Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alaska Part 1

Busy summer! We just got back from vacation...but I realized I still have our first summer vacation to blog about! Pretty much right after school ended and we moved into our new house, we left the unpacking behind and headed up to Alaska to join the rest of Paul's siblings and parents for an almost 2 week Alaskan adventure! This will take several blog posts with the over a thousand pictures we took! So, let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)...

After a relatively uneventful direct flight from Chicago to Fairbanks (if you agree that having a man in handcuffs accompanied by two federal agents that sat at the very back of the place as uneventful), we arrived in Fairbanks where we started our journey.  Since we went in June, it is pretty much nonstop sunlight there and with the time difference and tiring flight, we headed straight to bed (with heavy curtains pulled closed to block the sun).  It was a bit tricky getting the kids to bed (But Mom, it is still day time!  No, it's actually very late, it just doesn't get dark here).  Luckily, we were all exhausted and fell right asleep.  Unfortunately, we were up a good portion of that first night with Ben as he seemed to have some food poisoning that lasted all night (or at least we thought at the time it was probably food poisoning).  But, the next day, we started our adventure.  Here we are leaving our hotel, ready to go despite the lack of sleep!

Our first stop was a gold mining tour!  Part of the tour was seeing (and touching) the Alaska pipeline!

After the excitement of the pipeline, the cousins patiently waited to board the train that would take us to the mine.

Cute cousins!

All aboard!

After the train took us on a tour of the real gold mine (which is no longer in use) and explained how it all used to work, we got to pan for gold ourselves! 

It was not an easy thing to do and actually took a fair bit of time.  Luckily, they had lots of people on hand to help out and make sure we didn't accidentally wash away all our gold!

Juju had her own helper too...don't forget this one Aunt Domi!

Once we got all the water out we were able to collect our gold and take it to be weighed!

Abbey was the big winner finding gold worth a whopping $17!  Way to go Abbey!

Don't forget that piece Daddy!

After we all collected and weighed our gold (and enjoyed their complimentary cookies and hot chocolate), we again patiently waited for the train to take us back.

Cousins (minus Tim, Madelyn and Virginia)

Back on the train!

Then we got to look inside (or climb inside) the pipeline! 

This was especially exciting to us as Aunt Theresa works on the pipeline and now the kids can visualize what she does all day (well not really, but they at least know what she is talking about when she mentions the pipeline!).
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