Friday, October 7, 2016

Birthday Fun!

This year I was fortunate enough to be off work for my birthday- and Vince (being the awesome husband that he is!) organized a fun get-together with some friends to celebrate. No one has EVER done this for me since I was a kid, so his efforts were the best present I could ever ask for.

So... what did we do? Vince bought us tickets to a Fall Music Festival that was held outside Taproot (a fun music venue in town). Alaskan musicians were featured, and there were several local food trucks on site. We bundled up and set off to meet our good friends Mike & Angie :)

Blackwater Railroad

Our little group had fun catching up and enjoying the scene, but we took a break to warm up (it was cold and rainy) and grab some off-site eats...

Spice is always welcome in my book, so I opted for Serranos' 

Tortilla soup, chips & guac, and spicy salsas were just what the doctor ordered 

From there, we headed over to Black Cup to re-energize before heading back to the festival in the elements. The weather was definitely not ideal, but we still had a blast; it is one of my all-time favorite birthdays to reflect on :)

The music fest was technically a few days before my actual birthday, so Vince had a few more surprises in store...

We finally made it to a bakery I'd been wanting to try for years :D

One of many tempting displays...

If I didn't already have a target in mind (the cinnamon rolls), choosing a treat could have taken awhile! We enjoyed chatting with the owner, picked out our goodies, and headed home to enjoy our breakfast in our pj's back at home ;)

I opted for the "traditional" cinnamon roll...Don't laugh too hard at the tape measure; it's part of my side project to find the best one in Anchorage hehe. I take food comparisons seriously!! Prior to my birthday, we had sampled rolls from 2 other bakeries in town, but I've yet to have my mind blown. This one, however, was pretty amazing :)

Vince opted for the almond cinnamon roll (which was surprisingly good!)

With our cinnamon rolls devoured, we enjoyed a leisurely morning reading the news, catching up with family & friends, AND opening some presents :)

Awwww! Balloons are so cute!

We eventually suited up for the gym, ran some errands, and did a few chores before it was time for dinner... I decided my ideal birthday dinner this year would be to stay at home and enjoy some crab with my honey. Pro tip: buy from Costco!

Our "crab feast" was the perfect ending to a pretty fantastic day :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Moose Hunt 2016

September in Alaska brings many things: berry harvests, changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and moose season. Some people may think of hunting as unnecessary, but I see it as an opportunity to get outdoors, connect with others, and a way to harvest quality organic food for the year to come.

I have wanted to get a moose for years, but Alaska is NOT the place to go out in the woods alone, so I finally got my first opportunity to go on a moose hunt with Vince this year. While I didn't get a draw permit, a good friend of ours offered to share one of his hunting spots with us up near Delta Junction. I got a harvest ticket from Fish & Game, we organized and packed our gear, and headed north!

It was time for dinner when we arrived in Delta, so we decided to treat ourselves to a bison burger before spending the better part of the next 10 days in the woods ;)

The Buffalo Center Drive-In was too cute

From there we headed to our friend Vern's house to spend the night and make plans for the next day. We woke up the next morning excited for our adventure to start! We readied our gear, packed up the 4-wheeler Vern let us use, and made our way to our campsite.

Home Sweet Home

With the tent up & organized, it was time to set up a (separate) place
for cooking and eating- we did not want any bears near our tent!

Vince making himself at home

Dinnertime eventually rolled around, so we got out
the Jet Boil and had our first camp dinner for two

We took some time after dinner to get to know our surroundings;
this is an area along one of the trails we used...see if you can find the bunny!

Our first day at camp wouldn't be complete without a campfire 

We enjoyed the fire and tucked into our sleeping bags with a smile :)

Breakfast the next morning was spartan, but we had the essentials!

Vince and I spent the next several mornings & evenings walking moose trails, watching clearings, and waiting for a bull moose to appear... with little luck. Although the mornings were cold, it was still getting too warm for the big guys to be out and about :/

It didn't take us too long to discover which camp foods were decent- and which weren't (these two fall in the latter category)! The desire for better breakfast options and the realization that we were likely going to be hunting for longer than we'd originally anticipated led to a quick trip into town to supply up.

The local sporting good store- we were stoked to find some
Mountain House biscuits & gravy... no more "breakfast soup" for us haha!

From there, we headed to a local Thai place for some chicken soup.
The warmth and the added spice was perfect after several cold days outside!

Our next stop was the grocery store...

...some of our need goods back at camp. If you haven't eaten
dehydrated food for a week take note: you will want to have prunes lol!

A view of one of the larger trails at sunset

One of the few open areas we watched

Me trying to find a better view (it was quite fun practicing my climbing skills!)

Vince on the lookout at sunrise

A wary spectator :)

A few more days passed and then it happened: a huge windstorm hit our tent during the night! Vince and I were awakened about 1:00 am by the brutal shaking of our tent, flying gear, and howling wind. We gathered our wits, scrambled out of our sleeping bags, found our headlamps, and ran outside to re-stake the tent in our long johns. We got the tent secured, but it was a long night with little sleep...'s the aftermath: the vestibule was torn away, two of
the tent poles were torqued, and some of the stakes were bent!

Despite our growing fear of not getting a moose, Vince and I stayed diligent. We continued our scouting, but we were still plagued by the warmer temps. We saw moose- but not one that was legal to shoot.

I ended up shooting my first spruce grouse toward the end of our trip...

...which I cleaned myself and we roasted it over the fire- tasty!

Sigh. The last day of the season eventually came, so it was time to pack up

I can't say that I didn't try; I stayed out until the last evening of the last day! With heavy hearts, Vince and I headed to Vern's to de-mob and spend the night. I have to admit a shower and sleeping inside felt amazing!

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day...

...and "moose bacon" courtesy of Vern :)

I cut a few slices and got to work! Breakfast was simple, but delicious:
fresh whole wheat toast, eggs over-easy, moose bacon, and coffee

A beautiful view of some farmland in the area

Vince and I spent a few hours catching up with our friend before packing up the car and saying our goodbyes. Our spirits were lifted by the fact that the majority of the hunters in our area were not successful due to the weather (we were glad it wasn't just us!). Although we didn't get a moose, we still had a great time connecting with nature, learning new things, and gaining some experience. I'm already looking forward to the next time :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Heading Home

Vince and I woke up to a beautiful morning in Healy! The sun was shining, the clouds were sparse, and the coffee shop at The Earthsong Lodge was open. We got dressed, ordered some coffee, and bought a few breakfast items to enjoy outside.

The coffee shop

Our breakfast in the sun

The lodge is owned by an avid outdoorsman who has his own sled dog team;
we were invited to come meet the dogs after breakfast- very cool!

One of the dogs basking in the sun

We had a great time learning about the origins of sled dogs, 
getting to know our host, and meeting the team

The dogs enjoyed it too ;)

It was time to head home after meeting the dogs, so we bid our host
farewell, packed the car, topped off the gas tank, and hit the road

We stopped to pick blueberries off the Denali Highway on our way-
can you see Vince in the berry patch?!

Not all the berries were quite ripe yet,
but we found a few patches of good ones...

...just enough to take home and enjoy before heading back to work

A lone caribou off the highway

We wrapped up our berry search just as the rain started

Home sweet home