We have had quite a month! When my husband and I were planning out our summer, waaaay back in the cold, wet months of January/February, he said he wanted to take time to play this summer. And, for the month of August, that is exactly what we did!
We began the month with a trip we had been talking about for YEARS...a trip to Alaska! Taking our boys to Alaska before they leave for college has been on our list-of-trips-to-take-with-the-kids for a very long time. Yellowstone was one that had been on our list, and we made that trip a couple of years ago. Grand Canyon, and Yosemite are still on the list.
The bonus to this trip is that we were able to invite Brandon's dad and his dad's girlfriend to come along with us. Gale, Brandon's dad, had wanted to go on a family trip to Alaska for quite some time. He had tried to get us to go along with him a few years ago, but with school schedules we couldn't manage it. So, this was the summer!We thought a cruise to a few cities in Alaska would be the easiest way for all of us to get a glimpse of this very, very large state.
Our cruise ship went through the Tracy Arm Fjord on the second day of our trip. When we started out, it was a cold and cloudy trip into the fjord, but then it opened to these beautiful turquoise blue waters. Eventually, we made it far enough back into this fjord to see a very large glacier. This was one of the most amazing days of our trip!
Our first stop at a town was in Skagway, Alaska. Here we took a trip up to the Yukon Territory of Canada. This is an area famous for its gold rush. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking. Brandon and I had just watched a short series on the gold rush before taking this trip, so it was amazing to be going through some of the same areas we had just learned about. After our drive, we came back into Skagway and checked out some of the shops and sites in town. I found the local quilt shop and bought some fabric, and the boys picked up some souvenirs.
For our day in Juneau, we decided to take a shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier. We were there during the annual salmon run, so we saw many, many salmon. Knowing there were salmon in the streams, we were hoping to see a bear as well, but we had no luck that day. We did, however, see a porcupine! He was up in a tree nibbling on some leaves. We took a short hike to see Nugget Falls while we were at Mendenhall. This was another beautiful area of Alaska! When we came back into Juneau, we had a fantastic lunch of halibut and chips and then wandered through the shops before getting back on board the ship.
Our last stop in Alaska was in Ketchikan. This was a really fun town to walk around and explore. The area pictured above is called Creek Street. The buildings are all built above this creek. If you were to look down into that creek, you would see hundreds of salmon swimming upstream.
Our family felt absolutely spoiled on this trip. We loved seeing a snapshot of Alaska and hope to come back for a longer visit in the future. We had not been on a cruise before, so it was fun to have this new experience together. Our favorite part of each day were the dinners. Not only do the waitstaff know how to make you feel special and feed you delicious food, but the time we had to slow down and enjoy together as a family was wonderful. Each evening we would spend a couple hours around the table talking about our day, past trips, what the next day had in store, and just enjoying the time together.
Our second August trip could not have been more different than our first. This time my husband and I loaded up our camping gear and headed off to the San Juan Islands. This is our third summer of taking off for a couples only camping trip while our boys are away for a week at church camp. Brandon and I had not been to the San Juan Islands since our honeymoon over 20 years ago. It was fun to revisit the area. It was also special to be able to take the time away for just the two of us. We did let our dog Sadie tag along for this trip though. We went on hikes, explored the towns of Orcas Island, rode the ferry over to Friday Harbor, and slept in. We had a wonderful few days away!
Our last trip of the summer is one of our family's favorite traditions. We spent a long weekend up at Timothy Lake on Mt Hood and camped with a few other families. None of us is quite sure how many summers we have taken this trip...some say ten, some say eleven. I guess that's the way traditions go. It's such a part of what you do that you don't even know how long you've been doing it. I do know that we began this trip with our very good family friends, the Ablins. When our kids were very little, Jen and I would meet together once a week for what we called 'home preschool.' We essentially had a mini preschool time for our kids and at the end of the school year, we decided to plan a camping trip for our families. After one trip, we decided we wanted to do it again.
Since our first trip, other families have joined in on the tradition. Our kids say that summer doesn't count until we have gone camping at Timothy Lake. This year, all of the teens were sitting around the campfire talking about what it would be like to come back to Timothy as adults, and would that be ok. Ok? Of course! How amazing that this little trip that started in preschool has become such a part of who these kids are and what they do. I love that they want to continue the tradition with all of us after they have grown up and moved into the next season of their lives. I can't wait for next summer!
Well, there you have it. I hope you have made it this far with me. Now my boys are heading off to school. In my mind the beginning of the school year feels more like the start of a new year than January ever does. Our youngest starts high school this coming week. I cannot believe that I will be the mom of two high school boys. How lucky am I? Looking forward to a fantastic year ahead.