July 24, 2012

Sights of Salt Lake City

I arrived late Saturday night in Salt Lake City for the National Tribal Best Practices conference. Starting on Sunday the conference has been tremendous. I have learned so much about the patient experience of health care and why it is important that systems are in place to ensure the highest possible care is provided to patients. I've met and mingled with some great people.

After the conference ended on Monday, I took a jog around downtown Salt Lake, stopping to snap photos along my route.

Washington Square is a city block name for George Washington. The square is the site of the original 1847 Mormon pioneers' camp in Salt Lake City.

The Mormon pioneers were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who migrated across the United States from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. The journey was taken by about 70,000 people sent out by church fathers in March 1846. After the assassination of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, it became clear that the Mormon faith needed a new home. A migration led by Brigham Young began in April of 1847, and the period known as the Mormon Exodus, ended in 1869 with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The Salt Lake City and County building is the seat of government for Salt Lake City. The historic landmark formerly housed offices for Salt Lake County government as well.

Campers were setting up tents preparing for Pioneer Day. An official holiday in the state of Utah, Pioneer Day is celebrated on July 24 every year. It commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, where the Latter-day Saints settled after being forced from the Midwest and eastern United States.

Paradesfireworksrodeos, and other festivities help commemorate the event and people begin to camp in Washington Square the day before to sure themselves a good spot to watch the parade. Similar to July 4th, most governmental offices and many businesses are closed on Pioneer Day.

These gardens were so pretty...

...and I thought the architecture in the square was really unique. 

The view from the top of these stairs was stunning...

After I finished gawking at the scenery and running around the square a bit more, I ran a few more blocks down to Trolley Square (home of the Trolley Square Shooting, which took place in 2007, when a lone gunman killed 5 people and wounded 4 others before police killed the gunman. yipes!)...

...the location of the nearest Whole Foods. 

I love this grocery store, especially the bulk foods section.


After walking around the store a bit, I grabbed a plate of food in the cafe/deli area (another great thing about Whole Foods) and ate some supper. I was beat after a long day of conferencing.


July 22, 2012

Yarn wrapped wine bottle

I felt like getting crafty...and decided to do something with the left over wine bottles we had sitting on our counter.

When Leah and I first moved to Anchorage and didn't have much of a social life, we were into knitting...for about a month. I had purchased some yarn during that time and ever since then, the yarn has been sitting in a bag in my closet (with my half knitted scarf).

So...I decided to put the yarn to good use and made a yarn wrapped wine bottle. I saw these bottles at Mabel McKinley, one of my favorite boutiques in Anchorage. Mabel McKinley has great vintage, handmade and repurposed clothing and home decor. The owner, Deela, is a friend of Leah and me.

Quite easy to make, all you need is a few colors of yarn, scissors, a bottle of Tacky Glue and of course, an empty bottle of wine.

To make the yarn wrapped wine bottle, wrap the yarn around the wine bottle, using glue to secure the yarn to the bottle as needed. I found it easiest to begin wrapping the yarn at the top of the bottle and then work my way down to the bottom of the bottle, although you will notice in the picture below, I started wrapping the yarn around the middle of this bottle.

When ready to change the color of yarn, secure the end of the yarn with glue and begin right where you left off with the new color of yarn.

At the very bottom of the bottle, I secured the yarn all the way around the bottom with glue to make sure the glue did not slip off the end.

Using different colors of yarn, these bottles can really pop with color.

Rio was great company while I was making the bottle...actually I think she was bored and waiting for me to take her for a walk, which I promised to do after I completed this project.

I picked a few wildflowers and put them in the finished bottles to add even more sparkle. :)


July 21, 2012

Healy, Alaska

Leah and I headed North to Healy, Alaska, with some friends to celebrate the summer solstice. Although the solstice occurred on a Thursday, many of the solstice celebrations took place the following weekend. We both had always wanted to visit Healy and figured visiting the community that rests only ten miles north of Denali National Park during the Denali Solstice Fest was the perfect time to get a glimpse of the town. 

With just under 1000 year-round residents, Healy is the stomping ground for staff who work in Denali Park during the summer months. 

Our good friend allowed us to drive her family's RV to Healy, which was a big bonus to the trip. 

After we found a spot to park the camper (our reserved site was stolen by other campers) and organized our belongings in the inside of the camper, it was a great feeling knowing that we didn't have to set up a tent or contemplate weather conditions, especially because it was almost midnight when we pulled into the campsite. We took a quick walk around the campsite and then called it a night.

The following morning brought some very sunny skies; however, they didn't last past Noon and by the time we were ready to cook a late lunch, it began to rain. We decided to forgo the homemade meal over the fire and walk to the 49th State Brewing Company for a late lunch/early dinner. Although campfire meals can be delicious, we thought it was a better idea to eat where we were dry. :)

The 49th State Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in Alaska and is owned and operated by locals, which is pretty rare around the Denali Park area as most restaurants and lodging accommodations are owned by corporate companies.

