Wednesday, July 8, 2009


To celebrate the 50th birthday of the state of Alaska, Hayley and I did some partying by:

White water rafting. In Juneau, we rafted down the Mendenhall River. Yes, bald eagles were flying overhead. Yes, the weather was perfect. Yes, we saw beautiful views of the Mendenhall Glacier. Yes, the rapids were class 3+, which made us feel like rugged mountain women (I know that class 3 rapids are no big deal…but don’t ruin this for me.). But, clearly, the coolest part was the fancy rafting outfit! Can you say “legit”?!

This cutie pie (below) is Dylan, a college student originally from Boise. Dylan was our fearless raft leader and entertained us with his storytelling…we learned all about his summer adventures rafting, hiking (in old mines! With homeless people!), and kayaking in Alaska; he also warned us about people from Juneau ("When people tell you they're from Juneau, then you know they're kind of weird. But when you meet people who are here from out of town, that's fine. But yeah, people from Juneau are weird."), which was insight that we were grateful for later in the day as we were eyed on the streets of the city by grown men wearing feather headbands and fur vests—clearly natives to Juneau.
Dog sledding. In Skagway, we went to a mushers' camp, where dogs are trained for competitive dog sled races; there were even some Iditarod champs on our hands. We were surprised to learn that these dogs are not purebreds. They're actually mutts that have had all physical weaknesses bred out of them.

Did I mention that I'm terrified of dogs? I stared down my fear in the face in Alaska though…it was more like 200 faces, actually…with lots of teeth and slobber. May I just say that stepping off a bus to the chorus of 200 dogs frantically barking in the not-to-distant woods ahead of you is extremely scary for non-dog people.
AND...I even held a puppy! You won’t understand the significance of this moment, because you’re staring at his cute “Help you think I’ll make it if I jump?” face. But trust me…I was more scared than this little guy…
Taking a train through White Pass. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was built during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898 and is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (along with the Panama Canal and Eiffel Tower). We saw a black bear and mountain goats and were blown away by the beautiful scenery on this little day trip through the mountain pass, which took us into Canada.

As we crossed the border back into Alaska, we learned about a movie that was filmed here starring Robin Williams called The Big White, a dark comedy about a down-and-out travel agent who finds a dead body and tries passing it off as his missing brother, whose life insurance is worth millions. (Sounds like a solid plan…)
Panning for gold. Sure, you’ve done it at Knott’s Berry Farm…whatever. This is Alaska! This is the Klondike! In Liarsville, (a super cheesed-out reconstructed gold miners’ camp, complete with costumed characters), we had the opportunity to strike it rich. I made the mistake of getting my nails done before my trip—I’m talking prom princess nails here, not a simple manicure—and I must say, they’re not the most functional for panning for gold. But I did find a few flakes!
Stopping at Tracy Arm Fjord. The glaciers were stunning and pictures and words won’t describe being there. The misty clouds hanging over the mountains, icebergs surrounding us, and deep blue color of the glaciers really made this place seem other-worldly...or at least Middle-Earthy.
This was my third trip with Hayley, and we want to travel together until we can replace each other with some great husbands. But we're not sitting around waiting for that to happen; we have dreams to go to Italy and Greece, Spain and Portugal, Morocco…I love traveling with this friend by my side!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” --Tim Cahill

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