Several months ago my sister called me with the news.
Sis: "Guille (her hubbs) received new orders."
Me: "Okay...Where? Germany?? Hawaii????"
Sis: "Um. No. Alaska."
Me: "Alaska?! It's cold in Alaska!"
Sis: "Yeah. I know."
Me: "Okay, when?"
Sis: "We will be moving to Alaska at the end of August."
I cried. She cried. However, we hung up after mutually assuring each other that this would be temporary, as well as an adventure of a lifetime for her and her family. Besides, they were stationed at military bases in Georgia for over 8 years. We've been blessed!
The start of August was here before we knew it. My sister and her family packed up their home at Fort Benning and sent most of their belongings on a moving truck headed to the Last Frontier. Meanwhile, we anticipated their extended stay before it was officially time for them to hit the road.
Those few weeks flew by and their last night came. My brother in law's sweet family hosted a going away party, where we played headbands and joked savoring our last moments before the inevitable arrived. I vainly worked at keeping my tears at bay. I knew we would see each other again. It would only be temporary, so why was it so hard?
Group Picture Attempts...
|Mom, Ethan, Lauren, Glen, Myself, Collin, Guille, Lexi, Evan, Caden, & Lyla|
Yeah. We weren't going to get a perfect picture. Here's this one. So much easier with two cooperative people.
I hugged her tight and escaped before I embarrassed myself with an onslaught of ugly crying. We started our Snapchat streak and I began anticipating each day's snaps of their travels and adventures.
Days go by. They are well into Canada when I get a surprise of my own...
YUP! Some friends determined to surprise me with a flight to Alaska. In no time at all, I video chatted my sister to tell her the news. And yes. I knew at that moment, that I would document it all for these sweet sends. Not to mention my own keepsake.
I know. Lauren loves that I'm sharing these lovely pics!
Well, that was at the start of September. I wouldn't be leaving for Alaska until February. With a full calendar, the time passed quickly and before I knew it I was packing for what would be one of my greatest adventures thus far!!
Travel day arrived and at 3:30 in the morning, Atlanta time, my hubby drove me to the airport and dropped me off.
I was by myself.
I wandered through the airport in a daze. I almost forgot what you do through security! Oh yeah! Take off my shoes. Drop every loose article into a tub and send it down the conveyor. Go in some tube, spread 'em and put your arms up. Reclothe and move on. This is always an interesting experience.
I stopped at Caribou coffee for breakfast. By the way, their blueberry and almond oatmeal is delicious! Soon the attendant started calling first class, VIP, Gold Star, Card members (sheesh) parents with children, blah, blah, blah. Finally I heard my row called and boarded the plane.
Let the Snaps and IG stories begin! Somebody pinch me. Is this really happening??
Four hours and 40 minutes later we are welcomed to a buzz of activity at the Seattle airport. I'm sure this is normal, but there was no doubt something was amiss. Large, wet snowflakes rained down from the sky and airport employees clamored around outside to load and unload luggage. Meanwhile passengers stare at the arrival/departure board while scratching their heads. Turns out Seattle is unprepared for the weather, so my flight would be delayed for a couple more hours.
I leave the "T gates" and begin exploring other gates. I loved that airport! There's live music throughout, plenty of restaurants, shops and even a spot to get a mani/pedi if you so desire. I chose to pass the time with more snaps and IG stories.
Finally, my plane leaves and 3 1/2 hours later we land! At this point, it's 8pm their time and midnight my time. Long day, right? But, I'm there and my sister and niece are waiting for me!! How good it felt to hug them!
HELLO! My senses are instantly awakened by an incredibly cold air that this body has never known! Every time I took a deep breath, I immediately coughed. (Anyone know what that's about?) Lauren laughs at my shocked reaction. She knows. I like warm beaches and won't get into the water until it's about 90 degrees outside.
I also notice that although it's dark, there's no mistaking the snow! It's piled high, where plows have worked to keep the roads clear. And even with the plows, the roads have a layer of ice and snow packed on. I couldn't believe how much snow there was.
Once settled into her home, the long day of travel took a toll and I struggled to keep my eyes open. I went to sleep excited about the adventures to come...
Lauren wasted no time in getting me out the next day to see Fairbanks...We drove by the university and I absorbed as much of the scenery into my memory as I could. There were cypress trees and birch trees, each branch heavy laden with layers of snow. In the distance, wherever you looked were what appeared to be mountains. I've been told they are domes. Looked like mountains to me.
We snapped pictures in front of the infamous university sign. It's cooler if you wait until it's 20 below, but who knew if we would get back by.
We both share a love for coffee, so of course we would hit a local coffee shop, where they roast their own coffee beans and make their pastries fresh. Oh mama!
Her husband's schedule couldn't be more perfect for this week! He only worked the mornings, so we dropped the girls back off with him and then went hiking at Creamer's field. It used to be a dairy farm, but is now a reserve for migrating birds. I only saw one bird, but the snowy forest was enchanting and I kept thinking I must have walked in Narnia. Where was that ice queen with the Turkish delights!?
|Frosted hair and rosy cheeks|
I still hadn't adjusted to their time zone, and found myself wanting to turn in at 7 their time. However, once again I fought it off until a normal bed time. Right as I was crawling into bed my sister called out for me to hurry up and get outside.
Of course my iPhone couldn't capture how amazing these pillars of light were in person. And to top it off fractures of light froze in mid-air, looking just like fairy dust. Fairy dust! What wonderland was this? I went back to bed and watched those light pillars fade away with a smile on my face. An adventure of a life time had begun.
to be continued...