Monday, September 15, 2014

Picture This: Week 37, 2014.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 


September 8, 2014


Veronica sent me a new cup, and it doubles as a mirror! She's the best.


September 9, 2014


Petey.


September 10, 2014


First pumpkin spice of the season!


September 11, 2014


Breakfast prep: a leaning tower of waffles.


September 12, 2014


My coworker could sense it'd been several rough weeks since she'd last worked with me- thus the sweetest surprise note on my car. 


September 13, 2014


We did some Cleveland touring with the parents, including a perfectly timed terminal tower reflection.


September 14, 2014


A question about sealing fixture boxes led to the discovery that our wall sconces were wired through the drywall. Yikes. Zach and dad took to fixing that immediately.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alaska: Part III.

Zach's tagging in for this next Alaskan installment. He's interested in getting in on this blog game, and we're trying to figure out what that all means. That's enough boring talk for now - onto Alaska!  - xxoo S


Alaskan adventure continues…

Day five was the start of our 4.5 hour trek drive to Denali.  We took a leisurely pace as our cabin had a wide window of check-in time and we were now Alaska veterans and assumed we would be stopping many times for scenic overlooks. 

Our first fuel stop on the trip was in Wasilla. Some of you may associate Wasilla with seeing Russia from a certain vice-presidential candidates house. 


We did too.


In fairness, Wasilla was a good fuel stop and provided the landscape and mountain views that we had so far come to love (and expect!) from Alaska. 


Driving resumed with fun filled games of “spot the moose” and delicious, leftover Moose’s Tooth pizza for lunch. 

Even though we live in a neighborhood where a dozen or so deer frequent our yard, we were incredibly amused by the moose signs warning of high moose traffic areas near the highway. 


Our next pit stop was Talkeetna. Talkeetna was not initially in our plans, but after seeing a sign for the Denali Brewing Company I pulled a fast U-turn in the Chevy Sonic and veered us 10 miles or so off course. Talkeetna is a small town with recreational activities that include camping, fishing, rafting, flight-seeing planes, and drinking. It was also full of touristy shops and many stores selling local artists’ wares. We picked up some unique kitchen utensils, handmade from Alaskan birch, and popped in Twister Creek Restaurant for a quick tasting of Denali Brewing Company beer before we were back on the road.



The scenic overlooks ramped up in excitement as we continued the drive to Denali. Each new turn-off promised a glimpse of the mountain ranges of Denali National Park, including, gasp, Mt. McKinley aka Denal aka “The High One.”  After some initial peak identity chart reading confusion we celebrated thinking we were part of the 30% club of visitors that get to actually see the 20,237-foot-high peak. Instead, we were quickly put in place by a nearby overzealous tourist. 



Back to the Sonic!

True to form, we arrived at our cabin with minutes to spare. The views from our cabin were spectacular. We spent the evening grilling overpriced hot dogs and smores before taking a 3 mile walk to a nearby lake. While on the 10 PM walk (it looked like it was 3 PM so we felt obligated to continue) we passed many cool sights as well as a little golf course and putt-putt (ideas for next time). 


This was the sky at 9 PM. 


Day six was arguably our favorite day of the trip and featured our bus ride and subsequent hiking in Denali National Park. 

The bus rides in Denali feature tourists being packed onto buses that would be more recognizable in a movie from the 1960’s. 


The buses then travel along the 92 miles of dirt on the Denali Park Road. We met a few people that had taken this ride before and they were less than thrilled about the park, complaining that it was just bouncing on a bus for a day and seeing some microscopic dall sheep. This made us a little nervous, but we didn’t just travel to Denali National Park to take a picture next to the sign. 

The warnings we were given quickly flashed in our minds as we boarded the 7:00 AM bus and were met with a long orientation by a very intense bus driver. The intensity was more of the defacto caffeine for our day though as we found many of the rules refreshing when compared with other national parks. Denali is serious about it wilderness and keeping the animals wild, making the experience almost like a reverse zoo. The bus rules include:

-speak softly enough to be able to hear the driver
-if you see an animal, yell “STOP” and call out the direction based on hands of a clock
-once we stop for an animal, stop talking, quickly roll down the windows, and quietly take pictures while being sure to let other members of the bus get theirs as well
-never put hands, cameras, or anything, outside of the windows

The importance of all this is to not desensitize the animals to human contact. They should view the buses as another part of the park, not a vehicle containing people. 

