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Look closely. That's the Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) Marine Terminal

For all of my friends who live outside of Alaska, my apologies…I need to find a link to a good map to demonstrate why I’m flying to some places, like Valdez, instead of driving. Don’t get me wrong. It IS possible to drive to some places, even in the winter time – all four of my friends who went on this trip drove in two cars. From my perspective of time saved and money spent, coupled with a new job and not wanting to take more time off than necessary, I chose to fly Era. For less than $200 and in under an hour, I arrived at the Anchorage airport, parked my car, skipped through the security line and got onboard the De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 (that’s for you, my perfectionist pilot friends…).

I’m not gonna lie to ya either. It is scary when the turbulence throws you around in your seat like you’re a rag doll in this relatively small aircraft BUT it is also exhilarating to look out the window, see the ridges of the mountains glistening, and the lights of the city below, then realize as the wheels touch down… “I made it! No air sickness for me!”

But, that was just the start of MY Alaska: Valdez. Erin & Amanda were driving into town after their 6 1/2 hour road trip, and picked me up from the airport. We drove the mile or two to Kim’s house where we were staying. Kim and her husband, along with their almost four-month-old cutie, Hawkins, have found opportunity and beauty in the town. Good thing for us, Kim is in the National Guard and able to come to Anchorage frequently so we get to see her.

The girls, including Judi and Gina, accepted Kim’s invitation for a girls weekend and were nice enough to ask me, too. Since Kim just started back at work (after maternity leave), it was a great time to get out to see her house and enjoy the company of one another. “What would some wild and crazy 30-somethings do in Valdez?” is what I’m sure you’re asking yourself right now. Well, prepare yourself…we started out with a heated game of Dance Party, lots of conversation, some wine, great food and the endless “It’s my turn to hold Hawkins” competition.

On Saturday, we had every intention of going skiing until Jeremy told us the temperature was below zero, and that didn’t include the windchill factor. So, we decided because it was such a crystal clear, beautiful day, to get out and take some pictures. We didn’t last too long but had fun anyway!

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To start blogging again? Nah, that’s not my 2011 resolution. At least not directly.


Alaska has been an amazing state for me. I am blessed with incredibly loyal, talented and smart friends who inspire me, a job I love and plenty of opportunity for fun. But, I don’t take advantage of all of that fun. I’ve found myself for the past couple of years making excuses about getting out and doing something more exciting because the weather wasn’t just perfect or because I’d done it before or had been too busy. The truth is, I grew complacent.


For 2011, I will live my life with intention: My life in Alaska isn’t Sarah Palin’s or TLC’s. This is MY Alaska, and it is my theme for the year.


I’m proud to say, I’ve started the New Year off on the right foot. I flew into Fairbanks hours before the midnight clock struck, and spent the holiday with the people in Alaska who are closest to being my extended family, the Chalstrom’s and Schutte’s. For hours, kids and adults lit the sky with sparklers and an impressive display of fireworks.


For week two, I drove to Seward today, just because. It was foggy in Anchorage but I was optimistic, checked the forecast and got on the road. Just past the Seward Highway turn-off to Portage, the sky cleared and it was the perfect, sunny bluebird day all the way to town and back.




Next weekend, I’m off to Valdez with girlfriends. Certainly there will be lots of new photos to post then but I don’t have plans beyond that so I’m looking for your advice. Whether it is getting out on snowmachine or dining at the Crow’s Nest, what does YOUR Alaska look like? Post your photos and advice here, and I’ll promise to keep you updated through this journey.

Happy 2011 Friends!
~S

More photos from my day trip to Seward:

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