Phin and Ella’s Excellent Adventures

Meet Phin (Phrederick Phinneas Phrog, if you must be proper)

13. Phin

Meet Ella (Miz Ella Penelope Hant, the Original, or Ella P. Hant for short)

12. Ella

Phin and Ella arrived on my mom’s doorstep, whisked there by a very handsome (I swear, it’s a requirement for employment) UPS guy.  Josh was thrilled that they were there, but even more thrilled with the package of goodies that came with them!

1a. Phin


The next day, they were off on their respective adventures.  Ella joined Josh in a tour of Chicago and suburbs, Phin caught the next plane to Anchorage, Alaska.

The adventures started on a Thursday, at Midway Airport in Chicago.  Phin checked in, then settled down for the loooong plane ride to Alaska. He was a very well-behaved traveler.

2a. Mdw 2b. Colorado



Friday was a rest day, and Phin took a very long nap to let his system adjust to the time difference.  Alaska is three hours behind us Midwesterners, so he was up at 5:30… not the best time to wake your gracious hosts!  But by Saturday, he was ready to go.  First up was a visit to Wildberry, in Anchorage, with their famous “Chocolate Fall”.

3a. Wildberry Fall

At the same time, Ella was enjoying some “sweet” company of her own, at Steve’s Family Picnic.  She got to have lunch at the Kid’s Table.

2. Picnic

OH, how Phin wanted to take a dip in that pool….

9. Bottom half, wb fall

But Ella really DID get to go to the pool!

3. Pool

The following days were busy ones for Phin.  He got to…

… visit Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla (that’s him with Joe Redington, Sr., the “Father of the Iditarod”):

5a. Phin & Redd at Idit HQ

… and take a road trip down the Seward Highway (where we got stuck for 6 hours due to a wreck… post on that to come) to Hope, AK, a quaint and historic little fishing village on Resurrection Creek, which feeds into the Turnagain Arm (part of Cook Inlet):

4a. Raven Frog

4b. Hope Froggie

That’s Raven giving him a ride through Hope; and then posing in front of the Kenai Mountains (part of the Alaska Range).

Meanwhile, Ella was doing a little sightseeing, herself.  She joined Steve and Josh at the Shedd Aquarium for the dolphin show:

4. Aquarium

And then hopped (HAR!!!  I crack myself up!) over to Brookfield Zoo to see an old friend:

5. kangaroo

Ella and Phin both had some adventurous rides.  Ella got to ride the Metra:

6. Train

(that’s Grandpa H, Steve’s dad, behind Josh and Ella)

And Phin had the seat of honor in the RV, on the way to Denali National Park:

6a. RV

While Ella was spending quality time with family, Phin headed off into the Tundra for a few adventures of his own.

First, dinner in the Riley Creek Campground, at Denali Nat. Park…

6b. Dinner

(fortunately, the rangers didn’t bust us for feeding the wildlife)

Then an 8-hour round-trip bus ride to Eielson Visitor’s Center, where Denali (known to us “48ers” as Mt. McKinley) graciously showed himself.

6c. Phin with Denali

Phin found a pair of caribou antlers, where he perched for a rest:

6d. Phin and Caribou Antlers

And then it was back down from Eielson, and into “Glitter Gulch” for some dinner at Salmon Bake.  Oh, how Phin recommends eating there!  Not only is the phood phenomenal (we recommend either the Halibut fish-n-chips or the plank salmon), it’s an Alaskan-owned business holding its own among the many tentacles of the tour companies.

6e. Phin having dinner

On the way home, we visited Talkeenta, a small, touristy-but-not-commercial-with-it, village about halfway (give or take) between Denali and Wasilla.

7. Phin Talkeetna

Sadly, we were a week too late for the Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival.  Maybe next visit!

From there, it was on to Seward, where Laura took a Renown Boat Tour of the Kenai Fjords, and got to see orcas, humpback whales, otters, calving glaciers, puffins, cormorants, and mountain goats.  Phin decided to sit that trip out, since he gets seasick on large vessels.  He did make a new friend in the Whale Bay Trading Company Gift Shop, though… and while Laura was on the water, he and Pete (“nothing fancy, just Pete, thanks”) Puffin wandered about town with her camera:

14. Pete

8a. Phin, Pete, Otter

8b. Phin, Pete, Eagle8d. Phin, Pete, Anchor

8c. Phin, Pete, Orca

(The lovely propieter of Whale Bay Trading Co., Linda, was most helpful later in the day, too, when Laura and hostess Jill couldn’t get the RV started.  Linda called around and found us a jump!)

Saturday, Phin and Pete (getting along famously), received a private tour of Prince William Sound aboard the “Never Enuff”, owned by our host, Karl…

9. Phin, Pete, life jacket

The views were breathtaking…

8. Prince Wm Sound

The otters were hilarious…

51. otters

And the company was first-rate…

19. Karl, Raven, Jill

On the last day, we paid a visit to Pandemonium, a bookshop and coffee café in Wasilla, where Phin and Pete insisted on posing with the Salmon:

10. Pandemonium Fish

And then, it was time to head home…

11. Leaving Denver

We finally arrived, after 9 hours in the air.  And BOY were our arms tired!!

1. sleep

This entry was posted in activities, America, friends, fun, kids, travel, vacations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Phin and Ella’s Excellent Adventures

  1. Joy says:

    Laura, what a great trip you both had. Is it ever beautiful in Alaska. It looks very similar to WA. I was there a few years ago and fell in love with it. It looks like Josh had fun too. That’s good. I hope you know I want you and Josh to keep Phin and Ella. It was to special of a trip for you not to keep them.

  2. Sue says:

    Cute! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us 🙂 Looks like Alaska is my next vacation spot!

  3. nikki says:

    I want to jump in that pool of chocolate too!!!! That looked too good to be true! Ak is beautiful and I’d love to visit there someday too. I’m glad you both had such a great trip!!!

  4. Lucy says:

    Looks like a fun and beautiful trip… and everything is 100 times better if there;s a chocolate fountain!!

  5. What a wonderful trip! Looks like Phil and Ella had lots of fun 🙂 I absolutely love the trip-diaries you guys keep with these little plushies – I think it’s a brilliant idea, truly.

    Alaska looks beautiful, I’m seriously jealous! Maybe I’ll get to visit one day too!

  6. Just a Mom says:

    Great pictures! My best friend was stationed in Alaska when she was in the Air Force and she loved it up there!

  7. Laura says:

    Oh, we had such wonderful fun! Josh really enjoyed his time with Grandma and Grandpa (on both sides), and I just adored hanging out with my friends, and their dogs (there are 17 of them!!).

    I can’t wait for the next trip… not sure where or when that’ll be, though…

  8. Aunt Rose says:

    Dear Phin and Ella,
    What phabulous adventures the two of you had! Obviously it is true that fun is where you find it – whether in a mountain top glacier paradise or a big green meadow playing baseball with your cousins.
    We certainly enjoyed meeting you Ella – though you hardly ate a thing! We’re sure you are sharing stories with Phin about your wild and wooly Chicago trip. Don’t forget to give Josh and Steve and Laura a trumpet from us.
    Aunt Rose

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