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Until Next Time, Alaska 

We finally approached our last day in Alaska, neither of us were ready to leave.  We finished getting everything packed for our flight and then headed to Tongass National Forest, which happens to be the largest National Forest in the US.  We walked around on the bear viewing platform and saw several salmon, dead and alive but no bears.

We then did a few mile hike on the Mendenhall Glacier Trail.  The plan was to make it to the ice caves but we didn’t have enough time.   There’s so much to do and explore at this Glacier, we will definitely be back.

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After the hike we headed to the airport to catch our 1815 flight.  We lucked out, 2 out of the 3 flights Waves and I had our own row and Dada and Reef had their own.  We flew from Juneau to Seattle to Chicago to Charlotte.  We still have a 6 hour drive back to the Outer Banks.

Time and time again Eric and I were mistaken for locals in Alaska. It’s one of those places that we just fit in; we feel at home and our souls are satisfied.  In the last 6 weeks we’ve nearly spent 3 weeks in Alaska. There’s been a lot of discussion about moving here or at least purchasing a parcel of land.  We envision our family living a simple life on our homestead that we built with our own two hands.  Taking them hunting for caribou and fishing for salmon to stock our freezer for the winter months.  Having a childhood totally unplugged.  Being one with nature and being authentic to this world and to ourselves.  Ahh dreams!

WILDTRIBE

MY WILD TRIBE

We should be to the Outer Banks around 2000.  Eric will be up bright and Eric to start his 14 day work rotation tomorrow.  The kids and I will spend tomorrow at the beach and unpacking/laundry.  We are heading to Virginia this weekend to visit family so I’m looking forward to our 2 days of downtime before we hit the road again.

In the next two weeks I’m going to work on this blog site and have it up and running the way I anticipated.  Posts might be far and few between but we’re already counting down for our next epic adventure in 15 days!!  We still have no idea where we will end up, stay tuned.

SUNSETBC

SUNSET BRITISH COLUMBIA

A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If possible, take evening flights when traveling with children!  I don’t know what our family would do without a red-eye flight; especially when traveling cross-country.  It makes our lives pleasantly easier and a lot less stressful. Who doesn’t like a sleeping baby on a plane!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

 

JUNEAULAKE

A RANDOM LAKE IN JUNEAU

Wrangell & Yukon Camping

We were so indecisive as to what we wanted to do.  Initially we planned on an awesome glacier hike in Wrangell St. Elias National Park.  Things kept changing and we were getting more behind our schedule to make it to the airport on time in a few days.

Since we came to Alaska to visit all the National Parks we had to stop at Wrangell St-Elias, the last of the 8 National Parks in Alaska for our family to visit.  We went to a backcountry primitive campground within the park and Chef Eric cooked up some more halibut for round two of fish tacos for a late lunch/early dinner.  We got the vehicle organized and then back on the road we go.  As we were on our way out of the park and Eric spotted a moose, I ended up spotting the calf.   We also saw an illusive lynx on a hunt for a large hare- it was out of this world!  Another wildlife encounter so close from the comfort of our vehicle was unbelievable.  How are we getting so lucky to see all of this wildlife?? Or maybe that’s just how much wildlife is wild in The Last Frontier.

One of the different but nice things about traveling in such a remote area is the likelihood of us finding a hotel out here is slim to none.. which means camping!  There are campgrounds about every 45 mins that are super convenient and beautiful for anyone traveling the Alaska Highway.

After a full day of driving we ended up making it to the Congdon Creek Campground in The Yukon at 2200.  The kids were full of energy and ready to play while Eric and I were on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Play away babes, play away.

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This is such a highly trafficked brown bear area that if you’re tent camping you’re required to sleep in the designated, enclosed electric fence.  We’ve been in grizzly country throughout the trip with no issues so we played it safe and slept in our very roomy Suburban SUV.  Plus, who wants to mess with setting up a tent in the dark anyway; not me!  It’s one of those things you just go with your guy instinct; mine was telling us not to camp here, even though we know the chances of something happening is relatively small- it wasn’t worth the risk for us.  At the end of the day, animals are wild and unpredictable.

