This was the nudge to finally draft this post I’ve had in mind. I hope those of you over 21 find it handy as we head into holiday travel this year. Kris and I like to bring a little craft beer back from travel as a souvenir to enjoy with friends. We’ve logged, him especially, a lot of airline miles with beer in luggage and gotten some routines down to accommodate.
[insert 10/22 photo of luggage, brighten and crop, draw arrow, caption: you can see I went with multiples of optional step 4]
We rose early to drive the two, three hours from Onundarhorn to hike Glymur Falls (3.8 miles, 1,000 ft elevation gain) in the only day forecasted to be sunny on our trip. It meant doubling back the way we came, but fortunately we were booked for two nights in the South.
I was dragging, but optimistic to see the second (?) highest waterfall in Iceland. Even before we got to the trailhead a smaller, charming waterfall demanded a pit stop. This would be a theme on our trip, so lucky! Sweeping swooping green slopes gave way to a waterway on one side.
I drove for part, getting to learn new roundabout conventions first-hand, including a gauntlet of six consecutive one. Nothing like rapid repetition to help you work things out in your brain.
On foot: after some flat, low-brush terrain, past tiny sprawling civilizations of mosi over rock, and Vottahellir cave (full of legends! And a plaque!) we got to an icy stream. The decision to cross at a wider but shallower point turned out well. I was very glad to have bothered to pack hiking poles mid-stream. What was icy cold turned to pins and needles of pain then, and my brain got to tell my legs to keep going, and faster(!) while my legs threatened to stop working from thinking they were on fire, and to give up all function. 
“To know the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence, and interdependence, indebtedness and responsibility.”
-Howard Zahniser, author of the Wilderness Act of 1964
Downtown Fairbanks was more cosmopolitan than I expected (ok ok, I did not expect tons of urban life). Upon reflection, it warms my heart to say that visiting a place viewed as remote in the lower 48 turned out to involve many warm encounters with quirky, friendly folks. Even in a place with so much amazing, non-human-related nature, the people were a big part of what made the experiences so memorable. Thus, the quote above. Perhaps it is partly the unforgiving environment that forged a culture of down-to-earth friendliness among those who live here.
We witnessed various shenanigans on a Sunday in Fairbanks, some you’ll have to ask me in person for a recounting. Beyond those:
One of many excellent recommendations per our VRBO hosts was to book with Just Short of Magic** for a sled dog ride (a.k.a. mushing), a little drive north of North Pole. After a late-night pickup of our friends J & G who courageously agreed to share in our Alaskan adventures, Jenni found us some excellent (late) breakfast at the Creperie in downtown Fairbanks. Then, off to dog sled ride via a thirty minute drive. As mentioned in the previous post, sled dogs have been a fundamental companion to Alaskan life for centuries, so I was really excited to partake in even a small, touristy way.
Jenna called us as we were a little late showing up at a designated cushion time, to make sure we were safe, and tell us not to worry. So nice of her! Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the staff did some standard checks that we were layered up properly (maybe in case it suddenly turned into below zero weather rather than 30?) Of course, that turned it into a competition for me. Continue reading →
Special edition blog on travels here:
Got to London in the morning, began eating at odd hours almost immediately, and made it to the British Library, home of a nice little collection of hugely historical documents, such as the Magna Carta, various classical composers’ works, Jane Austen’s writing, and Karl Marx, to name only a few. They even acknowledged the history of printing in East Asia far pre-dating western printing. Unfortunately, I was to discover this was only the first of many many sights where they prohibit photos, so I only have pics of things outside the exhibit room. I think the tourists are actually paying more attention in the exhibits without their cameras, though..
Leftover pumpkin seeds from carving 2 medium-large pumpkins
Arbitrary Amounts of…
Seasoning combinations (amounts to taste):
BBQ: brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder
Sweet: Sugar, cinnamon
Clean the seeds.
Boil for 10 minutes in salt water.
Drain the seeds in a colander.
Spread seeds onto a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, plus seasoning of your choice (see above for what I did).
Roast seeds at 325F for 15-22 minutes, taste testing a few seeds at 15 minutes.
Optional step: accidentally touch the burning hot pan and spill 1/6 of the seeds.
This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5
I tried roasting fresh pumpkin seeds once years ago, and it was dry and not tasty. This method with boiling first was delicious! Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
Totally worth doing in 365 days when I have fresh pumpkin seeds again! Lesson Learned: Boo! 11/1/14 edit: these are not as crispy and tasty second or third day, unless you toast them up a little again.