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Biking the Coastal Trail, Anchorage AK

Now that spring is trying to creep in to this northern most state, we are starting to get ourselves outside more. Tentatively we plan afternoon trips into the fresh air, testing the waters like we aren’t even sure what it’s like to run out the door without giving a thought to how many layers of clothes we have on. The weather isn’t yet dependable– it snowed the day after Easter!– but we make spontaneous decisions to go for bike rides when we see the sun is shining and the ground is dry.

A couple weeks ago we decided to test the newly thawing city trails and see if I could get along without studded tires like Tyler’s bike. It ended up being a really nice day for cycling, although we did cut our ride short on the trails since some were still icy. We biked from our house to the Chester Creek Trail to Westchester Lagoon. Then, we biked along the Coastal Trail back to downtown where we took city streets back to our apartment.

DSC_0001 biking Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage, Alaska  Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage, Alaska Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage, Alaska

^^^ Westchester Lagoon is a fun loop for biking or running (and if you’re Tyler, reading signs about wildlife).  We kept meaning to ice skate here this winter, but we never made it out. The sidewalk around the lagoon looks ideal for running, and I wish we lived even closer. I don’t like having to take city streets to get to a trail, even though we have some only a few blocks from our apartment. We don’t live in an area where people run outside for fun, so I feel like exercisers kind of stand out.

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^^^ Saw a plane taking off over Turnagain Arm from the Coastal Trail. Living downtown, we hear a lot of planes taking off. Big airliners carrying people to unknown destinations, always exciting for me to ponder but more than likely a boring business trip for those on board. Small planes too, little guys that seem equally terrifying and thrilling, the best way to really see the vast state we’ve come to love but know so little of. Maybe we’ll make friends with a pilot before we’ve done here 😉

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It was a great first bike trip, and the fresh air was just what we needed to detox our lungs from all the stuffy indoor air we’ve been breathing in this winter. By now, the trails are completely free of ice and we even biked to breakfast this morning. PTL.. spring has sprung!

Home Again

We’re back in Alaska! It was a superb, tremendous, phenomenal, magnificent, fabulous three weeks away… but now it’s time to be home. It’s time to get back to work, and reconnect with friends, and start getting down and dirty intentional with the last half of our Alaska days.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve already made headway on our 2015 goals, and I’ll be sharing at least one of those experiences later this week. For now, please accept this as our token post, easing us back into real life.

Constant Darkness in Alaska

When we first announced our move to Alaska, one of the top five questions we received from family and friends (and even strangers) was concerning the supposed winter-long darkness. What we assured people then is still true, now that we’ve been here to confirm it for ourselves. Basically… that weather phenomenon is a half-truth.

What is true is that where we live in Alaska– Anchorage, the largest city– our shortest day all year still has five hours of sunlight. We haven’t reached that day of winter solstice yet, so we’re still plugging away with more than five hours of sunlight a day. I used to relate this length of day to people who lived and worked a 9-5 in Indiana with me, who really were commuting to work in the dark and returning home at dusk. It’s not that different. Or so I thought.

We’ve found that it is noticeably darker here. On a weekend, we are well aware that it is still pitch black out our window when our bodies are trying to rouse us at 9am. And when it is starting to get dark at 3:30 in the afternoon, it is hard to tell your body that there is still plenty of time left in the day, that it’s crucial to keep accomplishing things and hold off on dinner.

For those of you who are considering a move up to the great northern state of Alaska, we have a few short points of advice based on our personal experience.

1. We both work jobs where we are getting up well before the crack of dawn. No matter where we would have wintered this year, 4am would have looked mighty black outside. I think it has helped tremendously that our minds haven’t been confused by that, during the workweek at least.

2. Because we start work so early, we also get off much earlier than most people. It has been so nice to leave work in the early to mid afternoon and still have some daylight left to run errands or go play outside. In fact, now that we are getting super close to December 21st– our shortest day– we have really noticed the difference of having the sun start to set when we are leaving work. Those last couple of hours of twilight still really save us though as we get home and get started on our evening.

