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Last weekend my mom and I took our annual birthday trip.

To the Berkshires!

Again!

Bristol Reservoir
MLA poster
Kripalu annex
Berkshire bowl
awesome clouds 1
Berkshire Bowl clouds
driving in Lenox
MLA at Simon's Rock
Simon's Rock
MLA at Simon's Rock 2
New York girls in MA
Sunday morning 6am
Canyon Ranch
early birthday cake

There was… some shopping in Lenox, a lot of yoga followed by a lot of meditation at Kripalu followed by a Radiohole’s Inflatable Frankenstein at Simon’s Rock for Mass Live Arts, and a luxurious day at Canyon Ranch(!). I’m not afraid to admit that I move quickly between all extremes!

The weekend was rounded out by some premature birthday cake with my parents on Sunday night. Maple walnut, oh yeah!

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Untitled

Happy birthday, cousin sister.

I hope this year brings all the good things last year brought (you learning how to make macarons and then bringing some to me, naturally) and then some more (more baked goods this year?).

I love you I love you I love you.

Debbie Millman JUST spoke at Pratt tonight for an AIGA lecture. She was talking about failures. The kinds that you have to deal with in life, and how they got her to where she is today. For my non-designy friends, she is an artist/writer/designer/educator and host of Design Matters. She is also… amazing.

At the beginning, she said when she was 8, she predicted her entire life in a drawing. I laughed. She showed it, it was her, walking down a New York City street with cabs, and two discernable items: a Lays potato chip truck and a bank. I laughed, along with a whole bunch of other people when she said “yep, this pretty much sums up my life.”

Circa 1996, HAC and I used to send each other letters in the mail. There were several letters per week. They were always elaborately decorated and the letters were full of pre-teen bull shit. I have an entire shoebox at my parent’s house devoted to letters from her. We don’t send letters in the mail quite so often now, but we do talk on gchat an awful lot and often our conversations are something like this:

HAC: I hate my job.

Me: I don’t have a job, but I loathe my decision to go to graduate school for graphic design.

The conversations usually evolve from one of us having a bad day and then we voice our concerns that we went into the wrong professions. We torment ourselves with questions like why did we do this to ourselves? etc…

The other week HAC sent me this photo via text:

envelopes from 1996

Those are hand drawn, Crayola markered in envelopes that I decorated in 1996. The accompanying message with the photo was “you are in the right profession, girl.”

Pattern? Graphic marks? Bold colors? I sure was a fuckload more adventurous in my design choices in the 90s. I wish I could tap into my pre-teen self sometimes (uh, no I don’t).. And did I predict my own future? Well, I guess I did. I’m just glad HAC sent a photo of tricked out envelopes and not these shoebox shoes I insisted on making for a good part of 1995.

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

mocked birthday scream

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

parents

paddling around Fox Island

there's a whale

paddling around Fox Island

paddling around Fox Island

paddling around Fox Island

paddling around Fox Island

paddling around Fox Island

starfish

paddling around Fox Island

paddling around Fox Island

Sandspit Point

lunch at Sandspit Point

lunclunch at Sandspit Pointh and Sandspit Point

lunch at Sandspit Point

lunch at Sandspit Point

lunch at Sandspit Point

Brother's face makes me laugh everytime I look at this photo

one underwater shot

another birthday whale

viewing snow on my birthday

getting back to the lodge

best birthday picture ever

Fox Island

with mom

birthday candles

Last Thursday was my birthday. My family and I spent the day kayaking the 12 miles around Fox Island. The day started out somewhat clear when we took a walk down to the end of the rocky beach, but less than a mile into our paddle it became misty and cloudy. I really enjoy the sunshine, but really, paddling in the ocean for several hours with an on and off mist and fog made the excursion extra special. Visibility wasn’t great so it felt mystical.

Brother and I shared a kayak. He was in back, manning the steering. I was proud that he didn’t yell at me at all for hitting his paddle a few times, but then I realized perhaps he was being nice since it was my birthday and all. My parents, who apparently have matching kayaking outfits, were in the other kayak, and then we also had our guide, Eileen.

I mentioned yesterday that on our trip to Fox Island that we stopped to see some whales. Honestly, being in a big boat with a bunch of people sort of makes seeing a whale seem not that special. It feels like a motorized version of being at SeaWorld, actually. So, being in a kayak right on the Gulf of Alaska, on my birthday, I was quite delighted to see 5 humpbacked whales during our excursion. Also, right after lunch we witnessed one swimming along the coast and were probably no more than a couple hundred feet away. This is also when a salmon came flying out of the water behind our kayak and scared the shit out of me. I can’t imagine that salmon swimming in a jumping motion out of the water is very energy efficient, but I somehow sense that it had gotten off course somewhere in the first place.

Lunch was on Sandsplit Point, which you can see in the very foggy photo with the trees all the way to the right. Curried chicken salad sandwiches, an apple, Cheetos (an odd selection) and a chocolate chip cookie that hit the spot. I couldn’t figure out why it tasted so good. My mom insisted that we burned “500” calories an hour paddling. I begged to differ and continued to mock her overestimate for the rest of the trip. Don’t say I’m not a good daughter.

That somewhat unflattering photo of Brother and I makes me laugh every time I see it. The pegs for steering kept slipping in the back, and he kept making disgruntled noises, but I couldn’t tell what he was doing, so I took photos instead of trying to turn around.

