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An Inside Look at Alaska Airlines' Infamous Pancake Maker

An Inside Look at Alaska Airlines' Infamous Pancake Maker

We travel writers are a difficult lot to impress. But when Alaska Airlines made national news last summer for installing a pancake printing machine in its Board Room lounges, I squealed with delight (actually, it was more of a silent squeal; my Yahoo Travel colleagues don’t take kindly to squealing at work).

News that an airline was allowing passengers access to a machine that makes something as wonderful as pancakes — little slices of sweet, fluffy goodness that you get to douse in sweet syrupy goodness — actually made me proud to be a human being. Sure, we destroy the planet, kill each other for no reason, and post satirical news stories on our Facebook feeds because we think they’re real. But an invention this wondrous, I thought, proves once and for all that we still deserve our place at the top of the food chain.

Despite my glee, I let almost a year go by without seeing this miracle of innovation for myself. For as much as I love pancakes, I rarely allow myself to partake — especially since I moved to Los Angeles, where carbs are illegal.

But when I finally booked a flight on Alaska Airlines for an assignment in Anchorage, I decided this new airport lounge innovation was worth suspending my self-imposed pancake ban for three reasons: 1.) Vacation calories don’t count; everybody knows that. 2.) I was going to be traipsing through the Alaskan wilderness on my trip, so I figured I should carbo-load in case I had to run from a bear.

And 3.) It’s a flippin’ pancake machine!

So after spending the five-hour flight to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport fidgeting in anticipation, I headed straight for the Alaska Airlines Board Room for my pancake encounter. I found myself thinking about that Louis CK routine where he makes fun of himself for stopping to eat at a Cinnabons in the airport where he’d just arrived, which was essentially what I was doing — except that pancakes are much, much better than Cinnabons. Still I continued undaunted, refusing to let the specter of food shaming deter me from my quest.

At least if I was going to be food shamed for seeking out airport pancakes, I wouldn’t be alone. “Some people say they have [memberships to Alaska Airlines’ Board Rooms] just for the pancake machine,” Board Room manager Jennifer Freeberg-Huss told me when I arrived in the lounge. Word is, some passengers even arrange their flight times so that they can arrive in time to use the pancake machine during its hours of operation, which are usually from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. (by the way, if you’re one of those people who adjust your travel schedules solely for pancakes, follow me on Twitter. I think we might be potential best friends).

Of course, drawing weary travelers like me to their Board Rooms is the whole point behind Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine. Major air carriers no longer are satisfied to just compete with each other in the air; they’re also in a bitter ground war over airport-based amenities, and airport lounges are right on the front lines. LoungeBuddy.com co-founder Tyler Dikman estimated in an interview with Tnooz that airlines take in over $10 billion annually from their airport lounges. Each airline is trying to one-up the others with some interesting lounge perks — from the Qatar Airways Airport Lounge Jacuzzi at Doha International Airport to the billiards table at Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.

And, of course, there’s Alaska Airlines’ pancake printer, which Jennifer tells me came about after the machine’s distributor, Popcake North America, approached the airline with a simple proposal: we’ll give you the pancake machines if you buy the batter from us. “We were totally up for it; it was kind of a no brainer,” Jennifer recalls, saying the airline jumped at the chance to “surpass the competition and find new ways to set the Board Rooms apart.”

Jennifer showed me how to use the machine. Step One: Push a button on the front of the machine. Step Two: Wait a couple of minutes. Step Three: Enjoy your pancakes. It really is a simple, fully automated process. The only way it could be less complicated is if it were one of those replicators on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where you just speak your order and it materializes instantly. (Speaking of which, why didn’t Captain Picard ever order a plate of flapjacks to go with his Earl Grey tea?)

As delightful as Jennifer was, my raging pancake craving could only survive just so much small talk. “Would you like to try some pancakes?” Jennifer finally asked. Of course! We quickly whipped up a batch and I finally got to sample them. The pancakes themselves are medium-sized (the machine allows you to adjust the size of your pancakes, but Alaska Airlines keeps theirs medium-sized to fit on the plates in the Board Room). I’m pleased to say that after numerous samples, I can give Alaska Airlines’ printed pancakes the thumbs up. They are fluffy with a sweet, but not overbearing, flavor. And they are pleasantly chewy — not at all spongy like you might expect from an automated chef. Technology, you win again!

Jennifer seemed pleased at my enthusiastic reaction to the pancake printer. “We have them in all of the Board Rooms,” she told me. “Anchorage, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles…”

Wait, what…? Los Angeles? You mean I didn’t have to fly all the way to Anchorage to try this out? I could have just driven to LAX? I guess in my pancake-induced glee after reading Alaska Airlines’ “WE HAVE A PANCAKE MACHINE!!!!” headline, I forgot to read the fine print.

Oh well, it’s not as if I flew to Anchorage just for pancakes — that would have been silly right? But even if I had, it was worth the trip. Because Alaska Airlines’ pancake machine is probably the tastiest airline perk out there.

…at least until an airline installs a bacon-making machine.

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An Inside Look at Alaska Airlines' Infamous Pancake Maker - Recipes

We are telling the stories behind some of the foods and drinks offered inflight, highlighting companies whose sustainable business practices help Alaska “fly greener” – and are West Coast destinations we love to visit. Seattle’s Fremont Brewing is the first in this ongoing series. Fremont’s Lush IPA is currently available inflight and the Lounge Life IPA was crafted exclusively for Alaska Lounges.

Fremont Brewing’s Matt Lincecum dashes past a stainless steel tank, hands cupping a mound of verdant cone-shaped flowers. The fresh hops, picked just a few hours earlier in the Yakima Valley, are among 71,000 pounds destined for Fremont’s Field to Ferment fresh hop pale ale – a celebration of the signature Pacific Northwest crop only available in September and October. Lincecum, who owns the brewery with his wife, Sara Nelson, sifts the flowers with their delicate spicy scent into waiting hands. “Nothing smells like this, nothing tastes like this,” Lincecum says. “We live for this every year.”

This passion for distinctly Northwest flavors – organic hops paired with heritage malts and grains – inspired Lincecum and Nelson to build a brewing operation that sustains local farmers and strives to reduce waste throughout the beer-making process. In the decade since Fremont Brewing opened, they’ve crafted hundreds of different beers in numerous styles and have created an urban beer garden in Seattle that’s equal parts local family hangout and beer-tourist destination. They are marking their 10th anniversary with a celebration September 28-29 that includes food trucks, a barrel-aged release and throwback beer on tap. “Tasting rooms are the front porches and living rooms of their neighborhoods,” Nelson says. “Beer fosters community.”

Lincecum and Nelson recently took time to reflect on the brewery’s longevity, their craft-beer experiments, their partnership with Alaska Airlines – and how their determination to be responsible environmental citizens has influenced their business from the beginning.

What inspired you to start Fremont Brewing in 2008?

Matt Lincecum: I made a home brew that eventually became Universale. It was the first beer I had made in 15 years of homebrewing that made me think I could actually build a company around this beer. We had young kids. I was a practicing lawyer. Sara was in politics. I thought naively that combining our experience and values and starting a brewery was the best possible thing to do. And then the economy fell by about 50 percent.

Sara Nelson: I was nervous because there were already a few microbreweries in town. Matt said he thought there was some space in the market for another. After doing market research, I got on board and decided to take what I’d learned in my work at City Council to help the brewery grow its sustainability program. That was part of our values from the get-go.

What was it about Universale that convinced you?

Lincecum: It was the first beer that really featured the malt in the way that I loved and wanted. We’ve spent a large amount of time on our craft malting program, making sure that heritage malt and varieties of grains and barley and wheat are not lost to antiquity. As our flagship beer, we named it after our neighborhood, the self-described “Center of the Universe.”

Was there a moment when you realized the business would work?

Lincecum: About five years in. Every other moment until then was abject terror. But failure was not an option. This is a family-owned business driven by passion and values. The mission is to brew great beer and do good. Since then we’ve achieved success every year. We started off with one employee, and now we have around 85 employees.

Nelson: Now, people come to Seattle from Japan, from California, from across the country because they’ve heard of our beer scene and they want to experience it first-hand. Fremont is often at the top of their list. How do they know about us? We’ve made our mark on the craft beer scene, and this is adding depth and breadth and vibrancy to our sector.

Fremont has three brewing operations ranging in size from three barrels to 80 barrels, allowing for a lot of experimentation. Why is that important?

Lincecum: In craft beer, if you’re not passionate, people taste it. We experiment nonstop and it keeps us fresh.

We have our core beer. You can always find our Interurban and Universale. You can find our seasonal beers. Right now, we have Field of Ferment, which is the largest fresh hop beer program in the world. At the urban beer garden, you can find those beers on tap and also beers from collaborations with breweries from all over the country. But to do four new beers a week, you have to stay excited. Part of that is introducing new things to people – like the Lounge Life that we did for Alaska Airlines.

Lounge Life IPA was crafted just for Alaska Lounges. What did you like about this experiment?

Lincecum: That beer is a little bit edgy. The hops are a little woody, they’re a little fruity. They’re a little challenging for people. But that’s part of the fun.

What inspired you to work with Alaska?

Lincecum: We fly Alaska almost exclusively. We have the Alaska credit card for business. So, we’re all in and got very frustrated taking the Alaska flights and not having a broader diversity of beer choices. Literally, it was that selfish – we’d like to have some other beer on this plane when we fly. This is our hometown airline. It represents the Northwest. We thought, let’s pitch Alaska.

Why highlight organic hops and heritage grains?

Nelson: Because it’s the right thing to do for the environment, the local economy and for innovation. We used organic ingredients from the start – like organic malt – and helped spur the organic hop market by helping to change the USDA rule to specify that organic beer actually had to have organic hops. We have a responsibility to grow the market for sustainably produced ingredients.

Lincecum: This is all about preserving the varieties and the diversity of the land. If you don’t have biodiversity in the world of barley farming, you have a dead ecosystem. This is about keeping farmers happy, healthy and on the land. This really is not about flavors. It’s about the health of our farming economy.

You’ve also made conservation a priority and have partnered with tech companies to explore ways to turn spent grain and wastewater into green energy. What are other ways you conserve resources?

Nelson: From the beginning, we were very focused on zero-waste principles. We believe there is no such thing as garbage – just resources out of place – which is why we always strive to find the highest and best uses of our “resource stream.” To conserve energy, we switched out about 900 fluorescent bulbs for LED bulbs. We also capture heat from the brewing process and use it to power our steam system – so we’re using heat from brewing to heat the water for brewing. Eventually, we’ll capture rainwater and use it for watering our bee corridor of native plants that attract and nurture honey bees. We also have hives on the roof!

Lincecum: We’re really focused on reducing the amount of water. That’s everything from sloping floors so you don’t have to use as much water when cleaning, to recycling water. I believe the number one risk we have coming in global climate change is the threat to our water supply. We’re trying to use every single drop that we possibly can before it goes back into the cycle.

Nelson: No water, no beer. That is the foundation for a lot of what we do.

Lincecum: We were also among the first to put our beer in cans because you can put 40% more cans of beer on a truck than you can bottles, So, 40% fewer trips. And you can take a can and recycle it almost infinitely.

And you’re active in the community and on policy-making. How do you choose where to put your energy?

Nelson: Each year we provide in-kind and cash donations to over 300 nonprofits working in the environmental, social justice and educational spheres. In addition, I serve on the Government Affairs Committee of the Brewers Association and the Washington Brewers Guild to advance the interests of independent craft beer. I’m also on the Board of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber to support a thriving regional economic climate. And we’re on the go-to list of nonprofits and policy makers who need a small business voice in support of environmental stewardship. Ultimately, we want to be leaders and set an example for businesses – not just brewers – to take the next step to protect our air, water, soil and community. Because it’s the right thing to do.

The beer garden has such a relaxed vibe, with families hanging out alongside beer-tasting aficionados. Why did you choose the Fremont neighborhood?

Lincecum: It’s still a neighborhood where you can walk and people know who you are. You’re on the water and you’re looking at downtown – it’s beautiful. You’re looking at Mount Rainier behind downtown and it’s awe-inspiring. But you’re still in this funky little neighborhood.

Nelson: The draw of the neighborhood is its crazy mix of artists, tech workers, families, young, old and all the businesses that support them. Basically, Fremont is a microcosm of what makes a city vital and livable. So, we wanted to create a space where you can bring your dog. You can bring your kids, your work group, your bachelorette party – whatever! We do not provide Wi-Fi so you have to talk to other people and maybe make new friends. We want to be Fremont’s living room to our neighbors as well as out-of-town visitors because we really truly love Fremont, we’re grateful for the community’s support, and we hope we represent … well, the “Center of the Universe.”

How to visit:

The Fremont Brewing urban beer garden is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day at 1050 N. 34th St. in Seattle. RSVP for their 10th anniversary celebration September 28-29 – which includes a barrel-aged stout release and throwback beers – on the Fremont Brewing Facebook page.

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One month in Alaska 7/27/15-8/24/15

My husband (age 73) and myself (age 70) are both retired and are seasoned travelers. We prefer DIY trips but did a small group (only 7 of us) tour of China and another small group (4 of us) safari to Kenya and Tanzania. We don't mind the small group tours. In fact we found our traveling companions to be lovely and have maintained our friendships over the years.

My husband is the adventurous one and loves the outdoors. I am an avid amateur photographer and love learning about different cultures and the history of the places we visit. We both enjoy good food and nice lodging. My husband tolerates my shopping. We both enjoy good museums. I felt Alaska was going to be a perfect fit for the 2 of us.

I had originally planned a 9 week trip to Europe for the summer of 2015. I developed some medical issues with my back and shoulders. My doctor suggested a less lengthy trip would be better for me at this time so since Alaska had been on my "must visit" list I decided a relaxing cruise would be the way to go.

I had narrowed my cruise choices down to Holland America or Princess from research I had done years ago for a trip with a friend that unfortunately never happened. Those were the 2 companies I would focus on for my Alaska cruise. Since my husband and I had never done a cruise like this (we had done a cruise on the Nile River in Egypt in 2011 and one on the Yangtze River/China in 2007) we went to our local AAA office and met with a travel agent who helped us book our cruise. We decided to do a week long southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver on HAL.

We opted for a verandah suite as my husband wanted more space in the cabin and I loved the idea of a verandah. I dreamed about sitting out there watching magnificent scenery, sipping a glass of wine, etc. Our cabin would be on the port side. Then looking through the HAL travel brochure I decided to not just do a cruise but add some land travel to it. HAL offered several packages but we ended up with the 13 day triple Denali/D1 journey. I picked this because the ship would be the ms Zaandam which only had capacity for around 1400 passengers. I was concerned about being on a large ship with thousands of other passengers. I kept looking through that brochure and when we left the AAA office I had added the Anchorage & Kenai Fjords sampler and the Arctic Circle overnight expedition. Our HAL trip would begin in Fairbanks on 8/10 and end in Vancouver on 8/23/15. Then I added 1 night to Fairbanks and 1 night in Vancouver. Dates 8/9-8/24/15. Done I thought. I would book my air to Alaska and get travel insurance on my own. I just had to let HAL know the airline information.

I returned home and decided to check Trip Advisor. I had found TA very helpful in planning prior vacations to Egypt, Greece, and last year to Southeast Asia. After reading several trip reports I had decided that our 2 weeks just wasn't enough to do justice to Alaska. Almost every vacation we had done over the past 30+ years had been DIY so I figured I needed to do that for Alaska. With that in mind my new plan was a self drive starting in Anchorage. Homer, Seward, Whittier, back to Anchorage. Flight to Fairbanks. Begin HAL trip. Dates now were 7/27-8/24/15.

I purchased open jaw air from Buffalo-Detroit-Seattle-Anchorage on Delta Airlines for 7/27/15. Cost $759 for the 2 of us. Return flight from Vancouver-Newark-Buffalo on United Airlines for 8/24/15. Cost $552.70 for the 2 of us. Flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines for 8/9/15. Cost $191.20 for the 2 of us.

