Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Things To Do In Juneau: Skaters Cabin

Skaters Cabin is a beautiful recreational area on Mendenhall Lake, located in the northern part of Juneau.  It is a beautiful picnic area with beach access, a picnic shelter, fire pits, hiking/skiing trails, and easy accessibility to the Ice Cave Trail (takes you underneath Mendenhall Glacier).  Cody and I have spent time here on a few occasions, and with the warm weather this weekend we just couldn't resist taking our grill out here for a fun cookout with friends.

The weather was PERFECT.  It was sunny and in the low 40's for the whole afternoon.  We spent about three hours outside there and had a blast.  Specks came too and had a fun time tearing around with the other dogs that hiked by with their owners.  We had the beach to ourselves for the most part.  Hikers and skiers occasionally wandered by (trails pass right behind the shelter).  But, most of them had dogs with them so Specks was in doggy play-date heaven.

Skaters Cabin is a fun place to visit for any of these activities.  It also offers some stunning views of Mendenhall Glacier.  You can view the glacier from the much closer Nugget Falls trail, but the NF trail is always packed with people (during the summer entire tour buses drop off there).  Skaters Cabin may not offer as up close and personal views, but there are seldom other people there and the views can be enjoyed while cooking, hiking, or swimming during the summer.  It's a pretty perfect spot :)

Do you take your doggy hiking/skiing with you?
Where is your favorite outdoor cooking location?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Unseasonably Warm Alaska

We've been experiencing some downright unseasonably warm weather this month.  It's been in the 40's for weeks! And, we finally saw the sun for two days this weekend, which had been hiding from us for the better part of a month.  I was doubting it would ever return.  Thankfully, I was mistaken!

Cody and I spent this beautiful weekend outside as much as possible.  We actually grilled on Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday.  We have gone grill crazy.  It's one of my favorites though.  Cody usually grills meat for himself but I usually do potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, and a mishmash of other goodies. Serve with chips and salsa.  Voila! Perfect snack-y meal!

This weekend really improved my mood and outlook.  I am one of those people who tends to get the winter blues.  And, after a miserable December (we had 60ish inches of snow), a beautiful visit home to see my family, and then an entire month of monsoon-like rain I was feeling pretty blue and nostalgic for home.  This weekend was just what the doctor ordered! It was sunny so I made the most of it every day.  I spent Friday night grilling outside, all day Saturday with friends hiking/cooking outside, and I have a lunch date downtown with a teacher friend today.  Thank goodness for the sun!!

What is the weather like in your neighborhood?
Does the sun/crummy weather affect your mood?
How do you fight the winter blues? 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Midwestern Holidays: Part Two

The second part of my holiday break was spent in wonderful southern Michigan.  My dad and stepmother recently (within the last year) upgraded from a summers-only place on Lake Michigan to a year-round place on a private lake about five miles from the big lake.  This was the first time I had visited them at the new house. Here's a view of their neighborhood from the middle of their frozen lake!

I had a really fun holiday with my dad and his side of the family too! We spent lots of time visiting people, exploring the new city they are living in, freezing our buns off, drinking LOADS of amazing coffee from this coffee shop, and shooting guns…a Red Rider BB Gun to be exact.

I also spent New Years Eve in Michigan and we went out to a local bar.  It was lots of fun and we randomly ended up sitting next to a few members from a popular Vegas show (think nearly naked men).  Apparently, one of their members was originally from the area and it ended up being pretty hilarious for all of us to witness.

It was super fun to visit my family at their new place.  I was pretty sad to see my childhood house get sold this summer, but the new house totally made up for it.  This area in southern Michigan is a place that Cody and I have debated moving to at some point in time (probably when we decide to "settle down.")  There's a decent job market, progressive communities, close proximity to the lake, lots of colleges/schools, and we've just always enjoyed the area.  Getting a chance to experience the area in the winter months was a great opportunity for me in terms of future moving plans.

Overall, it was an amazing trip! I couldn't have asked for a better trip to Illinois and Michigan.  It definitely made me feel a little nostalgic for my Midwestern life.  But, I did miss Juneau and it was nice to be back in my own (tiny) corner of SE Alaska.

Teachers: How did you spend those glorious weeks off? 
Non-teachers: Did you get to take any holiday time? What did you do? 
What is everyones favorite New Years Eve memory? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Midwestern Holidays: Part One

I'm baaaaack!! That's right folks, I am finally back from my Midwestern adventure.  I spent my Christmas Break down south.  Part of my time I spent in Illinois and part of my time was spent in Michigan so I figured I would break this post up into two separate portions.  Let's start with where I was first….Illinois!

Ahhh…I missed those Midwestern sunsets.  Seriously, the sun setting on such an open space is breathtaking.  I can't believe how different the sunsets look back in farm country!

I spent my time in Illinois with my mom and her side of the family.  What an amazing time we all had!

I got to meet my niece, Ember Violet, for the first time during this trip.  I just couldn't get enough of her! She is so adorable.  I loved meeting this funny (and very serious) baby.

I also spent time shopping, eating at my favorite restaurants, chatting with friends, playing with LOTS of babies, and lounging around my childhood home.  It was so relaxing and I left feeling refreshed!

Sadly, the weather was pretty awful.  As many of you know, that part of the country is having a TOUGH week for weather.  It's been anywhere from -10° all the way down to -40° in some areas.  Yikes! I ended up stranded in a hotel in Chicago one night thanks to this nasty weather.  Oh well, that's the Midwest for you!

Overall, I had an amazing time in Illinois.  I can't believe my trip is over.  I wish I could have stayed another week and spent even more wonderful time with my mom, my sister, my niece, and all of my amazing family.  They were all so wonderful and made my trip really incredible.

Are you in the Midwest? If so, how are you battling the weather? 
What did all of you do for Winter Break?