Lying in bed, my eyes opened. I saw morning light filtering through the windows. Confused and a little groggy, after an exhausting travel day previously (see here), I was disoriented. The light outside told me it had to be around 6:30 AM. I lay there for a few more minutes, enjoying the serene silence. My phone buzzed, causing me to roll over and pick it up.
WHAT?! 3:43 AM??
Ah yes. The mysterious “Alaska time” us non-Alaskan folks have heard about. But…It’s ALASKA! So much to see! Upon realizing this, I concurrently realized I was alone in bed. Darling husband of mine was already up, perched over maps with his binoculars close by for any possible Bald Eagle sightings.
I joined him out in the converted porch-turned-sunroom to gaze over the lake our cabin was nestled right up again. They call it Cottonwood Lake and it’s big enough for fishing and for float planes.
Oh, and the float planes. Can you love an inanimate object? There’s something so magical about watching one take off and land, going from the sky to the water in a matter of minutes.
But I digress.
We weren’t the only ones confused about the time. Soon enough, the children were up and ready. Longer daylight mixed with jet-lag makes for a confused bunch of travelers. Our cabin was already loaded with breakfast basics which was such a relief since we had no idea where the nearest grocery store was, and whether or not they would be open at 4:00 in the morning.
We were in a sort of Alaska time warp. All around us, our internal clocks were telling us it wasn’t as late as it was, but the sky wasn’t matching. If it weren’t for our grumbling tummies, we would have missed dinner multiple times.
We had made the decision to try to stay in cabins/houses if possible, with the hopes of saving a little money. Additionally, we thought we would get more of the “Alaska experience” if we did it that way. In our opinion, that rustic appeal would be lost if we had to check in to a motel. That trip would be a fine one, but not what we were searching for while in Wasilla.
- Helpful tip: If using a website like homeaway.com or something similar, do yourself a favor and READ THE REVIEWS. While the cabin we stayed in didn’t have a lot of reviews, they were all 5 star and they all spoke about just how special each trip was. We are exceptionally grateful for our stay at Loon’s Nest in Wasilla, AK.
When we were making plans, we kept coming back to the idea that we needed to be back by a certain time. Call it internal clock, “California time”, whatever you choose. We would travel around throughout the day, and always seem to make it back to our home base by around 5:00 or 6:00. On countless nights, we found ourselves enjoying the floating dock, watching the float planes enter the water.
Our cabin came with our very own pet for the duration of the trip. Miss Ellie Mae, the resident black lab, never left our side, not even when we went paddle boating! Ellie Mae was a saving grace for us with Clara. She is an animal lover at heart and having a dog around just made her so happy. They spent hours playing “fetch” with river rocks.
- Helpful tip: Take advantage of the long days while you are in Alaska. Keep in mind, however, that most businesses still operate under standard business hours. Just because you are awake doesn’t mean the rest of Alaska is. Plan accordingly.
On one such night, Chad and Ethan (our 17 year old stowaway) decided that 10:00 pm was a great time to pull out the kayaks and explore the lake. And why not? It was light. It was beautiful. It was comfortable outside. All signs point to yes.
Well, in true Alaska fashion, as soon as they reached the furthest point from the cabin, way out in the middle of the lake, the sky opened up and a passing rain shower dumped down on them. What can you do but laugh?
Our time warp continued. We were eating dinner at 9:00, ice cream at 11:00, sleeping at 12:30 and waking by 3:00. Long days. Fun days. Busy days. But we were so grateful for that home base. I think having a cabin, complete with washer and dryer, allowed us to feel more at ease. More like we were really able to enjoy what we were doing rather than feel like we were guests somewhere.
- Helpful tip: Renting a cabin or a house is especially useful and nice when traveling with a young child as it gives them a sense of “home”. For our daughter in particular, a place to crash and unwind was vital to the productivity of our vacation. This particular cabin even had some of her favorite DVDs on hand so she could feel like she was at home snuggled up on the couch. Score!
As is true to my nature, I may have overbought at the the local grocery store, but at least we weren’t hungry! By the last night in the cabin, we were eating up all of our remaining food – which is how we ended up with scrambled eggs, bacon, hamburgers, fresh fruit, salad and frozen hash-browns for dinner. Hey, at least everyone had something they liked!
By the end of our stay in the cabin, we were starting to adjust to the “never dark” nights. It did get me thinking though. What could I accomplish if I had 19 hours of daylight?
*If you like the pictures of where we stayed, check it out at https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p240433vb?uni_id=240433 (I am not affiliated with homeaway.com, I merely loved this cabin and wanted to share it with you)