Per advice from TA I booked my rental car with Hertz in March 2015. Pick up 7/28 and return 8/7/15. I chose the downtown location of Anchorage due to lower price. Had the car for 11 days. Put on 797.3 miles. Cost $639.07 which included all taxes, etc. This was for an economy car since there was just the 2 of us. It worked out great for us. I also booked the same kind of car through Hertz, Fairbanks Airport for 1 day-8/9-8/10/15. In reality we returned the car late evening of 8/9/15. Put on around 60 miles, maybe more, maybe less. Didn't keep a record. Cost $50.41 which included all taxes, etc. I found dealing with Hertz to be a wonderful experience. No money was exchanged or charged to my credit card until the actual pick up of the car. Return was hassle free. No hidden charges. Just had to fill up the gas tank before the return.

I also ordered The Milepost and bought Joe Upton's The Alaska Cruise Handbook. Both books were very helpful and I am glad we got them.

I also contacted several of the towns we would be visiting via e-mail and soon every day I was getting brochures from Homer, Seward, Whittier, Fairbanks, Anchorage. Information from companies that provide fishing, bear viewing. I have a drawer full of these brochures which I read and found to be very useful also in my planning for our trip.

I bought a small 4 x 7 notebook. Doing research I would write in it recommended hotels and restaurants. Companies that offered excursions of interest to us. I divided this into general Alaska, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Whittier, Fairbanks, Denali, Haines/Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver. What was nice about this notebook is that I also used it as my daily journal. I am very much into being organized so I printed out blank calendars for July and August 2015. This would be my trip to Alaska "bible" of sorts. On these 2 pages of paper I listed everything I had pre booked-all our flight info, lodging info, excursion info. I even listed restaurants that I wanted to try. Of course this was not adhered to precisely as nothing is set in stone. There were things we didn't get to do because we didn't have the time or we changed our minds about something. Even though I had this schedule I had no problem making changes/going with the flow. It worked great for us but this type of planning isn't everyone's cup of tea!

Our itinerary would be 1 night Anchorage, 4 nights Homer, 4 nights Seward, 1 night Whittier, 3 nights Anchorage, 1 night Fairbanks, 1 night Coldfoot Camp, 1 night Fairbanks, 3 nights McKinley Chalet/Denali, 1 night Anchorage, 7 nights ms. Zaandam/cruise, 1 night Vancouver.

Pre booked hotels and most excursions. Had some great meals. Saw tons of wildlife and took thousands of pictures. I was simply astounded by the scenery. Better than I could ever have imagined. Loved everything about Alaska-even the weather! The people are fantastic. This is definitely a place I could easily revisit.

HAL was great. Took care of our luggage. Everything was first rate. Food on the ship was so much better than I thought it would be. Our cabin was spacious and I did enjoy that verandah. All the HAL staff were amazing. Our cabin stewards were the best-so friendly. The ports were places we enjoyed very much. From our beginning with HAL in Fairbanks to the end in Vancouver it all ran so smoothly. I don't know how they do it!

I will link this to 2015 trip reports when I'm done. I did write a blog which is very detailed with prices for everything-lodging, meals, excursions. I also have pictures attached to the blog. This trip report I'm starting here will not be so detailed. If you want to take a look see-especially the pictures maybe:

Entries begin in October and end in November when I wrote it.

Next up-Packing/clothing, Anchorage, Homer.

Easy to do for the land touring we'd be doing. Hard for the cruise in that I was under the mistaken impression that you dressed nice for dinner every night. I knew about the formal nights (there were to be 2 of these on our cruise) but my HAL information stated smart casual for the other nights. Therefore I packed clothes for the cruise that my husband and I never wore.

We did intend to participate in the formal evenings. For my husband I packed a black suit-jacket with slacks. You only need 2 dress shirts (I packed 4) and 2 ties. Smart black loafers. For myself I had a long dressy skirt with a black dressy top for one evening. For the other evening I packed another dressy top with a pair of dressy slacks. Black flats. However I also packed 4 other dressy tops that I never wore and 2 other nice pairs of slacks and 2 skirts that I never wore. Swim suits, cover ups, flip flops.

Comfortable sneakers and waterproof hiking boots for each of us. Fleece jackets, hat, gloves. For me-a warm neck ring scarf. I also bought a windproof, rainproof, winter jacket 2 in 1 from Columbia that was one of the best things I packed. I wore it on all the day boat trips as well as most of our excursions. Also invaluable were the medium weight thermal top and bottoms that I bought. Tops-5 wash & wear short sleeve tops for me that I wore all the time and 5 collar golf/polo short sleeve shirts for my husband. Casual Docker type slacks for my husband-3 pr. Lightweight easy to wash and dry slacks for me-3 pr. These tops and bottoms were mix and match which worked great. Lt. rain jacket for my husband that he never wore. Sleep wear-2 sets each. Underwear/socks-enough for 7 days.

Fortunately we were able to do laundry as we traveled. Self service laundromat-Homer. Some laundry facilities were located right in our hotels-Seward, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Denali. There also was a self service laundry room on our cruise ship.

We also took sunscreen, insect repellant (never used it), Neosporin, bandaids, our medications, dental supplies, deodorant. Disposable razors and travel size shaving cream. I brought along a small TSA approved bottle with bubble bath in it which I used. All the places had hair dryers and shampoo and conditioner except for Coldfoot Camp. I brought my own bar of soap due to my sensitive skin. Minimal make up products which I did use-mainly hydrating cream and a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen added. In Alaska I ended up at Fred Meyer's to buy some ointment for muscle aches and a gel pak that I would place in the mini fridge and use for my back.

I have a special travel case designed just for this. Canon EOS digital Rebel XTI SLR with 3 lenses. One of which was the heavy 100-400. I used that a lot and got great shots of wildlife, glaciers, etc. I also brought filters which I didn't need except for polarizing and UV. I should have left the others at home. Point & shoots-Canon SX600 HS and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. Sealife underwater camera that my husband used on his white water rafting trip. SONY HDR-CX260V digital HD video camera. Of course lots of memory cards. I also ended up buying more memory cards in Alaska. I also brought my Apple lap top to stay in touch with family. My mom and aunt were both in their 90s. I used dropbox on my computer for this trip. It was a back up to all the info in my small notebook.

Flight from Buffalo to Anchorage on 7/27/15 uneventful. A long day due to stops and layovers. Our first flight left Buffalo at 10:00 am and we landed in Anchorage that same day at 7:46 pm. Seats were comfortable. Had around 2 hrs. layover in both Detroit and Seattle.

I mostly booked all our hotels through sites that offered free cancellation which I wanted due to my medical issues and the ages of my mom and aunt.

I did separate reviews of all lodging, restaurants, and excursions on Trip Advisor.

ANCHORAGE 7/27-7/28/15 1 night

Location was excellent. Walking distance to many restaurants, shops, and sites. The hotel itself was charming and the staff were great. Beds were super comfortable. A great night's sleep. Continental breakfast is included but we opted to not avail ourselves of this amenity. I loved this hotel and would definitely stay here again. The only negative is that if you have a rental car there is no parking offered by the hotel. This didn't bother us as we were picking up our car the next day. Had to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel as the hotel does not provide transfer service. By the time we got to the hotel and checked in it was late.

Restaurant: dinner 7/27/15 and breakfast 7/28/15

For dinner we walked a short distance to GINGER, a place known for Pacific Rim cuisine. We had a light meal due to the time (we aren't used to having dinner after 9:00 pm) but the food was awesome. If you like heat this is the place. I should have asked for the dressing for my salad on the side as it was too spicy for me and I like spicy! There was a light rain falling so we walked around for just a bit passing the now closed Visitor Center and some other sites before heading back to our hotel for a restful night's sleep.

I had made a reservation for us for breakfast at the SNOW CITY CAFE. It was raining and the hotel staff recommended a taxi. Good advice as we would have been soaked by the time we would have got there. The place was packed but not completely. My blueberry pancake was huge and I could only finish half. My bacon was crisp as I ordered. I was happy! Coffee was so-so. My husband said his hash was dry. I think their specialty is eggs Benedict?? However, the service was friendly and fast. I loved the atmosphere here and that blueberry pancake was delicious!! I'd definitely would return to this place. It just so happened that our rental car pick up office was right around the corner so the location of this place worked perfectly for us.

Driving to Homer. Several stops. Beluga Point, Bird Point, The Moose Is Loose in Soldotna, Transfiguration of Our Lord Church in Ninilchik. I must admit that I expected more of this Turnagain Arm drive. The scenery was nice but I would see more spectacular scenery elsewhere before we would leave Alaska.

PIONEER INN. Booked through booking.com.

Excellent location as we did not want to stay right on the Spit. The Spit was around 5-10 minute drive. The owners of this small establishment treat you like new friends, not generic guests. We had an apartment really as there was a separate bedroom with king bed and a large room which served as kitchen (full size appliances, fully equipped), dining area, and living room in addition to a large bathroom. Highly recommend this place. We loved our stay here and would do so again.

Dinner-FAT OLIVES, CAFE CUPS, CAPTAIN PATTIE'S FISH HOUSE, and FRESH CATCH. All great choices.

Breakfast-TWO SISTERS BAKERY and COSMIC KITCHEN. No complaints-good food.

Bear viewing trip with ALASKA BEAR ADVENTURES-Katamai/Hallo Bay. Prebooked. Lots of bears and some were so close to us! These grizzlies/brown bears looked well fed and were not interested in us at all thankfully! So glad we did this. Originally wanted to do an overnight trip but places were completely booked when I started looking in March 2015. These overnights fill up fast but I really had a great time on our day trip. It was just the right amount of time for me. Also not too strenuous.

KACHEMAK BAY/SELDOVIA day boat tour. Central Charters & Tours. Exceptional time. Saw lots of wildlife-whales, otters, bald eagles, sea birds. At $49 senior price for each of us this was a bargain. Calm sailing. Seldovia is a charming town-small so very walkable. Had time in Seldovia for lunch and a bit of exploring.

HALIBUT FISHING for my husband. Alaska Coastal Marine. Pre booked. He said he loved every minute of it. Had his halibut processed and shipped home. It tastes fabulous!!

Other activités/sightseeing in Homer:

Driving on the bluff roads-East and West Skyline Drive. Carl E. Wynn Nature Center-hiking the trails Effler Trail Alaska Islands & Ocean Center-exhibits and films inside the building, Beluga Slough Trail, Bishop's beach. Sightseeing on the Spit-we parked the car and walked around. Land's End Resort, Homer Ferry Terminal, Seafarer's Memorial, Salty Dawg Saloon (had drinks here), Homer harbor, Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (watched people fishing here), boat graveyard. Sightseeing in Homer town center-Inlet Trading Post, Harrington Cabin.

We had beautiful weather while in Homer. Of course there was that big earthquake the day we arrived-7/28/15! Could have spent more time here to get over to Halibut Cove, do more hiking. We really have awesome memories (and tons of pictures/video) of our time here. So glad we listened to the folks on TA that recommended this town. Well worth the drive!

Fabulous detail. Yours is the first post I have read on this thread and the detail you are presenting has given me huge thoughts for my preparation and planning. Thank you!

BREEZE INN Booked through booking.com

We opted for a room with a sea/water view which was located in the newer annex building. Location was so close to tons of restaurants, shops, and the dock area for day boat trips to Kenai Fjords. Big parking lot for our rental car. Breakfast not included. Self serve laundry in main building. Our room was perfect. Great view and spacious. Beds were so comfortable. Very restful. Staff at front desk in main building answered any questions we had and gave us directions to places we wanted to visit outside of town. Would definitely stay here again.

EUREKA PIZZA Had a long wait-1 hour-but it was worth it. Even though our table was one of the few occupied we discovered this place does a booming take out business. That was the reason for the wait time. Our pizza and wings were yummy! We also had a very nice conversation with the owner as coming from Buffalo we noticed the bottle of Frank's Red Hot Wings sauce on the counter. Buffalo is the birth place of chicken wings. Franks was used in the original wings recipe created in Buffalo in 1964.

WOODY'S THAI KITCHEN Ever since our SE Asia trip my husband has developed a taste for Thai food. This place did not disappoint. A large building that can accommodate lots of diners/tables but not noisy at all. The place was packed. A short wait. Very tasty Thai food that reminded us of our time in Thailand last year. The main difference was that the prices here were much higher than the prices in Thailand but still reasonable for Alaska. This place is not located right in the town by the docks but close to the Sea Life Center. We drove but I believe it is walkable from the harbor area. Probably around 1 mile from the harbor. Named in honor of a sea lion from the Sea Life Center.

RAY'S WATERFRONT Few minutes walk from our hotel. Didn't have a reservation (recommended) so a wait of maybe 30 minutes. But we were so lucky. Seated at a table right next to the windows looking out to the harbor area. Best table in the place!! Service was prompt and friendly. Our wait person kindly took a picture of my husband and myself. Food was delicious. Sea food chowder full of halibut & cod fish. NY strip steak perfectly cooked-melted in the mouth-so tender and moist. A truly great meal.

CHINOOKS Almost next door to Ray's. Again no reservation (recommended) but again we lucked out. After a wait of about 1 hour we were seated at a table upstairs right next to the windows overlooking the harbor. We watched guys cleaning the day's catch and boats coming in to dock. Besides the nice view the food was pretty good also. Best buttermilk fried chicken I ever had! Great salads and soup of the day-perfect. A nice way to end our time in Seward.

Breeze Inn has its own restaurant/cafe. Located behind the annex building facing towards the harbor area. Great service. Tasty coffee-just the right strength. My husband loved the huevos rancheros.

DOG SLEDDING ON GODWIN GLACIER VIA HELICOPTER Pre booked through Seward Helicopter Tours/Turning Heads Kennel. This was one of the best things we did while in Alaska. Pick up and drop off at our hotel by Turning Heads Kennel. The day/weather was perfect. Sunny and warm. 3 of us in the short, scenic helicopter ride to the glacier. Wyatt was our musher. He introduced us to our team and told us what traits each dog had that determined his/her position in the pulling order. Also gave us general information about the glacier and dogsledding. Some day he hopes to compete in the Iditarod. Words ca't even begin to describe this experience. Vastness of the landscape. Serenity. Beautiful. Felt like we were so removed from civilization. This was very special. Wyatt even let my husband do the actual mushing on the leg back to the kennel camp. We got to help unharness the dogs and played with the puppies. I could have stayed here all day. It was that awesome. Worth every single penny, nickel, dime.

EXIT GLACIER Part of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Around 10 minute drive outside of town. Original plan was to do a very easy 1 mile hike due to my back and shoulder issues. There are ranger led hikes at certain times and we just happened to arrive in time for one of these. Ranger John gave us tons of information and pointed out how the glacier has been receding over the years. We knew this hike was going to be longer and go further than what we had planned so we left the group. However, I misread the signs at the point where we left the group. We ended up doing a strenuous, very long hike all the way to the edge of the glacier! It was beautiful but I was exhausted and we still had to make it back to the parking lot. I don't know how I did it but I did. Thank goodness we brought bottles of water with us. Lesson learned-we should have stayed with ranger John!!

SEA LIFE CENTER Well worth the visit. Public aquarium and research center. Lots of exhibits with informative signage. Viewing areas for puffins, sea birds, seals, sea lions. A hands on touch exhibit. This is not only nice for adults but I think kids would enjoy this too.

