Friday, August 6

Anchorage, AK: Paragliding


On our fifth day in Alaska, we left the beautiful Kenai Peninsula. We left the relaxing rental home on the lake, drove back through the unremarkable town of Kenai with Cook Inlet on our right and soon, Walmart on our left, hung a left at the ordinary town of Soldotna, past the abandoned wood shavings from the SawFest and raced back up the Sterling Hwy toward Cooper Landing and my inspirational orange mushroom.

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Hung a left on the Seward Hwy and as we pulled around Turnagain Arm, through Portage, Tom and I pulled over for a brief peek at Portage Glacier (below). We stopped at the Begich Boggs Visitor Ctr for a peek and then drove a pinch further to a pull-out that provided the best view. Portage Glacier has melted almost out of sight at the Visitor Ctr, but you can take a boat to get a better view. We didn't. We had to catch up with the Busbees, they had a big day planned.
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Over breakfast one morning in Kenai, Ethan proposed an idea: Paragliding. What a way to see Alaska, right? He and Brielle began making big plans to paraglide in Anchorage at the Alyeska Ski Resort. This resort has an average annual snowfall of 631" and a good bit of this snow remained in July for us to tromp around.
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The Summer activities offered here include great hiking, disc golf, the blueberry fesitval, a fungus fair (I'm not the only one enthralled with the lovely mushrooms!), and, of course, paragliding.
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So the kids got enrolled and we took the tram up to around 2400 feet. The ride would be in tandem with very hip, cool looking instructors and special arrangements were made for Brielle and Ethan to be in the air simultaneously, soaring past each other and landing together.
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Tom and I were down with the whole thing.
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It was a great opportunity to watch these kids do something totally fun for them on this trip and also a great opportunity for us to sit and enjoy the awesome views.
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The climb down to the take-off spot was rather steep & snowy, so we stayed back a ways and took a seat. Jackie still had walking pneumonia, so she hung back with us, but she was on her feet, nervously wondering if she should have signed the waiver or just driven on by this place and let the kids ride, oh, a train or something.
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Doug was a litte more nervous about the whole thing. (bottom left of photo) He kept inching closer and closer, yelling out instructions & good ideas.
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Eventually Doug made it all the way down to where the kids were jumping. He was right there beside them when they took off. Brielle went first, the white one. She was unsure what to do and dragged her feet a little instead of running, my heart dropped. I thought they were going to take off with her dragging and hanging there.

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Ethan followed. I have a video at the end of this post where you can enjoy the take off and let your heart stop and your breath get stuck in your throat like mine did.
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We watched from above until they landed safely. We took the tram down and talked excitedly with them and the instructors. I breathed again when I saw the paramedics bring down the sled thing, strap it atop their vehicle and leave. Then I knew it was OK.

We loaded in our cars and headed up through Anchorage and out the other side to drive on up to Talkeetna. Join us in that very cool town for my next Alsaka post.




Travel Info:

4 comments:

~Laura said...

The pictures are amazing. I was born there, but I don't remember any of it. I would love to go back.

Anonymous said...

Forget paragliding. I'm getting dizzy here on the ground with all the changes in your blog! Whew!

Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue said...

Those pictures are so beautiful. I would love to go to Alaska to visit. I am sure it is an amazing place. I know I wouldn't want to live there because I can't handle temperatures below 60 degrees. I start to freeze up after that lol

Poof said...

Yeah, I'd like to go up there June - August and spend winters back here in SC.