Posted May 16th, 2012 | Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals

Alaska Bound

For my summer vacation, I will be making a trip to Alaska.  While it’s the exact opposite of fun in the sun, I’ve always had a great interest in largest state in the Union.  Eskimos have also been a source of fascination for me.  What kid wouldn’t want to live in an igloo?

Seminarian-made igloo during a big snowstorm in 2010.

(Seminarian-made igloo during a big snowstorm in 2010.)

I realize these stereotypes might be a bit ridiculous.  I know that there’s more to Alaska than that.  But I’ve always wondered how an Eskimo would cook without melting down their house. Well, obviously, I’ll learn all about it soon!

The inside of the igloo and the carving knife that made it.

(The inside of the igloo and the carving knife that made it.)

If there is a stereotype that I’m particularly looking forward to experiencing, it’s the fresh Alaskan salmon.  One of my favorite types of fish, I’ll be very interested in tasting it authentically prepared.

Salmon fillet with capers - my mom's recipe that combines oil, herbs, and capers over a baked salmon.

(Salmon fillet with capers – my mom’s recipe that combines oil, herbs, and capers over a baked salmon.)

But, for now, I’d like to get some viewers’ feedback.  As I normally share my travel suggestions, I now turn to you to share your experiences with me.  Have you ever been to Alaska?  Tell me where I should eat while in Anchorage and surrounding cities?  Do you have any other recommendations (restaurants, off-the-beaten-path tourist spots, fun things to do, and, of course, religious spots to visit) for this faithful foodie’s incredible adventure?

We all love a little adventure, and God made this world for us to master it and enjoy it.

(We all love a little adventure, and God made this world for us to master it and enjoy it.)

I’ll be sure to blog about my experiences or at least update my Twitter and facebook page.  So stay tuned.

(Spelunking in the Philippines. Yes, more adventure!) 

(Spelunking in the Philippines.  Yes, more adventure!)

Father in Heaven, as families begin to prepare for summer vacations and travels, bless us with a great sense of adventure and a humility so that we travel as humble pilgrims – willing to learn and grow in our knowledge of different places, while expanding our faith by experiencing You in these new experiences.  Above all, keep us safe!  May our summer travel plans help us to be recreated, to renew our appreciation and love for each other, and to be filled with awe of the wonderful world you created.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

It's Montana, not Alaska, but I'll see the Alaskan mountains soon!

(It’s Montana, not Alaska, but I’ll see the Alaskan mountains soon!)

Where will you and your family go on vacation?  What has been your favorite vacation spot?  Have there been any unique foods you’ve encountered in your travels?  Have you experienced a renewal of faith in your journeys?  And do you have any Alaska recommendations?  Your comments and suggestions are not only helpful but encouraging.  Thanks for posting your responses below.

(Even more adventure!) 

(Even more adventure!)


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Posted in Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals | 14 Comments

14 Responses to “Faithful Foodie: Alaska Bound”

  • Hi, Father! I met you last year at the LTTC in Arizona. I was the older Alaskan woman melting in the 100 degree plus heat. I live in Juneau – it’s rainforest country with the most gorgeous mountains and scenery – we all believe Juneau and Southeast Alaska are the most beautiful parts of the state.
    We enjoy a lot of salmon, halibut, and the one thing I can grow in the rainy climate – rhubarb. Our favorite way of preparing salmon is blackened salmon, and we have that frequently during the summer months. Since salmon is in abundance there are other recipes we’ve tried, but we keep coming back to blackened salmon. Salmon tacos and caesar salads are also very good!

