First Lights

Tonight, I got a call at 10:38PM - "The Northern Lights are out!"  I packed up the camera gear, Mom got bundled up, and off we went to the shoreline of the Gastineau Channel... to feast our eyes on the majestic Northern Lights dancing above downtown Juneau. 

This is my Momma's third visit to Alaska, and since she only visits in the summer, I know the chances of her seeing the aurora borealis is rare. (Land of the Midnight Sun and all...) For my Mom's first time seeing the lights, the aurora did not disappoint. In fact, she put on quite the show for us!  It was such a blessing to have shared this moment together. 

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Ice, Ice, Baby

Landing atop a glacier is one of those indescribable experiences where it's just easier to tell friends, "You'd have to be there!"  TEMSCO's Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Tour and Guided Walk was recently featured on "Good Morning America" and has ranked as Juneau's #1 rated excursion.  It's one of my favorites, too.  If you're visiting Juneau or already call Southeast Alaska home, check out TEMSCO and their truly remarkable tours.

Sailing Away, Alaska Style

Mark Twain said it best: "Throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

What I've noticed from my years of living in the Last Froniter is that exploring, dreaming, and discovering are the cornerstones of many Alaskans' lives.  Take my friend, Captain Louis Hoock, for example.  He's got a zest for adventure that's infectious, so much so that he owns and operates Alaska Adventure Sailing, a charter company based in Alaska's capital city. 

There are three things you need to know about Captain Hoock:

  1. Louie served active duty sea service as a NOAA Corps Commissioned Officer aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette where he explored the farthest reaches of the sea.
  2. His whistle is so loud, it could rival Guinness World records.
  3. In 2010, Captain Hoock founded Coastal Footprint, a nonprofit environmental/scientific research organization.  That same year, he sailed The Jolly Roger from Alaska to Panama - almost 5,000 miles away - teaching more than 40 people to sail while simultaneously removing more trash from the shoreline than the entire NOAA Marine Debris Program accomplished in 2010.

In May, I took a day sailing trip with Louie and his friends.  It was the adventure of a lifetime.  Aboard his well-appointed and comfortable 54' sailing vessel, the S/V Arcturus, we were in very capable hands for our day of exploration.  Departing from the Douglas Island harbor, we traveled south of Juneau down the Gastineau Channel and tucked into Taku Inlet.  It was a sunny, picture-perfect day for sailing around Southeast Alaska.  There was also a bit of stand up paddleboard skiing, too - which was an absolute riot to watch from the dry deck.  All-in-all, what a terrific experience that's now got me hooked on Alaska even more! 

Check out Captain Hoock's website - Alaska Adventure Sailing - for your own adventure on the water.

[Click the photos below to expand] 

May Delight

I remember May like it was yesterday. And it was - by far - the best month of May of my life.  Maybe it was the fact that May 2015 was Juneau's driest May on record.  Or maybe it was because every single day held an adventure that stirred my soul.  Who knows why I loved May so much - but I sure know May loved me back tenfold.

Why was May 2015 so incredible?  Well, let's see.  It started out with a fun photo shoot at Eagle Beach with friends, Becky and Kerry.  Not long after, I bought a roadster hybrid bicycle and spent sunny evenings exploring North Douglas Island at sunset.  The Alaskan Brewing Co. rocked my socks off at their Spring Fling event, and the Sealaska Heritage Institute fixed the pit and hosted their grand opening of the Walter Soboleff CenterCinco de Mayo didn't disappoint either, especially since Juneau had weather reminiscent of South of the Border.

I spent a wonderful weekend in Anchorage, catching up with foodie/bestie Sharon, multi-talented blogger Gretchen, and my incredibly hospitable host Cyndi.  Cyndi is one of the best cooks I've ever had the pleasure of knowing - and that's saying a lot. 

Back in Juneau, I hiked with old friends (Denali the Dawg) and made new friends (Sarena's precious Momma, Maggie, visited Juneau from Fairbanks).  One of my closest confidants, Michelle, celebrated her 50th birthday, though she doesn't look a day over 32. 

I kayaked the golden hour with award-winning nature photographer, Daniel Buck and cherished an action-packed weekend at the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) event at Echo Cove. 

Temperatures were regularly in the high 70s, and I couldn't resist soaking up the sun.  I spent lots o' time in and around hawbaws (harbors) - like Auke Bay, Douglas, and Harris Harbors.  To round out the month,  I got my sealegs aboard the S/V Arcturus while sailing with Captain Louis Hoock of Alaska Adventure Sailing.  As for the ICE-ing on the cake, I took a TEMSCO helicopter up to the icy blue Mendenhall Glacier for a Sunday afternoon walkabout, a trip that never gets old.

Every summer has a story - and this has been mine.  Juneau in June is back to her rainforest self, yet adventure awaits around every corner.  If there's anything this month has taught me, it is this: I am ready - rain or shine.

Fun with Becky at Eagle Beach.

Kerry in my hands.

With two amazing women, Becky and Kerry.

Representin' the blue helmet on North Douglas Island.

North Douglas Boat Launch at sunset.

With the ever fabulous Gretchen.

Site of the Walter Soboleff Center.

Siesta with sassy Sarena.

Cheslea and Aileen rocking the sombreros.

Happy Cinco de Mayo from McKenzie and Candice (photobomb by Sonny Bunny).

Sharon in Anchorage with her tempura fried green tea ice cream.  Yummo!

With Cyndi, the hostest with the mostest.

A feast compliments of Cyndi.

Sunset somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau.

Denali the dawg.

Sarena and her sweet Momma, Maggie.

With Michelle on her 50th.

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Proof I'm not making up this temperature thing.

TEMSCO helicopter on Mendenhall Glacier.

Quenching my thirst with glacier water.

Auke Bay.

Harris Harbor.

Harris Harbor.

Cruise ships in the Gastineau Channel.

 Harris Harbor.

Harris Harbor.

At the helm of the S/V Arcturus.

At the bow of the S/V Arcturus.