Happy New Year! As I watch the trees flash by on our 6.5 hour drive from Minneapolis to Houghton today, I have time to reflect on 2014 and how great the last two weeks of the year have been. December in Alaska is dark and often cold (not this year) but there are always lots of fun activities and events to keep your S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) at bay. So, in the continuing spirit of the holidays, here are my 12 days of Christmas/winter activities with accompanying photos. 🙂
1) Here comes the Sun
PK skiing under the lights on the trails as the sun rises over the Chugach.
Sunrise skis. The cool thing about late sunrises in Alaska is that you get to see them every morning during training. It makes you appreciate the beauty of every day, of the landscape around us, and the gift we have to be healthy and fit. There is always light if you know where to look.
Dark but happy.
2) Fire and Ice.
Celebrating with friends. Every year some friends have a solstice/holiday party that is the most epic party in town. The boys go to great lengths and effort to create something in their yard. Last year they built an ice bar. This year, they one-upped themselves and built an ice bar AND an ice HOT TUB. It was lined with plastic and had a hot water pump going. Pretty cool and ingenious. Add in a bonfire and how can a scene like this not be fun and festive! It’s a really fun time to see everyone and relax with some mulled wine or cider. Or a cocktail from the ice bar 😉
Ice hot tub on the left, ice bar in the center, bonfire on the right.
Ice pillars entrance.
2.1) Make a wish.
It’s becoming a tradition at the boys party to set off Chinese lanterns into the sky. It’s like a mini hot air balloon. The idea is that you light it up, make a wish and let go. The lantern carries your wish into the sky and puts a smile on your face.
Sending off my lantern and wish 🙂
3) Cookies cookies cookies. It’s not Christmas without cookies! Enough said.
Almond bon bons!
4) Laughter is the best medicine. Find something to make you laugh with the ones you love. Taking selfies with frozen faces on a ski is a good one. Skiing with old friends and family is another.
Being silly with PK after finding Christmas decorations on trees on the ski trails.
Getting silly with the King crab legs for dinner.
Me and “my boys” at the Christmas ski. Cameron, my “big” little brother and PK.
The group for Christmas ski in the falling snow!
5) Light it up up up! A park in downtown Anchorage set up this cool light exhibit. It’s a great way to get people outside and brighten the darkness.
Not really sure what they’re supposed to be, but the lights are cool and bright!
PK racing Santa to see who can light up the display out front. Pedal Power!
6) The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Stockings are maybe one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love upending my stocking on Christmas morning and finding all sorts of goodies. This was PK and my’s first Christmas together and he said he’d never really had a stocking before so I had to explain what kind of little things Santa filled our stockings with 😉 We were pretty good this year so we didn’t get coal!
PK’s first stocking!
7) I’m dreaming of a white moosey Christmas. Nothing is more exciting than waking up to falling snow on Christmas morning. But what makes it better? A bull moose wandering through your yard during breakfast!
Snow falling on X-mas
Our Christmas visitor!
8) When you pull three bottles of syrup out your stocking, there is nothing to do but make use of them! Pancake breakfast is a bit of a tradition for Christmas morning and I don’t anticipate that dying out anytime soon.
Little to big: Alaska berry syrups, Alaska Birch syrup, and Vermont Maple syrup
9) Jiggity-jig. When you spend a few hours a day training outside, sometimes you just want something fun to occupy your time inside for awhile. Nothing better than a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle! Especially when it’s a Christmas present. Next thing you know, it’s three days later and the puzzle is done!
PK enjoying the complete puzzle
10) Brickify me!
If a puzzle is not creative enough for you, turn back the clock to your childhood and bust out the Legos! The Anchorage Museum has a Lego exhibit, so of course we went to channel our inner child. It was pretty cool, with some background history about Lego, information about the benefits of creativity and learning as crucial developmental skills, cool funny photos of a Lego Stormtrooper (yes, from Star Wars) doing everyday things, giant Lego sculptures, and of course, a Lego play center where you could play and build to your heart’s delight. We partook.
An odd collection of Lego sculptures
There was a photo of a woman actually wearing this!
There were LOTS of kids around.
PK’s creation: Eiffel Tower turned Japanese Pagoda. Mine is the Alaska Flag on the table.
11) Puck it.
When Mother Nature gives you ice, go ice skating! We took to the lagoon in town and laced up for some pond hockey with some teammates and friends. In the dark. But we had a light-up puck. Fortunately the city provides bonfire barrels to keep your tushy warm. Don’t worry, they don’t go through the ice. Yet. It was a fun evening to get outside and change pace from skiing.
The bonfire barrel
12) Not the gumdrop buttons! (Name that movie).
As our Christmas holiday came to an end, PK and I went out for a dinner date and then took a stroll through the massive Gingerbread Village built in the lobby of a downtown hotel. It was quite impressive. Though not as impressive as the gingerbread houses I used to make at home with my friends…of course. you couldn’t even eat the fences or window panes off this one!
The giant terrorizing the village
So now we’re into 2015 and U.S. nationals start in a few days. I’ve arrived in Houghton to a ton of snow and the classic tracks are prime. Happy new year!