The Alaska Wrap Up

Aside from the Alaskan food post I have scheduled for tomorrow, this will be the last Alaska vacation post. So if you’re tired of just reading about The Great Land, have no fear, it is almost over.

Jackie took us to The Reindeer Farm in Palmer on what turned out to be a  particularly blustery day. The workers informed us it was due to the glacial wind – the temperature was a good 20 degrees cooler at the farm. Crazy!

At the farm, we were able to pet and feed reindeer, visit a moose, and see a buffalo up close and personal. When I was a little girl, I used to think that reindeer were fictional beings created for the purpose of Christmas stories. I can’t help it, I grew up in Phoenix, AZ so my exposure to cold inhabiting animals was limited. While up in Alaska, we learned that reindeer are what most people call domesticated caribou. Learn something new each trip!

The reindeer were such gentle creatures and Weston couldn’t stop squealing with joy at the opportunity to feed them. They were docile around the little guy and followed him around because he was an easy target to get food from.

The antlers of reindeer are covered in a velvet that sheds before they fall off each summer/fall. Reindeer antlers are the largest of all relative-sized deer species and have two separate groups of points.

We couldn’t stop staring at the mountain set against the backdrop of the farm. It was gorgeous. The glacier causing the wind/cold was off to the left but due to clouds, I was unable to get a good shot.

Sadly, we didn’t get to see a wild moose this trip, but we did get to meet Denali, a bull moose at the farm.

Moose are also members of the deer family and the Alaskan Bull Moose is the largest species in the world. Weston thought the moose was quite friendly.

We have wild bison at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge here in Lawton so we’ve seen quite a few. But we never had the opportunity to feed one until Alaska. Again, we couldn’t get over how beautiful all the animals were up close and personal.

If you really want to get a feel for a state, attend the State Fair. As luck would have it, the Alaska State Fair started during our trip and we’ve never been known to turn down elephant ears. I have been to a fair amount of state fairs but I have never been to one with such scenery in the background. Seriously, it looks like we were attending a fair in a painting by Bob Ross.

It was your typical fair, just set against beautiful mountains.

I thought this was funny – a wine bar at the fair in a church.

Amen.

We also spent some time in Wasilla (yes, the home of Sarah Palin). Wasilla is a great little town and with a population of just under 8,000, it has a lot of amenities. Like a Target! Yes, ladies and gentleman, Wasilla has a Target. But Lawton (population ~ 90,000) does not. This fact baffles me. A lot. The picture above is over the lake that Ms. Palin reportedly lives on in Wasilla. News flash – she is not roughing it in the slightest. She has access to more than I do in Lawton, Oklahoma plus some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.

On our last full day in Alaska, we were finally able to see Mt. McKinley in the distance. I don’t have a telephoto lens on my camera so these pictures don’t do it justice. We were on top of a mountain in Eagle River, which is approximately 200 miles from Mt. McKinley. The peak is at 20,320 feet in elevation, making it the tallest mountain in North America and one of the Seven Summits. You can also see Mt. Hunter (13,965 feet) in the center and Mt. Foraker (17,400 feet) on the left.

Little guy was quite cranky during this excursion so getting a family shot with Mt. McKinley was quite difficult. This one was the best of the bunch, which isn’t saying much. That being said, we couldn’t have asked for a better family vacation. Clay deployed shortly after Weston was born so we haven’t had many opportunities to travel. We went to Okracoke Island over R&R when Weston was a year old but other than that, our options have been limited. This Alaska trip is the first of many spectacular ones we have planned as a family. Thank you for letting me share our memories with you. Hopefully it wasn’t too painful. And don’t forget – tomorrow I am going to discuss the food we ate, which includes bear, caribou, and the freshest salmon I’ve ever had.

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