The Trip There

We are back in Washington!

I wish I could share every one of my 500+ pictures of Alaska with you, but I’ll try to narrow them down.

I do have to say that Alaska was one of the greatest adventures we’ve had. It was different than we thought it’d be, but isn’t that what makes the best adventure? We had a fantastic last night with our host family, and I actually teared up as we were leaving the glorious Wrangell mountains to cross the border. I’m so glad we have these memories.

In this post, I’m going to share the pictures of our road trip up to Alaska.

Our first stop was Jasper National Park, BC, Canada. Jasper is breathtaking. I know we will come back here to spend more time, as it’s only a day’s drive from Washington. We actually saw more wildlife here than we did in Alaska. Moose, elk, buffalo, mountain goats, and big horned sheep.

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Our next stop was Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaska Highway. This was prairie land which was much different than the mountains, but just as beautiful.

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The next stop was at Liard Hot Springs, but I only have one picture because it was pouring rain. That was not so much fun, trying to set up camp and make dinner. But we were rewarded by the hot springs themselves, which were such a relaxing break. I had never been to any before, so it was quite a treat! Here we are in the car waiting for the rain to at least slow down to a drizzle, rather than buckets.

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Entered the Yukon next! Pit stop in the Signpost Forest.

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The Yukon is gorgeous. And empty. Very few people live here and it makes the landscape that much greater.

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We stayed at a campground at Kluane Lake our 4th night. I wish we could’ve stayed here longer as well. I think we liked this lake so much because there was not a house or cabin or boat in sight. It was so quiet and serene and our campsite was literally on the beach.

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You get the idea.

We made better time than we thought, so we chose to see Fairbanks for our final night before the farm. We didn’t get to explore it a whole bunch, but we decided that we weren’t going to move there any time soon (sorry Fairbanksers!).

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There is a nice little river in the middle of the town, which is where our campground was. Ducks came right up to us, clearly having been fed before, and nibbled at Paul’s toes.

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And that’s it! We made it to the farm the next day and that’s another blog post!

Our First Ten Days

We have been 10 days on the farm. In these 10 days, our expectations have been shattered, our circumstances have changed, and our insulation has not existed in our cabin. However, we have been to one of God’s most glorious of landscapes, met some remarkable characters, and challenged ourselves mind and body.

There were several times we talked about leaving early (and probably will still talk about). I live in constant fear of the wild animals that I still haven’t seen around the farm (we carry bear spray from place to place at night). We are currently sleeping in our sleeping bags underneath two blankets and a sheet with thick wool socks and long john underwear with stocking caps on our heads. The man who owns this farm left for a week and our only instruction was to water and weed the garden.  To say that was discouraging is an understatement.

But if only I could describe to you the vast beauty of Alaska. Just yesterday we drove 3 hours down to Anchorage and there was no way on earth I could’ve captured on my camera the deep glacial snow atop the treacherously high peaks, the limitless sky atop the infinite forest of tall skinny trees. And we haven’t even gone to the National Parks yet! People come here not for the city sites, as they do when visiting Boston, Chicago, or Seattle, but for the exploration of nature and the incredible life they find among it.

So we are staying, for these next 2ish weeks. We will go to the county fair and local farmer’s market, we’ll visit the two National Parks and drink in the beauty. I hope the cold nights and slow days in the garden won’t keep us from that.

North Country

Paul and I are going to work on an organic farm in Alaska for the month of August.

We are so excited, I can’t even stand it.

We are going through an organization called WWOOF (wwoofusa.org) that connects volunteers to organic farms worldwide. We found a farm in Alaska owned by a couple who are incredibly self-sustainable. They have 365 acres and farm on 60 of that. They give us a place to stay and food to eat and we give them daily work on the farm. It sounds like we will be helping run the U-Pick farm during our stay there, so we are hoping to meet a lot of local people and learn the ins and outs of being farmers.

Currently, we are getting our little Honda checked out to see if it will make the 5,000 mile roundtrip trek. We’ve already started mapping out our route. Neither of us have been north of Victoria, so we are thrilled to get to see the beauty of the Yukon.

Guys, I’m so excited!!!!

On Change

I am a very adaptable person, and I love change. If Paul told me he wanted to move to Minnesota, I would get on Craigslist right then and see how many bedrooms we could get in our budget. I would jump ON that Minnesota bandwagon. I love trying different things like learning a new language, taking a Zumba class, cross-stitch, crochet, cooking, and candle-making. I have lots of ideas in my head and often don’t have time or money to accomplish those things. And some things I do start, but come to realize they are not my cup of tea. (I joined Curves for a day!) One thing I do love and do consistently is read. But even in that I adapt. Depending on what I’m reading, I usually adapt to that way of life. I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (FANTASTIC book) and wanted to become a writer. I read (and watched) Half the Sky, and wanted to move to India to help women in the sex trade. I’m currently reading a book (Bread & Wine) about how sacred the dinner table and guests are and now I want to have dinner parties every weekend. 

There is tension in this character trait of mine. Many times it’s served me well: I find it easy to enjoy the people I work with no matter where I’m at. I have a very eclectic group of friends from all different walks in life, and I LOVE it. On the downside, I struggle with contentment. I’m constantly thinking about the next thing that I’m going to be doing, whether that day or the next year. I am often not satisfied with the daily things in life, thinking that there are more important things I could be doing than paying the bills.

