Whittier | Seward | Homer || Roadtrip Adventures

A couple of weeks back we decided to hit the road again for another adventure.  We headed south of Anchorage this time without much of a plan to see what there was to see.  The destination in Alaska really is the journey!  All the driving is incredibly beautiful and makes hours in the car without AC really worth it!

The first day we went to Whittier to which Adam said “Whittier not, here we come!” Pretty witty guy!  :)  Whittier isn’t too far from Anchorage, maybe like 40 miles south of here.  You have to pay a toll to get there- and then take a 2 1/2 mile long tunnel through a mountain that’s dark and cold and only one lane!  But it was worth it because it was really pretty!  It was a beautiful harbor town filled with boats and fishing and little restaurants along the coast.
We enjoyed just walking around, having a little picnic and taking in the beautiful scenery!

After Whittier, we drove down to Seward- which was a really cute little town with fun shops in the downtown area.  We went to the Alaska Sea Life Center, and then had dinner at a cute little food truck called Red’s Burgers.  They had seating in an old school bus- and were playing a really great oldies mix, so it felt like a 50’s diner.  It was really fun and the food was amazing!  I decided on getting the garlic burger- which was truly awesome but had an ungodly amount of garlic on it which proved to be less than awesome since we were tenting- and that burger gave me pretty strong garlic breath for like 24 hours!  haha.  I have a good-sport of a husband!

Homer was our next stop– and it was also really fun and unique.  It was larger than Seward and Whittier- and the main attraction was the Homer Spit- which is actually the second longest in the world.
We had fun walking along it looking in the shops and listening to the sound of the waves.  We also spent a lot of time at our campground just relaxing and chatting around the fire.

We had a really great trip and so enjoyed the drive time together.
We definitely feel like there’s more to see at all the places we stopped though and we’ll for sure head back again sometime to do more hiking and looking around.

We’re so thankful for the sweet summer we’ve had and the adventures we’ve been on together.  This life we’re building together is really precious and we’re so grateful.

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Valdez || Roadtrip Adventures

Since living in Anchorage we have been excited to explore a bit more of the area surrounding us- and we are trying to really take advantage of the beautiful weather and the long days here.
Adam had a change in his schedule which allowed him to have a few extra days off before and after a work trip so we decided to head to Valdez to explore for a few days.

We loaded up our X-terra and with a road map, camping gear, and plenty of snacks, we headed out!
Most of the landscape on our drive was pretty uninhabited, which made for beautiful scenic roads.  We were taking a route that should have taken around 6 hours and we made pretty good time in 9 hours!  We made SO many stops just to take photos, to stretch our legs, to picnic, or to just enjoy a pretty lookout.  It was really fun and spontaneous, and that was the vibe that the entire trip had, which is a little bit unique because that’s not totally Adam or I’s personality.
We didn’t make a whole lot of plans before leaving- but it turned out really great!

We camped the first night at Blueberry Lake State Recreation Site, and it was SO beautiful!  It was a really well maintained campground with only maybe 10 sites for tents.  We rolled into the campground around 9:30 or 10, and found a really epic site that was very private and didn’t feel like a campground at all!  It was sprinkling rain and very foggy- so we set up our tent and snuggled in for the night as the rain began to really pour.
I love sleeping in a tent with rain pattering down…except waking up in the morning it feels a little bit like a greenhouse!

This was the view when we woke up in the morning just peeking out from the tent!  Golly, I could wake up like that every morning!  So beautiful!
We made breakfast and tore down camp before heading into Valdez for the morning.  The rest of the drive was amazing, as we passed through the Keystone Canyon.  It was very scenic with a river running parallel to the road for several miles and a few beautiful waterfalls to stop at along the way.
I am not the best at scenic photography, but I think in general it’s pretty hard to capture the overwhelming beauty of what it’s like being there in person.  There were a few places that were gorgeous, but I didn’t even try to photograph it, because I knew it wouldn’t do it justice and I just wanted to enjoy it in the moment.