I also saw snow that hadn’t melted yet. This was the first time I’ve ever seen snow in August.

That evening we had wine and ate a delicious 4 course meal at the lodge. Dessert came with birthday candles added by my mom. The woman comes prepared!

I’d say that we had a rager that continued on late into the night, but 5 hours of kayaking is kind of hard work, so we all passed out before the sunset (which is like… 11pm).

Here’s Fox Island on Google Maps if you’re interested.

Photos from Kenai Fjords tomorrow!

Click here for Anchorage 1, 2 (and the drive to Seward down Route 1)Seward and Day 1 at Fox Island.

Seward marina

Seward marina

Nunatak boarding pass

sniffing in the fine Alaskan air

leaving Seward

Alaskan White

whale sighting

Heading to Fox Island

Heading to Fox Island

Heading to Fox Island

no smoking

view from the cabin

hike on Fox Island

hike on Fox Island

hike on Fox Island

83hike on Fox Island

hike on Fox Island

hike on Fox Island
hike on Fox Island

Fox Island

Fox Island

So, the deal with Fox Island is that there used to be a fox farm there. Hence the name. Unfortunately, there are no more foxes. My brother, who is the most non-bullshit person ever, said “I’d like to own a fox.” My parents and I looked at him, horrified. His reasoning is that they are just like dogs, and some scientific research claims that foxes bred down are just as domesticate-able as dogs. SURE GUY.

Anyway.

Fox Island is 12 miles from Seward. We took a boat out, which stopped every time they saw a whale. I saw, what I believe is my first non-SeaWorld whale, which was the 1st of about 40 in a span of 48 hours.

The water is ultra blue in Alaska, but visibility is minimal because of all the plankton. Also, the water is like 50 degrees Farenheit, so as inviting as it looks, we estimated one wouldn’t last more than 15 minutes without becoming hypothermic.

Don’t you want to come on vacation with my family? We talk about potential hypothermia and drink beer at 10 in the morning. Fun!

So, the lodge on Fox Island is the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. There’s a main lodge and then several guest cabins. It was like the sleep away camp I never went to! We didn’t spend much time in the cabin, other than to pass out (and drink bourbon), but there was a pretty awesome view from the giant bed.

Our first day there we took a hike to the other side of the island through the woods. The island isn’t developed, and given that I come from Manhattan, the idea that there were no more than 50 people on the island was sort of thrilling for me.

We spent a lot of time outside but also in the main lodge where all our meals were served. Ps. the food was SO effing good. They are for serious with their cooking… everything was fresh and delicious and even satisfied me, who won’t claim to be a food snob (but actually kind of am).

Also, I am not one to carry on about how cute puffins are, but I rather liked the no smoking signs.

Birthday photos tomorrow.

Click here for Anchorage 1, 2 (and the drive to Seward down Route 1) and Seward.

looking towards Exit Glacier

looking towards Exit Glacier

looking towards Exit Glacier

foot post mud

Alaska sky

looking towards Exit Glacier

looking towards Exit Glacier

looking towards Exit Glacier

looking towards Exit Glacier

Like I said, we drove to Seward on Tuesday. We stayed at the Windsong Lodge which is incredibly close to Kenai Fjords National Park and Exit Glacier (which we hiked on our last day, you’ll have to wait for it!).

Windsong Lodge is right across from the Resurrection River. After dinner on Tuesday we wandered over. I may have wandered a little too far, as I stepped in what could have only been quicksand. “Luckily”, the mud was gray, so it kind of blended in. It did, however, take 3 days for the shoe to dry and is now a slightly different shade than its mate.

Alaska has beautiful sunsets, btw.

The next morning I wore Tevas and wool socks to breakfast. Did I mention I enjoyed every minute of not caring? I did. After eating for-realsy smoked salmon with pickled onions, capers atop a spongey bagel with cream cheese… we left for Fox Island, which, naturally, I will post all about tomorrow.

Click here for Anchorage 1 & 2 (and the drive to Seward down Route 1).

I took over 700 photos while I was away. I thought I might be able to get away with a post a day for each place we went, which would still be 4 days, but then I remembered I took another 100 photos with my iPhone and I thought… damnit. Plus, my cousin HAC demanded more photos, and I do not like to disappoint.

the gaslight

bike riding in Anchorage

bike riding in Anchorage

smoked salmon sign

sourdough sign

33

snowden building

typography I spied in Alaska

These are the end of my Anchorage photos. Plus… this interesting array of typographic choices I noticed while traveling. Alaskans really REALLY like Papyrus font. Especially in all caps. I guess they find it rustic. And of course, Comic Sans is rampant on everything including yoga studio signs and also… Christmas ornaments.

The word “sourdough” is used in Alaska. I thought Brother told me it was slang for someone living their first year in Alaska, but Urban Dictionary told me otherwise and said it’s a true Alaskan, while Suite101 told me sourdoughs are people sour about living in Alaska and don’t have the dough to leave. I don’t know. I’d prefer to think of it as a loaf of bread, but you know…

Anyway. On Tuesday afternoon, after Brother’s trial wrapped up and we had huge bowls of udon and dumpling soup, we drove south to Seward. The ride was beautiful, and though I am a great lover of car naps, my dad was sitting behind me and kept poking me awake to take photos for him since I was sitting shotty.

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

Route 1 to Seward

You can see Part I of the photos here.