Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I won the lottery

You’re thinking I’m being symbolic, right? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, a few important points of the past November in Alaska. I don’t say this is the worst November ever, because I’m an optimist. It could always be worse. But I think everything has suffered in comparison since my October jaunt to Florida.

my view for a week in Florida in October

1. November 1. Get into car accident on freeway. Airbags are deployed, thankfully not tempers. At least the kids are ok.

2. November 3. The kids are not ok: discover they have head lice. 

3. November 7. The fruits of my gambling career (with thanks to my octogenarian grandfather for showing me the ropes) that began on October 9 of this year: I fill out lottery winnings paperwork and send off to the great state of Florida. Envelope must be addressed to “Florida Lottery, Claims Processing.” As I write this address on the envelope my expectations of a payout dwindle. Just who, may I ask, upon seeing this envelope, would not be seized by an irresistible desire to rip it open?

Further contributing to my doubts, the back of the lottery ticket reads: “The risk of mailing ticket remains with the player,” which serves the dual purpose of covering theft by post office employee, lottery employee, loss of mail, or even act of God. A neat bit of work from the same breed of lawyer that crafted “do not eat raw batter” printed on the back of the cake mix box. Pfui!

4. November 8. I am talked out of seeing “Ender’s Game” at the movie theater and instead watch “Gravity”. I should have known better. Any movie that kills off George Clooney can’t be good. Nearly lose my dinner during the first twenty minutes eighty minutes. After Sandra Bullock lands in the water and floats to the top, my first thought was, “What, no shark?” closely followed by my second thought, “At least I’ll die on Earth.” If you get sick on boats, do not see this movie. You’re welcome.

5. November 9. I cheat Mother Nature and transplant three bits of Calamagrostis ‘Eldorado’ to the front garden. Weather is unseasonably warm in the 40’s (Fahrenheit).

6. November 12. Mother Nature doesn’t take kindly to cheaters. Things freeze and no snow.

7. November 15. After the whole house is laundered, wiped down, vacuumed, etc., and two hours minimum spent every day combing through hair, I am now an expert on lice. All this close grooming feels a little chimpanzee-like with the possible exceptions of the headlamp and tweezers. And no one eats the findings.

8. November 18. At 8:02am, I hear something so dreadful and shocking, I mentally curse the radio station that airs it. In future, let’s save “Jingle Bells” for after Thanksgiving (November 28), shall we? Boo on Magic 98.9FM in Anchorage. For my mental health, the radio in my car will now be at the classical music station until December 26, the official (at this blog anyway) Auditory Sanity Reclamation Day.

9. November 19. I had a chance to note the time for this milestone as well. At 8:09 am, it was –15F. Which would be well and good if this were January or northern Greenland.


I know you are all wondering if I am going to quit this cold country and retire with my Powerball lottery winnings to some warm, louse-free place, so I will set your mind at ease. I won $11. Which would be more impressive if the tickets hadn’t cost me $10. I wonder what delights December will bring?


Seen any movies? Christmas tunes in the air?

Monday, September 23, 2013

There are stranger things than this

It’s that time again, gardeners and Alaskans. That time of year when I take a gander at the search keywords that lead poor souls to this blog. That time of year when I get to be Sherlock Holmes and ponder the limited evidence and make a deduction (sans dark trench coat, Y chromosome, and hobbling doctor assistant: take that Mr. Cumberbatch!). This will be fun.

1. “golf trinkets and trash” Why not start off with a bang? My first instinct is “huh?” followed closely by “what exactly are golf trinkets?” I imagine some flashy golden tees or argyle golf socks made from cashmere. Or maybe rhinestone encrusted golf balls. Just what is it about my blog that would attract this traffic?

2. ”night fish dip net” What is a night fish? Is it related to a night crawler? Dip netting at night is a good way to a. most likely break some fishing regulations, b. slice off a finger with a filet knife, c. annoy your sleeping dip net compatriots on the beach, or d. all of the above.

3. “pictures of potty kids in the wilderness” This must require some sort of background or understanding of lingo. Otherwise, should I be calling the FBI? This is not that kind of blog. Or (if my first reaction has misunderstood the query badly), use a plastic concessions cup…trust me, it is the best bathroom in the wild short of a wag bag. If you do not know what a wag bag is, you are lucky and not from Alaska.

