We are back in Anchorage and at our usual spot, the library. We now even have a usual table we sit at in the library. It is comforting to have bits of routine when traveling to balance out all the uncertainties. Last night we went back to watch the airplanes again, and on the way to Cabela’s to park for the night I asked David if we should stop at Wendy’s for a Frosty on the way back to “our place.” David remarked that he liked that it was now “our place,” even if it is really just a parking lot filled with other campers and loud seagulls. We have our usual dump station, grocery store, rec center with hot showers, lunch spots. Anchorage is conveniently in the middle of most places we want to go, so it has become a sort of basecamp for us. I like routine and redundancy, and the van lets us travel and explore without abandoning too much of it. David and I have adopted lots of routines, revolving around meals, bed time, and van chores. When we stop at a dump station, he empties the gray tank and toilet and fills the water tank while I clean the kitchen area, drop a new deodorizer tablet in the toilet, and fill our water bottles. At lunch I make salads and toast an english muffin for me and bagel for him while he makes eggs. At night I usually put down the bed and floss and brush my teeth first. Some of the routines are necessary in a small space so we aren’t constantly trying to move around the other person. This past week, we mixed up our usual routines a bit with our first visitor in Alaska – our old friend from Portland, Lucas. Lucas rented a small trailer we towed behind the van, providing endless joy for David and opportunities for lots of tricky parking maneuvers (his favorite). We lucked out with incredible weather, with Lucas’s trip sandwiched between lots of clouds and rain. Looking back at the photos from the week, a few key themes from the visit emerge.
We made our way down to Seward, Alaska during the first few days of Lucas’s visit, stopping for lots of hikes and sightseeing along the way. I didn’t realize it when planning our hikes, but most of them revolved around seeing or hiking to glaciers. We touched our first glacier in Alaska, Raven Glacier on Crow Pass Trail just outside Girdwood. We continued on to Portage Glacier outside Whittier and Harding Icefield in the Kenai Fjords.
The wildflower Fireweed is all over here, especially in areas that have burned in the past. We’ve also seen Fireweed ice cream (Lucas tried and it said the flavor was very subtle) and read that you can eat all parts of the plant. I tried the flowers and didn’t taste much. We did a couple hikes near the Kenai River, hoping for wildlife spotting (unsuccessful), where there were huge fields of Fireweed.
We stopped at lots of fish spotting locations, but stumbled upon our best fish viewing unintentionally at a park we stopped at for lunch. The salmon lifecycle is pretty fascinating, which you can read more about here. It is hard to believe that some salmon travel over 2,000 miles to spawn, as most of the salmon we watched struggling up rivers made little to no progress while we watched them. Sometimes I’d watch a fish struggle for several minutes and make a few feet of progress, only to then be swept back downstream even farther from where it started.
Camp Spots by the Water
We found some pretty incredible camp spots during Lucas’s visit. One of the benefits of having a visitor is we are forced to spend more time outside the van. If it is just the two of us, we eat almost all our meals inside the van and rarely sit outside in the evenings, simply because this is comfortable and convenient. With Lucas, we made a couple fires and cooked outside for the first time (this is shameful to admit!).
We have a couple weeks before our next visitors come (my parents), and are planning to head towards the Wrangells and down to Valdez. Right now it is very rainy in Anchorage with a discouraging forecast for the next week, so motivation to get outside is a bit low. I’m forecasting lots of indoor meals and evening time!
To close, here are pictures of a few other recent firsts!