During my 2 year break from blogging we did a bit of traveling and one of the trips we made was to visit my husband’s family in Juneau Alaska. I was worried that I would not know how to eat vegan while traveling there and things would be difficult. I figured I would really be eating what my husband liked to call “rabbit food” (fruit & salad) but I was pleasantly surprised at the availability of vegan products. I enjoy “rabbit food” but the kids are not quite at a point where a big salad makes them as happy as it can make me. Now, I do have to say that eating out was a challenge in this meat and seafood town. Of course there is plenty to eat for the meat eaters but eating out for the vegan is a bit more a challenge. If you are a meat eater you can find plenty of places with everything from Alaskan King Crab, Salmon and Halibut to Elk, Venison, and Buffalo but for the kids and I those choices were not only out of the question but totally gross!
Luckily my husband’s grandparents took us right to their favorite store when we got there so we could see if we could find what we needed and not starve to death, wink wink. We pulled up to a store called Fred Meyer’s which in their town is a super store so it has everything you would need for just about everything. I ended up buying a pair of hiking shoes while there and was able to find good quality shoes made with man-made materials. Those shoes were only $50.00 and so good I still have and wear them to hike. I was worried I would not be able to find shoes that were not made of leather and would have to use my regular tennis shoes I brought along with me. YES, I am that extreme, I won’t wear leather or make an exception just this one time, NO WAY man, dead animal skin is dis-GUS-ting!!
This store has an amazing produce section that rivals any store in a big city and that says something in a town of only about 32,000! They even had some organic choices which makes me super happy! There is also a nice bulk section and natural product section to choose from. Then I found the vegan products and was blown away! I expected to have to go to their little teeny tiny healthy store to try and find something and have to pay a premium price for it. WELL, they have all the products you can find at Whole Foods but at a more reasonable price! We try and eat a bit healthier at home by choosing whole, unrefined, plant based foods but we jumped off that wagon and ate vegan junk food on this trip. I took these not so great pictures to share with you all so you can see what they have and the prices they were at that time (2013).
I did some research before going on this trip to see if there were a couple places we could go out to eat with the family during our 2 weeks stay. Sadly the highest recommended places I could find were actually closed during that time period. I did however find a Mexican restaurant called El Sombrero while exploring the shops and it was not bad. They made a dish called Mama’s Burrito and on their menu it says you can ask your server for a vegetarian twist on the dish. I of course asked them to make it vegan and they were happy to do it. Their refried beans are not made with lard and were very tasty. They even knew what a vegan was so that helped me feel comfortable with placing my order. They made a bean burrito for the kids, I ate my Mama’s Burrito and my husband ordered a meat dish as he usually does when we eat out and everyone was happy. We also ordered the chips and guacamole (chips are fried in vegetable oil that is not shared with the fish or meat) to start out our meal but that was not awesome. The guacamole was not freshly made but more a processed green slime. It did not taste that bad but definitely was pre-packed and had a weird texture.
We did try one other place while exploring the town but I have to say it was not awesome and I worried about cross contamination and possible fish flavorings in the dish. It was an Asian place and when I tried to explain about being vegan they seemed pretty confused. I talked to several people and they said they understood but I really did not think they did. English was not their first language and I think it might have been a family-owned restaurant because I could not find anyone who understood what I was talking about. The rice was good but I only ate a couple bites of the vegetable stir-fry I ordered because it tasted “fishy”. After that experience we packed a lunch whenever we went somewhere so we were set.
As I mentioned earlier there is a small health food store and their website even shows vegan friendly and said they offered a deli with hot foods but when we got there they had a mini, I mean MINI type bar with a few hot meals in it and nothing was vegan but a few were vegetarian. They did offer quite a few vegan products but at twice the price as Fred Meyers so we just stuck with what we had gotten from there and were happy with that.
I can’t talk about visiting such a beautiful place without sharing a few of the amazing things we got to see and do while we were there. The grandparents’ house is right across from this amazing mountain view that according to them you can use binoculars to watch the wildlife cruise around. (I made these pictures clickable so you can really see the beauty up close)
We drove just a short 4-5 min drive down the street to see a beautiful glacier that looks like it is spilling into the water.
There are wonderful man-made trails around this glacier and while walking the trail on our very first day we got to see 2 bears! The first was one just walking around the trail below the deck we were walking on. The park ranger came up to us and told us all to be very quiet to not scare it away or to provoke it in anyway. He (who knows if it is a he but that is what I call it) was just walking around sniffing the bushes and then took the time to just poop right there in front of us all! Guess they don’t have the same privacy issues we do, I would have at least hid behind a bush but that’s just me! The second bear we saw was hanging out in a tree watching us all. I was quite surprised at how agile he was up there in that flimsy tree. He looked like he might fall down each time he would monkey around and slip but he easily corrected himself.