We’ve ran into only a couple difficulties while camping in brown bear country with babies. Trying to keep them quiet is the first- Reef is the happiest and loudest baby; Waves copies Reef’s noises like she’s communicating back with him. It can get REALLY loud, especially before bedtime and when we wake up.  I sometimes wonder if them being loud is a deterrent; you’d think so, right?! The other difficulty is trying to keep everyone clean. Waves always had food all over herself (she’s ate fish for nearly every meal and hello she’s a toddler) and Reef loves to spit up; basically they both continuously smelled of food. We’ve managed and are stoked it all worked out!  My biggest tip- make sure to always follow the guidelines for camping in bear country and be prepared; just had to put that it there.

We all slept good,  breakfast is made, car organized and Waves had a blast on the campground playground this morning.  We drove the 4 hour trip to Haines, AK and had a nice afternoon here.  We went to the local playground where Waves made a new friend.  It was so sweet- the girl invited Waves to her birthday party next week!! Too bad we won’t be here.  Along the drive we saw more beautiful brown bears, this time a mama bear and her two cubs.

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The ferry was awesome yet again- this time we got on the high speed one this time, whoohoo!  Waves met some girls from Seattle and this mama has befriended another old, hippie grandma that proposed a sweet deal for our family.  They live on a small island in a beautiful 3 story house with a sauna (whattt?!?).  I told her we are considering making a move to Alaska and she kindly offered a plan.  Her and her husband have lived in Alaska for quite some time living off the land.  They have several health issues and offered for us to stay at their house for free and take care of it while they travel and visit family.. now I just need to convince Eric that this is what we need to do!!

We arrived in Juneau around 2130; just in time to rest up and get ready for our last epic adventure in Alaska!

 

A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If you don’t have a global cellphone plan make sure to put your phone on airplane mode when you’re in a different country.  If you don’t put your phone in airplane mode you will get charged out of the wazoo for roaming in another country.  You can still access wifi if your phone is on airplane mode!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe​

Change of Plans

Surprise!  What we planned yesterday morning for the day changed- that’s the story of our travelin’ life.  We were suppose to camp in Wrangell St Elias but a detour to Anchorage for some essentials and finally filleting the halibut from the night before delayed us quite a bit.

We finally left Anchorage and ended up camping for the night along the way at some random tent site in King Mountain State Recreation Area.

Eric cooked up the halibut on the fire while I took care of the kids and got the tent set up.  Believe it or not when dinner was ready both kids were asleep- yes, Eric and I actually had a nice dinner, just the two of us!! We had awesome halibut tacos and sipping some Pinot from the bottle (classy).

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Waves woke up and I was feeding her dinner and got startled by something big, brown and muscular walking behind the brush near our site.  I calmly told Eric to grab Reef immediately and go to the car because I saw a brown bear.  I will say it was dusk at the time and I didn’t have my glasses on, haha.  Once the kids and I were in the car Eric went to check the scene out.  It wasn’t a grizzly but a female moose heading down to the stream for a drink.  Whoowee, that was a little frightening but overall a cool sighting.  The moose was within 30 feet of us, pretty wild.

Once I told Waves I saw a moose and pointed to the location she couldn’t stop saying moose and wanting to go back over there! Silly girl.

We slept so cuddly and sound last night.  It got pretty cool in the early morning but everyone stayed warm with no issues. We prefer to camp in cooler temperatures, it’s certainly more comfortable!

We’re on the road to Wrangell right now (4 hour drive) and should be pulling up around 1430.  It’s been a gorgeous drive.  We plan on a quick hike and then camping somewhere tonight!  Stay turned for our next crazy adventure!

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A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) If you plan on renting a car and bouncing around daily during your adventure, treat your car like your house.  Utilize any and all space, keep it tidy and know where everything is at all times.  We’ve been living out of our vehicle since we’ve been in Alaska and it’s worth the extra effort and less stressful if you keep the car organized!

 

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

Basic Family Camping Gear- What To Buy

img_0839-8Now listen, I’ve done all this research extensively.  I was on a mission to find the perfect, lightweight family gear.  Days and hours of research led me to these essentials.  I’m not going to get into every detail or specs of the items because I’ve convienently provided a link to all the info you need.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I’m working on cooking and hiking gear essential list, keep an eye out!

