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by April

Most Memorable Photos

December 1, 2010 in 2010 Alaska Adventure by April

A friend asked me to post some of my favorite pictures from the trip.  It was hard picking from the 4,000 pictures to make the blog to begin with.  It was even harder to pick my favorites from the blog, but here they are in order of the trip…

Cody’s favorite van activity, driving.

The Great River Road Museum – Eagle’s Nest

Brooke asked, “Do I get to learn new things everyday Momma?”

Taken from inside an abandonded church in Dorothy. Our first time sleeping in a church.

How many people can say they have slept in one of these?

Meeting other people out on extraordinary journeys.

Brooke in the Calgary Tower spotting our next adventure.

Brooke and Cody’s first ride on a ski lift and mine with no snow.

Moo Bear

From a distance it really did look like a black bear… 🙂

Near our campsite the first time in Canmore.

Tree giving birth. A path off of a highway stop. You never know where the next adventure is hiding.

Lake Louise. The first time. No rain.

Columbia Ice Field. One tough hike and she did it.

Whistler Mountain – Jasper

One of the many spray parks in 50-60 degree temps.

Liard Hot Springs in the rain. My favorite rainy day.

Brooke ringing the bell on the SS Klondike. She was on an insatiable quest for steamboats.

Cody’s 1st birthday celebration in the Yukon.

Meeting up with Scott’s cousin and family in Fairbanks.

Cody’s eyes are as bright as the midnight sun at 9:10 pm.

Brooke and Scott dancing in a freezing creek near Fairbanks.

Grapefruit Rocks.  Brooke's first climbing experience.  Proud papa belaying below.

Grapefruit Rocks.  Brooke’s 1st climbing experience.  Proud Papa belaying below.

Brooke on another paddle boat, the Discovery, in Fairbanks.

Denali National Park. Where Cody took his first steps.

More to come… I made it to mid-July

by April

The Wrap Up: Facts and Figures

August 21, 2010 in 2010 Alaska Adventure by April

Trip Dates: June 3, 2010 to August 18, 2010

Days: 77

Total Mileage: 11,276

Total Cost:   ~$10,500

Gas: $2,946.34
Food/Misc: ~ $2,600
Camping: ~ $800
Activities: ~ $800
Restaurants: ~ $300
Van: ~ $3,000

Average Cost of Gas: $3.444/gal

Highest Gas Price Paid: $4.54/gal

Lowest Gas Price Paid: $2.58/gal

Average Miles Per Gallon: 13.24

Furthest Point West from home: Homer

Furthest Point North from home: The White Mountains somewhere along the Steese Highway

Longest Time Between Showers: 8 days – Thursday, July 29th to Saturday, August 7th – Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon

Wildlife Seen: Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Dahl Sheep, wolf, puffins, sea otters, sea lion, seal, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, moose, caribou (reindeer), Mule Deer, Buffalo, Beaver

Tallest Mountain: Mt. McKinley 20,320 feet

National Parks Visited: Wrangell – St. Elias, Denali, Kenai Fjords, Misty Fjords, Glacier, Canada’s Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton, and Yoho

Cody’s Firsts: Steps at Denali NP, “Ball”, “Baa” (Bottle), Pacific Ocean, Hot Springs

New States for Cody: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana

Provinces: Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, British Columbia

Brooke’s Firsts: Denali Junior Ranger, Paddle Boat, Hiked for 1+ hours, Hot Springs, Similarities and differences e.g. rocks,  Arial tram (Mt. Whisler, Jasper), Ski Lift (Calgary), Pacific ocean (Homer), caught first fish (Seward), took first shower all by herself – shampoo and conditioner (Kenai)

New States for Brooke: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana

Provinces: Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, British Columbia

Favorite Drives: Ice Fields Parkway, Road to Valdez from Glen Allen, Road-to-the-Sun (Glacier National Park), Cassiar Highway

Longest day driving: Day 77, the last day ~700 miles

by April

Final Thoughts, Comments, and Highlights

August 19, 2010 in 2010 Alaska Adventure by April

Wow, what a great journey of discovery.   Below are few of the highs and lows that stand out.


Favorite Moment

Brooke catching her first fish, a Pink Salmon, in Valdez was great.  She was so proud.  After tossing a line, and many stones, in nearly every stream we crossed on the way to Alaska, it seemed that we would never catch anything but weeds.

Lowest Moment

When not even a week into the trip Brooke smashed Cody’s hand in the van door I thought the trip was over.  After a fitful night, Cody healed up and was ready to travel.  It could have been much worse.

