Bookshop Girl Goes to Alaska, Day 1: Moose, Hot Springs, and Sun, oh My.

Last week I took a trip with two of my best friends and a boy who is marrying one of them. So where does a group of Portlanders go on vacation? To the land of the midnight sun of course! We needed to make up for the millions of days a year that we see zero sun, so we hopped on a lovely nonstop Alaska Airlines flight to Alaska! Fairbanks, to be precise. Which I learned is the Golden Heart of Alaska:

IMG_0879

Fairbanks may seem like a slightly random vacation spot, but one of my friends grew-up there, and we stayed with her parents, and dude, Alaska. The sun did not go down! It just kinda got lower. So we got off the plane at around 11pm, when the above picture was taken. Yep. Light outside. Our vacation started properly the next day with breakfast:

IMG_0892(Please note, the Bakery does not have lines all over it. Neither does Alaska. But the rear window of the car did. I think it adds a little something to the picture. Something like lines.)

IMG_0887IMG_0890The Bakery is a lovely diner in Fairbanks. It felt very homey and I enjoyed my corned beef hash and biscuits and gravy. Note: I was on vacation. I know some people try to maintain the whole healthy living thing on vacation. I do not. After we finished our breakfast, including some awesome sourdough pancakes that Whitney ordered, we headed to Chena Hot Springs. On the way one of the most exciting things of the whole trip happened. There was a MOOSE:

IMG_0894Emmalisa’s dad was kind enough to pull over on the side of the road and everyone was kind enough to tolerate my squealing and photo taking:IMG_0898Hello Moose! In case you are curious, this was a girl moose. The boy moose are the ones with the antlers, or moose ears as I call them. Once they dragged me away from the moose we arrived at Chena Hot Springs:

IMG_0903This was my first hot springs experience and I had no idea what to expect. There were all sorts of funny signs: IMG_0908 IMG_0910Luckily we were there in the summer, during a heatwave, so we didn’t have to worry about ice. Instead we got to relax in a gorgeous pool:IMG_0927The hot springs were warmer than I expected–I know, right? And it really felt like floating around in a giant bath tub. We were actually there on one of the cooler days of the trip, so it felt nice to be in the giant bath tub. There were patches that were a bit too warm, but the water circulated, and they had a giant sprinkler in the middle to cool off–whenever we needed some cold water we said we were swimming over to “Little Portland.”IMG_0940I was a little scared to sneak my camera in, but Emmalisa’s dad was kind enough to take a group shot of us. (Emmalisa, Me, Steve, and Whitney) And then we went to the hot tub and Whitney got a shot of us with Emm’s dad:

IMG_0950Moose Ears!!

Chena Hot Springs is part of a resort, and another part of the property is home to the Ice Hotel, which is the world’s largest year-round ice environment. We went from the warm water to hanging out in a giant igloo. Literally:
IMG_0973It was 25° Fahrenheit inside so they made us wear super awesome looking jackets. Whitney modeled hers well: IMG_0974I was just glad we were protected from the mosquitos! The first stop in the ice museum was the workshop, where they make all of the ice sculptures:
IMG_0979If you look to the right of the guide’s hand you can see hanging the 15 awards that the sculptors have won over the years. Our lovely guide showed us how they make their ice martini glasses, which we later put to use at the ice bar. After we looked around the workshop we walked into the main exhibition hall:
IMG_0988It was HUGE. Everyone took pictures. I took pictures of everyone taking pictures. And then I took some other pictures:

