Summer solstice is my favorite day of the year here in Fairbanks, Alaska. Twenty-two beautiful hours of sunlight grace Interior Alaska and the city is alive with excitement celebrating.
From the Midnight Sun Festival downtown to the annual Midnight Sun baseball game that runs until 1 or 2 am to the Midnight Sun Run the night before all the festivities to the Solstice concert outside of town at the Blue Loon – every event is bathed in sunshine.
It is the summers and the sunshine that made me fall in love with Alaska. I moved here on June 17th, 2013. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was nerve wracking and exhilarating. I cried and laughed, talking with strangers to ease me through. I was moving to someone, the man I had just married a few weeks before, and so in many ways it wasn’t a big move “all by myself”. But that didn’t make it any less life-changing.
Getting off the plane at 10 pm to bright sunshine and hot, smoky weather was not what I had expected when I pictured Alaska. Celebrating the Midnight Sun Festival a few days later as a newlywed in Fairbanks was one of my first tastes for life in Fairbanks. That was followed by my very first Alaskan hike, which I came to fall in deeply in love with. So much followed those initial days but it’s the sweet, smoky taste of summer and the endless sunlight that brings me back to when I first moved.
I will miss everything about these Alaskan summers. There’s a nostalgic feeling to being newlyweds and clueless that makes me grin when I think about them. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way in two years about all our fun this past weekend.
While the wildfires are no joke and not something I mean to romanticize, they are a fairly natural cycle for Alaska. They are just incredibly inconvenient for humans.
We made it out to the Blue Loon outside Fairbanks, Alaska where Lonestar was having a concert. The wildfire smoke had died down and the sun was shining bright til midnight. It was an amazing night!
The day before we’d gone out to Birch Lake off the Richardson Highway to get out on the water and just enjoy the nice day.
We made it down to the festival too, but I didn’t get a chance to snap any pics of all our food endeavors. The Midnight Sun Festival ain’t got nothing on the Minnesota State Fair, but it’s always fun to eat fair food.
I’m glad we took advantage of Solstice weekend since this coming weekend will be spent separating out what’s being shipped and what’s being stuffed into our car for the drive…
2 weeks from Friday and we’ll be saying goodbye to Alaska. It’s safe to say I’ll probably be a mess.
“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.”
― Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters
Keeping it short tonight as most of my seldom blog posts have been the past few weeks.
Preparing to pick up and move your life is not always sunshine and butterflies as I had so naively hoped when we got our first duty station. It is stress and making mistakes while planning and spending money you wish you didn’t have to and arguments late into the night, and allllllll the stuff that people – including myself – hide on social media to make one’s life look perfect.
Well I am being a bit more raw tonight. No one wants to see the ugly parts in photos though, and frankly I do not want to remember the rough stuff so I’ll share photos of the good things instead. The things I take for granted, like these gorgeous views out of our car windows the whole drive down the Richardson Highway to Valdez, Alaska from Fairbanks.
Worthington Glacier, Thompson Pass, and Keystone Canyon were some of the most incredible views I have seen in Alaska thus far.
I would highly recommend making the drive over to Valdez despite its distance from both Anchorage and Fairbanks. It was well worth the trip.
The pictures are a sweet reminder of an amazing anniversary weekend, and a nice push to enjoy the little things and the big views in Alaska with the time I have left.