OLYMPICS!!

How is everyone watching the olympics (cord cutters)??

 

What apps do you have downloaded to get hilights & metal counts?

 

Favorite athletes?

 

Themed parties (a lá Fraser Birthday Olympics from 1992, pictures above)?

 

I want to know everything you are doing to celebrate USA!

 

 

Upper Salmonberry Trail

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Distance: 7.2 miles (out & back total)

Fitness Difficulty: Easy (its flat the whole way)

Technical Difficulty: Moderate
You will walk along many railroad ties that do not have any dirt right below them and across a 105 year old bridge (Big Ben Bridge) that is maybe a hundred feet over the forest floor. I did feel safe along the trail, but if you aren’t comfortable with heights, this may not be the best hike for you. Most of the hike is shaded which kept the things nice and cool! I think a rainy day would make this hike pretty stressful because it would be easy to slip on the railroad ties.

Trailhead: https://goo.gl/maps/69Sa32R4Dm42   The road to get to the trailhead was pretty good, you’ll drive on gravel and dirt roads (so a car with low clearance isn’t ideal but a car with higher clearance is fine) but we had no troubles with our car/SUV combo.

Route (with mile markers): http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/gp/bookmark/view/id/6899936 turn around at Wolf Creek Bridge

Instagrammable Factor: A
We went at the end of June so the wildflowers were lovely. You really only see 2 photos of the trail in most blog posts: Big Ben Bridge & Wolf Creek Bridge  but there’s much more than just that! There’s tunnels, foliage & obviously overgrown railroads.

Family Friendly?  Some blog posts I read say this is a family friendly hike, but my parent’s assessment was only if your children are like 11+ years old.

History! The Salmonberry Trail is a really neat rails to trails initiative that came about after a bad storm in 2007 that rendered the rails unable to be restored for train use. BUT is has paved the way for this great trail system! This trail is not currently maintained, so you need to be careful in some sections. There’s an initiative to make this a maintained trail from Banks to the coast which would awesome! The whole trail could also be washed away forever in another bad storm next year which is why I felt the urgency to check it out on my last trip to Oregon. The hike is remote with no services and stunningly beautiful!

Also, this is the post I thought was most helpful in preparing for this hike. Its 3 years which is why I thought it needed a little updating, but its still a very good resource.

Happy Trails!

Great Western Trail to Big Mountain


2 more wildflowers

3 delight 4 ridgeline trail

5 bright wildflowers7aspens8tom9 orange wildflower(Some photo credit goes to Tom, but I’m not sure which he took and I took)

Distance:
 4.4 miles (out & back total)

Fitness Difficulty: Moderate
You gain a lot of elevation through the switch backs in the the first half mile, but when you hit the aspen grove, you are set with a pretty flat terrain the rest of the hike. Even if you aren’t in amazing shape, you can probably pull this off with lots of stops in the beginning to take in the view, actually that’s probably the best way to do this hike :)

Technical Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: https://goo.gl/maps/FusmF6pP6772
Its up East Canyon; there’s a parking lot where Salt Lake & Morgan Counties meet. Cross the street (there’s trailheads on the parking lot side of the street as well).

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/duTrhMnWKKm
We followed the actual trail until the couple hundred meters, you can kind of see it in the route linked. The trail bends to the left around the mountain and a double track (that runs parallel for a couple meters) summits the mountain. We jumped on the double track and sumitted, but you can keep on the trail and see where it goes!

Instagrammable Factor: A+
This just took the crown as my favorite hike in Utah. With most hikes you walk through a forest and have an incredible view at the top. In THIS hike though, the parking lot has an incredible view and it just keeps getting better the whole time! The wildflowers were unreal (we went early July), there were lots of butterflies (and tons butterflies in training crawling on the trails), aspen groves and stunning mountain range views. It was awe inspiring. I really want to repeat this hike in October when leaves are changing colors.

Family Friendly?  The first half mile is aerobically tough (especially if you aren’t used to the altitude), but the rest of the hike is very family friendly, no scary drop offs.

Notes: BRING BUG SPRAY. Mosquitoes ate me alive and the flies were pretty annoying.

The trail does not end where we turned around, I believe it goes all the way to Canada, but at 19 miles you meet a road in Bountiful (I just followed the trail in Google Maps and am super intrigued).

I live near the University of Utah, so we took the longer scenic drive through Emigration Canyon and it was only a 30 minute drive to the trailhead, highly recommended if you are coming from Salt Lake City.

We went over the fourth of July weekend and even then only saw 3 others on the trail, so that combined with the views would make this a good candidate for an engagement hike.

Happy Trails!

