Travel Diaries: The Mountains Are Calling (Alaska Trip)

Hi all! Things have been a bit quiet here on the blog lately due to a number of things.  The first being, Andrew and I went on a trip to Alaska with his family for his older brother’s wedding.  I can honestly sat that Alaska is one of those states I never thought I would visit.  In addition to the super long flight across the country (I’m an anxious flier- especially when layovers are involved), I’m much more of a city girl than an outdoorsy girl.  My ideal vacation involves walking city streets, checking out bookstores and museums, indulging in local ice creameries, and admiring interesting architecture.  Alaska is the polar opposite.  We stayed in Girdwood which is “right” outside of  Anchorage (I air quote “right” because it’s about a 40 minute drive but according to native Alaskans, this is considered close-by) in one of the most beautiful log cabins I’ve ever laid eyes on.  It’s called Winner Creek Lodge and Andrew’s mom get’s all the credit for handling the discovery and booking of these gorgeous accommodations.  As scenic as the glaciers and mountains are, my favorite part of the trip were the mornings I was the first one awake.  I would head upstairs to the living room, made a large cup of chai tea, settle in with a blanket on one of the leather couches, and read my book next to one of the huge windows.  (My second favorite part of the trip was not having to wear work clothes for a week and getting to coordinate cute outfits.)  Initially I had been a bit upset about leaving New York when summer weather finally started to surface, but my attitude quickly changed when I realized we would be heading into autumn temperatures and I had a blast packing for an unusual week of my favorite seasons climate.  Even though it the weather was mostly dreary and rainy, it wasn’t like the torrential downpour of rain we experience in New York.  We didn’t even need an umbrella during our excursions and it wasn’t enough to ruin your hair.  The one thing I will say is that I have thankfully never been in a place before with more mosquitoes than Alaska.  They were E V E R Y W H E R E.

My favorite excursion of the trip was definitely the boat ride on the Kenai Fjords.  We took a very scenic boat ride out of a port in Seward to Fox Island which is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film.  Not to mention, foxes are my favorite animal so I was bound to love such a quirky place.  On our way back to Seward, we were able to see a humpback whale (Andrew got an incredible photo of his tail!) and to touch a bit of ice that broke off of a glacier.  My sister in law Molly had been dying to see some otters and she was over the moon when we rode by some just lounging on their backs in the water.  On the way back to Girdwood (it’s a 2 hours drive) we listened to the Hamilton soundtrack which I’m sure I enjoyed the most of anyone in our car.  And speaking of animals, we had several bear sightings on our street and in our backyard, which basically made me a nervous wreck.  I had been dreading getting attacked by a bear or a moose since before we left and to see them so close to where we were staying really scared me.  I did however, enjoy seeing a ton of animals at the conservatory where they were behind barriers.  There was a reindeer there that I swear looked exactly like Sven from Frozen.  And foxes! As I mentioned, foxes are my fave.  We also did a bunch of hikes, one to a glacier, one to a hidden waterfall and one just around our neighborhood to see the mountains.  It was all very surreal and felt like wandering Middle Earth but by the end of the trip I was ready to be back in NY with the three b’s- books, buildings and the good bagels.

Overall, we had a wonderful time.  Having grown up in a family of four, it was really fun to wake up to an even fuller house of family members (we had 9 total on this trip- sharing 4 bathrooms so it all worked out okay!).  But I enjoy the chaos and conversation that come with so many lovely people in one place.  We were also visited by Andrew’s cousins Clare, Caroline and Nora and their parents Aunt Monica and Uncle Mike and it was so nice to get to spend more time with them since even though they too live on the East Coast, they live a bit further away from us.  We are going to plan a weekend trip to visit them in Philadelphia soon though!