We ordered a few appetizers and, of course, enjoyed a brew. 

After we were done eating, the sun came back out and presented us with a nice evening of conversation and music.  

Healy is "home" to the Fairbanks City Transit bus that was in the movie "Into the Wild." The bus that McCandless took his picture by is actually 20 miles away from Healy. The route to the "magic bus" can be very dangerous as it includes walking through mosquito infested tundra and crossing the Teklanika River. Anyone who heads out to the real bus is advised to use a guide and check in with the park service because the route is so traitorous. The movie bus was brought to the 49th State Brewery in 2011 after a 22-year old Swiss girl drowned on her way to the real bus.  

While listening to the music, we enjoyed taking pictures around the infamous bus...

The line up for the music festival was just okay; however, we agreed that the adventure and atmosphere made up for the lacking music.

After a quick breakfast Sunday morning, we headed back to Anchorage with great memories of Healy, Alaska.

July 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Smoothie

I like to try new breakfasts and snacks during the weekend, which are often inspired by other blogs I follow or recipes that I find online or by browsing through my cook books.  A peanut butter smoothie recipe was shared by ohsheglows.com during the week and got me thinking that this would be an easy post workout breakfast that is high in protein and could be easily modified to what I have in my cupboards and fridge.

After a long ride on the stationary bike and a run on the treadmill Saturday morning, I couldn't wait to get home and try this smoothie. 

Peanut Butter Smoothie
1/3 c oats
1 c almond milk
1 ripe banana
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp peanut butter
dash of vanilla extract
ice (if desired)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Add ice if desired.

The smoothie was a winner. The combination of almond milk and peanut butter provided the perfect consistency and the addition of the banana and the slight touch of vanilla added the perfect flavor. I did add a couple cubes of ice to reduce the thickness of the smoothie; however, if I were having this smoothie for a snack, the creamier texture would have been desired.

What may become a staple breakfast option, I am excited to try different variations of the smoothie, possibly adding flax or using blueberries or strawberries in place of the banana.

July 11, 2012

What I'm liking...

What have I been liking recently?

Ezekiel 4:9 Golden Flax Cereal

This past weekend I felt like cereal for breakfast and this was the only cereal in the cupboard. Having purchased the cereal almost three or four months ago to make a crunch topping for a recipe I tried, I poured myself a bowl and was pleasantly surprised by its flavor and texture...and so I have had this for breakfast for the past four days with a chopped banana, milk (this cereal has a wonderful ability to absorb the milk and not become too mushy) and...

...creamed pollen

Leah and I went to the Girdwood Forest Fair last weekend (more to come on that adventure) and purchased creamed pollen from Chugiak Heights. Bee pollen is rich in protein and vitamins and has become a very popular allergy relief supplement as well as a supplement for memory, vitality, endurance and performance (although evidence is limited to support these claims). Spinning the pollen with honey allows the pollen to be preserved with a longer shelf life. Just a dash of the creamed pollen added great flavor to my bowl of flax cereal.

Fifty Shades of Grey...

Yes, I joined the cult following of this book. Am I impressed with the book? Somewhat. The book is a fiction fantasy that is erotic, not very well written but fascinating and intriguing. Let me just say that while I feel compelled to continue reading the book, I am looking forward to getting through the book and moving on to another book... 

July 09, 2012

It's our birthday!

For every single birthday of my life, I have had the opportunity to share this special day with my twin sister. You can imagine that for a number of years, it was difficult to find the joy in sharing a birthday...and sharing gifts...and sharing a party...and sharing, sharing, sharing...but, as the years have passed, being able to share these moments with another person is pretty special.

There is not another person in this world with whom I would rather share a birthday. Thank you Leah for all of the birthday memories and I look forward to the many more birthdays we will share together.

Cheers to 28!

July 07, 2012

Solstice in Sitka

Because of a work trip, I spent the summer solstice in Sitka, AK (for more information about Sitka, visit this post and this post, which are both reviews of my previous travels to Sitka). The Summer Solstice is quite a big deal in all of Alaska because of the extended amount of daylight. Because of the long dawns and dusks, the actual day seems much longer than what is determined by the sunrise and sunset.  

Because of the flight schedule, we arrived in Sitka the day before our scheduled meetings. I know a couple people that live in Sitka and had made plans to meet up with both of them. 

Ryan Kauffman, owner of Aquatic Alaska Adventures, a marine transportation and tour company, also is a school grantee of the State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Because he has summers off, Ryan has the opportunity to share his love of the water with visitors to Sitka. His tours are absolutely amazing...he provides a very safe ride and his knowledge of the area really allows passengers to learn about Southeast Alaska while viewing various forms of wildlife.

...Ryan and me getting on his boat, currently named Blue Dog!

Ryan took us all around the Sitka Sound and we eventually ended up at Pirates Cove, where we anchored then and rafted to a beach.