IMG_1001 IMG_1010 IMG_1013We paid extra for one appletini to split between the four of us at the ice bar:
IMG_0991IMG_1021IMG_1029Full disclosure: the appletini was pretty gross. But Steve enjoyed smashing the ice glass outside after. The museum is also a hotel, and has different themed rooms, and a wedding chapel where they do one hour wedding ceremonies. Emm decided to take a nap in the polar bear room: 
IMG_1048After we left Chena we drove back to Fairbanks and were ready for some ice cream at Hot Licks:
IMG_1077IMG_1080They didn’t have the blueberry flavor that Emm was raving about, so I got cinnamon shower, which was the perfect balance of sweet and not too fake-cinnamony tasting (I hate red hots. gross.). Then we went back to the house and got ready for dinner at the Salmon Bake:
IMG_1088I’m pretty sure by “True Alaskan Experience” they mean tourist place. But it was fun and delicious, and we were tourists–except our local guide of course. The Salmon Bake is an all you can eat buffet with salmon. When we were there they had crab legs, prime rib, and halibut as well. I’m not sure how often they change the non-salmon options. I walked around the food grounds and filled up my plate:
IMG_1096 IMG_1094Crab legs! The salmon was actually not the best ever, but I really liked my pile of crab legs. And there is some prime rib under there too. You’d think we were done for the day after all of this activity, right? Nope! Us three girls have a monthly tradition where we go out for drinks once a month, because a) it’s hard to schedule girl-time with three conflicting busy-people schedules, and b) it’s fun to dress-up and go out for drinks! We had agreed to schedule our drinks while in Alaska, so we gave Steve a pass, and took him with us to Pike’s Landing:

IMG_1131So it kind of looks like the sun is going down in that picture. That picture is deceiving. The sun was not going down. I mean, it moved down but it was still BRIGHT. We enjoyed our monthly drink, this month we chose the very appropriate duck fart:photoWhisky, amaretto, and Baileys. Much more delicious than the name. We got a round of some sort of berry cooler vodka drink, which looked really pretty:

IMG_1136But tasted not so pretty. After a long eventful day we went home to rest up for day 2! That’s right, all of that was one day. Phew. Stay tuned for more Adventures of a Bookshop Girl in Alaska!

Advertisements

Alaska: Quick Ass Recap

ImageI’m back! I have about ten million and 5 photos to upload, and promise you will hear all about my adventures in Alaska–mostly Fairbanks and Denali–but for now you get a quick recap and some fun facts that I learned! Yay fun facts!

Carly’s Quick Ass Alaska Recap:

  • Mosquitoes. I hate them. They were everywhere and I have NO self control with the scratching. I had to be mitted:

Image

Apparently mosquitoes are not really the state bird. Fun Fact: The willow ptarmigan is the official state bird of Alaska in 1955. The unofficial state bird? Mosquitoes. I want to take this moment to give all of them my own personal state bird. Otherwise known as the middle finger.

  • They don’t call it the Land of the Midnight Sun for nothing. The sun really didn’t go down. Well not all the way. It felt like I was there for one really long day with a few late night naps. So bizarre. As I’m writing this I’m waiting anxiously for the Portland sunset. I miss my night sky. Granted they get plenty of that in Alaska in the winter. It would be interesting to visit again, but in the winter, and compare. 
  • The record high in Fairbanks is 96ᵒ…when I was there it hit 93ᵒ. There aren’t very many buildings that have air conditioning. It was pretty hot. But on the bright side, the mosquitoes hid on the hot days. Wimps.
  • Caribou and Reindeer are the same thing. Sort of. Reindeer are domesticated Caribou. I wore Reindeer antlers during the Midnight Sun Run, and everyone yelled “Go Caribou!” ….Alaskans are pretty adorable. 
  • At 20,320 feet above sea level, Mt. McKinley, is the highest point in North America… and yet we still had a hard time finding/seeing it because Denali is HUGE.
  • White water rafting is my new favorite thing. Having a cute guide with a southern accent helps the experience.
  • I also enjoy hot springs! Who knew? And I can do both of my new favorite things in Oregon too. This is happening.
  • Reindeer sausage is kind of weird…doesn’t really taste like Christmas.
  • Speaking of Christmas, when Santa isn’t at the real North Pole, he hangs out at his satellite location in North Pole, Alaska.
  • Moose are cool.

Question of the Day: Which would you rather have? Longer days or longer nights?
I used to be on the longer-days-train, but I have come to realize I have a limit! I prefer those lovely spring days where it stays dark until 7 or 8. Anything past that might be a bit much for me.

 

PB&J&Yum

photo 1-1I managed to take an afternoon Bar Method class last week, and stopped at Laughing Planet afterwords for a delicious delicious smoothie. I’m a creature of habit, and I usually get a spinach & black bean burrito at LP, but the smoothies were calling my name. No really, I heard them…Caaaarly Driiiiink Meeeee. Yeah ok. Anyway. Excuse me I haven’t had my coffee as I type this. So talking smoothies aside, I ordered a Peanut Butter & Jelly smoothie. Like WTF right? Are they just going to like blend up my sandwich? Whole wheat bread please! No no. It was delicious. (PB & J pictured on the left, next to my friends I Don’t Remember flavored smoothie).

I tried, with success, to recreate it this morning. And took a terrible picture of it for you guys. P.S. I love my Cuisinart Smoothie Blender Thing. It does good work. Ok it’s not that great, as there were some ice chunks, but it’s so easy to use and convenient. Except mine is yellow, not pink like the one on the website, and that makes me sad. I’ll survive.

pbjincup

So this morning I grabbed some strawberries from my CSA (yay! more on that later!) and my peanut butter, and blended up this lovely concoction. Next time I think I’ll use less apple juice, as it was a bit too appley for my liking. And the original at Laughing Planet didn’t have chia seeds, but I figured I needed some extra staying power. So here you go!

pbjrecipe

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

In the blender:

Strawberries (a handful. More? Lots of strawberries.)
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
Apple Juice (I used a tiny can of Motts Apple Juice, 8oz, but I’d recommend less. And fresh squeezed/no sugar added is always better)
1 banana (I like to freeze mine beforehand. TAKE THE PEEL OFF BEFORE FREEZING. Lesson learned by me. I now keep banana bits in ziplock bags in my freezer for future smoothie use.)
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
A few cubes of ice

Put all of the above in the blender and blend until smooth(ie). I’m thinking next time I’ll add some spinach and/or protein powder so that it’s a bit more filling. That’s the great thing about smoothies, they’re super customizable.

Cider House Rules

1photo 1Usually when I think cider I think fall, but I recently had the chance to go to a cider tasting and I’m now tooting a different cider horn. Cider all year round! The tasting was at Hop & Vine, an adorable bar on Killingsworth with an attached bottleshop. Every Wednesday night they offer a free tasting from 6-8 from a different brewery or winery. This particular Wednesday night they were featuring ciders from OutCider a local cider brewery that specializes in small batch ciders–and their labels are unique for each batch!

photo 4They were offering two different ciders to taste. The first was their standard Dry Cider. I was surprised when I tried this one because it wasn’t the cloyingly sweet cider I was used to. Instead it was crisp and almost tangy. The second cider was the reason I wanted to go to the tasting. Ginger Pineapple Supernova. This one was superb. You could taste the pineapple and the ginger, but it didn’t detract from the cider flavor. They juice everything themselves and it tasted fresh and crisp–definitely a cool summer drink for a hot day. I liked the Supernova so much that I went next door to the bar side and got myself a glass. photo 4Hop & Vine also has a great beer list, and a really delicious looking menu that I would love to come back and explore sometime. This place is quickly becoming one of my favorite bars in Portland. It’s unpretentious, has a great selection, and the atmosphere is cozy but not your typical hipster-portland-bar.

While I’m on the subject of cider, this weekend in Portland is the Cider Summit NW. I won’t be able to attend, but if anyone does, please tell me how it is! And if you see OutCider there, grab a glass!

Question: What’s your favorite summer drink? Any one have any cider recommendations for this cider newbie?
In the summer I’m usually less of a beer drinker and more of a g&t drinker, BUT I have officially become a Portlander because I now like IPA. Hello hops! Definitely an acquired taste, but one I’m glad to have now.