We ended up loving our bus driver, because she kept everyone in check and was a fantastic animal spotter if you followed her rules.  Some of the animals we saw through the trip included - 

Pika-The California couple next to us sarcastically called out this little guy 15 minutes into the trip. “Don’t look now but there’s some wildlife right behind us.”



Moose-Walking across a hillside. 

Grizzlies-Mostly sleeping, but some walking with cubs.


Caribou-Walking and also approaching the bus. Silence, stillness, and all appendages inside the bus played a huge role in getting this guy to approach. 



Golden Eagle-A token to the spotting skills of our driver

Porcupine-diving out of sight

Dall Sheep-Somehow chilling on crazy-steep, incredibly high ledges


We joined the Mt. Denali 30% club and saw the peak! After several hours of riding and great sightseeing, Sam and I decided to try our luck at our own hike. Our driver really played up the intensity and excitement of “watching the bus drive away,” leaving you alone with wilderness. We were eager to try, but at the same time a tad nervous because we had just gotten off of a bus where we were watched other hikers, grizzlies, moose, everything all moving around in the same area. 

Despite this, we set off on a trek towards a riverbed that we spotted that seemed to be about a mile away through some very low brush. 


After getting yelled at by a prairie-dog like animal, we quickly realized that the river bed was much….muuuuchh further than a mile and the “brush” was also more of a jungle. We continued on a little further being sure to sing songs to alert any bears to our presence, but quickly turned around after hearing a rustling in the brush and Sam seeing something that was not us. 


We made it back to a nearby ranger station unscathed except for pumping adrenaline and hopped on a bus to the next destination called Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake turned out to be a mosquito breeding pool lake, so not as exciting as expected. We were lucky to get back on a bus with our original driver and saw this great moose on our trip back. 


On the bus ride back towards the entrance of Denali, we decided to try our luck once more on a hike. This time we picked the Toklat river, giving us a solid view in all directions of any impending bears. It was a surreal experience as we walked along the river finding very fresh animal footprints. 


It was also surreal because we returned to the bus stop to find the ranger station closed and no one there. Even after reading the schedule, we were convinced we missed the last bus. On one hand, it was very peaceful, on the other we were concocting survival scenarios of spending the night locked in a bathroom at the stop. After waiting about 40 minutes or so, a bus pulled up and played a cruel joke with a “Bus Full” sign. 


At this point we were tired and ready to face the drive back. Its a good thing too, because our new driver was more concerned with pointing out such exotic sights as:
-hikers walking
-hikers running
-a pond that usually has “this one duck”
-a SQUIRREL!
-a neck pain creating stop to see the SQUIRREL
-and a ptarmigan (which made it worth while)

All in all, Denali was incredible. It was a day of fantastic sights and experiences during which we had to keep pinching ourselves to remember that it was real. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Picture This: Week 36, 2014.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 


September 1, 2014

Summer skies.


September 2, 2014


The paint process for the dining/living/hallway has started. Opinions welcome. 


September 3, 2014


Copper Penny, high as a kite and covered in catnip.


September 4, 2014


I started following the US Department of Interior on instagram and their pictures, particularly those of Denali, are filling me with wanderlust.


September 5, 2014


Lowes.


September 6, 2014


Saturday surprises! Only the best surprises.


September 7, 2014


Zach and I finally cut out our faces for a fridge chart. It cracks me up.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Picture This: Week 35, 2014.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 

August 25, 2014


A harvest! A harvest! 


August 26, 2014


That's half the street, underwater. 


August 27, 2014


It happened! I had all but lost hope, giving up on spinning all the bottles in the checkout. 


August 28, 2014


Bro couch


August 29, 2014


We have no idea how, but we found out Internet/cable wire lying in our yard this week. Cox Internet was so fast, prompt, and thorough about restringing the wire. It was totally unexpected service from a cable company- in the best way. 


August 30, 2014


We had the best weekend in DC with family, friends, and football. One of my favorite things had to be this note that greeted us to Zach's uncle's- it's so him.


August 31, 2014


My college roommate took us sailing, which is her side job. Best side job ever. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Read This: XXV.

I'm recapping some things I read this week that I found interesting, not to force you, because I can't, but because sharing is caring. This also holds me accountable and keeps me from zoning out on Pinterest every hour.
  • How amazing is this rolling bridge?! Every time I leave London, I feel like I'm missing out on something awesome. 
  • We're really into House of Cards, so this spoof for Bill Clinton's birthday made me laugh. I find it very refreshing when politicians can make fun of themselves. 
  • I heard a story on the radio this week about a study that the more active people are in social media, the less opinionated they are. It makes sense. You're not going to garner popularity if you're particularly polarizing. I don't do well in keeping up with the news, but I know the situation in Ferguson is about race and human equality. I am not well versed enough in the English language to explain the range this powerful video makes me feel. And I know that if people stop talking about uncomfortable topics, there will never be change. 
  • From my Instagram stalking, I knew Design Sponge was in Cleveland a couple weekends ago, and so I looked around for her city guide because I love them. It's from 2011, but I'm still making it a guide for myself.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Picture This: Week 34, 2014.