Has anyone else watched Chef’s Table?

Its a Netflix original and made by the same guy who made Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Each episode focuses on a different chef’s story and there is no host- just a beautiful story about food and those passionate about it. I have only watched one episode, but I am already enamored and excited for the rest of the season!

Disclaimer- just like fine dining, this is not bingable & this will make you hungry.

 

Visiting Juneau, AK

The most important thing you can do when planning a trip to SE Alaska is planning around the weather. You don’t want it to be miserably raining sideways the entire time you are up there. I have gone twice in the late spring which was great timing, but summer is pretty fantastic also. I’m crossing my fingers for great weather this third time! Here’s a little info on the trips I have taken to Juneau that will hopefully inspire one of your own!

Alaska Folk Fest (beginning of April)

My first trip up was during the Alaska Folk fest, the flight set the stage with most everyone flying with a stringed instrument in tow

The festival is a community event, where anyone can get their 15 min of fame up on stage at Centennial Hall. While primarily is a music fest, I did take a fun clogging class. The festival pour out into every hotel and house with jam sessions of fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins and any other folksy instrument. People primarily come from all over Alaska & the Pacific Northwest. There’s a headlining band that the festival flies in, but what I think is truly special is the community participation.

 

Here’s a jam session that happened at the beach while I was there with Lindsay’s friends. This video perfectly captures that weekend.

Its just the best, every bar is filled with live and amazing folk music. I was so happy I brought my violin to play in the fun.

jamjam sesh

 

Herring Season=Whales! (end of April/beginning of May)

SE Alaska is on a lot of whale’s migratory path, I planned my next trip around when the herring fish were hatched and running. The whales, sea otters and eagles were all out and about to munch of all the schools of fish. It was the must amazing nature experience. Lindsay and I went out kayaking at Echo Cove while sea otters swam around us, eagles swooped down to catch lunch and humpback whales bubble fed in the distance.

The next day we hiked out to a dry forest service cabin at Camping Cove and a whale just hung out with us the entire time we were there. Swimming back and florth every couple minutes you could hear it blow while it circled the cove. The ladies we went with are from Juneau and had never had such an incredible whale experience, it was incredible to watch this guy feed for hours. I was amazingly lucky to have experienced that.

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Lindsay is a great photographer and you can check out all her incredible adventures in AK and around the rest of the world here.

Other Juneau things

The summer is apparently magical time to go on a charted boat tour, fishing trip or helicopter ride and I’ve heard al of these are just the best.

The Mendenhall Glacier is pretty awe inspiring and a big tourist attraction in town.

Flight details, if you are flying into Alaska, you will want to be on the right side of the plane on your way up and the left side on your way down. Its the prettiest plan ride to get to the the British Columbian coast, snow topped mountains and small Alaskan and Canadian islands dotting the ocean

I may have more to update after this trip, but I’ve been so lucky to have so many great trips up there and such a great local guide!

 

North, to Alaska!

Today, I am flying up to my favorite city in the world, Juneau, Alaska to embark on a Mountainous adventure.  After living in Juneau for 8 years, Lindsay is moving to Colorado and I’m helping her move by road tripping through the ALCAN Highway in the Canadian Rockies. I’m super excited. For the full effect, play this song while reading this.

Today’s post is dedicated to Juneau, Alaska and things I have learned about the funny town through Lindsay’s eye and my exaggeration. These are loose facts. Tomorrow’s will be my trip suggestions if you ever make it up to Juneau.

