07 January 2015

Post-Christmas Adventures

We've spent a great deal of time and energy for months now making sure we are all caught up here at Woodard, Inc. on all of our administrative, financial, household, car, legal, etc. needs. So in between tying up some of these loose ends before the crazy year ahead, we've embarked on some bucket list adventures like these!

We took a trip to Talkeetna the Saturday after Christmas. It was an overcast day, but we hadn't had clear skies in some time and none were forecasted any time soon. We still got to view Mt McKinley, even though the very top part was covered. We ate at Denali Brewing Co., bought Hubs a hoodie he's had his eye on for months, and took a short walk to the river. We then stopped in a souvenir shop before splitting a piece of chocolate creme pie at the Roadhouse. We also came home with an oversized cinnamon roll for the next day's breakfast!

New Year's Eve 
We had big plans for festivities downtown. It was Anchorage's Centennial celebration with activities, ice sculptures, food trucks, and fireworks! It had been on our calendar for weeks, which for us is quite a commitment. That afternoon, however, plans changed. It wasn't quite 32 degrees, and it rained. Yes, you read that right. It rained for the better part of the evening. We decided we didn't want to be brave enough, so we headed to Hubs' favorite Mexican restaurant instead before driving up to Arctic Valley, a lookout point above Anchorage. We were hoping to see the fireworks in our car, but cloud cover creeped in right at showtime. We could hear the fireworks but couldn't see them. We did get to see a snow shower roll in and some of the biggest flakes I'd ever seen. Once we left that altitude, we were back in the rain. Our plan was to have a second sled day New Year's Day, but it was rained out. Who would've thought?? Rain in January in Alaska is blowing my mind.

January 2nd was the first day that forecasted any kind of sun. It said partly cloudy, and we figured that was the best we might get for a day at the ski resort, Alyeska. I've been there a couple of times, and Hubs has been once. The day he was there, it was ridiculously foggy with zero visibility, so he had no view from the top of the tram. This day was different! We finally had clear skies to see the sights. We had a great lunch at the deli while Eli took a solid nap. We explored the viewing and skiing areas. The pictures here in Alaska never do it justice. Back below at the resort area, we followed a trail just a short ways in to take advantage of the daylight we had left. On our way home, we made a stop at Fred Meyer and took Moose's Tooth pizza back home. It was a really great day!

Picture Day
Yesterday was pretty eventful as well. We had our pictures taken with the same photographer who took Eli's newborn photos in our home. We met at Russian Jack Park in Anchorage in 15 degree weather. She had us outta there in 15-20 minutes. She's so amazing. I've already seen one proof, and it is gorgeous! I'm so excited to have sweet photos of our time in Alaska that will last a lifetime. I'll do a whole post of these pics once we get them in hand. 

Afterwards, we ate dinner at one of Hubs' favorite places, Texas Road House, before getting a few things done at Target. We were watching a movie when I got a notification on my phone: the auroras were out!

Chasing Auroras
Listen, chasing auroras is serious business. It requires compass navigation, tracking websites and forums for real-time forecasting, hot chocolate, matching leather bomber jackets, a snuggling blanket and other warm layers, and baby-maintenance items. It requires patience and time in the middle of the night, the least amount of light possible, cloudless skies, and cold, cold, cold weather. Also, if you want any kind of decent picture, you gotta have some very expensive photography gear and know how to use it in the dark and in a split second. So, please be forgiving of the pics from my iPhone6.
Cousin Eddie was a little weird when we was rudely awakened by our spontaneous adventure.
After we saw the lights, we felt like official Alaskans. The timing and location Hubs found were perfect for the small, green show, and we were so grateful to check this off our bucket list just in the nick of time!

Sunday was the last day of Christmas vacation. (I was trying not to panic/cry/throw up/throw a fit/throw something valuable.) Hubs packed the whole day. He had to completely repack the next day (because, army) and is headed to training very soon. The forecast was looking great, so we kept watch to go aurora-chasing again if they lit up. (It's a little crazy to take a chiweenie, an 7.5 month old, and Hubs when he has work the next day, but we are in the last days, folks. We can sleep when we're separate.) We didn't have to go far, however, when before midnight Tuesday night, the auroras showed right up at our door. 

This was the brightest and biggest either of us had ever seen. She danced for minutes right above our heads. We usually can't see the hints of auroras from our house due to light pollution, but this burst was not hard to recognize. (The picture is so far from what we really saw, I hesitate to post it.) It swirled and stretched and spanned from the northeast horizon over our house to the mountains southwest of us. After that died down, we went to bed. Apparently, the show was even more incredible from 2-4am. They say it was the best show in Anchorage ever. Brilliant colors, coronas, right overhead, and lasting several hours. This is just one of many reasons why we are so glad we are getting to experience Alaska. Now if only the auroras would come out to play before bedtime…

We had such a great time over Christmas leave. We had normal married-people bickers and normal eight-month-old meltdowns, but we still just can't quite get enough of each other. I'm pretty sure these memories are good enough to last us through the year. We are checking off so many cool things from our Alaska Bucket List, but we are adding to it almost as fast. Here's to a quick countdown!

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