NORTHWESTERN KENAI FJORDS day cruise with Major Maine. Pre booked. Smaller boat with smaller group-around 36 of us. This is an all day trip of around 9 hours. Muffins and coffee/tea. Cold deli style lunch was filling and quite tasty. Through Resurrection Bay, Chiswell Islands, Granite Passage, Harris Bay, NW Fjord. Northwestern, Anchor, & Ojive glaciers. Small calvings at NW Glacier where we spent around 30 minutes. Amazing wildlife spotting. Luck was with me as a huge orca swam under our boat and surfaced right in front of me. I got some amazing pictures. We saw lots of orcas, sea lions, sea birds galore, puffins, bald eagle, otters, seals on ice floes, mountain goat, cormorants, humpback whales. Of course nothing is guaranteed but we were so lucky. Weather is chilly on the boat in open water so dress accordingly. I loved this day. Seward was beginning to be a favorite stop!!

SMALL GROUP WHALE WATCHING, WILDLIFE & GLACIER TOUR with Alaska Saltwater Lodge & Tours. Pre booked. This day long trip is more expensive but it's a smaller boat with even less people than MM. There were 2 boats going out. Our boat had a total of 12. Around 9 hours in length. Muffins and coffee/tea. Snack-crackers, cheese, sausage, cut up veggies, dip. Deli style cold lunch which was filling and very good. Saw otters, puffins, orcas, coral sea star, seals-one by itself was pure white, sea lions, waterfalls, some interesting rock formations. Weather was again great but it does get chilly on the boat. Both today's and yesterday's boats have inside areas where you can sit and be warm. However, since I love to take in the beauty of my surroundings and document this I will spend most of the time outside on the wrap around viewing areas. Glacier ice was scooped up and I got to hold it. It is extremely cold. Aialik Glacier-saw small calvings. We visited other glaciers but I forgot to jot down the names. So lucky-2 days in a row out on the water in Kenai Fjords with 2 amazing day trips with 2 different companies but each was a great experience. I don't regret doing 2 day trips like this and would book with each company again. Stellar service/experience from both companies.

SELF DRIVE/TOUR AROUND TOWN Did a bit of shopping. There were lots of murals painted on buildings scattered throughout the town that I wanted to see. Wildflower Garden. Table Games & Senior Prom with a twist was this was painted on the senior center building and depicted seniors! It was so cool. Mount Marathon Race. Remembering Exit Glacier. We also stopped and visited the Founders Monument, 0 mile start of historic Iditarod Trail. Old stores like Brown & Hawkins, Urbachs. Saw the RV/tent camping area. Just rode up and down the streets. Benny Benson Memorial.

My husband and I absolutely loved the time we had in Seward. It truly is an "All-American City".

awayIgo2travel-love the name and thanks for the nice words.

WHITTIER 8/5-8/6/15 1 night Ice free port. Alaska Railroad makes daily trips from Anchorage.

Many will advocate not to stay in Whittier but to stay in Girdwood. I'm sure Girdwood is a very nice option but we wanted to be right where our Prince William Sound cruise departs. Yes, there aren't many lodging options and only a few restaurants and not much in the way of shopping. You need to drive over the railroad tracks and really explore beyond this small touristy area to see some beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails. That's what we did.

Driving from Seward we made it through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel at 9:30 am.

THE INN AT WHITTIER Booked directly with the hotel. They have a generous cancellation policy. Full refund within 48 hours of arrival.

We booked an ocean view room and were happy with our room. This hotel is huge with an in house restaurant and a separate in house bar. Free parking lot for guests directly across from the hotel's front entrance. Our room was clean, spacious, well equipped. Beds were comfortable and we had a great night's sleep. Walking distance to the dock area for the day cruises.

Restaurants: Dinner 8/5/15 and breakfast 8/6/15

SWIFTWATER. Place is a casual cafe where you order at the counter, pay at the counter, and then your food is brought to you. This place was nearly full but we did manage to snag the last remaining table which was a high top. A bit of a challenge for my 70 year old butt to get up on that chair but I managed! Food was so-so. We had fried shrimp & fries basket and caesar salad. Not a huge amount of choices on the menu. Not a gourmet place for sure so be aware of that. It was fine for us though.

Because of the limited choices we just decided to have breakfast at the hotel's restaurant. Lots of empty tables/booths. Think there was only 1 other booth occupied. Maybe because it was early?? Food was perfectly fine for breakfast although the home fries I would bet were frozen, not homemade. Oh well, that's life.

PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND SURPRISE GLACIER TOUR with Major Marine. Check in time 11:15 am. Departs 12:15 pm to accommodate the day trippers arriving from Anchorage via railroad, etc. Much larger boat with tons of people but didn't feel crowded. Chugach ranger on board. Junior ranger program for the kids. Optional salmon & prime rib buffet lunch-extra cost. Almost 5 1/2 hours. Through Passage Canal, Port Wells-saw stunning waterfalls/bird rookeries/otters/sea lions, Barry Arm, Harriman Glacier, and 30 minutes in front of Surprise Glacier. Tons of seals on ice floes here. Saw small calvings. Really wanting to see a house sized chunk fall but no luck to date. Returning through Esther Passage-high mountains-beautiful scenery, Esther Island-working salmon hatchery-saw boats casting out nets and hauling them in, pass the 2nd largest black legged kittiwake rookery. This trip is all about seeing glaciers and we saw plenty. The wildlife spottings were a bonus. This was a very pleasant time and we are very happy we decided to do this. If you're really into glaciers and stunning scenery this is the trip to take. The glaciers are the main attraction in PWS.

SELF DRIVE TOUR The following morning we decided to explore the surrounding area of Whittier to see what lies beyond the harbor. We drove over the railroad tracks. Anchor Inn. Dock area with tons of shipping crates. Abandoned Bruckner Building. Beigich Towers. Running streams, waterfalls. Emerald Cove Trail. Horsetail Falls Trail. Depot Rd. Eastern Ave. Blackstone Rd. Glacier Ave. It was very nice. We stopped and did a short hike by a waterfall ending in a stream tumbling over boulders/rock. No one else on the road but us. Nice viewpoint looking down to Whittier harbor. Back through the Anton Anderson Tunnel

Next-stops for Portage Glacier tour, Beigich Boggs Visitor Center, Williwaw Salmon Viewing area, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. All on our way back to Anchorage.

First stop after going through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was PORTAGE GLACIER TOUR on the mv Ptarmigan 12 noon time slot

This is a short (1 hour) cruise that gets you up close to Portage Glacier. Bought tickets-senior discount-at Portage Glacier Lodge that houses a very nice gift shop and a small cafeteria. First cruise is 10:30 am and the last is at 4:30 pm. From this building it's a very short drive to where you board the boat. The boat can hold 144 passengers. There is a representative of the US Forest Service on board to provide great detailed and informative narration. Top deck is best for viewing as it's open. Part of Chugach National Forest. The boat sails on Portage Lake which was formed by the melting of the Portage Glacier. We got very close and the captain scooped up a chunk of glacier ice. Also saw Shakespeare Glacier and think we saw Byron Glacier from the road. You can also hike the Portage Pass Trail which is moderately steep. This was a very informative, enjoyable time.

A very short drive and we arrived at the BEGICH BOGGS VISITOR CENTER. Minimal admission fee. Exhibits here on the Chugach National Forest which is the 2nd largest. Most of the exhibits are hands on. There's a film-Retreat & Renewal: Stories from Alaska's Chugach NF. Alaska Geographic book store. Well worth the time.

As we were driving I spotted a sign for the WILLIWAW SALMON VIEWING PLATFORM so I asked my husband to stop. Dirt area for parking and short walk to viewing area. We saw lots of salmon.

Our last stop before Anchorage was the ALASKA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION CENTER. This place takes in injured and orphaned animals. Provides conservation education and quality animal care. Treats, rehabilitates, and releases animals back into the wild if possible. There's a gift shop where the proceeds are used for animal care. There are narrated tours. There are behind the scenes tours. You can park and walk or drive and stop or just drive. We arrived at feeding time for the black bears which was neat to see. We drove, stopped, walked. Saw moose, musk ox, wood bison, the black bears, elk which were going to be released on Akun Island, caribou, deer, Adonis the bald eagle. He is a permanent resident as he was shot and his left wing had to be amputated. Spent a few hours here.

ANCHORAGE 8/6-8/9/15 3 nights

SPRINGHILL SUITES ANCHORAGE UNIVERSITY LAKE Booked through booking.com

Original booking was for a king room with sofa bed but when we arrived we were asked if we would mind having a handicap accessible room. That was fine with us. I was hoping for a room with a view but when I made my booking back in February 2015 nothing was available. Our room was on the 2nd floor and had 2 queen beds and 2 separate bathrooms! One just had a toilet and sink while the other was a fully equipped bathroom. This suite also had a microwave and a mini fridge, a huge sofa. This was an extremely large room. Breakfast was included but items were in covered warming dishes. This hotel also has an indoor pool and a fitness center. A large parking area for guests with cars. I booked this because my husband loves to swim and on other trips he's made good use of hotels' pools. Unfortunately every night even up to closing time of 11:00 pm there were so many kids running around, doing cannonballs into the pool that my husband did not enjoy the pool. I tried and almost got knocked over by kids jumping into the hot tub area. One little girl, around 4, was running, slipped, fell, started crying and the adults just sat there. There is no staff supervision in the pool area. I would not stay here again as it appears to be a popular family hotel. Our stay at the Historic Anchorage was much more relaxing. That was the only negative to this hotel. The lake is a short walk from the lobby area and is picturesque.

MOOSE'S TOOTH Called to make a reservation but this place doesn't take reservations. Pity because this is a very popular spot and was difficult to find parking. Given a pager-wait time was a bit more than 1 hour. We had a small booth near a large table of 14 young men celebrating. This is a good people watching place. I hate beer but the apple ale was so good! Our pizza was very good. My mixed berry cobbler was full of all sorts of berries. A nice meal.

GLACIER BREWHOUSE Right in town and walking distance from car rental place as we had to return our car. Large place but not too noisy. Few minutes wait. Prompt, friendly service. Delicious food-salmon and jambalaya. This place sells T shirts, etc. so my husband picked one out for himself. From here we walked over to the Visitor Center and used our cell phone to call the hotel. The hotel provides free shuttle service to this downtown location and to the airport.

HARD ROCK CAFE We were sightseeing downtown, didn't have a car, and this place was right there. Besides we have always eaten at the HR on prior trips. Almost always order the same dishes and then compare. It never ceases to surprise me that a HR cheeseburger tastes the same whether we're home in Niagara Falls/NY/US, Greece, Egypt, Thailand. I got my usual Lil' Rock Burger with cheese & fries and my husband the Legendary Original Burger & side salad. Food was very tasty. Noisy place. Enjoyed looking at the memorabilia and made some purchases in the gift shop. Another short walk to the Visitor Center for our pick up by our hotel.

FLATTOP MOUNTAIN Hiking Blueberry Loop and Anchorage Overlook Trail. Slow, leisurely pace. Beautiful day. Sun is out. Arrived early morning in order to be able to park in the lot. No problem as it was early. Make sure you take water with you and wear a hat. Spent more time here than we thought so scrapped our plans to drive to Eagle Ridge Nature Center.

SHIP CREEK FISHING PLATFORM Since this was near our next stop we just parked our car there and walked. Lots of people here fishing for salmon which we could see in the water.

ULU FACTORY This was of major interest to me as I intended to do some shopping for family & friends here. There was a demonstration on how to use the knife and how to take care of it. Towards the back of the building you could view the knife making & packing process. The store sells other Alaska type souvenirs besides the Ulu knives. In this building I finished a lot of my shopping!! Just remember to pack your Ulu sets in checked luggage. I forgot and at the airport the following morning when I was asked what was in my carry on I honestly replied souvenirs. Well, even though the Ulu are boxed and wrapped they still can't be in your carry on. Fortunately I was able to check my carry on at no extra charge!

RESOLUTION PARK Here we saw the Captain James Cook Monument but was not able to see Mt. McKinley/Denali. There is a plaque on the monument that gives a lot of information about Cook and his ship-Resolution.

SPENARD BEACH/LAKE HOOD Sat and watched the float planes take off and land. Very busy with float planes constantly coming and going. Relaxing just to sit and enjoy the view.

ALASKA NATIVE HERITAGE CENTER Took free shuttle from the Visitor Center. Bought the Culture Pass which covers the Anchorage Museum too. Spent almost 4 hours here and didn't see/do everything. Fascinating place. There are demonstrations of native dancing, storytelling, games. Loved listening to the music. Took the guided tour of the traditional Native dwellings outside. Exhibits inside too were very interesting. There were natives demonstrating and selling their crafts. Film I never had time to watch. Gift shop. Even sled dog cart rides-Iditarod Champion John Baker, Inupiaq Native. Loved this place! I learned so much about the Alaska native cultures.

ANCHORAGE MUSEUM My Culture Pass covered the admission. Shuttle from Alaska Native Heritage Center took us here. Purses and back packs-free lockers available. Current exhibit on baseball. Alaska history gallery. Smithsonian Arctic studies center. Art of the North. Imaginarium Discovery Center-hands on, good for kids. Loved all the displays of the clothing, tools, artifacts of all the Native tribes of Alaska-Eastern Siberian, Yupick, Athabaskan, Tlingit, Unangax. Exhibit on James Cook-no pictures allowed. Living in Anchorage today exhibit.

ALASKA WILD BERRY PRODUCTS Outside of town. During the week there are tours and you can see the products being made in the different kitchens-jam & jelly, hot, candy, molding room. Huge chocolate waterfall. Huge stuffed bear and Moose. Exhibits outside around the property. A really neat place. Another "must" stop for souvenirs. What is better than chocolate covered berries from Alaska-salmonberries, fireweed, moss berries, rose hips, lingonberries. Fudge!! So many yummy treats-not only sweets but sausage, etc. T shirts, hats/caps. One stop shopping here. Spent at least a few hours here.

We also just walked around the downtown area passing landmarks like the Alaska State Legislature Bldg., Boney Courthouse, Nesbett Courthouse, Federal Bldg., Historic City Hall. Before dinner we stopped by the Visitor Center which was about to close. This place has tons of informative pamphlets for Anchorage and Alaska. Maps too.

I really wish I had had another day in Anchorage as I would have liked to walk the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and get to Eagle Ridge Nature Center. I'm sure there's more I'm missing.

Some will say don't waste your time in Anchorage but my husband and I really enjoyed the time we had here. I don't regret our time here. This is where I got educated about Alaska Native culture.

Next-Fairbanks and our Arctic Circle overnight adventure.

FAIRBANKS 8/9-8/10/15 Gold rush history. Northern lights. Gateway to the Arctic.

Took the free shuttle from our hotel in Anchorage to the airport. Flight 9:35 am. Should arrive in Fairbanks 10:39 am. Seats on the left side of the plane as recommended by folks here on the TA forum. Truthfully the scenery was ok, but nothing spectacular. Maybe I wasn't looking where I was supposed to look?? Got to the Anchorage Airport with plenty of time to have a quick breakfast at CINNABON as on the weekends our Anchorage hotel starts the breakfast buffet too late for us. I must admit the berry cinnabon and the coffee were much better than I expected. The cinnabon was yummy-large, dripping with the icing and filled with berries. TSA pre check approved so going through was a breeze until. This is where I ran into trouble going through with my carry on bag. Fortunately I checked it and my Ulu knife sets were saved!

At the Fairbanks Airport we are met by a representative of HAL. If I hadn't rented a car for us HAL would have provided transport for us to our hotel. The rep gives us some information about the land portion of our trip with HAL. Another easy pick up at HERTZ. This time we have a new white Chevy Spark. In Anchorage our new Chevy Spark was red. It is a short-maybe 10 minute or so-drive to our hotel.

WESTMARK FAIRBANKS This hotel is part of our package trip with Holland America. Our room is not ready but we are welcome to leave our bags at the front desk. Later in the day when we return we check in to our room which has 2 TVs-his and hers I guess!! It is huge with a mini kitchen area complete with sink, microwave, coffee maker, mini fridge. We will rest/sleep comfortably tonight. Breakfast is not included. This hotel has an in house restaurant and a bar area that serves bar food/quick bites. A nice gift shop with a coffee shop attached. Fitness Center and self serve laundry room.

