Here in Alaska, we are waist deep in summer!
We are enjoying the sunshine and periodic rain as we simmer through the warm season here. There have been some pretty hot days so far, but we’ve been receiving about ¼” of rain each week (totaling 1” for the month) and that has kept things green and pleasant.
At the beginning of the month we went on a short trip up to Fairbanks. It was about a 300 mile drive each way and the highway actually goes through Denali National Park. We only saw a tiny sliver of the 6 Million acre park from the highway, so we definitely plan to visit again as there is much to explore. The views of Denali and the Alaska Range, and other mountain ranges, from the highway were stunning. One of our favorite things about living here is how absolutely gorgeous the scenery is, and it is endless. Many times, we find the drive to/from a particular place to be just as memorable as whatever we did at the destination.
Fairbanks reminded us a bit of our hometown in South Dakota, but with more trees and mountains and less wide open prairie. We plan to go back again sometime to view the aurora – from Fairbanks and north has the best northern lights shows in the country. It doesn’t get dark there in the summer, so they are only really visible in the winter and spring. Since aurora viewing is typically an outdoor activity, we’ll try to plan for a time when it still gets dark but isn’t the EXTREME cold they get in the middle of winter. -60ºF anyone?!?
Our Alaskan adventures also took us down to Seward in June. We went fishing, hiked part of Mount Alice (the tallest peak in the Seward area), chowed down on halibut, walked on the rocks along the ocean, had a picnic in front of Exit Glacier, rented a small cabin in the forest, and went on a whale watching tour. With 24 hours of daylight, having just passed the summer solstice, there is sunlight available for whenever you’d like to do anything. Pete got up early and drove over to the public beach access to see if he could snag some Sockeye Salmon. He had some fish jump pretty close to him, but didn’t have any luck. The salmon run had reportedly been really heavy the previous couple weeks, but seemed to have thinned out since then, making snagging more of a challenge.
--- If you have ever fished for anything that requires any bit of skill, such as trout or bass, then you will think snagging is just about the silliest thing there ever was. Basically, the idea is that there are so many salmon swimming along the bottom making there way to the river mouth, that you just need to throw a giant treble hook with nothing on it as far as you can and then yank it back in the hopes that you randomly hook one of the thousands of fish as they swim by. You can hook it anywhere, in the side, fin, belly, it doesn’t matter. These spawning salmon aren’t hungry and have a long journey with one goal in mind: get back to the riverbed they were born in and spawn before passing away. ---
Seward has also been very hard hit by the travel restrictions. Usually, they have one or more cruise ships docking every day throughout the summer, dropping many thousands of tourists into the small town to do excursions, dine in the restaurants, and purchase things from the shops. All of that business has been cut off this year due to all of the cruise lines canceling the season. Every time we pass a house with a for sale sign out front and a U-Haul backed up to the door, or a formerly thriving shop or restaurant which is now closed up, we say a little prayer and hope that everyone is able to come through this in their own way.
That said, we are certainly taking advantage of the lack of crowds and cheaper rates for locals. While in Seward, one of the things we did was go on a marine wildlife tour in the waters along the Kenai Fjords National Park. We saw many amazing animals including some endangered sea lions basking on the rocks, Dall’s porpoise jumping next to the boat, handfuls of puffins and bald eagles, hundreds of sea gulls and a few pairs of humpback whales (mamas and calves) playing and feeding. Of course, my favorite were the humpback whales. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the surrounding glacier-topped mountains made the perfect backdrop for viewing these magnificent wild creatures.
In other news, Pete has still been slowly chipping away (pun intended) at the log framing for the loft in the garage. This has been a long, drawn out project, but he is nearly complete! He just needs to cut 4 more of the diagonal braces and then test-fit and trim up all of the joints before we do the final assembly. It is starting to take shape and is looking great so far!
Pete has also been putting a lot of work into the garden this month. He reassembled the gate on the fence to make it moose (and dog) proof, brought in a couple loads of manure, and hauled countless wheelbarrow loads of native topsoil and rotting wood from around the property. He used all the material to lay out four garden beds and then started a couple of compost piles with the rest.
Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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