Part 2: The Alaska State Fair Events

My daughter and I decided to spend a beautiful Sunday at the Alaska State Fair. She did not go two days ago when my son and I went to the concert. You can read about that adventure on the Part 1 blog , if interested.

Our primary reason for going was to enjoy the events on a gorgeous sunny Labor Day Sunday. Why not be outside on a day like today? We mapped out our favorites before we left our house: Dan Meyer, The Sword Swallower, Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack show, Age of the Dinosaur, and Cirque Zuma Zuma. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get to see Cirque Zuma Zuma.

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The first event was the performance by Dan Meyer. He was very entertaining and definitely put on a show. In fact, the Alaska State Fair printed program describes the show like this:

Known for his ‘cutting edge innertainment,’ Dan Meyer is a 40-time World Champion Sword Swallower and holds seven Guinness World Records. Hailed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the ‘World’s TOP Sword Swallower,’ Dan made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent where he was AGT’s ‘Most Dangerous Act’ (Alaska, 2018, p. 15).

One of his performances is shown below.  I can’t show all of my recorded segments because you must make plans to see his show yourself to appreciate his humor and skill.

The next event we saw was the Lumberjack Show.  It was awesome.  The lady announcer said she was Fred Scheer’s wife. (The show is Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Show.)  I thought she did a fabulous job and earned her spot there.  She was raised around Lumberjacks and is quite accomplished herself.  The Lumberjack Show was described like this in the program:

Watch world-champion lumberjacks battle it out in the ‘Olympics of the Forest,’ while comedy routines keep everyone laughing. This fast-paced show features the same events showcased in ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games and the Lumberjack World (Alaska, 2018, p. 15).

All of the performances by these talented Lumberjacks were awesome.  I will share the pole climbing competition with you.  Apparently, this is one of the events that happens every year.  If you are at the Alaska State Fair in the future, definitely put this on your must-see list!

The last event we went to, besides more of the beautiful flower gardens, was the Age of the Dinosaurs.  It was definitely geared toward younger children but Caris seemed to enjoy walking through and seeing the pretend dinosaur land.

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“I feel like there is something behind me.” – Caris

I will leave you with a few tips and other random pictures.  Some tips: arrive early to avoid long waits on the highway, tie a jacket around your waist in case the temperature drops, order your tickets online for speedier entry, take some cash for the parking fee, and map out your preferred event times prior to arrival.

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GCI is a communications business in Alaska.
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The giant chair was in the Farm Exhibits barn.
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Parking isn’t free.  It is $5 for the day and it was a walk to the fair entrance gate.
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We LOVED visiting the fair! Bye!

XOXO,

Mel

The Alaska Zoo: A Fun and Historical visit

Do you ever have one of those amazing days that just comes out of the blue?  Yes, that happened to me on Friday.  My daughter has been asking for months to visit the Alaska Zoo.  However, I unfortunately do not have fond memories of the only real zoo I ever visited as a young child.  It was the Jacksonville, Florida zoo.  I can’t say the animals weren’t interesting back then, but I can say the weather was hot, my clothes were drenched in sweat by the end, and the gnats were eating me alive.  Thus, my 1980s zoo trip wasn’t the fondest.

When my daughter asked me to take her to the zoo, I was hesitant for a while.  However, Friday was expected to be a beautiful weather day.  One thing I have learned about Alaska is if the weather is nice, you must be outside.  If your house is dirty, who cares?  If you work from home like me, take it outside.  Basically, do anything to be outside. I figured… what better day to go to the zoo?  The weather is nice and my daughter and I can build a fun memory together.  I thought the opportunity was priceless.

Upon arrival at the Alaska Zoo, we met a nice older couple who just exited.  They were extremely excited about their visit, which actually made me excited.  They were visiting from Colorado and made Alaska their home in a rental R.V. for a solid month. The gentleman was so excited about his Alaskan vacation.  He bragged about how renting his R.V. back in October 2017 actually helped him save about $200.00 on his daily rental purchase.  I thought that was fantastic considered he stayed for about 30 days.  Yes, do the math, he did save a ton of money! (You can’t say I have never given you anything.  That was a HUGE tip on savings!)

Now, we had no idea what to expect because my daughter said she saw about 9 animals on the website.  However, after we purchased our tickets , we received a map and there were many more animals at the zoo than we anticipated.  This was going to be spectacular!  We made a vow to visit each one of the animals and not to rush the experience.

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The first animal we saw was a polar bear.  He (or she) was sleeping soundly and wasn’t very active.  After that, we saw the following: a porcupine, alpaca, camel, caribou, brown bear, snow leopard, black bear, yak, bald eagle, trumpeter swan, Amur tiger, wolves, moose, and much more.  Below are a few pictures we took.

