Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alaska Weekend Getaway with Justin!

Hey guys!

Justin & I decided when he had been gone for about a month that when he was finally home we were going to go on a mini Alaska getaway. Little did we realize that he wouldn't be home for about a MONTH after that first getaway conversation & that a getaway wasn't just a luxury we wanted, it was a weekend our relationship needed.
There have been a bunch of stressful factors in our lives over the course of the last year & especially within the later part of 2012. We made it through all of it, from my stress rash outbreaks (gross, I know!), to 3 attempts to close on our home (probate, FHA complications...ect!), basically headaches upon arguments, upon sleepless nights. At the end of it all we had to just take some deep breaths, laugh at all of the craziness & remind ourselves that we are still just newlyweds trying to figure out the life we are beginning to build for our family. It's easy to forget with the combination of out of town work schedules, passing away of beloved family members & of course trying to do what is best for our kids (yes they are my step-children....3 of them are with us here in AK & his oldest lives in CO with her mother, someday I may share some details of how it's all ended up this way, maybe). So, that brings us to deciding that we needed to do something just for us. We didn't want to travel too far or spend a ton on one weekend, so we planned to spend one night in Anchorage & another in Girdwood.
My amazing friend Amanda was willing to watch our 3 little monsters at our house all weekend. I'm a complete worrier when it comes to who they are staying with, how long they will be there & if they are freaking out about freaking out! Luckily, she was also willing to stay at our house all weekend with the kids, which put mine & Justin's mind at rest. We were able to call the kids each night before bed & Amanda texted us a constant stream of text & videos of them. She is my bestie after all, so she of course knows how much I stress about leaving them for 2 hours, let alone 2 nights & 3 days!!!
Anyway...I'm rambling....
We left for Anchorage at about 4PM on Friday & checked into our room at the Sheraton in Anchorage. The hotel itself is beautiful on the interior & has a spa, 2 restaurants & a bar. I didn't take any pictures inside the hotel itself or at all on Friday night. :( Justin picked Benihana's as the restaurant for dinner that night. It was the perfect choice as we love hibachi style meals & sake. I really wish I had taken photos of the food as it was being prepared & on our plates. I ordered the Ocean Trio & Justin ordered a combo of steak & shrimp. The lobster tail may have been the best seafood I have ever tasted! Delicious! I would highly recommend a Benihana's or any hibachi style restaurant near you for special occasions or celebrations. :) After Benihana's we went out for a few drinks & called it a pretty early night in our hotel.
Saturday morning we slept in & made our way to Snow City Cafe for brunch. I have to admit that my choice of Snow City Cafe had little do with food & alot to do with ak starfish having a store next door. I absolutely love Marci's designs & her sweatshirts are my favorite! Due to some unfortunate circumstances (stealing babysitter, grr...) my bright pink zip-up hoodie is no longer in my closet & I have really missed it. So, I went to ak starfish while Justin was waiting for our table & I got myself a teal zip-up hoodie & a bright pink t-shirt, both with the ak starfish design. We are actually thinking of doing family photos with all of in ak starfish designs, Justin & Nikoli really like the salmon design shirts & of course the girls adore their starfish tees. Back to Snow City Cafe!

 As you can see Snow City Cafe has been voted "best breakfast" in Anchorage since 2003. I had wanted to check it out for years, but their average weekend wait for a table is about 45 minutes. With 3 kids that's about 45 minutes of pure parent patience testing that I would most likely fail. I wanted to scope the cafe out for my own restaurant research as my business plan is bit similar.

To make the wait for a table more bearable they have a wonderful little coffee station with all of the cup of joe essentials. You can order mocha's, lattes, smoothies & other drinks while you wait too. Of course I had to include a picture of my favorite brunch companion, my husband. ;) He was so thrilled about the bunny mug! 

When it comes to breakfast/brunch I like 3 things...Eggs Benedict, Pancakes & French Toast. While all 3 options have great classic styles, I prefer mine with a little spunk & a splash of wow. So when I saw that one of the specials was this Lemon Ricotta filled French Toast topped with a berry coulis & served with raspberry butter I knew I had found my meal. Justin ordered the traditional french toast. I really enjoyed mine, Justin looked at me halfway through his & said "I like yours better." Ladies my man knows his way to my heart. ;) 

After brunch we went to the 5th Avenue Mall so I could do some shopping. I didn't take any photos there, but I did make purchases at GAP, The Body Shop & Sephora. Maybe a haul video is in order. :)  Now, onto Girdwood!

 I instagramed this picture on our drive to the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood. Yes, this was taken on May 18th 2013, not in November or December. It really was a beautiful scene & made the whole drive feel like we were in a magical winter wonderland. 

We had an AMAZING dinner at The Double Musky Inn. I have been cooking meals out of their cookbook for years but had never made it to the restaurant itself. I was able to snap a couple photos of my drink, the Almond Joy. The one of the left I posted on instagram, with the caption "If I were a drink this would be me." Which is 100% the truth. I love Alaska because I can order a hot cocoa type drink all year long! Of course I forgot to take pictures of our food & the Double Musky itself, but sometimes you just have to leave technology out of it & just enjoy the experience. :) 

After dinner we went back to the hotel & enjoyed a couple of hours in the hot tub & sauna. It was such a nice relaxing atmosphere with the snow capped mountains & trees in the background. We actually spent over an hour just sitting on lounge chairs talking & laughing about when we first met & all of the random things we have learned about each other over the years. I feel so blessed to have been able to have met Justin & to have his children become the center of my life. Sitting there & talking with him that night I really felt a renewed sense of promise & future for our little family, something I had been losing sight of amongst all the chaos. 
Then we went back to our room & tried to watch SNL....we actually ended up talking alot about our favorite SNL skits from earlier seasons. I of course had to bring Gilly (portrayed by Kristen Wigg) into it & spent over a half an hour doing my best impression of her. Sorry. We fell asleep around 11PM, real hardcore party people we are! We had even purchased some wine & beer to drink that night...not a single bottle was opened. 
We slept in the next morning, skipped breakfast & went on a walk around & inside the hotel. It was full of Princess/Holland American Tourist Guests. We are not anti-AK tourists, I spent 2 years working a job that was centered around them & experience mildly traumatic flashbacks every time I pass one in a hotel hallway! We made quite a few purchases from the gift shop. Plush stuffed bears for each of the kids, bar drinking glasses & shot glasses for the AK themed bar we plan to put in downstairs next winter. I of course had to get Amanda a t-shirt as a thank you for watching the little monsters all weekend. 
This is the Hotel at Alyeska. There was still a bit of snow on the ground on Sunday morning but it was really warm out & the sun was shining so beautifully! There's Justin, wearing our F-22 Recovery Project Sweatshirt, we both spent a summer working on the project together. I should put together a post about it one of these days!

Justin knew the whole tourist overload was starting to make me a little cray-cray. So he loaded everything up in the truck & look me on a gorgeous mid-morning drive towards Seward. It is one of my favorite drives in Alaska & we went as far as the tunnel to Whittier before we turned around. 

Along our drive. These were both taken with my iPhone 4s, in the same stretch of road. We have a go-pro, a Canon digital, a Olympus digital & a Canon 35mm...all of which we packed & then forgot at home. :( 

 One of the Alaska Trains. Justin wants to take the train to Seward for our Anniversary & I think it will be another wonderful weekend. 

We headed towards home after our relaxing drive & I ended up getting a horrible migraine. :( Amanda had taken the kids to a movie so I was able to take a bath & lay down for a bit. My migraine subsided after about 5 hours, I was able to make dinner & we listened to the kids tell stories about their weekend & they asked us a billion questions about ours. It was such a nice, simple, peaceful weekend....just what we needed. Now it's back to preparing our travel trailer, boat & other gear for lots of summer camping adventures! 

**PS. I know this post was realllllly long so thank you to all of you who stuck with it & read the entire thing. I had initially planned to break it up into 2 posts, but then I was a ding-ding about taking pictures throughout the entire weekend. :(***


***We scored an AMAZING Groupon Deal for our stay at Alyeska. If you or someone you know are looking for deals in Alaska during your vacation, be sure to check out Groupon! Just search for the city you are wanting to experience & go from there. :)***

Thanks for reading this long windy-rambly post about our weekend!