Upon arrival the front desk directs us to the HAL tour desk. The info packet we received does not have the time of our pick up fro tomorrow. They will contact the company and have the information waiting for us when we return later this afternoon.

ALASKA PIPELINE As we are driving I notice a sign for the pipeline and since we have plenty of time I have my husband pull over. There are some other people here besides us. There is signage that tells you all you want to know about the pipeline. Never knew there were pigs in the pipeline and no, we're not talking farm animals here. I found this area of displays along with the actual pipeline very fascinating. For instance I learned that there are 12 pump stations between Prudhoe Bay and Valdez Marine Terminal. Spent around 30 minutes here.

GOLD DREDGE #8 Main reason for the car rental as this place is a distance from town. Advertised as best 2 hours you will spend in the state. Everyone is guaranteed to find gold. Great!! Count me in. Good signage directs us to a large parking lot. We purchase our tickets at a booth by the parking lot and a short walk to the start of our tour. There are 2 tours daily and ours begins at 1:45 pm. The other is in the morning. Soon we are directed to board a train-a replica of the narrow gauge Tanana Valley Railroad. Our commentator is a woman who tells us she has an active gold stake. Entertainment is provided by Earl Hughes who plays the guitar, the violin, sings, tells stories. Along the way we make several short stops at sites where working hands give demonstrations. It was very interesting. Soon we arrive at Gold Dredge #8 where millions of ounces of gold was extracted from the ground. This is where the fun starts. You get to pan for gold! Each person is given a poke-dirt with flakes of gold. Our commentator (wish I had noted her name) shows us how to pan. Long tables and benches. In the middle there is a trough of warm water which we will use to separate the gold flakes from the dirt. This was a lot of fun-at least for my husband and myself. It was one of the things he wanted to do. Each poke holds a different amount of gold. When you are done you place the flakes into a container and go to a building to have it weighed. Mine-$6 My husband-$12. I heard of one person on our train that had $50!! I opted to purchase a locket where our gold would be placed inside. Such a nice souvenir of a wonderful afternoon. Cookies and hot chocolate are provided. Time to shop. The gift shop had so many items I wanted to buy but I was running out of space and weight in my luggage. Inside this same building there were informative displays all about the gold rush. Back on the train and before heading back to your car, tour bus, etc. we are led to a section of the Alaska pipeline and given a commentary on its history, construction, function. I had a super great time. So glad we did this. Thanks to my husband for his wonderful idea.

MUSEUM OF THE NORTH Part of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Had a bit of trouble finding this place. The price of admission includes 3 movies but we only saw 2 due to our late arrival. Each movie is 30 minutes. Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs and Dynamic Aurora (that's what I came to see). The other film was Arctic Currants-about bowhead whales migrating across Arctic waters. The films were well worth the time to watch them. I loved the Aurora film. It truly is a spectacular phenomenon. I only wish we had more time here. There's an excellent museum gift shop. Art galleries. Museum exhibits. There was so much to see here. I spent 2 hours here but could have easily had twice that amount of time. This museum was way beyond what I expected. It was fabulous. Open summer 9:00 am-7:00 pm.

Drove back to our hotel. Information waiting for us for tomorrow's adventure. Had to call the company to give them our weights for the plane. :-)

SILVER GULCH BREWING & BOTTLING COMPANY Another longish drive away from town (located in Fox, Alaska) but I was determined to have dinner here. They also sell T shirts, etc. This is America's most northern brewery. A very large gray building packed with people. Got a booth right away. Service was fast and friendly. We are finding this to be the case in all our dining spots. Dinner was terrific. Hearty comfort food. I had a bowl of beans, steak, and stout. My husband had a bowl of the beer, cheese soup. We both had pub salads. This is not a fancy place but has a good vibe and we really enjoyed our meal! Of course my beer loving son-in-law loved the T shirt I got him. It was worth the drive.

We head back to the hotel as tomorrow we are being picked up at 4:30 am!!

Next is our drive/fly overnight Arctic Circle adventure.

I haven't had time to read all of your report yet, but I did have to check out the Vancouver section on your blog! So glad you got great weather during your one night in Vancouver. And YES!! You do need to come back again when you have more time. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and Vancouver Island is great as well. You need at least a week on Vancouver Island to make it worth while though. The ferries are super busy in the summer.

My husband and I chose HAL when we did our Alaskan cruise as well. We did Vancouver return though.

Looking forward to reading about the rest of your adventure!

Wow wow wow. I am so happy that I realized your post was a trip report because when I glanced at it, I thought it was asking advice for a month long trip to my lifelong home. I have read up to your Whittier post and decided I had to comment before reading any further and express my thanks to you for your detailed and extremely helpful trip report. You have written about my most favorite and easily traveled to places in Alaska, as an Anchorage resident. I am getting ready to plan our adventures for next summer and your report is like finding treasure. It is obvious that you spent many hours planning your trip and this Alaskan thanks you for sharing your efforts.

I retired last January and my husband and I finally began being able to get out and explore our home. Previously, work got in the way during the summer, so our vacations were spent in Hawaii recuperating from exhausting summers. In comparison, planning Hawaii fun is a lot less difficult than planning Alaska fun, but that is jmho. Last summer was what I call "Alaska lite", meaning spontaneous day trips and a few over nighters, but now I am planning more in-depth fun for this summer. Your reports have gotten me so excited because our travel styles are very similar.

I really just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying your reports and will comment or question you after I have finished reading and taking notes. You have literally spurred me into action! I realize I better get busy planning and reserving our fun or miss out cause I am dealing with lots of Alaska crazy visitors. Thank you. Deb

I forgot to add this in the previous post. We returned our rental car to the Fairbanks Airport Hertz office late evening 8/9/15-no problem. We take a HAL shuttle back to the hotel.

ARCTIC CIRCLE OVERNIGHT EXPEDITION Northern Alaska Tour Company has been chosen by Holland America to provide this optional excursion I've added to our trip. Meals not included.

We will drive up and fly back. You are allowed 1 carry on size bag each. Since we will be returning to the Westmark Fairbanks the hotel will store our luggage. We will take 1 carry on for our clothes, etc. and my camera/video bag. Per instructions/advice from the company we will wear our waterproof hiking boots and wear our warm jackets-my 2 in 1 Columbia for me and the heavy fleece for my husband. Hats, gloves, and scarf also.

We are picked up at our hotel around 4:30 am. On the way to the tour office we pick up another couple. Once at the office we learn there will be 4 couples/8 of us plus our driver/guide. The van is a roomy 10 passenger vehicle. There is a CB radio and satellite phone in case of an emergency. We will rotate seats so everyone gets different viewing perspectives. We sign release waivers and give information that will go on our Arctic Circle crossing certificate. Sabrina is our driver/guide. During our drive Sabrina will teach us all about the Dalton Highway or Haul Road as it's known by the truckers, permafrost, tundra, animals and plants of the region. We have several stops. Joy-Wildwood General Store. Here we get free coffee and I buy muffins for myself and my husband for breakfast. Bathroom break here also. We enter the Dalton Hwy. Alaska pipeline stop. Yukon River. Yukon River Camp at mile 56. Snacks and drinks available as well as bathroom. Stop side of road Finger Mountain. Unfortunately due to the light rain and heavy fog/mist the mountain is not visible at all. Kanuti River. Stop to get out and stretch our legs. Arctic Circle sign at mile 115. Sabrina pulls out a red carpet and we all get our pictures taken. Other tourists here and one takes a group picture of us. We walk over to a picnic table where Sabrina treats us to a brownie with whipped topping. It's supposed to be permafrost on top of tundra I think. Sabrina also cleans the rear glass on the van which is coated with the mud/dust from the road. Next stop Grayling Lake at mile 150. We take a short hike. If the weather had been nicer the hike would have been longer. We reach our destination Coldfoot Camp at mile 175. We spend some time at a building that is a Visitor Center with displays on this area of Alaska. My husband and I are the only ones from our group staying overnight so we are told we can return to this center later around 7 pm when there will be a slide presentation and talk. Unfortunately because of the bad weather the others cannot fly back to Fairbanks. They will have to drive back which will make for a very long day for them.

COLDFOOT CAMP Modular ATCO units combined. Used for workers during the construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline and the development of the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay. Very basic. Our room consists of 2 single beds. Private bathroom with shower. It's clean and toasty warm in the room. In this building there is a room with seating and a TV. Another room has puzzles, books.

Only choice-TRUCKERS CAFE. Dinner buffet 5-9 pm. The buffet has so much food. Way too much for me. We are told that we can order from a very small menu choice. We opt for bowls of homemade turkey rice soup and rolls. Coffee or tea is free. The soup really warms us up as the day has been chilly and drizzly rain. We both agree we are too tired to go back to the Visitor Center for the presentation. We are in bed by 8 pm.

What a great night's sleep I had. Hot water in the shower. Over to the main bldg./Truckers Cafe by 5:30 am meet time. Today our driver/guide is Mark. He will return for us at 7:00 am.

TRUCKERS CAFE Breakfast buffet for my husband. I cannot eat a large meal so early so I opt for toast, bacon, and coffee. I am amazed at how good the food is here. My husband agrees.

Mark picks us up. We are the only ones in his van. He tells us we are going to drive north, do some hiking, have a river float. Then hopefully we will fly back to Fairbanks if the visibility permits. The weather is better than yesterday but still not the best-dreary. We make a rest stop after driving for about 1 hour. Sign-where the tundra begins and the forest ends. Short hike. We are starting to see snow on the mountains and the road. Soon we reach Antigun Pass at mile 244. Elevation is 4739' highest point on the Dalton. We have crossed the Continental Divide. We are in permafrost territory. As we pull in to the stop it is snowing so hard you can barely see. We throw snowballs at each other. There's another car parked. Mark goes to check. The driver is heading all the way to Deadhorse in a sports convertible with the top down!! Hardly any traffic. Large trucks, lone bicyclist, 2 guys walking with huge backpacks. Few motorcycles. We turn around to head back but first a stop-WISEMAN. Mile 189. Established in 1908. Around 50 families live here. There is a big vegetable garden and one cabin has been turned into a museum. Another building is a restroom that we use before our float trip. We choose not to use the rain boots or rain gear as what we are wearing is fine. Richard uses his rain jacket over his fleece. Mark does all the rowing. We all have to wear life vests. We float for 10 miles on the Koyukuk River. See golden eagle, some sea birds. No caribou as this is not migration time. There are 3 main herds up here. It is very cold on the river. Finally just when I think I'm turning numb we have reached the end of our trip. Now we have a 2 mile hike to the road where the van waits. Soon I start to warm up. We are back to Coldfoot Camp around 4:00 pm. Mark tells us we will be able to fly back to Fairbanks. Yay!! He will pick us up at 5:00 pm. We decide to get something to eat. Bowls of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for us both. Side salad for Richard. Hot coffee. Yummy! Feeling so good. Mark drives us over to the airport/airfield. We will fly in a 8 passenger twin engine Piper Navajo plane. There is another couple and an employee ride along and us and the pilot Eric. We all wear head phones so we can hear the pilot telling us what we're seeing. Eric has me pass my camera up to him. He takes a picture of the plane's instrument panel at the exact point where we cross the Arctic Circle. How neat! Smooth flight, scenic. Upon landing we are taken back to the office and given our Arctic Circle certificates. Then we are driven back to the Westmark Fairbanks.

WESTMARK FAIRBANKS This room is smaller than the first one we had but still spacious and proves to be just as comfortable.

We are given another HAL envelope with instructions as to tagging our luggage. We will be picked up tomorrow at 8:10 am. Luggage to be ready for pick up by 6:30 am. After dinner we do some laundry at the hotel.

RED LANTERN STEAK & SPIRITS Part of the hotel bar area. The main restaurant (Northern Latitudes) is only offering a buffet for dinner and I just don't like buffets. I much prefer to order what I want and know that I will finish. I finally get to order the state drink of Alaska-a duck fart. It's Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream, and Crown Royal. We order calamari, cups of minestrone soup, and 1/2 pretzel roll ham/gruyere cheese sandwich. Perfect!! We decided to just have dinner at the hotel as we are tired from our Arctic Circle trip.

Northern Alaska Tour Company provided an incredible experience. We loved everything about this 2 day, 1 night trip.

Next-Discovery Riverboat tour and coach to Denali

RIVERBOAT DISCOVERY, DENALI Home to the tallest mountain in North America. Wildlife. Hiking. Breathtaking scenery. Adventure. 8/12-8/15/15 3 nights

We are to be picked up by HAL at 8:10 am. All our luggage is tagged and ready for the 6:30 am pick up. We will take my camera bag and a small back pack with us. The hotel's restaurant only serves breakfast buffet until 9:00 am and I am so not a fan of buffets. Fortunately the hotel's gift shop also sells fast food items and drinks. I buy a muffin, a bagel, and coffees for our breakfast. Soon the coaches arrived. Everyone on this HAL excursion has an assigned coach and soon we board ours. 2 seats on each side. I think there's an on board restroom in the rear. The seats are cushy and very comfortable.

Soon we arrive for our excursion. RIVERBOAT DISCOVERY. Run by the Binkley family who also run Gold Dredge #8. Each of us is given 2 tickets. A yellow to board the boat. A red one for lunch. We have some time to look around. I read the plaque on the memorial to Jim Binkley who started the business. Soon the whistle blows signaling time to board. Sternwheeler Riverboat Discovery III. As we sail on the Tanana River we make stops for demonstrations. Bush pilot-take off and landing. Trailbreaker Kennels-home of the late 4 time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher, now run by her husband Dave Monson. We see a dog sledding demo. A herd of reindeer. Salmon curing/drying. While on board we get to sample crackers with a smoked salmon dip. I buy a can of the smoked salmon and will make a dip with it when I get home. Upon leaving our nice boat ride you can wander around on your own or take a guided tour of a Chena village. We do the guided tour which was a good choice. It was a learning experience. There is a building where you can buy the hardcover book Granite which was written by Susan Butcher and her husband. Granite was the runt of the litter dog chosen by Susan. He led her to her 4 Iditarod victories. Dave is there to personally sign the book if you wish. I buy the book for my 7 year old grandson. Steamboat Landing-huge building selling Alaskan products/souvenirs. Restroom facilities. 40 below room for the hardy to experience that kind of cold.

Then it's time for lunch. Family style all you can eat. Miner's stew (tender chunks of beef in gravy with potatoes & carrots), rolls, roasted veggies, yummy apple pecan green salad, German chocolate brownie. Non alcoholic drinks included but wine and beer available for extra cost. We had refreshing iced tea. The meal was fabulous. This excursion lasts a bit more than 3 hours. Then it's time to reboard our coach and make the 3 1/2 hour journey to Denali.

The ride to DENALI was scenic and relaxing.

Part of our HAL land/cruise tour. We are dropped off at the Main Lodge. In the Main Lodge are the restaurants, gift shop, tour desk, front desk, computer area. WIFI only here at this lodge. Here we get another welcome envelope. We are in Canyon Lodge. Property has a shuttle that runs every 10-15 minutes. The Canyon lodge has a large seating area and a self serve laundry area. Our room has 2 large double beds which are comfortable. No view of the mountains or river though. We don't have much time to linger as we have prebooked an excursion before staring our trip to Alaska. HAL offers tons of excursions that you can book with them but we have opted to book our own to make sure we get to see/do what we want and not have to worry about availability.

PROSPECTOR'S PIZZERIA Walking distance right across the street from our hotel. Large place so no wait for a booth. Pizza was so tasty. The crust was as I like-a good balance between thin and thick. Lots of craft beers to select. A great meal at a reasonable price.