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The Brown Bear Exhibit was our favorite.  There were three of them and we watched them for about 20 minutes.
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I am checking out my map beside the Moose exhibit.
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Trumpeter Swan
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Caris is pointing at a Mountain Goat.
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A black baby seal relaxing in the sunshine
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This is a Bactrian camel with two humps.  They come from African and Arabia. Camel humps store fat, not water.  (This is a major misconception that camels store water in their humps.)

 

After viewing the cute animals, we stopped by the Discovery Center.  It was essentially a brief historical journey of the zoo.  I discovered the Alaska Zoo was created by accident.  Annabelle was an 18 month old elephant who was won in a sales promotion by an Anchorage grocer named Jack Snyder in the late 1960s. Jack chose the elephant as his prize (versus $3000.00) to dazzle the community at the already planned event, “The Centennial Commission.” It was the 100th celebration of Alaska’s purchase from Russia.    A Centennial Zoo was already planned but what Jack did not know was the zoo wasn’t going to get approved due to lack of votes.

While Jack was figuring out what to do, Sammye Seawell, a serious, yet perfect-looking 1950’s housewife (see her photo below), offered a heated horse stall to Annabelle at her ranch. She and Jack eventually spoke of what to do with Annabelle. Sammye jumped at the chance to keep the baby elephant.  After all, she had fallen in love with her. Children wanted to meet Annabelle and the community was excited about her.  Of course, the Alaska Zoo was created with Annabelle being the first animal and the main attraction. The neatest thing I learned about this elephant is she became famous.  Many people, even celebrities, visited the zoo to get a glimpse of her.  She even began painting in 1991 and created pretty pieces that became t-shirts.  These t-shirts were sold all over the world.  There are many awesome photos of Annabelle at the Discovery Center but I will tease you with at least one board from the center called, “How we Began.”

 

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You must visit the Alaska Zoo for the full exhibit!  What a cutie…
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One of Annabelle’s originals

Did you think I was finished?  Nope, not yet… There was a cute seal named Onyx there. We saw Onyx pushing on the glass when we first arrived at her pool.  One of the employees told us that Onyx was orphaned very young and didn’t get enough time with her mother.  As a result, the little cutie spends some time suckling the glass every afternoon to sooth herself.  She then goes about her business playing, eating, and swimming.  She was adorable!

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Onyx, the cute baby seal suckling the glass…

We hoped you enjoyed our visit.  Now, go out and make your own memories at The Alaska Zoo.

XOXO,

Mel

A Personal Account: Emotional Support Animals aren’t Bull—-!

As you know from reading my blog, my daughter has an ASD, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Originally, her diagnosis was Asperger’s Disorder but back in 2013 this diagnosis *poof* disappeared from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is THE BOOK of disorder identification (Sole-Smith, 2014). This manual had many changes listed in that newest edition (Sole-Smith, 2014).  Either way, she still displays difficulties in understanding how to respond in some social interactions and has sensory issues, regardless of what you call it.

Recently, we went on a trip home to visit family.  I was very hesitant because of my last flying experience with her.  In 2016, we flew from Georgia to Anchorage.  This travel day ended up being about 14 hours.  As you can imagine, this is a tough travel day for anyone.  However, with my daughter’s sensory issues, it was horrendous.  She wiggled, squirmed, made howling noises, and was pulling my arms in agony.  I think I ended up with a few scratches and small bruises at the end of it all. (She wasn’t intentionally trying to do this, but flying is hard for her.)  The reason for her agony was the pressure in her ears and the confinement to our seats for such a long period.  I know what you may be thinking.  She was a young teenager!  How can this be?  Children with an ASD can sometimes act younger than their actual chronological age.  This causes problems with the general population because a younger child acting like this doesn’t get near the nasty stares and comments as a child who appears much older.  It is simply a much harsher world, most of the time, when an older person has a non-visible disability.  People do not understand .

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We love Alaska Airlines.
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These two are best friends.

Fast forward to our recent flying experience… I must admit that I was a little nervous.  However, our miniature schnauzer, McKinley, flew with us as an Emotional Support Dog.  (We bought her after our last flying encounter.)  There has been so much controversy about this lately that I felt I must talk about this on a personal level instead of simply offering profuse apologies. I think a better angle is to offer our story. I know some of the controversy exists about animals being on planes for people without disabilities AND the potential of these animals causing allergic reactions to other passengers. However, the scrutiny seems to be growing against anyone associated with an animal while traveling.

We were met with angry glances, rude comments, and whispers.  In fact, this very rude gentleman man in first class said something after my daughter and I walked on the plane early.  (This is another way Alaska Airlines helped calm her fears, by letting her board early.)  This man was already boarded when we walked to the back of the plane in coach.  My son overheard him saying, “I can’t believe they were able to board early.  This emotional support animal stuff is bull—-.” His comment was out of line.  My initial thoughts were to find this man and tell him the difference it has made for my daughter.  However, my son said, “mom, it isn’t worth it.”

