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Saturdate with Grandma – Zoo Edition

Posted on June 27, 2017 by under Family, Food and Drink.    

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Brian and I took grandma out for an early birthday treat a couple of weeks ago. We went on a zoo date but, before that, we stopped for lunch at Aero Plains Brewing where we knew that LumpiaPalooza would be.

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Here’s a picture of Brian chatting with the owner, Cynthia Wilson. She is a relative of Matt, who was our server at 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage.

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We couldn’t decide what to get so we ordered the “Make Me One With Everything” – TWICE! This package consists of five savory lumpia flavors (original with spicy sweet and sour sauce, pulled pork with BBQ sauce, Caribbean veggie with mango salsa, mac and cheese and bacon with BBQ sauce, and mozzarella stick with marinara sauce) and three dessert lumpias (lemon blueberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, and Nutella banana).

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Here’s the full menu.

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Areo Plains is Brian’s favorite brewery in town so he took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a glass while we waited for our food.

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I also took a picture of Brian and grandma while we were waiting.

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And, an obligatory group selfie.

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Here are some pictures of our amazing lumpias.

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This was grandma’s very first food truck experience so, of course, we had to take a picture with the owner before we left.

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Then it was off to the zoo for the rest of grandma’s pre-birthday treat.

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Here are some of my favorite pics from our zoo trip that day.

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We were going to go on the boat ride but they shut it down early because of the weather. It was rainy the day. It had been raining lightly on and off but then it started to really pour. We didn’t get our boat ride but we got to see a lot of stuff and it was a fun day overall.

Brian and I had a great time and hope that grandma did as well.

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49th State Brewing Company

Posted on June 25, 2017 by under Food and Drink.    

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No trip anywhere is complete without visiting a local brewery.

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This one has a neat restaurant with lots of good food choices.

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Grownups only on this dining excursion, for obvious reasons.

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The flights were a good deal. They offered several options that you could mix and match or even completely create your own.

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I really wanted a set of these cute little pilsners. Alas, they weren’t for sale.

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We weren’t that hungry so we just ordered a bunch of appetizers to share.

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The chips were just okay. Nothing to write home about.

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This was the crab dip, which I enjoyed, even though I think it was fake crab.

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These bacon bites were my favorite out of everything we tried.

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And, of course, we had to try their chicharrones, which were just okay too. We still like the ones they serve at The Hill the best.

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Here’s a pic of Brian trying one of the bacon bites.

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It was cloudy and cold the entire time we were in Anchorage but imagine this view had Mother Nature decided to cooperate.

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This is the view from 49th State Brewing Company’s deck.

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I imagine this would be a neat place to hangout in throughout the summer.

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Here’s a panoramic so you get the full effect.

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And a group photo of us out on the deck.

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After taking a short break for photos on the deck, it was time for dessert. This is the tiramisu that Clayton and Sheryll picked out.

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This is a slice of chocolate pie, which was Brian’s pick.

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I got creme brûlée.

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All four of us shared the appetizers and desserts though, so everyone got to try a little bit of everything. It was a great experience over all with good food, good drinks, and good friends.

Our server Matt was super friendly and, because it’s a small world, we found out that he has family in Wichita. He’s actually loosely related to Cynthia, the owner of Lumpiapalooza and Parsnipity Cafe.

The only thing I would have changed about the entire experience, had I had the foresight to plan the activity, would have been to schedule a brewery tour. I think that would have been really cool. Perhaps we will do so on our next visit because I doubt this will be our last trip to Alaska.

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We’ve Been to Dog Heaven and It’s in Anchorage

Posted on June 20, 2017 by under Travel.    

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I forgot to mention the best part about SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake. There’s an amazing dog park next door and we were told it’s the best in the area. After walking the trail several times, we have to agree.

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Here’s a map of the lake that shows the trails and the areas where the dogs can be off-leash. The dog park more suitable for well-behaved dogs though, because it’s completely open with no fences. It’s beautiful but I’m not quite sure how our dogs would fare. We’d probably need to train them really well first.

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One of our favorite things while in Anchorage was to walk around the lake every morning after breakfast. There were always lots of friendly dogs around which made us really miss Molly and Saki.

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There was no shortage of happy dogs and friendly pet owners.

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I had to take pictures of the dog park because it’s the most beautiful park I’d ever seen. Most of the dog parks around here are just fenced grassy areas. This was nature at its finest.

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Our surroundings were so breathtaking we had to take a bunch of selfies!

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The park is so huge that, even though it’s frequented by lots of visitors (humans and dogs), it never felt overcrowded.

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It wasn’t unusual to see dogs roaming about freely with their owners either lagging behind or walking ahead.

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This is the part of the lake opposite our hotel. You can kind of see the building through the trees.

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The dog park is amazing with breathtaking scenery but wasn’t without risks. There were signs like this in certain parts, which was a bit scary but we never did run into any moose — aggressive or otherwise.

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It was pretty cold the entire time that we were in Alaska but it didn’t keep us from enjoying our daily walks around the lake. We loved meeting all the friendly dogs and people. Not only did we get our daily allotment of physical activity, we also got our daily doggy fix.

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The sun finally came out on our last day in Alaska so we at least had one jacket-free day and we enjoyed the dog park even more.

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We cannot recommend this hotel enough. It would have been way cooler if we had Molly and Saki with us but you’ll love staying at the hotel whether or not you have your fur-babies with you.

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SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake

Posted on June 18, 2017 by under Travel.    

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Brian and I found the best hotel in Anchorage. The hotel is fabulous for so many reasons but the best part is that we didn’t pay a dime for our four-night stay.