BLACK BEAR COFFEE SHOP This was also walking distance from our hotel but a bit of a disappointment. It's a small place but almost full. We were lucky to find a table. This place offers salads, sandwiches, soup, tacos. I think this would be good for lunch but not dinner, at least not for me. It is also open for breakfast. I ended up with a sandwich from the grab & go case and my husband got a bowl of chili with nachos. Food was just average. You order your food at the counter, pay at the counter, and pick up your food at the counter. I did buy a delicious slice of the banana bread that I will have for breakfast tomorrow. For us this was not a place we would return for a meal.

NENANA GRILL One of the in house restaurants at our hotel. We had breakfasts here on 8/13/15 and 8/15/15. My husband had breakfast here by himself on 8/14/15. Dinner on 8/14/15.

Breakfasts-Large menu. Fast service. Good food. Eggs, yogurt with fruit, homestead breakfast entree with reindeer sausage, great coffee. We enjoyed each breakfast we had here. And we didn't have to spend time getting to a place off site. That was important for us due to our HAL schedule.

Dinner-Because we are tired and have no car to drive to the place I'd like to go (229 Parks) we decide to just have dinner at our hotel. Our dinner was so good that we are happy we decided to eat here. Service awesome for dinner as it was for breakfast. My husband had the rockfish and I had one of the best tenderloin steaks I'd ever had. Would definitely say this a good choice for dinner. Tip-if you make a reservation ask for seating/table with a view.

FLY DENALI I prebooked this before leaving home. We will have a flight with a glacier landing. Scheduled for 8/12/15 so if weather is an issue we have time to reschedule. We are in luck and the weather is fine. We are picked up in front of the Main Lodge by Fly Denali van at 5:15 pm. Driven to office where there are release of responsibility waivers to sign and to get fitted for ice boots. Not allowed to take any bags/back packs on the plane. I have to hand carry my camera gear and I forget to take my video camera with me. Drat!! We have a safety briefing. There are 8 of us plus our pilot. You have around 100 minutes of flight time and 30 minutes on the glacier. We see the summit of Denali. Past jaw dropping scenery. Wickersham Wall-14,000' of rock and ice from Peter's Glacier. Winding Tokositna Glacier. Don Sheldon Amphitheater. Great Gorge. Kahiltna Glacier. Mt. Forager/Mount Hunter, Moose's Tooth, Mountain House, and Ruth Glacier which is where we land. Our pilot says this is the first time in 5 days that the weather has made it possible to land here. Our plane is fitted with skis to land. A bit bumpy but what an experience. Trust me, this is so worth it to do this. I got some unbelievable pictures. I made a snow angel, walked around, threw a snowball of sorts at my husband. Another couple was running around without their jackets. Another couple had brought a bottle of wine and toasted each other with glasses of wine on Denali!! Way cool idea. This was such a surreal experience. Back to the office and back to our hotel. This company provided us with an awesome introduction to the time we will have here in Denali. Money well spent.

TUNDRA WILDERNESS TOUR Part of our HAL package. We are scheduled for the 9:00 am tour on 8/13/15. The tan bus picks us up at our hotel and takes us directly into Denali NP. The seats are well padded for comfort and on each seat is a snack box that contains a bottle of water, crackers, dips, We get seats as suggested by TA on the left side of the bus. In all honesty, it really doesn't matter as wildlife will be spotted on both sides. Our driver is Justin who will provide on going narration throughout the day. This tour goes to Tolkat, mile 53 and takes 6 hours round trip. There will be several restroom stops. Booked on your own this tour costs $120.75 + $10.00 entrance fee per adult. Much more expensive than the green shuttle buses. Leaves from the Wilderness Access Center if you do your own booking. We do not see the summit of Denali due to the clouds but have a good view of the rest of the mountain. Yesterday we saw the summit, today we see the rest of Denali. Maybe I can photoshop the pictures together!! Wildlife spotted-Dall sheep, caribou, lots of bears, state bird-willow ptmarigan. The moose is almost totally hidden behind trees so I don't count that. There is a small center at the Tolkat River stop that sells a few interesting books and postcards. The scenery that we see is just amazing and just as good as seeing the wildlife IMO. Our driver announces we will go a further 6 miles into the park. A chance to see more wildlife and we do. The further you go, the better your chances. At the end of our day when we are back to our hotel we each get a booklet on Denali NP that has some very nice photographs and lots of detailed information. This was a nice day and the time flew by.

DENALI ATV ADVENTURES Wilderness Adventure. Prebooked for my husband for 8/14/15. Time 9:00 am. Check in time 8:55 am. Office is right across the street from our hotel so my husband walks there. There is free pick up/drop off at several locations. Closed toe shoes are mandatory. My husband brings his Sealife UW camera. Helmets, goggles and gloves provided. You will most likely get dirty. Must have driver's license to drive the single rider ATV. You don't ride in Denali NP but in the area around it. My husband said it was bumpy, wet, dirty/dusty but so much fun. Lots of riders in single and side by side ATVs. Lovely scenery. Pictures are taken that you can buy and my husband buys a nice one of him on his ATV in several feet of mud!! It's hilarious. A fun time. Around 2 1/2 hours covering 10 miles of trails.

DENALI OUTDOOR CENTER Prebooked again just for my husband. Canyon oar paddle. Must be at least 14 years old to paddle. Booked for 8/14/15 at 2:00 pm. This office is also conveniently located across the street from our hotel. My husband walked even though courtesy shuttles are provided. No shorts, tank tops, short sleeve T shirts or bathing suits. Must have socks. Dry suit, life vest, and helmets provided. Class III and IV white water. My husband really had a great time. One of the girls in his raft did go overboard but she was quickly pulled back into the raft. She was fine. Around 3 1/2 hours is the length of this trip. I really wish I could have done this but with my current back issues my doctor would not ok this. I had done white water rafting in Costa Rica and had the time of my life in much more difficult white water. I am not a good swimmer so don't let that deter you from considering this excursion.

DENALI SHUTTLE TO WONDER LAKE I prebooked this to get the time I wanted. I would do this by myself while my husband had his own day of activities. Booked for 8/14/15 at 7:15 am departing from the Wilderness Access Center. Our hotel offers free shuttle over to WAC and the first one is 6:45 am.

For breakfast I made coffee from the coffee maker and supplies in our room and had the slice of banana bread I had bought the night before from Black Bear Coffee Shop. That bread was so moist and tasty and the coffee was good too. My husband saw me off and went to have his breakfast before the start of his day.

The shuttle got me to the WAC in around 10 minutes even with some road construction. I showed my paper confirmation, got a ticket, and was told where to line up for my correct bus. With time I purchased some bottles of water and snacks that I put in my small backpack and used the restroom. I also have my camera bag with me. Outside there were just a couple in line ahead of me. The green bus arrives and for a minute I think about sitting on the right side but again choose a seat on the left side towards the rear of the bus. The seats on this bus are not as well padded as the tan tour bus but I found them to still be comfortable. Round trip to Wonder Lake is around 10 hours. Wendy is our driver but also gives us narrated information. On the green shuttles the drivers are not required to do this but Wendy has been doing this for decades and she has a great eye for spotting wildlife and for making the trip interesting. I much preferred this over the tour bus from yesterday.

A US Forest Service ranger gets on the bus and gives us all a welcome speech. Maybe she is also counting heads?? Before too long Wendy stops the bus to let us out. There is Denali in all her glory. What a sight. We are so lucky in that only 1 in 3 gets to see Denali fully visible. Wendy not only makes rest stops, stops at Tolkat, Eielson but will let us off the bus to drink in the beauty of the park and take tons of pictures. She was terrific. Wildlife spotted-so many caribou-even a mom with a baby by a river, several willow ptarmigan, Dall sheep galore in several areas, several bears but not as many as yesterday, and to my utter enjoyment-tons of moose-mainly near Wonder Lake. I am in heaven. We even spot a wolf or coyote. Wendy thinks it was a coyote and it was far away. With my big lens I got some close up pictures of it but I'm not a wildlife experts but it was on the move. We have time at Tolkat and longer at Eielson which has some very nice displays/exhibits. By the time we got to Eielson clouds are moving in and the summit of Denali is no longer visible. There are picnic benches here just to sit or eat but you must not leave any food, waste behind because of the bears. There are bins for your trash. When we arrive at Wonder Lake Wendy says no sense to walk over to Reflection Pond due to the clouds. So she shows us where to pick salmonberries and blueberries. We spend around 30 minutes here. The landscape of the park is amazing. So many colors, patterns. Love the braided rivers. I could easily come back for another day into the park!

We arrive back at WAC with 1/2 hour before closing. I quickly buy some souvenirs of the park and catch the last shuttle back to my hotel that is provided. I'm back in my room by 7:30 pm where my husband and I get ready for dinner and to exchange stories about our respective day. We have both completely loved our time here at Denali and would not have wanted to stay less than the 3 nights we had with our HAL trip. There is just so much to see and do here. Never got to the doggie demo or the park Visitor Center. Really needed more time here but we are satisfied with what we did see/do.

*On each ride into Denali NP whether you are on the tan bus for a tour or just the green shuttle bus the windows will open to allow for good picture taking. When wildlife is spotted the bus will stop briefly and that's when you must be quiet. Any noise would most likely startle the wildlife and cause them to run off. The rest of the time on the bus you can carry on conversations.


Our Idea of a Weekend Getaway

&ldquoWho looks after Camp Denali and North Face Lodge in the wintertime?&rdquo That&rsquos a question we&rsquore often asked by people curious about winter conditions and precautions, and perhaps, isolation, in the heart of Denali National Park. The surprising answer is, &ldquoUsually no one.&rdquo

That&rsquos not strictly true. We have, over the years, had an extended family of pine martens serving as self-appointed caretakers of North Face Lodge. There was a Spruce Grouse who made a brief habitation of Room 12, and in the fall of 1999, we had a black bear that took it upon him- or her self to look in on one of the staff dwellings. Most famously, there was a grizzly that volunteered to inventory the contents of the old warehouse during the winter of 1961. Unfortunately, it worked itself out of a job by knocking over a glass jar of matches and burning the structure to the ground. It was not eligible for rehire.

As for Homo sapiens alaskensis, there are only a handful of stalwarts who have spent extended winter periods at the lodges, and just one who can claim an entire winter in residence. That honor belongs to Ron McKinney. For the most part, once we hang the shutters and drain the pipes in the fall, and move the computers, file cabinets, and potted plants over the 100 miles to the park entrance, human company in Kantishna gets pretty scarce.

Every so often, however, the stars align for a midwinter lark, er, work trip, to the lodges. Skiing there takes about a week, and has been done on several occasions by the Coles, Hamms and friends. Traveling in with dog-sled support can be as quick as three days. But by far the fastest way is by air. Each fall, I look forward to the ski-flying season as I change the plane (a 1953 Cessna 170B), over from wheels to skis. Much like you&rsquod change a wheel on a car, I jack up the plane, remove each wheel, and install a wide-bottomed airplane ski. When you have good soft powder, landing in a ski plane can be as sublime as sinking into a down featherbed. And just as quiet.

This past weekend, everything fell into place for a flight to Kantishna. Weather was fair, temps were mild, and staff member Drew McCarthy was up from Anchorage for a visit. We were also semi-anxious to check on structures following a magnitude 5.2 earthquake the week before, the epicenter of which was pretty much directly beneath Camp Denali and North Face Lodge.

Wintertime flying, while often very beautiful, is also considerable work, especially when you haven&rsquot got a hangar in which to keep the plane. It usually begins with plugging in an engine heater the night before, followed by sweeping snow off of wings and fuselage. Then you load shovel, snowshoes, survival gear, skis, wing and engine covers, extra clothing&hellip the list gets quite lengthy in a hurry. Fortunately there was just room enough for me and Drew when everything else had been stowed.

About an hour&rsquos flying had us overhead of the Wonder Lake area. The first order of business is usually a flyby of Pika Hut to verify that the shutters haven&rsquot blown off. Then a quick dogleg over North Face Lodge to confirm that the stone fireplace chimney survived the earthquake. Then it&rsquos on to Kantishna to scrutinize the runway conditions and set up for landing. Saturday proved to be one of those down featherbed days. We tied down the plane, put the covers on, and transferred gear to a snowmachine and sled that we keep for the purpose. Then it was off via the road to re-trace the four miles to the lodges.

All in all, we found things to be in excellent shape. The North Face Lodge spring, which had frozen the previous winter, was delivering a steady output of Alaska&rsquos best water. One chimney cap had blown off at North Face, and this was quickly remedied with a new one out of inventory. At both lodges, signs of the earthquake were practically non-existent. The only hint of seismicity was some spring-form cake pans that had shifted forward on a bakery shelf at Camp Denali, but not fallen. Drew and I busied ourselves with a short list of reconnaissance projects, like checking the wear of Camp&rsquos hand-made quilts, and confirming dimensions for replacement of the North Face bath fans. Then it was time for a ski tour up Moose Creek in the last light of the day.

With the good weather forecast to stick around, we spent a very comfortable night thanks to the stoked woodstove in Neversweat cabin. Morning brought brilliant skies, and so after returning to the airstrip, preheating the airplane, and loading everything back in, we were ready to head back east. Propane tank shut off: check. Buildings closed: check. Teakettle emptied, woodstove cold, antifreeze in the drain: Check, check, check. And we&rsquore off into the crisp, sun-filled Alaskan sky, until next time.

More images of the lodges under a January sky (thanks to trip photographer Drew McCarthy) can be seen on our Facebook page.


Homemade pancake machines

Homemade versions of pancake machines have been constructed. An example of a homemade pancake machine is one constructed in 1977 by Ken Whitsett of the Ocala Kiwanis Club in Ocala, Florida, which was used for the organization's annual pancake day. [9] The Kiwanis machine utilized a hopper filled with pancake batter that was manually dropped onto a revolving griddle. [9] The pancakes were manually flipped and plated when cooking was completed. [9] It required four people for its operation, and could produce between 750� pancakes per hour. [9]


An Inside Look at Alaska Airlines' Infamous Pancake Maker - Recipes

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Airbnb is great, just make sure you don't rent your house out to squatter (this actually happened). This list contains consumers interested in Airbnb, an online outlet for hospitable services. Allowing short-rentals such as vacation and apartment rentals.

Savvy travelers in this audience want a great deal on airfare and know that the lowest prices can be found - you just have to know where to look. These consumers are interested in the Airfare Watchdog website which alerts them to affordable vacations deep flight discounts.

Akademiks was founded by two brothers, Donwan and Emmett Harrell. They both proved that misspelling a word makes it cooler. People in this audience love streetwear especially Akademiks, an American brand of streetwear clothing popular with devotees of hip-hop music, art, and fashion.

"The Eskimo is more than a name or a face painted on the tail of a plane. It's a reflection of people and their connection to the airline they love." - Brad Tilden. People in this audience love Alaska Airlines! They may be interested in purchasing Alaska Airline tickets or flight schedules. This audience may also be interested in joining Alaska Airlines mileage plan or earning a mileage plan elite status.

Aldi, a global discount supermarket founded in Germany in 1946. It offers organic foods and gluten-free at a low price as well as specialty items. Consumers in this list show an interest in Aldi.

Aldo was founded in 1972, by Aldo Bensadoun. Today the company has around 600 stores in the Canada, UK and the USA. People in this audience love shopping for Aldo shoes and accessories. They have been observed to look into various Aldo products, such as Aldo sneakers, dress shoes, heels and boots. This audience may already be members of Aldo's A-List.

What better way to aleve-iate your pain? People in this audience have shown an interest in shopping for anti-inflammatory drugs or naproxen. They have been observed to research various Aleve products, such as Aleve tablets or gel caps, Aleve-D Sinus & Cold, Aleve-D Headache & Cold or Aleve PM.

During the heat wave of 2003 in China, Alibaba had to ration electricity. There were even days where the office was blacked out (the workers went home of course!). This audience enjoys using Alibaba's e-commerce services. People in this audience have been observed to research Alibaba suppliers, look into Alibaba trade services, such as trade assurance or logistics services, and compare prices of Alibaba products.

