Now that we’ve settled down for the first time in a decade and have actual space to host (granted, it’s a yurt), we’re starting to have visitors! This summer, it was my family’s turn.
I remember when I first pitched the idea of a trip to Alaska to my sister, Janice, last year. My 76-year-old (nearly 77) mom can’t travel solo anymore, but I really wanted her to come up here one last time and to see where we live (she’s been to Alaska 2 other times). Plus, I’ve referenced my mom’s brother before, as he lives in Fairbanks, 2 hours north of Justin & I. He is slowly making his exit from Alaska after 40+ years here, especially now that my aunt has passed. So I also wanted my mom visit him one more time!
Anyway, I asked Janice to escort my mom up here. Janice needed some convincing … though we are close, we are quite different and her idea of a vacation entails a swimmable and warm beach without swarms blood-sucking mosquitoes.
I eventually convinced Janice, and summer vacation 2022 was planned. The bonus was that Uncle Fred’s three daughters were visiting at the same time!! So my mom got to see her nieces, and my sister and I got to see our cousins! A mini family reunion!
One of the ways I enticed my sister about an Alaskan vacation was to include a trip to Chena Hot Springs, especially since we were spending a few days in Fairbanks. I definitely think the hot springs settled the muscles and mind into a heavenly state of relaxation after the long trip from the East Coast.
My nephew, on the other hand, was elated to return to Alaska. Justin & I brought him to Alaska when he was 13 as part of our signature bonding trip we take our nephews & nieces on; his trip was to Alaska for the sole purpose of riding the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks! This time around, he got to live his best life with a train ride AND a solo stay in our yurt (my mom & sister stayed at Denali Lakeview Inn because … indoor plumbing).
Minutes after we arrived in Healy, we delivered on the promise that there would be PLENTY of moose in our neighborhood. I think they ended up seeing moose everyday they were in Healy. Oddly enough, we did drive into the National Park one day, and we saw ZERO wildlife.
One of my sister’s questions about visiting me “in the middle of nowhere” was “what will we do???” Little did she know that we would have a VERY active vacation. Our first outing was whitewater rafting with New Wave Adventures. This was actually my first time rafting with them, and I might actually do a longer blog post about it because I’ve been rafting a few times in my life, and this was BY FAR, the most exhilarating trip I’ve ever done. (And for the record, my elderly mom did not join us–Justin drove her around and watched us from the cliffs).
Next up, we did an ATV tour with Black Diamond (again, my mom sat this one out). Justin & I have been ATV-ing before, but never in this area. The funny thing was that we were riding on the trails that we ski all winter!
All in all, it was wonderful to share Alaska—and my new home—with my family. Sadly, I know my mom won’t be coming back up here. As for my sister, she genuinely enjoyed her trip, even though she will always be a mosquito magnet and the Great North is not her paradise. But I think she was impressed!