First Time in Anchorage with Kelly and Bill

When we originally started seriously discussing Alaska for this summer we knew we would have to work kamp, and when we found out our friends Kelly and Bill were going to Alaska also and they needed to work as well, it seemed like kismet. Right away Kelly started looking for work kamping jobs we could all do together, but our list of requirements made it tough.  We knew we needed 5 day work weeks with pay to make it work financially, and we also wanted a decent internet connection.  Sounds simple but not so much up here.  Plus there was a wrinkle we hadn’t counted on when Kelly found a promising job and when she called they told her they would not hire couples who were friends.  Apparently they had done so in the past and when one couple decided to leave they lost both of them which really caused a problem.  I get it, and can totally see that happening, but that was just one restriction too many so I told Kelly to not worry about us and find what was best for them, which she reluctantly did.

Fast forward and they are work kamping in Seward and we are in Glenallen.  The planning phases were fun as we were able to help each other get ready, and even though we weren’t able to travel together because of our work commitments we did end up meeting near the end of the journey.  We knew from looking at a map we were 5 hours away from each other, but we didn’t really understand it’s 5 hours of beautiful but rugged driving.  We also thought we would frequently meet at the halfway point in Alaska but weren’t counting on our different days off and other work commitments,  so it took some planning to get together but we finally did on Friday, July 8th!

Since they have Sam’s Club and we have Costco, one of our purposes for the long drive was a joint shopping spree, but really we just wanted to be together.  I really have missed her.  And since if you are going to make that drive you might as well have some fun, we also planned a few fun events together.  It was a looong day starting at 6am for us and ending at 11pm, so settle in 🙂

Our oil change light came on about 5 days before the trip and since the nearest Ford dealership is in Wasilla we booked a 9 am appt.  This required that we get up early and out the door by 6am so I was pretty sleepy as we made our way to Anchorage.  I hadn’t been in over a month though, so the views were all fresh again, and it was pretty pleasant until we got near Palmer.  It’s a short construction season up here and since Palmer, Wasilla, and Anchorage are all relatively affluent towns we saw lots of construction.  Still we made it in time and I enjoyed the free wifi in the waiting room.  Afterwards, we backtracked to Palmer and managed (despite significant construction) to meet them at the reindeer farm close to 11am.  The place was very busy with a tour group so we decided to each lunch first and enjoy the really pretty views. Plus they had a small petting zoo near the lunch area and we especially enjoyed the pigs that obligingly laid down next to the fence for a belly scratch.

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The puppy hung out with us all through lunch and I fed him pieces of my PB&J

After lunch the crowd had died down and we went in with a much smaller group.  This is a kid activity though, so expect that, and we certainly had a brat or two in our group, but the experience was cool enough that we all could ignore most of it.  You walk in, get a speech, and then they give you a small cup of feed and turn you loose.  Reindeer can’t kick at all, so all we were asked was to not touch their antlers as they are sensitive.  Soon we were surrounded by reindeer and all 4 of us really had a blast.

Kelly on a surprisingly comfortable reindeer seat

Kelly on a surprisingly comfortable reindeer seat

The herd

Part of the 140 head herd.  They rotate them out to pasture for rests

The antlers were really interesting as we got to see them very close up (Lee's pic)

The antlers were really interesting as we got to see them very close up (Lee’s pic)

Lee with one of the two big males in the herd

Lee with one of the two big males in the herd.  That is not an optical illusion, those antlers were ginormous

Bill trying to get a pic

Bill trying to get a pic with a baby right beside him

Agressive little boogers

Aggressive little boogers

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I was a little nervous to be honest taking this pic but they were actually [pretty gentle

I was a little nervous to be honest taking this pic but they were actually [pretty gentle

Next we saw a bison which has started out as a runt and was raised by the family. It lived in their house with them until she got to big

Next we saw a bison which had started out as a runt and was raised by the family. It lived in their house with them until she got too big

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She really liked Lee

She really liked Lee

And finally Rocky Mountain Elk which were really beautiful as well.  We only got to watch from the fence, but our guide allowed the 4 of us to linger and watch them be fed fresh grass which the locals bring after mowing their lawns.

