Last Day & Travels Home

Monday, August 9, 2010

Casey had to leave early on Sunday but Jess, Ryan, and myself still had another day to explore.  We put Bert (our 15 year old standard car) to the test by driving it up a mountain and attempting to park it on a hill.  This failed as we almost rolled off a cliff but we eventually managed to find a flatter surface.  We hiked around Chugach State Park which provided us with some amazing views of both the city of Anchorage and the Alaskan wilderness.

Because Jess and I were catching flights home a day later we checked into a hostel and, after dinner, parted way with Ryan (and Bert). We didn't do much once at the hostel except to take a trip to Wal-Mart to buy some towels and McFlurries.
View of Anchorage
Chugach State Park
Saying Good-bye to Bert
My flight was early Monday morning so I got a cab to the airport and made the long trek back home to Boston!

The Wedding!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We did not have any big plans for today other than exploring Anchorage so we also offered to help set up for the wedding.  We window shopped around the city, visited Kori and her family at the spa, and then headed to the Captain Cook Hotel where the wedding was to be held.  I learned how to cummerbund a chair, arrange a centerpiece, and lay out a runner.  After making sure everything was in its proper place we returned to our apartment to get ready.
Our Masterpiece

Later that evening we came back to the Captain Cook for a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful and fun reception.  Congrats Kori & Dan!

Beautiful Wedding :)

Delicious Cake!

Hatcher's Pass

Friday, August 6, 2010

Today we decided to take a scenic drive to Hatcher's Pass.  It was unfortunately rainy but we were hoping to still get some nice views.  Along the way we stopped in Wasilla mainly because we thought it would be great to say we bumped into Sarah Palin on our trip.  That didn't happen but we did buy snacks at a gas station that she has probably used.  I think that makes me pretty much ready to run for president now. We continued on up some winding roads where we could barely see the hood of the car in front of us.  I'm just very glad I was not driving.
Independence Mine
From there we continued on to Independence Mine which was one of the largest gold mines in Alaska.  It has since then been abandoned but it is now a state park.  You can still walk around and see the buildings that were once filled with people searching for gold.  Some of the old rail tracks still remain that once brought the gold out of the caves and down the mountain.

By then it had started to rain and we had brought Kori's cousin with us who had to be back for the dress rehearsal so we headed back towards Anchorage.

Collapsing Tracks

Old train cars

Girdwood and Glow Bowling

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The weather had not been agreeing with us so far on this trip but we were not going to let that stop us from seeing Alaska.  We decided to take a trip to Gridwood which is a year round ski resort about 35 miles south of Anchorage.  We heard there were some really nice hiking trails in the summer but we weren't expecting to have to take a ski lift to get to them.  When we reached the ski lodge we were already in the clouds.  It was actually a bit hard to see because it was just a constant cloudy haze all around us.   It was also pretty cool to stumble upon snow in August.
Snow in August!

After hiking around for a while we decided to head back to the city where we rented bikes and rode along the coastal trail that led us to the end of the runway at the airport.  It was a little terrifying but also amazing to watch the planes take off right over our heads.

Planes taking off.

After getting some dinner we headed back to the apartment to get ready for our night of glow bowling.  None of us were a part of the wedding party but Kori was kind enough to invite us to a lot of the events that guests to the wedding would not normally go to.  We got to meet a lot of her friends and family and had a great night of bowling.
View of the city from the coastal trail.

The Apartment

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Renting a hotel room in Alaska is insanely expensive and there was not a wide variety of hostels in the area so we decided to rent an apartment for the few days we were there.  We were, of course, taking a risk... but really the risky parts are the best of any trip.  When Ryan and Elizabeth picked me up at the airport they tried describing the apartment to me but they definitely did not prepare me enough. 
Sign outside the apartment.

The apt was above an acupuncturist
Our cryogenic freezer
A great mixture of Christian and Asian decorations

Life size Sermon on the Mount.  Wall plants.
Spaceship toilet with Korean instructions.

 To say the least this apartment is interesting.  Actually I think this place has more character than a lot of people I know...

Return to Alaska

Just a few weeks after our amazing backpacking trip, it was time for me to make a return to the great state of Alaska.  This time it wasn't for a 4 day long road trip but instead to celebrate Kori and Dan's wedding! And thanks to frequent flyer miles my trip to and from was free!  I arrived in the afternoon and was met by Elizabeth (Kori's sister) and Ryan (a friend of a friend who had also studied abroad in Russia through a different program).  We took a quick trip to the mall to pick up wedding gifts and stopped for some tea to catch up.
Lay over in Salt Lake City. It did look salty.

Later that afternoon we picked up Jess (another Russia survivor and former suite-mate) at the train station.  She had just completed a 3 day train tour of Alaskan National parks which seemed amazing but having just returned from a three week trip I couldn't really fit it into my budget.  Before going out for the evening we stopped at our rental apartment to drop our bags off.  All I can say is that this apartment will receive its own post due to the strangeness that must properly be described in depth. 
Sawyer <3

Later that evening we met up with Kori for some wine at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse which I was supposed to love because Sawyer from Lost apparently wears a Humpy's t-shirt at some point in the show.

As usual it had been a long day of traveling so we returned to our apartment to rest up for exploring in the morning.