Surprise after Surprise – All Our Alaska Trip Pictures!

Well y’all, it’s been QUITE the two weeks over here. I knew that August and September were going to be busy travel months for us…but man was I in for a surprise!

First, let’s start with surprise #1. IMG_0201

Showed up in ATL last Friday for my little blonde friend’s birthday! She had no idea we were coming, and it was epic.

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Her boss is a hunter. He gave her this bobcat to keep in her cubicle and I just love him. So naturally, I had to get a selfie.

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Then, we were off! We hit up Cinco for lunch first. Still my #1 fave Mexican restaurant. It never disappoints.

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Then we headed to one of our favorite neighbor date stops, Stout Brothers.

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So many choices!! We used to go to Stout Brothers on the regular – there is always something new on tap to try.

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Then we surprised the rest of our #fam at Ali’s birthday dinner at Tin Lizzy’s! It was so amazing to have the whole group back together. How I miss these people!

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We finished the night at Taco Mac. I miss this place, and I’ve missed this face!!

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Mimosas we a must on Saturday morning at Chicken and the Egg. They just keep them coming! And I got my fill of chicken biscuits and hashbrown casserole. The boys played golf on Saturday morning while were were indulging.

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Everyone was pretty wiped out so we all took naps before heading over to Matt & Rachel’s for our #fam garage party.

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Just another day in the life of the eight best friends you could ever imagine! As you can see, I’m overly happy to be hanging out with these people…

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Before heading home on Sunday I went attempted to go for a run. Y’all…the humidity there is no joke. And I don’t think I realized how real it was until I moved away and then came back in the summer. My normal route around my old neighborhood up to the farm to see the donkeys got cut wayyyyyyy short. I ran by our old house which was bittersweet. The new owners haven’t changed it (on the outside…I contemplated knocking on the door and asking to walk around but I thought that’d be creepy) and it was just fun to think about the memories we made in the short time we lived there.

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And then made it back around the circle to my favorite little farm. It was a hot and humid run but it was fun to get back on my old route! It was such a great weekend and I loved surprising Ali for her birthday. That’ll definitely be one of my favorite surprises and it was so much fun to see all my favorite people!

Life got back to normal after we got back from Atlanta, although we were all pretty sleepy.

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I was expecting to be home for the next weekend before my Hood to Coast race at the end of August, but some sneaky husband of mine had other plans in mind! Steven had made me plan out what we were going to do last weekend. I had decided I wanted to go on a hike on a really pretty trail that a co-worker had done recently and then go to dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown. I thought I had our weekend all planned out. But on Thursday when he picked me up from work – we jumped on the highway instead of heading home.

I was very confused, but quickly started putting some things together. When I picked Mila and Wilson up from boarding after coming home from Atlanta they wanted to verify that the dogs would be back August 18-21st. I was a little confused, but I assumed that I had made that reservation early in the summer back when we were planning on going to San Francisco or before we made definitely plans to go to Atlanta to surprise Ali. I told the lady that no, we didn’t need that reservation so they could cancel it and didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t even bring it up to Steven because I really thought it was an oversight on my part.

When we started driving toward Portland on Thursday, I started asking questions. “Where are we going?” “Where are the dogs?” “WHAT ARE WE DOING???” Eventually, I got it out of him that we were going on a trip somewhere. And we were flying. But he wasn’t telling me where. It could have been anywhere, I really had no guesses. I thought maybe Cali, Hawaii, Canada, all places we had talked about going because we’re so close, but I didn’t have a hint as to what it might be. Then – I said, “Oh wait, I’m supposed to go to work tomorrow!” To which he replied, “No you’re not, I talked to Lindsey. You’re good!” Steven had even talked to my manager at work and made sure it was okay for me to take Friday off – he really didn’t overlook any details! He changed all my Delta login information so that I wouldn’t get any email or app notifications that I was going on a trip. He had this surprise completely under wraps for a month! When he went to drop the dogs off at boarding on Thursday morning they told him that I tried to cancel the reservation but they had made a note that this was a surprise so they didn’t actually cancel it (he was, admittedly, a little mad that they even mentioned the reservation in the first place after he had told them not to, but it still worked out).

So, we were on our way to the airport bound for…I had no idea! We got to the checkin and he made me stand way off to the side while he checked us in and got our boarding passes. He told the TSA agent at the security checkpoint not to show me my boarding pass as we went through security. The agent giggled and played along. So I got all the way through security still having no idea where we were going. Then…he told me.

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ALASKA!! What?! PS this picture is a screen shot of the video Steven took of me when he handed my my boarding pass. I couldn’t get the actual video to upload which is a bummer, but as you can tell I was pretty surprised! We have talked about going since we live so close, but it never crossed my mind that that’s where we were heading! I was so excited and so so impressed at how much thought and effort Steven put in to this surprise. He couldn’t wait to tell me and see my reaction and I just felt so lucky that he planned this whole trip for us. He really is the best.

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We headed out of Portland around 8:00pm…

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And landed in Anchorage at 11:04pm! And look, there was still some light! Their days are SO long, the sun stays up until about 10pm and sets slowly so it stays light out really late into the night! PS – Alaska is one hour behind Portland time…who knew?

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I knew when this guy greeted us at the airport that we were in for an exciting trip! We headed to our hotel right from the airport and went straight to bed!

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The next day Steven planned a glacier cruise for us! We had to drive about an hour and a half north of Anchorage to get to the glacier. The drive up there was amazing. It felt like there was a more beautiful view around every turn!

