Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vegetarian Camping Meals

Our upcoming trip has required lots of planning.  One of the major planning aspects to a road trip, especially one lasting two weeks, is the meal planning.  Cody and I used lots of websites, personal experiences, and information passed on from other travelers to plan our meals.  This took some extra planning on my part due to my vegetarian lifestyle.  Many "easy" camp meals include meat.  We used these three links to help do a lot of our planning (link 1 link 2 link 3).  Check them out! You can also check out my list below.  Anything in italics is something that is NOT vegetarian and specifically packed for Cody. Feel free to throw in any "no-cook" suggestions! We still have one day before we depart on our ALCAN Highway adventure!



Breakfast Meals
·      Cereal
·      Almond Milk
·      Poptarts/Breakfast Bars
·      Granola
Lunch Meals
·      Bread
·      Cheese Slices
·      Salad Mix
·      Peanut Butter
·      Jelly
Dinner Meals
·      MRE’s
·      Turkey/Salmon Jerky
·      Instant Soup Mix
·      Crackers/ Pita and Hummus
Snacks
·      Oranges
·      Apples
·      Mixed Nuts
·      Fruit Cups
·      Pro Bar’s
·      Sweet Potato Chips
Drinks
·      V8 Juice
·      Green Tea
·      Instant Coffee
·      Non-Dairy Creamer
·      Water Jug

Questions:
Do you have any other meal suggestions?
What is your favorite camping meal?

Moving & Shipping To Alaska

Shipping in Alaska, particularly when moving, can be daunting.  If you are one the lucky Alaskans who lives off of the road system you will find yourself with limited options.  Personally, I've pursued two of these crazy moving options and thought that I would share my opinions on each.

1.) SELL EVERYTHING! The first time that Cody and I moved from Illinois to Alaska we sold (basically) all of our belongings. If it didn't fit in our car, we got rid of it.  This ended up being a great option for a couple of recent college grads.  We didn't have any "nice" or expensive stuff to begin with so selling all of our crummy college furniture was great.  It also made us some good moving money to put towards buying new stuff when we reached our destination.  In the short-term this was probably the cheaper option.  We did have sink quite a bit of money into household items down the road though. We also had to ship our car (via ferry) and that cost over $1,000 so the costs add up quickly either way.

Packing up our car for the move to Juneau. 
2.)SHIP, SHIP, SHIP! This time around we are shipping anything that can fit in 18gallon totes.  It costs around $2.00/lb to ship stuff in the totes but it is worth it for some of our valuable items (or sentimental stuff).  We are mainly shipping clothes, books, movies, small kitchen appliances, home decor items, and a few other miscellaneous things.  It will end up taking us about 10 totes and 10 pre-paid priority mail boxes to ship everything we want.  Frankly, it's a bit expensive but it saves us having to sink a ton of money into new things when we get to our new house.

Three out of the ten totes that we shipped to the lower 48. 
Both are great options when considering a move to (or from) Alaska.  Moving to Alaska is never going to be "easy" by moving standards.  That doesn't mean that it has to be completely daunting though! Planning and research are your best friends when it comes to shipping.  I found that my local post office (shout out to the Douglas, AK office) was extremely helpful.  For example, I had NEVER heard of Media Mail before talking over options with a local postal worker.  Media Mail is a great option for shipping books, movies, or music and it only costs .50/lb! It saved me over $100 in shipping costs.  Definitely rely on others who have done the move before and do lots of research.  It'll be a life and money saver in the long run :)

Questions:
What other questions do you have about Alaskan shipping?
Are there any "moving to Alaska" type posts that you'd like to read?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Illinoisans in Alaska

The last month has been filled with exciting visitors! Cody's parents visited us earlier in the month and my mom just left our house a few days ago.  It has been a busy and family-filled time here in Juneau.


Cody's parents and his little brother visited Alaska for the very first time!  They had a blast going to visit Mendenhall Glacier, hiking around town, zip-lining, and checking out the local cuisine. Cody's brother and I even climbed a mountain together one day!  Unfortunately, the weather was terrible the entire time they were in town.  Rainy and cold every day.  They were troopers though and ended up having a really fun time. It was so much fun to show them our home.




My mom and her boyfriend Mark were in town for a fun visit a few weeks after Cody's family.  It was so much fun! We did a super cool hike up into the alpine meadows of a local mountain, ate fresh crab, relaxed on the beach, and celebrated the 4th of July with a big group of friends. It was such a cool week.  We got to take them on some really unique adventures and I was super sad to see them leave!




Now that our visits are over for the summer we are really focusing on the big move.  We are down into the single digit days before we officially leave Juneau. So, I am writing this post while I shove countless pairs of pants, shoes, and home decor items into shipping totes.  Stay tuned for more information about the big move! :)

Questions:
Has your family ever visited you in a unique place?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beaver Island, MI

Cody and I have officially decided on a location for next year…we're moving to Beaver Island!

