Iditarod races and festivities

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is the last of the great winter races and it's held every March in Anchorage Alaska. Well, at least it gets started there. There are other wonderful festivities that surround this event during Fur Rondy which is one of the largest winter festivals in the world! The whole city puts on their gloves and boots (and other heavy winter gear!) while downtown streets are closed down and race tracks are built for sleds!


City Workers building a safe track for the sled dogs

The city workers actually build up a track of 11 miles through the large city of Anchorage, but the real race restarts the next day in Willow AK. Besides the fact that it's a kind of false start all of the mushers and their teams seem to be reveling in the attention of those that line the streets and watch as they stroll by. It really is quite fascinating! The people cheer as they pass and they wave and sometimes throw their dogs boots that have come off. The smell of animal is in the air and this ritual springs to life and somehow gives hope.

 I've been to several such expositions and it's a whole lot of family fun. I might add, "very cold fun," but that IS the Alaskan way after all. They don't seem to notice much, but my feet start to tingle and then burn from standing in that packed snow and ice after a little while. I'm just not cut out for it being born and bred in the south, I guess! You can read and see my own pics HERE of the last race I watched as the mushers and dogs flew down that very hill pictured above. It's pretty exciting stuff!

This year I was warm and even running around on the first Saturday in March with my convertible top down here in the south, but the Alaskans were enjoying there own mild temperatures (it was above freezing..yay!) My husband faithfully as every year was standing on the sidelines as the festivities in the streets whirled around him. He snapped a few pictures for me so I could pretend I was there! (very sweet, baby!)


Iditarod Dog Sled Races in Anchorage, AK March 2016


 
Onlookers line the streets and wait for the next event in
downtown Anchorage


It's the Annual Reindeer Races!

 

Reindeer are corralled as they wait their turn to race!

 
Crowds walk the historic streets of down town Anchorage




Thanks for joining me as I reminisce of my winters in Alaska! It's really something that you bundle up for, but if you're prepared with the proper gear it is possible to enjoy the freezing cold weather. The beautiful scenery and warm people more than make up for it!! I'll be back in Anchorage before you know it so join me again!




Sweet Georgia on my mind!

A good friend of mine moved to Georgia recently and "us" girls planned a little get away trip to Savannah! Two of us drove over from Birmingham and then another friend drove down from South Carolina and we proceeded to embark on our all girl, all fun weekend!

We started with a couple hour drive over and our first stop was our hotel. Now, we weren't planning on driving around after dark looking for hot spots because that's just not how you do things in Savannah. So we booked our hotel right on the "River Walk" at the "Cotton Sail" hotel. It wasn't very impressive when we first pulled up and come to think of it, it really wasn't that impressive after check in either. Now, don't get me wrong. It was nice and VERY old and historical which I truly love and I enjoyed all the lazy Savannah traditions like ice cold lemonade available 24/7 and the adorable gathering areas out front that scream, "come sit for a spell, y'all!"

As far as all the bells and whistles though... there really weren't any. That would have been all right and I'm not all about the fanciest show in town, but we laid down some pretty shiny pennies for no bells or even a whistle. There really isn't a price tag that could be placed on our incredible weekend though! It was all worth it and I have no complaints.

 
 


 
We pulled up out front which makes this hotel look fairly small and not at all like the 6 story building that it really is. There's a few parking spaces, but to our surprise ALL of the parking is valet. We noticed that parking seemed to be an issue in this area for most building owners and patrons the same. I guess back when these buildings were designed no one was driving cars!
 
The Cotton Sail is an old refurbished Cotton warehouse from the 1800's. You can almost smell the history as you unload and enter the front doors. The best part of valet parking was Harold. He met us as we pulled up and unloaded all of those bags for us, (you can imagine four women, right?) escorted us to the front desk and then up to our rooms. He was a gem and I dare say one of the best parts of our stay!
 
After getting settled in our rooms we quickly hit the streets. We had reservations at none other than Savannah's own best southern cook's restaurant "Lady and Son's" by Paula Deen. The streets were gorgeous and it was a short 3 minute walk which we thoroughly enjoyed and could not take in enough scenery. Take it from me, it's not a good idea to text and walk around there! I almost lost it when I stepped off the sidewalk. Thankfully I was fine.
This was the scenery on our walk to the restaurant. Every block was just packed full of beautiful old buildings, huge draping 200 year old trees, (or more) trolley cars and horse drawn carriages.
 


 
We just missed Paula Deen by one week we noticed as we approached the door and there was a flyer stating that she'd be in town the next week end. I'm sure we wouldn't be able to get close to the place so we were all happy that she wasn't making an appearance.
 
The atmosphere was very southern and everyone was nice. Well, maybe except our waiter when I didn't order that famous sweet tea! I've never been shunned for ordering a glass of water in my life! He's obviously not used to it. They were very impressive with a slice of lemon AND a sprig of mint floating on top. I probably did miss a treat, but I just can't do caffeine that late in the day, y'all. 
I'm glad we went and now I've been there and done that! Fried green tomatoes anyone??
Thanks for sharing Cheryle!
 