    Posted by Marilyn Monagle on May 16th, 2012 at 9:47 pm.
  • I certainly hope you enjoy your time in Alaska. It should be great trip.
    First, how long are you going to be there? Length of stay greatly determines where to go. As you mentioned before, its a rather large state. Something to remember though is that if you book too many places you will spend all of your time traveling and no time enjoying things.
    While its not a beach, please note that this is the time of year the sun doesn’t set until very late. There is only about 4-5 hours of twilight so there is plenty of fun in the sun to be had.
    I went with my sister in summer 2007 in mid August. You probably want to go sometime in June. More because the temp drops quite a bit over night and you don’t want to be too cold if you are fan of nighttime fun.
    First, we flew into anchorage. We spent one or two days exploring the town. One day should be sufficient. There is a great hiking trail called eagle landing or something right outside of town. It is 14 miles round trip and plenty of campsites. If you wish to camp, take necessary bear precautions and go with someone. I did camp but I was with my sister. Then we went to a place about two hours south by bus to Seward Alaska. We open water kayaked, took a nice long hike in the area (always plenty of that), and took a wildlife cruise. This all took about 2 days. There also is ice climbing if you like heights. The cruise takes you to see the beautiful Kenai fjords. Last place we went to was homer Alaska. This was a coast town. This was also a bus ride of 2 hours. We explored the town and coed on the coast. It is very popular. Also important to mention that if you like to fish, both Seward and Homer are big fishing towns.
    We travelled back to Anchorage and the whole thing took ten days. So it all depends on your time frame, where you want to go, and what your interests are.
    Email me if you are serious about it. I would reccommend good Alaska travel books as well. Good luck!!!

    Posted by Katherine Greene on May 16th, 2012 at 10:50 pm.
  • Hello Father,

    I am not from Alaska but have connections to native friends there and thought you might want to be know in advance, they do not refer to themselves as, “Eskimos” but as “Inuit.” The term Eskimo covers both Inuit and Yupik peoples (if I understand correctly). Our friends from above the Arctic Circle are “Inupiaq” (in-you-pach) and refer to themselves as such (or Inupiat which is plural).

    I know you know that you were speaking in stereotypes but I thought you might want to go in a little prepared (and a little more politically correct :) ). Also, igloos were used as hunting shelters. They live in very modern houses with interesting ways to deal with the thawing and melting of the tundra, while maintaining the permafrost farther below.

    Have a wonderful time! I hope you get to go above the Arctic Circle to enjoy the very long days.


    Posted by Kim P. on May 17th, 2012 at 2:11 am.
  • One of the best kept secrets of Alaska is the little Hyder. It is in the south eastern part and is the first place in Alaska you can drive to. The best time to visit is late July and early August. The salmon are running them and the bears will be feeding in the river. There is a bear viewing area where you can watch Grizzlie moms teaching the kids to fish. The Glacier Inn serves great food and wonderful snacks. The bus is unusual and has great seafood.

    There is or was a great BBQ place at delta junction on the Alaska HWY and in Anchorage there is the wildberry and across the street is a great sour dough place. The roadhouse in Soldotna has great salmon and is neat.
    If in Fairbanks, the wolfs den has good food and great snacks. I have not been farther north than Fairbanks and in the summer, Fairbanks can warm up into the 90s. Not what you wuld expect for Alaska. ALWAYS keep your camera handy. wildlife everywhere even in downtown Anchorage.

    Posted by Dennis Grunder on May 17th, 2012 at 9:36 am.
  • My family said we didn’t like fish when my sister-in-law grilled fresh caught salmon and halibut on our vacation to Anchorage. (What do you expect – we had been raised in land locked Indiana!) She served it anyway and it was fabulous! We ate and ate. I still serve salmon (halibut is too expensive) and we talk about how amazing it was. She just marinated it in Italian salad dressing and grilled it.

    Posted by Connie on May 17th, 2012 at 10:47 am.
  • Fr. Leo, you need to go to Denali and take the bus ride out to see Mt. McKinley. It is a breathtaking ride..and the fact the sun doesn’t really set for the night (in June)makes it even more fun. Very few trips actually get to have a good view of Mt. McKinley but it’s still amazing to see the GREAT spance of open territory and the birds, bears, goats, etc. that are out there. You also get to meet a lot of people from all over on the bus ride…would love to go back again. (We went in 2009 on our 30th anniversary). Love getting your emails every week. (I have enjoyed my signed copy of Grace Before Meals from the women’s conference in Oklahoma City this year.

