Alaska 2.0

If you read my last post in all of its entirety, you know we’re going to try again with Alaska.  You probably think we’re a bit crazy.  It’s okay if you do.  We think so too 🙂

But, we’re still doing it. Because, well, that’s who we are.

We’re leaving May 5th.  Less than three weeks!  I have to quarantine for 14 full days prior to starting my nursing job there so we need to arrive on May 12th and begin quarantine.

I am honestly really, really excited. I went through the motions a bit. First I was in shock, then I was nervous, then I was a bit scared of the change, and now I’ve progressed to excitement. I am so much more excited than in February of 2019 when we left. I was so nervous then… and even a bit sad. Now, I’m just excited. Excited for an Alaskan do-over. Excited to drive the Alcan… again! Excited to eat at our favorite restaurant in downtown Anchorage. Excited that we just signed a lease on a 4 bedroom house with a MASSIVE fenced in backyard for the dogs. Excited the house is just down the road from our favorite hiking spot, and just minutes from the Chugach Mountain Range. Excited to work 20 miles from home rather than 2.5 hours! Excited that we’re getting married and get to live together in a state we love and be newlyweds and explore!

I know our last experience in Anchorage was not good. In fact, it was bad. But I said it then and I’ll say it now: we still absolutely love Alaska. That did not change. We just don’t like Anchorage. So this time around we’re going to focus on what we love about Alaska and what we’re looking forward to and what Alaska has to offer us.  We won’t have as many expectations, because, well, we already know Alaska has some problems.  We’re just going to try to work through them. The biggest being — you guessed it — the crime of Anchorage.

We will be living in a safe, established neighborhood in Eagle River.  We’ll get a security system for the house and the cars. By the time we arrive it will be light out until midnight, so that will help us settle in.  It will be weird adjusting to the endless daylight again…. but we will most definitely get blackout shades 🙂

Anyway, we’re excited. I don’t think I ever posted about our spring time drive on the Alcan last May.  We saw 16 bears! This year will be different because we are bringing both vehicles up to Alaska which means Ben is driving his Tacoma and I’ll be driving my Rav 4. He’ll take the two big dogs and of course I’ll take Copper. 7 long days of driving with just Copper as my co-pilot…. interesting.  BUT — last year when we drove the Alcan in May it was BEAUTIFUL. Not nearly as stressful because the trucks were NOT out as they were in the winter. The trucks drive soooooo fast in the winter that it is seriously so scary when they pass you and fling rocks, ice and snow up in the air. We do not have that to worry about this time around.

Our biggest issue will be crossing the Canadian border, BUT they said as long as we have proof of our marriage license, we’re good to go.  (Ben is not essential where as I am an essential worker since I’m a nurse — the Canadians have said they will not separate us if we have our marriage license in hand when we cross)

It will be a long drive. I need some good audiobooks to listen to! Driving time flies when you’re deep into a good audio book.

Things we’re looking forward to this time around: 

Lower cost of housing. Gas and food is more expensive in Alaska, however, housing is NOT. We have already begun looking into buying a house. I really, really want my own house by the time fall / winter rolls around. We’re signing a lease on a rental but the realtor who is renting to us will waive the breaking the lease fee if we use her as our realtor to buy a house. That works for me, because I already like her from the virtual house tour she did with us a few days ago, and I really want to buy. Renting is so expensive and such a waste of money! We’d be saving money by paying a mortgage and it would be OURS. I’ve been dying to have my own home since I’ve been living out of a suitcase for 3 years now as a travel nurse and have moved into too many different rentals to count. Growing up I moved around too – a lot. I just want my own house with Ben and the pups and to not have a landlord anymore. I want to garden. Have chickens. Paint. Decorate the way I want.  This is my top priority and motivation for moving to Alaska again and taking the bonus they’re offering – because it is a down payment on a nice house that we would not be able to afford in an area of Colorado that we want due to Colorado’s insane home prices.

Wildlife. Please, bring on the moose, bears, lynx, wolverines, wolves, caribou, bald eagles. I saw more wildlife in three months in Alaska than I did in 10 years in Colorado. Living in such a populated region of Colorado means the wildlife is severely lacking. The trails are so overrun with people now in Colorado that even some of the seasonal elk herds have new migration patterns to avoid people. If you are lucky enough to see a bear in Colorado it’s usually running for its life because it’s so scared of you.

Less snow. Most people just assume Alaska is basically the coldest and snowiest place ever.  Wrong. Our weather in Summit County this winter was far, far worse than anything we’ve experienced in the Anchorage region of Alaska, which includes Eagle River. Now if you go into the interior of AK, you’re going to get cold cold weather. But, where we will be living it will be better than what we experience in Summit County.

Being in untouched land: Hiking in Alaska’s backcountry is both scary and amazingly incredible at the same time. I’m looking forward to being there in the warmer months and experiencing the depths of the wilderness with Ben.  And I’m looking forward to getting a new bear gun so that I feel safer.  (Note: We both carry bear spray as first line of defense).

Being near the ocean: A friend mentioned he thought Anchorage was landlocked.  Nope! We will be living just down the road from the ocean.  It’s an inlet, but it is still the ocean and has whales. In fact, we are super excited to see Beluga whales this year. The Cook Inlet is home to an endangered population of Beluga whales. Now, if we want ocean ocean like wide open spaces then we can travel to Seward, which is on the gulf of Alaska.  See it on the map? Seward is full of whale watching tours and all sorts of whales. We did a whale watching tour there last year. I’ll post a photo below of our tour in Seward.

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Alaska is huge. Can you see how close it is to Russia? I honestly never knew how close it was til I really stopped to look at the map. See Anchorage? It’s by the water, which is why it’s weather pattern is more mild. But it isn’t nearly as mild as Juneau (in the bottom right corner). It also doesn’t rain nearly as much as Juneau. See Fairbanks? That’s the interior. It gets COLD in Fairbanks in the winter and HOT in the summer.

Lower elevation.  I haven’t talked too much openly about the struggles of living at high elevation. But both Ben and I feel like our lives are being cut short by each additional week we spend up at high elevation. Ben is chronically hypoxic at altitude so he’s dealing with daily headaches and excessive fatigue. Regular shortness of breath. I just have zero energy – it’s bad. And Copper? He’s miserable. He is sick all of the time. We can’t wait to be back to nearly sea level.

Less people, less traffic. If you’ve lived in Colorado long enough you know the massive change the state has seen over the past several years. It is freakin’ crowded now.

There will be challenges, indeed. But there will also be things we love about Alaska to begin with. Let’s just hope this time around we can work around the challenges and constantly remind ourselves of the WHY we’re there as we go through the motions all over again of missing Colorado, missing convenience, and missing being attached to the lower 48.

Eagle River, Alaska in March, April & May

 Seward, Alaska whale watching trip & hiking in Springtime

Some bears of the ALCAN (Alaskan Highway) last May 2019 

19 days…. stay tuned for Alaska 2.0 updates

 

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