In Valdez, there wasn’t a ton to do when you’re tourist-ing on a budget.  We drove around, stopped at a gift shop, and then walked around at the small boat harbor.  I actually loved doing that, because the whole scene of Valdez as sort of a mountain/fishing community was just really picturesque and felt like something from a movie.  Valdez is actually nicknamed “Little Switzerland” which I thought was really cool- and it definitely feels like it too!
Being originally from Nebraska- I don’t think I have ever seen a harbor like this one necessarily and it definitely had a real charm to it.

After spending a bit of time in Valdez– we started the drive back- and camped at Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site which wasn’t quite as scenic, but it made for a cozy spot to camp!
It was a bit less rainy that night so we were able to spend time around the fire roasting hot dogs and snacking- until the bugs were so bad that we had to get into our tent and spend some time playing Blokus till the bugs decided to go to sleep.  Then we spent more time by the fire roasting marshmallows and talking before it started pouring again!

We slept really well and then again took our time driving the rest of the way back to our house the next day.  After two nights of camping and almost 3 full days in the car- we needed showers like nobodies business, so getting home and cleaning up, eating a hot meal, and settling in for a couple days of rest was just perfect.

I am so thankful that we’ve had the chance to get out and see a bit more of Alaska this summer!  These are really special memories to us, and I know we’ll treasure them for years to come.  We have a ton to be thankful for on these trips with a car that’s been running well, money for gas, plenty of food, and great company.

I am sure this adventure will rank among one of our favorites for this summer!

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Summer Adventures || Winner Creek Hike

A couple of weeks ago we headed South to Girdwood to hike the Winner Creek trail- and it was NOT a disappointment!  It was so beautiful and a really fun afternoon trip!

It was a really rainy day, but the weather was actually really great for hiking.  The trail was very well maintained, and there were a lot of fun places to stop and take photos along the way.  The highlight was a beautiful waterfall, and then a hand tram at the end of the trail that went over a gorge.  It was hard to get photos of the tram- but it was lots of fun!

I would say the best dates that Adam and I have are getting out and driving/hiking somewhere.  Where phones are put away and there aren’t the distractions that are around at home or at a busy restaurant.
Just being outside, being together and doing something fun together.

We don’t often listen to music in the car- so it’s a great time to talk and catch up and just process life.  And then being out in God’s creation and making memories together is just precious.  I love all the places we’ve gone together and the adventures we’ve had.

Winner Creek is one of the prettiest places we’ve been in Alaska so far I do believe!  If we ever have visitors to the state- this is definitely a place that we would take them!

I never thought that I would ever live in Alaska– it was never on my radar and I never could have foreseen the beautiful path that God would lead my life on.  But that path- though harder and steeper than anticipated led me to my wonderful husband, my dearest friend, and my soulmate and I would follow this man anywhere.

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Succulents || Propagation

Since moving into town, Adam graciously let me pick up some succulents at Lowe’s….and he let’s me take a sneak peek to see if there are new and adorable ones basically every time we go to Fred Meyer!

We get lots of sun on our front balcony and even onto our kitchen table, so it’s a good space to keep indoor plants.  I know next to nothing about plants or gardening- although if we ever have space for a garden someday, I am committed to learning it though, because I think it’s a beautiful way to take care of your family.  My mom is an amazing gardener, and I definitely wish that I had paid more attention to her process when I had the chance.
These succulents are really just for fun, and they bring a nice bit of green to our apartment which is a blessing now- and will be even more so this winter!
When I first got the succulents, in my excitement I definitely watered them too much, but I think now I have settled into a good rhythm.

There were a few leaves that actually just fell off when I was repotting these- and I was inspired by Needles + Leaves and She Who Fears to propagate those babies instead of throwing them away!

If you want how-to’s- go to Needles + Leaves cause you’ll find lots more reliable information on that there….but I am just hear to show pretty photos of my baby succulents that have grown tons lately!

