guest blog – travel: anchorage, alaska
YOU GUYS! I could not be more excited that my lovely, witty, smart, talented and adorable cousin Katy agreed to write a guest blog for me when she went on an adventure to ALASKA!!! This gal has danced on a coffee table with me until it broke, binge-watched Tiny House Nation with me (like, for days) and has been the closest darn thing to a sister I’ve ever had. I just love her to pieces. When she sent this blog, I realized she’s also a great writer and storyteller – I hope this is the first of many posts from my little cuz Katy!
Just so you can get to know us better, here’s us as little-ins with Katy’s brother, my cousin and partner in crime, Ben – we were quite the crew.
Here is a red-eyed photo of us from 5 years ago – we still cute though. 🙂
Alright y’all – let’s go to Alaska!
Hi all! I’m Annie’s younger cuz/practically sister, Katy. I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon now for five years attending grad school at PSU. Annie asked me to do a guest blog when I told her I was going to Anchorage, Alaska for a conference/vacation and here I am! Unfortunately, because I have never blogged, this means that I forgot the nice camera everywhere we ate and would sometimes forget to take a picture until halfway or completely through with my meal. Nevertheless, I grabbed enough to talk about and have some great travel pictures to distract you with! I’ve rated my food on a Larry David scale I’ve created that consists of one, two, or three prettys and a good.
This was the conference portion of the trip. We didn’t do any exploring and bought most of our food from Fred Meyer. We did eat at a few restaurants during this time:
City Diner: I love brunch food and this place ended up being one of the top places we ate the whole trip. I ordered biscuits and gravy (didn’t nab a picture of course) but the biscuits were some of the best I’ve had. Not too dry, they would melt in your mouth and the gravy wasn’t too bad either. Although the orange juice wasn’t fresh squeezed, City Diner gets a pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Spenard Roadhouse: This restaurant was recommended by many Alaskan locals. I ordered a margarita and the mac and cheese with bacon (also recommended). The margarita came with the most salt I’ve ever had on a margarita. In my book, that’s great. The mac and cheese was good but after cutting out most simple-carbs from my diet for the past couple of years, white pasta literally makes me look like I’m pregnant because of the bloating. I give Spenard Roadhouse a pretty, pretty good. (Picture not to scale although I wish my margarita had been that large).
The Rustic Goat: This was a really cute place and stands out in Anchorage because of its very modern design. I ordered a small pizza that had leeks, potatoes, and reindeer sausage on it. I wanted to at least have one odd-meat in Alaska so this was perfect. There were a bit too many huge potatoes on the pizza for my taste and have you ever had a hot dog? Well then you know what reindeer sausage tastes like. I give the Rustic Goat a pretty, pretty good.
This was the first day after the conference and when our real vacation started. We decided to start off with an Alaskan hike in Arctic Valley on a trail called Rendezvous Peak. Before heading out, we stopped at Great Harvest Bread for some sandwiches to pack. I ordered a roast beef sandwich with blue cheese on their freshly made multi-grain bread. Of course I didn’t take a picture or even write down what was exactly on it but boy was it delicious. I always groan when I force myself to order bread other than the delicious and fluffy white type but this multi-grain bread was just as satisfying. I give Great Harvest Bread a pretty, pretty, pretty good.
We had chosen the hike in the Arctic Valley because the trail is an “easy 4-mile round trip hike, great for kids and beginning hikers” according to skiarctic.net. I’ve hiked quite a bit since living in Portland. I like to stick to easy and medium hikes for various reasons so this sounded right up my alley. That was until I was on the side of a mountain, unable to move and crying out of fear that I would fall down the side and never stop rolling. After my comrades calmed me down, we made it to the halfway point. We were on a time crunch so this was our final spot before turning around but it was still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Side note: there is a military portion of this area so on the way don’t be alarmed by the large hummers with guns on them. We also were stopped on the way down for about 15 minutes to wait for firing practice on the mountain to cease.
My crazed face on the way back down the trail. This was the best picture we could get to try to emphasize how steep this portion was.
After our hike, we went to the bar Tap Root because my soon-to-be stepdad’s cousin-in-law (got that?) is a famous local comedian in Alaska called Mr. Whitekeys. He has an act going on now called the Whale Fat Follies and they put on a show singing all about Alaskan follies. My favorite folly was they story of a college student chosen to show Obama how to skin a fish while she was wearing a sweatshirt that said “Skinny Dick’s Halfway Inn” which is a notable roadhouse in Alaska. To participate in Alaskan customs, I ordered beer battered buffalo spam. Because the show was in a bar with the lights off, I had to use my awful flash:
Fried spam is actually a disgusting guilty pleasure of mine so it was one of my favorite meals of the whole trip. Tap Root gets a pretty, pretty, pretty good.