4. “calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘karl foerster’” Yes. That is the only answer. Five minimum, nine is better. Anything over twelve and I will be your devoted admirer. Just promise me you won’t fertilize or place in more than 1/2 day shade.

5. “music forgot to change their” Their what???? Diapers, front man, tablecloth…help me out here!

6. “bunny boots alaska” Oh, all right. Even though I have written about this before. Pick the black pair unless you are an avid snowmachiner. In that case, the unofficial rule requires you to have the white pair or be endlessly mocked as a newbie or idiot. You’re welcome.

7. “alaska snowfall on trees and free ph…” I may never sleep well again. Free phones, free photos, free phish, free pharmacy technician training (scary!), free phenytoin level, free physical exam. You pick, I’m going for photos.

8. “gardening christmas songs” I may be the only garden blogger to riff on a holiday song (read here). Since I abhor research unless absolutely necessary, I will never know. For early holiday music rage prevention Last Frontier style, read here.


Do you watch or read mysteries? A Sherlock devotee?

Monday, September 16, 2013

A river runs through it, finally, almost

I posted a couple of years ago on this topic and didn’t realize quite how aspirational putting in a dry river bed proved to be. Never fear, it is still aspirational. This means I haven’t finished yet, but “aspirational” sounds so magazine editor I just can’t resist. “Unfinished project” sounds more Alaskan though, so it’s a toss up.

rusty salmon with Physocarpus Center Glow

1. Now every river in Alaska need some salmon. If I have a trademark (besides inserting (unnecessary) parentheticals in my blog posts or having my hair done a brand new color every 6 months) it is my rusty salmon. So clearly they are included in a dry river bed.

driftwood and Calamagrostis brachytricha

2. How about some driftwood? Luckily Alaska has about as much coastline as a small continent, so plenty of places to harvest that. Currently acquisitions are from the mudflats behind the Kincaid Park chalet. Yes, there were inquisitive looks as I stumped up the paved trail with a twenty foot hunk of battered tree on my shoulder. To say nothing of the smaller pieces shoved willy nilly under my other arm. Luckily driftwood is very light weight. One observer actually had the temerity to laugh when a very long piece would not quite fit into the back of the truck. Phooey!

small, obliging boulder and Physocarpus, Bergenia, and Deschampsia

3. Rocks. Must not forget the rocks. Gravel river beds are as Alaskan as blue tarps, moose, and junked automobiles in the front yard. The autumn of 2012 saw the delivery of 13 tons of gravel to the Last Frontier Garden. And since my garden motto has been reduced to “go big or go home” we are having another 12 tons delivered next week. As we have no excavator handy, my back is starting some anticipatory twinges for the shovel work.

Also in this category are large rocks. Back twinges from shoveling gravel graduate to spasms with a sure promise of shooting pains. I don’t rule out groans and grunts when dealing with the small boulder size. My two best friends: a long pry bar and an electric heating pad for when it’s all over. Also useful: family members built like NFL linebackers with about 300 pounds of pure muscle. I’m still looking for a few on Craigslist.

Calamagrostis brachytricha

4. Alaska is home to a bazillion kinds of grasses and grass allies. I once wrote a (slightly) technical article on the subject for the Alaska Master Gardeners, Anchorage home page (read it here), but I am too lazy to consult it for the actual number of grasses in this 49th state. Suffice to say, there are not may rivers in Alaska without grass waving around nearby.

I didn’t want the river to look too fancy (Alaska is not fancy in any way), if that makes sense, so no variegated grass. You’ll pardon me a moment while I mop up my tears, for variegated grasses were so beautiful and useful in my last garden it nearly breaks my heart not to use them liberally in the dry riverbed. Must. Be. Strong. I guess the yellow and chartreuse leaved grasses are out under the “fancy” rule, too. This just sounds no fun anymore.

Yet I persevere and come up with the (apparently ubiquitous in the Lower 48, but still not well enough known in Alaska) standby: Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster.’ I didn’t know this plant was as common as Potentilla or Pelargonium until a national gardening magazine informed me of the fact, having the gall to write “overused”. I generally like the aforementioned publication, so instead of firing off a heated letter to the editor, I just imitated my 12 year old and said, “whatever.” It helps somewhat.