  • Sleeping Bag– The North Face Homestead Twin 40 is perfect for our family! It comfortably fits 1 kid and 1 parent in each sleeping bag.  It comes with a compression sack and overall is fairly light in weight when you consider it’s for 2 people.  The best part about the sleeping bag is that we can zip our 2 bags together and have one large sleeping bag to fit all 4 of us! My husband likes to call it the “burrito!”
  • Sleeping PadThermarest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad is something my husband teases me for having but who doesn’t want to be comfy when you’re camping? Perfect, compact, comfortable pad that is worth the little space it takes up in your pack! My husband and I both have the size Large, and the children have the size Small! We love these pads.  Always make sure to buy a repair kit and have it handy just in case.
  • Tent– The North Face Talus 4 gives plenty of room along with a peace of mind knowing your tent is quality made.  We’ve camped in deserts, beaches and rainy cold weather and couldn’t be more pleased with the tent.  It’s lightweight and easy to set up, and it has only one large pole.  Spacious yet a compact 4 person tent.  Convienent storage and pocket spaces too, I can go on all day about his tent!
  • Backpack– Osprey Xenith 105 Pack is where it’s at! You can’t go wrong with an Osprey Pack.  Even though designed for long distance backcountry hiking, it’s also a great bag for Papa Bear to hike in short distances to our camp spots.  I generally carry the children and he carries the gear, teamwork baby! The bag is super spacious, durable, and down right huge.  Don’t forget to purchase a rain cover separately!

*All of the gear we buy we see many years of use out of, not just while the kids are young.

Camping & Hailbut Fishing 

Wow, it’s been crazy busy since our last entry! We ended up camping for the night on the Homer Spit in a consistent amount of rain.  Luckily we had the right gear so no issues there.

It was a beautiful evening with the waves crashing on the shore and the rain hitting in tent.  The cooler weather and our awesome sleeping bag that we turn into one big “burrito” was perfect for the family.  The rain continued throughout the morning and stopped right before we hopped the 1300 departure from the boat dock.

It was rough waters and a strong, unforgiving tide.  I initially went to fish with both kids strapped to me (Waves on the back and Reef on the front) but that didn’t work.  We were fishing in depths of nearly 200 feet with 2 pound weights and a ripping current, it was difficult!  Poor Reef ended up getting whacked with the reel on his head when I was reeling in, I felt terrible.  Still on a mission to fish I decided to strap Reef to Eric’s back so we both have one and we can continue to do our thing- but he clearly wasn’t ready for that so inside I went.

The water was rough- people were getting sick on the boat and not fishing because it was too difficult.  I watched the kids while my husband fished because I so desperately wanted him to land a halibut! Inside the galley the kids slept during the back and forth rocking of the boat and sliding on the benches in their slippery rain gear.  It wasn’t an easy day on the water managing 2 by myself on a rough day.  I kept focusing on the big picture- Eric catching a fish!

The tide got just right and the Captain put us on the right spot and bam just like that the few badass fishermen who never wussed out started reeling them in!  Of course one of those men being my husband.  Just like that he limited out on his 2 halibut and now it’s mama’s turn to fish!  I get the bait and weight to the bottom of the floor and immediately feel a bite and do a little tug, Whoohoo I got one! 200 feet later I got him to the boat and dang my arms were on fire, what a workout.  The Captain told us to reel ’em in for the night since we were already almost an hour late back to the dock.  We went out with Rainbow Tours in Homer, check them out they were awesome!

We started our 4 hour drive last night up to the outskirts of Anchorage at 2000.  With one stop we ended up to our little motel in Indian right around 0030.  Holy moly we are spent.  The entire family slept in until 0830 which was such a treat.  As always we took our time getting ready for the next stretch of the trip.  Now we are in Anchorage getting the fish on dry ice and some last minute supplies for camping the next 2 nights.

Soon we will be on our way to Wrangell St Elias National Park for camping tonight and hiking.  Also a very Happy 4 Months old to our sweet baby, Reef!  Thanks for being so adventurous :).  Keep an eye out for a post and pictures tomorrow about our adventures from today!
A Tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Our Yeti Tundra 50 cooler is something we literally always travel with.  We call it our fridge during our road trips.  It allows us to have fresh produce, foods and cheeses which in return helps us save money.  Even more convenient when you need to use it to fly back halibut filets to the East Coast!

 

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

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Homer-Bound 

Our kids ended up making the entire trek from Haines Junction, Canada to Anchorage, AK! Super impressive, they are such great travelers.

We took our time this morning and started making our way to Homer (4.5 hour drive) on the Kenai Peninsula. We set up our tent on the beach for the night and just had an incredible dinner at Captain Pattie’s Fish House- we had local prawns, scallops, halibut and salmon.. oh my gosh we’re so full and satisfied!!

