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Archive for the year 2017

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.

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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Alaska Trip Recap

Posted on June 14, 2017 by under Travel.    

Brian and I usually take advantage of Memorial weekend to escape to somewhere fun and exciting. This year one of our goals is to go somewhere neither of us had ever been so we planned a trip to visit our friends in Alaska over the holiday weekend. The best part about traveling over Memorial weekend is we don’t have to use up much vacation time. I only had to take three days of vacation (Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) for this trip. It worked out great.

There is no Uber in Anchorage but Sheryll was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and then take us to our hotel to check in and freshen up. Our hotel was conveniently located only about ten minutes away from their place.

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After our hotel pit stop, we spent the rest of the evening with the Orbases. We met their dog Maya and Brian made a new friend.

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We also got to watch the Orbase boys, Steffano and Cameron, play basketball on our first night in Anchorage. What a treat!

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After the game we went back to their place and enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Clayton. Sam helped by staying home and keeping an eye on the potatoes while the rest of us were at the basketball game.

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Clayton served up smoked salmon that was the best we’d ever had.

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He baked the salmon skin in the oven until it was crispy like bacon.

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The next day we all went for a nice hike at Thunder Bird Falls.

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Here are some pictures that we took along the trail.

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We got to see the most beautiful sights along the way.

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Steffano is kind of a ham and wanted to be photographed a every turn.

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Here’s a view of the waterfall from afar.

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Obligatory waterfall photo.

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After getting a photo with the waterfall as our backdrop, our group decided to go down for a closer look.

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The Orbase kids: Sam, Steffano, and Cameron.

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Another picture of Steffano.

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Sheryll’s adorable daughter, Sam.

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Here’s a picture of Sheryll taking a picture.

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Brian and I couldn’t resist taking a few selfies at the base of the waterfall.

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Thunder Bird Falls up close.

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Here’s a picture of Brian taking a photo of Steffano and Sheryll.

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Me.

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Sam, Sheryll, and me.

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Group selfie.

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The kids.

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Here’s a car selfie on the way to the Moose’s Tooth. More on that later.

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Our next hike was in Seward, which was a bit of a drive.

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At least it was scenic.

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We passed by several waterfalls like this one along the road.

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Here’s a selfie that Brian took with Maya on the way there.

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This is a panoramic photo of the beach in Seward which is unlike any beach that we’d ever seen. The black sand is not really sand. It’s more like really fine rocks.

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Our beach selfies.

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Sheryll took a picture of us taking selfies.

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It was a beautiful day for exploring.

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And also taking fun panoramic photos.

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Pictures of our Caines Head Trail hike.

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Trail selfie.

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Panoramic in the woods.

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Group selfie at Caines Head Trail.

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What a beautiful view!

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We had a great time hanging out and hiking with the Orbases. It was way more hiking than Brian had ever done or ever expected to do. LOL. He was a good sport about it, though. And, the best part about hiking in Alaska – no ticks!

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15th Service Anniversary Lunch

Posted on June 14, 2017 by under Food and Drink.    

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I had the good fortune of celebrating my fifteenth service anniversary with some wonderful people a few weeks ago. We ended up going to the Kitchen, a new restaurant that opened at the old Union Station. Well, it’s not that new but I hadn’t been there before until then.

Here are some pictures of our food.

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As you can tell from the numerous food pictures, we had a large party. I don’t think they were quite prepared for us because the food and service that day was subpar. I have no complaints about the company, though.

Anyway, we ended up celebrating on May 25, ahead of my actual anniversary date of May 28 for a couple of reasons. First, May 28 fell on a Sunday this year. Secondly, Brian and I were leaving for Alaska on Friday, the 26th, and I wouldn’t be back in the office until June 1.

A couple of people weren’t able to make it but it worked out well otherwise. What made my service anniversary celebration even more special is that Ginger and Michelle had received approval for my new job earlier that day so I officially transitioned to my new role. Ginger announced it at lunch.

I knew it was in the works but had no idea it had been approved. Michelle joked that I’d probably come back from vacation to a new job and boss. However, it was approved sooner than expected. I was amazed at how quickly everything happened.

Anniversary celebration lunches are always nice but what makes this one all the more memorable for me is that I got to celebrate with both my old and new bosses. That doesn’t happen very often.

I’ve learned a lot over the last fifteen years. I feel like I’ve matured a lot as well. I’m thrilled to embark on adventures in my role. I have really enjoyed working with Michelle the past few months and am grateful to have her as my new boss. I feel blessed that I’ve gone from one awesome boss to the next.

I am grateful and blessed to achieve this milestone and look forward to many more years of service. Here’s to more milestones ahead!

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