Most Memorable Campsite

This is a tough one, so I’m going to have to pick two.  The first, for beauty, is when we camped in Hyder, AK, overlooking the glacier.  Almost more memorable was when we camped in a church in the ghost town of Dorothy, AB.  We all had a terrible night sleep but it was an experience that won’t soon be forgotten.

Least Favorite Campsite

Anchorage’s Centennial Park Campground, with it’s noise and people making a home of it, is tops on my list of least favorite places.

Favorite Hike

Hidden Lake Trail in Glacier National Park

Things Scott missed while we were gone

Family, Friends, Regular workouts

Favorite Camp Food

Sockeye Salmon from Colorado high school teachers at Hidden Lake



Favorite Moment

I was excited to finally get to see Cody take several steps in a row. I’m happy that Scott got to see a first, first and be excited to tell me about it.  I really enjoyed watching Scott and Brooke glow from the experience of finally having caught a fish.  They were up a lot that night giddy from the excitement.  I’m glad Scott encouraged Brooke and I to take the train from Seward to Anchorage.  Brooke is usually very well-behaved when she is given one-on-one time and she was just glowing from the new experience.  I also loved watching Brooke climb in the White Mountains for the first time and do so well so quickly. We were all so proud of her.

Lowest Moment

Cody had A LOT of accidents in the beginning.  I don’t like to hear my babies cry and any time I stayed up with him all night worrying about his health and knowing there wasn’t medical help anywhere near, it made my heart ache.  I also didn’t like the tension between Scott and I in the beginning of the trip.  (I was not sure the risk we were taking with our kids was worth the potential gain.) After I realized that Scott was not going to give up on the trip idea, I decided that I could try to make the best of the situation and maybe we’d all survive to enjoy it.

Most Memorable Campsite

All of my favorite campsites were in Alaska and they are all very different from each other.  I loved Hidden Lake for the lonely loon’s call and the peaceful surroundings as well as the exceptional company. I enjoyed Fairbanks because we had just come from Canada where I felt so disconnected because we couldn’t use the phone and didn’t often have Wifi.  Sometimes just knowing that I could call to hear family or call for medical help if the kids needed it helped me sleep better.  Two bonuses included the free Wifi and the lack of bear warning notices everywhere.  We stayed there a week, which was the longest we stayed in any one place, making it feel almost homey.  Teklaneeka in Denali was an experience like none other on our trip.

Least Favorite Campsite

Anchorage’s Centennial Park Campground.  A River Runeth Through It.  Enough said.

Favorite Hike

The Ancient Cedar Rainforest in British Columbia east of Prince George.  It was just so peaceful.  I couldn’t breathe in enough of the clean cedar air.

Things April Missed While we Were Gone

Kitty Cats – Denali and Teton, Family, Friends, My Bed, Guilt-Free breaks away from the kids, Security of close health care, Clean and Warm Showers, Bear-Free Sleep

Favorite Camp Food

Anytime someone else cooks it somehow tastes better.  Thus, everything was delicious!  My favorites were: homemade pizza, desserts, pan fried granola, and of course s’mores.



Favorite Moment

Brooke’s first response was catching a fish.  Then she also added that she liked the gondola or tram ride up to the top of Whistler Mountain in Jasper, Alberta. She also loved the Denali (Alaska Railroad) train ride from Seward to Anchorage.  Brooke often loves to tell about climbing to the top of Grapefruit Rocks in the White Mountains north of Fairbanks.  She liked riding her bike and camping by parks too.

Lowest Moment

It was hard to get this concept across to Brooke, but she agreed that she really didn’t like pit toilets.  She was always afraid I was going to drop her down one.  She says she didn’t like hikes, not even the one where I was trying to hold her hand to keep her from falling and accidentally took her down on her head when I fell. (Ancient Cedar Forest- 70 miles east of Prince George, British Columbia) But we think she secretly liked it anyway.  She also secretly likes being a “double” junior ranger (Denali and Glacier).  She would often give ranger talks about rocks or things we would see on our hikes.

Most Memorable Campsite

Hidden Lake in the Kenai National Forest in Alaska.  She really enjoyed the row boat and meeting Sandy and Jack.  Sandy made Brooke her very own little fishing pole.  More than anything they made her feel like everything she had to say was the most important thing they had ever heard.  She misses them and really enjoyed their company.