We’re taking a charter to go halibut fishing tomorrow with the babes, so early to bed in hopes of some major success and limiting out (fingers crossed.) It’s currently raining, windy and we have the sound of the waves crashing on the shore- I think we will all sleep so tight tonight!

 

A tip from the Travelin Tribe Archive:

(1) Camp with your kids as much as you can when traveling.  Trying to control a toddler in a hotel room is a pain in the ass, which is about as nicely as I can put it! Camping allows the kids to get lots of fresh air, running around, playing with new toys from nature and sleeping peacefully outside.  Plus it saves money!!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
– The Mitchell Tribe

 

Are We There Yet??

The nice thing about having nothing planned on a trip is all the flexibility! We slept in this morning and slowly started the discussion on what we will do for the day.

We decided to start the trek Wrangell St Elias, which means an entire day of driving. From Haines Junction, Canada to Wrangell, Alaska is about a 10 hour drive not including stops. It’s very unlikely we will do the entire drive today, we’ll just go with the flow and see how the kids are feeling. Luckily we have a gorgeous drive ahead of us being that the road takes us through Kluane National Park.

The Alaska Highway is truly something else. It’s so wild, remote and simply breathtaking. The cooler temperatures and some fall foliage starting to show is a nice change from our visit last month. Autumn in Southeast Alaska and Southwest Canada is not a specific date but more of signs from nature when it’s officially here. The fireweed will only have flowers on the top (when we were here in July they were in full bloom) and several, specific migratory birds are leaving for the season.

We can’t get over our Grizzly encounter today! Grizzlies always seize to amaze us, they’re incredibly intelligent creatures and happen to be our favorite animal besides sharks. This fella was in the brush as we were driving down Alaska Highway 1 when Eric spotted him! We pulled over as I’m quickly scrambling to find my phone for a picture. He stood on his hind legs and looked both ways for traffic and then back on all fours to cross the road. It was remarkable to whiteness in the gorgeous Yukon Territory.

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This moment was a dream come true for us. We’ve been chasing the idea of seeing a grizzly on the side of the road all over Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Alberta and British Columbia. Needless to say we can’t stop smiling and our daughter, Waves (16 months old) was stoked too, she goes grrrr when she sees a bear.

We’re back in Alaska and figuring out our next move. Check back tomorrow to hear about our journey!

 

Here’s a tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Being nomad family it’s important for our children to easily adapt to any place or situation when it comes to sleeping. They might not be in the same bed every night but familiar sounds and smells can be comforting to babies and children in unfamiliar places. From the day the children were born we started using a white-noise application on our phone called Rain Rain. If you upgrade to the premium package for a few dollars extra you get some beautiful nature sounds like the ocean, rainforest, etc. It helps our entire family sleep better. We also bed share with our family of 4 which makes traveling a lot easier. I also love using this natural, earth friendly Lavender Spray from BeeGreen for their familiar smell!
Until Next Time, 
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe 

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Smooth Sailing 

The ferry finally docked after a 5.5 hour cruise from Juneau to Haines, AK. What an awesome ferry system!! I found myself right at home in the open solarium relaxing with my feet up, watching all the whales, mountains and clouds roll in. Waves had the best time playing with all of her new friends and I enjoyed getting to know these raw, badass Alaskan mamas.

We’re slowly making our way to Anchorage and Homer for hiking, camping and fishing! We had a 3.5 hour drive from Haines, AK to Haines Junction, Canada which is in the Yukon Territory. The drive has been rainy, dreary and foggy but occasionally we get a quick glance of the mountains as the clouds were moving. Apparently this weather is pretty common in Southeast Alaska/Southwest Canada with it being a temperate rainforest. Regardless of the weather it’s been a gorgeous drive!

We’re finally all settled in, bellies full and ready for bed.  Excited for another adventurous day tomorrow!

 

A tip from Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) An easy way for packing for a family while traveling are these awesome travel space saver bags. I designate one bag to each of us and it makes life easier for this mama with the bags also being clear. They are a compression bag that you don’t need a vacuum for, I highly recommend! Travel Space Saver Bags- Amazon

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe 

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Stranded in Glacier Bay

Let me start off by saying there could be worse places to be stranded for the evening. There’s a lot of emotions and exhaustion behind this entry almost to the point where I contemplated publishing it, but screw it .

