Jan 1, 2015
New year....new adventures right? To close out 2014 we decided to spend the day at one of the only glaciers in Alaska that you can get to by car. Over the summer we hiked near the Byron glacier, which is small but still a beautiful way to experience these natural wonders. Of course we had no actual plan to do this, Chris asked "what are we doing for New Year's?" I replied with, "want to go walk on the Matanuska glacier?". This little convo happened at 7:00 pm Tuesday night. We both looked at each other and quickly moved into our designated road trip roles, I started getting snacks and kids things together, while Chris packed the car of all the real survival things we would need should we break down....get stuck in snow...things I know nothing about.
Wednesday morning we both got up early to have a cup of coffee together before we woke the kids up and loaded them in the car. The sun doesn't come up until 10:15, and it sets at 3:45 so not a whole lot of time to explore. We drove through Starbucks and headed two hours north!
The glacier is 27 miles long so as you are approaching it you can begin to see it from the highway. We pulled off a few times to catch a glimpse of what it looked like just in case we couldn't get close enough to it. But we were determined to touch this "ice mountain" as Ace called it, and drink glacier water! The kids were amazing in the car, and Chris and I couldn't help but laugh because it was all due to the fact that they each had an iPad on their laps. It brought on the conversation of, don't you remember when we were young and took road trips? Our parents made us play I-spy and sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall to pass the time. Technology.......a blessing and a curse!
The only way to see the glacier close up is to find this little turn off right passed mile marker 102, which we circled passed three times. Not to be confused by the other little turn offs near that mile marker that have signs posted with "no trespassing we will shoot" or "beware of dogs not on leash" or "turn around now".
We traveled down a steep snowy hill to a little building that said GLACIER, clearly this had to be it. We went inside and asked how we could see the glacier, a lovely lady said right here, how many people? We replied with two adults and three children. She asked the ages of the children, 4, 3, 19 months, and she looked very worried as she handed us forms to sign our lives away. You know in case you die on the glacier or fall in the water. Not nerve wrecking at all. At least not for this family! Going out in 2014 with a bang!
Once we hiked down to the glacier Chris and I decided it really wasn't safe to take the kids over the ice to the see the glacier close up. Why we thought it was then safe for us, who knows. But we took turns walking over, as the responsible parents that we are, leaving the other parent on land with the children. Chris went first as a stood and watched, listening to the ice and glacier make noises. It was both frightening and amazing. We were the only people out there, smart people stay inside when it is 9 degrees out!
It was so beautiful to see close up. The ice is so blue, and the cracks in the glacier are distinct and so defined. It makes a slow creaking and bubbling noise and you stand next to it. Definitely a cross off the bucket list kind of adventure!
We let the kids play outside for a bit until they were begging for food and warmth. Then we loaded them in the van and let them watch some movies while having lunch. Chris and I sat in the front warming our very cold extremities. While talking about how years ago we used to spend New Year's Eve in some fancy restaurant, waiting around all day to be able to get ready and stay out all night. But here we are, 10 years, three kids, and a pregnant belly later, sitting in a mini-van near a glacier. I mean....does it get better? Well maybe, if I had another Starbucks in hand at that very moment. Lesson learned! But it was the perfect way to bring in the new year. All in bed by 9:30 pm.