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As we’re finding, mountain biking in Alaska is a little different than it is in Colorado. For one thing, the main obstacles are not jagged rocks and sand, they’re puddles and wet tree roots that crisscross many of the trails. Hitting a wet rood the wrong way can send you down pretty quickly as Amy quickly discovered, as can wet leaves on the paved bike trail, as Dan found out, quite painfully. Both of us are now sporting large bruises on our hips- Dan left side, Amy right.

Last week, Eric led us on a couple of mountain bike tours around the Anchorage trails. Many good ones lie in the forests right in the city limits, and even more just in the parks at the edge of town. With fall in full swing here, the scenery is beautiful, and the hillsides are covered with changing aspens. As of right now, it’s even still light until about 8:30pm, which gives enough to ride after work, although with each passing week, the sunlight hours will diminish.

On our way back to Eric’s house after the first day, we saw a big mama moose and her two youngsters foraging in the woods about thirty feet off the bike path. So far that brings our moose count up to 4.

Except for yesterday, it has rained at least some ever day that we’ve been here, but that hasn’t stopped us from running or biking when we feel like it. We’ve seen actual sun and blue sky a few times, and a couple of really gorgeous sunsets.

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Yep, that’s her new title.

Taking her first foray into the private sector, Amy started her new full time job this morning at an executive search firm right in downtown Anchorage. Funny thing was, she hadn’t exactly applied there.

She’d sent her resume up a few weeks ago, and when we got to Alaska, she went for an interview. The company was so impressed with Amy’s skills and personality, that instead of trying to farm her out to another employer, they offered her a job!

The pay is quite good, and more importantly, she really likes the job. Her duties revolve around researching potential candidates for employers- doing background checks, calling references, researching stated degrees and past employment, and then writing final profiles that will be passed on to the clients, who are the potential employers. Amy likes her new coworkers and she is thrilled about working in a highly professional company work environment. (Read: No more school district politics.)

She’ll continue to work Saturdays and some Sundays at The Sport Shop, at least through the fall. Gotta get those pro deals, right!

Now if we could only find a place to live- we’re still crashing in Eric’s basement and existing with the minimal amount of clothing and personal items.

Anchorage has a great system of paved bike trails that weave around the city, including a 12 mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. It begins right downtown and passes through the marshes, mudflats, forest and cliffs right at the water’s edge along the Cook Inlet. In the winter, the bike trails are used as cross country ski trails, and not only are they popular exercise trails, they are extremely useful for just getting around Anchorage on your bike, since riding on the street means navigating lots of traffic. In the non winter months, the trails are always full of bikers, walkers, runners and cross country skiers training on their roller skis.

About halfway down, the coastal trail passes right by one of the runways at the Anchorage International Airport. It’s one of the busiest airports on the Pacific Rim, and you can watch the planes come in one after another as they prepare to land. The trail is so close to the runway, that if you stand in the right spot, the jets are only about 100-feet over your head right before they cross over the fence and touch down. It’s really impressive, and quite exciting to watch, especially the 747’s, which are huge, and very loud!

Another fun feature on the coastal trail is the planet walk. Small displays that feature models of the sun and all nine planets are spaced in relative size and distance from each other, starting with the sun, right downtown, with Mercury, Venus and Earth within a few blocks of each other, and Pluto 12 miles away at the other end of the trail.

The other day, we rode our bikes along the trail and of course giggled when we passed Uranus. “Hey look, there’s…” We didn’t quite make it to Pluto, because we had to turn around when we came upon a moose standing on the middle of the bike path. She was drinking water from one of the rain puddles on the trail. Moose are apparently a pretty common sight on the trails, and they always get the right of way.

Wasting very little time, Amy found herself gainful employment within twenty four hours of our arrival in Anchorage. Our first morning in town, we drove straight to The Sport Shop, a store that sells active/outdoor clothing for women. The owner, who is one of Dan’s clients, hired her right on the spot. The job will be part time and thus will allow Amy to continue to look for additional work in the legal and or research fields. As some of our friends can attest, working outdoor retail can be an important rite of passage and a great way to get gear discounts, however, it does have its limitations.

She starts Friday at noon after yet another job interview that she already has lined up. Go Amy!

Now we just need to find a place to live…

 

We camped in our reclining plastic chairs on the deck of the M/V Columbia, the largest of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry boats, and enjoyed spectacular views and clear weather for two out of three days on our trip up the Inside Passage. Amy described it as a cross between camping and begin on a cruise ship. We met a few interesting folks, watched a couple of movies and heard some fascinating nature lectures by a young forest ranger who looked a lot like our friend Jonas and sounded just like our other friend Darrin. What an interesting mix, we thought, especially since Jonas and Darrin are such good friends themselves.

The entire journey took 65 hours, during which time we stopped in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburgh and Juneau, and our final destination, Haines, where Sampa, Amy and the Toyota all entered Alaska for the very first time. From there, it was a long, but very beautiful two day drive across Northern BC, Southern Yukon, and Eastern Alaska, across expanses of broad valleys full of tundra and aspen forests, all of which were in full autumn color. We saw very few pine trees in this part of Canada, and learned that millions of trees here have also been decimated by the pine beetles. Entire forests have been wiped out, and after talking with a local man about the matter, we learned that recent variations in winter temperatures have very little to do with the infestations, as we have been told are the reasons back in Colorado. Any comments on this from our forestry friends?

So here we are now, living in our friend Eric’s basement in Anchorage, Alaska, and asking ourselves the burning question:

“Now what?” 

Therein lies our adventure, since we really have no idea what will happen as we begin our life up here, although I have a pretty good feeling that there are lots of pictures to take, and a great rewarding job to be found for Amy.

We’ll keep you posted.

Quick note from Sampa:

“Although I weathered the weeklong trip like a true adventure kitty, I am VERY happy to be out of the truck.

“Meow.”