  • Juneau is really far south, go look at a map and compare how far Juneau is from Seattle and then from Anchorage. Anchorage is even not as far north as you would expect.
  • Juneau isn’t as cold as you would think. The past couple winters, they have had hardly enough snow to keep their entire ski hill (Eaglecrest) open.
  • Southeast Alaska has mandatory footwear. Or at least that would you would think if you went there. Everyone is wearing yellow & brown Xtratuf rubber boots. Seriously, people wear them on their wedding day, out hiking, to work. Everywhere. The last trip I went up, I bought some Xtratufs as a sort of practical souvenir and have been stopped in the lower 48 by real Alaskans asking me where I am from. These are my adventure staple now, rubber boots come in handy way more than I would have expected, they make you feel invincible and amazing.
xtratufsThis is what the entryway of a party in SE AK looks like. This is from my first trip. xtratuf adventureMy Xtratuf’s first adventure! xtratufMy boots were super helpful at a bachelorette party in Utah last summer even!
  • Bears are a real thing in Juneau, the last time I was up there, I was sleeping soundly, but Lindsay heard garbage cans being kicked around, got up to check it out and shortly after saw an older guy walking down the street (downtown Juneau) with a shotgun.
  • Speaking of bears, here’s my favorite news story Lindsay has shared with me. (A bear crashed into a kids birthday party (nobody was hurt)
  • It is gorgeous. The town is set right on the water surrounded by mountains. All the houses are set up on the hill and have a great view of the water as they are nestled in the mountains. Its just perfect. Also, I am the luckiest traveler and its sunshine, rainbows, Northern Lights and cresting whales when I go up there.
  • Northern Lights- they don’t come out in Juneau often. Its either cloudy or not far enough north to see them. Lindsay had lived in Juneau for almost 2 years and suffered through two winters of sideways rain and saw them the first time when I visited. It was really neat!
  • Juneau has a strange seasonal population. I’m sure you have all heard about Alaskan cruises, well, a third of the downtown is full of shops for cruise goers full of ‘Alaskan Fur’, ‘Alaskan Diamonds’ and other funny shops. Those exact same shops exist in every other town that the cruises stop in and are not open during the rest of the year. There’s a bunch of people that show up to work in the town during the cruise season.
  • Juneau is the capitol of Alaska and a lot of the jobs in the town depend on the fact that its the capitol. Legislators who largely live in Anchorage live in Juneau seasonally and rent prices in town swing to match with whatever living stipend the politicians are.
  • Juneau is politically very liberal town while the rest of AK is generally conservative. When Sarah Palin was governor, she didn’t live in the governors mansion in Juneau which was a political snub to Juneau. The locals were largely happy that she stayed in Anchorage.
  • The sense of community in Juneau is like none other. There’s no road out and you really depend on your neighbors, reusing goods and reallocating through second hand shops because there’s no real other option.
  • Alaskans call the rest of the US the ‘lower 48′. Hawaiians call it the ‘mainland’.
  • Here’s another classic SE Alaskan Folk song: Lady of the Chilkoot.

I think that’s all my anecdotes for today!

Not All Butter is Created Equally

I didn’t realize this until recently, but there’s a cult following of Kerry Gold Butter. This stuff is really amazing. It costs more than regular butter, so we only use it for finishing steaks or on steamed veggies ( veggies are they still healthy if they are dripping in butter?). There is a real incredible difference in this butter. I could eat it plain, but I don’t want to have a heart attack tomorrow.

Tom once saw it in someone’s cart at Costco, but we can’t find it ANYWHERE at our Costco. Its our sasquatch. I think it was an illusion and he didn’t actually see it.

Salt & Straw, duh.

I really wish Salt & Straw would expand to Utah. It would even fit well here (aside from the alcohol references) the majority of adults don’t go to bars as much here due to the strong LDS influence. But they LOVE their ice cream shops (perfect date night- amirite?). AND the shops here aren’t anything special. I almost wrote a letter to Salt & Straw about this. I did some research on LinkedIn to figure out who in their company I should send the email to, then realized the decision maker has lived in Utah recently and I gave up. That person KNOWS, they get it and they didn’t need my encouragement. It’s either going to happen or not. My letter would not be helpful. Sigh. I’m just an internet creep that has to console herself with a decent compromise of Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream.

Far Away Foods: Dole Whip

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Yes, this isn’t some far away shack somewhere that is serving indigenous food out their kitchen window but this is just as delightful 😉

Dole Whip. That’s really all I have to say. If you’ve had it you know what I’m talking about. Very rarely is it available. I’ve had it at Wallowa Lake in Oregon. Other places I’ve heard have it: Disneyland, Disney World, and Hawaii.

What is it? It is a fruit flavored soft serve that has no dairy in it so Lactose Intolerants rejoice!!! It is light, creamy, and fruity. Who decided this was a great idea for the monthly blog theme! This is just torture!

Khao Soi

Khao Soi (pronounced: cow soy) was my favorite thing I ate in Thailand, it was widely available and I was shocked that I hadn’t ever tried it in the US as other US Thai staples were all over the menu. Sad news. My assumption was wrong. Nobody makes Khao Soi in the US- especially nobody in Utah. I keep hoping for a return missionary to open up an authentic Northern Thai restaurant, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Anyway Khao Soi isn’t appetizing when I describe it, but it’s incredible. It’s a noodle soup dish that has a drumstick floating in it. The broth was complex and rich, but still cozy and comforting. It has a strong curry flavor with lime and coconut. It was amazing. I should try to figure out how to make it, but in afraid the ingredients will be hard to round up.

You can find Khao Soi all over Thailand, I had it in Chaing Mai & Bankok. If you ever see if on a Thai menu- order it and send me the address please!