snow, snow go away..come again another day

So, when I arrived here in Anchorage five weeks ago there wasn’t much snow. I was disappointed for the Jazzer, ’cause the dog loves her snow piles, but I was happy for me because the less snow the better. But I should have known that this is Alaska, and well winter wasn’t over just yet…Not by a long shot!

anchorage winter

It’s snowed over 30″ since I’ve gotten here and snow is in the forecast for parts of this week! Even the residents here are sick of it, and this is probably because just a week ago, the streets were clear, the sun was shining and it had cracked 40 degrees.

Spring fever was definitely in the air and just like in the lower 48 when the temperatures rise, people are out washing vehicles, riding bikes and jogging, the difference being that it’s still pretty cold and there are three foot piles of snow, but Alaskans are much hardier than I will ever be!

alaskan winter

So we continue to bundle up with all the winter gear, parkas, hats, mittens, scarfs and ice grippers, except for one of us who is happy as a pig in s#&*!

Anchorage, a glutton’s delight!

As I’ve posted previously on this blog, Anchorage is full of unique places to drink and dine.  After staying here a few times in the dark and the cold I can certainly understand why, ~a person has to enjoy themselves somehow, right?

Of course maybe not all these restaurants would appeal to every palate, but I’m lucky in the fact that I can salivate over a pizza and beer equally as well as I can over a prime choice of steak and a nice glass of wine. I’m an equal opportunity glutton, I don’t discriminate against many types of foods (well maybe lutefisk and haggis), or beers or wines, and thanks to an easygoing spouse I am able to try at least a few new places every time I travel to the great white north.

Portabella mushroom, stuffed with crab meat and shrimp

Last week we found an article in one of the local rags that had a list of the reporter’s favorite Sunday brunch spots, out of 10 of these spots we had only managed to visit one! Realizing we must rectify this oversight immediately, we visited one of her favorites for lunch the very next day. (Don’t say we let grass (or ice) grow under our feet!)

Our luncheon locale? The Beer Tooth Grill. Not only had we never heard of it, we had never even been near it. Obviously by the slew of cars parked every whichaway, we were one of the few residents of Anchorage who were clueless about it’s gratifying grub. The picture above shows you what I chowed down on, a meaty portabella mushroom, stuffed with creamy combination of crab and shrimp meat. It was just as delicious as it sounds. Nanook had a ham and cheese sandwich and we both washed our meals down with beers from their very own Broken Tooth Brewery.

The owners of the restaurant, Rod Hancock and Matt Jones, own not only this restaurant and the brewery, but also their original restaurant, Moose Tooth, and a dine in theatre right next to the Grill called Bear Tooth Theatre Pub. I really want to go to the theatre on my next visit, ’cause it sounds like a great time. And I just heard last night that they are going to open yet another restaurant fairly close to our house…I guess I’m going to have to try that one too!

Alas, so many restaurants (and books) so little time!

Running Wild

If anyone would have told me when I was in my 20’s that I would be running in 5K races when I’m in my 50’s I would have told them they were cuckoo bananas!  I loathed running. I liked Jazzercise (the Zumba of the 80’s), golfing and bowling~~the latter two especially because you can drink beer while participating!

But here I was today participating in my 5th 5K! It was a good one too as I got to run through the streets of Anchorage, along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and in the midst of the 2012 Iditarod Champ, Dallas Seavey. There was also a lot of music…a real live cowboy sang the National Anthem, and a troupe of native Alaskans did a tribal dance about running and there were even some Scottish bagpipers about half way along the course. Alaskans are a very eclectic group to say the least!

I didn’t see Mildred, but I did meet Stanley

As an added bonus Nanook and I finished the race side by side, hands clasped in the air, as excited that we ran together as we were that we made it up that last incline without keeling over 🙂

Then the icing on the cake….they gave me this nice shiny medal!…

…well they gave everyone a nice shiny medal, but it’s the thought that counts!

Alaska (re)Bound

My faithful companion and I are heading back to the land of moose, mountains and musk ox this week. Up until today, when Jasmine had to go to the vet and get another health certificate (airline requirement), I’ve done little to prepare.  I think that’s because I know all the pitfalls that are heading our way and there is no sense in fretting about them until the morning of our journey.

The biggest bump in the road is that dog carriers fit the best under the middle seat or window seat. This is not good for me since I have booked an aisle seat. You may ask why I would do such a silly thing.

