Alaska

Summer time… And the livin’ is easy!

What a difference a season makes!

It was probably about this time last year that I was just about ready to pull the plug on the whole thing. The main issue was that darn rental property. Moreover, the lack of renters renting said property. But, all that is behind us now. There’s really not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky we are and how grateful I am to no longer be a homeowner.

Honestly, this has been one of our best seasons yet! I am so grateful to our friends for literally hooking us up, to full hookups that is, and for our amazing camp hosts, we have such an excellent team this year, it really makes a world of difference.

The kiddos are having a pretty good go of it too! Ryder has thrived at his resident camp. I just can’t believe how much it has helped him transform from kid to adolescent, I think having that outside support really helped him emerge as an amazing young man. Don’t get me wrong he’s still all dark and broody, ha, but he seems a little more settled in his manliness, and perhaps “Peter Pan Syndrome” will evade him. A mom can hope! Ryder has already announced that he’ll do whatever it takes to get him back to summer camp next year!

And Livs. Well, she just kind of continues to be amazing! She clearly had a wonderful time abroad, and still has new stories to tell as she remembers little pockets of time. For the last month or so she’s been grinding away with her creative writing workshop, which she is proudly holding her own with a 96%, with no help from mom and dad, can you tell I’m a little proud!  Now she’ll be one half-credit closer to her high school diploma. She’s also my sole volunteer at the visitors center, perhaps not the most happening place, but she’s getting a feel for engaging with the public in a professional setting, and her boss is pretty particular when it comes to such things! HA! And following in my footsteps she’s already scheming about her next big adventure next summer, she’s leaning towards a multi-state half-friend time half-work excursion. Glad shes got some drive!

And for Hubby and me we’re just happy to be, well, just here, right where we’re at! The new jobs are great, the parks are trekking along smoothly, and showering whenever you want is something that will never get old! It’s been a busy summer, the time has really flown by, I can’t believe it! It feels like October is just around the corner, and we’ll be starting our next adventure. We’re already halfway through our time here in Alaska, and really once you get through July up here the time just seems to pass so quickly.

I love living in these six-month cycles. For someone who gets bored easily, this is definitely the lifestyle for me. Think about it, three months into whatever you’re doing, and it’s time to start thinking about packing up again, I kind of love it! Like the equivalent to an adrenaline junkie, but with a boring mom twist, planning pursuer, organizer extraordinaire, eh I don’t know I’ll have to work on a cool name, HA! Either way, October will come and then it’s go time. We’ve already got our flights out of Alaska, and then starts a rapid, but chaotic journey of picking up the truck and getting to our rig. Fingers crossed all will go well!

For now, we’ll just hang in Alaska and enjoy the summer.

And one of the perks of the new job is getting to go on trips when there’s room. I was so excited when my boss asked me to tag along on a bear viewing trip the other day. Katmai National Park is one of the places I’ve only ever dreamed of going, and Brooks Falls is that iconic Alaska “bear catching salmon” spot to be in the summer. It was pretty amazing, so thankful I got the experience.

Brooks is about an hour and a half from Homer, AK. This was my first time in a floatplane, pretty cool! Although I was a bit nervous, probably more because I didn’t want to say anything silly in front of my boss! HA!

We’ve had a ton of fires up here this year. And very little rain, it’s actually been bizarre! But even though it was a bit hazy out it was still pretty amazing. And watching the pilot manage all the instruments was spectacular, she’s been flying since she was 16! She’s incredible!

We landed in Naknek lake, and it was time for Bear School, then off to the platforms!

A view from the electro-fence, where it’s safe to eat.

We saw this sow and cubs when we first arrived. Cubs are born in January, these little guys were born in January of 2018. They’ll hang with mom for 3-4 years and nurse the entire time. The shore acts a little bit like a nursery. The females can relax a bit while cubs play and not worry too much about adult males, they almost use the humans as a bit of a buffer, plus the big guys are about a mile or so away in the falls.

After bear school and you store away any food and gear in the cache you begin down the trail. First, you come to the lower platform, calm waters, and several bears swimming around and grazing in the meadows.

The trails are on the ground and on elevated boardwalks, like a skyway. It’s a very unique experience, nothing like I pictured. It kind of has a zoo feel to it, and then all of a sudden you’ll have a bear run past you on the trail. The video below is of “The Riffles.” It’s only about a mile to the falls, but first, you come to this platform. You’ll get your “Olive Gardenesque” pager here because sometimes there’s a two-hour wait to get on the falls platform, crazy right! This area is suitable for sub-adult bears, like this guy. He certainly is special. He knows he can’t keep up with the big guys upriver, but the whole point of a bears day is to eat, and save energy, this guy was all over the place. Fun to watch, though!

Once our pager buzzed and our party was free to frequent the falls, we made the short walk over. You get one hour to stand at the falls and try and get the same snapshot every other person here wants! It’s called Shutterstock people! HA! Just enjoy! Sometimes people get so hung up on pictures they don’t look around and take it all in, plus there’s some pretty fantastic stuff all around you here. In any case…

See little “Grandpa Bear” on the lower right. He’s obviously been doing this a long time. Not only is he the beefiest guy here, but watching him catch fish is like time is moving in slow motion. He barely even moves, the salmon hit his legs and he just casually reaches down and scoops one up. It was pretty amazing!

Not wanting to take up too much space on the platform, my boss and I headed for the lodge. On the way, we got passed by a cub and took the marsh route to avoid being held up by a sow and cubs on the trail. This is when you realize these really are wild animals, it’s not Disney!

And while everyone comes for the bears, I find the salmon pretty amazing. Here they are holding in the water waiting to make their big journey up the falls.

A seldomly frequented spot here at Brooks. Native people inhabited the areas as early as 6000 BC.

After about 4 hours on the ground, it was back in the air! This time we were able to fly a bit lower, and we got some incredible views of Augustine Volcano! Truly a once in a lifetime experience. So thankful to be a part of it!

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