My brother and sister-in-law welcomed their first baby boy in March and we couldn’t wait to fly out to meet our new nephew. Samuel, Kara, and Ty live in Seward, Alaska so it was a big first adventure with Quinn. In March we did a trial run with Quinn’s first flight to North Carolina to visit friends. She was a champ on the two hour flight, sleeping both ways. As I was still nursing her it made the take off and landing smooth, also aiding her in the sleeping. Flying to Alaska was a bit more daunting as we had layovers in Minneapolis and the longest flight to duration being approximately six hours. Thankfully Quinn was again a dream flying, with her taking a long nap on the way to Anchorage for at least a portion of the first flight and then Mom and Dad frantically tried to keep her occupied. We survived the last three hours with a mix of Encanto, coloring, snacking, and looking outside the window. On the way home we took a red eye, and thankfully Quinn slept the whole time, but it was minimal sleep for me.
Samuel picked us up at the airport, before we continued on north to Talkeetna where we stayed for the two nights while we explored Denali National Park. On my first trip to Alaska in February back in 2019, Samuel and I had a wonderful time staying in the Talkeetna Roadhouse and we did a flight tour of Denali. I’ve been dreaming of the pancakes we had there ever since, however since Covid their breakfast has only been for customers. Until next time! If you get a chance, their breakfast is one of my favorites that I still think about years later.
On our way to Denali we stopped at the Denali Viewpoint South where we had a rare crystal clear view of the beautiful, but deadly mountain. As we continued our drive to Denali we debated on which hike to do. We ended up picking the ambitious four mile, 1500 feet elevation gain, Savage Alpine Trail. This trail might have been a questionable choice in hindsight, especially since we weren’t sure how Quinn would handle her first time in the Osprey Poco Lt hiking backpack. Thankfully she was so absorbed in the new landscape and the novel experience that she was just along for the ride. She even slept through the last half of the hike.
The first three miles was a relatively easy incline and a series of switchbacks that seemed never ending. We saw moose along the trail and the mountain view behind us was stunning. It was fascinating to see the change in terrain as we gained altitude. Luke carried Q the first mile before we switched and I carried her the next two. While I was tired, I was thankful I didn’t have to carry her the last mile as it was insanely steep and snow covered. Luke did a fantastic job navigating the anxiety inducing terrain. Quinn could have cared less as she slept through the parts that made my Momma heart beat a bit quicker. Toward the end of the hike we even spotted a bear way off in the distance. At the end of this hike we had to catch a Denali Tour bus to make it back to our car and the start of the hike as the trail was one way. Initially, the driver wasn’t going to let us on because Q didn’t have a car seat but she eventually relented since Quinn was in a strapped backpack and a Ranger had advised us of this path.
While the hike turned out to be a bit more stressful than anticipated, as a whole this was actually one of our favorite things that we did while Alaska. Needless to way, we were quite hungry by the time we made it back to the 49th State Brewing Company in Talkeetna.
The next morning we made the long drive back to Seward where we spent the remainder of our trip snuggling our new nephew. Every morning we were in Seward I would make my way to Resurrect Art Coffee House for their absolutely delicious coffee and breakfast bakery.
Every day we tried to fit in a new activity. The first day we hiked to Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park. It was a short two mile hike that was a sobering reminder of global warming. There are markers by the year of how far the glacier has receded going back to the 1800s. The acceleration within my lifetime was startling.
The following day Samuel, Kara, and Ty took us on a whale watching tour with Major Marine Tours where we were in for a treat. We saw four different types of whales: fin, orca, hump, and gray. The orca were extra playful as we saw one baby whale breach over 10 times. The first time I was looking at Quinn and couldn’t help but feel disappointed at missing something so rare, but thankfully the orca wasn’t done showing off. The four hour tour flew by with Quinn even taking a two hour nap right in the middle. If you ever go to Alaska, I can’t recommend taking one of these tours enough!
Another day we took a dogsled tour at the Seavey’s Ididaride. It was expensive for just an hour visit but Quinn enjoyed the puppies and the dogsled ride. As it was summer we weren’t on a traditional sled but a metal cart on wheels. One of the groups we were with had their cart axel break and the whole thing tipped over. Thankfully that wasn’t our cart as we had the babies on board, but no one was hurt. Last time I was in Alaska in February 2019 I go I did an actual dog sled ride through Kenai Fjord’s National Park with Seavey’s Ididaride and it was one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever done.
The next morning Luke and I were bound and determined to set out on our own excursion. We drove along Highway 1 out to Soldotna for lunch at Kenai River Brewing Company. Before heading back to Seward we drove to Kenai Beach where we were granted stunning views of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve across the water. Quinn even dipped her fingers in the very chilly Gulf of Alaska. Eager to be back in Seward to try our hand at salmon fishing we started the two hour drive back. Unfortunately, plans changed because in the middle of our drive home we encountered a standstill traffic jam for over two hours and with little to no service we had no clue why we were stopped. As Highway 1 is the only road to Seward we were rather limited in our options. So we waited and waited and waited, with a 13 month old, which I’m sure you can imagine tested our patience and our bladders. Thankfully we had snacks packed to keep everyone from getting too cranky. Eventually we made it back to Seward, happy to be back plus Samuel had Red’s Burgers waiting for us at home.
Our last day in Alaska was rather gloomy and rainy. We took advantage of the weather and headed to the Alaska Sealife Center, which was fascinating for both kids and adults. Quinn loved touching all of the anemones and starfish in the open exhibit and she couldn’t get enough of the massive sea lion.
Our trip was over so very fast and filled with many adventures and memories. We loved all of our snuggle time with our new nephew and visiting with family. Luke even caught a salmon! The fish were just coming into the harbor for the season so we missed the prime fishing by a week or two. Next time! We can’t wait to return and explore more of this beautiful, wild country. And of course visit family again.