Alaska: UnDenaliably Gorgeous – a Moose See

Kenai tell you about my trip to Alaska? It was wonderful – Alaska is a truly beautiful place, full of green trees, snow capped mountains, lakes, and fjords. Needless to say, we felt very fjordtunate to have the opportunity to spend time in this beautiful state, which is 2x+ bigger than Texas…Dayuuum, Denali!

Real reason for the trip: Celebrating Sreetham and I's 10 year Friendversary!

Real reason for the trip: Celebrating Sreetham and I’s 10 year Friendversary!

The trip started off interestingly: Svetla, Julz and I all (try to) board our flight from Seattle, to Anchorage. Svetla’s boarding pass does not work. Because we are definitely not on the same flight as Julz. Woops.

Then everything is fine, we all make it to Anchorage at 1am, and it is warm and twilight sunny! In fact, the “locals” are even wearing “t-shirts”!!

The next day, we ask our airbnb host where we should go for a small hike. She suggests Flattop Mountain. We ask her if we need to bring a lunch, and she says “Oh no, it’s an easy hike. Maybe just a snack at the top”.

THREE HOURS LATER, we are starving, scrambling up a sheer mountain face and generally cursing what we have deemed local Alaskan humor. Easy?! Just a small snack, she says??

Almost...there Julz, keep smilin!

I know it’s Alaskan a lot of you Julz, but keep going, you’re almost there!

But it was all worth it, because this is what greets us at the top:

<3 <3 <3

Julz looking way more flexible than me.

After the hike, we eat salmon, befriend a new dog, trespass through several neighbors’ yards to retrieve a lost volleyball (not the last inappropriate volleyball retrieval of the trip…), and do other things I no longer remember.

The next day we drive to Seward, a gorgeous town in the Kenai Fjord National Park, but not before a pitstop at Moose’s Pass:

How adorable is Moose's Pass?

How adorable is Moose’s Pass?

Once we arrive in Seward, we hike to Exit Glacier:

Bearly Clothed

Bearly Clothed

The next day, we kayak the fjord. SO pretty:

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wp-1464922454718.jpg

Then we spot a bald eagle:

IMG_20160531_142728

Then we make a lot of punny jokes:

The following day, we drive to Denali. A 6.5 hour drive that takes 12, b/c we make #allthestops.

Stop 1: This is just a place we stopped to pee

Stop 2: We find a wonderful lake

Don't Anchorage us...or we'll do handstands for days

Don’t Anchorage us…or we’ll do headstands for days

The lake is warmish (said no one ever about Alaska waters), so we ignore the 5 families and 20 kids and skinny dip right in. But not before Julz and I realize our underwear tells a story:

Heart Me. Yes Please.

Svetla loses her big toenail while swimming; Julz just lost both her big toenails, and I just lost my middle toenail. We’ve all decided if you’re not losing toenails, you’re not living life.

Stop 3: Beaver dam

En route to the beaver dam, we find this incredibly informative sign on bear danger:

Note the last sentence: No bear danger in the mall

Note the last sentence: Very low risk of running into a bear in the mall, so feel free to be “dumb about bear safety”.

After bearly making it out alive , we arrive in Denali, where we are greeted by unDenaliably magnificent views. Majestic and foreboding mountain peaks dot the landscape as far as the eye can see, with the peak of Mt McKinley (the largest peak in North America) looming above the clouds. Everything else Palins comparison (Seward I did there? B/c Sarah Palin lives in Alaska…!) C’mon…Juneau it’s funny.

It's like looking at Everest

It’s like looking at Everest

We attempt to look at Mt Denali (named changed by Obama…b/c he doesn’t have better things to focus on) by going into Denali National Park. The only way to go in is via a 4 hour (EACH WAY!) bus trip, that stops to look at wildlife. Basically, a wildlife safari. Flashback to the time Sreetham and I took an unDenaliably boring, hot, and generally terrible safari in South Africa. As soon as I sat on the Denali bus, I knew it was going to be more of the same. Beaver careful with 8 hour bus trips…b/c you are trapped. And the bus driver gives zero fox about your boardom…in fact, you may fall asheep.

The good news is we saw 4 grizzly bears on the safari….that were all 500 feet+ away, but still very cool. The bad news is we saw so much caribou that at the end, everyone was on the same page: I don’t caribou-t any of this..get me off this bus!!

We saw THIS though! Just kidding...this is from the internet...the grizzly we saw was a tiny brown speck in the distance

We saw THIS though! Just kidding…this is from the internet…the grizzly we saw was a tiny brown speck in the distance

My favorite moment of the bus trip was the following re-enactment:

Person on bus: “STOP! STOP THE BUS!!!”

Everyone else on bus: “OH MY GOD WHAT IS IT?!?! A BEAR?!? A WOLF EATING A MOOSE?!”

Person on bus: “…A squirrel. We may continue”

My second favorite moment of the bus trip: Julz giving me (and everyone else who was still on the bus) a striptease…Girls gone wild in the wilderness!

My third favorite moment: Climbing up a hill while it snowed on us.

Fourth favorite moment: Reading the Power of Now – a book whose topic I previously would have laughed at, and now caribou-t deeply.

Dat Alaskan midnight sun

Dat Alaskan midnight sun

On our last day in Denali, we do a 9 mile hike. Halfway through, our trail is blocked by a 700lb moose. I was of the opinion “Not a bear not a problem”, but the others were more of the “Big (literally) problem, let’s turn back.” We spent a few tense moments tramping in the bush to get around the moose, and then it’s happy trails with our newfound friends (power in numbers!) the rest of the way.

New friends! Who had bear spray

New friends! Who had bear spray and beer. The best kind of Alaska friends

Post hike we have dinner, where we institute a new rule: Whomever touches their phone first picks up the entire tab. Brilliant way to make us all present in the moment, enjoying each other’s company.

Our last day (SAD!) we spend biking and eating in Anchorage. This spontaneous (but planned 6 months in advance) trip was a much needed break from life. Although I would like to stay longer, I learned something from this trip. And with that, I leaf you with these sage words of wisdom:

Sometimes you moose travel on rough roads and bear all its challenges. It can even feel otterly impossible to get through. But just know you have friends who caribou-t you. You have to beaver careful not to give up.

Meditation: Sreetham v Julz

Meditation: Sreetham v Julz

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