On Thursday, we rode the Alaskan Railroad down to the Spencer Whistle Stop, hiked to Spencer Glacier, and road a motor coach back into Anchorage. The Alaskan Railroad is an awesome commodity. It takes you to hike in the middle of the back country without having to actually find your own way to the back country (aka great for Midwesterners with little to no outdoors experience). Plus the train itself looks awesome.
These are mudflats along the Turnagain Arm. Over time, glaciers grind down bedrock and it turns into this super fine silt that is carried away by water. Every year people get stuck here in them and have to be saved by the fire department because of course.
My boyfriend, Eric, holding a piece of an iceberg. It was very cold.
See that tiny brown speck toward the south eastern/central portion of the photo below? In the forest, under and toward the left of the right mountain peak? It’s a cabin that you can rent out! It’s a six mile hike.
All of the cotton floating around was so pretty. This wood bridge is only about two-three years old.
Once back in Anchorage, we went to Bear Tooth Theatrepub. Moose’s Tooth Pizza is highly recommended by any local we talked to but was always busy when we drove by and Bear Tooth has the same owners. We ordered a half and half pizza: half Spicy Thai with chicken, red onions, bean sprouts, carrot threads, cilantro, mozzarella, provolone, and peanut sauce and half Avalanche with pepperoni, blackened chicken, bacon, red onions, parsley, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, and barbecue sauce. The Thai portion is what I wanted and was tasty in terms of toppings. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the mood for pizza but the pizza as a whole just didn’t satisfy me in the way I was expecting. Despite that fact, I still give Bear Tooth a pretty, pretty good.
On Friday we drove about an hour south down to Girdwood to take a Portage Glacier boat tour and check out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center which is a refuge for orphaned or injured animals. I’ll let the pictures (mostly) speak for themselves.
People for scale. The blue in the glacier is caused by how compact the ice is. The crystal structure is so compact that it lets in the longer wavelengths of light and reflects shorter wavelengths (blue).
Magpies are everywhere.
Two of the bears were wrestling around a little. If it was friendly or not was undetermined.
The rangers fed the bears in front of us so they kept getting on their hind legs to look for more food. This was the largest bear and about two feet taller than everyone.
This eagle was not a part of the conservatory.
Whooooooo goes there?
On the way back, we stopped at the Double Musky Inn. This is another local recommendation that serves New Orleans dishes with seafood. Whooooooooweee was it delicious. Eric, our friend Capri, and I all shared our dishes family style (because $$$). We ordered the crab stuffed halibut that had creole seasoning, mushrooms, scallions, white wine, and cream (pictured on top—mostly eaten because it was we were starving and I forgot about pictures). We also ordered a king crab leg (bottom left) and Cajun bbq prawns (bottom right) broiled in garlic, butter, lemon zest, and creole seasoning. It was served over ground cheese polenta (OMG) and fresh steamed veggies. Hands down, the best seafood I’ve ever had. Double Musky breaks the scale and gets a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
We drove two hours south to Seward to go on a Kenai Fjord boat tour of Resurrection Bay. This was the four and a half hour tour (they range up to eight hours) with a prime rib/salmon all you can eat (!) lunch on Fox Island. It’s a good thing we were on a shorter tour because I actually started to feel sick when the boat would stop to look at wildlife. Eric took most of the animal photos because I was stuck staring at the horizon in my cool new hat trying not to vomit. Nevertheless, it was a great time and the puffins were s’cute!!!
On the way down to Seward, we stopped to take some photos of Dall Sheep that climb on the side of the mountains right beside the highway. They are not my spirit animal.
This was in Resurrection Bay. There are some glaciers on the left portion of the mountains.
Adorable little harbor seal!
So many sea lions.
Whale in Emerald Cove where the water was a beautiful dark green.
Unfortunately, this was the most we saw of the humpback whales, but it was still awesome!
This is marathon mountain. You can see part of the trail that runners race on every year. The record there and back is 42 minutes. Insane!
Lunch was delicious. The crows enjoyed people’s leftovers as well.
Once we were back on the docks, there was an otter hanging around which make for some of the most adorable photos ever. BUT apparently otters are evil little buggers and are known to do some very inappropriate things to baby seals.
BUT THEY’RE STILL SO CUTE.
On the way back from Seward, we decided to check our flight for the following night. Good thing we did because our flight was actually scheduled to leave in about 3 hours. Luckily, we didn’t have much planned the next day and everything worked out. We did get to order take-out from an Anchorage staple, Humpy’s, before we left and I had a Crabby Patty Melt which is exactly as I would have imagined it in a Spongebob world. It was a crab burger with American cheese on a toasted brioche bun with roasted garlic aioli, lettuce, and tomato (sans tomato for me). This photo doesn’t do it justice. Humpy’s gets a pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Well, writing this has been a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures through Anchorage (or if it was tl;dr at least you enjoyed the pictures)! I’ll leave you with my most epic picture that just screams AMERICUUH *metal fingers*!