Alka-Seltzer comes in gummy form now! Gone are the days when you had to taste that bitter mix of water and seltzer. This audience may be suffering from heartburn, upset stomach or indigestion, and as a result, are looking into Alka Seltzer products. They have been observed to look into products, such as Alka Seltzer ReliefChews and Alka Seltzer Gummies.

"You're in good hands." As opposed to being in great hands or bad hands? This audience is interested in applying for Allstate Insurance's various insurance policies. They may be primarily interested in Allstate's auto insurance policies but have been observed to research other types of plans, such as its home insurance.

Is it pronounced "Ally" or "Alley"?This audience is composed of people who have an interest in Ally Financial, a digital financial services company formerly known as GMAC INC. People interested in this brand may also check out National General Insurance, Capital One, and GM Financial.

Jeff Bezos originally wanted to name the company, "Cadabra". Amazon sounds a lot better. This audience loves e-commerce services, especially Amazon! They may be an Amazon Prime member and might be interested in products like electronics, clothing or video games.

The Walking Dead is the first show for AMC to own outright. This audience includes people who are big fans of TV shows from AMC Networks. They regularly watch AMC Networks TV programs, such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Preacher, Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels or Better Call Saul.

AMC theaters is one of the few big theater chains left. Imagine a world with movie theaters. This audience loves going to movie theaters, especially AMC Theaters. They have been observed to research AMC Theater movies and movie times, as well as AMC Theater's premium offerings, such as Dolby Cinema at AMC, IMAX at AMC, PRIME at AMC or RealD 3D.

Advanced Micro Devices is based in Sunnyvale, California, know best for it's central processing units, or CPUs. This audience is interested in semiconductors, computer processors and other computer products. They have been observed to shop for AMD laptops and desktops. People in this audience may also be interested in AMD components, such as embedded processors.

The movie "Up in The Air" is all about acquiring 10 million miles, which will allow him to reach the American Airlines consecutive status. This audience includes people who enjoy flying with American Airlines. They may be interested in booking a flight or checking out flight schedules. People in this audience may be frequent flyers with American Airlines, and so, may also be members of the AAdvantage Program or have past exposure to one of the airlines in the oneworld alliance.

American Apparel has been know to have some strong imagery in it's ads. Out of context, it can be hard to tell the difference between their ads and explicit content. Individuals in this audience enjoy shopping at American Apparel, an American clothing brand! They may also be researching brands like American Eagle, Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch.

When they dive for prey, they can go up to 100 miles per hour. Oops. this isn't about bald eagles. This audience loves shopping at American Eagle! They enjoy clothing, such as American Eagle jeans, polo shirts, boxers and swimwear. People in this audience regularly look into American Eagle's Aerie Clearance store.

No this isn't another great American novel centered around a train. This audience may have an American Express credit card or may be interested in applying for one. They have been observed to research various types of American Express cards, such as personal cards, small business cards, corporate cards or prepaid cards.

More than 155 million American Girl books have been purchased since 1986. Odds are you have read one yourself. This audience includes people who are big fans of American Girl dolls. They may be interested in an American Girl doll, as well as American Girl doll furniture, clothing, and accessories.

Ancestry.com says "Your sister could be much more Irish than you. And this is true for any of over 150 ethnic regions covered by the AncestryDNA test. So your sibling could also be more (or less) British, Nigerian, or Scandinavian than you." This audience wants to find out more about their ancestry. They are interested in learning more about their genealogy through Ancestry.com's family trees and historical records. People in this audience may have past exposure to Ancestry.com's AncestryDNA.

Is it weird to assume Angels are soft? This audience regularly shops for Angel Soft toilet paper. They have past exposure to Angel Soft products, such as Angel Soft Classic White, Angel Soft with Fresh Lavender Scent, Angel Soft Mega Roll and Angel Soft with Pretty Prints.

Angry Birds was one of the first mobile games to really take off. Going as far as having it own movie. This audience loves playing the Angry Birds video game! They may have downloaded the various Angry Birds apps, such as Angry Birds 2, Angry Birds Friends, Angry Birds Star Wars. People in this audience may also be fans of the Angry Birds Movie.

Anheuser-Busch is based in St. Louis. Missouri but headquartered in Lueven, Belgium. People in this audience enjoy the brews of Anheuser-Busch, which owns 12 breweries in the United States. Some of them being Rolling Rock, Budweiser, Busch and Shock Top.

Love watching shows about animals? That's literally all Animal Planet has. This audience loves watching TV programs from Animal Planet! They enjoy shows from Animal Planet, such as Tanked, Finding Bigfoot, River Monsters, Whale Wars, My Cat from Hell, Monsters Inside Me and Puppy Bowl. People in this audience may also like watching shows from networks, such as Discovery Channel or National Geographic.

Richard Liebeskind, the founder of Ann Taylor, was given the name and the dress that ended up being a best seller by his father. This audience includes people who enjoy wearing women's clothing from Ann Taylor. They may have been observed browsing various types of clothing from Ann Taylor, such as dresses, women's suits, skirts, sweaters and tops and blouses. People in this audience may enjoy other brands, like LOFT, Banana Republic or J. Crew.

Anthem is a health insurance company founded in the 1940s that offers a variety of insurance services to consumers and companies. Individuals in this audience may be interested in applying for health insurance from Anthem and are researching various Anthem insurance companies, like Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Anthem Life Insurance.

"You got mail!" People in this audience enjoy the web portal and online service of AOL. This audience has been observed reading content from AOL's family brands, like Huffington Post, iBrands, AOL.com and Engadget. They have also been observed using AOL services, like AOL Mail or AOL Instant Messenger.

The iPhone is one of the first big smartphones to drop the headphone jack. This lead to Samsung poking fun at them in their commercials. Behavioral online data shows that these consumers are interested in the American technology company Apple. Apple produces computers under the Mac line, phones under the iPhone line, music players under the iPod line, smartwatches through the Apple Watch, and TV streaming box through the Apple TV. Additionally, Apple produces software, such as macOS (computer OS) and iOS (phone OS). Apple is known for developing both hardware and software in-house.

Applebee's was almost called Pepper's, Cinnamon's or Appleby's. Licensing is what saved us from these horrible names. People in this audience love eating at Applebee's! They have been observed checking out the Applebee's menu, which includes deals like the Topped and Loaded and 2 for $20 Menu, and may be interested in gifting an Applebee's gift card or becoming an Applebee's eClub member.

"The perfect companion for happy bodies everywhere." This sounds a little morbid when you think about it. People in this audience enjoy drinking Aquafina water! They may have past exposure to the various Aquafina water products, like Aquafina sparkling water and Aquafina FlavorSplash, which includes flavors like grape, raspberry, and wild berry. This audience may also enjoy water from brands, like Dasani.

In the past couple of years, Arby's has been using geek culture references on their Instagram to promote their products. It started out as a fluke and has since gained Arby's tons of new fans. People in this audience love eating at fast food restaurants, especially Arby's! They have been observed checking out the Arby's menu and may have past exposure to signature sandwiches, like the Roast Beef Gyro, Loaded Italian, Reuben, Smokehouse Brisket and Turkey Gyro. This audience may be interested in gifting an Arby's gift card.

"Elegance is not about being noticed, it's about being remembered." - Giorgio Armani. People in this audience love luxury clothing, especially from Armani! They have been observed looking into various Armani clothing lines, such as Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, EA7, Armani Junior and Armani Collezioni. This audience may also wear clothing from Armani Exchange.

Ashley furniture has been the world's largest furniture manufacturers since 2005. People in this audience love shopping for furniture, especially from Ashley Furniture! They enjoy looking into different types of furniture, like sofas, tables, couches, bedroom sets, living room sets, rugs, and lamps. This audience may have an interest in shopping for furniture during Ashley Furniture's The Big Event furniture sale.

The name comes from the acronym derived from a latin phrase, Anima Sana In Corpore Sano - a sound mind in a sound body. People in this audience enjoy shopping for activewear and especially shoes from Asics! They have been observed checking out athletic shoes, like running shoes, training shoes, and volleyball shoes, as well as Asics collections, such as the FlyteFoam Collection, DynaFlyte, GEL-Kayano and GT Series.

Pegasus and Asus actually have something in common -- their name. Asus actually comes from Pegasus, the legendary winged horse of Greek mythology. People in this audience enjoy ASUS computer products and electronics! They have been observed shopping for products, like laptops, the ZenFone, tablets like the ZenPad, motherboards, graphics cards and desktops. This audience may also be interested in ASUS' subsidiaries, such as ASRock, ASUSTOR, and Aaeon.

AT&T plans to connect ten million Ford SYNC connect vehicles to the internet by 2020. SYNC connect allows drivers to locate their vehicle via GPS, remotely start it and lock or unlock doors. People in this audience are big fans of AT&T's telecommunications and internet services. They have been observed researching various smartphones AT&T offers, like the iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S8, tablets, internet plans, TV plans and bundle plans, which combine phone, DirecTV or internet plans.

The AJC is a merger, composed of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. On second thought, it seems kinda obvious. People in this audience enjoy reading news from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They may be subscribers of AJC and regularly read various top and latest news, such as political news, sports news, local news and business news. This audience may also regularly read AJC news and opinion, sports, MyAJC Voices and life blogs.

In the movie, "The Holiday" Jack Black's character drove a Audi A4 Cabriolet. These consumers have been observed consuming content about Audi.

Auntie Anne was not a German baker, she was actually Amish. When she turned 3 her family switched to being Amish Mennonite. People in this audience enjoy eating pretzels from Auntie Anne's! They may have eaten a variety of soft pretzel flavors, like cinnamon sugar, sweet almond, and sour cream & onion, as well as other products, like pretzel dogs, jumbo pretzel dogs and pretzel dips.

Auto Shack was the original name of this automotive part retailer. They changed their name after a lawsuit with Tandy's Radio Shack. This audience includes people who trust AutoZone as their auto parts supplier. They may have researched one or multiple auto parts in the past, like wiper blades, car batteries, brake pads, headlights and spark plugs. People in this audience may also be interested in auto accessories, like car speakers or seat cover.

Aveda is a cruelty free brand. Their products are instead "people-tested". This audience includes people who regularly get their hair and cosmetic products from Aveda. They shop for hair care and cosmetic products, such as shampoo, conditioners, scalp care products, skin cleansers, makeup and eye crème. People in this audience may follow a certain collection of products, like the invati collection or the curly collection.

"Better Ingredients. Better Skincare: Aveeno." Eerily similar to Papa John's slogan. This audience loves cosmetic products from Aveeno. They regularly look into products, such as body wash, lotion, shaving cream, skin cleansers, shampoo, conditioners, and sunscreen. People in this audience may be into Aveeno's product collections, like the Positively Radiant collection, Positively Nourishing collection or Smart Essentials collection.

Avery started with a few parts, one good idea and a 100 dollar loan. This audience enjoys getting their office supplies from Avery. They have been observed to shop for office products, such as highlighters, markers, sheet protectors, stamp pads, adhesives, and binders. People in this audience may have an interest in using Avery's WePrint printing services.

Avis was the first car rental located inside an airport. This audience is interested in renting a car from Avis Rent a Car. They may be interested in booking a certain type of car, be that online or at the airport, such as economy, compact, intermediate or standard rental cars. They may also be interested in renting a car from the Avis Signature series or one of its specialty cars.

Avon has perfume lines with celebrities, such as Maria Sharapova, Reese Witherspoon and Fergie. This audience enjoys beauty, household, and personal care products. They regularly look for products, like makeup, day cream or night cream, acne cream, bath oil or perfumes. People in this audience may also be interested in Avon living products, such as a baking dish, candle, and a plate or bowl sets.

It's always hard to explain what Axe smells like. This audience are fans of Axe's men's grooming products. They regularly shop for grooming products, like hair gel, shampoo or deodorant, as well as Axe fragrances, such as You Daily Fragrance, Phoenix Daily Fragrance, Dark Temptation Daily Fragrance and Excite Daily Fragrance.

Babolat invented natural gut tennis strings back in 1875, they weren't well known in the United States for some time. This audience includes people who are big fans of racquet sports and are interested in purchasing racquet sports equipment. They have been observed looking into gear, like tennis rackets, badminton rackets, racket strings, paddle rackets, and tennis and badminton shoes.

Rap artist, Cardi B gets her name from this brand. She would have gone by Bacardi but didn't want to have to deal with a lawsuit. This audience includes people who enjoy drinking Bacardi rum! They may have past exposure to different flavors of rum, like Bacardi Superior, Bacardi Gold, Bacardi Black, Bacardi Maestro de Ron, Bacardi Coconut, Bacardi Mojito, Bacardi Superior and Bacardi Dragon Bberry.

The Disney Channel show, Kim Possible, had a brand that was reminiscent of Banana Republic called "Club Banana". This audience enjoys clothing and accessories from Banana Republic. They have been seen checking out clothing, such as dress shirts or dress pants, tops, polos, jackets, and sweaters. People in this audience may have clothing from one of Banana Republic's collections, like Monogram or Heritage Collections.

Even though the real name for a Band-Aid is an adhesive bandage, most people just call them Band-Aids. Can't blame them, it's way more catchy. This audience is looking to get bandages. They have been observed researching various types of Band-Aid products, like plastic strips, large adhesive pads, comfort sheer bandages, clear strip bandages, Tough-Strips bandages, Skin-Flex bandages, Activ-Flex bandages and plus antibiotic bandages.

Bandai Namco owns two of the most popular 3D fighting games: Tekken and Soul Calibur. Both games feature a character named, Yoshimitsu. This audience loves toys, especially from Bandai! They have been observed purchasing toys from Power Rangers Ninja, the Power Rangers Movie, Pac-Man, MECH X4, Tamashii Nations, Tamagotchi Friends and Miraculous. People in this audience may also import Bandai toys from Japan.

Bandcamp is home to a lot of indie music as well as a label known as Jackie Chan Records. Be sure to check out the track "Spongebobu". People in this audience love music and choose to listen to it via Bandcamp, an online music platform. They may also use Soundcloud, Spotify or Pandora.

It all started with Bank of Italy in San Francisco. It was made with Italian-Americans in mind, however after it began to blow up it's name was changed to Bank of America. This audience is interested in getting banking services from Bank of America. They might be thinking of making a Bank of America checking or savings account, applying for a credit card, be that a rewards credit card or a featured credit card, or applying for a loan, like a refinance loan, mortgage or auto loan.

In 2014, Bankrate's reports determined Wyoming to be the most expensive state to own a vehicle. This audience is interested in the financial services of BankRate. They have been seen looking into a variety of financial services, like applying for a mortgage, refinance loan or student loan, applying for a credit card, retirement planning and investment and banking consultations.

Back in the 1960s, "Barbie Baby-sits" came with a book called "How to Lose Weight" with the advice: Don't eat. Geez, now that's harsh! This audience includes people who are big fans of Barbie dolls! They have been observed browsing a variety of dolls, like Barbie Fashionistas, Ken Fashionistas, Chelsea dolls and Ken dolls. People in this audience may also be interested in Barbie dollhouses and playsets.

What would the company sell if it was called, Bear Minerals instead? This audience is looking to own skin care and makeup products. They may be big fans of Bare Minerals and have been observed browsing a variety of products, such as foundation, mascara, skin cleanser and lipstick. People in this audience may be interested in purchasing the Foundation Get Started Kit.

BASF stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik. Try saying that five times fast. This audience is interested in purchasing chemical products from BASF. They have been observed researching a variety of BASF chemical products, like industrial gases, inorganic chemicals, engineering plastics, polymers, paints, coatings, pulp and paper, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

Baskin-Robins has 31 flavors to represent each day of the month. Could have sworn it was a random number. This audience includes people who love ice cream, especially ice cream from Baskin Robins! They might enjoy a certain flavor of ice cream, such as Oreo cheesecake ice cream, Baseball Nut ice cream or Jamoca ice cream, or a specialty ice cream, like a Butterfinger 31 Below, Banana Royal Sundae or banana split.

