26 October 2012

The Alaska Railroad

My grandparents first landed in Alaska in the 50s to work on the Alaska railroad.  My grandfather had worked the railroad in west Texas & east New Mexico and decided to pick up his family and move to Alaska.  They had 2 kids still living at home, my dad was in his senior year of high school and my aunt, Marie.  However, my dad did not move with his parents.  He was able to stay in a garage apartment of some family friends to finish out his senior year, so aunt Marie was their only child to move with them.

A year later my dad graduated high school and made his way to college in Las Vegas, New Mexico (yes New Mexico, not Nevada) where he met my mom and they were married by summer.  The intrigue of moving to Alaska never left my dad and somehow my mom caught the bug as well.  As my  parents say, they honeymooned the AlCan, the Alaska Canadian highway, in 1953.

The railroad holds lots of history and memories for my family.  I remember stories from my grandma.  The most interesting thing I remember was taking a trip with her to Skagway, Alaska.  It was a trip with my parents and 2 grandmas.  We drove our motorhome up through central Alaska, down to Whitehorse, Canada and took a train to Skagway putting our motorhome on the train (we sat in a train car for the ride).

While on the train she began pointing out various places along the way where they had worked the railroad.  It didn't take long before my grandmother had quite a crowd of people around her as she shared points of interest and tales of old, one after another.

Skagway is a beautiful location and is a popular stop on some of the Alaskan cruises.  If you ever find yourself on an Alaskan cruise in Skagway you MUST take the train ride tour.  It is a beautiful ride!!

Anyway, all this to say we stopped at the Railroad Depot in Anchorage.

 There you can see Engine #1, the Yukon Territory's first steam locomotive that arrived in 1905.

There was a small giftshop inside where we got Brennan his train.  Or rather, engine.
I must say, Alaska has the prettiest engines in the nation!!  Not that I'm biased or anything.  Ha!

At the giftshop I also found this book, which I plan on getting soon!!  Outhouses of Alaska!!  Outhouses are still sometimes all you can find in the middle of nowhere Alaska, other than a bush or a tree!!

Definitely add a train ride through Alaska's countryside to your list of things to do while in Alaska!

25 October 2012

Famous Eats in Anchorage

I don't remember eating at Peggy's growing up, but my dad does.  Peggy's is famous for it's pies and breakfast.

It is located right across from Merrill Field, a small plane airfield.  A large portion of Alaska is accessible only by bush plane.  If that kind of thing interests you I recommend watching Fly Wild Alaska.  It gives a realistic picture of what it's like to fly bush planes in Alaska.  It is a very interesting show and amazes me the weather conditions that these pilots fly in on a daily basis.

My kids learned about Peggy's by watching Sarah Palin's Alaska when Sarah & Piper helped served at Peggy's and picked up some famous pies.  You can see some of the pictures behind Reegan, below.

My Texas hubby was pleased with their sausage gravy!

Brennan showing off his Alaskan train!

I tell ya, my daughter does not know a stranger!!  If a waitress is the least bit nice, she will hug them to pieces!!  This waitress didn't mind one bit!  We enjoyed chatting with her.  She had just moved to Alaska a few months prior.  This was only her second day working at Peggy's.

All my Saturday morning breakfast outing memories are of Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant.  This place hasn't changed one bit!!  It was just like I remembered it!!

Placemats included!

Outside of Gwennie's.

I use to think Texans were a proud bunch, but visiting Alaska I realized that Alaskans could surely compete as a proud people!!  There aren't many places you go where you won't find a totem pole, a stuffed Alaskan animal, airplane paraphernalia, mining equipment, native Eskimo items, or fishing gear.

Jerry liked Peggy's sausage gravy better than Gwennie's, but I preferred my Gwennie's over Peggy's.  Their french toast was better and the memories from long ago made it much more special!!

If you ever find yourself in Anchorage, AK I would recommend both places for the history!!  Both of them have been icons for many years.

I hope you are enjoying my tour of Alaska.  I have SO much more to come!!

24 October 2012

Above Anchorage

Anchorage is Alaska's biggest city with a population of just under 300,000 people.  It's my birthplace and it holds so many memories!