Least Favorite Campsite

Brooke is still having a hard time with the concept of not liking something, which is good, but we know she didn’t like campsites with a lot of mosquitoes.  She didn’t usually get upset about the campsites mostly about not being able to play at playgrounds if they were wet or in general not being able to do what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it.

Favorite Hike

The hike in Denali National Park at the Elison Visitors Center.  Brooke liked hiking with her climbing friends.  It was also one of the first hikes where Brooke walked for almost an hour.

Things Brooke Missed While we Were Gone

Kitty Cats – Denali and Teton, Family, Friends, School, Her Inflatable Pool, Air Conditioning?, Her Bed, Her Toys

Favorite Camp Food

Apple Cobbler, Brooke also really got a kick out of Scott cooking the birthday cakes – she wants Scott to cook her birthday cake this year


Favorite Moment

Getting to stand in Dadda’s seat and drive.  I loved splashing in water and eating rocks too.  Starting to learn to walk is a lot of fun, but tiring too.  I enjoyed chasing Brooke around the tent and bottle chucking and bottle bathing.

Lowest Moment

It seemed like everyone was having trouble taking care of me in the beginning.  Mom would forget to strap my booster seat down and I fell on my head.  Dad wasn’t watching me and I hit my eye on a pot in a fireplace.  I’ll always have a scar to remember that one.  Brooke smashed my left hand in the van door on accident and scrapped up the whole left side of my body a few weeks after that by tipping over my stroller on a road.  I was also sick a few times and had trouble breathing and sleeping.  Mostly I wanted to be up and moving, but they just kept strapping me into things: my stroller, my booster seat, or my car seat.

Most Memorable Campsite

The last campground in Alaska.  Mommy actually let me get really dirty and play in the mud.  Then they let me splash in the water and cool off too.  I even ate a few rocks when mommy wasn’t looking.  Some dinosaurs used rocks to help with digestion. What’s the harm?

Least Favorite Campsite

Hand smashing.  Need I say more.

Favorite Hike

Anytime I was on Daddy’s back and he wore his hat was great fun for me.  I would just pick up the reigns, jump up and down in the pack, and giggle away as daddy Giddy-Upped.

Things Cody Missed While we Were Gone

Being free to roam.

Favorite Camp Food

My Birthday cake!

by April

Day 77: Wednesday, August 18th – Jamestown, North Dakota to Home

August 19, 2010 in 2010 Alaska Adventure by April

I woke up shortly before seven Central time to what I thought were a lot of planes flying over.  After I thought about the multitude of planes in my semi-conscious state I realized that there must  be something else making noise since towns in the middle of nowhere don’t usually have a plane rumbling through every minute or so.

Last night was the first night of this entire trip that we left the fly off (Scott likes to say “we went topless”).  It was peaceful falling asleep staring at the stars.  The fly helps keep in some of our hot air though and when the wind started whipping in at about midnight the kids and I started to get chilled.  I was tempted to put the fly on then, but I didn’t really want to get up, so I just piled more layers on everyone.

Back to this morning.  I finally realized that the roar of planes was really the rumbling of a summer storm. I woke Scott up.  Since we just lost a time zone yesterday it was like waking up at six am. Which wasn’t early before this trip, but as we started to stay up later with the midnight sun we also started sleeping in until 9.  We have been slowly getting back on schedule as we lose sunlight and time zones.

Cody popped up with no problem while Scott and I busily packed up to try to beat the storm that was coming across the lake.  I never tire of watching the rain come down on water.  Especially when I can watch while staying dry.  Thankfully Brooke woke up without too much distress and was even very helpful getting everything into the van. We couldn’t have done it without her help.  We were very close on time.

We drove down the campground road to a pavilion to eat our no frills breakfast of cereal.  Once everyone was settled into the pavilion, I ran to the van to get the last of the cereals.  The rain was literally on my heels.  Just as we took our first bites the thunder and lightning really started to put on a show.  We even had little hail balls come and greet us as the rain decided to blow in sideways.  It was quite a storm, but we were able to keep our tent and belongings dry.

The motivation to avoid the storm had us on the road by 8 am.

Minnesota by 10 am! Wisconsin by 1:30 pm! Home by 10:45 pm!

Final mileage: 129,521


It is exciting to see the familiar sites of home, but it also makes me miss the peacefulness of the middle of nowhere (in bear-free campsites of course :- )

We did not intend to go all the way home when we woke up this morning.  We actually stopped at the Black River State Forest in Wisconsin to camp, but the mosquitoes were pretty bad and Scott was not looking forward to camping in the heat.  So, we hopped back in the car and went in search of a McDonald’s play land and a not-so-healthy last trip meal.