Calamagrostis brachytricha was chosen to keep it’s taller and stiffer cousin company in the river. Not a “look a me” type plant, but a good mingler and not fancy. Alas.

a long piece of driftwood that barely fit into the truck

5. Structure, woman! What are you going to look at when it snows? Besides the driftwood, big rocks, and rusty fish. So in go a couple of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Center Glow’. Don’t judge me. I have to deal with moose, bears, and a snow blower in the unfenced front yard so sacrifices must be made. Remember, no fancy.

a salmon, vainly struggling to get across the gravel pathway and join its fellow salmon in the dry riverbed6. And the piece de resistance will be a Pinus aristata, the sublime bristlecone pine. I left a small 3 foot specimen at my last garden and haven’t forgotten it. Tragically for my wallet, a small specimen would look ridiculously out of scale next to the tall front facade of my house. So a bigger chap will be necessary and very pricey. I’m taller than the 5-foot, $700 specimen balled and burlapped at the tree lot, but the cost of an 8-footer might put me behind on the mortgage payment for a couple of months. Perhaps I should print up my standard “new garden” flier for the neighbors: Looks dumb now, but wait 10 years!

All this dry riverbed business at my place was started because we had some drainage problems that required a massive excavation and French drain installation in front of the house. Since some of the turf grass was demolished for that, it seemed the perfect excuse to put in my first garden at our new house. It took three years, but now I feel more legitimate. The Last Frontier Garden has a garden. Woohoo!


What is part of a dry river bed in your area landscapes?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Civic Pride: Town Square edition

begonias, pansies, and impatiens

Recently my out-of-state relatives were in Anchorage enjoying the warm weather, and possibly my company, but this is debatable. One of the things that non-Alaskans seem interested, nay, obsessed about are the plethora of giant things around here. I include bears, political egos, and vegetables in this category. So naturally I took the opportunity to show off our city-maintained plantings in Town Square (544 W. 5th Avenue) which usually feature giant kale or obese cabbages. That is if the homeless don’t get them first.

(True story sidebar: My sister, in a previous life, worked in the Town Square gardens, planting, weeding, and watering for our city. She said, besides being threatened by the occasional bum, she found used drug needles, human excrement, and once, a copulating couple in the plantings. Replacing the kale or cabbage due to human poaching was both expected and planned. If they ran out of spare cabbages, they just replaced them with something else. Gotta love downtown, eh?)

dark themed border including dahlias, scabiosa, pelargoniums

Civic pride seems strong downtown (just step over those drug needles, would you?) but lessens with each step southward, and by the time you hit 15th Avenue and head down Minnesota past the “flower picture” in the hill you’ve pretty much seen the last of it, with a few exceptions. So take this review as the somewhat jealous observations of a resident of south (unbeautified on the public dime) Anchorage.

fountain planting including artichokes and petunias


Town Square is the hub of the floral explosion and it radiates out from there. There is a fountain in the middle of the square and if one can but avoid the skate boarders, panhandlers, and idiots stopping suddenly to take photos (oh, wait, that was me….), it is a lovely place for snapping a picture, consulting a map, or checking to see if you still have all your shopping bags/children. Each bed seems to have a color theme of it’s own. This year I noticed a yellow theme, white theme, pink theme, dark red theme, and rounding them all out, a dahlia bed with no color theme I could discern.

yellow theme

white theme with begonias, delphiniums, kale, blue poppies, foxgloves, salvia, pansies, and a bunch of other stuff I forgot

pink border with delphiniums, pelargoniums, snapdragons, salvia, foxgloves

dahlias, pelargoniums, impatiens, pansies, scabiosa, etc.

Now some pictures of the dahlia border. My legal team tells me I must disclose the fact that I have two dahlias in my own garden. They encourage me to state this means I am neither a “hater” nor a “dahlia nut.” Their words, not mine.