Very smushy aisle seat…poor pooch 😦

Well, here’s my answer….it’s a very long flight (7 hours) and I really, really, really want to sit on the aisle! Our first trip to Alaska I discovered the fact that the aisle seat is horrible for jamming (carefully placing) Jasmine under the seat. But, I was extremely fortunate that no one sat in the middle seat so I was able to put her under there and remain in my aisle seat!

Jasmine comfy cozy under the middle seat

I’m hoping this will happen again! (major denial)
But I am not holding out much hope since on our return flight last May, the plane was packed, I had to switch to a middle seat, and the two people on either side of me NEVER moved the entire journey! Can you believe that??  Granted the plane leaves at 11 PM at night so a lot of people sleep, but these two yahoos hardly twitched a muscle for 6 and a half hours! But they did manage to steal both of my arm rests early on. Horrible, horrible flight!

There are other non-fun things to think about as well….early flight, long drive to the airport, parking the car, shuttle to the airport, $100 pet fee, TSA….all this with a suitcase, pet carrier, large purse and only a small, black dog as a traveling companion.

Is it any wonder I’m in DENIAL!? ….because if you really think about it who wants to think about traveling 7 hours in a tin can, squished between two strangers with a dog between their feet!

Okay now I’m depressed…..is it too early for a glass of wine??

The continuing saga of the Alaskan Adventure!

Since Jasmine and I are coming close to the end of our stay in the Great State of Alaska I think it’s time to post a few more pictures of our exciting experiences. We didn’t get to do all of my favorite things this trip because of the vast amount of snow (you can gather from that last statement that I am not much of a snow bunny and don’t ski, snowboard or sled!), but we did make it to three of my favorite spots, The Alaska Zoo, Potter Marsh and the Glen Alps Trailhead.

Potter Marsh is this very cool wildlife viewing area about 5 miles south of us along the Seward Highway. There is a huge boardwalk that lets you walk quite a distance over the marsh and view the various birds and wildlife that call the area home. My favorite part though is the beautiful view of Turnagain Arm. Just stunning!

Potter Marsh boardwalk

Potter Marsh

Potter Marsh

Glen Alps in the Chugach State Park is really my favorite place in Anchorage. The trailhead parking lot is only about a 15 minute drive from our house but when you get up in the hillside area of Anchorage you feel like your about a million miles away from civilization. What’s great is that there are several trails leaving from this same parking lot and there is a trail for every skill level.

There is a 1.5 mile trail (one way) that heads up to the top of Flattop Mountain. This is the easiest and most popular mountain hike in the area and admittedly one that I have yet to conquer.  I’ve made it about halfway up and chickened out, but other visitors we’ve hosted have managed to make it to the top during a hail and rain storm and lived to tell the tale!

It was still very snowy when we went over last week,  so I didn’t get a chance to conquer my fear of the mountain, but we did manage to go on a couple of different trails and Jasmine was able to play in vast amounts of the white stuff while we soaked in yet more gorgeous scenery!

High above downtown Anchorage!

Glen Alps Trailhead

Walking is so amoosing!

Last night I was walking with my constant companion, Jasmine, when we witnessed something so endearing. A little boy was taking his first ride on his itty bitty bike without training wheels. His mom was beaming as he anxiously attempted the ride and showed off for us. Very sweet to be a witness to this “big” moment.

It made me think of all the many happenings that my dogs and I have witnessed over the years while we’ve taken our daily constitutional.

Holly, Tulip, Jasmine and I were a well oiled machine when we walked around the neighborhood or at least I liked to think so. As I’ve noted in other posts I am not an outdoors woman so when my doggies and I were walking along one morning and saw a poor dirty looking pooch across the street pacing us, I felt so sorry for it. It looked so bedraggled and hungry I was hoping I would be able to get a look at its collar once we made it home and I could untangle myself from the three leashes in my hands.  But my dogs, being much brighter than I am, knew trouble when they saw it. They started panting, growling and acting so goofy, slow poke that I am, finally figured out what I was feeling sorry for was a coyote. I picked up Jasmine (the smallest dog) and started hauling some city girl booty with the other two limping along behind (they were 12 and 13 at the time) and we made it safely home none the worse for wear. But now I knew what a coyote looked like…a mangy dog!

