Monday Morning News: Packs, Places, and Perks

Welcome to Monday, AKontheGO’ers. It was another busy weekend of activity around Alaska, and the work week looks no different. A huge thank you to those who attended our presentation at Eagle River Nature Center on Saturday; we know you had other options for your weekend, and we’re thankful you chose to spend part of it with us! Based upon questions received during our discussion time Saturday, I have compiled some splendid Monday Morning News to inspire and encourage everyone to take a time out this summer and see more of the 49th state.

Gear Update: AK Kid finally had a chance to try out his new daypack courtesy of REI Anchorage. This little pack, made by Osprey and called appropriately the “Jet 18” has the be the finest example of fit and function I’ve found yet in a pint-sized pack. Osprey, a company formed in the 1970’s in Colorado, seems pretty dialed in to the concept that children, too, need a pack that sits comfortably on their little bodies and yet looks cool enough to wear around the hiking trails. AK Kid’s pack comes in either green or red (Cherry Smash or Lime Squeeze, to be specific) and features a fleece-lined harness, chest strap (THANK goodness), and 1080 cu inches of space for a water bottle, rain gear, snack, and, as we found out on Saturday, 10 or 12 books from home and a stash of army men. Yep. At $45 bucks, they aren’t cheap, but by golly, our Kid wore that thing for three hours straight, if you count the time spent at home wandering the neighborhood, and he never complained about a sore back or tired shoulders. Winner!

A favorite hollow tree along the trail at Eagle River Nature Center

That new pack came in mighty handy as AK Kid and Dad hiked around the fabulous property of Eagle River Nature Center and surrounding Chugach State Park. Even though the weather was a breezy 45 degrees, we were so proud to see a large number of hikers, dog-walkers, and photographers out enjoying the stunning, early-spring views from the Eagle River Valley. Staff were kept busy renewing and/or accepting applications for 2011 ERNC parking passes/memberships and giving updates on trail conditions and critter counts. Big news included a somewhat disheveled hiker crashing into the Center’s main building to announce that she and her companion had just scared a big brown bear into the forest, first one seen this season. Spring has indeed sprung in the Eagle River area, so take your singing voice and bear bells and have a blast. Signups are ongoing for the popular Knee-High Naturalist and Junior Naturalist programs, fabulous for locals and visitors, and, as always, reservations continue for yurt or cabin rentals along the trails. Check out the Nature Center website HERE for the latest info.

Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage; grown-up ambiance with kid-appeal. Nice.

While AK Uncle was in town last week we took him downtown to dine at a Fam Favorite. While many Anchorage-ites write off lunch or dinner at Glacier Brewhouse during the summer months, it is a delightful destination that seems to be evolving even more, if that’s possible, into one of the primo kid-friendly spots in Anchorage. Why? Take the Kid’s Menu, now offering some busy work and 49th state trivia for elementary-aged children. Not only does it provide amusement (a BIG yahoo in our book), but the options for dining have expanded to include a fruit cup or veggie dipper starter (part of the meal’s price) and entrees like fish and chips, grilled cheese, pizza, and an awesome fettucine plate.What really rocked AK Kid’s world? Oh, those chicken strips that now carry the title of “Best Ever” for my uber-picky child. Another fav was the outstanding blueberry-lemonade that I managed to appropriate a few sips in between my own Brewhouse Blonde ale. Yum. All kids’ meals at the Brewhouse are $7.95 and include the starter, entree, beverage and a yummy dessert (that night an oatmeal cookie sandwich that rocked). Make reservations via the Brewhouse website and ensure a pleasant dining experience, start to finish.

Taking a trip via the Alaska Marine Highway System this summer? We are, and just became doubly glad for the AMHS deals now through September 30, 2011. Besides offering front-window views to some of the best scenery on the entire planet, AMHS is sweetening the summer with a number of Alaskan-only specials guaranteed to make any parent jump for joy. The “See Alaska” pass, for example, allows for exploration of southeast Alaska at a reasonable rate, and the “Driver Goes Free” deal is valid for “mirror image” travel around the state. Great for those trips to, say, Valdez? Get out and explore the state this summer, and watch for our trip updates from our own adventure beginning July 14!

Time to refuel my caffeine addiction at Kaladi Brothers Coffee and that beautiful Big Wild Life Blend. Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day and the good guys at KBC are offering FREE cups of love to all current teachers with valid ID. So tell an educator your know to run to any KBC for theirs tomorrow, all day. With school out soon, I’m sure they’ll need it!

Posted in Alaska Marine Highway, Day Trips, Gear, Good Deals, Miscellaneous, Restaurants and tagged , , .