Christmas and Alaska

I never thought I'd say this, but it was warmer in Alaska than it is here in Northwest Ohio. I'm sitting here, bundled up on my couch in a new blanket from Christmas, typing on my new laptop from Christmas, and looking outside on our two feet of snow and -11 degree weather. Crazy.

We spent Christmas Eve with Chris's family here in Ohio and Christmas morning at our own home by ourselves. I spent Christmas Eve feeling feverish and worried that I would be too sick to make the trek up to Michigan the next morning, but thankfully, I woke up refreshed and energized on Christmas morning, so we decided to head up to see my brother and grandparents in Michigan who did not go to Alaska. Everyone else in my family (minus my one sister in Florida) had already left for Alaska a few days earlier.

The day after Christmas we left from my parents house in Michigan to the airport to head to Anchorage to meet up with the rest of my family. 2.5 hours of driving, 12 hours of flying (broken up into three flights), and two layovers in Charlotte and Phoenix (I know, it makes no sense) later, we landed in Anchorage. CJ suffered with a fever for the last two flights, and somehow Chris and I managed through all the flights taking care of our three children with absolutely no source of entertainment for them. Both of us forgot to pack the DVDs and download games on our phones and laptops. Our kids were amazing and didn't even complain! I, however, thought I was going to die.

It was -11 in Anchorage when we landed, and we still had a 3 hour drive to make it to my brother's house. The drive was beautiful. We stopped at a gas station and I ran out into a snow bank to test out the -11 degree weather. It wasn't too bad at all!

Our first day in Alaska consisted of an afternoon of chasing a moose that walked right up to my brother's backyard, and snowmobiling in a winter wonderland of evergreens and glistening snow! 

Unfortunately, day two consisted of me sleeping my fever away which in the end took all of 3 days. I just braved through day 2 and 3 of having the fever because I didn't want to miss out on all the fun. I was so sick.

Day three of the trip, we drove out to a beautiful log home on the Cook Inlet where all 22 of us stayed for one night. We danced, sang, played games, and lived up to the Italian reputation of being loud. 

The next morning (day 4) we drove out to Homer - a quaint tourist town on the ocean with fabulous views of the mountains.

Outside of our one night stay at the B&B on the ocean, the five of us Ridleys got to stay in a beautiful one room log cabin less than a mile from my brother's house. This proved to be such a blessing, especially during the time we were all sick!

The large stone fireplace was our favorite place about the cabin. Nothing more cozy and homey than a warm crackling fire!

Here are a couple more photos of Homer.

The views were just breathtaking.

The moose were everywhere, much like we see deer here.

New Year's Eve (day 5) we spent dog sledding. That was an experience I will never forget. The picturesque landscape and only the sound of the dogs mushing was indescribable. The dogs were so friendly and so strong, and the cane sleds were actually very comfortable and easy to maneuver. Our guide told us all about her experience racing the Iditarod and showed us her equipment and shared some incredible stories.

New Year's Day (day 6), we all gathered at a restaurant to watch the Rose Bowl football game and then later just hung out together as a family.

For our last day in Alaska, we had a photographer come take a family picture and my brother (who is a pilot) gave out plane rides. I opted out of the plane ride due to the fact I get very motion sick on planes and was already dreading the three flights home yet I had ahead of me. Chris, however, made it on the scenic flight and got this fabulous picture of the glacier they flew over.

We remembered to pack DVDs and download games for our phones and laptops for the flights back home, so the children stayed well entertained, and Chris and I kept a little bit of our sanity. By the time we flew home, we only had lingering colds and coughs, no more fevers, thank goodness!

Inspired by all the beauty of Alaska, I painted this the day after we arrived home.

And for anyone interested, the coat I'm wearing in all of the pictures I purchased on clearance this past Spring at Kohl's for only $26!

Now that we're home, we're dealing with very low temps and over two feet of snow! We've been snowed in for the past two days now and the high today was -5! Oddly enough, it was 34 degrees and raining in Anchorage when we left.

I still can't believe we all got to be in Alaska for New Years. What an experience! I miss my Alaska family already, but am glad to be home now enjoying the snow in Ohio.