Wednesday, December 30, 2009


From guest contributor, Brad.

Alaska is the Last Frontier and a unique experience for all that venture here. However around the holiday time, all visitors with small children should be ready to field a unique question at breakfast. That question is, "Mommy / Daddy, if we're eating reindeer sausage, how will Santa get around?"

Now there are a multitude of unique ways to answer that question. Here are my favorites:

1. "It's ok, honey. These are the reindeer that didn't make the cut."
2. "Santa decided to fly Southwest."
3. "Apparently the economy finally hit the North Pole, and Santa had to downsize."

And My favorite option:
"MMMMM. Rudolph is tasty!!"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rustic Applesauce

I found a rustic applesauce recipe (read: I do not have to peel the apples) that cooks on the stove, blends in the food processor, and makes my hubby very happy. I love how it makes the house smell! With a recent organic produce delivery increasing the amount of apples in the house, I depleted our stores of a dozen apples, six for each batch of sauce.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas at Alyeska

Brad and I escaped to Girdwood, Alaska, to spend the holiday at Alyeska Resort. Upon arriving in Anchorage, it was as if we never left was raining-- pouring actually. As I steered the rental car down Turnagain Arm, I forlornly looked at the melting snow, the flooded highway, and the lack of ice in the Arm itself.

We cheered up a bit when we entered the limits of Girdwood. Despite the lack of snow on the trees, houses were lit with holiday lights, and the resort itself had decorations in every nook, including the lobby.

After settling into our suite and gazing at the view (see below), we headed to the spa to start off our vacation with massages and pampering. After being "abused" as Brad refers to his deep tissue massage, we showered, hydrated and headed to the Double Musky. We queued up 15 minutes before opening (this hot spot does not take reservations). I was delighted to see the sommelier, Justin, who shares my palate for explosive, full bodied wines. As I perused the wine selections, Brad salivated over the menu and immediately ordered two helpings of the coveted steak tip appetizers. Justin helped me select Du Mol, which complimented the rest of our meal; speaking of which, you can order the Double Musky Cookbook to share in our tastebuds' savory enjoyment; but the ambiance cannot be replicated.
On day two of our visit, we saw blue ski for the first time in eight days, so we took advantage of the Winner Creak Trail and set off to make it to the Hand Tram and beyond. In some of the clearings, we took in the views, such as the one below. The small structure on the right is Seven Glaciers Restaurant, where we dined on Christmas Day.

We also spied a snowman, a little askew thanks to the recent warming trend.

We almost made it to the Hand Tram, but at about Mile 2.5, with me in the lead, I made a sudden stop. I heard honking and around the bend of the gorge, I saw four moving tree trunks--- or legs for a very large bull moose. He was a big 'un and certainly let us know he was there with a constant honking until he cleared the bend. I was happy to sit, have a snack, and wait him out before heading to our turnaround point, but Brad insisted on turning around. Bummed that we did not get all the way to the Hand Tram, I made him promise that we could return in the summer and make a second attempt. In all, we finished the 5 miles in just over two hours, which left us hungry for some Pike's Place Brewery ales and elk burgers at Chair Five.

And for Big Mama: the Anderson pose.

Our holiday dinner at Seven Glaciers started with champagne and delicious selections from the main menu. Their pre-fix menu was tempting (as were the wine pairings), but we wanted to sample the usual fare, including their duck confit ravioli, ahi tuna, and tenderloin. Brad enjoyed a beer from Midnight Sun Brewery in Anchorage, and I paired my dinner selections with some Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc. Fellow diners included a group of gals in light up Christmas lights necklaces, a family in their Sunday finest, and a few Alaskans in their cleanest Carharts.

We hope that you had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to the New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alaska Airport Attire 101

When traveling on Alaska airline jets from Kodiak to Anchorage and Anchorage to Juneau, one may be scheduled to ride in the “combi.” This combination cargo plane and passenger plane brings mail and other small goods to destinations, all while being carried in the section usually reserved for first class. We passengers are deigned to sit in coach and enter through the back door. Due to the backside entry, most boardings take place outside. In the winter, that means dressing like you mean it.

To traverse over the ice on Kodiak’s wind swept runway, one must have yak trax affixed to the bottom of his/her waterproof shoes, with a rainproof shell to ward off the precipitation, in whichever form it may come down at that exact moment. With the boarding door remaining open to the elements as fellow passengers find their seats, be sure to keep your jacket with you; or, in my case, bring a small blanket that can help insulate against the wind that whips down the aisle.