Photo courtesy of landsofmichigan.com
I am guessing that some most of you are wondering where in the world Beaver Island is located. It's a fair question.  I spent a significant portion of my life in Michigan and I've never been there.  But, when a job opening for a primary school teacher popped up in my search, I applied.  Then, I interviewed and was offered the job only a couple of hours later. Cody and I had to decide relatively quickly, in the end it seemed to be the best fit for both of our lifestyles and our relationship. Oh, wait, you were wondering where Beaver Island was…

Photo courtesy of beaverislandbikefestival.com
Yup, it's in the middle of Lake Michigan…not even close to being on the road system.  I realize that this probably seems a little bit kooky to some people.  I mean, we're moving from one isolated community to another one. But, we are super excited about Beaver Island.  Here are some fun facts…

1.) The island boasts about 650 year round residents.
2.) There are SEVEN inland lakes on this tiny island.
3.) Access to the island is possible through ferries and airplanes.
4.) This island was once a Mormon kingdom (don't worry, that was a long time ago).
5.) There is a large Irish population on the island and there's always a huge St. Patty's celebration.
6.) There are also a ton of festivals dedicated to biking, water sports, music, and food.
7.) It is an outdoorsy place.  There's hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and a bunch of winter sports too!

Photo courtesy of panaramio.com
I am super excited about the next year of our lives.  We are going to get to have another amazing adventure, all while being only a few hours from our families.  Hopefully, Beaver Island will be a neat fit for Cody and I and we will have an amazing adventure.  Here's to hoping! :)

Questions:
Have you ever heard of Beaver Island?
Would you consider living on an island? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We're Moving To…Michigan!

The cat is out of the bag!! It's official folks. Our ferry tickets are purchased, our trip planning has begun, and the wait is finally over.  Now to pack up our house...


Honestly, I received some seriously incredible job offers from schools here in Alaska, but I just couldn't bring myself to take any of them.  I love Alaska and everything about it.  However, Alaska was always MY adventure.  When I first met Cody he was in the process of moving to Florida.  He changed his plans and decided to stay local to be with me, fast forward eight months and I had accepted a job in Alaska.  While he has loved Alaska, it has put many aspects of his life on hold. He had to give up music (he was a touring musician when we met) and college.  Both of these he will be immersing himself in as soon as we get to Michigan.  So, we will be moving so that he can get back on track and we can be closer to our family. I think it is going to be the best thing for both of us.


We will be living in the Saugatuck-area of Michigan.  It is truly one of my most favorite places in the world.  It is an artists haven on the western shore of the state.  As a child, I vacationed in this area every summer. Then, last year my dad retired to the area to live year-round.  We are planning on staying with him until we find a place that suits our needs (i.e. pet friendly and enough room for Cody's drum kit). I couldn't be more excited at the prospect of living in my childhood vacation haven!


It's been an incredible journey and I couldn't ask for anything more from Alaska.  Stay tuned to the blog for updates! Cody and I will be taking 15 days to camp our way through Canada in July and we will have a few more adventures in the mean time.  I plan to document every aspect of our journey :)

Questions:
Have you ever visited western Michigan?
What is your favorite road trip to take? 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Great Alaskan Teaching Debate

For those of you that don't know, I am looking into pursuing alternative employment for next year.  My position is grant funded and the likelihood of losing our funding is pretty high.  As much as I would love to stay in Alaska, some questions and tough decisions have come up in regards to what I should do next year.  Basically, we've got three options to choose from.



Option 1: Move back to the midwest.  I have my teaching credentials in a couple of midwestern states.  Fortunately, I have my credential in Michigan.  Western Michigan, as well as the upper peninsula,  is my ideal location in that area of the world.  I've been applying and interviewing for various teaching positions throughout the western portion of the state.  No offers yet, but I've made it past the first round for a couple of them.

Option 2: Stay in Juneau and pursue alternative teaching options.  This is also a viable option.  I could wait to see what opens up with the school district here.  I could also look into additional Head Start classrooms, work with the department of education, or some clerical-type position.  I worry that none of these non-teaching options will pay enough to keep us in our current quality of life though.

Option 3: Pursue a teaching job elsewhere in Alaska.  This is a huge option and a very real possibility.  There are many great school districts in Alaska and I would be lucky to teach at any number of them.  Cody and I originally planned on living more rural (read about it here) and this may be the opportunity that we are looking for ideally.  I actually have two job offers on the table from Bush districts and I am highly considering this possibility.


These are all very real possibilities for us next year.  While we wait and see how our lives will play out, we are actively applying and interviewing with multiple districts and hoping to land the right position.   Stay tuned for an update…I assume that we will be deciding sometime in the next two weeks :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Basin Road & Mountain Trails

For the most part lately it has been sitting in the mid 50's and the skies have been overcast.  We've had some pretty good rainy days too.  Thankfully, these cool and overcast days are perfect for hiking. Some of my favorite days are the ones spent hiking on a drizzly day.



These pictures were snapped a couple of weekends ago.  Cody and I went to Basin Road, which is located in downtown Juneau.  Basin Road leads to a wide array of trail heads like Perseverance Trail, Mount Juneau, and Mount Roberts. These are all really great trails and vary in difficulty from easy to extremely difficult.  We wanted to hike Mount Roberts originally but realized that we had forgotten the dogs leash (no unleashed dogs at the top of the trail). So, we just hiked a mile or so of each trail.  Each trail is very diverse and this allowed us to see a ton of unique wildlife and scenery.  It ended up being a beautiful and relaxing day.




**Unfortunately, a hiker was lost on the Mount Roberts Trail not long after Cody and I hiked it.  It is unknown what happened to her but you can read about the story here and here.  Such a sobering reminder that nature is unpredictable, especially in the 49th state.  This incident has made me really buckle down on not hiking alone and always telling people where I am hiking.  I hope everyone makes sure to do this when they adventure outdoors!**