Destination: Alaska!

J&A Wanderlust

Jun 6, 2017

So many of you have been asking for this, and here it is! Our official “Destination: Alaska” J&A Wanderlust feature!

Joel’s job sometimes means a trip to Alaska, and this time I went with him! We both worked when we needed to and went exploring every minute we had free!

And guys. It. Was. Amazing. Alaska is so beautiful in a rustic, wild, majestic way. All those fairytale images we always see of Alaska are true. It’s incredible!

We spent the first 2 weeks of May there, and I really think it was the perfect season for us. There was still enough snow on the ground to make my South Dakota heart rejoice at the sight of it, but the trees were starting to bud. The temps were in the 60s most days and we had about 18 hours of daylight to play in.

Enough snow had melted to let us experience the tundra springtime. The ground may look brown and dead, but it was actually beautiful in its own way. The snow had melted and everything was coming to life.

For all of you asking, we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights this trip (so sad!) because it never got dark enough. They aren’t very visible in the summer months, so we missed out. Joel saw them on a winter trip, so we know that they’re real! ;)

So welcome to our Alaska Wanderlust! We can’t wait to share these highlights of our trip with you!

Joel picked a sleepy Amber up from the airport around midnight, and we both spent the next day working. But as soon as Joel got back to the hotel, we were ready to explore! We were based out of Fairbanks, which is one of the few “cities” in Alaska. It’s right smack in the middle of the state (the Interior of Alaska) and about as far north as most people go by car. Any further north starts getting very remote.

So after a #jacoffeeadventures stop at College Coffee House (featuring North Pole Coffee Roasting Company coffee, in case you’re wondering by the cup), we hit the road!

We came back in time to check out downtown Fairbanks, home of some pretty cool structures – like this one below.

Downtown Fairbanks overlooking the Chena River.

And of course we had to take pictures in front of what I called the “moose arch”! There’s a security camera aimed in that direction that actually feeds directly into the visitor’s center website, so we made a couple phone calls and waved at some family and friends. I know, we’re a little nerdy! :)

The next day was Saturday, which meant a 2 hour trip down to Denali National Park! We stopped at Alaska Coffee Roasting Company for some coffee and scones on the way. Those scones, guys. They were amazing. I went back twice for them during the rest of our trip! Their blueberry scones were bigger than Joel’s hand (and that’s saying something!), and super delicious.


We ended up taking an extra little hike up to the top of that rock structure in the picture below! Some spots were really steep and I held my breath the whole time, but we made it both up and back in one piece!

A glimpse of Mt Denali!! (Or Mt McKinley for those of us who took geography before the name changed in 2015)

One of our mini hikes. A lot of the park was stilled closed for the winter, but we got a few great mini-hikes in!

Driving back to Fairbanks, we still found some incredible views. Pretty much everywhere you go is going to be breath-taking!

This was one of our favorite spots of the entire trip. We took a random side road to go exploring and came up to this lake campground. The thing that blew our minds was that this place was completely quiet. No wind whistling in the trees, no traffic noise, no nothing. A whisper sounded like a blasting shout, it was that quiet. Just crazy and beautiful.

We cheered on the lone kayaker that came along!

Moose tracking! Joel’s size 15 foot for size. (We did get to see some wild moose, but we never found this one. I read all about moose safety in the guide book, for all of you native Alaskans who are worried about me chasing after moose!)


After a long day of exploring, we went all over town to track down this local food truck wood-fired pizza we were craving for dinner. The Hungry Robot for the win!

We found a great little church on Sunday and enjoyed getting to spend the day fellowshipping with them.

And Monday came around, which meant another #jacoffeeadventures with my laptop to get some work done before heading out for more exploring! I really wasn’t expecting to find a #jacoffeefavorites here, but Venue proved me wrong! The coffee was amazing and the venue itself was such a neat place! Score one for the coffee scene in downtown Fairbanks.

Fueled by yummy coffee and a productive morning, I jumped in my car and did some driving while Joel finished up some meetings at work.

Introducing North Pole, Alaska. A huge tourist trap, but worth a stop just so you can say “I’m in North Pole”. Classic. :) And I did take a grand driving tour of the tiny town of North Pole to see past the gimmicks, of course!

What would “North Pole, AK” sell visitors other than every Christmasy thing?

Some of these letters to Santa were hilarious!

“Dear Santa,

I would really like a lava lamp. My night light is broke because my sister fell on it. That is why.”

Santa’s reindeer, of course.

After conquering North Pole, I headed to check out one of the other big tourist attractions. It was mostly closed for the winter season, but I liked that better! I had most of the park to myself. It was full of old buildings original to Fairbanks with signs explaining the history of the building. So neat!

Joel wouldn’t have fit through this door, but I fell in love as soon as I saw the turquoise paint and lace window covering!!

Road trip up to the famous Chena Hot Springs. (Although as neat as the Hot Springs were, the drive up there was the best part!)

Reindeer babies!!

Those velvet antlers!!!

I took the tourist path and bought a ticket for the Ice Museum. Sooooo cold, but interesting.

Baby sled dogs!!!

It’s so incredible watching spring come to Alaska during the time we were there.

Traveling with this guy is my favorite. He’s super easy going, he’s good with directions (unlike me!), and his go-with-the-flow adventuring personality works well with my I-need-to-plan-everything travel style. We’re the perfect balance, and I can’t imagine doing any of this without him!

His built-in selfie stick arm length is just a bonus. ;)

This was such an amazing adventure for us, and we’re so thankful we had the opportunity to see this part of the world! If you ever get a chance, we definitely recommend making the trip! Until then, we’re so glad you stopped by to check out these images of God’s amazing creation!

Have any of you been to Alaska? We want to hear all about it! Where did you go, how many moose did you get to see, and did you get to see the Northern Lights? Tell us in the comments below!



Psst! If you loved traveling to Alaska this morning, we think you might enjoy our adventures in Grand Teton National Park! :)



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