Exploring Portage Valley, AK

One of our favorite spots to explore and play it out in Portage Valley. Located just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, it winds back into heavy woods to offer secluded campsites, access to Portage Glacier, Portage River, and one the of the longest tunnels (2.5 miles of enclosed highway) in North America to open up to the small seaside city of Whittier and surrounding Prince William Sound.

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In addition to the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, there are numerous trails to hike as well with guided boat and hiking tours. Whether a full-fledged adventurer or a newbie, there is something for everyone and that is what we love the most!

The dogs always have a great time running themselves silly, and we get in a nice hike and fresh air ourselves 🙂

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Exploring Portage Valley, AK

A mini vacation in downtown Seattle

On a whim, we decided we needed a break from Alaska, so we hopped over to Seattle to celebrate my birthday. It’s funny how you can leave your neighborhood, walk into someone else’s, and it feels like a vacation.

Personally, I blame Groupon. They sent me one of those Getaway emails that had a beautiful hotel in downtown Seattle as a special. I was hooked and it was booked!

The Roosevelt Hotel didn’t disappoint, it was welcoming, clean, and our room was incredible! Fully updated with extra credits allotted to the room, a fun view, and such a comfortable bed. This trip was two months ago and I’m still thinking about those crisp white sheets. With the Groupon deal, we also had a complimentary breakfast delivered swiftly to our room comprised of a banana, greek yogurt, a very large muffin, and juice. It was the perfect early-bird start to our day downtown.

We didn’t want to rent a car and fuss with parking, so we committed to walking everywhere to really soak up what Seattle had to offer. Luckily, Seattle was hovering between 40-50 degrees (a heatwave for us coming from Alaska) and sunny! We spent the morning window shopping and browsing through Pike Place Market, and the gum wall! We hit Local Color Coffee for mid-morning (and late afternoon) pick-me-ups as well as the Pike and Western Wine Shop for birthday wine to share that evening back at the hotel.

When lunchtime rolled around, we were half starved. Mama’s Cantina was the perfect spot to sip margaritas, crunch on chips and salsa, and enjoy hot enchiladas. It was a laid back and quirky place, it’s definitely on the list next time we hit Seattle.

After a lot more exploring and shopping, we committed to the whispered about Underground Tour. I had done this same tour 10 years prior, and let me tell you this was an entirely revamped version. Where you purchase your tickets is conveniently located in a bar, so we hopped over to grab something to sip for the tour. The introduction was hilarious, the tour itself entertaining and engaging, and we left feeling pretty stoked that we had chosen to do it. Next time? We’re thinking about the haunted pub tour.

We found so many little treasures over this corner of the city, fun bookstores, map stores, and lots of shopping centers that we just don’t have in Alaska. It was a day well spent.

On our last day we experienced typical drizzly PNW weather and were thrilled by it. D and I spent the early morning trekking to a new part of town to have breakfast at Biscuit Bitch. I wish I had a picture of our bitchin’ selections but it just didn’t stay plated long enough. Might I suggest the Nutty Bitch, for my Nutella lovers out there? We spent the rest of the day hitting the market one more time and it was even more vibrant than the day before. One of our favorite shops is called All Things Lavender and we will definitely be repeat customers online. Their beard balms and oils are to DIE for.

We cruised along the Alaskan Way and ended back up near our hotel for a quick lunch to warm us up at the Cheesecake Factory. Then it was back to the airport and home we went! It was the perfect way to spend my 27th and I’m grateful to have had such a fun time with D. Our touristy Seattle weekend was a great get-away and we’re excited to go back in August!

Let me know your fav spots for our next trip!
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A mini vacation in downtown Seattle

I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious

I’ve been thinking about the things that solidified my relationship with D. When I started to realize I could spend my life with this cool person. When we first started dating, we had a great honeymoon period: so much to laugh about, adventures to go on, and things to learn about each other. It was fun and romantic, and a whirlwind – until reality set in and we realized we were real people, with things like communication and trust to work on, and insecurities to lay to rest, and compromising to learn.

When we actively committed to doing those things though our relationship went through a few phases from:

fun and flighty
kind of raw and overpowering
balanced and healthy, and then, back to fun.

Growing up together these past 3.5 years hasn’t always been easy, but we have learned so much about who we are and what we are looking for; from ourselves, each other, and life in general, and I hope we don’t ever stop. Here are just a few things that I saw in our relationship that made me realize we had hit that good place that might resonate with you as well:

  • You are strong individual people, who work at being a powerful and balanced couple.
  • There is no room for toxicity, manipulation, or mistrust
  • Your partner’s steady hand works authentically beside your own.
  • Becoming a “we,” does not take away from either, “me.”
  • You can make your partner a priority without compromising yourself.
  • You expect and in return give, a love built on respect, values, and support.
  • Your partner revolutionizes your world; from surprisingly little ways to life-altering impactful ones.
  • Memories of togetherness, forgiveness when needed, and commitment to your future strengthen you and your relationship.
  • Friendship is key, laughter is often and communication is swift and evolving.
  • Forgiveness comes more easily than you’d expect.
  • You win or lose, together as a team.
  • The small things and the difficult times empower you as a couple.
  • Through it all, you want to be the one beside them day in, and day out.

At the end of the day, a relationship is what you make of it. Everyone knows they are not always easy, and they shouldn’t be – people mature and grow with challenges and no two relationships are the same, regardless of how similar. I full heartedly believe that we often need to learn lessons the hard way and that was certainly the case in our love story. I don’t regret one chapter of it.

I’ll leave you with a note by Jane Wells, Marriage Advice from 1886 that has always stood out to me:

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. 
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break. 
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friend.

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I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious