Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anchorage and a Hostel

View of some gorgeous mountains as I flew towards Anchorage.  I don't think I will ever get sick of seeing beautiful snow covered mountains.

First picture is a view from the Anchorage airport.  Second one is walking down the street by my hostel.  I'm sure I looked like a weirdo to the locals.  I would walk, stop, stare, repeat.
Saturday, I walked around downtown Anchorage.  Its a beautiful clean area.  I lucked out with a bright sunny warm day. The photo below is the side of the mall.  I love the whale mural.  I decided to head to a grocery store to check out the availability and cost.  I was surprised by the cost.  Grocery prices are very similar to Chicago prices only without the sales tax.  I expected much higher prices.
This area of Anchorage had several touristy shops, probably not what you would consider local town stuff.  Skateboarders are very prevalent on the streets and parks.  A gang of them skated down the middle of Main Street.  While sitting on a park bench enjoying the view and reading, a Native Alaskan drunk guy decided he needed to talk to me.  Eventually he wandered off to bother others.  One thing I noticed is bike riders bike on the sidewalks, not on the road.  I don't understand why because the roads are wide, pothole free and almost car free.

I want a shelf full of Alaskan mugs.  Check out the fancy way to drink wine outside bugfree.  I want one.
Alaskan Backpackers Inn
Anchorage, AK

After cabbing my way from the airport, I arrived at the hostel.  This is my first stay in a hostel.  I was excited and nervous.  I've read enough online about hostels but wasn't completely sure what to expect.  It was unique, that's for sure.  Honestly, the Inn was exactly what I expected.  Funky.  I loved the hallways and stairwells with the random murals and sayings from former guests.
The front desk staff was helpful.  The kitchen appeared to be stocked with useful appliances and kitchenware.  Rooms were clean.  My only complaint: different sheets on the lower bunk in my room.  The upper bunk had great sheets but the bottom bed had rough prickly sheets.  I wish I could have taken the blackout curtains to my room in Denali.  The hostel was in walking distance to a grocery store and downtown.

Upstairs lounge with library
My room.  A private single but this one was outfitted for a family.
Upstairs hallway
View from my room



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tomorrow's Dream

Tomorrow I embark on my biggest solo adventure to date.  Tomorrow at 1:47pm I fly off to Alaska.  Alaska has been my dream state for about 10 years. Originally, I thought I would go there as a teacher for the school season and come home for the summers but that didn't work out.  Then I hit upon resorts.  Working in a resort is another one of my Bucket List items.  This idea I could get behind.  I knew eventually I would make it there but wasn't sure when that would happen.

May 2, 2014

That is when its happening.  Woohoo!

Anchorage will be my first place to explore.  I fly into there at about 7pm.  I'll spend 2 days wandering around before heading north to Delani on a bus.  I'll also get to experience my first stay in a hostel.  Wish me luck.  I'm a little nervous.  Hopefully, my excitedness will overshadow my nervousness.

Time to repack my suitcase and see if I can make it less bulky.  Till tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And Its Official

Right after I posted about the possibility of going to Alaska, I got the official word that I'm hired.  I'm super excited and can not wait to head north.  Between now and May, I feel like I have tons to do. 
  • Do some new work stuff.
  • Buy plane ticket.
  • Make reservations. 
  • Sublease apartment.
  • Pack.
  • Move.
  • Visit both kids.
  • Also want to make sure I have passport in hand before I leave just in case opportunity for foreign travel pops up
So many things.

Have any suggestions of what to take with me for a spring/summer/fall in Alaska?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Heading to Alaska

Fingers crossed.  If all goes well, I will be heading to Alaska in May.  I'm currently in the running for a job at a resort in Delani.  My excitement can hardly be contained.  Hopefully, I will find out this week.  More news on this adventure to come.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sketchbook Project 2013

I have wanted to participate in Sketchbook Project since I first heard about the project through Linda at Curious Notions.  2013 was my year.  Below are photos of the book I mailed off.  I had planned on drawing pictures but the book evolved to a travel scrapbook instead.  I traveled quite a bit for me last year and it made logical sense to create a scrapbook.  Enjoy.




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicago Wine Bars

I love wine.  Can't deny it.  In the slightest way.  I love it.

I would rather have a glass of cheap wine than an expensive martini or craft beer any day. 

So the thought of going to a place that labels itself "a wine bar" makes me swoon.  Unfortunately, I have only made my way to two wine bars in Chicago: Bin 36 and Oenology.

First up: Bin 36
339 N. Dearborn Ave.

I've been here twice. Pictures are from my first experience. My friend Christy accompanied me both times. Our experiences are like night and day. First time, the service was horrible. The second time, it was fantastic. Both times the food and wine was excellent.   During our second visit, we mentioned to the gentleman who brought us our wine flights that our service was going so much better this time.  He continually checked on us and pried information out of us about prior visit.  Little did we know he was the owner.  I highly recommend a visit to Bin 36 if you are in the downtown Chicago area.

Next Up: Oenology
505 N. Michigan Ave.
This wine bar is tucked into a hotel building like Bin 36.  I spent a few hours here killing time and enjoying a great flight of Pinot Gris and a cheese plate.  I feel in love with Pinot Gris on my visit to Portland, Oregon.  While the bartender and I both agreed that my wine flight and cheese plate did not compliment each other, both were fantastic.  I picked them individually based on my taste buds at the moment.  The red wine I ordered as a follow up went perfectly with the Hardliner cheese flight.  Yum.  Try this place.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Burgers in Chicago

I have a thing for hamburgers, not traditional hamburgers which are plain with lettuce, tomato, and raw onion.  I love ones with STUFF on them.  If you know me, it is typically the same type of stuff over and over but I like to compare burgers.  Burgers are something I get mad cravings for every couple of weeks.  I wish I was more consistent with my food picture taking so I had pictures of each restaurants' burger for comparison.

The standard stuff I like on my burgers - cheese, bacon, fried or caramelized onions, bbq sauce.  I do venture off my standard path occasionally but I'm fairly predictable.

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar was recommended to me by several people as The Place to go for burgers.  Well....that would not be my opinion.  I had the Aged Cheddar burger with caramelized onions.  The flavor didn't pop for me.  The burger was small and the bun...not my favorite.  However, the Amish Blue and Smoked Bacon fries and Chili Rubbed Onion Strings were amazing as well as the Not-So-Daiquiri Daiquiri.  I would definitely go back just for the daiquiri.  It is very rare to find a bar that can make a regular lime daiquiri or even know what I am referring to.  It was delightful.
Kuma's Corner
A terrible picture. My phone, at the time, took awful pictures.
Kuma's Corner is by far my favorite Chicago place to get a burger.  They also offer fantastic mac n cheese with a variety of add-ins. Yum yum. I've tried the Mastodon and Kaijo burgers.  I love the pretzel buns.  The burgers are huge and flavorful.  The atmosphere is heavy metal (not my first choice) but I love the heavily tattooed and pierced staff.  Kind of an anything-goes type of place. Kuma's is very popular and usually involves a long wait but it's well worth it.
Poag Mahone's
OMG! Try the Bacon, Beer and Shot burger at Poag Mahone's.  Wonderful. Good bun, great flavor, nice size.  Perfect.  I went during traditional happy hour.  The bar sported an afterwork white-collar crowd. 
Another of my favorites is the Hillbilly Paradise burger at The Squared Circle with cheddar, pulled pork, and bourbon bbq sauce.  This restaurant does an unique twist to burgers.  They stuff them.  My burger was stuffed with cheddar and topped with cheddar.  Hell yes!  Check out their menu with the different combination.  Ahhhh, now I'm hungry. 
Chicago offers so many places to get burgers that this will not be my last post on burgers. 
Have any recommendations for me?