We chose to stay at SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake for our Memorial weekend Alaska getaway for a couple of reasons. First, I had earned a bunch of Marriott rewards points from working in Kansas City that were finally available to use and I had just the right amount of points for this hotel. Second, the hotel is conveniently located ten minutes from the Orbases place in Anchorage.

Once we got there, however, it quickly became clear that there are so many more reasons to choose this hotel when in Anchorage.

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The hotel sits on University Lake so most rooms have fabulous views of the lake behind the hotel and the mountains beyond.

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Here’s the view outside our hotel window.

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Our room was both spacious and cozy. Here are some pictures.

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A built-in desk separated our couch/hang-out area from the bed/sleeping area.

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The built-in desk has a sliding partition that you can open or close which is convenient for when one of you wants to work and the other wants to sleep.

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The decor of the room is modern and minimalist with functional furnishings.

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The bed was quite comfortable and, thanks to blackout shades and heavy curtains, we had no trouble sleeping despite the 18+ hours of daylight.

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Here’s another view of our room from the opposite vantage point.

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The European-style bathroom configuration seemed odd at first, but it was consistent with the minimalist, modern vibe.

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What I mean by European-style is the toilet is in a separate room instead of being in the same same room as the shower. You can see our shower area on the right and our toilet area to the left of it.

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The toilet and shower are right next to one another but they are separate, self-contained, little rooms with their own doors. Here’s what the toilet area looks like.

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The hotel also has a decent fitness center.

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Here are pictures of the contemporary lobby.

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I liked that there are power outlets everywhere.

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The power outlets are scattered throughout the lobby area.

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This is the courtyard behind the hotel with the giant fire pit.

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The gate leads to the trail that goes around University Lake.

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Here’s Brian enjoying some sunshine out in the courtyard.

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Besides the beautiful scenery, fitness center, and pool, other key hotel amenities included free wifi, free breakfast, and free suckers at the concierge desk. These weren’t just any ol’ suckers, though. These were Chupa Chups, the kind I grew up with. This was Brian’s first time trying Chupa Chups and he absolutely loved them. He even brought some back home to Wichita.

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Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria

Posted on June 18, 2017 by under Food and Drink, Travel.    

Our eating times were all sorts of jacked up when we were in Alaska. We were eating lunch and dinner at random times. I guess when there is no night time it’s not that unusual to eat dinner at 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening because it doesn’t feel like it’s that late outside.

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Moose’s Tooth is where we ended up eating a late lunch after our Thunder Bird Falls adventure. Thunder Bird Falls is a nice trail really close to Anchorage in Chugiak, Alaska. It’s a pretty easy hike and easy to get to as well. It’s only about 25-minutes from Anchorage. Once you’re there, you can go up to view the waterfall from afar or you can take the creekside trail and get close to the waterfall.

We didn’t do that much hiking and we stopped plenty of times to take photos so it wasn’t like we were exhausted or anything, but we were starving nonetheless. So we decided to go to Moose’s Tooth for a late lunch.

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Here’s what the restaurant looks like inside.

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It’s kind of neat and it’s very popular with tourists and locals alike. We had to wait 30-40 minutes to be seated.

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Here’s a picture of Sheryll with the kiddos that I took while we were waiting. The pretty girl next to Cameron is his girlfriend. She went on the hikes with us.

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Moose’s Tooth is known for their handcrafted pizzas but they also have great salads. This is the spicy buffalo chicken salad.

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There were lots of salad choices and they all sounded delicious.

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I really wanted to try the raspberry vinaigrette salad because the descriptions sounds very similar to the summer salad that I love at the Yard House which they have removed from the menu. I was really disappointed when they did that.

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Anyhow, the fat girl in me won. I was dying to try Moose’s Tooth pizza so I skipped the salad. One side of the menu is dedicated entirely to pizzas. Most pizzerias that I’ve been to will have two or three chicken pizza options. Moose’s Tooth had a dozen. They also had over a dozen regular meat options. There’s also more than a handful vegetarian pizza options. Something new that I hadn’t seen anywhere is a seafood pizza, which I now kind of wish I’d tried.

They have a very impressive menu.

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We ordered three different pizzas. I believe this is the brewhouse favorite, which consists of Italian and chorizo sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and Denali sauce. This was Clayton’s pick.

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This is the carnivore, which is the flavor that Brian and I really wanted. The carnivore consists of bacon, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage, mozzarella, provolone, and marinara sauce.

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This is the avalanche pizza, which is what the kids really wanted. The avalanche has pepperoni, blackened chicken, bacon, red onions, parsley, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, and barbecue sauce.

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We got the carnivore and avalanche in the largest size we could get and the brewhouse favorite in their medium size, which is also pretty big. I really wanted to the avalanche and the brewhouse but I got pretty full after one slice of the giant carnivore pizza.

I may or may not have tried to force a second slice down my throat. I couldn’t help it. It was so good! LOL.

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The problem with going to a restaurant when you’re starving is, just like when you’re at the grocery store hungry, you end up ordering way more food than you can eat. This is what happened to us. The carnivore and avalanche pizzas were enormous. We probably should have been more strategic when ordering rather than just listening to our bellies. Anyway, we packed up almost half of all our food and sent it home with the Orbases. This works perfectly because growing kids eat a lot so they had plenty of leftover pizza to munch on over the next couple of days.

So what’s the verdict? I really loved Moose’s Tooth pizza. The wait was totally worth it. Their pizza is super good — some of the best I’d had. I highly recommend dining at the restaurant when you’re in Anchorage.

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