About two weeks ago, a friend of ours from church (Scott) asked if Chip and I wanted to go on a weekend trip. Scott works for Alaska Air, and had some companion passes to use. He and his wife, Rachel, and another couple (Justin and Jodi) were going to go away for the weekend. Since we haven't had a night away from the kids since Emma was a baby (almost 6 years, people), we decided to go. We found sitters for the kids, and Saturday morning we left for Juneau, Alaska.
That's right. I said Alaska. Would you believe that there were plenty of seats on the flight to Juneau in the middle of February?
Our flight to Juneau was only about 2 hours. I do NOT fly well. I have many issues with flying. First would be my issues with control. I have serious problems handing over my fate to complete strangers. Second up would be my fear of heights. And last, but certainly not least, is my motion sickness. I don't really get physically ill, I just get very nauseated. I HAVE to sleep, or lay with my eyes closed to focus my thoughts elsewhere. Any turbulance and I have to redirect my thoughts. My entire body tenses up. I hate it. But, it was such a short flight, and I made it to the flip side without incident. (Well, except for when I almost crushed Chip's had when it looked like we were landing in heavy fog and about to drop a wing in the water right by the airport.)
Once we arrived, though, I was fine. More than fine, I was excited! We rented a car, so we headed to the rental car area. You'll also be surprised to know that the Juneau airport really isn't that big. So you just walk down a flight of stairs and you're in the baggage claim area/rental car area. We were supposed to get a van, but apparently it got wrecked, so we got a free upgrade to a 7 passenger ford explorer. What it lacked in storage room, it made up for with it's 4 wheel drive. (Seriously, between the 6 adults, we all managed to only take about 5 carry on bags. And we had to STUFF those strategically in the back of the explorer. That was one of the vehicles on the list that I considered before we bought our van, and now I'm extremely glad we didn't go that route. I have no idea how we'd ever go grocery shopping.)
The drive to the hotel was short. When we got there, it was snowing pretty heavily, and it was super windy. So the snow wasn't actually coming down - it was coming sideways. It wasn't really as cold as I thought I'd be, but it was windy. Our hotel was super cute. It's like a B&B, but run by Best Western. It's the smallest "hotel" in their chain. But it's a house with these huge rooms with awesome bathrooms.
Somehow we ended up with the "honeymoon" suite. So that's why there's an extra sitting area. But all of the other bedrooms, while they don't have a seperate bathroom like this one has, they do have huge bathtubs. Ours was really deep and pretty wide, but the other rooms have really wide tubs, where you can sit side-by-side. Either way, they all have jets and it was pretty awesome. Here's some more pics from the hotel at breakfast the next morning.....
Love the hotel! I would highly recommend it, you know, if you ever go to Juneau.
Because of the winds, the power was knocked out when we got to the hotel. So, we left in search of lunch. Chip and I were stationed in Alaska, and still have friends in North Pole/Fairbanks, so I contacted Michelle to see if she'd ever been here or knew anyone who had and could recommend somwhere to eat. Her friend suggested we try a place called the Hanger. It's in this little strip mall right on the water in downtown Juneau, so we figured we'd give it a try. The food is fantastic. I had shrimp and Chip had halibut and it was so good. If you're ever in Juneau, you should go here. On the way out, however, we had to walk by this little pizzaria. Oh. My. GOSH. Best pizza EVER. I mean, we wanted to go there just because it smelled so good. We ended up going there for dinner that night. We were supposed to go to the ski mountain for a fireworks and light show, but the snow and wind ruined that. They postponed it until another night. Boo.
Sunday morning we woke up and decided to take a trip to Mendenhall Glacier. I admittedly know nothing about this glacier, other than it's near Juneau. I'm sure you can go to google and look up all the fascinating facts. We got there early, before the visitor center opened, took some pictures, and then ventured out onto the frozen lake in front of the glacier. It was really cool. Some of the glacier had broken off and had frozen in the middle of the lake when the lake froze. We hiked out to a few spots for pictures, but didn't make it all the way to the glacier. We got about a football field away from it, when we noticed some changes. The snow up until that point had been about a knee high on me, and we couldn't even really see the ice under it unless we dug for it. But once we got past a certain point, the snow was only about ankle height, and not only could we see the ice under it, but it was also very slippery. I don't know if that means anything, but it kind of freaked me out a little bit, so we turned around and headed back. But the glacier ice was beautiful....and definately worth the hike out there....
That's the glacier behind us in the distance.
A chunk of glacier....
That's as close as we got.
Another chunk of glacier ice. I love that color blue!
So after we got done, we went back to downtown Juneau, and across the bridge to get pictures of the city (that's the first picture you see). We just had a really good time, even if we didn't get to do a whole lot of stuff. Juneau is pretty much shut down in the winter, as they get most of their business during the summer months. I mean, who wants to go to Alaska for vaction in the middle of February?! (Besides us.)
The one thing that surprised me the most about this trip is how much it affected me. We've talked about where we want to settle down when Chip retires, and occasionally Alaska comes up. I mean, let's face it, it really IS beautiful up there. Cold, yes. But the summers are amazing and I love the snow. I can't explain why, but it just felt like I was going home. I don't know if that's because Alaska is the first place Chip and I lived together, or where we had our first baby, but it just felt like home. I feel torn because I want so badly to be near family again, but I also feel like THIS is my family. And maybe it's ok to make a path and a life of our own, and not necessarily down south. We always said we wanted to go back to South Carolina. That's always been the plan. But even Chip is now looking at houses and snow mobiles and all this crazy stuff. I mean, we're even trying to contact his branch manager to see about getting stationed back there. It's crazy! Or, maybe it's not. Maybe that's where we belong. I'm all about signs. And I guess, if the doors open up, then we'll know. If they don't, then we'll follow whatever path opens up for us. I just know that I felt like I was home. And that's big for me.