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We toured the little visitor center at the park where our glacier cruise was and Steven made a friend.

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Then we hopped on our boat and headed out for the glacier!

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The boat took us on about a 15 minute ride up to the glacier. Some fun facts we learned: the water is about 32 degrees. In the winter it freezes about 3 feet deep, then gets packed with about 8 ft of snow on top of the ice. BURRRRRRR!

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There were tons of little baby waterfalls coming off of all the mountains on either side of the boat that were really cool!

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There were also a couple icebergs floating in the water too – only 10% of the actual iceberg is visible above the surface. The rest of the iceberg is underwater!

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Then…we turned a corner and came up to Portage Glacier!

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It was AMAZING! It was really blue and just massive. It was incredible to be close to something that big, you really felt like a tiny little any next to it. Everyone on the boat enjoyed taking pictures and learning about the glacier. The captain and cruise leader were very informative and made it a really fun experience for everyone.

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On our way out of the park where our glacier cruise was we pulled off the road to go see this beautiful lake that caught our eye while we were driving.

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The color of the water was incredible, we just had to stop!

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We also made a pit stop at Beluga Point. We saw a sign for it while we were driving to our glacier cruise and I told Steven we HAD to stop on our way home.

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And we must have stopped at just the right time because we got to see a Beluga whale!!

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I have a slight obsession with whales so it was like Christmas day for me! We stayed and watched him swim away – what a cool experience!

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We headed back to downtown Anchorage that night for some shopping and dinner!

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I found a baby otter!

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He channeled his inner Leonardo DiCaprio to fight off the bear.

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A quick pic with Balto!

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And this colorful friend! All the shopping got us hungry so we headed to a restaurant recommended by the girl at the rental car company – Humpy’s!

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We started with some smoked salmon spread and calamari. When in Alaska, you must try all the seafood, right?!

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Y’all, when I tell you this was the BEST calamari we have EVER had, I am not exaggerating. At all. The pieces were so thick, it was like calamari fries! And there was actually more calamari than there was breading so it actually tasted like fish instead of fried batter – holy crap. Like, I can’t even with this. It was hands down the best thing we ate the entire trip.

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After Humpy’s we headed down the road to Tequila 61. This flower outside the restaurant was huge, I had to get a picture. It doesn’t really show the size, but it was almost as big as my head!

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I ventured out of my margarita comfort zone and went for this beauty, the Zazu. It was as delicious as it looks.

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Then I asked the bartender for a dealer’s choice drink. I told him what I liked and he put this one together for me. It has orange juice, vodka, pomegranate liquor, champagne, and sprite. It wasn’t overly sweet like I was expecting, just amazingly delicious. This place was a lot of fun, the bartenders and servers who stopped by the bar were a lot of fun to hang out with!

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Then we headed to our 9pm dinner reservation at the Glacier Brewhouse (recommended by our waitress at Humpy’s) and had crab legs and seafood linguine. I’m running out of delicious/yummy/amazing adjectives to describe our food but this dinner was out of this world. The seafood was so fresh, and Steven was happy he got his crab legs!

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Saturday we slept in and had breakfast at our hotel. We decided to head south of Anchorage to go check out Eklutna Lake. We heard it had beautiful green/blue water and that you could rent a kayak! We drove about an hour south and were not disappointed!

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We decided not to kayak but we found a nice little spot on the edge of the lake and sat together and talked and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery. Steven skipped rocks 🙂

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Staring at the lake and just thinking about how massive it was really made you feel so small. I feel like that’s something I took away from Alaska. The mountains, the lakes, the glaciers, everything there is so massive – I really am just one small little grain of sand! It was breathtaking. Everywhere we turned we would just look at each other and say, “Woah! Look at that!”

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We headed back to downtown Anchorage and decided to eat our way through the city…again. There are a ton of restaurants that you could probably spend a whole week there and never eat at the same place twice! We started at 49th State Brewing Company which is a newer restaurant. We split a wedge salad and the seafood chowder. The seafood chowder was mind-blowingly good.

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Then we hit a street food vendor selling reindeer sausage. Naturally, Steven was intrigued.

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He devoured it, and then talked the rest of the night about how he couldn’t get over how good it was. Needless to say it was a hit!

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We drove over to a spot nearby where they said you can see salmon swimming upstream – but I don’t think it was the right season for it. We stood on the bridge for a few minutes looking for them but didn’t see anything. But, we tried!

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It wouldn’t be a Swider vacation if we didn’t find a sushi restaurant! We got a California roll and Steven got two Kani rolls which is just giant pieces of crab on top of rice.

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And then he went back for reindeer sausage number two. Did I mention it was a hit? I think this was his favorite thing he ate on the trip.

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And I ended the night with a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Typical. We headed to the airport and spent several hours there waiting for our flight.

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The Anchorage airport has a lounge with comfy chairs and a giant projector TV where they were playing replays of all the football games so I was in heaven.

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The Northern Lights on the ceiling guided us to our gate.

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In a world full of divorce and where it seems like marriages are doomed, that love never lasts, and that relationships are just full of mediocrity, I feel so grateful to have a husband who makes it a point to make me feel loved and cherished and like I deserve the world. Seeing how happy he was that he pulled off this surprise trip makes me realize how lucky I am to be married to someone who finds such joy in making me happy. I hope we continue to wake up every day choosing to love each other, and trying to out-love each other. My heart is so full – what an amazing feeling to know and see and feel how much you are truly adored. I promise to keep working every day to show you that I love you, more. Thank you, Steven, for the most amazing weekend.

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