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How can you be mean to this adorable little animal?

Therefore, let me share with you how big a difference this little, sweet animal (who is also hypoallergenic naturally) has been for my daughter.  My daughter loves her emotional support/service animal.  McKinley’s presence is very calming. My daughter is so concerned for McKinley’s well-being, that she doesn’t act inappropriately on the plane, even though she is stressed.  McKinley literally sat in my lap (with my daughter petting her) or she sat on her lap.  For our trip, all of McKinley’s needs were in order: shot records, rabies shots, a doctor’s short letter on prescription pad specifying her emotional support, and  carrier with food, toys, snacks, etc. We didn’t go unprepared.

My plea for airlines is to realize how much emotional support animals can help people.  Please do not stop allowing this because of a few disgruntled people.   There are several dogs that are hypoallergenic, like our little one.  These animals do not cause allergy issues for others on board.  In fact, Dyck (2013) has a list of hypoallergenic dogs which includes: The Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, some of the Terriers, the Irish Water Spaniel, to name a few. Also, my gratitude to Alaska Airlines is endless. Not only did we arrive in Georgia without incident (by my daughter or by her service animal), but our trip in Georgia with McKinley, was pleasant too.

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Lastly, if you are unaware of how someone is impacted by an ASD, please feel free to check out my references section for more information. Also, if you are in opposition to have animals on board to help people like my daughter, and you have no condition like hers that plagues you every day, shame on you. For someone in that last category, if you don’t think you know much about prejudice and discrimination, you know much more than you can imagine with that attitude. (Please check out a random Introduction to Sociology course from the library and read it.)

Sincerely,

Mel

 

References:

Dyck, A. (2013, October 22). Dogs that don’t shed: 23 hypoallergenic dog breeds. Homes Alive Pets. Retrieved from https://www.homesalive.ca/blog/dogs-that-dont-shed-23-hypoallergenic-dog-breeds/

Sole-Smith, V. (2014). What happened to Asperger’s? Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/health/autism/what-happened-to-aspergers/

Business Spotlight: Southern Bodies Fitness Center

Since this website discusses health and well-being, I definitely want to spotlight business leaders who make a difference in their communities.

One of the cleanest, brightest, and friendliest gyms nearby is Southern Bodies Fitness Center at 221 Main Street, in Tifton, Georgia. The owners are Trisha and Steve Landers.  They promote good health around every corner.  In fact,  I have known Trisha for at least 10 years now and no matter where I see her, she is always positive and encouraging to others about meeting their fitness goals.  Additionally, they have a member special going on right now where you can pay $225 and gain access to their gym for a full year! This fee includes the sign-up charge and 24-hour keyless entry.  In addition, Trisha is a personal trainer too and has an inspiring story of her own. (Her personal training Facebook page is Trisha’s personal training at Southern Bodies if interested in checking it out.)

Please see the flyer below about the special promotion and some pictures of her well-lit, clean, and functional gym. The 1 year membership special promotion ends on December 23, 2016 so if you want to take advantage of the deal, reach out to her soon.  As you will see in the photos, you will be impressed if you stop by.

 

 

Honestly, if you have read anything on this website blog before, you know I want you to be your best, and fittest, regardless of where you do it— your home, a yoga studio, the great outdoors, or a local gym—whatever “floats your boat” so to speak.  Even though it took me a few months to set the routine to continue incorporating exercise into my day (and not thinking of exercise as a chore), I don’t think it takes everyone that long to get into a regular routine. Also, if you are in an area of the world that offers outdoor activities like rock-climbing, hiking, snowboarding, etc. you probably live actively in your regular daily activities.  However, for the majority of us, it isn’t that easy to replace purposeful exercise with fun activities that double as exercise.

If you haven’t worked out regularly before, and are not sure where to start, you have many options.  One of those options is to join a gym and seek the advice of experts there, like Trisha at Southern Bodies. She is friendly and eager to help you. Getting started somewhere is imperative to be able to work toward consistency.  Consistency is key to our health.  As Tony Horton, P90X creator and author, said about writing the main points in his book with his collaborator, “The point is, no matter what, we kept the forward momentum going.  We need to do things that propel us forward for our families, our work, our health, and ourselves because that’s how we grow and get better” (Horton, 2014, p. 68).  Well said Tony…

As always, find some activity (weight-lifting, running, yoga, dance, Pilates, Zumba, etc.) that doubles as fun and make it happen regularly.  Here’s to the best, most fabulous, 2017!

XOXO,

Melissa

References:

Horton, T. (2014). The big picture: 11 laws that will change your life. New York: NY. Harper Collins.