Meet Phin (Phrederick Phinneas Phrog, if you must be proper)
Meet Ella (Miz Ella Penelope Hant, the Original, or Ella P. Hant for short)
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!
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.
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”.
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.
OH, how Phin wanted to take a dip in that pool….
But Ella really DID get to go to the 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”):
… 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):
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:
And then hopped (HAR!!! I crack myself up!) over to Brookfield Zoo to see an old friend:
Ella and Phin both had some adventurous rides. Ella got to ride the Metra:
(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:
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…
(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.
Phin found a pair of caribou antlers, where he perched for a rest:
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.
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.
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:
(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…
The views were breathtaking…
The otters were hilarious…
And the company was first-rate…
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:
And then, it was time to head home…
We finally arrived, after 9 hours in the air. And BOY were our arms tired!!