stories from the last frontier

I would love to say I am going to open my travel journal and quote you directly from my thoughts the moment they were happening . . . . . and I would be doing it very poetically.  I cannot, however, because I was never organized enough to BUY a travel journal, much less write down my thoughts as we drove, flew, rode, sailed, jetted, zipped and walked our way through Alaska.

I did, thank goodness, remember to bring along my trusty camera so I could SHOW you all the awschum (that's for you, Heidi!) and fabulous sights we discovered.


The actual traveling portions of the trip were much anticipated because my kiddos had never been on a plane, motor coach, shuttle or cruise ship.  I know, they are sheltered and abused ;). 

As you can see, Ben earned his wings and thought the flying part was super fun . . . . as did Ellie (this is a shot of our first take off).  Maddi did not enjoy the changes in altitude and pressure and used up our first of many Dramamine tablets.  We were too late in dispensing a tablet to Ben, as you can see in the third photo. He was pale and nauseous as we exited the plane in Fairbanks but was still giving a thumbs up to the flight.   

While Ben was recovering, I was busy heading to Fairbanks International Airport's Gate #3 to meet fellow D-mom, Amy of My Diary as the Mom of a Diabetic Princess!  Amy is a customer service agent for Alaska Airlines and had noticed from one of my Facebook posts that I was flying into her airport.  She just happened to be working late THAT night/early morning and was there to greet my very tired self at 1am (4am my time).  Unfortunately, we were only able to spend a couple of minutes chatting before I needed to get the family to a hotel for some sleep. 

The first thing I noticed about Alaska was that it was light outside at 1am!  Not day-bright light, but dawn/dusk sort of light.  In fact, I never did see the kind of nighttime darkness I am used to.  It would take several days for us all to get acclimated to constant light and once we did it was very energizing.  You just didn't feel like sitting around, even if you were tired.  My brother-in-law and niece even booked and played a 10pm t-time at a Fairbanks' golf course . . . . staying out until well after midnight.


Once in Fairbanks, we had a day to rest and tour the town before the official 'tour' portion of the trip was to begin.  We rented a car and set off to explore around the city of ~30,000 people. 

Our first stop was the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska's campus.

We had a great time both inside and out and could not get enough of the majestic mountain views.  The weather was so nice (about 60 degrees and party cloudy) we decided to find a hiking path.

Not only did we discover a perfect walking trail, we also met one of the most aggressive animals of Alaska.  No, not a bear or moose or fox . . . . . but hundreds of swarms of mosquitoes.  We quickly applied our natural bug mist and walked further into the woods but too soon noticed the mosquitoes were not only following us, but also pointing and laughing at our efforts to thwart them.  After being devoured, we ran back to the rental car and vowed to stop by the nearest drug store and pick us up some stronger stuff.  Better to be absorb a little deet than be laid up in bed with the itchies.

Day 2 in Fairbanks was filled to the brim with activities, as the 'land' portion of our Celebrity Cruise Alaskan Tour was revving up and rolling.

The first item on our agenda was to board the Riverboat Discovery ship and tour the river banks of Fairbanks, along with a couple of educational and discovery stops along the way.

We sent the men of our group to reserve seats aboard the top open deck while the women and kids shopped the first, of many, souvenir shops.

Along the banks we anchored to listened to Dave Monson of Trailbreaker Kennels talk to us about raising sled mushing dogs. One of my favorite places to learn about on the trip. 

The Chena Indian village was another stop and explore place along the route.  We learned about the ways the Indians smoked and preserved salmon, how they lived and flourished in this harsh area and climate.

No, not a real moose.  Nor did Ellie really ride a dog sled.  Bet yes, the kids did smile and enjoy the ride!

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Since this blog is used for the intent and purpose of educating and sharing information related to type 1 diabetes, you may be wondering just how Ellie's blood sugars were doing with all this travel.

Well, the answer is . . . . meh.  Which can equal very good!  Not too many highs and not too many lows.  We prepared by packing an insulated backpack full of everything we could possibly need in a day and we had it with us wherever we went.  We could not, however, pack full meals.  This is where the frustration and uneasiness came into play.  Sometimes Ellie just needed a meal and most of those times were not in coordination with the tour.  We did the best we could with what we had (complained quite a bit in the meantime) and moved on.

