Wendy’s Top 10 of Alaska: local beer, taxidermy, and other creatures

Hello, friends!  Did you miss me?  Just got back from a little 4th of July vacay in Alaska!  I know, Alaska of all places!  Not exactly my first choice.  BF is super outdoorsy and actually floated the idea of getting married in Alaska (even though he’s never even set foot in the state).  My compromise was that instead of getting married there, I’d go on vacation there with him. That’s how much I love him! Plus, I was secretly kind of curious how the peeps in the lone state way up in the north lived.  So Alaska bound we went!

Alaska is like one big freakin national park.  There are waterfalls everywhere… bursting on the sides of the mountain right next to the highway that you’re driving on.  Glaciers and mountains in every direction you look.  Animals staring back at you behind shrubs, peeking out of the water.  Absolutely beautiful, but I don’t think I’ll be running back anytime soon.  Let me explain.  So glad that I did it (truly a once in a lifetime experience full of firsts), but the weather was sucky and it took forever to get anywhere.  Did you know that Alaska is twice the size of Texas?  One of the reasons I was seduced into going was that I was promised 20 hours of sunshine a day.  I expected to be tan, golden, and sun-kissed.  Little did I know that it rains like crazy in Alaska year-round, especially during the summer.  My skin didn’t see the light of day.  I was bundled up from head to toe in rain gear and crunchy granola hiking pants everyday.  In terms of my second point, I’ll explain that in a later post.  Before I start griping, I don’t want to short change Alaska of all it’s greatness.  For that reason, I’m going to start with my list of top 10 things I love about Alaska.  So here goes…

Wendy’s Top 10 of Alaska

10.  You can look like crap everyday and not care.  Nobody else cares and I sure didn’t.  Thank you REI khaki hiking pants and North Face fleece…oh, and Mountain Hardwear rain jacket.

9.  Good local beer and generous wine pours. Try the Sockeye IPA, Alaska White, and the Hefeweizen….all solid choices.

8.  Fantastic wood work, creative homemade signs, and animal-inspired home décor (think taxidermy)

Did you notice the moose antler decor on the door and the crazy out-of-control wood growths?

Believe it or not…above animals were all located within one hotel.

7.  Locals with a great attitude.  It takes a certain person to live in Alaska given the harsh elements.  If this is any indication of the local spirit, here’s what the skipper of our boat had to say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear and a bad attitude.”

6. Great sleep.  I attribute this to the heavy dual layer curtains in cabins and hotels….or maybe it could have been that I was on vacation!

5.  The freshest fish you will ever have…even in the most unassuming, divey restaurants!  Salmon and halibut- yum.

4.  The diverse terrain across the state from forests to mountains to glaciers.  Right out of National Geographic and great photo opps.

3. The land animals- moose, caribou, dal sheep, puffins, bald eagles…..even bears!  Makes for good souvenir material.

2.  The sea animals- humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, seals, and orcas

1.  Sea otters and sled dogs- These 2 animals really stole my heart.  Sea otters are the most precious animals.  They carry their babies on their tummies in the water and hold hands while sleeping so they won’t drift apart.  Oh, and don’t get me started about Alaskan Huskies…those hard little happy workers.  We saw a sled dog demo at Denali National Park.  Who knew they could carry so much weight!

NOTE:  We didn’t really get to hang with the Eskimos or Athabascans, but if we did, they would make the list.

The fun continues with my next few posts documenting the highs and lows of my Alaskan adventures in Denali, the Kenai Peninsula, and Girdwood.  Stay tuned.

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