Monday, January 26, 2015

Brian turns 27

Birthdays are kind of a big deal to me. They are a celebration of one's life & time on this earth thus far. They're about appreciating what we've gone through to make us who we are at that particular moment & knowing we've got so much more to do.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, since turning 25, birthdays are no longer about gifts (sure, they're nice) but more about appreciating and experiencing life (but adventures are better).

My husband, Brian, turned 27 today. This is his first birthday we've had the pleasure of physically spending together so I wanted to really show him how I do birthdays.

I had two criteria for Brian's 27th birthday - I wanted it to be a new experience for him and I wanted it to be something Alaskan. So I set up a dog sledding tour with last year's Iditarod winner, Dallas Seavey.

We drove out to Willow early Sunday morning in the subzero temperatures. It being this close to Iditarod 2015, Dallas along with his A & B teams were out on a long training run, but we met his amazing kennel staff & our tour guides for the day.

Once the team, a mixture of Iditarod veterans and new yearlings, was harnessed and ready to go Brian was heading down the trail on a blanket of fresh powder and across a frozen lake. I watched them disappear into the tree line then retreated for the warmth of a yurt. Inside I sipped on hot chocolate and read a fascinating book authored by Dallas himself.

I knew they were getting close to returning when the kennel outside lit up with the barking and howling of the dogs left behind. 

Brian stepped off his sled, a smile literally frozen on his face. It was now around noon time and had only warmed up to -1 degree. Inside he thawed out next to the fire. A puppy, probably around 10-12 weeks old was brought in to play with us while everyone warmed up a bit. As we watched the little rascal run around the room, we were given the history of the sled in the center of it.

Made out of hockey sticks, Dallas made this sled only a few days before last years Iditarod. He not only won the race, but he shattered the previous record by nearly 5 hours. He's got an amazingly interesting strategy he's working with for this years race, but you'll just have to tune in to see how that develops.

Before leaving, we stopped by most of the dogs for a little meet and greet. Fingers frozen, we hopped back in the Subaru & headed back to Anchorage.

Monday was Brian's actual birthday, but he, like most of us boring, weekend warrior adults had to work that day. Like usual, I was up with him at 5:30, made breakfast for the two of us & sent him off to work. I am fortunate enough to have Monday's off, so in between breakfast and lunch, I meticulously cleaned the house, something not unusual for me to do during one of my days off. As soon as I sent Brian out the door from lunch I was out the door to pick up his birthday surprise supplies.

When he returned home from work for the day, I was already lurking in the shadows. He walked into the house to blaring 'epic war music' playing on the speakers. The windows to the front door were covered with a Happy Birthday!!!! sign so he couldn't see what was waiting for him inside. The whole way up the stairs were all kinds of goodies waiting for him: cards from friends, family, & myself, a tiny, candy filled piƱata, and a surprise ? Mario box (you know, the kind Mario smashes for coins) unknowingly filled with his ammunition (silly string) and a note to come find me.

We had it out in the downstairs hallway & now I'm going to be cleaning silly string out of my house for days!
Happy 27th birthday love!

If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good. - Dr. Seuss

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Surviving the Darkness

Alaska - home of the midnight sun - is also home to long dark nights. While the northernmost points in Alaska miss out on the sun for nearly 70 days, we here in Anchorage are lucky to get a small, but daily glimpse of the warming star. On the Winter Solstice Anchorage got a whopping 5 hours and 28 minutes of daylight.

On these darkest of days I appreciate that little amount of sunlight oh so much. While I grumbled at the never ending daylight when I was wide awake at 3 am this past summer, I don't think I'll disapprove of it as much this upcoming one (We'll probably finally invest in those blackout curtains tho).

In order to not go mad due to the lack of sunlight in the winter, I began planning a multitude of tasks to keep me occupied over the course of the fall. New recipes, crafts, & decorating ideas began filling an online folder that would make any Pinterest board jealous.

So for those of you that have been asking if the darkness has been terrible, depressing and overall overwhelming, my answer is simply this - only if you let it be. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I spent my Saturday at the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) headquarters mixing a 'secret' formula. Foot ointment is handed out to all musher's before the race to ensure no pup in need of a little healing touch goes without. As with most of the race, a group of volunteers sees that this project is completed. So early this morning I took off for Wasilla to heat, mix, bottle, & package about 200 small bottles of pretty pink foot ointment.

Not only did I get to fully tour the ITC headquarters, but I met my volunteer coordinators I'll be working with for both the start & re-start of the race.

Bonus! My hands are now oh so silky smooth.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Just in case you were needing a little inspiration today to come visit me while I'm in Alaska... Or if you're like me, sometimes - okay, well, more than sometimes - when you're sitting at your desk & would much rather be out exploring the world, there's this...

Monday, January 05, 2015

Morning Commute

While I got my butt kicked trying my hand for the first time at snowboarding today and Brian tweaked his knee, the drive down the Seward Highway this morning alone would have been worth the beating.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Learning Curve

First off, I am absolutely in love with my new camera. However, it's going to be a learning process to fully get the hang of it.

Alaska has been my home for 8 months now but the northern lights have managed to elude me thus far. I've been tracking their levels and the weather and heading out into the night any time I get the chance. However, like Mt McKinley, the lights are a fickle creature.

With the Kp reporting at a steady 5 and the skies crystal clear, my co-worker Malissa, who is also stationed up here and has yet to see the lights, took off around 10pm last night to drive away from the artificial lighting of the city. Armed with an ample supply of caffeine we started down the Parks Hwy. Despite the prime conditions we drove the entire way to the south viewpoint of McKinley. The moon was bright and lighting up the entire Alaska Range. Not a cloud hung in the air and I don't think I've ever witnessed Denali looking quite so beautiful as she did in that moment - dressed in her white blanket of snow.

Although the temperature was only in the teens, the cold began creeping into our bones so we turned our backs to the mountain and headed back to the Subaru. The view of McKinley itself was well worth the overnight drive, but we were both a little disappointed to be heading back to Anchorage without seeing what we had set out for.

Somewhere after Willow but before Wasilla a random car was pulled over on the side of the road. It's driver was standing just outside the door, armed with a camera, pointing it in the direction we were coming from. Malissa, curious as to what they were photographing, turned to look and screamed 'the lights!' I slammed on the breaks. We slid to a quick stop, reversed the car into a pull-out we just happened to be beside, and jumped out of the car.

Silky green ribbons flowed through the sky in what seemed to be a perfectly choreographed dance. They were already starting to recede before I remembered the camera in my hand. It took several minutes of photographing before I started to master the settings  needed to capture the northern lights. However, I quickly came to realize that in order to capture these things properly, I'm going to need to invest in a tripod and shutter release in the near future. Despite the blurriness of the photos, I thought I'd share them with you anyways.

It was nearing 5 in the morning before I crawled into bed next to my sleeping husband. Normally, we're fixing to get up around that time. As my mind began to settle into sleep, my last thought was this: 2015 is going to be one hell of a year. I can feel it deep in my bones.