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

Summer Solstice in Anchorage

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The longest day of the year was last week.  There was even a festival called the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in downtown Anchorage to celebrate the event, even though every day after June 21 was a little shorter than the day before.  Since one of our friends also had a birthday, we had a birthday event too.  Saturday was full of activities on one of the most beautiful days of the year.

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Connor is relaxing in downtown Anchorage.
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Children’s area at the festival
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Chalk drawings are everywhere.

During the day, my family walked around to see the displays and events, eventually arriving at 49th State Brewing Company to have appetizers and claim a spot on the rooftop (our friends were joining us within the hour for a birthday dinner.)  The beer there is okay (I am not that big of a beer drinker but King Street has some really good beer if you are into that sort of thing.)  The rooftop and food at 49th State are both great though.  In fact, I had the Seafood Artichoke dip and I highly recommend it.  The rooftop is a winner when the weather is great because the views are fantastic.

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Caris was avoiding the camera so no photos of her on the rooftop of 49th State.
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What  a view!
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We had a great seat – corner spot on the rooftop.
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This was our server at 49th.  JOKING! This little spider was hanging out and since all things deserve to live, I left it alone and hoped it wouldn’t hop on us.
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Beautiful flowers downtown
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Beautiful flowers downtown

After we left the restaurant, all of us (the three couples) went to Williwaw and a few other places.  There are three floors in this cool bar.  The bottom floor is a dance floor/concert floor.  The middle floor is a lounge.  The top floor is a rooftop bar.  On the way down, Micah took a picture  of the three ladies. (Don’t we look like we are on a Theater set?)

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These ladies are super cool and fun to be around.  (Check out the background outside of Williwaw…)
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I love that Micah and I took a picture together but wish I wasn’t standing so awkwardly.  Too pretty of a background not to post though…

I hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to participate in Summer Solstice next year, I highly recommend it.

XOXO,

Mel

Surprise! It’s a glacier!

I love the Christmas holiday season. It is one of my favorite times of the year.  Recently, my parents came to visit us from Georgia and although it was only April, it felt like Christmas-time.  During the holidays, my family laughs a little, eats a lot, and plays tons of games.  This is the same thing we did, and more, while they visited.
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I can’t wait to share the amazing sights from our journey with you.  Just as the gift of giving at Christmas is so satisfying, the gift of showing them the amazing scenery in Alaska was also satisfying.  I hope you enjoy the highlights of their two-week vacation with us.  We didn’t let the rainier than usual weather cause complications in our plans.  In fact, nothing could dampen our spirits during this joyful occasion.

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I love these two.  Happy to have you visit…

One of our first visits was to Talkeetna, Alaska.  This town has charm.  In fact, the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce have a great website where you can download a visitor’s guide, if interested.  While we were there, it snowed quite a lot.  Although, the snow didn’t stay around long due to the temperatures being warmer than freezing, it was still a lovely sight.  If you visit this town, I highly recommend a stop at Twister Creek restaurant.  I always enjoy it.

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One of our first stops: Talkeetna, Alaska at Twister Creek
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Smiles all around… Happy and no longer hungry

During the week, we made mini trips near by.  We drove to the top of the mountain in Eagle River where a breathtaking view is easier to reach.  If the sky is clear, you can see Denali.  Unfortunately, with all the rain, we didn’t have a great view of the mountain range, but the view was still pretty.

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This is a view on top of Skyline Drive in Eagle River, Alaska. The sky wasn’t clear or you could see Denali and the other mountains at a distance.
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We went hiking on the easiest route at Thunderbird Falls.
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Mom checking out the falls…
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On another trip, Mom and I stopped to walk out to Beluga Point. Beluga Point is located on the Seward Highway. It is on the way to Girdwood from Anchorage.
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Great view behind you, mom!
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Mom, in Girdwood, Alaska, enjoying the left-over snow.
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I told daddy to look afraid of the gift shop bear at the Alyeska resort.  My sister did a great job of editing the trees in the background.  I love this and thankfully it was only a stuffed bear. He could win the biggest award for acting scared!
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My dad collecting glacier water at Mile 109 on the Seward Highway
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I am collecting water too.  It tastes amazing.

We decided to plan a cruise on the 26 Glaciers Cruise where we saw sea otters, eagles, mountain goats, a humpback whale, dolphins, and beautiful birds.  It departed from Whittier, Alaska.  Mom and dad enjoyed the visit immensely.  We even made a few stops for pictures on the way there too.

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Connor and I decided to “say cheese” too.
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My parents are so cute!
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Mama is such a great actress.  We haven’t even left for the cruise but my request for her to look amazed was taken seriously. “And the newcomer’s acting award goes to…”
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Hanging out at Surprise Glacier, which was the main attraction of this cruise
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Some of the crew collected a huge chunk of glacier ice to bring on board.
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The captain announced photo props on deck and these two didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.
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Mom hanging out in front of Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers…
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Further away from the glacier trio (Cascade, Barry, and Coxe), I take a moment to smile for the camera.
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Ice chunks galore…
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Connor, did you know there is a surprise (glacier) behind you?

Enjoy the video below from the end of the cruise.

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On the way out of Whittier… The sun was so bright, you had to wear shades.

Next, we decided to take an early morning hike at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was great! We were avoiding bears by making a lot of noise on this walk. The bears are waking up and are likely to be looking around for food. We didn’t want to tempt them.

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The men enjoying the hike…
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Just another day in the AK…

We decided to take in a few indoor scenes too.  Thus, we visited the First Friday at the Anchorage Museum.  There were lots to see and even a Cinco de Mayo event going on.  Mom and I couldn’t wait to check it out.

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Mom, wait, I am running to join you!
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After we left the museum, we went to eat at Simon and Seafort’s restaurant.  I wish I could show you the beautiful sunset that day, but any photo wouldn’t do it justice.
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McKinley will miss you guys until she sees you again! Adios and Good-Bye…

We were sad to see my parents leave, but knew they had to go.  We can’t wait to see you two again soon.

XOXO,

Mel