Whoowee, last night we thought we would be at our hotel by 2030 but boy were we wrong. Welcome to Alaska and unpredictable weather.

We ended up waiting 4 hours (now making it a 17 hour day) for a flight that never happened. I’m not going to lie when I say the situation simply sucked. I realize it’s not truly as bad as it seemed, and it’s all apart of traveling, blah blah blah- but add only 3 hours of sleep in 48 hours to the equation and it’s nightmarish.

We had a hotel room booked again for the night in Juneau- we’re out of the money (at least our remaining luggage stayed the night haha), and now we have to pay an outrageous amount of money to stay at the only yuppie lodging in the bush village of Gustavus.

I was fighting back tears so hard, but I needed to stay strong for my family and not get upset in front of the children. Damn you sleep for making a semi-sane mother a little extra crazy.

Last night was one of those evenings that I just wanted to give up, hide and run away. It’s unfortunate that I sometimes have to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am and that I can’t let the lack of sleep get to my head (even though it did). My worst evening could be a day that someone is praying for.

Luckily throughout the crazy, adventurous, never a dull moment day our two kiddos made several new friends- another perk of traveling with kids! We really enjoyed the couple from Cali that we plan on meeting up with in October and the three sweet grandmas from England, Brazil and the U.S. that couldn’t get enough of our children. I’m so thankful for these strangers making our day even more bright and merry and for all of their help with the babies.

0600 flight early this morning finally got us back to Juneau at 0700 to quickly run by our hotel we stayed at the first night to grab our remaining luggage.

There are endless positive things that I can point out in my crazy ramble of a story (like a healthy family, I’m in freakin’ Alaska, etc) but the one thing we did right this trip was to not plan anything. Besides the ferry ride to and from  Juneau we have 8 days of doing whatever we want, so our entire trip isn’t off track due to a missed flight.

About to hop our 0900 ferry, stay tuned for more pics and stories!
A tip from the Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Make small talk with a stranger. We do this multiple times a day during travels and even when we’re not traveling. I’m not a very social person but I do enjoy meeting new people that we can call friends from all over the world. Their stories are always so intriguing and it brings more joy to our travels. The children also love the attention and interaction with new people so it’s a win-win for everyone.

 

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
-The Mitchell Tribe

 

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HAPPY & SLEEPY

Oh just waiting on our flight status. This boy couldn’t stop smiling through all of the craziness!

Glacier Bay National Park

There’s something about Alaska that ignites our souls which makes us extra grateful to be back in The Last Frontier!  We flew from NC yesterday and landed in Juneau with our heads on the pillow around midnight. The alarm at 0330 came entire too early this morning, but a nice reminder our adventure is about to officially begin.
Back to the airport for a 0530 flight as we hopped a small plane from Juneau to the bush village of Gustavus. From Gustavus we boarded a boat for our all day excursion of Glacier Bay!

Immediately we were greeted by several sea otters and a humpback whale showing off his tail. We saw tufted puffins, sea lions, mountain goats and a massive coastal grizzly bear with her cub fishing. By the end of the day a total of 7 brown bears, 2 bald eagles, sea otters floating on icebergs and a moose swimming across the gorgeous bay.
It’s beautiful watching all of these animals in their natural habitat but hard to imagine life here 250 years ago. There were no trees and no animals, just a huge glacier in a broad valley that was moving down. That huge glacier (Grand Pacific Glacier) was and is still the quickest glacial retreat ever recorded.

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It’s been bittersweet visiting this National Park. The healthiest glacier in the park, Margerie Glacier, lost a tremendous amount of ice just in the past year due to warmer temperatures (you know, that thing called GLOBAL WARMING). This is the glacier that everyone comes to witness, and to think that it will eventually disappear not because of natural causes but because of humans is saddening.

It’s also powerful because we CAN make a difference- each and every one of us can help protect this incredibly gorgeous and resilient Earth.

We will finally make it back to our room for the night around 2030. Traveling all day yesterday and then 17 hours of adventuring today, needless to say we’re exhausted.

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A tip from Travelin’ Tribe Archive:

(1) Get outside with your family daily. Whether you’re on vacation or just on your normal routine. For us, we call it sanity!!

Until Next Time,
Stay Wanderous & Wild
– The Mitchell Tribe

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