My childhood home.

It's changed a bit since I lived here!  I didn't even recognize it!!  I STILL remember my phone number in this house!!  344-7228!  Ha! 
The porch use to extend all the way down to the end of the house, there was no garage, the house was blue and the Spruce tree on the far right that I remember in that same spot was about a foot tall and I ran over it many times with my tricycle!  I guess it may have survived me! Ha!

The windows on the right were the living room.  I remember watching moose walk by while I watched Charlie's Angels.  Oh, the things I remember!!  
The windows to the left are the bedrooms.  The middle window was my room for awhile and then I moved to the bedroom at the back of the house.  The window to the far right was my parent's room.  This house had a full basement where we had a ping pong table and a piano.

After driving by the old house we headed up to Flattop Mountain, or rather to the parking lot at the base of it. No plans to hike for us!! We still had a great view!!

One beauty we saw was Sleeping Lady.  Her official name, Mount Susitna.  

If you look closely enough it looks like a woman laying on her back.

There is a legend about this beautiful mountain.  To keep this post from being too long I'll just give you the link where you can read it.

Just below Sleeping Lady lies Cook Inlet and the city of Anchorage.

17 October 2012

Alaska Souvenir Shops

What can I say?  It was beautiful!!

For the first half of the trip I walked around in a euphoria, taking it all in, enjoying every sight, every sound, every smell.  I wanted to see everything I knew, loved and remembered!!

We were so blessed with a place to stay with a long time friend and a borrowed church van for our entire time!

I want to remember and share everything, so I'll be doing a series of posts on our Alaska trip.  My hubby was great and took SO many photos.  Although now we have the task of going through all of them!!  I guess that's a good thing as I relive the great time we had.

Our trip started out a bit crazy with a phone call the night before from the airline saying our flight was cancelled.  We were able to get booked on another flight, but our original flight was direct, this one was not.  We had some delays and scares that we might not all get on the plane, but we made it.

You know you're in Alaska when stuffed animals and totem poles are everywhere.

Poor Reegan left her beloved kitty blanket on the plane.  We had quite a few tears the first night, but I promised her we would find a replacement.  So Mr. Wolfy entered our family.

It's actually a husky sled dog, but hey?!  Name it herself, she will!

One of the top places I wanted to go was the Alaska Wild Berry Products.

A little shop started in Homer, Alaska years ago.  I remember visiting the shop every summer on our Halibut fishing trips growing up.  That's why it was definitely at the top of my list of places to visit.  In 1994 the owner expanded and the shop grew into quite a tourist attraction bringing busloads of tourists to it's Anchorage location.  

Inside the shop you can see quite an impressive chocolate fountain, thought to be the world's largest.

 As you can imagine, the whole store smells of chocolate!!  You can even buy several varieties to take home with you.

What started the business though were it's jellies and jams made from Alaskan berries....strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and many other Alaskan fruits like rhubarb and rose hips.

Bears are everywhere throughout the store!  This one was playing the piano!

These benches line the front of the store and you can hang out with some more bears!
It was a joy for us to take this trip with my parents!

During the summer the store extends to an outdoor park with cafe, ice creamery, theatre and you can pet some reindeer.  Sadly the park was mostly closed and we missed the reindeer.  They had just left 2 days prior, but we got a quick photo with this bear in the park.

They crack me up!

Another shop that is a must see is the Ulu Factory.

Are you wondering........


Well, an ulu is an Eskimo knife used to filet meat.  Here is my hubby using one after catching some halibut (which I'll talk about soon, I promise).

I loved the dog sled on the front porch!

So did my kids!

In the summer, you can take a trolley around.  Not sure where to, but I thought it was cute.

Inside the store you can find all kinds of Alaskan products.  Ulus, eskimo yo-yo (I got me a new one!), Alaska shaped cookie cutters, jewelry, ornaments and even bear hats.

Silly boy...

There are some other great shops in the downtown Anchorage area, but these 2 are definitely my favorite.

And that's not even the best part.  I can't wait to show you all the beauty that is Alaska!!  Mountains, ocean, waterfalls, wildlife!!  Soon, I'll share more!!


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