 
This is the four of us in front of the Christmas tree in Paula Deen's gift shop.
Tonya, me, Deb and Cheryle
I've never seen so many replica's of butter in my life! Even sticks of butter for ornaments!
I simply adore this coffee mug that one of the ladies picked up for herself and so agree with Paula,
 
"It's a Southern Thing!"

 
 
 
 
After our late lunch we rested for about three minutes and then hit the street again, but this time on the other side of the hotel. Yeah.. the river walk side. You can walk all night up and down that cobblestone road! It was very pretty with the lights glowing on the water and all of the old buildings with there little shops and restaurants all with their own personalities. I think we stopped at almost all of them!
 




 
It was great fun with great ladies and I'm so glad that we went. On the way home after doing our share of more shopping we caught ourselves planning our next trip to Savannah!
I truly can't wait!
 
 

Pensacola Florida in the fall!

My moms side of the family planned a really big Thanksgiving get together in south Alabama this year and my family all got together in a HUGE condo in Pensacola Florida on the intra coastal water way. It was a great condo, wonderful time and a fantastic setting! We were just arriving into Pensacola at the end of our four and a half hour trip and finding our way to the place we were staying. There was an awesome view as we came across the bridge on the Blue Angel Parkway and saw the sun setting in the distance. As my husband and I gasped at the gorgeous view we both noted this huge building set out right on the water and agreed it was one of the best locations in sight. Funny enough, even though we would be turning the opposite direction on the other side of that bridge somehow we weaved around those small white sandy edged roads to that same building and pulled up to "our" condo which was indeed the best around!

 
There were 21 people, 8 kids and 13 adults, all lovingly piled on top of each other day in and day out throughout the week. We were having such a great time that nobody noticed. Really, everyone wasn't there at the same times and even so, we are a very close knit family used to being..well, close! It was the first time in a few years that my four brothers and I have all been with my mom and dad at the same time. It's one of those great times that you get that family photo that'll stand for generations to come, right???? Oh, well, we forgot to get the family photo before one of my brothers and his family left to go back to Virginia... Ok, so we just HAVE to do this again soon!!
 
I hope you were able to be blessed with visiting family and friends during the holiday. Even a phone visit can be comforting and bring a blessing  After all, life is just too short not to love the loved ones in your life!
 
 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
 
Pictured below is my husband and I at Gulf Shores beach right down the road after our Thanksgiving dinner with family and my oldest daughter with two of my grandsons. It was a gorgeous day!
 

 

MARCH MADNESS

The only reason I'm familiar with the term, "March Madness" is because, yes, of course, you guessed it, my husband has it blaring from the TV this week. I'm not interested  in the least or care to even pretend to be, although I think he'd like that. Sorry dear, you're on your own with all those basketball games!


My thoughts for March Madness go in a completely different direction, like the recent foot and a half of snow that showered down on us here in the city of Anchorage! I know, when you live in Alaska you would expect it to SNOW at any time, but seriously friends, I'm ready for spring! This is just pure MADNESS!

 It's been a fairly mild winter, although some first timers for AK winters may not feel that way at all, I've experienced worse. It's definitely been cold, we've had our share of snow and ice, but nothing really extreme with either of those. UNTIL... things began to warm up, most of the roads were clear, the ice was breaking up and people thought just that.. we are having an early break-up. And those uneducated newbies were actually thinking that we were experiencing spring with the rest of the country. It was quite the rude awakening last Saturday morning when we awoke to 13" of the white stuff and it wasn't finished until some areas got about 18".

 It came on with a vengeance Friday evening just in time for five o'clock rush hour. It seems that even the regulars had forgotten how to drive in the stuff. The reports continued to mount for the number of cars pulled out of the ditches and wrecks in general. Many, not unlike the one pictured below, posted by KWHL Alaska's Rock found themselves upside down!



Now, this is what I call, "March Madness!"




 
 
 
I have to admit, it is beautiful, and the brightness seemed to raise everyone's spirits a little. However, with that amount of snow comes a lot of work and even this southern girl found herself doing her share of shoveling. Another one of my least favorite things to do!
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
Even with these road conditions the general population of Anchorage does not stay home or even slow down. It's MARCH MADNESS.
 


He's The BOSS!

 
 
One afternoon I had whipped into a gas station on my way home from work. After I finished pumping the gas I jumped back into my little Volvo and turned toward the 4 lane road that would take me home.  As I was watching heavy afternoon traffic going left and right, all of a sudden everything stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the traffic stopping problem coming straight at me from across the street! A full grown ENORMOUS moose, or should I call him Mr. Moose, was strolling my way and he expected all of us to wait until he had successfully made his cross!
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
Mr. Moose slowly walked at his own pace, ignoring the 40 or so cars that had lined up on both sides of the road either waiting or just watching as he made his way through the middle of the road in the middle of the city. I'm sitting on the side road in the direct path of this enormous creature feeling very small and wondering if he is going to walk across me or around me! If moose feel threatened they can and will attack. There have been many unfortunate incidents of such attacks. I decided to sit very quietly and still while I inconspicuously snapped a few pictures.