I believe this is Dahlia 'Bodacious' with cosmos in the background dahlia border dahlia border dahlia border

dahlia border, with cosmos white dahlia, with Last Frontier hand for scale

OK, enough of the Town Square dahlias. For additional flower sightings, head to the visitor information log cabin. If you aren’t sure which log cabin it is, it’s the one with the sod roof, and this summer, the sod is crispy. So head north from Town Square until you find a shack with dead grass on the roof and you’re there (546 W. 4th Avenue).

rear view of visitors information cabin visitors checking out droopy fuchsia baskets outside the visitor information cabin visitor's information cabin garden, including pelargoniums, salvia, begonias, snapdragons, and two tired tourists

visitor's information cabin, front view

For those visitors inclined to censure, I feel I must mention the reason we have hanging baskets of blue lobelia with a white eye and yellow marigolds every year without fail: they are the colors of our state flag. “Eight stars of gold on a field of blue….” Thus begins our state flag song. Does this excuse rampant marigold and lobelia use? The jury is still out.

marigold and lobelia baskets, ad infinitum more lobelia baskets and a fun nasturtium bucket with begonias and a spiky thingwhy do I love nasturtiums so much?

There were still some intact cabbages as of this writing, so gather the kinsfolk and head downtown. Just find Town Square and you and yours will get an eye full, and see a lot of flowers, too. If the cabbages run out, you’ll have to wait until the Alaska State Fair starts on August 22nd. See my coverage of that here.


How do you show off your area to visitors?

don't let this keep you from visiting!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Those trees growing in my yard: Anchorage edition

A few people have requested a post about the native trees in their yards. There aren’t that many trees and large shrubs native to the Anchorage area. If it’s tall and growing in your backyard and you want to know what it is, you’ve come to the right place. Or if I missed one, you all will let me know.

cones of white spruce 

1. White spruce, Picea glauca. The shaggy Christmas tree in high heels. If it doesn’t lose it’s leaves in the winter and it’s a tall, native tree, the answer is spruce. Usually quite a bit taller than wide, especially with age. Needles are shades of green, sometimes with a bluish cast.

 Needles of white spruce bark of white spruce

2. Black spruce, Picea mariana. The ugly stepsister of the white spruce. It’s charms are somewhat, shall we say, subdued. Well, I would be too if I had to grow in a swamp. If it looks scrawny, spindly, and half dead and it’s growing in a low, poorly drained spot, it might be a black spruce. Doesn’t get as tall as the white spruce.

3. Cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa. The one that grows about 8 feet a year and drops twigs, branches, leaves, etc. at any time and for any reason. If it’s “snowing” in July, it’s a cottonwood. Last year, the air was thick with little white fluffs for several days. Trees are either male or female. Do not park your Ferrari under this one on a regular basis unless you were going to have it repainted anyway. Other cottonwoods call Alaska home. Do think twice about planting this.


4. Birch, Betula spp. A couple of different varieties of the tree forms, but for our purposes, just birch. Hosts monster aphid parties every year, has white, peach, gray, brown or any-combination-thereof-colored bark. If there is a new pest in town, it will move into the birch hotel for a stay. Keep this one watered if you plant it or things can get ugly…real ugly. Sometimes a very respectable yellow gold leaf in autumn.

 birch bark

birch bark

5. Willow, Salix spp. We have scads of kinds, from wee baby willows to big daddy willows. If the bark has been sampled by the moose on a yearly basis, then it’s probably a willow. In fact, one sure way to tell (besides the silver, furry catkins covering the branch tops in March) if it’s a willow is the 45 degree angle of the trunk or branch where it’s been snapped over by said giant ungulate. Leaves usually longer than wide, sometimes remarkably so, bark gray.

willow with moose browse damage

6. Alder, Alnus spp. The shrub that is too big to be a shrub. When I think shrub I think 8 feet max, though I realize this is not true and the dividing line is around 30 feet botanically. If it has 6 trunks instead of one, that’s a clue. Also the lenticels on the bark, sort of light colored marks that function like pores. Check for itty bitty pine cone looking things that are in fact called female catkins (or cones, or conelets, take your pick). If your kid wants to climb the almost diagonal limbs of some 30 foot shrub, it might be an alder.

