Here’s one from my significant other’s mountaineering class. I froze my ass off camping in in Bryce Canyon so you don’t have to.
While camping, you can fill a large nalgene (or other water) bottle with hot water before bed, and put it in your sleeping bag for extra warmth all night! If you find the surface a little burn-y to your skin, you can wrap a bandana around the bottle.
Bonus warmth points if you drink all the water once you wake up. Staying hydrated, friends!
Alaska’s official state motto is “North to the Future,” meant to represent Alaska as a land of promise.
In the spirit of time travel,* here are some tips on how to stretch your vacation outside the bounds of the time you were physically there, with my most recent Alaskan Adventures for illustration. Continue Reading
As I mentioned in part 0 of Alaska adventures, I flew in to Fairbanks around midnight. I got to sleep in the delightfully welcoming cabin (this one booked via VRBO) by about 3am, and yeah, it was in a city called North Pole. (!)* I loved staying at this cabin, and found the hosts helpful and responsive. This post may have a lot of photos, but consider it obsessively curated for you to get the full experience.
On the Road:
After a healthy breakfast of DIY oatmeal and Starbucks fancy-coffee, K and I headed out for the 2.5+ hour drive south to Denali National Park. Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake, but I hadn’t put the two names together, Mt. McKinley and Denali, until I was packing for this trip and reading my copy of Fodor’s.
Fun fact: President Obama changed what was previously known as Mount McKinley back to Denali, an Athbascan name meaning “the High One”. At 20,310 feet, it is the highest point on the continent, and tallest mountain in the world.
On the way, we drove through lots of snow clouds kicked up by passing trucks that would obscure the entire roadway briefly, and whole clusters of buildings boarded up for the winter. This was definitely not high tourist season, and while it was an intermittent exercise in faith (faith that the road was relatively straight in a snow cloud), it was also a very scenic drive. The Athabascans named this northern forest “land of little sticks,” and I couldn’t help but agree as I gazed at the sweeping landscape, laced on road side with countless trees poking up toward the sky together.
To try: we stopped in at the Alaskan Coffee Bean in Healy for some caffeine.
Apparently, a sludge cup is brewed coffee + 2 shots espresso, popular with truckers. I was curious, but abstained since the midnight flight was already messing with my sleep. Let me know if you try it. The folks there were friendly, and plus, the place was open, hooray!
Alaska is often called the Last Frontier, but it’s also home to some of the oldest pieces of our collective human heritage. We crossed this very river mentioned on our drive out of the North Pole! Amazing.
The oldest human remains found in Alaska are 11,500 years old, the second-oldest Ice Age remains to be found in the world. Found in Central Alaska near the Tanana River, the remains of a three-year-old girl are thought to be those of an Athbascan ancestral relative.
Fodor’s Alaska p.20
At Denali National Park:
A video gift for you, hope it brings you some serenity and delight. Click subscribe at the end for more!
This one’s going to have terrible photos, people. Also, it’s random. What? You got a video yesterday..
If you’ve ever had the privilege to take a plane ride, but the simultaneous misfortune of being seated separately –or maybe coincidentally bumped into your friend you haven’t seen in for_ever on a plane– AND you have bluetooth on your smartphone, here’s a solution to messaging each other after they close the doors and you are required to turn to airplane mode: Continue Reading
My friend T.J. will hopefully get a kick out of this post. He’s a big fan of oysters. Everybody say, “Hi T.J.!”
Earlier this Fall, K____ and I went on a short road trip up Chuckanut Drive just north of Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. After an acutely alarming night in Burlington spent in the hotel across from an active shooter incident happening live, we were really feeling the gratitude for being alive, and savoring the world at hand. On top of that, I was also feeling reflective given that it was our anniversary, observed.
I even ate a burger with the pickle intact. This, from some one who used to avoid them at all costs. I thank Korean banchan (side dishes which tend to have pickled vegetables) for that shift. A great day for observing my “try eating things you didn’t like about every 10 years,” guideline.
The last stop coming back south from Bellingham was at Taylor Shellfish Farm. I was not fond of seafood as a kid, and growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and no saltwater, who could blame me for only eating the fresh sunnies and walleye my parents would catch on a day off?* Given my crustacean allergy, the bivalves have gotten a free pass lately with me, with the exception of seared scallops. Them bivalves just didn’t hold very much appeal for me.
So, at the Farm, we drank in the beautiful view of the Puget Sound, and were about to get back in the car for the long drive home,
Are you a klutz like me, always spilling liquids when you pour them from one container to another?
Try this trick I learned from my father, the chemist!
I like to imagine him pouring oodles of liquids from beaker to beaker in his multiple decades of work.
Hint: having a utensil helps.
In summary, if you have an unreliable container you know will spill, knowing this trick can really help. I favor a chopstick for best results, and most recently found this useful when pouring home made chicken stock into ice cube trays to save for later. Revision: since doing this, I now favor a spoon, it guide the liquid to spread a bit better at the bottom.
P.S. Thanks to K_____ for the spontaneous cinematography.
You guys, I have a confession: I hate cilantro.* I used to think I hate parsley, but in the last five years its resemblance to the flavor of cilantro has faded. Then, I had the privilege to vacation in Chile last year, and there was this sauce that kept appearing at restaurants with the steak. It tasted of garlic, and was full of green stuff. I liked it so much I had to stop a waiter to find out what it was. His reply was: chimichurri. Obvi, K and I had to grab some pre-mixed (as training wheels) packets on our habitual grocery-store-for-travel-keepsakes** run before we left Santiago. I think it was a Carrefour..
Fast forward months later when I finally got around to mixing it up as K seared some steak on the Big Green Egg, some balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and a bunch of the dry packet. Eh, it was okay, but it also kind of tasted like dried leaves and dust. Long-time readers may notice this packet also made an appearance in one crispy-bottomed oyster mushroom steak post. The sauce was much improved once eaten on top of something, but I feel like anything you pour atop something else, even if a little strong, should be able to stand on its own too.
Now get back in the time machine, and move forward a little more:
I went out and got some actual red wine vinegar to add to my pantry for this, just to get closer to the intended flavor. I was doing another recipe that called for some parsley, and needed to make use of the rest before it sits in a jar in the back of my fridge getting forgotten. Then, I mixed up a big batch of this into 3 mason jars, to last a whole month in the fridge! Continue Reading
Have you flown thousands of miles for the holidays and unwittingly still found yourself signed up to bring a dish for the family potluck? Have all the gifts been arranged and wrapped by your helpful partner (or recent Past Self) , patiently helping you bear the crush of expectation to somehow visit 50+ people in the span of a few days? Do you still feel that inexplicable competitive urge to “win” the potluck?
Well my friends, I’ve got the recipe for you. Here’s my fallback, which has only 4 critical ingredients, 1 bonus, and the real secret ingredient is finding out when the store near where you’re staying is open on Christmas Eve day, Christmas Day, or whatever other holiday you are celebrating.
Lots of other people tend to have some of these things lying around their house already, I try not to use too many canned products in my cooking, but I do keep canned artichokes around so I can make this on short notice.
This was originally from my friend Gihani back in 2007 when I live in DC, she got it from her husband who got it from his mom. I’ve refined it only a little, because the base was just so solid.
1 cup mayo (I trying mayo with olive oil today, but hopefully the smoke point of olive oil won’t mess it up)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Parmesan,, shredded
15 oz. can artichokes hearts, drained and chopped. (or marinated artichokes)