Monday, June 17, 2013


Last week, we took the kids and Sarah's parents and went on vacation to Alaska. You can check out all of my photos, or I'll try to hit the high points below. Sarah and I took a previous trip to Alaska in 2008.

Sunday, June 2

We left Seattle quite late -- our flight was scheduled for 8:30 but didn't actually take off until about 9:30pm. I snuck the photo above while we were passing Anchorage (that's the airport on the tip of the peninsula) at 11:52pm AKDT (there's a reason it's called the land of the midnight sun). Much to my surprise, Theo stayed awake the entire flight. Fortunately he was in a pretty good mood. Rental cars in Alaska are surprisingly expensive, and rental RVs are relatively inexpensive, so we rented an RV for our stay. However, we knew we were getting in pretty late, so we opted to stay in a hotel near the airport our first night: the Executive Suite Hotel. One interesting factoid is travelling with six people you have a carry-on bag allowance of 12 items, plus strollers and car seats. We didn't check a single bag!

Monday, June 3

This is our RV. We picked it up from Great Alaskan Holidays and threw all of our stuff in it. This photo was actually taken on Tuesday, but I didn't have an exterior shot from Monday. Here's what it looks like on the inside:

After pickup, it was pretty much nap time, so this is Theo drinking his milk and reading books outside the Ulu Factory in Anchorage (the only place we knew to go without much thought). We gave Theo the bottom bunk -- it was his first experience sleeping alone in an open-sided bed. (spoiler alert: he fell out. Multiple times a night, for the first four nights.) In the bunk we drew the curtain shut, giving him a tiny private space which he loved. He had a little window, too. He loved peeking out, especially at our parking spot at the Ulu Factory as it was right by the train station.

After nap we took the Ulu Factory's trolley into downtown and walked around a few gift shops. One had a giant bear out front, which Theo enjoyed:

I don't have a photo of Vivian in her sleeping arrangements, but because of the limited space in the RV, a pack-n-play wouldn't have fit, so she slept with Sarah in the overhead bunk. During naptime, we put pillows along the front so she wouldn't fall out: a bit risky, but Vivian's not crawling (despite walking!). Here's a shot of Theo who asked to come up while Sarah was getting the bunk ready:

Tuesday, June 4

Today started off early, with a 6:45am train departure from Anchorage to Seward. Sarah and I had done the train ride in 2008, and it's absolutely spectacular. It doesn't hurt having a toddler who loves trains. Meanwhile, Cony and I took the RV and drove down to meet them in Seward. Here's the boarding in Anchorage:

And here's Theo getting off the train in Seward, four hours later:

Cony and I had already found a nice campground right on the waterfront in downtown Seward for only $15/night.

Each time I looked at the water, within a few minutes I was able to spot sealife:

After nap, we walked the two blocks to the Alaska Sealife Center. Here's Vivian looking at Wally, the sea lion:

Here's Theo watching Wally's feeding:

In the underwater viewing areas, seals would follow your hands along the glass. Theo and Vivian both enjoyed it:

After dinner at Chattermark's, we put the kids to bed and went out for a beer flight at the Seward Brewing Company. We also went back to the Sealife Center sans kids -- unlike our visit in 2008, this time we were in prime tourist season and the center was open until 9pm! I took some sealife photos:

And this is a baby octopus:

Wednesday, June 5

The very first thing we did this morning was go play at the world's most scenic playground, right at our campground:

Then we went to see Seavey's Dogsled Kennels. Everyone had a great time: we got to see the dogs, see the gear, see some puppies, and best of all, we got on a cart pulled by a dog sled team! Vivian in particular loves dogs!

Afterwards we went out to lunch at the Train Wreck, a restaurant inside a old train car next to the train station. After nap and another visit to a different playground, we went to the Exit Glacier, the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park you can drive to:

Theo really enjoyed playing in the snow (we had none in Seattle this winter):

After the glacier, we had one of the most delicious dinners at the nearby Salmon Bake. In the evening we drove to Kenai, a city where Sarah's dad had a friend of a friend who might be able to get us a boat ride. We decided to put Vivian in her car seat, then did something totally crazy which Theo loved: put him to bed in his bunk, padded thoroughly with pillows, then drove the two hours to Kenai. He loved staring out the moving window, and took forever to fall asleep but for the first time on the trip didn't really struggle and try and get out of the bed! As an aside, Theo really enjoyed moving the shoes from the entrance where we took them off, and into the hallway:
. We ended up spending the night at the Beluga Point Lookout RV Park, arriving in bright daylight shortly after 11pm.

Thursday, June 6

We woke and quickly determined that a boat ride was not going to happen today, despite the gorgeous weather so we started working our way back to Girdwood, where we planned to pan for gold.

After the gold panning, we headed towards a new RV park back in Anchorage. This was definitely one of the less activity-packed days, and unfortunately the ladies who didn't pan for gold were stuck in the RV most of the day. We had dinner at the Chair 5 restaurant in Girdwood, then put Theo to bed again in his bunk on the drive back to Anchorage. Here's how he looks when he finally fell asleep sometime north of 9pm:
Fittingly, we spent the night in the Golden Nugget RV Park in Anchorage.

Friday, June 7

In the morning we took the kids to the playground across the street from the RV park:

Then we went to the Anchorage/Alaska Botanical Garden:

At one point the kids wandered off with the grandparents, and I was able to dig out my macro lens and take some nice flower shots:

After nap we went to the Anchorage Museum Center, which contained both an Imaginarium / Kid's Museum and a History of Alaskan Aviation exhibit. Theo loved both! Vivian had a great time too.

A big plus was the museum contained the world's largest elevator!

Dinner was in the museum's restaurant, where a band was playing for their First Friday celebration. Unfortunately Theo was so short on sleep by this point he was rather unpleasant to deal with and we ended up taking him to the RV early, and didn't go back to the museum after the dinner.

Saturday, June 8

In the morning we went to the market in downtown Anchorage:
Then we returned our RV, and went back to the airport where Theo rode on the moving sidewalk a lot:

Getting off the plane in Seattle:

This was darker than it ever got in Alaska!

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