Sunday, July 5, 2015

4th of July - Hurricane Gulch, Wildflower Cafe, and Denali Cooks

We had a leisurely morning at the cabin. Glenn made eggs. We went for a walk and played cards. Around 11:30 am, we headed over to the train depot for the Hurricane Turn train. It's a round trip train ride to Hurricane Gulch.

This route is one of the few flagstop  train routes to deliver supplies to homesteads in remote Alaska. They just put out a flag when they want the trains to stop. On our route, a man had four tires and a guitar delivered. Grandkids met  their grandparents in their town - Sherman. The grandparents are the only residents. A group of rafters hopped off with all their gear - including their boats.

We got off the train for a little walk about in Curry - a once bustling town with a 5 star resort. The resort dwindled as Denali National Park gained popularity.  The resort tried to stage a comeback, but it burned down the summer before it's reopening.

The hurricane Gulch bridge was impressive.  They moved equipment four tons at a time across a tram they constructed first. Once the equipment moved over, it only took 60 days to finish the bridge.

On the way back, we stopped at Twin bridge. A family was camping and fishing there. A woman caught a salmon. It was fun to watch. It was bright red and about 2 feet long. We saw a moose, some swans, and a bear cub along our train journey.

We stopped on the way back in Sherman to shop at the bookstore. The grandparents (and town's only residents) wrote a couple books about homesteading and raising kids.

For dinner, we headed to Wildflower Cafe. It was a cute house converted in a restaurant with a big front, side and back porch. In the back, the bar had 40 taps. We had the specials - Blackened Salmon over pesto fettuccine and Blackened Salmon Oscar. Both were very good. The best bite of the evening was the seafood chowder.

Fifteen years ago when I worked at a rafting company in Denali National Parks - the whole crew would load up and head to bars near and far to hear Denali Cooks play. We even trekked into an air strip in the middle of Denali National Park for an epic jam session. On our first night in town, we saw an announcement they were playing for 4th of July. I was so excited!

We grabbed slightly sticky seats at the Fair View Inn and watched them set up. The crowd was a good mix of locals, seasonal employees and tourists. They led off with one of my favorite songs. We stayed until crowd pressed in a little too close and then headed back to the cabin.

A great day.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 3 - Wasilla and Arriving in Talkeetna

We slept in a little this morning. We were impressed with  Comfort Suites Anchorage Airport. The hotel seemed new and had a cute lounge. They also offer free breakfast. We decided to hit the road and try some of the local fare. That didn't work. Turn out most of the restaurants were closed for the fourth of July holiday. The Alaskan seem to enjoy getting espresso from the shack in a parking lot. Who are we to argue? We got lattes for the road and head for Wasilla.

We read about Abby's Home Cooking on Yelp so we headed there. It's a cute restaurant in a gas station. They really mean home cooking. When you order hash browns, Abby goes and shreds the potatoes herself from scratch. We had a couple orders of biscuits and gravy and they were delicious. We had to try the reindeer sausage. It tasted like smoked sausage with a little bit of gamey aftertaste. Service was good but slow. Again, everything is made from scratch when you order.

We went to the Iditarod Trail headquarters to learn more about this famous race. We took a sled ride pulled by a team of dogs. Then we had a great conversation with one of the dog handlers. It was really interesting to hear about all of the strategy that goes into the race. I had assumed that each musher had a pit crew. We found out that each musher has to pack everything with them. They can ship ahead packages to meet them at checkpoints. They are solely responsible for themselves and the care of their dogs during the race. Veterinarians check in on the dogs at each checkpoint. Each year the race evolves. One of the big evolutions in the last couple years was a musher decided to pull a trailer so that he could rest dogs and then rotate them in.

Ended our time in Wasilla with a trip to the Last Frontier brewery. We were impressed with the beers. Our favorites were a dark lager, the wheat and a pale ale.

Our drive to Talkeetna was easy. We stopped at Cubby's  Marketplace to pick up some food. We were surprised at now limited the grocery store was. We checked into the Little Cabin in the Woods at Denali  fireside cabins. It's a private cabin set back in a neighborhood. It's really cute and quiet.

Downtown Talkeetna is a nice short strip of gift shops and restauarants. We had dinner at West Rib Cafe. The chili cheese fries were aweskme. The Caribou chili had a smoky flavor. Glenn had a very good burger. My Halibut sandwich was not good. West Rib has an exclusive beer from Glacier Brew house - Ice Axe Ale. It's 9% and dangerously good. We also tried beers at Denali Brewing Company. The town had live music at the city park. The weather today was unbelievable - sunny and 70s. We ended the day on our deck back at the cabin.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Here we go - Alaska

We made it! We took a 6 pm flight from Tampa arriving in Anchorage at 1 am local time / 5 am Florida time. We had a quick layover in Seattle. The travel gods showed favor on us and we were able to pick up our car when we got in. Catching a few hours sleep before we head up to Talkeetna in the morning. The scenery was great from the plane.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Washington DC

On April 25th, we headed to Washington DC for a one night only trip. We have really enjoyed these one night only trips especially when our Facebook friends tell us where we should go. We got into town around 1 o'clock and headed over to a Facebook recommended restaurant Zatinya, a Jose Andres restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern food. We enjoyed some great eggplant dishes and the experience reminded us of our time in Turkey. After lunch, we met up with our dear friend Caitlin at Capitol City Brewing. It was great to see her, but Capitol City Brewing is a disaster. The service is terrible and the beer was not good. After a lovely catch up, we went our separate ways.

