Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sight-seeing in Alaska

 My hotel room in Anchorage faced toward the water, but there were tall buildings in the way, so my view was limited to a narrow opening between the buildings. There was a beautiful sunset Monday evening, the day I arrived. After that, the skies were mostly gray and not beautiful. Also, the conventions kept us busy so there wasn't a lot of time for sightseeing in that area.
 Yesterday we flew to Fairbanks in an 80-passenger prop plane that was only about a quarter full. My 6 other flights in the past week and a half had been filled to capacity so it felt luxurious to have all that extra room. Plus it was a clear, sunny day perfect for looking out the window! Too bad that flight only lasted an hour!
 I have a much better view of the sky from my hotel in Fairbanks with interesting things to see. I love the pretty white church across the river. I briefly thought about attending Easter services there, but when I found out it was a Catholic church I decided it would probably be too awkward. The river appears to be frozen still, though I seriously doubt it's solid by this time.

After settling into our hotel, my co-worker and I decided to drive up to the Chena Hot Springs resort, about 70 miles away. We didn't go in the hot springs, and we were too late in the day for the sled-dog kennel tour, but we enjoyed seeing the resident reindeer. They are smaller than I imagined... more the size of... well, deer! I thought they were closer in size to elk. I don't know why. They are cuter than I thought, too, with personable faces and short fuzzy antlers. No red noses, though.
 We did get to tour the Ice Museum, featuring some impressive ice sculptures.
 It is 24 degrees inside the Ice Museum. Since the day was sunny and in the 50s I had mindlessly slipped on sandals, not thinking of the possibility of having to walk around in slush... or being in a "Deep Freeze" for half an hour!
Our tour guide described the process of how the ice was sculpted. The whole time, my toes were saying, "The ice artists are crazy to want to work in this environment for hours at a time!"
 The Ice Museum even included two bedrooms that you could stay in for $600 per night. Not to worry, the guide told us, the beds aren't currently made up. When you check in (at 10 p.m.) they will create a "nest" for you of reindeer hide, which he assured us is very warm.
 After the tour, we enjoyed dinner in the resort's rustic restaurant, before heading back to our hotel in Fairbanks.
 The Catholics were having a late-evening Holy Saturday service. This picture was taken about 9:00 p.m. I don't know what they were doing gathered around the front steps like this, but it seemed to involve a small fire.
 I wanted to stay up late to see if I could see the Northern Lights. The hours of darkness are pretty short this time of year. I took the picture above at about 10:00. The sun officially sets about 9:45, but the glow lingers on the horizon for a long time. I heard that the best opportunity for viewing the Northern Lights is between 12:30 and 1:30. I was just too sleepy to stay awake that late. But, as it turns out, they weren't all that dramatic last night. Not sure I would have been able to see them in town anyway. They are supposed to be better tonight, and I took a nap this afternoon, so I'm going to try again! That is the #1 thing I wanted to see in Alaska!
At 6:00 this morning, a group was gathering for a sunrise service on the bridge over the window. I enjoyed celebrating our Risen Lord along with them from the warmth and comfort of my room. Later in the morning I was able to log onto our church's live stream feed to celebrate remotely with my own family.

Hope you've had a wonderful Easter... 

...and I hope my next post will feature shots of the Aurora Borealis!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 2 in Anchorage

Today is the 2nd day of the Anchorage conference. Our booth is next to our sister company, BookShark, and the 4 of us have been having a good time, though there hasn't been much time for sightseeing. We do have weekend off, so I'm hoping the weather will be clear enough to get some nice pictures. I would love to see the Northern Lights but I don't know how likely that is. We'll see!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Driving in Alaska

So far the weather has been mostly overcast, so it's hard to appreciate what must be spectacular scenery on sunny days. On Tuesday I traveled with the Book Shark reps to Soldotna, which is about a 3-hour drive from Anchorage. We were at the curriculum fair there yesterday. It ended at 5:00 and we drove back to Anchorage after that. The curriculum fair here is a 2-day event.

And the adventure continues!

Monday, April 14, 2014

North to Alaska!

You see the green trees through the window? That's what the view from any window ought to be in mid-April. Enough of the slush and snow, for cryin' out loud! Duluth and Denver oughta be ashamed!

Would love to linger in the Seattle springtime, but I'm only here for a couple hours today. Headed on north for my Alaska adventure in an hour or so. Traveling by myself today. I'll keep you posted.

Passion Play of Denver

Laura and I got home from Minnesota yesterday afternoon just in time for the first performance of the Passion Play of Denver, which Laura is in this year. They will be performing every night this week but last night was the only chance I had to go. They did a great job. It was very moving, as it should be.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Duluth Airport

Waiting for our flight back to Denver from Duluth via Minneapolis. There are a total of 4 gates at this little airport, with 6 flights out today... and not very many people for "people-watching" purposes! Duluth is chilly, damp, and gray in the spring, based on my experience this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lake Superior

Day 2 of the MACHE conference in Duluth, Minnesota. The convention center is on the lake.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Minnesota

Layover in Minneapolis on our way to Duluth. If you squint you can see the city way off in the distance. We'll be setting up for the MACHE conference this afternoon.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Drive in the Mountains

Yesterday morning Lyle asked if I'd like to go for a drive up in the mountains. I'm always up for a drive with that man, so I immediately said yes. Then he asked if I wanted to do the "short drive" or the "long drive." Apparently he's been planning various scenic routes for just such occasions. I chose the long one... which turned out to be a 300+ mile loop! The kids chose not to go since we didn't have a particular destination in mind.

The calendar says it's spring, but we've learned you can't always go by that in the mountains. We've been turned back by snow-covered roads on early spring drives in Idaho, so we weren't sure what to expect. However, most of the mountain roads in Idaho are Forest Service roads. There are more "main highways" traversing the mountains in Colorado, even though the altitude is higher, so we didn't run into any difficulties on this trip.
It was too overcast for spectacular pictures, but we enjoyed the scenery anyway. We learned that Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains. Lyle wondered why Pikes Peak is more famous. I speculated that maybe it was the first peak the pioneers could see as they were crossing the prairie... but I don't really know.
I love mountain streams in the springtime.  I would love to see this vista on a sunny day.
We stopped at several scenic overlooks and "points of interest." Unfortunately, we weren't actually able to read the signs at this pullout, with that big snow drift between the parking area and the signs, not to mention the ginormous puddle!
We enjoyed learning more about the history of mining in Colorado, and seeing some of the popular ski areas.

We are looking forward to summer when the camping and hiking areas will be accessible.