I am learning to embrace this and to tone it down. And I suppose writing this down and acknowledging that it is who I am is the first step in the right direction. It’s ok for me to have many dreams and goals for my life, but I’m going to take longer to make those kinds of decisions. It’s ok for me to want to try different hobbies, but I’m going to be more honest with myself about whether I’ll like it or not, and not waste my time on things I won’t like just because other people like it. 

One of my greatest friends told me to never listen to people who tell you to never change, because you should always be changing. In context, that meant growth. We should always be striving to be better people, better friends, better spouses, better human beings. That’s the kind of change I want. 

And no, we are not moving to Minnesota. Yet. 

 

Seattle, For Now

Well hello there! I am writing this from Seattle, our new home! That’s right, we’ve moved. It’s been almost 3 months already so I thought it time to update you all.
“Why a move to Seattle?” you might ask. Because we can! Paul graduated with his MFA in June and we thought what a better time than now to experience something other than Spokane (whom we love dearly).
My good friend Kelly has been here for 3 years and she found us all a fantastic apartment where the three of us (and Griswold) reside. It is the perfect location, just north of the Space Needle. Here’s our view:

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Paul was able to get a position at a local community college where he is teaching English. I’m super impressed with him that he got 3 classes straight out of school, such a rockstar. The only bummer about this is that he has to commute an hour and a half each way. Yuck.

I am working at a spa in Belltown. I am so thankful that it is only a mile away from our apartment and I get to walk. I am keeping very busy and I love my coworkers and I am really grateful to be at the spa. Here is a view from my walk to work the other day (excuse the corner thumb):

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We are having a great time here so far. The weather has been perfect (knock on wood) and we’ve tried to take advantage of that. Plays and poetry readings, fantastic restaurants on every block, comedy open mics, ferry rides, and hikes in the endless greenery here, the city has a lot to offer. I promise I won’t go too crazy, but I want to share some pictures.

We went to Bainbridge Island and ate at an adorable crepe shop and learned all about book binding from a famous book binder at the art museum. This is the view of Seattle coming home on the ferry. Gorgeous.

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This is us on the bus. While some locals may complain, the bus system here is fantastic. I love taking the bus. A new adventure every time.

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There are so many gorgeous parks here, even the dog parks are beautiful! I love that they are only a walk or short drive away too. This is at Discovery Park, a really popular park about 20 minutes from here. The trails lead down to this adorable yet eerie lighthouse.

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And this is us on a ferry to Whidbey Island. My mother introduced us to this fabulous restaurant in the middle of the island where they grow most of their produce in the back garden. I’m already looking forward to going back. Also, we love ferries.

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Lest you think Seattle is perfect, here are a few things I do not like about it: traffic (seriously, Mercer Street can go to h*#l), expensive living ($20 parking in some lots!) and Seahawks fans (they are crazy).

I’m thankful we moved, despite missing our friends and family. But who knows how long we’ll be here until our next adventure?!

Spring Break Hike

Last week was spring break for Paul, and I cut back on massages so it felt like a break for me too! It was lovely. I wanted to share some pictures we took of our hike at the Palouse Falls. Paul’s sister Sarah came with us and we brought our dogs, and surprisingly they did really well! We will definitely be going back here.

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This is the view when you first get to the park. Gorgeous. Turn to the right and you get this:

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We wanted to get to the very bottom of the falls, but there wasn’t a clear path to it so we used our puppies as an excuse to not risk our lives. (: Instead, we decided to climb to the top of the falls.

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That rock formation to the left of the falls? That’s where we went. It was an adventure.

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We found the river. Griswold was a little terrified of the loud falls. You really get your workout carrying a 20lb pooch while hiking.

We saw 2 guys go up the ridge by the river, so naturally, we followed them.

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This was a walk in the park for Sarah & Foxy.

And then we made it. Photo op!

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What a fantastic day. Maybe next time we will venture down to the bottom.

I love the Northwest.

 

Seattle

Paul & I just got back from a long weekend in Seattle. He attended a writing conference and I seized the opportunity to visit with my great friend, Kelly, who very graciously let us stay with her for 4 nights. Kelly had work and school so I had a grand old time exploring Seattle by myself for a good chunk of the weekend. I got some good reading done at local coffee shops, and good exercise walking downtown and back. Oh, and Ikea was visited.

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When Kelly and I did have time together, we walked down by the water and this is the best picture I got of us. Isn’t she beautiful!? Seattle suits her well, I think. She also took me to the bakery she works at, Macrina. It was so delicious and adorable. Also, Kelly is crazy talented and creative. She showed me around her school in West Seattle and I got to see a project she is working on. Baking & Pastry work is art when Kelly does it – beautiful.

We then walked down to Pike’s Market where I had to buy flowers. We stopped in a great shop and did a wine tasting. Let me tell you, wine tasting in the afternoon is my new favorite thing. Especially with this girl. We had a blast. And we could also tell you about oak aging vs. stainless steel aging if you really wanted to know about it. Image

But seriously, isn’t she beautiful?! Guys, she’s single.

We also ate very well at some great local places. This was an Irish pub where I had the best Irish coffee. 

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We ate at the Athenian down in the Market for brunch one day. Apparently they filmed parts of Sleepless in Seattle there. Basically like eating with Meg Ryan. 

Kelly took me up to Queen Anne where I will spend more time next visit because they have so many cute shops there! We spent the evening playing games at a local game shop. Spokane needs a place like this – they have tables set up and bookshelves full of games to choose from. A nice cold beer, good friends, and free games! So much fun.

Spokane is small. 

I love traveling because of the perspective it gives me, and this was no exception.

A great vacation, I’d say.