 
After this guy got more than an uncomfortable distance to me, he turned into the right hand side of the road as if he were just cruising with the flow of traffic and headed East. I breathed a sigh of relief and watched him as he walked to the side of the road, allowing traffic to flow once again.

 
See how huge he is compared to the car to his left?? My little car is even smaller than that. He was one of the largest moose that I have seen up close! I was for once, glad that I had to stop for gas, one of my least likeable things to do. I wouldn't have wanted to miss this!
 
He didn't seem to be lost or confused and we most certainly weren't bothering him in the least. Maybe he was just on his way home from work like the rest of us! Either way, he was definitely the boss today!
 

Seward, AK

 
Last summer, an old friend of mine from the south, came to visit me in Anchorage. It had been her dream to partake in the "Big Wild Life" one day, if only for a short time. As we made plans to be very touristy during her stay, something my husband cannot bring himself to do with me, we also included a trip to Seward. I was excited to finally be going on a wildlife excursion and hoping to see whales along with other sea life on a day cruise.
 
One thing I did not plan on was how much we enjoyed the ride down the Kenai Peninsula  and through the mountains to Resurrection Bay and the small town known as Seward.
 
 
 
 
 
      We left Anchorage and drove south for about 2  hours early one Saturday morning.  Though we were driving south, we were also driving up and over the mountains. The mountain air was much cooler and there was more snow on that drive in mid June than most southerners see in a 5 year period of time. My friend, Pat, was thrilled to see snow and it was such a  beautiful drive!
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finally, we reached the end of the road, literally! The road dead-ends right into this quaint town, you can't miss it! We found our little port community to be just as charming as we had been told it would be. Parking lots lined the land side of the town, we pulled in and left the car and then we were off on foot to find our boat for the 5 hour cruise into Resurrection Bay with eyes wide open not wanting to miss a thing! The bay smelled of fish, the air breezed with a chill and everyone was going out on one boat or another. With a multitude of tourist info shacks lined up alongside the docks, we walked up and down until we came to the one that we had booked through. 
 
 
 





 
 
There she is, The Star of the Northwest!
We are right on time and  can't wait to get underway!
 
 
 
Join us on our trip out to sea!
 
 
 
As we boarded the Star, we had our picture taken and then made our way up the ramp and into the dinning area. There was to be a Salmon and prime rib buffet served, but it was a little stuffy for me so we made our way up and out to the top tier of the large boat. The view was much nicer and it was not quite as crowded, the fresh air, sunshine and smell of the water felt wonderful!
From there we could see parts of the small town of Seward nestled right below the mountains edge that had not been revealed by car .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The fresh salmon was amazing for lunch and we enjoyed as much of the all you eat buffet as we could. The dining car made the waves feel as though we were climbing mountains and I was having a little trouble keeping my equilibrium in balance. As soon as possible we made our way back out onto the top deck of the Star, determined not to let the sea sickness set in.
 
It wasn't long and we heard the captain's voice instructing us to watch for an Orca that had been spotted portside. Suddenly, everyone was running around, bumping into each other and fighting for a place a long the railing on the portside. "There he is," someone shouted and everyone pointed out toward the splashing in the distance. What a show! He came up out of the water with a graceful force and back down just as graceful, but so quickly that we didn't get a shot. The excitement aboard that little vessel was buzzing and the captain was whipping the boat around to chase our sea friend. With one unexpected turn to the left, then a couple of waves to cross, it  felt like I was riding thunder road rollercoaster at six flags! Wow! I knew I would not last long standing on the edge eyeing that ever so rampantly moving water! I was glad that Pat was taking the pictures at this point.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It was so exciting to see this huge creature playing around in the water and deliberately putting on a show for his audience. Most of us were glued to the screen before us, except for the ones who were staring into their little white paper bags! I managed to hold it together and didn't use mine, but I quickly found a seat where I didn't have to see the movement of the water. Obviously, when we hit the main channel and began chasing our whale, about half of the boats guests began losing their lunch. YIKES!! At least I was not alone in my misery.  The crew was running around passing out the barf bags and these amazing ginger candies to settle our stomachs. Pat was the smart one who had had her doctor prescribe her a motion sickness patch and brought Dramamine. She wasn't going to let anything ruin her sightseeing excursion.
 
Pat thought it was cute to catch me feeling a little green on camera! Thanks, friend!
 
 
 
 
 
The motion sickness finally subsided and the sightseeing just kept getting better! We all ooed and awed as we watched the mountain goats climb on the cliffs, the puffins take flight from rock to water, and the sea lions bask in the sun.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And this guy just sitting back and taking it all in. Watching us, keeping an eye on his world from way up there and probably most of all,  watching for his next meal.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Taking it all in just like my friend, Pat, in her ALASKA sweatshirt!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beautiful!!