School Days

First day of . . .

Fourth grade for Addison;

Third grade for Leia;

and Kindergarten for Leanne.

And an "I'm exhausted from all the excitement" nap to finish off the day.



Alaska Final

Hubby had these photos safely stashed while we traveled home from Alaska,

and now that he's back from a week in Colorado after taking Addy home, I finally found where he had them stashed.

Top picture is from our wildlife tour of the Kenai Fjords out of Seward; bottom shot is from the Prince William Sound glacier tour based in Whittier. Great tours and great memories. And we're already planning the next Grand-Girls Great Adventure.



Jaclyn Funnies

I took these pics of JRo last week, one right after the other, in less than a minute. This kid makes the best faces ever. (Text by Rachel)



Birthday Girl

Happy birthday to my favorite 8 year old!

She celebrated with a skating party at a local rink, complete with pizza, cake, presents and the whole place singing 'happy birthday' as she stood in a sparkling circle of light.

Extrovert heaven!

Leanne practiced her skating, with Mary, Matt and I taking turns escorting her around the rink on her Steady Betty (I can't remember what that thing's actually called . . .)

And to top off an already great day, Naia - who was using $$ she earned at the morning's garage sale to buy game tokens for the little kids -

hit the giant jackpot and won over 1500 tickets!

Way to go! It's going to take hours to feed those tickets into the counter and then spend all her loot. Good thing she has Leia to help.



Otters and Jellies and Seals, Oh My!

We got an early start today - so early that I let the girls sleep in their clothes so we could just roll them out of bed and into the car. I felt rewarded when, just a few miles out of Anchorage, we spotted one of the brightest, most vivid rainbows I'd ever seen. Gorgeous!

We had reservations on the noon boat out of Seward, headed for Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fiords.

Summit Lake, Kenai Peninsula


We also wanted to do a little sight-seeing,

rather than drive the 125 miles with no breaks.

At one stop, Pop and the girls hiked down a short path to get this canyon shot,

while I stayed behind to take photos of tiny mushrooms and vibrant fireweed. I do love fireweed!

We made it to Seward with time to spare, despite the steady downpour.

We knew we were in for a special trip when we saw a pair of sea otters before we even left the harbor.

As the girls excitedly told their parents tonight,

we saw 4 humpback whales, sea lions, seals, more otters, porpoises, horned puffins (my favorite - so colorful), several bald eagles (the white speck on top of the rock),

a mountain goat, flocks of kittiwakes, and more.

Addy and I were even the first on the boat to spot jellyfish floating just below the water surface. (See the light circle just below the waterfall? That's one of 3 types of jelly we spotted.)

Yay, us! AND, we all four saw a real, live, in-the-wild moose on the drive home! Check another item off the bucket list!

Plus we saw waterfall,

after waterfall,

after beautiful waterfall.

We were very fortunate that the girls turned out to be good sailors.

They got a bit queasy when the boat headed out to open ocean in the Gulf of Alaska but Addy put her head down and went to sleep,

while Leia put her head in my lap for a few minutes, then shook it off and went to play with her new friend.

Both girls spent lots of time with National Park Service Ranger Colleen,

completing their Kenai Fiords workbooks before getting sworn in as Junior Rangers.

Addy was sworn in privately, since she was uncomfortable being in front of a group of people.

They're both pretty proud of themselves.

As we headed back to Seward, the rain, fog and low clouds lifted just long enough for us to see four bowl glaciers,

then returned with a vengeance and followed us almost the entire way back to Anchorage.

And how do you finish off a crazy-wonderful day like that?

By going swimming at 9 pm, rather than getting ready for bed. These girls are going to miss Alaska when we head home Wednesday.



Rain, Rain, Rain

It's a good thing we aren't water soluble or we'd never get to see anything in Alaska.

Today was another . . . wait for it . . . rainy day. It drizzled most of the time, pausing occasionally when we were on the move, but as soon as the car stopped, the rain started up again.

We aren't complaining though. It's been so dry in So. Cal for so long, I wasn't sure Leia would know what rain was!

We headed south today to Girdwood and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

It's a drive- or walk-though park, home to many different species of Alaskan mammals.

According to a sign, the Center is responsible for raising and re-introducing a herd of over 130 wood bison back into Alaska after they were hunted to near extinction.
The girls especially enjoyed the walkway over the bear enclosure,

and the opportunity to see two wood bison 'fighting' in another area.

I think our absolute favorite was the moose though. So majestic.

On our way back, we stopped at a resort above Girdwood for flower pictures (and a bathroom break)

and at the Potter Marsh bird sanctuary,

where a local bird watcher showed the girls where three bald eagles -2 adults and a juvenile - were perched in trees across a field.

That definitely made their day.

Tomorrow we head south again, this time to Seward for another boat ride.