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I wrote a big long post, but it got deleted, because WordPress’s stupid default “new post” feature is BAD and BROKEN, and I HATE IT. Not going to make that mistake again.

So just imagine that I’ve told you all about the snow (termination dust on Sept 6, snow on Oct 13, snow on the ground now and probably for months), the trouble with my car, the new doors we bought, Dale getting a PFD, our anniversary (we ate fancy dinner and saw “Looper”; also, he got a pretty ring made for me, with the diamond from his grandmother’s ring and two sapphires from a ring my dad gave my mom, back in the day—we kept his grandmother’s band, don’t worry), all the places in Alaska I want to visit, and how we’ll eventually post about the Sheldons & Brungards visiting, as soon as Dale gets finished with National Game Design Month and goes through the pictures.

Boy, I’m super cranky that that got deleted.

Anyway, sorry for not posting sooner—I wanted to post about the family visit, but the photos weren’t ready, so I kept putting it off. But maybe if I posted more often, it would be less bad if it got deleted.

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I’ve had sort of a stressful two weeks. Actually, a bit longer, for the linked project, but even before that, this whole summer has been project after project after project after project. That’s just at work. At home it’s been … well, more stressing about the projects we’ve put off, I guess, than actually getting projects done. Remind me to post photos of our shed destruction, though! That was a project!

Like I said, stressful summer. I was beginning to get pretty spazzy, to be honest. So, even though we have a kit to build an 8’x10′ plastic shed in our yard, we opted to take the day off, to go to Seward. We haven’t been to the Alaska Sealife Center (ASLC) for far too long, especially considering how close it is! (Well, it’s less than a 3 hour drive…) It was a great call.

Last night, we drove down to Beluga Point, just because it was pretty. (OK, and I was antsy.) I love it when we catch sunset there!

Then we drove back north to home, slept, and drove back south, well past Beluga Point, to the ASLC. I got a glacier picture on the way down; it turned out pretty well, considering I couldn’t see the screen of the iPhone as I was taking it.

We got to see all of the usual suspects at the SeaLife Center, plus the baby walrus, cuddled up with an ASLC staff member in the I See You. But we didn’t really take photos, that much, this time. Except of puffins, of course. There was a very cute tufted puffin who clearly wanted some attention:

And a juvenile puffin who took a nap. Sort of. (In the one photo, you can see him peeking at the camera.)

The murres were particularly funny today, and a baby guillemot got pretty squawky, as well.

In more mammalian circles, Woody the sea lion wasn’t in his usual pool; two lady sea lions were in his place. And the harbor seal was hilarious, swimming right up to the glass and looking at people.

It was a pretty great visit! And then we had late lunch at the Smoke Shack (the restaurant in a converted Alaska Railroad car) and drove home to Anchorage. Definitely a nice day away from our responsibilities. Tomorrow: back to adulthood. (Well, and I’m making a terrarium at a friend’s house! :))

Dale’s mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and 9 month old niece are coming to stay with us in mid-September for a week and a half. This is, as you would guess, both exciting and overwhelming. The adults have varying interests, and with a baby and the number of people, we don’t know how mobile the whole group will be… so we’ve been making a list of all of the things we know of, to do in and around Anchorage, so they’ll have a chance to pick things they want to do ahead of time.

Check it out, and if you’re local, please tell us what we’re missing. If you’re not local, feel free to ask questions.

We’ve already had one visitor (my dad), and he didn’t get quite as long a list of possibilities, in part because we were newer to town and in part because we didn’t have quite as much time to get organized. Also, we might not have thought of it? I feel bad, like I really should have done this then. But he says he’s coming back, so at least we’ll be ready.

Anyway, we’re hoping this is a useful resource for them—and for anyone else who wants to come visit!

Today was my “birthday–observed.” I always pick the weekend before or after my birthday to hold a party, because, you know, the middle of the week is kind of ehh. (Also? I still usually take my actual birthday off work, and Dale usually takes me out to dinner. :))

Dale made me tasty pancakes for breakfast this morning, and then we drove to the Wildlife Conservation Center, because we’ve never been there in winter. We were actually just going to go to Potter Marsh, but it was super pretty out, and we had some time… Anyway, the musk oxen were up and moving around! In the summer, they just kind of lie there, so that was exciting. They are ridiculously short and hairy, which I think makes them cute. And the bison were eating—they just kept switching back and forth between their two hay piles, really, but, again, it was cool to see them up and moving. Speaking of hay, there was a tractor carrying a big bale, and the elk all kind of chased it… a little lackadaisically, yes, but they all went, which made for some great elk-viewing. And there were caribou (also active), a moose (just standing there, but he was right by the fence), a pair of sleeping lynx, two wide awake owls, and an eagle. There were three or four magpies who took turns trying to eat the eagle’s salmon, which we think was frozen, because they all attacked it like woodpeckers. The eagle didn’t seem to mind, really. (Dale took video. We’ll post it eventually.)

On our way back to Anchorage, I saw some dall sheep standing right beside the road (which I might have shouted excitedly about), and we drove up to the next turnaround to… well, to turn around. Some climbers were there, climbing up an ice waterfall (icefall?) a couple hundred feet from the road, and when we tried to drive around their parked car, into the turnaround, we found ourselves in surprisingly deep snow. We couldn’t actually get the car out ourselves—I mean, we would probably have eventually have made it, since we had a small shovel and a bucket of gravel, but it would have taken forever. One of the people with the climbing party came to help us with a rope tow, which I thought was really nice. People can be pretty great, up here.

Anyway, we got turned around and totally made it back to the sheep before they wandered off. The pull-off was across the road from them, but we still got close enough that we could hear their hooves on the rocks. (Still across the road, though.) It was awesome!

And then? We went to Snow Goose (local brewery with a small side room they’ll let groups reserve) and played Mafia with a bunch of friends for a few hours! That’s, like, my favorite game in the world (though, funnily, I’m not great at it :)), and people were hilarious and devious. I had so much fun! (I had extra fun, because I didn’t have to worry about setting it up—Dale did all that work—or hosting, which I enjoy, but which is also a little stressful, because I hate to host in a messy house, and then there’s cleanup, and… You know.) It seemed like everyone had a good time, which makes me happy. And the wait staff were pretty cool about it all, considering we were sitting around with our eyes closed, half the time, and talking about whom to kill, the other half. :D

Anyway, I’m pleased to have found a fun activity for my winter birthday. (Yeah, I’m SO planning to do birthday-Mafia again next year. :)) And I’m extra-pleased to have been able to spend the evening with such great people!

It was a great day. :)

Dale and I took part of a week and drove up to Fairbanks, then up to the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 33 minutes–the farthest south point where the sun does not set on the summer solstice), with a brief stop in Denali National Park on the way home. But this post isn’t about that trip, because we haven’t sorted through those pictures. This post is about the second half of that week, up through today. :)

We ended up home earlier than we’d planned to, when we took the time off work, so we decided to put the time to good use: we painted the other bedroom (which is where the birds and the TV live), bought and hung shelves, unpacked nearly all the rest of the boxes (mostly books and games) onto those shelves, and planted our garden in the back yard. We’re still short a few kitchen things, including a shelf to put the cookbooks on, and we need to get some kind of table for our plants (and possibly a printer) in the living room, but this apartment is feeling more and more like home!

I might take pictures for a “virtual tour” of our place, since not everyone’s going to be able to visit right away, but for now, here are pictures of our patio, the shelves in the spare room, and our garden!

Only half of the garden is ours. (It was freshly watered in the photos, so you can probably tell which half. Our landlords planted in their half the day before.)