As I was going through the pictures that I took on our trip to Valdez last week I knew that they would need to be shared through a blog post. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some pictures just need the words to go along with them. There are just too many moments I want to preserve and share.
With that said, I logged on to start writing this post and realized that I haven’t posted a blog since our first Alaska snow … last October! My apologies! The Hays Family has been up to quite a lot since those first snow flakes fell. We successfully survived our first Alaskan winter that included temps into the -40’s, never ending months of darkness and temps being generally below 0, a year of abnormally large amounts of snow, and so much beauty that words can’t even begin to describe it. Alaska is truly beautiful covered in snow. More recently, though, we have been enjoying another amazing summer in the land of never-ending sun! The girls have been enjoying some fun camps, we’ve done some hiking, fishing, swimming, and just have been enjoying the sunshine and being able to be outside in this beautiful frontier we call home. Have I mentioned that we absolutely love Alaska? Because we do.
Also of significance is the fact that we have added a new member to our family! He is quite furry and quite adorable and I can’t imagine how we ever lived without him. We adopted our Retriever/Lab/Husky mix, Bo, from the local shelter in May and we couldn’t have gotten more lucky. He may just very well be the perfect dog and we love him to pieces. He has been the perfect fit for our family!
Bug finished up 2nd grade in May and is getting ready to start third grade here in a couple weeks. She also turns 8 a week from tomorrow. Yes, you read that correctly. EIGHT. I don’t really know how it is possible, but apparently it is perfectly legal and acceptable for your baby to grow up and do things like turn 8. If that wasn’t enough for this emotional Mama, Princess is gearing up to start Kindergarten in a couple weeks and the Littles will be turning 5 and 6, respectively, this fall. In all honesty, as sad as it is to have them growing up so quickly, I am completely in love with this stage of our lives. I love their silly antics and imaginations. I love that they are learning to play games more complicated and interesting than Candy Land. I love that they can make themselves breakfast — they even make me coffee sometimes, too. I miss my chubby babies, but these beautiful girls that I have now are equally awesome.
Without further to do, though, let me share with you a little taste of the absolutely amazing family vacation we took to Valdez last weekend (with more to come!). Valdez peaked our interest because there is a MWR campground there with trailers on site that you can rent. We aren’t exactly outdoorsy people. We are getting there slowly but surely, but we aren’t quite there yet. We don’t own much in the form of camping gear and, quite frankly, I think that all camping in Alaska will probably be trailer camping for this family — mostly due to the abundance of wildlife I’d rather not get eaten by in this beautiful state.
The drive took us about 7 hours from our lovely little home in the Interior. I was very thankful that my new, pretty little SUV has a rear camera because, as you can see, I most definitely over packed. The girls did great on the drive there and back. If you have been following our adventures for a while you will be able to share in my excitement to announce that NO ONE threw up! We may have *finally* outgrown that lovely stage of life/travel finally (knock on wood).
Baby rocking the “Princess Leia” hair. We recently watched all the Star Wars movies with the girls. They had seen some of the newer ones, but never the original ones. They fell absolutely in love with the originals. The Littles have been asking for Princess Leia hair on a regular basis and Bug now has a crush on Luke Skywalker, naturally.
I will post again, soon, to share about some of the adventures we had on the actual trip, but for now I’ll just flood you with the absolutely amazing views we had on the drive down (and back, obviously). It was simply breathtaking. To be completely honest, though, you can’t go far in Alaska without encountering beautiful things.
The Pipeline runs through Fairbanks and we enjoyed getting to follow it down to where it ultimately comes to an end in Valdez. It is pretty amazing to see how far the pipeline runs — especially since Fairbanks isn’t even where it starts!
Please don’t judge my dirty windshield. Some (read a lot) of these pictures were taken in motion because if we were to stop to take pictures of every view we found picture worthy on the way to Valdez we’d still be driving there. So, just ignore the bird poop and dead bugs and enjoy the view. If nothing else, it adds some realism to the experience of the drive, right?
As a girl who grew up in the PNW in the shadow of, in my opinion, the most beautiful mountain in the whole world, I was absolutely loving being surrounded by all these peaks. Fairbanks has “the hills,” but no mountains near by. On a good, clear day, we can catch a glimpse of Denali in the distance. I miss being so close and being forced to accept just how small I am in the grand scheme of things. It is so humbling — especially when I think about how small these peaks are compared to my Creator. As we were driving and I was soaking in the beautiful views and glorious peaks I told Andy that this is what I imagine Heaven will be like someday.
“The mountains shake before Him, the demons run and flee at the mention of the name, King of Majesty! There is no power in Hell, or any who can stand, before the power and the presence of the Great I Am! Hallelujah! Holy, Holy! God Almighty, the Great I Am! Who is worthy? None beside thee! God Almighty, The Great I Am.” — Great I Am by New Life Worship
We just had to pull over for a shot of our sweet girls with this particular peak behind them. As we were approaching it one of the girls commented that it looked like a giant chair. Another suggested maybe it was a throne. Then our sweet Princess said, “I bet that is God’s throne!” It was so precious and I knew we just had to stop for a picture to encase that memory — our sweet, Jesus-loving girls and a majestic peak that they deemed only God was worthy of a place upon. I love them so.
To view more pictures of our journey (and get a sneak peak of Valdez and some of the pictures and memories I’ll share soon) feel free to check out the entire album HERE.