Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka – Travel Apparel Review

Friday April 9, 2010 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

"Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka"

Nancy Brown wearing Apocalypse Design’s Alpine Parka for a Travel Apparel Review

When the box arrived from Fairbanks, Alaska-based Apocalypse Design, the red, puffy alpine parka almost stood on its own. I was so excited for my upcoming winter trip to Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, that I immediately changed into the fleece pants and snow bibs that Apocalypse Design had sent for me to review.

I was Alaska-bound for the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race that was to begin in Anchorage on March 6. While I was very happy to have the proper outdoor apparel for my Alaska winter vacation, the Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka was clearly over kill for the relatively mild Anchorage, Alaska temperatures.

I was, however, very happy to be outfitted in Steger Mukluks as I tramped around in the Alaska snow.

Alpine Parka Mandatory Apparel in Fairbanks, Alaska

It wasn’t until I landed in Fairbanks, Alaska to view the ice sculptures in 20 degree below zero temperatures (with the wind chill factor) at the World Ice Art Championships that I became appreciative of my Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka. Yet it was midnight on top of a hill, as I was viewing the Northern Lights at the Chena Hot Springs Resort that I realized my love affair with Apocalypse Design’s Alpine Parka.

The outer shell of the Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka is made of Avalite, a waterproof and breathable fabric. The full hood on the Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka was a life saver in Fairbanks, as was the fleece lined chin guard and fleece lined, deep pockets. I didn’t appreciate Apocalypse Design’s attention to detail until the cold set in.


"Girdwood Alyeska"

Nancy D. Brown in Girdwood, Alaska with Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka for a Travel Apparel Review.

I pitied the poorly dressed tourists who were sitting in their cotton jeans and inadequate boots trying to warm themselves at the portable heaters in the Chena Hot Springs yurts.

While I was outside taking in the Aurora Borealis and watching shooting stars, warm and toasty in my Apocalypse Design Alpine Parka, ($412) fleece pants ($99), snow bibs ($330) and Steger Mukluks and Steger mitts, I reminded myself how important it is to dress appropriately for an Alaska winter vacation.

As Karen Lundquist, Vice President of Marketing, Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau puts it, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, it’s bad gear.”

Thanks to Apocalypse Design for loaning me the alpine parka, snow bibs and fleece pants for review during my winter vacation to Alaska. The quality and design of your travel apparel were very much appreciated.


Apocalypse Design (907) 451-7555

201 Minnie Street, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

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How to pack for Alaska winter vacation

Travel Tips on raveable

Best Things to See and Do in Ojai, California

Wednesday March 31, 2010 at 4:04 PM | 0 Comments

"Ojai Day Spa"

The Day Spa in Ojai, California – Best Things to Do in Ojai

If you have yet to visit Ojai, you are in for a treat. As many of you know, I am a third generation northern California girl. I don’t venture to southern California often. Ojai is its own little oasis, just outside of Los Angeles, yet worlds away from the big city.  Enjoy!

There are so many restaurants to choose from in Ojai. I enjoyed Azu restaurant for dinner and Feast Bistro for lunch. Save room for the homemade gelato at Azu and the cookies of the day at Feast Bistro.


To escape work, or LA in general, go to Shelf Road for a long walk over looking the Ojai valley or up to Meditation Mountain for a peaceful Ojai sunset.

For something different, go horseback riding with Western Trail Rides along the Ventura River in the Los Padres National Forest.


"Ojai horseback riding"

Western Trail Rides Horseback Riding -Best Things to See and Do in Ojai, California

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Vesta Restaurant, get the pesto, goat cheese and shrimp pizza. It’s a thin crust, 10” pizza with pesto sauce and it was delicious.

If you are looking for a romantic getaway, Su Nido Inn has nine suites (king beds and fireplaces) and is within walking distance of downtown Ojai.

For a low budget meal with great taste, go to Gourmet Tamale for a large $2.50 tamale with the green “Gringo” sauce. 

 The Ranch House or Suzanne’s are the places to dine if you are feeling cash rich and have deep pockets.

Photo ops in Ojai, California include the Piedra Blanca Rock Formations in the Los Padres National Forest.

The most random thing about Ojai is that everyone I met appeared to be an escapee from Los Angeles or the East Coast.

In Ojai, an active day outdoors involves biking, climbing, hiking, horseback riding or walking in the mountains or on a paved trail to the ocean. Of course, you can  hang out with a latte or book at one of Ojai’s great coffee shops or cafes.

A favorite way to pass the day is window shopping along Ojai Avenue or hiking on one of Ojai’s beautiful trails.

If you like museums, check out the Ojai Valley Museum.

Jesters is the place to go  for a night of dancing.

Feast Bistro on Ojai Avenue is the spot for late night dining in Ojai. The pulled pork sandwich is yummo!


"Piedra Blancoa Formations"

Piedra Blanca formations in Ojai, California

If  you want to look like a local, read the Ojai Valley News.

To catch up on the latest gossip or see the locals, go to the Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

In the spring you might like The Ojai Tennis Tournament (The Ojai)

In the summer, the Ojai Music Festival is the place to be.

In the fall you should visit Ojai Wine Festival or Taste of Ojai.

In the winter you should come and visit this Ojai Oasis for the best weather around.

A hidden gem in Ojai is Bart’s Books

For a good old fashion breakfast, go to  Bonnie Lou’s. I miss the cini minis at Ojai Café Emporium.Where are the best cinnammon rolls in Ojai now?

Don’t forget about Upper Ojai; have lunch at the Summit.  My favorite is their Ortega Cheeseburger.

Ojai is a great walking town. At night, take in some local theater at Theater 150, www.theater150.org. During my visit I saw Bent to the Flame; A Night with Tennessee Williams written by and starring Doug Tompas.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Lake Casitas water park. Adults will have as much fun picking Pixie tangerines at Friend’s Ranches on the two-hour tasting tour. Call ahead for reservations.

What are your favorite things to see and do in Ojai, California?

Related Post:

Things to See and Do in Santa Monica, CA

Photos and video by Nancy D. Brown

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