Home for the Holidays

This is post numero dos of my “late post” series! I recently found out that my coworker is going on an Alaskan cruise with her family next week and learning about her excursions made me miss Alaskan summers! But, if I had to choose to visit Alaska during the summer or during the holidays…spending the holidays with my Alaskan fam bam always wins! With that said, I was fortunate enough to make it back home 6 months ago…

There is nothing like waking up to a sheet of white fresh snow on Christmas Day and spending the holidays with a buffet of Filipino food and a house full of loud family members! I love my Alaska familia!

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It has been a few years since I came up to Alaska and I knew it was long overdue. Toni couldn’t come up for Christmas, but he was able to fly up for New Years! To my surprise, he secretly flew up to propose to me before the New Year! You can read more about it here. Anywho, since it was my first time back in so long I wanted to do something special for our annual Christmas photos. With the help of my sisters, we set up some drapes, umbrella lights and Christmas lights for the backdrop. It turned out great and I was really pleased with how the photos turned out!

On Christmas Eve, it is our tradition to stay up and open our gifts at midnight. We ate, drank, sang karaoke and hung out all night! It was really good to see and catch up with my Juneau fam and I really missed everybody. I also can’t get over the fact how fast all my baby cousins are growing!

For the rest of our trip, we went rock climbing and ice skating; hung out with friends; visited familiar places for some sightseeing; and ate…a lot!

DSC05467It is always a must to see these two!

IMG_1247.JPGRock Climbing with the see-stars!

DSC05771.jpgBeers after rock climbing and celebratory drinks for the newly engaged!

DSC05493A little XtraTuf reunion!

DSC05544.jpgVisiting Sandy Beach and taking graduation photos with Cente.

DSC05641.jpgMay May and a gorgeous backdrop…May May is gorgeous too!

DSC05796.jpgButt buddies.

DSC05776.jpgThere is a story behind this fire pit. On the day I arrived in Juneau, I went to an ugly sweater party at a bar with friends and family. I was in the middle of buying shots for everyone when they called out my raffle number for the grand prize! Say what!?!? It was my first day in Juneau and I won an amazing Alaskan Brewing Co. fire pit! I guess being drunk and generous that night brought some good karma.

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On our last day together, my immediate family members and I visited Mendenhall Glacier which was absolutely beautiful. It was a winter wonderland!

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It was truly an amazing trip filled with family, lots of laughter, and love. As I reflect back on these memories, it is becoming clear how fast time flies by as an adult. Years and months seemed so much longer in grade school! It’s crazy! These thoughts are a nice reminder of how important it is to me to have a loving family, and I feel incredibly blessed to have them. Can’t wait for our next reunion! …on Maui?! (wink wink)

 

We Are Engaged!

I’m a bit embarrassed to be posting this so late…but better late than never.

Toni and I are ENGAGED!

With all the events and trips that took place in the past months, it has been difficult finding time to blog or create any new videos. With the chaos now over, I am back from my hiatus! Now let’s go back to December 28, 2016.

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I was in Alaska to spend the holidays with my family and Toni stayed on Maui because his request for leave didn’t get approved. Toni led me to believe he couldn’t make the trip at all and I left Maui thinking we would spend both Christmas and New Years apart. Little did I know…

On a cold crisp morning, I woke up to my younger sister, May, telling me that everybody was downstairs waiting for me to come down for breakfast. When I finally agreed to get up, May commented how bad my hair looked and started combing it with her fingers. I was like “why does it matter?!”. She didn’t have much luck with my hair, but in hindsight, I really appreciated that she tried to make it look presentable! I made my way to the dining table half asleep…then the doorbell rang. I didn’t want to open the door because of my bed hair and Christmas jammies, but I was the closest to the door and lost the fight to everyone. I was expecting to open the door to relatives stopping by to drop off gifts, but was pleasantly surprised to see Toni! I was so happy to see him and excited of that thought of spending New Years together with my Juneau Family! I honestly thought his surprise trip to Alaska was my Christmas present. I turned around for one second to share the excitement with my family and then found him on one knee when I turned back. Overwhelmed with happiness and excitement I teared up and nodded my head when he asked me to marry him. Who would have guessed our marriage proposal would take place at the front door of my childhood home. What a sweet ending to 2016 and beginning of 2017. 2016 was definitely one to remember and I couldn’t imagine a better way to end it!

