I can’t believe tomorrow is my 25th Birthday. Bryan will be the first to tell you – I usually loooovvvveee my Birthday. But this year feels different. I really haven’t thought a lot about my Birthday. I mean gosh – I have never felt so close to 100 years old before. 😉
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for my birthday this year, my parents and Aunt Tammy came up to Alaska to visit and have a little bit of summer fun as an huge early birthday blessing. We had such a wonderful time hiking trails, exploring parks, visiting Girdwood and walking Downtown Anchorage. A couple days into their visit, my Dad surprised my Aunt and I by taking us on a Flight Tour as my 25th Birthday gift. Though my Aunt and I were nervous, the smooth take off was enough to calm our nerves a great deal. The flight was truly Amazing. We flew right over the Kenai River viewing combat fisherman at their finest, the Cook Inlet oil platforms, and past two active volcanoes -Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna. It all just took my breath away. Over the Inlet we could see the Commercial fisherman boats working hard to get their salmon, and miles and miles of blue skies, clouds and Mountain ranges bordering western shore of the deep blue water. Our Pilot Tim flew us right to the shore where we could see probably 10-20 bears from above.
We landed right on the beach where Tim led us out the plane to a spot about 25 yards from a Momma Bear and her cub. I was afraid the Sow would be uncomfortable with us being so close to her only cub, but she looked right at us and rolled over to let the little fur ball nurse. Being there to see it was truly nothing short of phenomenal. It was the most amazing experience to hear the Momma and her cub “talking” to each other as he nursed, and watch him run to her, roll around and play with her face. It was one of the types of events that make you aware of just how beautiful Alaska and God’s creation really is. I could have stayed there all day watching and admiring this Mom and her cub, but we headed back to the plane to take off. Tim circled one of the tops of the Volcanoes (Mt. Redoubt) and traverse the Redoubt Glacier down into to the wet lands. We kept marveling at how even though it seems like we have seen so much of the land, we have only really seen a small part of Alaska. It was definitely the most amazing thing I have done here, and I was so thankful to have the opportunity with my Dad and Aunt Tammy.
That weekend Bryan spontaneously decided we should go camping down to Valdez. One of my favorite moments of the camping trip was visiting Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery. The Pink Salmon were in, and we were able to witness them in the fight of their life to get up stream to spawn. This was the first time I have ever seen the water “boil” with salmon as Alaska Residents have talked about. It was beautiful to witness, and Bryan and my Dad were eager to try their hand at fishing. I was thrilled they only fished “catch and release” style so they could let the Salmon keep swimming toward their goal. 🙂 My Dad finally had the chance to live one of his childhood dreams of catching an Alaskan Salmon in a stream, and he and Bryan left happy as clams since they basically reeled in fish until they were tired of fishing!
My Mom and I stuck around some to watch the men begin fishing, but I decided to run back to the camper to grab a different lens to snap some shots of the dew on the plants. It proved to be the best happenstance ever! On our way back, my Mom and I spotted the town’s famous Momma Brown Bear and FOUR big cubs – Unreal!! The photographs were a challenge since they were moseying all about down by the water and it was a little gloomy that morning with the clouds so low, but I was so happy my Mom got to see a Bear in the wild. (***Side note – If you happen to go to Valdez and spot her – give her the reasonable amount of space. She is still wild and still a protective Mom. A Valdez store owner was telling us the tourists are really obnoxious getting dangerously close to her and the locals are worried one day she will get to alarmed and in turn will end up being shot.***) After an eventful morning of fishing and bear viewing, we packed and headed back toward home. The drive back was even more incredible than the drive down since the clouds lifted and the sun came out. We hiked out to the Worthington Glacier and stopped often to just taken in the beauty all around. I find that many of my favorite gifts in my life are experiences rather than things, and this time with family in Alaska was a precious gift. I am so thankful for the time together in such a crazy cool place like Alaska, and will never forget my early 25th Birthday with my family! Feel free to view some of our beautiful summer visit in the slideshow below!