If you want how-to’s- go to Needles + Leaves cause you’ll find lots more reliable information on that there….but I am just hear to show pretty photos of my baby succulents that have grown tons lately!

The goal is to continue growing them until the mother leaf eventually dies off, and these are big enough to go into a planter of their own- or with a few other small plants.

I check every morning to see how much they have grown- and it’s cool, because you really can tell a difference day to day!  It’s pretty awesome to see an old cutting that you think nothing will come from sit on a patch of soil for weeks and weeks….and then one morning- it has bright pink roots popping out, and over time, those roots dig deep in the soil and beautiful tiny leaves start to grow.  It’s very exciting, and a neat process to watch.

It also reminds me of how God works in our lives….He is the one who causes these little plants to grow after all.  The work He does in our lives is a miracle when it seems like maybe nothing is going to grow in the hard places of our hearts…and then- one day, through His grace, we see a change in our character, a softening in our heart- or a spirit of dependence upon Him when usually we would rely on ourself.

He makes beautiful things.

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i am for you

There is a song that has spoken so much life and truth into my heart lately.  I am often really deeply moved by music and I think it’s such a beautiful gift that God has given us to be able to use to glorify Him but also to have understanding of His character through worship.

Don’t we all just need to hear those words sometimes, “I am for you, I’m not against you.”?

I know that I sure do.  Sometimes life can be really tough and just discouraging, but it’s so amazing to know that God is rooting for us.  He is working intimately in our hearts and our lives to mold us continually into the people He desires for us to be.  He is for us.  His grace is for us.  And His forgiveness is vast and completely unmatched.

In our daily lives, our character, and our pursuit of the heart of Jesus…..He is FOR us.  Even when there are setbacks, even when you’re not where you thought you be, expected to be, or really wanted to be.
He knows our yesterdays and our tomorrows.

He is working for our good- and not the kind of “good” that means driving the latest hybrid, having perfect health, or constantly fulfilling the desires the world throws at us- but the kind of “good” in this passage:

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
-Romans 8:28-29

The kind of “good” that turns our hearts towards the things of God, that fuels desire to seek Him, that calls us to joy because of our identity in Christ, and that softens our heart to the needs of others and the lostness of those who don’t know Jesus.
He is working with us, and in us, through us and FOR us in the pursuit of that good!

I hope these words, and this song are an encouragement to you today.  Remember the vastness of Christ’s love for us, and the beautiful forgiveness that He lavished on us in calling us His children.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 1:6

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One Sweet Year And a Half

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays- I just love that it’s smack dab in the middle of summer, and different from the winter holidays, it’s filled with swimming and BBQ’s and hot weather.  I love it even more now that Adam and I can celebrate with one another our “half anniversary”…..I would celebrate every half holiday if I could!  Our anniversary is January 4th- and I honestly think that some years we might do something more for our anniversary over July 4th, just because summer is so fun and winter can limit the options sometimes for getaways or what not.

Adam and I didn’t do a ton for this “half anniversary” but we had a four day weekend together which was amazing and so fun!  We spent a ton of time outside hiking around, playing tennis, exploring Anchorage, and playing Blokus which we found for 2.99 at the thrift store.  We went and did a little photo-shoot  to capture this season in our lives.  It’s so so special to me to have these memories!  My sweet (and incredibly handsome) husband is such a good sport to get out and take photos with me…despite all the funny and bad photos due to the trusty tripod method!

I think sometimes it’s easy to just settle in with wedding photos you have of yourselves for years and years- but I don’t know…I think as a couple you grow and change and you know each other a lot better than your wedding day.  So for me, capturing these new seasons we’re coming upon is really special.  Our love is going to root deeper and grow stronger with each passing year by God’s grace, and photos are a beautiful reminder to me of how much we have to be thankful for.