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Flash forward to today – we have been incredibly busy these past months with weddings and family related events which will be shared in separate posts. Feels good to be blogging again after so long! Hopefully, I’ll be more consistent this time around.

 

ALASKA: Crow Pass Trail

Crow Pass Trail_76A couple weekends ago, I flew up to Alaska to hike the Crow Pass Trail with my older sister, Malissa, and her fiancé, Jose, for Mandi’s 30th birthday celebration! We were also joined by Jesus (Jose’s brother) and friends, Nico and Justin. This was my first backpacking experience and I couldn’t imagine a better place to do it! I just love Alaska in the summer – it’s so beautiful!

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Here is a little bit about the trail: The Crow Pass Trail travels along a small section of the Historic Iditarod Trail. The Historic Iditarod Trail runs from Seward to Nome and was used as a transportation and mail route for early Alaskan settlers. The Crow Pass Trail is about 23 miles (one way) with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet from Crow Creek Trailhead or 3,100 feet from the Eagle River Nature Center. We started at the Eagle River Nature Center.

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Warning: Buying camping/backpacking gear is an investment. Since I didn’t have a lot of gear in the first place, I ended up spending hundreds of dollars buying just the essentials! However, I plan to go on more backpacking adventures – so it will be all worth it in the end.

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We began our journey at the Eagle River Nature Center and parked our cars overnight for five dollars. It was raining on our first day – yet, I didn’t mind. Hiking and carrying a heavy pack was quite the workout. With summer in full swing in Hawaii, I really missed the cold air and rain.

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We intended to hike 13 miles on the first day, which was halfway toward the end of the trail (in Girdwood). As first-timers with backpacking and hiking the trail, we didn’t anticipate the many obstacles that were ahead of us – which slowed down our hiking pace. Many portions of the trail were muddy and wet. We hiked through a rock scree, rocky paths covered in tree roots (which required careful footing), a small creek, eroded slopes, and technical sections using ropes and ladders. We also walked across wet logs and crawled under fallen trees! The trail definitely took a toll on some of us, including myself.

We decided to stop and set up camp 9 miles out from the Eagle River Nature Center. Although time wasn’t on our side and fell short of reaching the Ford Site, it was still a very adventurous experience!

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Camping was one of the highlights of the trip. I didn’t expect to love it so much. After hiking with a heavy pack for 9 miles, it was so relaxing to sit by a warm fire and eating surprisingly good camping food. There’s something about the wilderness that makes me feel so alive even with a sore knee, numb feet and being utterly exhausted. 

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It was a gorgeous morning the next day. The sun was peeking out from the majestic mountains surrounding us. I woke up in a chipper mood, because I was super excited to be waking up in the beautiful outdoors.

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I realized that I had overpacked…and wasn’t looking forward to carrying my backpack for another 9 miles. On our way back, we decided to split into two groups to make sure Mandi could make it to her birthday dinner. I stayed back with Malissa who needed to go at a slower pace due to her knee – but I didn’t mind at all.

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The hike back was awesome! The sun was out and we made lots of stops to relax and take photos. It was such a perfect day to hike in Alaska and everything was so breathtaking from the wildflowers to the snow capped mountains. I wish we had planned a longer trip – because I could get use to this…even with a heavy pack.

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We saw some wildlife and evidence of wildlife. We had seen a frog, squirrel, mountain goat, a moose with her calf, and a couple beaver dams. There were plenty of animal scat on the trail – including bear poop.

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Overall, it was a great backpacking experience. I had fun, but I also learned a lot. I can’t wait for my next backpacking adventure and I hope to to reunite with the crew on another hike…maybe in Kauai? Who knows! Until next time!

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