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Kristin

Travel Diaries: Life Near the Beach (+ Away from the Internet) is Better

Warning: This post is going to be SO photo heavy and before I get into everything, here is the physical embodiment of what my dream of a future house will look like:

Last weekend, Andrew and I took a vacation day, turning our regularly scheduled two day weekend into a three day long mini-getaway.  We went to visit Andrew’s parents on the Jersey Shore and I have to say how completely charmed I am by the appeal of a small town with a sense of community.  It was so nice to walk around in a spacious and scenic area without constantly being stuck behind smokers or people walking too slowly.  When we were crossing streets, cars actually stopped to let us cross even if we didn’t have the right of way!  I was completely and utterly shocked by this since it feels like you’re often running across the street for your life in NYC.  Complete strangers would wave to each other, one of the only open breakfast spots in the town (SO DELICIOUS btw) only had a 20 minute wait for a table for walk-in customers, and porch life (which is basically what I aspire to) is a huge way of life for these folks.  Because we visited off season, there were a bunch of places that were closed or had shorter hours for the season but we’re definitely planning a trip back once it gets warmer so we can experience everything!

Saturday was my favorite day of our weekend.  Andrew’s parents took us to the aforementioned breakfast spot where I had a delicious broccoli and Vermont white cheddar omelet and fluffy homemade biscuits with a cinnamon butter spread that I wouldn’t object to putting on all the bread I consume henceforth. We then journeyed to the quaintest little town, a few minutes down the road and I immediately began to get major heart eyes for all of the beautiful Victorian style houses.  The vibrant color combinations, the sheer volume of spires (a brilliant stroke of architectural genius that’s pretty much a non-negotiable feature I want on my future home) and the homey feel of everything almost had me asking for the name and phone number of the local real estate agent.  We then walked to Asbury Park (there are like 5 towns that are all within walking distance of one another!) and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather along the boardwalk!  We checked out the Asbury Park Convention Center which was holding a Roller Derby event and a Valentine’s Day Market.  I found a photographer that I really like and I may look her up online to purchase some of her prints.  There was also an entire store for Havianas which I never saw before! But I guess #BeachLife.  We also saw the Beachfront Hotel where we’re attending a wedding later in the year, the Asbury Park Bierhalle which I’m DYING to try and more adorable local eateries and businesses!  We walked so much that our legs were actually sore the next day (in that amazing I-got-so-much-exercise kind of way)!

*This is when I forgot to take any more photos from the weekend* Then on Sunday, the rainy and cold weather forced us to stay inside for most of the day but we did venture out to the most magical grocery store in the land.  They literally had full slices of pie and danishes, cups of coffee or apple cider and large pieces of cheese as samples! I can honestly say that I’ve never gone food shopping and been given a full slices of homemade cherry and blueberry crumb pie for free before.  They also had delicious locally sourced foods, gorgeous looking produce (#vegetarian), homemade salads and extracts I’ve never considered baking with before. And we ended our trip on Monday at a trendy new restaurant that had delicious food! Andrew’s mom and I split a vegan burger and four cheese grilled cheese and fries and we also had a giant buttery pretzel for the table!

Overall, last weekend was definitely one of our best in months.  Thinking back about what exactly we enjoyed so much has made me think a lot about the current state of our lives.  We spend 4+ hours per day commuting and 8+ hours per day working which really only leaves us with 1-2 hours of free time on any given weeknight (unless we’re willing to cut down the 6-7 hours we designate for sleeping or forget about preparing dinner and showering) and zero ounces of energy on weekends after we finish running our errands, cleaning our apartment and filming/editing videos for YouTube.  Some of the elements that contributed to how wonderful we felt afterward that really stuck out to me are 1) Andrew and I unintentionally unplugged completely (Twitter, YouTube, instagram-minus one photo I posted, and definitely Facebook) were so far from our minds that it barely occurred to us to check them.  Which also meant that there were times when my phone wouldn’t even be in the same room as me for hours on end and I didn’t even notice!  2) We spent a good portion of our relaxing time working on the most difficult 2,000 piece puzzle I’ve ever attempted.  Not going to lie, I became a little bit addicted- to the point where I was dreaming about finding certain pieces.  We didn’t get to finish it before we left but we did make a huge amount of progress and it felt so good to exercise our minds in a way that we don’t usually get to.  3) Speaking of exercise, I mentioned walking around to until our legs were sore and not only that- the air quality away from the pollution of the city is just so much better! It felt so refreshing and I didn’t even notice we were getting a workout until the next morning. And finally, 4) spending an entire day browsing around in small local businesses made me realize that I cannot even remember the last time I walked into an independent shop.  Like most people these days, I order 99.9% of everything I own from the internet because of convenience, competitive pricing and general lack of time.  Now we just need to become millionaires so we can afford a home there!

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Kristin