    Posted by Fran Gildon on May 17th, 2012 at 12:47 pm.
  • Fr. Leo, i now live in Seattle, but attended St. John’s in Westminster MD when you were there…. in fact, the way you carried yourself as a priest (and how your sermons inspired me) was one of the reasons i converted after 38 years of attending Mass with my girlfriend (and now my wife) as a Protestant…
    My favorite vacation spots are actually in the Philippines!!! When we lived in Sangley Point (Cavite) in the 60’s we visited such spots as Corregidor, Hundred Islands, Pagsanjan Falls, and Lake Taal… But my favorite spot was the Ifugao rice terraces in Banaue!! What faith and determination those farmers must have had to build those terraces. i can only imagine how long it took… Their stick-too-it-iveness still inspires me today… Enjoy Alaska and don’t forget to savor the king crabs as well as the salmon. Dutch Harbor (actually Unalaska) is the Alaska King Crab capital and is the largest fisheries port in the U.S. by volume caught.

    Posted by Mark Gould on May 17th, 2012 at 1:26 pm.
  • Fr. Leo,
    I have wanted to travel to Alaska since I was a little girl- have a wonderful time! One piece of advice – several summers ago my parents-in-law took a cruise to Alaska. They were cautioned by their travel agency to get a flu shot several weeks in advance, but they chose not to do it. My mother in law did indeed catch the flu and was ill for weeks. I’m not sure if summer is flu season in Alaska or what, but my mother in law says if she had to do it again she would get the shot!

    Many blessings for your trip!

    Posted by Eva Lyons on May 17th, 2012 at 9:13 pm.
  • Hi Fr. Leo:

    I am a faithful follower of your web site and have enjoyed your recent shows on EWTN when I can catch them. I am very excited to hear that you will be visiting our wonderful state. Alaska is a very large and diverse state. Juneau and South West Alaska are rain forest. South Centrel Alaska is forest and mountains that go right into the water in places. Centrel Alaska is rolling hills and weather during the summer simular to centrel US lower 48. Northern Alaska is a tundra with no hills or trees to speak of but a beauty all its own. The tempretures in northern Alaska in the summer tend to hover around 40’s and 50’s while interior (Fairbanks area) gets quite warm at 80’s and we in South Centrel and South West Alaska range from 50’s – 60’s with an occasional day in the 70’s. The best time to travel in the summer up here is June and July. Summer Solstice is a big event for most of us up here with races and carnavles and the like. July 4th is fun as well with fire works going of at or around midnight because of the sun not setting until very late. I live in a small community about 10 miles north of Anchorage called Eagle River. There are a couple of really nice places to eat in Anchorage that cater to those who are visiting from outside of Alaska. I take my visiting guests to the Glacier Brew House for a nice dinner and local brew. There is also Marx Brothers for upscale and fancy dinners. If your looking for local traditional cuisine and the authintic Alaska experiance I would book into a Bed and Breakfast, not only do you get a more personalized visit but the host and or hostes will know who has the freshest Salmon to be had. If you visit Junuea the Shrine of St. Therese is a lovely little place to go with Mass being offered Sundays at 1:30 between Memorial day and Labor Day. If you intend on visiting the Seward area there are several Bed and Breakfasts in the area that are nice I would stay at one close to Millers Landing which is at the end of the road and on the water front. Fairbanks has a paddle boat ride that is fun or an acctual gold mine that you can visit. For hiking experiances in the Anchorage area Power Line trail is 11 miles one way and not to hard a trail for someone in reasonably good health. Ravens glacier is a good hike also but an uphill one. Flat Top is in town as is the Tony Knowle coastal trail. If you plan on being here closer to the end of August there is a 26 mile hike called Crow creak. People have run it in one day but my husband and grandkids prefer to take it more lieasurely and do it in 3 days. Angle Valley is another good day hike as is the hike to South Fork trail with a nice swimming hole as a reward. Anchorage also has a Native Haratiage Museum that will give insite into the traditions of the Alaska Native peoples, and the Anchroage Museum will give insite into the arrivel of first Russians then Americans. A short flight away there are such wonders as Redoubt Lodge where you can fish for salmon along side the bears (an experience not to be missed). Or you may choose to visit the small community of Sitka Alaska known for its beauty and history. Flying is a way of life up here and small planes are the way to go to a lot of remote places that don’t have road access. Also look into traveling by either Train or Ferry we have an incredible ferry system up here that runs into almost every costal town in Alaska and the train is the only whistle stop train left in the US where you can actually stop the train and get of and not have to be at a train station. I have lived in Alaska for about 15 years now and because Alaska is such a large state I have barely scratched the surfice of all there is to see and do. For your enjoyment please pick an interest (for example hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, history) and choose your stops accordingly, otherwise as mentioned in a previous post you will spend all your time in plane’s, train’s and buses traveling and that isn’t any fun. If you are in the Anchorage area and would like to get in touch my door is open please let me know you can respond to the e-mail address.