She Blogs, She Blogs

he-also-has-a-weekly-feature-where-he-shows-you-all-the-youtube-videos-youve-already-seen

I’ve been thinking about this whole blogging thing. The thing is….it’s a little weird, right? I mean, am I really so narcissistic that I think the entire internet needs to know what I ate last night? (Whiffie Pie. omg.) Ok maybe. I’ve also been doing research on how to increase blog traffic. One of the big suggestions? Facebook. My first thought? Oh god, that’s embarrassing, I don’t want  facebook to know I’m blogging! Because sharing information with total strangers about the amazing beer I had last night at Apex (they’re cash only, just a heads-up!)  makes a lot more sense, right?So why am I doing this? Many reasons, actually!

1. I read a lot of healthy lifestyle fitness blogs. They have seriously helped me look at what I eat and inspired me to change my diet and figure out what exercise works for me. Now, I will admit, I have a terrible problem with comparing myself to others. But if I’m going to do it, I might as well have healthy influences. Ok, also I really like stalking people, and it’s a lot safer stalking people I don’t know. So I started this blog up again to help spread information about healthy eating and fitness and how even a slob who loves beer and Doctor Who marathons can get off her butt and get her act together and STILL like beer and Doctor Who marathons. My little piece of the internet is just another way to keep me accountable. And tell everyone to go eat Whiffie Pies at 1 in the morning, and watch the crazy Portlanders wearing capes walk around SE Portland like it’s no big deal. So. Many. Capes.

(Side note on stalking: If you came here to stalk me, and read stories about that time I went on a date with a guy who showed me naked pictures of his stripper friend named Bamboo dressed-up as Hello Kitty, you’re in the wrong place. And I use the word “dressed” loosely. I’ve read the blog rules. If you don’t want your mom or your boss reading it, don’t write about it.)

2. I’m writing a book. I like to write. I’m a writer! Ok so you’re not going to find eloquent prose in these parts, but blogging is still another way for me to keep writing. I’m also hoping to be able to use this as a writing sample for freelance gigs, in the future. Also, I’m a big reader and part of the lovely Portland reading/writing community. I’m hoping I can use this a place to promote my friends/colleagues, and discuss our lovely writing scene.

 

3. I’m a narcissistic asshole who thinks everyone wants to know what I ate last night.

4.

Margot BlogsIt’s all part of Margot’s internet domination plan.

So there you have it. I’m now going to be brave and share this with facebook. Everyone be nice.

Juicy

Meet Jack:

photo(1)Jack LaLanne, that is. And yes, that is a Goodwill price tag on poor old Jack. $14.99 for a used juicer? How could I say no? Ok, I’m not gonna lie, I’m still kind of afraid I drank Goodwill Germs and will soon develop a nasty rash or something, but so far so good. But, I figured Jack here would be a good tester to see if I want to purchase a new fancy spendy juicer later on. I seriously winged it though, on the juice making. Into the juicer I put…

photo(2)

1 apple, 1 peach, a bunch of kale. And it came out looking a bit like this:

photo(3)
photo(4)Delicious looking, right? Ok maybe not. But it tasted pretty dang good for a non-recipe, first time juice. The juicer itself seemed ok, but as I said, I have no juicer experience and had no idea what to expect. Things I learned? Put a bigger bowl under the waste side. My counter now has pulp everywhere. Oops. Cleaning this guy? Well…. I haven’t tried yet. You see I wanted to give him a good old scrub down before I used him, Goodwill Germs and all, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to take him apart. I even downloaded a manual from the internet, and still couldn’t get the blade part to come out like the pictures said. So I scrubbed him down as best I could and prayed to the Goodwill Gods that his previous owners weren’t really sick or anything. I mean, they owned a juicer, so they were probably awesome right? Anyway, my first juicing experience was ok, and I plan on using good old Jack here more often, once I figure out how to clean him. I am wondering though, if anyone in Juiceland knows…I like my juice COLD. So should I refrigerate my ingredients first? Put my juice in the fridge for a bit? I’m not a huge ice cube fan, so I’d rather not go that route, and refrigerating apples seems weird to me, but I guess I could give it a go. I will keep you posted. In the meantime:

get-to-chuggin-already