Entries in ‘Alaska’ Journal

Steger Mukluks Travel Gear Review

Friday April 16, 2010 at 7:07 AM | 4 Comments

"Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships"

Nancy Brown wearing Steger Mitts and Arctic Mukluks for a travel gear review in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Iditarod sled dogs wear lightweight boots to protect their paws over 1,049 miles of Alaska’s wilderness. I wear Steger Arctic Mukluk snow boots while I watch the Iditarod sled dogs run in Alaska’s Last Great Race.

As this was my first time to Anchorage, Alaska in the winter, I didn’t own proper snow boots or mitts. In fact, packing for a winter trip to Alaska required more planning than I had anticipated.

Thanks to my tweet on Twitter, a micro-blogging platform, I was able to learn what type of boots and mitts were needed for a winter trip to Alaska. Fairbanks, Alaska resident Nancy DeWitt suggested I try a pair of Steger Mukluks.

Steger Mukluks are perfect for standing around in the cold while watching dog races or viewing ice sculptures. Plus, you can go from -40 to a restaurant in them and your feet won’t get hot. They don’t slip on ice, either. I practically live in mine all winter. Well worth the money,” adds DeWitt.

 

Steger Mukluk Snow Boots

"Steger Mukluks"

Steger Arctic Mukluk Trave Gear Review

I had no idea what Mukluks were until my Arctic Mukluks arrived compliments of Patti Steger, owner of Steger Mukluks.

After I had sprayed my Steger Mukluk snow boots to make them water repellent, I wore them around the house to break them in. The Steger Arctic Mukluks are very lightweight and comfortable to wear all day long. Fortunately for me, Steger Arctic Mukluks come in wide sizes for my wide feet.

Mukluks are a common site in Alaska. In fact,  the mukluk snow boot plays an important part in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Each Iditarod Sled Dog Musher writes his name on a slip of paper and drops it in the ceremonial mukluk. As the musher names are drawn from the ceremonial mukluk, the musher announces the order he has drawn and his bib number for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

 

"Ceremonial Mukluk"

Ceremonial Mukluk, Steger Arctic Mukluk Travel Gear Review

It wasn’t until I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race that I realized I was not alone in my preference for Steger Mukluk snow boots. I also spotted the snow boots in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Made in Ely, Minessota and retailing for $179.95 (with the decorative ribbon on top) Steger Arctic Mukluks were the perfect lightweight snow boot for my Alaska adventure.

 

IF YOU GO:

Steger Mukluks (218) 365-3322

33 East Sheridan St. Ely, MN 55731

Related Posts:

What to Pack for an Alaska Winter Vacation

Sled Dog Ride in Fairbanks, Alaska

Sled Dog Ride in Fairbanks, Alaska

Friday March 26, 2010 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

"sled dog"

Chena Hot Springs Sled Dog in Fairbanks, Alaska

You can hear the sled dogs barking before you reach the kennel. The sled dogs run circles frantically around their dog houses; some bark, while others wait patiently with eager anticipation.

“Pick me! Pick me!” the sled dogs say with their piercing blue eyes, bushy wagging tails and excited sled dog howls.

Once the sled dog selection process has been made, the sled dogs of Chena Hot Springs kennel are clipped into their harnesses and ready to go to work.

Typically, Iditarod sled dogs are not the furry white pure bred Siberian huskies that Disney has marketed to us in movies. In fact, the best athletic sled dog is a mixed bag of energy and stamina, has a thick fur coat and a desire to race.

While the sled dog ride at Chena Hot Springs Resort is only 15-20 minutes in total ($60), the excitement and energy from the sled dogs is contagious as soon as we slide into the sled. The Chena Hot Springs sled holds four people and a sled dog musher. Once the sled dog musher gives the command, the sled dogs are off and running. Our ride is a scenic loop around the property, crossing alongside a beaver den.

There are many places to go for sled dog rides in Alaska.

"Nancy Brown on Dog Sled"

Chena Hot Springs Sled Dog Ride in Fairbanks, Alaska

Iditarod Sled Dog Racer Dallas Seavey and the Seavey family run Ididaride Sled Dog Tours in Seward.

Four-time Iditarod Champion Jeff King offers a chance to hold sled dog puppies during a Husky Homestead Tour at his Goose Lake Kennel in Denali Park.

In Fairbanks, the Riverboat Discovery stops at Trailbreaker Kennels, home to Dave Monson and the late four-time Iditarod Sled Dog Champion Susan Butcher.

If you have a chance to take a sled dog ride in Alaska, make sure you read “How to Pack for an Alaska Winter Vacation.” On my March 2010 visit to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, it was 20 degrees below zero. If I hadn’t been wearing an Apocalypse Design Parka, Icebreaker murino wool socks or Steger mitts and mukluks, I wouldn’t have been dressed properly for the cold weather conditions.

Have you been on a sled dog ride? What are your favorite things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska?

YouTube video and Chena dog sled photo by Nancy D. Brown

Best Things to See and Do in Anchorage, Alaska

Friday March 19, 2010 at 7:07 AM | 6 Comments

"Alaska Visitor Information"

First stop; Anchorage, Alaska Visitor Information Center.

If you haven’t been to Anchorage for quite awhile, by all means, go!  It’s one thing to visit Alaska on a cruise ship, but to get the true flavor of this city, you’ll want to stay overnight. The city offers Friday Art Walks, plenty of outdoor recreation activities, is home to the start of the Iditarod and it has some great restaurants.