To trudge through the snow drifts in Anchorage, you descend down two (inside) flights of metal stairs, bundled from head to toe, er, snow-appropriate shoe. Upon entering the single digit world of runway-central (sometimes, perhaps with a negative in front of that lone digit), you must gingerly step over small berms of snow and follow little orange cones. At the end of that row of tattered cones is the Alaskan airline employee who lost the recent bet in the employee lounge and resembles the Abominable Snow Person, waving an orange glow stick. Sometimes a jet passes just as you begin the journey down the snow-lined cone-way, which covers the miniscule amount of gravel they placed for traction, causing you to slip, stumble, and then upon regaining your balance and modesty, you glance up and can no longer see the orange glow stick. The wind-blown snow blocks your view of the person who was, just a few second prior, just 35 feet from you. Precariously, you pick your way through the snow, following the orange markers to where you last saw the employee. And like a beacon of hope, s/he reappears. Astounded- and yet remarkably- you feel your right hand go up and wave and smile. Goggles, scarf, and face shield prevent you from recognizing if the smile was returned; but, you turn- as directed by the now-visible glow stick- and are faced with your next challenge: the stairs.

A few words of caution: wind-swept, icy metal stairs whose handle is frosted over have no traction, are incredibly difficult to navigate much less fight gravity in an upward bound motion- even for the in-shape and agile traveler that I am. I dare say that if I struggle, my hat is off to elders and those who legs/hips/whatever are partially made of metal…bravo.

But, once airborne, your struggles seem like a distant memory as you behold the sunlit, snow-capped mountains. The beauty that cannot be described in words and is best left for the lenses of a National Geographic documentary never ceases to astound me. And yet still, as you rub your ankle from the unfortunate near-spill that just transpired, your remember to place your yak trax in the carry-on for the return voyage.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Operation Christmas Tree: Takes 1 and 2

On Sunday, Brad and I set out to find our Christmas Tree. On Kodiak, we do not have lots filled with Douglas furs. Instead, we have precarious icy roads to traverse in search of a tree that -- if felled -- is not violating any land ownership laws.
As we passed the golf course, we left the semi-plowed paved road and started along the gravel, non-maintained portion of Anton Larsen Road. Before long, Brad and I determined it was not a good scene and opted to turn back. And then it happened: another car coming in the opposite direction was more in the center of the road than his lane. He moved over slightly, as did Brad, and then our truck start to slip off the crown of the road. Brakes were no match and Brad decided to steer the truck into the ditch rather than have it flip over on its roof, with us and Tok inside. We were 200 yards from the paved portion of the road. The truck sustained no damage, and neither did we, thankfully. We sat there for 1.5 hours, awaiting a tow truck that was removing someone else from a ditch out near Monashka Bay.

The amount of mush on the sides of the roads, prompting most drivers to traverse down the center of the roads as opposed to our designated sides. And yes, Tok was hot and needed to sit in the cool mush; afterall, it was a balmly 37 degrees. The thick sheet of ice along the road.

On Monday afternoon, we decided opted to keep our Christmas Tree hunt to the paved portion of the road. The issue with finding a suitable tree in Kodiak is that most of our trees huddle in clumps. As you can see below, from afar, it looks like some pretty decent selections just beyond those alders.
But buyer (err, cutter) beware: that is actually a clump of five trees, none of which have rounded frames that you need to hold ornaments or balance in a tree stand.
Alas, after trekking along in Yak Trax, we selected the 2009 Anderson Christmas tree, strapped it to the back of the truck and came home, safely, and without incident this time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snowshoeing in Girdwood

During yet another return trip to Anchorage this past week, I escaped for a few hours to Girdwood, AK. Girdwood is home to the Alyeska Ski Resort, gorgeous meadows, groomed trails, and back country snowshoeing. On the way there, I photographed the late afternoon sun over Turnagain Arm and fell in love with the blue-ish hue it bestowed upon the neighboring peaks.

My camera's battery died shortly afterwards, but not before I caught this shot of my friend, Chris, capturing the inlet's viewshed.