When Holly was an old girl of 16, she Jasmine and I were walking very slowly through the neighborhood when I saw a sight that made me freeze in place and wonder if what I saw was for real. Tearing out from behind a house comes a red fox with a doe chasing it at full speed. They passed right beside the sidewalk we were standing on and then ran around the house to the backyard. I was gobsmacked and still in shock and waited a minute before deciding to proceed. When I returned home I googled what I saw and actually found several videos on YouTube showing something similar to what I’d witnessed. Just checking to make sure I wasn’t crazy!

I’ve found lots of stuff too, a woman’s work ID (she sent me a gift card as a reward), some guy’s whole work portfolio in a leather folder (he didn’t give me a gift card), a kid’s learner’s permit and a license plate (I called the police and they found the neighbor who it belonged to, the same one who lost the learner’s permit). I’ve seen the cops chasing and arresting some kid in our neighborhood. I watched while he went around one side of the house and the cops the other and they met in the middle…like a Keystone Kops moment!

And today in my neighborhood I saw a new “old” friend, Mildred the Moose! Jasmine and I were walking and I was talking on my cell phone when I saw her in a yard up ahead. I needed to walk past her to get home and I figured she was pretty well occupied with her breakfast to worry about little ‘ol us, but I was wrong. We slipped past her but then she started making her move, jumping over the fence in the yard she was dining in, and heading in our direction. I didn’t wait around to see what was up, I sped up the pokey little puppy and heading quickly towards our house. Jasmine, unobservant dog that she is, noticed nothing! I felt relieved when I finally got the key in the door and got inside.

I decided I wasn’t going to let Mildred get away without have her paparazzi moment, so I hopped in the car with my camera and went back to find her. No Mildred…I sadly headed home and guess what? Mildred really had followed us home! She was around the corner enjoying the breakfast buffet in my neck of the woods. Good old Mildred!

My nemesis, Mildred

she's just noticed her privacy has been invaded

she decides that breakfast is more important than evading the paparazzi

My top 10 differences between Alaska and Illinois

1. wear my clodhoppers everyday

2. We have lots of Salmon and Halibut in the freezer

3.  People leave their cars buried in the snow all winter

4. Ravens and Magpies

Raven

Magpie

5.  A shooting range across the road

Shooting Range

Shooting Range (Photo credit: ka052000)

6.  Have to hire men to remove snow and ice from the roof

7.  People make jewelry out of moose poop

8.  Bear bells and bear horns are in our closet

9.  Animal skins in stores

10. Beautiful mountains!

Anchorage Public Library

Anchorage Public Library/Z.J. Loussac branch

I had a chance to visit the library again today and this time I remembered to take along my camera and snap a few photos. The occasion for this visit was to pick up a book I had on hold. As those close to me know, I do like to place a few holds from time to time so I’m glad to continue the practice here at my “home away from home” library!

William Seward outside library

Here is a little information about the library I found on their website:

“APL was established in 1917, shortly after the founding of the city. For many years, the Library was operated and funded by private citizens. After years of temporary spaces, a stand-alone library opened in 1955. The library was made possible through the support and vision of Zachary Joshua Loussac, one of the city’s first philanthropists. “

The building is really very pretty both inside and out. The check out desk is in an atrium with a lot of natural light and a beautiful tapestry type artwork up above on the balcony.

Atrium, check-out desks and tapestry

check-out area facing towards front door

There is also a coffee shop off to the left with some inviting seating. Of course I’m banned from drinking coffee for the time being so I didn’t buy anything (this visit).

Coffee shop seating area

The hold section for books was self-serve which was very interesting and different from the libraries with which I’m familiar.  There was a row of bookshelves with a card with the first 5 letters in your last name sticking out of the book. I then just grabbed my item and went to the check-out desk. I also noticed that there was a $1.00 fine if you failed to pick up a hold you placed. I thought this wasn’t a bad idea considering how labor intensive it is to pull holds for patrons. My former workmates might agree with me on this one!

Self-Serve Hold Shelf

I hope to do a bit more exploring around the building on my next visit. It seems like such a warm, inviting environment to find a cozy spot and read.

As you can tell I’m a bit of a library geek, I just love them! I usually make my hubby stop on vacations and visit libraries (and old bookstores) …..he’s a nice guy that way 🙂 So to be fortunate enough to be a card holder at two beautiful libraries makes me one happy girl (or old lady depending on your point of view)!

In the stacks

In all the moves I’ve had to make, one of the first things I’ve always done is visit my new public library and get a library card. It is then that I start feeling a bit like I belong.