    Posted by Lee Groom on May 18th, 2012 at 9:06 pm.
  • My husband and I will also be traveling to Alaska this summer for our vacation. Looking forward to your recommendations!

    Posted by Sara C. on May 19th, 2012 at 9:08 pm.
  • Fr. Leo:

    I grew up in Kotzebue and Noorvik. Get out into the villages if you can and sample the native foods there. It’s the coast that is Inuit country. Also, Kim P. is quite right about igloos as you probably did really know already.

    Posted by Steve Perisho on May 20th, 2012 at 12:28 pm.
  • Hello Father,

    I am not from Alaska but I have traveled there many times on business. It is an absolutely beautiful place! I love to eat so here are a few of my restaurant suggestions. If you are in the Fairbanks area, I recommend drive a few miles out of time to the Turtle Club. In Anchorage, Club Paris is one of my favorites. Old steakhouse that survived the big earthquake in 1964 and has excellant food today. South of Anchorage in the small town of Girdwood you will find several fantastic places. The Double Musky Inn and the Seven Glaciers are outstanding. The Seven Glaciers is on top of Alyeska and has spectacular views. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

    Posted by Jimmy T. on May 21st, 2012 at 5:25 pm.
  • Fr. Leo,
    Our family traveled to Alaska about four years ago. We flew into Anchorage and then spent three weeks driving to Denali, Homer, and Seward. Our sons were 11 years old and loved it. In Homer they and their Dad went Halibut fishing early in the morning. It was an adventure they will never forget. We ate lots of salmon and halibut which was in season but pricey, but worth it. Our favorite towns were Seward and Homer which is very “granola.” We did a lot of hiking and saw the glaciers which are melting rapidly. I can remember two favorite restaurants. The best is in Talkeetna. It is a small little town, 2 blocks wide that is at the base of Mt. McKinley. It really gives you a feel for the frontier days, with a saloon and plank walkways. Actually it is the base camp, start off point for hikers hiking up Mt. McKinley. Go to the ROADHOUSE, it is awesome. They make the best raspberry pie, huckleberry (native to Alaska) cobbler, buttery, thick pancakes, it is fantastic. In fact on our last day we took the train to Talkeetna to see it one more time and enjoy the Roadhouse. We had a one day food fest and took the train back to Anchorage. My boys are train enthusiasts. We love Talkeetna and talk of it often.

    My second favorite city was Homer. We ate several times at a restaurant called Express Sourdough. There is an old shell of a van out front that kids play in. The food is mostly organic and healthy. The couple that runs it drove to Alaska in that van 30?, 20?, X number of years ago and served food from it until they opened the restaurant. It is very good family food with delicious wine. Try the microbrews too they are great. We always seem to try them when we travel because they are kid friendly with good eats. In Anchorage, we returned to the Sleeping Lady brewery several times. They have rooftop seating which is fun but the view isn’t that good but it always felt good to soak up the sun.

    Are you ready for 24/7 hours of daylight? We were up in July and it was the neatest thing. Most of the restaurants have room darkening shades which helps.

    I saw in another comment someone recommended staying at a B&B. In Homer, we stayed at the Alaskan Ridgetop Inn, with Mindy and Allan Park. It was great because our boys played outside with their kids and black lab, Nick. It was a beautiful view and Mindy is a very kind hostess.

    We are hoping to go back again next year and see some different cities. But we still plan to return to the Roadhouse and our favorite town of Talkeetna.

    If we can help you further Father, give us a call. We are parishioners at Jesus the Divine Word in Huntingtown. Have a great trip. I look forward to reading about it. Don’t forget your bear spray and watch for running moose—really.
    God Bless,
    Barb Oursler

    Posted by Barbara Oursler on May 23rd, 2012 at 12:31 pm.
  • Hello Fr Leo

    I live in Dublin Ireland

    Posted by Pauline King on May 31st, 2012 at 6:55 pm.

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