My partner in crime was a new rock climbing friend, Chris, who donned his snowshoes and showed me a fantastic trail that starts just behind the tram [that runs up the mountain]. Not even a 1/4 mile in I had to shed layers. In Kodiak, Brad, Tok, and I snowshoe in an area where are susceptible lots of wind (um, yeah, it's Kodiak). Typically, I wear lots of layers and wind blocking gear. Covered from the elements along the tree lined trail, I trudged along in my base layer and HardWear. The Winner Creek Trail trail varied in terrain, moving along the streams, over bridges, up icy hills, with intermittent glimpses of the mountain from the trail. Occasionally, we stopped to listen to the streams trickle underneath bridges and to behold fungi's ability to live in the winter, as evidenced by a shot I took with his camera:

I am stoked to have learned a new trail as Brad and I make plans to spend Christmas at Alyeska.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Windmills and HH60

Brad may detest that I am posting this, but I thought it an awesome photo of our air crew and the new windmills on Pillar Mountain.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I am an avid reader of Kodiak Konfidential, and I love his posts that bring perspective to some of our laments and reflections about life in Alaska.

The wind in Kodiak woke me up several times this weekend, but having read that Attu was subject to gusts of 178 miles per hour, I will keep my mouth shut about my slumber being disturbed. For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gettin' my urban on

On my way home west, I stopped in Seattle for a few days of loveliness with the Meltons and a future Mrs. Trapp. Having relocated to Seattle this past summer, the Meltons bought a home and immediately gave me the green light to crash whenever possible. And you all know me: I am never one to not accept an invitation from a cultured foodie with a palate for wine that rivals my taste buds.

After my airplane drama, a lovely Sirena collected my sorry arse at SeaTac and took me home. A restful evening ensued, and I was actually nice after a couple hours of sleep. Friday morning, we joined forces to prep the crockpot with the easiest (and later, tastiest) short rib recipe ever. With smiles, we set off to SeaTac to collect Flo, and immediately headed to the International District for dim sum. It was my first dim sum experience, and hearing Sirena order in Chinese made me ever-thankful that my first experience was with a native speaker.

We passed Friday afternoon in the tasting room of Delille Wineries. Our wine steward turned out to be a Coastie mom, and she joined in our lively conversations each time she filled our glasses with a different variety from the tasting menu. Flo and her fiancé are avid wine connoisseurs, living only 45 minutes from Napa. Flo’s specific questions about the varietals and aging paired well with my musing on what foods would compliment the more complex wines we tasted.

Saturday was my day, per se. I started off by taking the ladies to the Donut Shop, on our way to the Needle. This being Flo’s first time in the Emerald City, I wanted to knock out all the regular sights. After being blown around atop the Space Needle and beholding the former St. Anne’s high school (now million dollar condos), we made our way to Pike’s Place Market (click here for video montage). As we walked along 2nd Avenue, passing bars, Umi, and other lively venues in Belltown, our tummies rumbled. I made a bee line for Beecher’s to treat the gals to the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. Our threesome became a quartet when Elizabeth arrived. Introductions made, cheeses tasted, we crossed the street to take in the flowers, fresh food vendors, and artisans in the famous market. As we rounded the corner with the pig, we noticed a loud group of soccer hooligans who took over the street each time the light changed in the favor; they kicked the ball around a little, shouted for MLS, and those with colorful wigs posed with tourists for candid pictures.

We bid Elizabeth adieu and headed back to suburbia. We stretched, rested, glammed up, and then headed back to city center to attend 20something, a wine and food event boasting local vineyards, delicious food samples from catering companies, and a rockin’ DJ. With stewards pouring wine at every turn, our sample glasses filled and emptied repeatedly as we exchanged tasting notes. Two hours after starting the event, I left the girls on the dance floor and collected our coats and summoned a taxi. Safe from the rain, we headed over to our reservation at Purple, a restaurant whose reputation I have extolled before. Wine flights ordered, small bites selected, and musings about the décor began our dinner conversation, which ranged from health care reform, local politics, wedding planning, and travel. To be a part of such a diverse dialogue with well-educated and experienced women was a breath of fresh air.

With tummies full of cheese, wine, and unique dishes featuring autumn selections, I took the gals to Vessel. Custom cocktails ensued, as did our conversation. Close to midnight, I wrapped them up in their coats and headed out to meet my regular car service to return us, safely, to suburbia.

On Sunday, my last few hours in their company featured a goat cheese and spinach quiche, a side of bacon, and mimosas. Elizabeth joined us for some girlie chat over brunch before we packed our bags and headed back to SeaTac…and back to reality. So, a special shout out to my beloved girlfriends. I look forward to doing this again next fall, possibly in Portland.