3. Get yourself moving! We vowed when we moved up here to get involved in some winter sports and get outside during the long winter months. So far, it has been an extremely mild winter here, so we haven’t felt cooped up by the cold. However, the darkness does take its toll, and we have benefited greatly from going out ice skating or for a quick ski in the evening. It helps remind our bodies that 6-8pm are still prime awake hours, and not to be used for hibernating in semi-consciousness on the couch.

4. We are very involved with activities and commitments with friends. It is really important to find people that you can connect with in the evenings. Something about the loud volume and minor chaos of a house full of people stimulates the body as well. Again, it is important to remind your body that even though it’s been dark for a few hours already, it is still considered “daytime”! And of course, it is always good to have those people in your life who will love and encourage you. Coffee with a friend or flowers from my husband do much to keep the darkness from clouding my mind and mood.

5. Last but not least… a happy lamp! While we haven’t used it consistently yet, I think it will be a favorite appliance of ours during the last few weeks of December and what few weeks we are here in January. Honestly, we don’t think it is a necessity here for most of the winter, but in the very depth of winter darkness, it is so wonderful to be able to simulate a little sunshine! Your physical body really does need it, and it does wonders for your emotional/psychological health as well. We’ve both been able to see a pattern of increased moodiness and general glum the last week, and it is just the promise of Christmas cheer that keeps us going some days.

So there you have it! I know some people have been wondering how our dark winter is going, and I have to say it’s been fun, at least for the novelty of it all. We’re quickly learning what Alaskans mean about the depressing darkness, but we are also reaping the benefits of doing all we can– and were advised to do– to keep that darkness at bay.

Practice some of these yourself this winter! It doesn’t hurt no matter where you live!

 

Local Adventure: The Anchorage Museum

When we first arrived in Anchorage, Tyler and I would walk downtown several evenings a week just to enjoy the beautiful weather and get a little exercise. Now that evening temps are safely in the 20’s range, we haven’t been venturing on our regular neighborhood strolls. Maybe once we get used to this new weather, we’ll be bundling up and heading out to brave the crisp– and dark now too– nights.

One of our walks a few weeks ago led us to the local city museum.  We are both big fans of museums– all that history and culture and plethora of human stories. We were not disappointed with this one in the least; I even asked Tyler if we could get a membership! In the end, we opted out of that perk, but we anticipate a return trip this week while Tyler’s parents are in town visiting. And in order to virtually take you along on a quick little trip with us, here are a few photos of us enjoying the Anchorage Museum!

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^^^ Wide view from the third floor. Those bare brown mountains on the horizon are now snow-capped and even more majestic.

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^^^ Powerful quote. Reminding us why we are traveling to world to try to understand (even a little more) the full human experience

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^^^ The museum had it all! Art galleries, educational displays, Alaskan history and native culture, and plenty of animal viewing 😉

Alyeska Resort & Spa // Girdwood, Alaska

A couple weeks ago I think I mentioned that Tyler and I took a weekend trip away to celebrate the sale of our home in Indiana. It took forever, but now I’ve finally got a collection of photos to share. This trip was really such a treat and a nice time away to relax and spend some laid-back, slow-paced time together.

Alyeska Resort was beautiful, and we enjoyed getting a glimpse of the little town of Girdwood. This is a ski resort area, and thus a winter haven, but it does have trails to walk or bike in the summer. Visitors can also take a tram up the mountain for a far-reaching view. It was overcast or raining the whole time we were there, which– while it hampered any hiking plans we had– did lend a more cozy, intimate feel to our stay. Here is a look at our celebratory weekend!

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Alyeska Resort & Spa // Girdwood, Alaska

A couple weeks ago I think I mentioned that Tyler and I took a weekend trip away to celebrate the sale of our home in Indiana. It took forever, but now I’ve finally got a collection of photos to share. This trip was really such a treat and a nice time away to relax and spend some laid-back, slow-paced time together.

Alyeska Resort was beautiful, and we enjoyed getting a glimpse of the little town of Girdwood. This is a ski resort area, and thus a winter haven, but it does have trails to walk or bike in the summer. Visitors can also take a tram up the mountain for a far-reaching view. It was overcast or raining the whole time we were there, which– while it hampered any hiking plans we had– did lend a more cozy, intimate feel to our stay. Here is a look at our celebratory weekend!

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