Marriage has been such a growing experience, and it’s been so wonderful.  Because life is hard and some days are tough….I think it’s SO important to celebrate.  Whether it’s birthdays, holidays, or half-anniversaries….I think celebration is a beautiful reminder of the good on the days that feel boring or bleak or just plain bad.

I know for me– seeing pictures of Adam and I and remembering the emotions and the circumstances we were walking through in that season is really special.  It’s always an encouragement to my heart to remember the love that we share and the covenant relationship that we hold so dear.

Love is sweet….and I am a lucky lady.  That’s all really. 

 

I hope you all had a happy 4th of July- and that you are reminded today to treasure the season you are in, and to be thankful for all the good!

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Better Half a Camping Trip Than No Camping Trip At All

A couple of weeks ago- Adam and I had planned an overnight camping trip south of Anchorage.  I was looking forward to it all week- the weather was perfect- and we were all packed and ready to go.

As we began our drive, I didn’t realize that we would be driving such a beautiful route right along the coast!  We had picked up a couple of Iced Teas before leaving town and it was a hot day, so without AC in our car we were driving with our windows down and it was a perfect summertime day.  We were in awe of how beautiful the drive was, and honestly feel as if we could have just been happy driving the Seward Highway all day!

We stopped at a campground that turned out to be not what we wanted- and it also had a fire ban- so we decided to continue on in our search for a good camping spot!
We found one about 30 miles further in Portage Pass called Williwaw Creek Campground, and it was BEAUTIFUL!  The sites were very wooded and it was quiet and private.  We were so thankful for such a beautiful spot.

As we got ready to set up our tent and settle in a bit- we realized that we had remembered everything we needed except ONE thing that turned out to be really important- the tent poles!  Big bummer.
We considered sleeping outside, or in our car, but the weather in the valley can be quite harsh and unpredictable with lots of rain and high winds….and sleeping in the car just seemed like it would be VERY uncomfortable!  So we decided to hike around for a while and then come back to our campsite for a fire and some quality talking time before driving back home into an incredible sunset!

(Fun Fact: the Chugach National Forest was selected to supply the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree!)

I am such a planner, so it was hard for me to be okay with changing our plans to not actually “camp” overnight- but Adam was super gracious in helping to make the whole experience fun regardless of forgetting the tent poles.
When we got back into town we drove out by the airport to see the last of the sunset and to watch a couple of 747’s land, which is always really fun!

One of my favorite things about camping are the campfire conversations….I think they might be the best you can have.  Something about the fresh air, the charm of the fire in front of you and the lack of the everyday distractions.  So even though we didn’t make it overnight- we still had a blast and really enjoyed our time!

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Summer Adventures || Eklutna Lake

Adam and I feel like this is our summer to explore!  We are new to town and to all the awesome places around us- so we picked up a map of the state, and a book about local hikes, and we’re hoping to make the most of our middle-of-the-week weekends with one another!

Last week we went up to Eklutna Lake to have a picnic and to hike around.  It was an incredible day, the weather was just amazing, and we had an awesome time!  One of our favorite things about living in Alaska- is that when you drive to go someplace….it’s not just the destination that’s really cool, but the entire drive feels really breathtaking!  I am not sure there is a place that I have enjoyed driving more!  Plus we just feel really lucky to be able to go places together, and that’s another big part of it.

These beautiful flowers were drooping over from all the dew- but they looked SO pretty!

We are coming up on a year and a half of marriage and Adam and I have been through lots together in our 3 year dating and marriage relationship.  We are better friends now than we’ve ever been, and we are thankful for all the things we’ve learned and grown in together.

We hiked a loop trail while there, had a picnic in the sunshine, sat by the lake, and collected driftwood pieces for home decor- because driftwood is so beautiful!

Ironically I have zero pictures of the lake- but it was really really beautiful!  I love taking pictures of our times together exploring, but sometimes it’s important to just be present and to enjoy the moment as it is without worrying about having a photo to share with others.  I think there’s a good balancing act in that, and I am still learning!