Bausch + Lomb, an American organization established in Rochester, New York, is one of the world's biggest providers of eye wellbeing items, including contact focal points, focal point mind items, solutions and inserts for eye maladies. This audience has been observed consuming content about Bausch + Lomb.

Bayer is best known for bring aspirin to the world of medicine. This audience base are regular customers of Bayer's pharmaceutical and agricultural products. They have been observed researching products and brands, such as insecticides, herbicides, Alka Seltzer, Coppertone Sunscreen, Aspirin, Bepanthen, Claritin, Aleve, Dr. Scholl's, One A Day and Berocca.

In 1918, the company introduced the world to the ACE bandage, which is used to treat muscle strain. Individuals in this audience are interested in Becton Dickinson, a medical tech company. They may be researching medical devices and reagents.

Robert Beall Sr. opened up his dry goods store in Brandenton, Florida in 1915. Back then, his store sold nothing for more than a single dollar so he called it "The Dollar Limit". This audience is composed of people with an interest in Bealls, a retail corp. with over 450 stores.

You're guaranteed to be a beau (a little too on the nose?) if, you use their products. People in this audience love Eco-friendly products provided by Beaumont. They may be researching brands like Citrus Magic, Clearly Natural, Veggie Wash, Dermatone, Citrus II, Farmers' Market, Trewax, Grease monkey wipes and Brilliant.

This brand has no connection to the animated film, Bebe's kids. Just in case, you were wondering. This audience includes people who regularly shop women's clothing. They have been observed browsing clothing, such as dresses, jumpsuits, rompers, jackets, skirts, and shoes. People in this audience may have past exposure to BebeSport and the Bebe Outlet.

What's beyond a bed and bath? This audience includes people who enjoy shopping for household goods, especially the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining room products. More specifically, they have been observed browsing a variety of goods, such as dinnerware sets, furniture, bath towels, home decor, cookware, kitchen appliances and mattresses.

Behr is sold exclusively at Home Depot so, don't bother looking for it at Lowe's. This audience loves to shop for paint and wood care products! They have been observed looking into and comparing Behr's paint and stain colors, and they are interested in products, like interior or exterior paint or primer, wood stains and finishes, floor coatings and sealers, and specialty paint.

"Modern. Southern. Style." This audience regularly shops for Belk's apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and home furnishing products. They look for products, such as activewear, dresses, jeans, skirts, shorts, makeup, perfumes, cologne, handbags, shoulder bags, watches, bath rugs and mats, and bath towels.

Belkin was founded in it's CEO's parent's garage. Maybe, that's why Michael Rotondo didn't want to move out. Success can only come out of your parent's house. This audience includes people who are big fans of consumer electronics. They have been observed researching electronics, such as routers, iPod and iPhone accessories, surge protectors, network switches, USB or network cables, KVM switches, tablet keyboards and WeMo NetCams.

A belvedere is a structure that demands a view. So, Belvedere is a drink that commands you to drink it? This audience includes people who love vodka, especially Belvedere's vodka. They enjoy shopping for Belvedere vodka, as well as other vodka flavors, like lemon tea vodka, citrus vodka, night saber vodka, bespoke silver vodka, midnight saber vodka, Belvedere unfiltered vodka and Belvedere intense vodka.

If only Ben was named Tom instead. This audience loves their ice cream! They have been observed enjoying Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, such as Americone Dream, Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia, Everything But The. and The Tonight Dough. People in this audience may also be interested in Ben & Jerry's Frozen Yogurt or pint slices.

Don't be a fool, get Beneful for your good boy/girl. People in this audience show interest in the brand Beneful. They may also be interested in Purina, Iams and Milk-Bone.

Benihana is a skateboard grab trick, named after the restaurant chain. This audience enjoys Japanese food, especially from Benihana! They may have past exposure to Benihana's other brands, like the Benihana Teppanyaki, Haru, and RA Sushi brands, and are fans of foods, such as sushi, hibachi, tempura, bento boxes, sashimi and yakisoba.

Benjamin Moore and his brother started the company in 1883. Initially, it was called the Moore Brothers, hopefully the name change wasn't do to a familial spat. This audience is interested in purchasing painting products. They research and compare Benjamin Moore's color, and they are looking to buy products, like interior paint, exterior paint, exterior stains, primers and specialty paints. People in this audience may be interested in it's paint lines, like Aura, Natura or Regal paints.

BenQ was a spin off of Acer but Acer got rid of it's shares in BenQ around 2006. This audience are regular shoppers of consumer electronics. They have been observed researching and comparing prices of electronics, like TFT LCD monitors, digital projectors, digital cameras, digital signages, speakers, LED lighting, TV and computer monitors, and computer accessories.

The company had previously existed for about 100 years before Warren Buffett was born. This audience has an interest in Berkshire Hathaway, a huge multinational conglomerate company. The Chairman of the Board, President & CEO is Warren Buffett who is known for his unparalleled insight into business trends, and they have holdings in companies such as GEICO, Coca-Cola, and Apple.

Imagine going into a store called the Sound of Music. This was Best Buy's original name, possibly the name came from the famous movie. This audience loves shopping for electronics from Best Buy! They are regular consumers of Best Buy products, like laptops, desktops, home theaters, TV and computer monitors, computer accessories, tablets and cell phones. People in this audience may have past exposure to the Geek Squad.

It has almost been seven years since the last Elder Scrolls title. Making this the longest gamers have had to wait for the newest installment. People in this audience are fans of Bethesda, a video game publisher known for titles such as Fallout and Elder Scrolls. Founded in 1986 by 1999 become appurtenant to ZeniMax Media.

Betty Crocker was created for the sake of advertising campaigns. There's no sweet old lady behind this brand. This audience loves cooking and food! People in this audience may have a Betty Crocker's Cookbook and can be seen looking into cooking recipes. They are interested in Betty Crocker products, such as Bac-Os, Betty Crocker Brownie Bar, Betty Crocker baking mixes, Fruit Roll-Up, Shake and Make pancake mix and Suddenly salad mixes.

In 2005, the company disposed of it's private label for store brand products and starting using the new name, "Southern Home". This audience loves to grocery shop, especially at BI-LO stores! They may be regular BI-LO coupon users and be part of the BI-LO Plenti rewards program. People in this audience shop for products, like meat, seafood, baked goods, deli meat and kosher food, and may be interested in using BI-LO's pharmacy services.

BIC lighters are the most well known worldwide. About to light up? Bet you're using a Bic! This audience is a regular shopper of Bic's disposable consumer products. These disposable consumer products include products such as lighters, razors, mechanical pencils and printing paper products. They may have interests in retailers that sell Bic products, such as Office Max, Office Depot or 7-11.

Sol Shenk, the founder of the company loved closeout deals, hence the business. This audience includes people who enjoy shopping at Big Lots retail stores. They have been seen checking out furniture, such as mattresses, patio furniture, sofas and couches, toys, electronic products, like headphones, speakers and cords, cooking appliances and cleaning supplies.

Bing has a rewards system that will give you points every time you use it to search. You can get Xbox Live points, Fandango promotional codes and even a Domino's gift card. This audience includes people who regularly use Bing's search engine. They may have past exposure to previous search engines, like MSN Search or Windows Live Search, and are interested in Bing's other services, like its webmaster services, Bing mobile service and developer services through the Bing application programming interface.

Biogen has ex-Pfizer exec, Daniel Karp, as their new EVP. This audience includes people who are big fans of Biogen's biotechnology services. They are interested in Biogen's products that help control and treat neurodegenerative, hematologic and autoimmune diseases, such as ALPROLIX, AVONEX, ELOCTATE, PLEGRIDY, RITUXAN, TYSABRI, and SPINRAZA.

Their baking soda pore cleanser really does the trick (yes, speaking from experience). This audience loves Biore's skincare products! They have been observed researching products, like baking soda pore cleansers, deep pore charcoal cleansers, baking soda acne scrub, blemish fighting ice cleanser, charcoal pore strips, charcoal pore minimizers and deep cleansing pore strips.

"Live Generously." People in this audience love going to warehouse club chains, especially BJ's! They may be interested in becoming a member, through BJ's Inner Circle program or BJ's Perks Rewards program. This audience is interested in products, like furniture, home appliances, computers, and jewelry.

Black & Decker actually sponsors Professional Bull Riders. People in this audience enjoy using Black & Decker's various power tools, accessories and small appliances. They check out products, such as drills, saws, lawn mowers, vacuums, coffee makers, toaster ovens and slow cookers. This audience may have an interest in home improvement or landscaping.

There is a term for the injury on your thumb caused by using Blackberry keywords -- berry thumb. People in this audience love Blackberry phones! They are interested in a variety of Blackberry smartphones, like the Blackberry KEYone, Blackberry DTEK60, Blackberry DTEK50, Blackberry PRIV, Blackberry Passport, Blackberry Classic and Blackberry Leap. They enjoy using the Blackberry 10 OS or Android OS.

Tracer is the center piece hero of Overwatch and the first character to be officially included in the game. People in this audience love video games, especially video games from Blizzard Entertainment! They enjoy playing video games, like World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Diablo II, and Warcraft III. This audience may also enjoy video games from Activision Blizzard.

Blue Bell gets it's name from a local flower, this name change helped save the company. As the Blue Bell is Texas' most popular flower. People in this audience love eating ice cream from Blue Bell! They may have tried a variety of Blue Bell ice cream flavors, like Red, White and Blue Bell, The Great Divide, Moo-llennium Crunch, buttered pecan, chocolate chip and milk chocolate. This audience may also be interested in Blue Bell's sherbet.

Pull up in the Bimmer with this audience which is composed of those who show a great interest in BMW automobiles!

Boeing claims it will beat SpaceX to Mars. People in this audience love flying on Boeing airplanes. They have been observed researching and comparing a variety of Boeing aircrafts, like the Boeing 737 MAX, Boeing 777X, Boeing 747-8, Boeing Freighters, Boeing 787, and Boeing 777. This audience may also be interested in Boeing's defense and space projects.

Biscuits are an art form,&rdquo&ldquoIt&rsquos a highly honored position in our restaurants. It&rsquos an intricate, delicate process to manage.&rdquo - Eric Newman, executive vice president of Bojangles. People in this audience love eating at fast food restaurants, especially at Bojangles'! They enjoy Bojangles' many menu choices, like the Cheddar Bo, Cajun Fillet Biscuit, 4 piece chicken supremes, Bo-tato rounds, Bojangles' Cajun Pintos, Bojangles' Dirty Rice and 12 piece chicken supreme.

Wiz Khalifa is known for his love of Bombay Sapphire. People in this audience enjoy drinking gin, especially from Bombay Sapphire. They have been observed being big fans of Bombay Sapphire's many drinks, like the Bombay Sapphire, Star of Bombay, Bombay Sapphire East, and Bombay Dry Gin. They may also be interested in Bombay Sapphire's cocktail recipes.

If only all URLs were that simple. People in this audience are looking to book a reservation for something, be that a flight reservation, hotel reservation, rental car, restaurant reservation or vacation rental. They have been observed checking out hotels, B&Bs and inns, and vacation rental reviews, as well as Booking.com's travel guides.

The only mobile carrier with a boost! People in this audience are interested in subscribing to Boost Mobile, which focuses on prepaid and no-contract cell phones. This audience may be seen researching Boost Mobile's mobile plans, like its single line plans or family plans, or its phones, like Samsung Galaxy S10 or Apple iPhone 11.

"Invented for life." People in this audience love purchasing appliances manufactured by Bosch! They may have purchased in the past appliances, like wall or speed ovens, cooktops, microwaves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, coffee machines, vent hoods or food processors.

WHAT ARE BOSE. People in this audience love audio equipment by Bose! They have been observed checking out Bose's many audio accessories, such as headphones, earphones, noise-canceling headphones, wireless speakers, the Wave system, home theater speakers and portable speakers.

Is it still Boston Market, if it's in Georgia? People in this audience enjoy eating at the Boston Market! They may have favorite dishes from the menu, like the half chicken, rotisserie chicken breast sandwich, BBQ chicken bowl, meatloaf carver and rotisserie turkey breast. This audience may also be interested in Boston Market's catering services.

Fun fact: "It will chase ants away when you a lay a sheet near them." People in this audience regularly use fabric care products from Bounce. They may have past exposure to either Bounce's dryer sheets, like the Bounce for Men Pure Sport dryer sheets, Bounce Free & Gentle dryer sheets or Bounce Outdoor Fresh dryer sheets, or Bounce's in-wash scent booster, Bounce Bursts.

The only time putting a Bounty on someone could mean a good thing.People in this audience enjoy using Bounty's napkins and paper towels. They have been observed researching and comparing Bounty's paper products, like the Bounty paper towel, Bounty Basic Select-A-Size, Bounty DuraTowel, Bounty Quilted Napkins or Bounty Select-A-Size. This audience may have past exposure to other P&G brands.

Some people just flex, others Bowflex! People in this audience enjoy working out using Bowflex's gym equipment. They may have past exposure to workout equipment, such as the Bowflex Max Trainer, Bowflex HVT, Bowflex Treadclimber, Bowflex SelectTech, and general Bowflex gym equipment, which include Bowflex treadmills, ellipticals, and other home gym equipment.

"We're sorry." People in this audience regularly go to BP gas stations to fill up their car. They have been observed researching BP gas or petrol station locations and may use one of BP's cards, like the BP Visa, BP credit card or BP Fleet Fuel card. This audience may also use BP's Driver Rewards program.

"Designed to make a difference" People in this audience may regularly use Braun's grooming products. These grooming products include things, like electric shavers, stylers, beard trimmers, hair clippers, epilators and skin care products, which include products like the Braun Face. They may also be interested in Braun's kitchen and household products, oral care products and clocks and watches.

Brwany Paper Towels are THICC, we're talking thicker than a milkshake. People in this audience are fans of Brawny paper towels. They have been observed researching and comparing paper towel sizes through Brawny's Pick-A-Size paper towels, and may also be interested in Brawny's full sheet paper towels or the GP Brawny Industrial Giant Durable Wipes.

Despite what people may have told you, the logo for Breyer isn't a mint leaf. Instead, it's a briar bush leaf. People in this audience love eating ice cream from Breyer's! They have been observed comparing Breyers many products, like Breyers original ice cream, Breyers Delights, Breyers Blasts, Breyers non-dairy ice cream and Breyers CarbSmart ice cream. This audience may also enjoy eating Breyers Gelato Indulgences.

Shojiro Ishibashi's name means stone bridge in English, hence the name of the company. People in this audience regularly go to Bridgestone for their tire needs. They have been observed researching various types of tires, like its passenger tires, which include tires like Potenza, Turanza or Dueler tires, motorcycle tires, commercial tires and specialty tires. This audience may also be interested in Bridgestone's diversified products, like conveyor belts, rubber tracks or golf equipment.

Established in 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and known for their lawnmowers and electric generators. People in this audience are fans of Briggs & Stratton and their small engine and lawn mower repair services and products. They may be interested in purchasing an engine, like a push mower engine or utility engine, as well as power products, like generators, pressure washers, snow blowers and air compressors.

The Great Brinks Robbery. Look it up, it's actually pretty cool. People in this audience love using Brinks' cash management and security services! They have been observed researching Brinks' variety of services, like its logistics and armed transport services, airport security and guarding services, CompuSafe Service, and ATM and device management services.

Brooks Brothers has the honor of being the oldest men's clothier in the US. People in this audience enjoy clothing from Brooks Brothers! They have been observed to check out men's, women's and kid's clothing, like dress shirts, pants, sweaters, jackets, suits and sports coats, and ties. This audience may also be interested in the Red Fleece Collection.

