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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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