We’re excited to document our summer of adventures though and for all the beautiful sites we hope to see!
Our Creator has made a really beautiful place here in Alaska- and we are so thankful to be able to enjoy His character through the beauty around us.

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“You Are The Best Thing, That’s Ever Happened To Me!”

Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.  Adam was gone for 2 weeks recently, and it felt like a terrible void in my life to have him gone.  We did a long time of long distance when we were dating, but being married and being apart feels much worse.

God really provided for us while we were apart and we are thankful for FaceTime to keep us connected during our time spent away from one another.
I had a couple of different people come to stay with me, and that was a huge blessing to have people to keep me company, as well as the fact that we are so glad to have a place that we can offer hospitality to others when they might need it!

During our time apart, I realized the many different roles that Adam and I play in one another’s lives.  We are best friends, moral support for one another, we debrief everything together, we eat together, sleep together, play together, and care about each other’s everyday little things.  He is my whole world, everything feels intertwined and completely incomplete when we’re not together.

I am incredibly thankful for my husband and for the man that God created Him to be, and that I get to be the lucky girl who gets to be married to him.

Adam was gone to do a prep-school to get his A&P Mechanic’s license (to be fully certified to work on airplanes).  He has worked so hard for the past 3 years as an apprentice in this job, and I am so very proud of him for all his diligence and his hard work to get licensed.  He has faithfully worked to provide for us, and I couldn’t ask for more.

We have a long ways to go in growing in our marriage, but at the same time, we have so very much to be thankful for in one another, and my heart is pretty full these days.

These are pictures from a recent little adventure we took!  We rode our bikes to a cute little tennis court, played a few games, rode our bikes home along the Coastal Trail, got to watch some airplanes land, had an incredible view of the ocean the whole way, and got to see a moose!

We’re so glad for the new adventures we’re having here together in Anchorage, and for the new fun things that city life has to offer us that we haven’t really gotten to experience together.  And tennis is nostalgic for us because it’s the first thing we ever did together when we were getting to know each other 3 summers ago!

Love is really sweet, and love that is centered in Christ is the sweetest of all.

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Recent Reads

This year so far I have been on a pretty good reading kick.  I was in a book club for a while which was helpful and motivating, and then there have just been a lot of books that really captured my attention and I sped right through.

And, since moving to Anchorage….I have to tell you, I am over-the-moon excited to be a library patron again.  First chance I got, I went to the library to get my very own card.  I can’t wait to spend hours reading there in a quiet corner, or browsing through books aimlessly for an evening of free entertainment.

Right before we moved from Port Alsworth, I finally got around to jumping on the Shauna Niequist band wagon and read her book “Bittersweet”.  Oh friends, it was exactly what I needed to read in that emotion-filled season.  She had so many good things to say in the book about the dance that life is between the sweetness and joy we are blessed to experience, and the bitterness and suffering we must endure.  It was written from true depth of experience, and I highly recommend it.
She shares from a place of humility and encouragement, and throws in humor as well.
(it is not currently in these photos, because I promptly mailed it to one of my sisters to read when I was finished with it!)

Here is a quote that I loved in the book:

I just finished her book “Bread and Wine” which was equally wonderful!  Her writing is really unique and I love the style in which she writes.  Her books are basically a collection of essays and she is able to really translate everyday life into beautiful stories that you can learn from.  Bread and Wine focused on the idea of hospitality, community, and food.  She tells stories of gatherings around the table, and she includes recipes throughout the book as well that are really great! (lots are gluten free which is a plus!)

Last week I finished “Notes from a Blue Bike” by Tsh Oxenreider, and this week I am about half-way through Cold Tangerines, and loving it.

If you have a chance to pick up one of these books- I don’t think you’ll regret it!

What are YOUR current book recommendations?
I would love to hear one or two that you are loving right now in the comments if you’d like to share!

 

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