Archive 2013 September

Mountains from the eyes of a Minnesota girl

Unreal. That’s the only word I could use to explain our weekend trip to Denali last weekend.

The city of Fairbanks is interesting. It’s isolated enough where my heart yearns for a Target, a mall with more than one store I can shop, a music venue, and a downtown worthy of half of Minneapolis’ glory…but it isn’t isolated enough to make me feel that this is Alaska. I don’t see mountains when I walk out my door and I would never see a moose or a bear lumbering down my street. It’s when we drive out of the city and the valley Fairbanks rests in, just a couple miles in any direction, that it becomes apparent yes, this is Alaska.

Denali is about 2.5 hours from our home, and the drive to get there is unlike any other. Parks Highway has breathtaking views of the Alaska Range almost the entire drive. I’ve never gone further than the entrance to the park but apparently they’re even better when you continue past Denali National Park and head to Anchorage.

It was my second time visiting the park, but my first time staying in the area, driving to Savage River, and hiking one of the larger trails. My first trip it was so late in the season the road into the park was barricaded, everything was closed, and we just walked around a small trail by the visitor’s center and took some pictures.

This time, I was determined to do it right.

We stayed at the Denali Lakeview Inn, and if there was ever a Bed and Breakfast I would recommend, this would be it. I booked online and didn’t have to encounter anyone when we came for our stay. A slip of paper with our names and the information for our room was outside the door, and our room was left open with the key in the lock waiting for us. We never saw anyone who worked there and it honestly felt like we had the place to ourselves despite the numerous cars in the parking lot.

The views were phenomenal. We stepped out onto our private entrance deck and our jaws dropped at the stunning views of Lake Otto and Mount Healy.

Taken from the door of our room at the Denali Lakeview Inn

The next morning, we took our sweet time before heading to the park. They put the continental breakfast in your room before we’d even arrived so we literally leaned over to open the fridge and then enjoyed breakfast in bed. I’d read that the one complaint for the B&B was lack of protein for breakfast so I’d brought some bacon that we cooked in the microwave while enjoying our various fruits, muffins, and oatmeal.

Around 11 we were off to the park and decided to do the drive first. Unfortunately we didn’t have passes to drive past the Savage River checkpoint at Mile 15, but even so, those first 15 miles were amazing. I would describe it as driving through Jurassic Park; without the dinosaurs. The views were incredible and we even caught a glimpse of Mt. McKinley, which literally made me shriek with excitement. That majestic mountain, completely snow capped and towering into the clouds was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I couldn’t get a picture because every shot I tried taking the white mountain blended into the sky, but it was surreal. I’ve heard the farther you drive along Parks Highway, the better views of McKinley you’ll have so even more a reason for us to eventually make the full drive to Anchorage.

Jurassic Park guys, I’m telling you

After the drive, we went back to the Visitor’s Center and began the Mount Healy Overlook hike. It was mid-30’s and windy at the center so I was slightly panicked that I’d be freezing the entire hike, but I ended up stripping down to my t-shirt multiple times. The wind died down as we climbed into the trees and we hike at a reasonably quick pace so I was feeling the heat. The Mount Healy Overlook hike was without a doubt the best hike I’ve ever made. It’s 5 miles, 2.5 up and 2.5 down, and filled with gorgeous scenery, enchanting forests, and views of the Alaska Range that made my heart race. I can be a dramatic person, but I kid you not, this hike was one of the most amazing experiences.

I was so proud of myself. LOOK AT THAT VIEW.
You might be able to see the husband, in all black, standing at the edge of the overlook
The Alaska Range

ImageOn the hike down, my adrenaline was pulsing. How many times in your life do you see views like that? Taken by an iPhone no less, so the quality isn’t even one tenth as good as what it looked like to the eyes. After the visit to the park we went to dinner at an awesome place called the 49th State Brewery, which I’d read and was elated to find, had the bus from the movie Into The Wild parked outside. I just about screamed. It wasn’t the original bus Chris McCandless lived in; that bus is still a 20 or so mile hike into the Bush, but it was the one from the movie so I was a happy girl. I’m a big fan of the book and the movie, not quite occult-following fan, but I love the story. I think everyone can admit to brief moments in their life when they’ve related to McCandless’ view of the world.