The next day we went exploring and found this cool old mining town that had long been abandoned but still had some of the houses scattered around the old roads. They were all covered in moss, grass and rust and unfortunately some were vandalized with spray paint. Even the tree branches in this foggy place had beautiful thick moss on then. Seeing these old houses and thinking about how life must have been back during the time period of 1881 is so interesting to me. Here is a little info on the old town and a few pics of cool buildings we saw.
Those hiking shoes I mentioned buying earlier came in handy when we took the kids out for a hike to see a lake. It was raining as it seemed to always be doing during that month in July so we borrowed his grandparent’s rain suits but did not have any for the kids. They told us that they used to just cut holes in garbage bags and throw those over a jacket the kids were wearing. I have to say, it worked pretty well! We made a short hike to the lake with the kids but they were pretty little and could not go for long. They enjoyed throwing rocks into the lake and then warming up when we got back to the grandparents’ house.
We were still yearning to see more so the grandparents watched the kids while my husband and I made a 3 hour hike (one way!) up a super steep, slippery, wet mountain to head to one of the most amazing glaciers that you can see up close and stand on top of. Well, we never made it to that glacier. Somewhere along the way we took a wrong turn, the path is not marked well at all and we ended up across from it up super high with nowhere else to go but back down. Here is a beautiful view from the top and a pic of me standing across from the glacier we went to see.
After all that hiking we were beat the next day and just wanted to walk around town and see what it was like. Wowie it sure it a carnivorous town! There are signs for seafood everywhere of course along with hunting stores, fishing stores, even a fur store where they have all those horrible coats that some people like and even a fur bikini, GROSS again!
On the way back to the house we stopped at a kid’s playground at a park and I thought this sign was pretty awesome! DUH, right!?
The next morning we just hung out with the family and it was the first day the sun was out so with the kids still in their PJ’s we ran outside to be in the sun and get warm. The thing is, that high up the sun, even in the morning, is pretty darn warm. Grandma had bought this great bubble wand and daddy made bubbles for the kids. It was a nice relaxing day that we ended with a dinner with all his dad’s side of the family including my husband’s sister and her son who flew in from UT. Here are the kids enjoying some bubbles and one of my hubby and I at the dinner.
For our grand finale of the vacation we went on a boat trip to see the beautiful glacier up close. On the way we got to see some adorable seal just chillin on the broken ice. We would get pretty close to them before they would dive off into the frigid water. OMG I wanted to just hug them they were so cute!
The guide drove us up to a fabulous waterfall coming off of a huge boulder. We got so close that we got wet and could touch the water coming down. Then from the other side of the boat you could see another gorgeous waterfall.
We headed off after seeing the waterfalls and nothing much was going on when a whale decided to show off for us. It is so cool how they interact with humans and do a little show for you. For some reason they just know we are there to see them and they don’t disappoint! I was in the back of the boat behind a ton of people so I did not get great shots but here are a few.
Once the whale left everyone headed back to their seats to wait for us to arrive at the glacier. When we did I was amazed at how beautiful it really is in person. Pictures just do not do it justice and even video just can’t convey what seeing it and experiencing it for yourself can do.
As we neared the glacier there were huge pieces of it floating around us that had broken off when it shifts and cracks (technical term is glacier calving). The closer to the glacier we got the bigger the pieces floating around became and were the most amazing color of blue you have ever seen, in some places it almost looks like glass.
As we neared the glacier you could feel the excitement of the crowd and everyone was hugging the railing with their arms stretched out in front of them hold their camera or tablet out to catch all the beauty we were seeing and hearing. Once the guide shut the boat engine off you could hear the glacier shifting and cracking and then breaking apart. The sound echoed around us making it even louder and some breaks caused the boat to rock a bit. It seriously sounded like the earth was cracking and luckily we got to see some fall off the side.
The guide put on some heavy duty gloves and reached into the water to grab out a piece of the ice floating around from the glacier and asked if anyone wanted to hold it. I jumped at the chance and when I held it in my hands not only was it very cold but it was super smooth and soft and felt really cool almost like satin but freezing. I could only hold it for a few seconds before I handed it back but my hubby snapped a pic of it for you to see here.
Here are some great shots of the glacier up close, as I said the blue ice is the most amazing blue I have ever seen. The guide told us that it is blue because of the light wavelengths that travel through it and the longer the path of light the more blue the ice is. Had to put in a shot of us with the glacier behind us. Everyone was taking pictures for everyone else around them.
On our last day before heading to the airport we thought we would go back down to the glacier that is only 3-4 mins from the house and get a family picture by the waterfall. The hike to the waterfall is only about 15 mins and easy enough for the kids to make. This last picture taken was a nice closing to a spectacular trip where we got to explore an amazing place and spend quality time with family. How much better can life get!