As I sit here and write this post, I can't help but feel like I am writing a "what I did this summer" essay for the first day of school. But in all seriousness, I would love to share our trip with you because it was amazing and fantastic and we are so glad that we got to share it with the girls.
The first 36 hours of our trip were spent traveling from Munnsville to Seward. After 20 something hours of air travel we finally landed in Anchorage, got our rental car, found our hotel, and fell into a deep sleep (only to be awaken four hours later by an urgent call from our farm sitter, but more on that later). We left Anchorage for Seward midmorning and stopped at the Portage Glacier for a mid-drive break.
Both Chris and Hannah experienced their first glacier sightings on the drive to Portage Lake and Hannah got to hold a baby iceberg. We also got behind a person with a sticker that said "just say no to farmed fish" and after Chris read the bumper sticker aloud, Hannah piped up with "That's right. We eat tuna fish not farmed fish!"
The drive down the Seward highway was gorgeous. The mountains are so young and the landscape is still so raw. In Seward, we settled into our airbnb and then joined Geoff and Rachael and their families and friends at the rehearsal dinner. The salmon was amazing!
On Saturday morning we went to the Alaska SeaLife Center, which is part aquarium and part sea life rehabilitation center. Hannah loved seeing the puffin birds, seals, and sea lions and touching the sea anemones, but the special highlight was seeing a walrus calf (?) that was being rehabilitated in the center. She knew right away that something was wrong with it and was really concerned about making it feel better. She also really loved the whale vertebrae.
After our SeaLife Center excursion, we went back to the airbnb and got ready for Geoff and Rachael's wedding. The Seward Windsong Lodge was an absolutely awesome setting for a wedding. They were married outside and jagged mountains formed the background for their nuptials. The celebration following the wedding was joyous and the salmon was, again, absolutely fantastic. We sent the bride and groom off into their newlywedness with a shower of sparklers.
On Sunday we joined Geoff and Rachael, parts of the wedding party, and Rachael's family for a kayak around Thumb Cove. On our paddle around the cove, we caught glimpses of three alpine glaciers, watched fish jumping in the water, and watched as two bald eagles brought a fish back to the juveniles in their nest. The cove was quiet and it was possible to believe that we were the last people left on earth.
Later that day we hiked to Exit Glacier. As we hiked to the glacier, we passed markers with the year that the glacier last stood at that spot. Watching the speed at which the glacier receded, organic matter accumulated, and life colonized the barren land was humbling.
On Monday, we went on a 7.5 hour boatride to visit two glaciers and view whales, birds, and other marine life. We got to watch a pod of transient orcas cross our path and humpback whales come to the surface to breath and tail slap. We also got to see sea lions, puffins, seals, and mountain goats.
On Tuesday, we traveled to Homer and visited the National Wildlife Refuge visitor's center and had dinner on the Spit. The drive was long, but we got to see Sandhill Cranes and Chris got to hear a presentation on the role of Attu and Kiska in WWII.
The logistics of going on vacation when you own a farm and don't have any employees are challenging. Chris milks the cows twice a day, everyday, and to find someone to come in and run the farm the way we would for a week is daunting. We are so thankful to have such wonderful neighbors who were willing to take on the challenge, split the responsibility, and keep us updated on facebook messenger. While we joked that our Amish alarmclock went off every morning at 4:15, we are so grateful for the care that was given to our animals while we were gone and the chance that we had to get away. As Steven said, there is nothing quite so sweet as coming home.