When we were getting ready to fly to Arizona in May, we were not sure if planes would be flying due to the volcano erupting. Funny how we move here for the natural beauty, then are surprised when our lives are inconvenienced by natural disasters. I should speak for myself, Matt's family is not surprised at all. Kathleen tried to prepare me all week for the smoke and haze. Fortunately, there was heavy rain Saturday night that opened the highway and left the air clean.
The drive up was not bad at all. We drove 5 hours to Palmer on Saturday, stopping several times. First, we stopped in Anchor Point to drop Trevor off at Lynn and Darwin's doggie daycare. Then we stopped in Soldotna for lunch. Then we stopped in Anchorage to pick up two more wireless headphones for the DVD player in my Toyota Sienna 7 passenger van. This was a critical key to the peaceful drive to Fairbanks on Sunday (thanks to my brilliant husband!).
We arrived at Jill's house around dinner time. Jill is the friend that graciously put us up during the state hockey tournament in April. She once again opened her home to us and we are ever so grateful. Sunday morning we stopped at Kristin's on the way out of town to visit her giant malamutes, Lupine and Gus. Riley had never seen Kristin's dinosaur egg so I had to get a picture for the blog. It is a truly amazing artifact as you can see from the photo below. Kristin and Gary found it while hiking.
Then we drove 309 miles to Fairbanks. We only stopped once, for lunch at the entrance to Denali Park. We smelled a hint of smoke but nothing like the heavy haze they had been experiencing for a week. Wildfires are common in the interior, but this year was particularly extreme. I'm trying to get an update on the total number of acres burned but haven't been able to come up with the most recent data. The kids were really good on the drive. They only started losing it during the last 30 miles. Matt was trying to nap in the car. They were really good the rest of the trip when I was napping. I am legendary for my carcolepsy. You've heard of narcolepsy? That's when people fall asleep mid-sentence. I cannot stay awake more than 15 minutes in a moving vehicle unless I have a giant bag of jalapeno flavored sunflower seeds and a Coca Cola. Oh well, it's payback time. They usually sleep on the flights Matt has them and fight on the flights I sit next to them.
We arrived in Fairbanks at dinner time. Kathleen made an incredible dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and blueberry crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Kathleen's friend Kathy and her son Alex came over for dinner. The kids jumped on the trampoline, found a fugitive bunny, picked raspberries, played soccer, and groomed Wenonah, the ancient kitty. After dinner Alex treated us to a violin recital. At bedtime they got to watch Ratatouille before bed (We are just a little obsessed with food). Tonight we are headed to the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds to hear Alex play his violin, see the giant cabbages and, yep! you guessed it, consume large amounts of fairground food!
This is Uncle Jack, one of my mom's brothers.
We had to take turns being in the photo. Matt was on call in the ER.
Dinner with Jill and Kristin: salmon with dill pesto, wild rice pilaf and salad.
Maya took this photo of the boys with Gus.
The spruce trees in the interior of Alaska are stunted by permafrost.
We stopped for lunch at the entrance to Denali Park.
Maya poses on this very decorative cache. A cache is for storing food where bears cannot get it.
Heritage tomatoes, mozzarella and basil sprinkled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.