Last year, I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent was and is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Netflix for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that I care, guys. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. I don't want to get preachy. If you do this, I want to know so I can nose around. In the least creepy way possible. You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. Steph created one mid-year. Veronica does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right. 


August 18, 2014

Zach and I both worked late on Monday, which meant I was greeted with very sassy cats.


August 19, 2014

Tea for the sicko.


August 20, 2014

We started the cats on a raw diet after some sicknesses, a recommendation to change their diet, and the benefits of their coats. Coppers is not convinced and inspects every piece of chicken very carefully.


August 21, 2014

I was assassinated by cats.

In reality, I was lazily supervising Zach's shelf building and suffering from a sinus infection. They wanted food. 


August 22, 2014

After two wake ups in coughing fits, I went to the express clinic on Friday. My self-diagnosed sinus infection was bronchitis, in reality. 


August 23, 2014

Zach's fantasy football draft was over the weekend which meant one thing: lots of pizza.


August 24, 2014

A quick visit from the parentals and I suddenly have new clothes! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alaska: Part II.

Step by step, day by day, I'm taking you through our Alaskan honeymoon. You can catch up on the first two days here

Our third day in Anchorage was a bit of a bust. We had a flight seeing trip on a float plane scheduled, but they called about an hour before take off saying that weather was bad and they'd like for us to reschedule. Thankfully, we had our last day open, so we switched our flight. That left the entire day open, and poor weather on the horizon at that.

We're not ones to waste a day in a new city, though. We've biked in a Chicago blizzard all with the spirit that it was our first visit to that city. 

We started at Potter's Marsh on a tip we picked up from my sister's friend.


The marsh was created by the Alaskan railroad. On the right is Turnagain Arm, an extension of the Pacific Ocean reaching inland. A couple feet offshore, the railroad parallels the water, cutting of this space that would have been connected to the ocean. Enough geography. It enticed us as a prime moose habitat and others had talked of bears. Spoiler alert: we only saw birds and fish. 


How perfectly timed is that raindrop on the bridge shadow?! Just noticed that.

We did see salmon swimming upstream, though it wasn't as epic as we'd imagined. They weren't jumping out of the water up a 90-degree angle, but they were massive, and they were salmon.

We then popped over to Beluga point where I hoped to see a walrus. No, obviously it's named for Beluga whales. The weather really broke loose at this point, so we spent some time waiting it out.


It never got better. I never saw the belugas. This is sounding all negative, but really, despite the weather, it was fun to see the sites and you really can't go wrong with anything in Alaska. Look at that view on a terribly, rainy day!

That night, we went to Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. It was amazing. Seriously, I normally don't boast restaurants with an hour wait, but you know it's good when the locals are will to do that on a weeknight. Fun fact: Anchorage has a TON of craft breweries and pizzerias. It's sort of their thing. We went expecting seafood, but we're always in for pizza and beer. 

Another fun fact: Alaska eats the most ice cream per capita of any state. We got in on this and ate a lot of ice cream while also rubbing the bellies of metal bears for supposed good luck


On our fourth day in Alaska, we trekked three hours south to Seward to take a six-hour boat tour. 


The weather was worse than the day before (read: no break in the downpour) and we were offered the option to pick another day, but after driving three-hours and having no other days available, we were getting on that boat. 


We were attempting the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour, with a cruise through Resurrection Bay past glaciers, sea otters, sea lions, and whales. It was a big catamaran boat and had windows, but we had ponchos and braved the elements under four layers of sweaters and thermals. 


The boat had to turn back early for choppy water and bad weather (and the majority of passengers puking), but Zach and I had a great time. We saw some sea otters, puffins, and sea lions. 


I was very upset to miss the whales, whales jumping, and glaciers calving into the water. Next time. The company was great in that they offered a partial refund for the early return. 

Again, the sites were amazing.


This is also where we had the best salmon of the trip, and I can't imagine there were many steps between it and the boat. 


Okay, last one. Isn't this something out of Robinson Crusoe? This place looks so cool and I wish they had invited us in for hot chocolate.  

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