 I was delighted that Anchorage offered nature right outside my doorstep.  Check out Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, amazing trails right in downtown with views of mountain ranges, and the waters of Cook Inlet, and along the trail Earthquake Park.

 If you like beer, the local brewpubs are Glacier BrewHouse and FireTap Alehouse. Snow Goose Restaurant offers local favorites like the fresh catch of the day or a wood-fired pizza, and wash it all down with a local microbrew.

Head for the trails that wind through Anchorage Parks and greenbelts for a run, a bike ride, or a quick cross-country ski.

The Chugach National Forest, or Chugach State Park, the nations third largest state park, is within the Municipality of Anchorage boundaries so no excuses that nature is too far to reach.

When you come to Anchorage, get your picture taken in front of the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center on Fourth Avenue.

If you like seafood (and who doesn’t like fresh fish from Alaska?) order the Asiago Alaska Halibut from Simon and Seaforts.

Will you be visiting Anchorage on the weekend? I picked up some great buys at the Farmers’ Market. Alaska products and gifts found nowhere else: smoked salmon, handmade baskets, Ulu knife sets, Ivory, Jade and wood carvings, gold nugget jewelry, mukluks and moccasins, Qiviut woolens, the list goes on and on. First Friday Art Walk is a great way to see local art work on display and even have a nibble of food in the galleries.

"Snow City Cafe"

Snow City Cafe is a great place for breakfast in Anchorage, Alaska

If you don’t have a lot of money to blow on food, go to City Diner for a great meal at a price that can’t be beat. Snow City Cafe is a great place for breakfast. Order the crabby omelet or Kodiak Benedict. Yum!

For a huge splurge, I go to Sullivans Steakhouse.

Of course, Anchorage offers photo ops just outside your window. But head downtown to Ship Creek in Anchorage and try your luck at hooking a huge salmon literally steps from downtown. You can also board a boat just yards away from the deep blue Portage Glacier.

Walk to the top of Flattop Mountain, taking the tram or hiking to the top of Mt. Alyeska for a panoramic view of the Chugach Mountains and Turnagain Arm. Alyeska Resort, in Girdwood, is only 40 minutes outside of Anchorage and is worth an overnight if you have the time.

There are so many randoms thing to discover in Anchorage. One zany event is the Running of the Reindeer and Outhouse Races that speed down Fourth Avenue during Anchorage Fur Rendezvous.

No matter how much time you have to spend in Anchorage, try walking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, kayaking at Eklutna Lake, hiking at the Eagle River Nature Center, skiing the Chugach Mountains, or fishing for halibut or salmon. The forested Campbell Creek Greenbelt is a great place for a walk or run.

Alaska Reindeer Sausage

Alaska Reindeer Sausage

In my opinion, Anchorage best museum is the Anchorage Museum. Take your kids to the children’s area (it’s modeled after San Francisco’s Exploratorium) Have lunch or dinner at the hip Cafe Muse.

For a night of dancing, go to Chilkoot Charlies or Rumrunners.

For late night dining, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse is the spot. I watched a Reindeer hot dog eating contest here during Fur Rondy activities. It was wild!
To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, check out the Play section in the Anchorage Daily News or, Anchorage’s alternative newspaper, the Anchorage Press.
Anchorage is within close proximity of wildlife. Watch out for moose wandering by the side of the roads.  Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center South of Anchorage on the Seward Highway. Bears, eagle, moose and other Alaska animals share space on the centers grounds.  When I was there, the AWCC was hosting a herd of Wood Bison to be released into the wild.

In the spring you should attend the Senior Native Youth Olympics. Alaska youth demonstrate their skills in traditional Native games that are based on life skills of past generations. The games test hunting and survival skills, and increase strength, endurance, agility and the balance of mind and body.

In the summer you should attend Solstice Weekend. Great events like the Mayor’s Marathon and Half Marathon, Pridefest, the Summer Solstice Festival and Hero Games and the Slam’n Salm’n Derby all loaded into a single weekend celebrating the longest day of the year.

In the fall you should visit two of the states best college sporting events. The University of Alaska Anchorage hosts the hottest college teams on ice during the Kendall Hockey Classic in early October, while the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout draws top-class college basketball teams to Alaska for a pre-season tournament during Thanksgiving weekend

"Sled Dog"

Alaska in the winter? Check out the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Alaska in the winter? Go to the Tour of Anchorage Cross Country Ski Race, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, and the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. I was fortunate to have covered the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Check out my YouTube video.

A little known place to visit in Anchorage is the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The center is a showcase of Alaska Native art, tools, and crafts, featuring great live tours and demonstrations of native life, dance, and crafts. It is hidden in the woods in Northeast Anchorage, but you’d be remiss to pass it up. Check out my post on the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

There are plenty of great breakfast joints in Anchorage. For a treat or espresso, go to the Middle Way Cafe or Kaladi Brothers Coffee.

If you are visiting Anchorage by car, head to Alyeska Resort; have lunch on top of Mount Alyeska at Seven Glaciers, a AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurant.

The best way to see downtown Anchorage is to pick up a map from the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center on Fourth Avenue and take the Anchorage Downtown Walking Tour. Or, see downtown by Segway with SegTours of Anchorage.

Traveling with kids? They’ll like the Alaska Wild Berry Theater, reindeer petting area, H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark, and WildRide Sled Dog Rodeo.

What are your favorite things to see and do in Anchorage, Alaska?

Thanks to Jack Bonney and the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau for assistance with this post.

Photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

Related Posts:

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Best Things to See and Do in Fairbanks

Best Things to See and Do in Ketchican

Best Things to See and Do in Juneau

2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race