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The babies were about a month old and still pretty skittish

The babies were about a month old and still pretty skittish

The dominant male in the herd. When the younger males get bigger they are separated during rutting season

The dominant male in the herd. When the younger males get bigger they are separated during rutting season

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It was definitely worth the $9 and next up was the Palmer farmers market!!  Since this is on Friday’s which we never have off I didn’t think we would ever get to see it, but was glad I did.  Palmer is where all the giant vegetables are grown and everything in the farmers market was locally made, or in season. I really enjoyed it and we bought a couple of wood items and a tomato plant.

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Pretty nicely sized for a smallish town

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Beautiful veggies. I ended up buying some onions

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We bought a spatula and tongs from this shop, but I was tempted by the husband beater stick.  Bill said it could easily be taken away and my response was who said you would be awake.  Bill seemed a little taken aback 🙂

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Bill also jumped right on the roasted corn

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This was really cool. These spoons are created by a guy and he has a left hand and right hand version of them. Never seen anything like it and beautifully made, but to expensive for me.  I was tempted since I have three lefties in my immediate family. . https://www.facebook.com/alaskawoodenspoon/

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One of the things I like about this state is their strict regulations as to what can be sold as native art, hence the carefully worded sign

After the farmer’s market we went to Sam’s Club and Lee and I wandered every aisle (Kelly and Bill were very patient).  About 15% of their merchandise by Bill’s calculations were different than Costco and we ended up spending $300 on those items we couldn’t get at Costco…I know, yikes.  Then Kelly and I went to get haircuts as neither one of us had had one since we started the Alaska trek and I introduced her to Great Clips.  For $15 couldn’t beat my haircut and although they did a nice job on hers I don’t ever think that will be her first choice.  Still I think we both enjoyed the “girl time” and the boys went to get us a table at Moose’s Tooth Pub.

Their boss had recommended it and it was a popular place with a line forming at 4pm on a Friday.  The timing was perfect though as the guys got the table just as we got there and we ordered.  I am not usually a fan of artisan pizza places at all but this place was GOOD!  Plus they had a beer sampler (4-40z glasses) which Bill helped me with and a Mississippi Mud Pie (called Moose mud pie) that Lee loved.  Plus the company was fantastic and we really, really had a good time.

Bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside

Bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside

Loved their plates. Would have bought some if they weren't breakable

Loved their plates. Would have bought some if they weren’t breakable

Me, Lee, Bill, and Kelly

Me, Lee, Bill, and Kelly

The Moose Mud pie

The Moose Mud pie

Lee's expression says it all

Lee’s expression says it all

Afterwards we went to Costco and spent another $300 (I know, I know) although I felt better about it when Bill said I needed to take the long view.  We have enough groceries we hope to last through the end of August and I am crossing my fingers that it will all work out in the end.  The thing Lee said that made me feel the best about it was, “We were spending almost this much money before and I was unhappy because I felt we never had anything to eat, and now we have food.”  That made sense to me and settled me somewhat.

We said our goodbyes which was sad, although we will see them again in a few weeks and headed home.  It was a long drive going back and we didn’t get home until 11pm and then had to put some of the groceries away before collapsing into bed.  I didn’t mind the long day though because it was so worth it to be with friends.

 


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8 thoughts on “First Time in Anchorage with Kelly and Bill

  1. I always find it funny how we can do the exact same things and have such different perspectives, which is awesome! I do wish Glennallen and Seward weren’t so far apart, but we’ve worked it out ok. See you SOON! like 2 weeks and 2 days from today!

  2. One of the best part of this wonderful lifestyle is meeting up with friends along the way. Alaska just seems so far away, but you still meet up with friends. Bill and I say all the time that we have more friends now than we ever had in our previous lifestyle.

    So good to see the four of you having a great day!!! Oh, the Moose Mud Pie looks sinful;o))

  3. I loved the reindeer pictures. So nice that you could get together with Bill and Kelly for such a fun day. You know, I am pinning all of these great blogs so that when David and I get to Alaska we’ll just follow in your tracks. 🙂

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