We headed to the Museum of American History - a Smithsonian Museum. We were so impressed with this museum. We toured the presidential exhibition which was amazing especially the special exhibition on first ladies. They had an incredible war exhibit about all of the wars that America has been in since we were founded. We also enjoyed the pop culture exhibit. Glenn got to check seeing Archie Bunker's chair off his bucket list. Overall a fantastic visit. After the museum we headed to Facebook recommended Lincoln for dinner.  The restaurant was very cool and the food was wonderful. We had the tasting menu so we got to taste some of the great dishes they have available. The service was odd. We ordered from a server. Then runners would bring our food and just throw it on the table and walk away. Since we had the tasting menu we actually didn't know we were eating half the time. After dinner, we headed to a bar around the corner from our hotel since it was raining. Maddie's Pub turned out to be a good find with a nice beer list.

Sunday morning, we had plans to meet up for breakfast with our friend Frank and Dahlia and their two boys at Ted's Bulletin. It was a beautiful day so the half an hour wait outside didn't seem too bad. Inside, the food was fantastic. They make their own pop tarts. We had a great time catching up.
Then Glenn and I headed out on our own walking tour of Washington DC.  We walked by Ford's Theater and the White House. The weather was gorgeous!

We met Kelli and her family for lunch at Pearl Dive  Oyster House. We had some great oysters and it really fun time catching up with Kelly and her family. After lunch, we went on a mini bar crawl stopping in a few bars and then headed to the airport.

We will definitely be back to Washington DC what. We have lots of friends who live there. Plus it's a really great city with lots of fun restaurants, bars, and museums.

Red Sox Home Opener 2015

On Saturday, we headed up to Boston for the Red Sox home opener. We stayed at Beacon XV. Was a great boutique hotel right on Beacon Street. It felt more like an apartment then a hotel room. Saturday afternoon we headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts to check out the time tech capsule that had recently been unearthed. It was a great museum and the time capsule was interesting - mostly coins and some newspaper clippings.

After the museum, we headed back to Beacon Street and met up with some friends at a dive bar. We shared some good local beers and oysters. Then we headed to Emmett's pub for dinner with our Boston friends and family. The dinner was great. It was so fun
 to have everybody in the same place. We missed those who are not able to join us.

On Sunday we had a good breakfast near our hotel and then we headed off to tour the city on a duck boat. I hadn't been on one before so it was really fun. After the duck boats we wandered around Boston doing lots of fun exploring. We met up with our friends Brenda and Kevin at a barbecue restaurant - Sweet Cheeks BBQ -  Glenn have been wanting to try. The chef is Tiffany from the first season of Top Chef. Her claim to fame is the biscuits and they were very good.

Monday was the big game day. Unfortunately Glenn sister broke her foot so she wasn't able to go. I got to take her place. It was a beautiful day for baseball. We had lunch at Sweet Caroline's and then headed into the game. Tom Brady threw out the first pitch. Children's choir sang the national anthem. And the Red Sox won. We headed to a great Italian restaurant and then had a beer at the oldest tavern in Boston.

Tuesday we took the first flight back to Florida. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend seeing all of our great friends and family.

Lusk Spring Break 2015 - Universal Studios

On the Wednesday after Easter, we picked up my cousin and his family at Disney World and all of us headed to Universal Studios. We stayed at the Cabanna Bay Resort. I was very impressed. The pools were amazing and the rooms were great. They really embraced the retro vibe even down to the shampoo and soap. We headed over to Universal Studios so that the Lusk family could get their first look at Harry Potter. We went to the wand store and Jack was picked and got a special one chosen just for him or actually I think they say the wand chose him.

On Thursday we had a leisurely  start to the day since we were able to see so much the night before. We had another great day exploring all that the Harry Potter world had to offer. Then had a nice afternoon by the pool. Again Thursday night we got to see a lot of the park and go on several rides. Friday we spent a little more time in the park and then drop the Lusk family off at the airport. It was great to be with people who really appreciate all the work in detail that went into Harry Potter. Plus the Lusk family is super fun.

Easter 2015

Easter this year coincided with Connor's first birthday. It was a great opportunity to head back to Indiana to celebrate. Glenn and enjoyed a great weekend seeing all the family and really enjoyed watching Chloe search for eggs. What is great is that she narrated what was happening. Conner had a great first birthday. He was so happy to just look out the window with whoever was holding him at the time. Also - my sister got a selfie stick.