ImageAfter dinner, we spent one more night at our heavenly oasis and then went home the following morning. I was giddy to find when we were leaving, mother nature had given us a fresh blanket of snow. I could hardly see Mount Healy or Lake Otto out our window, but the view was still perfect.

Great view. Yes, the the trees and snow are nice too 😉

If anyone of my family decide to visit, I absolutely know we’ll be visiting Denali and hiking that same trail. We may even stay at the Denali Lakeview Inn and hit up the 49th State Brewery. It was such a perfect weekend spent with the husband. My heart was full and my ache for an adventure was fulfilled.

The mountains just seem to have that effect.

“Happiness is only real when shared.”

– Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)

The book is always better than the movie. Right?

I attempted to read World War Z recently. I mean I really attempted. I read over half of the book and tried to pretend it was what I was hoping it would be, but I finally just stopped because it wasn’t. I’ll admit I watched the movie first and when I bought the book, I was hoping for as thrilling of a plot line as the movie. I assumed it would follow Gerry Lane, Brad Pitt’s character, the former UN investigator as he traveled around the world trying to find the source of the outbreak and how to stop it.

It didn’t. Spoiler alert, kids. 

The entire book was from the point of view from tons of different people as the virus spread, and I guess it was somewhat interesting to see it unfold from the eyes of so many characters but it also made it difficult to want to continue reading. I easily set it down after each character’s testimony was finished, and reluctantly picked it up again to follow someone else’s.

Frankly, I am happy they made a movie out of World War Z. I vastly preferred the thrill of the movie.

I do not usually feel that way about books. I mean, I am a Harry Potter addict and I can tell you every single scene in the movies that defers from the pages of the books. I also am that pretentious person who read The Great Gatsby and believe they made the movie a lot more flashy than what the story line intended. The Hunger Games I felt was close. The Hobbit was okay, but I remembering enjoying the book far more than the first of the three movies.

I suppose the no-brainer answer here is whether one read the book or watched the movie first. But my question is, wouldn’t we all be biased then? How can we REALLY prove that the book or movie is better if every one of us would have to watch or read one or the other first?

My favorite book of all time is Looking for Alaska. I mean, I am obsessed. At 14 years old, this book about a handful of rambunctious teenagers trying to understand the meaning of life, changed my own perspective on life. It challenged every fear I’d ever had, and gave me a lot of hope regarding my future. I became partial to its author, John Green, and since then have read pretty much every book he’s published.

Now John Green recently announced one of his books, The Fault in Our Stars, is turning into a movie. It’s a great book. I read it in less than twenty-four hours and was hooked, but The Fault in Our Stars is no Looking for Alaska. Another spoiler alert kiddos, but a book about two kids falling in love while dealing with cancer can get anyone emotional. Alaska was so much deeper, and I have always felt, one of the most original plot lines I’ve ever read.

So basically I was quite devastated that Looking for Alaska wasn’t going to be a movie. I’m not saying it’s personal, but it’s sort of personal. This book changed my life, after all…


But I had a bit of an epiphany after trying to read World War Z. I can’t help but criticize and not appreciate probably an immensely well-written piece of literature; simply because I watched the movie first. And so maybe it’s best that Looking for Alaska stays as a book. Maybe it’s best so that people don’t go out and watch the movie and decide to never read this powerful book, or else when they do attempt to read it, have no appreciation for its deeper meaning.

Even after my disappointment with World War Z, and the fact that I’ll probably never finish reading it I still believe books are better than their movie counterparts. I may have preferred the movie, but the book must be better – or else why would they have made a movie out of it?

Also, you should all go read Looking for Alaska if you haven’t. Especially before someone decides to make it a movie.

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

– John Green, Looking for Alaska


Do you think any movies are truly better than the book? Have you read World War Z? Looking for Alaska?


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