Friday, July 24, 2009


Shane and Brandon had the opportunity to visit Shane's sister in Alaska June 27 - July 5 this year. It was the most amazing experience for Brandon. He absolutely loved it and often asks when we can go back or asks if we can move there. I am really grateful that they were able to go together and thank everyone who helped them have such a great time, especially Shelley and Brenton for hosting the best family reunion to date.

Day 1, Saturday was just getting there. Since it was Brandon's first time on an airplane, Shane asked them to give him some wings, which they happily did. But when they landed in Seattle they invited Brandon and Shane into the cockpit. The captain talked with Brandon and let him pull levers and push buttons!!! No pictures, but how crazy cool is that??? Of course Brandon became convinced his calling in life was to be a pilot after that.

Day 2, they went to church. This is Shane's family. Tawnee, Shane, Kristen, MaryJane (mom) Ryan, Shelley, Dwayne (nice beard!) and Linda.

Orginially on Day 3, Monday, they were going to go to Kennecot Copper Mine, but because it was so rainy they stayed closer to home and killed some time a little lake nearby.

They saw a mommy moose with two babies. First wildlife spotting for Shane and Brandon.

At the lake they rode the ATVs, fished, and shot bb guns. What more could two boys ask for?

Shane really likes this video. Obvioulsy he loves that he was able to teach his son how to fly fish but he also thinks Brandon shaking his head to get the bugs off is pretty funny.

Canoeing out on the lake. This is one of the two fish Brandon caught while he was in Alaska. Pretty good... in a canoe with a fly pole, good job son!
Day 4 was action packed! They began their journery to Valdez where they would all be taking a day cruise to the calving glaciers. On their way there they took a little hike to
a old mining cabin, went to the North Pole and hiked up a glacier. Busy Bees!!

this is the cabin they went to, you can see it tucked in the trees on the left side.

At the North Pole Brandon bought himself a pocket knife wiht his name
carved on it. The little knife quickly became his prized possession. On their hike to the cabin however, he tripped and lost it. Obviously he was really upset about the whole thing, driving his dad crazy with the crying and complaining. Well, we thought for sure it was gone forever. Shane told me about it that night. I said a prayer asking Heavenly Father if there was any way for them to find the knife to let them find it. Shane also said a prayer as did Brandon and wouldn't you know it... 3 DAYS LATER on their way home FROM Valdez they stopped again at the miner's cabin because Shane wanted to just take a quick loo
k to see if he cou
ld find it where Brandon tripped and tucked under a rock, he FOUND it!!!!! Talk about an answer to prayers! A tiny 4 inch pocket knife lost in the Alaskan wilderness is found because Heavenly Father loves a 7 year old boy that much! I almost started crying when Shane told me he found it!

the infamous knife

This is the oil pipeline that runs all the way from North Alaska to Valdez. Of course they had to get out and make a little mischief.

can you see what that sign says? PLEASE do not climb or stand on the pipeline! What a bunch of rule-breakers! Oh well, had to take advantage of a great photo opportunity, right?

They also got out and hiked up a glacier on thier way. The picture doesn't do the blue justice. I guess it was just BEAUTIFUL!!! Everyone got their picture taken here because the color was simply outstanding!

This gives you an idea of the enormity of the glacier. The black specks on the white snow are people!

As I mentioned, they got to go to the North Pole on their way to Valdez. Of COURSE Santa was in the house and so they all got to sit on Santa's lap in the middle of the summer. How fun is that???

Brandon standing at the North Pole

They camped out that night and who doesn't love a great camping trip?

the bugs were so bad that everyone wore one of these hats to save their faces :)

Of course if they were stopped and there was an opportunity for fishing, Shane is dang well going to make sure he takes advantage of that opportunity. They fished pretty late and Brandon got a monster hooked. He fought it and fought it and even Shane tried to help, but the dang think got away! So before they left for Valdez in the morning, Shane and Brandon decided to go fishing again for revenge and Shane caught a pretty nice lake trout. They gutted him and cooked him and ate him for breakfast. Brandon said he was delicious.

On Thursday, Day 6, the whole family went on a cruise around the calving glaciers. It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

I'm told pictures can't describle how truly awesome these glaciers were. Shane said they were 20 stories high and chunks 5 stories high would break off and fall in the ocean. He said the sound and the waves they created were incredible. Here are just a few pictures of the glaciers.

The glaciers would have been cool enough, but of course it was also a cruise for spotting wildlife. They were able to see humpback whales, orcas, and dolphins. The captain told them humpbacks are pretty common on the cruises but they don't get to see orcas very often. About every two weeks is what he said. They were lucky enough to get to see two playing in the ocean! Talk about incredible. And the humpbacks... they never got to see very much of them, but what they did see was amazing. You can just tell how HUGE these animals are just from the video. I can't imagine what it must have been like in person.

Tthe next video of is a pod of dolphins playing with the boat, which the captain said they love to do.

In addition to the showstoppers: the orcas, whales, and dolphins, they were also able to see a ton of other animals on their cruise!

Here are hundreds of sea lions!

Shane said this on was showing off for them by dancing around the buoy.

They saw a seal. Kindof wierd to see one all by himself. Hopefully his family is somewhere nearby!

Puffins. I love these birds. I think they are the cutest little things and when Shane told me how sometimes they eat so much that they aren't able to fly for a while, well, it just made me love them even more!

Sea Otters

Shane and Brandon absolutely loved these little guys. They loved the way the otters floated on their backs and just looked at them like, "what are you doing here?" as they passed on by. The captain told them the whiter the face of a sea otter, the older he is. As you can see - here are a couple of grandpas!

They saw a Black Bear. Always fun... at least from a distance!

They were able to see quite a few Bald Eagles, Brandon's favorite bird.

After the cruise and before they left Valdez in the morning, Shane and Brandon decided they wanted to try and get a little bit of samon fishing. So, even though they were so tired and it was like 1:00 in the a.m., they decided to head out. Well, no luck with fishing, but as they were fishing a grizzley, (technically a brown bear because he was fishing and near the coast, which grizzlies are not) came out from the forest right across from them!! He started foraging a little bit. Shane made Brandon get in the car (thank goodness!) but he stayed outside to watch a little bit better. The bear was only about 30-40 yards from them and they were able to watch him for about 20 minutes before he headed back into the forest. Unfortunately the camera was all out of room and we weren't even able to get 20 seconds.

Friday, Day 7, completely exhausted they drove back home. Saturday was spent relaxing closeby 4-wheeling, floating the river and shopping. Sunday they went to church and packed up to come home. We picked them up from the airport Monday morning and had so much fun listening to their stories and looking at their pictures all day. Brandon was so wiped out that he slept in until noon the next day!

They all had so much fun! What a great thing for Shane and his brothers and sisters and mom to experience together.

Shane's family from left to right: Tawnee, Shane, Linda, Kristen, MaryJane (mom), Dwayne, Shelley and Ryan.

It was an amazing trip... one that neither one of them will ever forget, I'm so glad they had the opportunity to go.

PS thanks everyone for sharing pictures. I think I used at least one picture from everyone. I looked through so many pictures I almost feel like I was there!!! Someday though, I have to go in person!