America's No.1 beer since 2001! People in this audience enjoy drinking Budweiser beer! They have been observed to drink Budweiser products, like Budweiser beer, Black Crown beer, Select 55, Select beer and Chelada beer. This audience may enjoy other beer brands like Bud Light or Coors Light.

What would a buffalo act like if it were in a trance? People in this audience enjoy drinking Buffalo Trace Bourbon! They have been observed to drink Buffalo Trace products, like Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bsb Single Barrel Select, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream, and Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash. This audience may also like other brands like Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, Maker's Mark, and other Bourbon, Whiskey and whisky brands.

The wings are fresh but, the burgers are frozen. People in this audience love eating out at Buffalo Wild Wings! They enjoy eating its traditional or boneless wings with signature sauces, like Desert Heat, Asian Zing or Mango Habanero. This audience may also be part of the Blazin Rewards program or enjoy drinking at BWW's sports bar.

Build-A-Bear doesn't just target young girls, with their collaborations with Marvel they aim to target young boys as well. People in this audience love going to Build-A-Bear! They have been observed to research and collect Build-A-Bear stuffed animals, like its bears, Build-A-Bear Buddies, Build-A-Bear Minis, baby plushes and Wild Fury Friends. This audience may be interested in getting for clothing or accessories for their Build-A-Bear stuffed animals as well.

Bungie became well known for Halo in the 2000s! Funnily enough, Beyonce made her single "Halo" around the time Halo 3 came out. People in this audience love video games, especially ones from Bungie! They enjoy playing Bungie video games, such as Destiny, Halo 3, Oni, Marathon, Halo: Reach, Halo 2, Halo 3: ODST, Destiny: The Taken King, Destiny: Rise of Iron, Myth: The Fallen Lords, Destiny 2 and Pathways into Darkness. They may also be interested in other FPS video-games.

Burberry is most known for their trench coats, which were invented by the founder himself. People in this audience are fans of clothing made by Burberry. This audience has been observed comparing clothing and accessories, such as check-detail shirts, resin button shirts, coats from the Brighton collection, jackets, bags from the DK88 Collection, dresses and check cashmere scarves.

Don't 'Have It Your Way' instead "Be Your Way". People in this audience regularly go to Burger King as their fast food choice. They may be big fans of the Whopper and may enjoy buying BK menu items from their value menu. This audience may also enjoy other menu items, like chicken fries, hot dogs, big fish sandwich or the original chicken sandwich.

Ever had someone teach you about the Burts & the Bees? People in this audience are fans of personal care and skin care products from Burt's Bees. These personal care products include items, such as lip balm, makeup and makeup remover, facial cleanser and eye cream. They may be interested in collections, like the Renewal Collection, Brightening Collection or Intense Hydration Collection.

It's amazing the way Butterball turkeys fly off the shelves during Thanksgiving. Based on the online behavioral information, these consumers have been observed consuming content about Butterball, a brand of turkey and other poultry products produced by Butterball LLC.

Want to read articles that are essentially just lists? Then, Buzzfeed is for you! Based on online behavioral information, these consumers have been observed consuming content about Buzzfeed.

Bvlgari was actually founded in Rome in the 1800s and is best known for it's jewelry. People in this audience love shopping for jewelry, especially Italian jewelry, as well as other luxury goods. They may be looking to book a hotel reservation at the Bulgari Hotel or may be interested in luxury products, like necklaces, rings, watches, perfume, cologne, wallets, women's bags and engagement rings.

Cabbage Patch kids used to be the most coveted toys of all time. There were literal fights in stores over them. People in this audience enjoy collecting Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. They have been observed to check out Baby So Real dolls, as well as kids dolls. This audience has also shown an interest in buying clothing and accessories and may be part of the Collector's Club.

Based on online behavioral information, this audience is interested in Cadillac, a division of the U.S.-based General Motors (GM) that markets luxury vehicles worldwide.

Probably the thinnest pizza you'll ever have. People in this audience enjoy eating at casual dining establishments that serve California-style pizza. They enjoy menu items, such as the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza, and Thai Chicken pizza. This audience may also enjoy other menu items, like pasta, salads, and soups.


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The Long-Haul “Low-Cost Carrier” Business Model in a world awash in cheap money.

By MC01, a frequent commenter on WOLF STREET:

In 1967, Icelandic airline Loftleiðir started offering cheap tickets on Transatlantic flights. Loftleiðir used a lot of what today would be called “funny business practices” to offer such low fares, such as flying the Canadair CL-44, an unsuccessful cargo plane converted into an all-passenger configuration, and not being exactly concerned with punctuality or speed. It was an instant success.

Loftleiðir did not survive the 1970’s, being absorbed by Flugfélag (now Icelandair), but the seed had been sown: the low-cost carrier (LCC) had been born.

Loftleiðir specialized in what the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) defines as “long haul flights,” meaning over 4000 km (about 2,500 miles), but success really came to the LCC model on “short-haul” flights (under 1,500 km) and “medium-haul” flights (between 1,500 and 4,000 km), with companies such as Ryanair and IndiGo having now become veritable behemoths.

Low-cost carriers (as defined by IATA) accounted for 44.8% of passenger traffic in the EU, 52.6% in South-East Asia, and 57.2% in South Asia. Legacy carriers, meaning “conventional” airlines such as American Airlines, Air India, or Air France are either feeling the pinch or are joining the fray with their own low-cost divisions, such as Transavia (KLM) and Peach (All Nippon Airways).

However, the long-haul segment continues to remain elusive for LCCs.

But this is the age where credit is cheap, especially for “below investment grade” (“junk”) rated companies. And since low-cost long-haul flights remain an “untapped business segment,” there’s no shortage of starry-eyed hopefuls.

In a recent interview, Bob Crandall, former American Airlines CEO who led the brutal and ultimately successful counterattack of legacy carriers against upstart LCCs such as Laker Airways and PeoplExpress, said that this will be a matter of “who’s going to be prepared to lose the most money,” and it seems current developments are proving him correct.

AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of LCC AirAsia (whose majority owner is Malay godfather Anthony Fernandez), has been bleeding red ink since its much heralded 2013 IPO on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, at the lofty price of MYR1.35. It is now languishing at a miserable MYR0.24.

Despite poor financials and declining share prices, AirAsia X remains strongly committed to expansion at all cost.

To give you an idea of what kind of expansion we are dealing with: AirAsia X has ordered an absolutely amazing 100 Airbus A330-900neo models. At a list price of $296 million, this would amount to nearly $30 billion, but large discounts certainly apply.

By comparison, Delta Airlines has just 25 A330neo models on order and Garuda Indonesia a measly 19. How AirAsia X is going to be able to pay for all these expensive airliners, keep them in the air, fill them with passengers, and turn a profit remains a very interesting question.

To this must be added that the AirAsia X order was instrumental in getting the struggling A330neo program off the ground as it risked being choked to death by the smashing success of the completely new Airbus A350 after Airbus sank €2 billion into it. So a lot is running on this fragile deal.

And no discussion of long-haul low-cost carriers would be complete without what I have dubbed “the Netflix of the Skies,” Norwegian Air Shuttle, or simply Norwegian, whose fleet has grown from 6 planes in 2002 to 164 now.

The whole business model of Norwegian is the subject of much debate and rivers of ink, real and virtual alike, so here I’ll briefly focus on the long-haul arm, Norwegian Long Haul.

Norwegian Long Haul presently operates 8 Boeing 787-8 and 11 787-9 (the “standard” and “stretched” variants respectively) with a further 11 on order. And that’s big money: the 787-8 is $239 million each at list price, while the 787-9 is $281 million at list. And that’s just for the aircraft themselves: On top of that there are crews who need to be paid and trained, insurance, fuel, maintenance and all the usual costs associated with running an airline, such as landing fees.

Norwegian has been driven by what can only be called an extremely aggressive expansion policy. Premium-class seats on a standard London-New York flight are just 34% more expensive than their already cheap economy-class seats – well below the industry standard. The addition of those planes has created more capacity. And competition from legacy carriers such as American Airlines and British Airways has further reduced pricing power.

This aggressive expansion resulted in some, shall we say, peculiar financials for 2017 which attracted the attention of Norwegian fiscal regulators and led to truly mind-boggling losses. Bjorn Fehrm of Leeham News estimated in the first half of 2018, Norwegian had an operating loss of NOK 5.2 billion (about $690 million), or 50% of revenue.

To raise short-term liquidity, the company has sold most of its shares in Norwegian Bank (down from 20 to 4.8%) and sold 28 of their Boeing 737-800s and rented them back from the new owners. While this raises a lot of cash up front, it comes with higher costs mid-term, as Alitalia discovered all too painfully. It ended up in the Italian version of bankruptcy in 2017.

How long can a company last in such conditions, even in an financial environment of plentiful and cheap debt, is anybody’s guess.

That is why Norwegian Long Haul is at the center of a complicated game of chess between three of Europe’s largest airline groups: Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, and IAG, the common holding company for British Airways and Iberia.

All of these groups already operate short- and medium-haul LCC’s with varying degrees of success, but long-haul remained off the book until last year when Air France, faced with the realization about a third of its long-haul routes were unprofitable, decided to adopt a low-cost approach to them. The new brand, JOON, started operations in December 2017. And it has already caused a stir.

This year IAG launched operations of a new brand, LEVEL (don’t ask me why all these new brands are written in capital letters), which should become the long-haul “sister” to Vueling. But so far, long-haul services are merely ordinary Iberia flights and the brand operates as just another leisure airline, carrying passengers from Austria to vacation destinations around the Mediterranean using Airbus A321s obtained during the Air Berlin liquidation process.

That’s where Norwegian Long Haul comes into play.

In April 2018, IAG took a 4.6% stake in Norwegian and announced they were “considering” taking over the company. At about the same time, Lufthansa expressed similar considerations.

However, there are several problems with a full takeover of Norwegian, chief among which is fleet compatibility: Norwegian operates a 100% Boeing fleet (though it has some Airbus on order now) while both IAG and Lufthansa operate 100% Airbus LCCs.

Lufthansa shareholders are already fretting: While the core business segments (led by IT and catering) remain highly profitable, the group is in urgent need of reorganization due to having absorbed too many ailing airlines in too short of a time. This reorganization will have to include a deep rethinking of the fleet, which remains “a logistic nightmare.”

So far, aircraft and crews have been juggled throughout the group. But soon painful choices will have to be made. The Lufthansa fleet includes everything from the aging McDonnell Douglas MD11F of the cargo division to the new Airbus A350-900 used on long-haul routes such as Frankfurt-Mexico City. Adding more aircraft types at this point is not an option to be exercised lightly.

IAG already operates a growing Boeing 787 fleet through British Airways and doesn’t suffer from the same brand “crowding” as Lufthansa. A takeover of Norwegian Long Haul would fit nicely in their strategy and allow them to get into the long-range LCC business quickly.

Because time is of essence: Interest rates are already starting to tick upwards as financial markets get squeezed between somewhat less accommodating monetary policies and the rediscovery of risk. Funding for such adventures is starting to get more expensive. And once the present window of opportunity is closed, it may remain so for a long time and with it the possibility to making long-haul LCC’s a viable business model. By MC01, a frequent commenter on WOLF STREET

Converting used passenger aircraft to freighters is a booming business, but overcapacity looms. Read… What’s Going on in the Used Passenger-Plane Market?

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Gift Ideas for the non-winos on your list

I had the good fortune to come across Made Local Marketplace on a morning stroll in Santa Rosa. I was drawn in by a mannequin bedecked in hula hoops (who hasn’t had THAT experience once or twice? I’m hearing the voice of Stefon in my head…”There were plushies, mwarfs…) No, it wasn’t “New York’s Hottest Club.” but it was an eclectic collection of local handmade gifts, jewelry, books, clothing, food and beauty items.

I’ve found over the years that the more wine country becomes a brand, the harder it is to find the places that made it a brand in the first place.

That’s what I loved about Made Local Marketplace. Every lovingly crafted item is made by an honest-to-God local artisan, their shop display has a photo and bio attached and none of it is mass produced junk.

I was lucky enough to chat with one of the jewelry makers, Laura Lee Brazier, who was doing a co-op cashier shift over a smooth cup of Bella Rosa Coffee (the locally roasted brew.) She moved here from Michigan recently and immediately found a community in the artists at Made Local that wouldn’t have been possible if she’d stayed exclusively on Etsy.

Interestingly enough, of all the beautiful jewelry on display, the one pair of earrings that kept drawing me back (and eventually ended up on my head) were a pair of hers, a random occurrence since she didn’t have her bio card on display.

Made Local is attempting something bold. Not only building an entire retail business out of small creators, but in a location a bit off the main square and without any mass market boutique filler. The back of the store is a gallery space that features exhibits by, you guessed it, local artists.

Is it so wrong that in my wildest dreams I’m half as cool as bird girl?

With so many unique micro-shops in one it was tough to choose favorites, but in addition to the earrings, and the coffee, I am now completely addicted to Three Sisters Apothecary soaps.

Not only do they have a great look, hand cut and striated like colored marble, but many of the scents are an instant olfactory trip back to God’s Country when I’m far away. The Gravenstein Apple Clove is August harvest season in Sebastapol and the Eucalyptus Peppermint is like that first whiff of a Dutton-Goldfield McDougall Vineyard pinot, all cool north coast breezes and elegance.

The Perk’s Pollinators Citrus Cooks Balm is not only yummy smelling but ingenious as well. The beeswax keeps your hands moisturized through food preparation and the attendant continuous washing. (My uncle is a beekeeper and I have found that beeswax is the only moisturizing ingredient with real staying power. Keep it up bees! Don’t disappear on us!) The citrus aroma helps tackle kitchen odors on your hands, but isn’t so strong that it adds off flavors or scents to your food. They also do one for gardeners, different scent, same idea.

For the Anna Karenina or Huggy Bear fan in your life, either way, fab-u-lous!

Made Local Marketplace is a real gem, the kind of place you can get lost for far longer than you expected (so plug that meter!)

It’s an always changing cornucopia, and a beautiful example of the true Sonoma spirit of creativity and community. I hope you’ll give it a visit when you’re in Santa Rosa.

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Doggone Trade Secret Issues

If you have a pup accustomed to gourmet dog treats from the Mall of America you might have an unhappy canine on your hands. Megamall kiosk owner, Chewzy Dogs, has filed suit after its franchisor and maker of its dog treats abruptly ended its agreement to supply Chewzy Dogs with its trade secret recipe treats. While Chewzy Dogs alleges its franchisor had agreed to transfer the secret recipe to Chewzy Dogs in exchange for early termination of the agreement, the franchisor has failed to deliver. (For more discussion of this case see Jim Hammerand, who first reported on it over at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal – thanks Jim!)

This story highlights one method of protecting valuable IP assets – through trade secrets. A method that may be growing after last week’s changes to the U.S. patent laws.

This is because businesses often have the option of protecting their IP assets in multiple ways. For example, an invention can be protected as a trade secret or through the use of a patent. (Ok, so a dog treat recipe might not be patentable… but lets overlook that for the moment). While a patent’s protection is limited to 20 years from the date of filing the patent, a trade secret (that remains secret) can be protected and profited from indefinitely. Thus, the license of a trade secret could elicit royalty payments for a longer period of time than a patent.

Interestingly, the recently passed America Invents Act is changing U.S. law to further support the use of trade secrets. Under the current law a party that chose to protect an invention through a trade secret (rather than through a patent) could later be precluded from using the invention if a third party independently developed the same technology and patented it. The justification for this legal outcome was that it incentivized the disclosure of inventions through the patent system, and eventually put the invention into the public domain when the patent expired. Under the new law, trade secret owners are given a “prior use defense” and will not be precluded from using their trade secret if it is developed by a third party.

Does this change substantially impact the cost-benefit analysis of the patent system? Only time will tell if this change in the law will impact our inventors’ decisions to patent inventions.