Just as we dropped anchor, we saw two grizzly/brown bears on the coast. The bears quickly scattered but not before Joy, my traveling partner, was able to snap a photo.

In the forest next to the beach, there were old fishing nets tied to the trees. These nets were huge and provided a very relaxing resting spot.
After hanging out on the nets, we went for a short hike and then rafted back to the boat. It was almost time for us to head back to land; however, we did have a few minutes to drop our lines in the water. We cruised to another area of the sound and fished for about twenty minutes....

My first catch was a very, very, very small piece of the ocean floor...

...but luckily my luck got better...

...and better.

Although the fish were all too small to keep, I had a blast catching the fish and reeling them on to the boat.

Next up...Shanna and Trevor Tadic!

Shanna actually went to college with Leah at Northwestern College. A few years older than us, the two of them did not know each other that well. Through a mutual friend, we all got to know each other very well and played softball together for three summers. Shanna moved to Sitka at the end of the school year in 2011 and had Trevor at the end of June. Her husband, Dan, took an engineer position with the city of Sitka.

It was so fun to see Shanna and Trevor. We caught up over dinner at Van Winkle and Sons.

After dinner, Joy and I headed back to the hotel, but we still felt like walking around the city. The sun was out and we wanted to take advantage of being outside on the eve of the longest day of the year.

We headed to The Larkspur Cafe for some live music. 

The two musicians were great. Joy and I spoke with them after they completed their gig and they said they were working on putting together an album with hopes for completion by the fall of 2012. 

Because we had a day of meetings planned for the next day, we headed back to the hotel and went to bed. The day was very eventful and fun...and further solidified why Sitka is one of my favorite places in Alaska.

July 06, 2012

Goodbye Colorado

Matt and I wanted to make the most out of our last day in Colorado. Before leaving Fort Collins, we stopped at the New Belgium Brewing Company.  Although Matt lived near Fort Collins for two years, he had never been on an official tour of the brewery and so this activity was at the top of his to-do list.

When we arrived at the Brewery, we had to put our names on a waiting list for the tour. The first tour ended up being full, but we were first on the list for the next tour, which was 30 minutes later. This gave us just the right amount of time to visit the brewery store and roam around the main building of the brewery.

Sweet bike! 

I think this would be an ideal way to do a "brew tour" in Fort Collins. Home to nine microbreweries and where more than 70% of Colorado's craft beer originates, Fort Collins was named the best place in the country to live by Money Magazine. 

Not bad, eh?!

These are the chairs that were in the brewery lounge. You'll notice the "legs" are made out of tire rims.

Eventually the tour began...and boy was it a great tour. I've been on quite a few brew tours and I would definitely rank this tour in my top two. Our tour guide had worked at New Belgium for almost 20 years and obviously knew the ins and outs of the company. However, Matt and I both agreed that we wish he had talked more about the brewing process rather than the company itself. 

New Belgium Brewery has made it a goal to be entirely wind-powered. Rather than directly using wind-generated power, the brewery elects to pay an increased rate for their electrical energy, which is supplied by the City of Fort Collins Utilities to ensure it comes from the cleanest source possible. About 10% of the brewery's power comes from methane gas created as a byproduct of their on-site water treatment plant.

In addition, employees are given a limited edition "New Belgium fat tire" bicycle on their one year anniversary of working for the company and incentives are given to employees for riding their bike to work...and to employees who drive Eco-friendly vehicles (parking spots are labeled by gas mileage...the better the mileage, the better the parking spot). 


This "gas" pump is actually a charger for electric cars.

We were given a number of tastings during the tour. This is Matt and me in the barrel room, where wood conditioned beers rest one-three years before bottling. These oak barrels were gorgeous and actually purchased from an old winery.

At the end of the tour, it is tradition to ride down the slide...
After finishing the tour, we headed for Denver to meet up with two of my friends from college. I was so excited to see Kelsey and Jason again. Kelsey was my RA my sophomore year, becoming a good friend at the same time. Kelsey and Jason dated throughout college, so I got to know Jason as well. Kelsey has her own blog, Cornfields to Mountains, which summarizes Kelsey and Jason's adventures in Colorado since moving from Iowa in the summer of 2011.

Upon arriving at Jason and Kelsey's house south of Denver, we quickly caught up and headed to Denver Beer Co, which was established in 2011.  

We all enjoyed a beer on the patio before heading to Linger for Happy Hour.

This place was great. We truly took advantage of the great view of the city but the conversation we shared was even better. 

After Linger we grabbed some sushi at one of Kelsey and Jason's favorite restaurants and then headed back to their place for the night since Matt and I both had early fights in the morning. The hospitality Kelsey and Jason provided was so pleasant...it was a great way to end vacation.

While I was headed back to Anchorage, Matt visited his parents in Nebraska for a few more days before returning home. A long week we both agreed that it was nice to get out of Anchorage but felt great to get back to town...especially to see Rio, who was being taken care of by Leah (thank you, Leah!!!).