I wanted Ellie to experience an EXCELLENT range of blood sugars during the trip, but I soon learned that would be an unrealistic expectation.  We guesstimated the amount of carbs in her foods to the best of our abilities, crossed our fingers and shot the insulin.  We tested her blood sugar often and prayed thanks for getting through another round.

If you ask Ellie, she had a great time and doesn't feel like her T1D interfered with her experience.  What more could we ask for?!

The only major hiccup was forgetting to give her Lantus (long acting insulin given by injection once a day, at the same time everyday) on time.  We decided before the trip we would administer her dose at the same time we do at home, which equated to 3 hours earlier in Alaska.  Since our daily schedules and meal times varied, we often found ourselves late in getting her the medicine.  Sometimes she reminded us, sometimes Dave reminded me and other times we got it just about right.

This is one of our hotel room set-ups - a Sharps container (for needles) provided by the housekeeping and our trusty Salter scale which we didn't get to use often enough.

One other thing I noticed in Alaska.  All public restrooms have Sharps containers on the wall!  We don't have that here in Iowa.  How about where you live?  Is this a common thing?

Okay, enough for tonight.  The next post will be full of photos and stories about panning for gold and exploring the Alaskan Pipeline.


Football and Fried Rice said...

Looks like tons of fun already!! I love that beautiful Indian girl in the village - even if Ellie didnt really get to ride a dog sled :) It looked like fun! Cant wait to see more!

Roselady said...

How interesting about the sharps container in the bathrooms...certainly, that's not all that was remarkable about your trip...looked lovely...and life goes on despite d...and you all certainly live life to the fullest.

Jenni at talking hairdryer said...

Yay! I've been waiting patiently to hear about your trip. I'm glad her sugars were "meh"...sometimes "meh" is the most we can ask for. We are in TX and I've never seen sharps containers in a public restroom. Did you ask ahead for one of those at the hotel?

As for Alaska? I'm loving the pictures. We would love to take a trip like that some day. The Indian village looked awesome.

Joanne said...

Very cool... love the pics! Can't wait to see more. Glad you got to meet Amy (how's this for a small world... she's a friend of a friend of ours).

Denise aka 'Mom of Bean' said...

So fun to hear about the first part of your trip! We missed going to the Museum of the North when we were in Fairbanks a couple of summers ago...wish we would have gone! Must put it in the plans next time we get that far up the road!
Yeah, not sure about the sharps containers...I've been seeing them a lot, too, lately. Must be a 'new' thing. I saw them a lot in the airport bathrooms, but didn't notice any in 'normal' bathrooms until our trip to see you in Denali!
Looking forward to seeing more!! :)

Reyna said...

I noticed the sharps containers in Albuquerque NM...in the airport bathrooms. There are none here in VT.

The pix are fabulous. And I think "MEH" is an appropriate expectation of BGs while on vacation. Heck...anyday that is a good expectation.

Looking forward to more pix.

Sarah said...

we've got sharps containers everywhere here - we also have a variable population of people around the public parks, they're safe, but I think that the sharps container are to help keep it even more safe from any questionable choices that others may make.
Your trip looks incredible, I'm looking forward to pictures of round 2...glad that the kids held up well with all the various forms of transportation, E gets motion sick, which we learned while on a boat and then were reminded about when on a plane and this past weekend going for a hike.
So, come on now post some more amazing pics of the one state I am truly itching to explore!

muffinmoon said...

I laughed out loud at the mosquitoes pointing and laughing at the out of staters attempts to twart them! Wonderful image. Fantasic scenery and your children are very yummy indeed, Amy.
I think it's true for us too that Frank smetimes needs a good, balanced meal to even out his sugars and when we are out and about we often survive much more on snacks and that doesn't help. I have taken to buying slices of chicken breast from delis or small supermarkets whenever I can and he eats that with grapes. The protein just sorts him out so much more quickly.
As soon as I finished reading this post I went looking for cruises for my litte family!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to mention we saw a sharps container in the public restrooms of the Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona, Iowa. This is the first non-medical facility example we've seen in Iowa.