their new friends, we hope we can come visit them again!

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