I am excited to go home, but I know I will miss the family together time.  It is difficult for Scott to schedule in family time when we are home.  I will also miss Scott making dinner and cleaning the dishes every night.  I think that will need to get implemented into our home routine at least on the nights I have class this fall.

We have a few more posts that will go up with odds and ends, but we will update this site every now and then with family adventures.  The next  scheduled out of state trip will be to Wisconsin to camp and scuba dive.  This time we will get to be with extended family as well.

Thanks for following us on our journey.  We would love to hear your comments, family adventures, or suggestions for future family adventures.  We have tossed around the idea of New Zealand and Australia, but this planning momma is a  little concerned about finances, so who knows how long it will be until we put our traveling shoes back on.

by April

Day 76: Tuesday, August 17th – Wolf Point, Montana to Jamestown, North Dakota

August 19, 2010 in 2010 Alaska Adventure by April

Cody is slowly working his way back to his five am wake up call.  He was up by 6:15.  Today we finished a state and lost another time zone.  As of 10:30 we were only 998 miles from home! It is hard knowing that we could be home tomorrow if only the kids could handle more driving time, but I know that they are having a hard time dealing with all of the time they are sitting as it is.

IMG_5472Cody playing with a foam number puzzle Heather and Carla put in their goody bags for the kids.  He played with this puzzle for more than an hour.

Once again we came across an  extraordinary park by accident.  We were looking for one park, couldn’t find it, and wound up at the Swedish Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota.  If you ever happen to be in Minot you should stop by.  We would have taken more pictures, but the camera battery died right in church.

IMG_5477Super Cody trying to eat all of the chips that blew off of the table on this very windy but absolutely sunny and gorgeous day.


Dala Horse

This is the Dala Horse.  It is the National Symbol of Sweden. The buildings in this park were either replicas made in Sweden and brought over here, or originals.


replica of an old Swedish church


This is a replica of an old Swedish church.  Although, they still perform several hundred weddings here a year.  They had a covered walkway around the outside of the church for those with Leprosy and other communicable diseases to hear the sermon and there was a little side door off of the altar for them to receive communion.  There were twelve smiley faces up at the top of the pillars in the church.  The church docent said that they could be for the twelve apostles, but that there are also twelve Norse Gods as well.

IMG_5478 IMG_5479 IMG_5480


I found this info on the lovely placard outside the storehouse:

This storehouse is a replica of the original built in Torvetjonn, a farm near Mosvann in Telemark, Norway, which is considered a major work in Norwegian folk architecture. The original was built in 1750 by an excellent craftsman, Jon from Vinje.

The replica was designed and built in Norway and then the designer and crew disassembled it, came here with it, and reassembled it.  We were fortunate enough to speak with the wife of the late project chairman, Reuben Forsberg.  This was the first building in the park and it was dedicated in 1990.  Her family hosted the designer and crew while they were here in the US putting the replica back together. She said there is a large week long Swedish festival in Minot every year that draws people from all over the world.  I knew Minnesota had a large Swedish population, but I never realized North Dakota did as well.

On a somewhat related note, notice the middle sack in the last picture of the storehouse.  Havre is the name of a town we stopped at in Montana. We need to look up what it means when we get a chance.

There were some incredible fountains and other buildings at the Swedish Park, but as I mentioned we ran out of battery power and the spare was up at the van.  We could have stayed even longer, but the road was calling.

Four hundred miles from Wolf Point, Montana we found a campground in Scott’s GPS. We were going to call and make sure it was still in existence once we had cell reception.  Before we ever had reception we stumbled upon a state recreation campground along a lake.  It was a very breath taking and peaceful site in the middle of endless farmland.  Although, I do have to say I have never seen quite so many fields of sunflowers growing.  I don’t think we could have put in so many miles if Cody didn’t get a two and a half hour nap.  We woke Brooke up after a two hour nap.  Yeah for long naps!

IMG_5488   IMG_5491

Scott actually purchased firewood this night.  He acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but I knew every fiber of his being was probably itching to say, “No Way!”  (I’m not sure if I have ever seen him purchase wood in the fourteen years I have known him.) There wasn’t any firewood laying around and it was a perfect night for a fire.  We made s’mores again and enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing on the shore while we watched the dragonflies dive for mosquitoes and the daylight fade away into a star-filled sky.

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