Friday, August 10, 2012

Family, Fun and Flashbacks

We're still having a great time.  It's always nice to see family and the kids sure do love having family around And we love any time that someone else gets to love on our kids:
 We've stayed quite busy.  There's so much to see here and while it's easy for me to be complacent about sightseeing Alaska since I always believe I'll be back to see family (and I'd be just as happy not sightseeing and just hanging out with family), we've found a good balance of sharing Alaska with the kids while keeping our sanity with naps, driving, snacks etc.  We headed south one day and checked out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  It's a beautiful setting on Turnagain Point with a slightly different feel from the zoo, but many of the same animals.  The grizzlies were being shy, but we got to check out lots of Wood Bison (a cousin of the Plains bison and candidate for reintroduction in AK).

 Catherine liked them and much like she does with all animals she spots while we're out, she pointed and cooed a lot:
 While Matthew did his best Bison impression, complete with a very vocal conversation with the bison:
 However, not surprisingly, one of his favorite parts of the trip was the puddles:
 And even though we saw Elk:
 and black bears, moose, lynx, deer, porcupines and more . . .
Matthew may likely tell you his favorite animal he saw was the ducks.

He's definitely having a great time but I sometimes wonder how overwhelming everything is (especially considering the rest of the summer), but later I know he's retaining a lot of it because he shares tidbits at the oddest times.  And even if all he wants to do is jump in puddles, see ducks and throw rocks in the water, at least James and I get to do it all in a new and amazing place with awesome family we don't get to see often enough.

Next we headed to Portage Glacier.  We checked out the visitor center where we met Smokey the Bear:
 And Matthew and Teta tested out some kayaks:

 But the real star was Portage Glacier and Portage Lake.  Note Matthew's large rock ready to be thrown in the lake:
 And a family shot:
 As a point of reference regarding how much more exciting the glacier and visitor center were in the past, here's a pic that was taken when I was here in August-ish of 1984 (thanks dad for scanning in your old slides!).  Burn Glacier looks pretty much the same but Portage (coming in from the right) has completely receded behind the mountain and there were maybe 2 small icebergs tucked in one corner of the lake.

 We spent the next day at the Anchorage Museum with our "plan" of alternating days in the car with days around town.  We had a bit of a traumatic start as I incidentally said yes when Matthew asked if there would be dinosaurs at the museum.  He spent the entire time we were in the art wing asking about dinosaurs.  Incessantly and whiningly.  There was a temporary exhibit about the Olympics.  Matthew took a break from asking about dinosaurs to take his Olympic gold:

However, we rounded the corner into the Imaginarium and Matthew forgot all about dinosaurs (and his post-gold medal finger slam into a locker trauma) when he saw the Rube-Goldberg contraption:
Had we not prodded him away, we might have spent all day here.  He really likes the one in Bozeman about the earth/life cycle but this one was even better.  We eventually convinced him to explore some other areas:

 And Catherine took some time out of the backpack to read stories with Teta:
 And of course we had to get in a bubble:

And make more bubbles:

And Catherine met the snapping turtle:

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