alder bark with lenticels and lichen

some crazy angles of alder growth

alder with male catkins hanging

7. Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa. Definitely a moderately sized shrub, not really in the same category as the big ones, but it has annoyed me so much this spring that I am including it in the hopes some of you have chainsaws and less than tender hearts. Leave this one alone if it’s in an out of the way spot or you enjoy yearly pruning. I had two in my last garden (planted by robins, not me) that made spectacular informal hedges with yearly trimming.

elderberry snarl just leafing out  very old elderberry wood

With great age (which for this shrub counts as about 15 years) can become a tough, sprawling monster, but branches only a year or two old are easily breakable. Kids adore making scepters, swords, and buggy whips from the younger wood. I have been whipped a few times while hauling brush and yes, it does hurt. One of the first shrubs to leaf out in the spring, white flowers, wood smells unpleasant if broken or bruised. Robins eat the berries but you shouldn’t.

my little garden cart full of elderberry trimmings

I have been busy in the yard, have you? Or did I miss any common native Anchorage trees?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PSA: Contaminated manure or compost?


In case Alaskans were feeling lazy with all the (extremely belated) beautiful weather, this hot tip will keep us on our toes. The Operations Manager at Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District, Mr. Ryan Stencel, cautions us:

“As we finally get into spring, be careful on your source of manure or compost for your garden-there are several confirmed contaminations statewide, including here in Anchorage. Be sure your supplier doesn’t use Aminopyralid/Clopyralid…. And for those using these products, please follow the label carefully, including not allowing any contaminated products to leave your property (hay, manure, compost, or dirt).”

He was kind enough to include a link to an article in the paper that will (to use the lingo of my kids) freak out every gardener in the Greatland. Check it out, if you dare. And scrutinize the provenance of that compost. Your taters will thank you.

Now back to your gardens!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Springtime in Alaska…or not

decandjan2011-12 118

I try not to ponder the great mysteries of life too often. For example, what if the traffic light is green but no cars are moving? Is the traffic light really green? More importantly, will those two containers of ice cream in the trunk melt by the time it truly is? Such musings only lead to despair, disappointment, or in extreme cases, the need to get the car professionally cleaned.

In that vein, calendars officially state spring begins on March 20. (The state of Alaska needs a good attorney, at the very least we could get the calendar companies on fraud.) I should know better after all these years in the hinterlands, especially since the snowplow came by on Saturday. And as I glance out the window (tip: never do this while writing about springtime in Alaska, things will turn out ironically) I note that it has started snowing. So those advertisements encouraging me to buy capri pants are especially galling.

My “public service announcements” practically write themselves because Alaska needs explanation. We are different. Weird. (I would say freaky, but it’s a matter of taste.) So here goes. Calendar companies, pay attention!

It is only springtime in Alaska when:

1. the buzzards come home to roost. Or in reality, since we have no buzzards, the Canada geese honk their way into town. I saw about 100 today, winging their way north in a V-formation (or maybe a giant, malformed “W”).

2. the scent of manure rises. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll probably grouse about it again. Scoop your poop, dog owners! Freshly revealed by the melting snow, partially mummified canine feces litters street sides, sidewalks, and trails in my town. I am walking or biking around it like a boat trying to avoid a minefield. SOS! Full starboard! Blech!

3. dipnets are for sale again. Saw them at Sam’s Club last week. See you in July, you rascally salmon, you.

4. potholes the size of Luxemburg appear in the roads. Bye bye transmission box. So long, right front wheel. On a positive note, the winter studded tires get changed out for a supple summer set.

5. people forget how cold it really is outside. I mean, who needs sleeves, let alone a jacket? Clearly not that gentleman I saw entering Wal-mart on Friday in a tank top. Never mind that it’s 30° Fahrenheit and the snow is still covering the ground. The calendar said it’s spring, so there will be exposed flesh.

5. the motor homes awaken from their long winter’s nap and begin to hold up traffic by driving approximately 20 miles per hour less than the speed limit. When the traffic light turns green (see first paragraph), the driver counts to ten, texts mom, then accelerates. Sort of. I think they sign a contract about it.

6. winter boots feel like overkill, but summer shoes would be ruined. I do not have the answer to this problem. Some wear rubber boots (XtraTufs are a cult), others do the Dansko clog thing, and some even go straight to flip flops. Well, you know what grandpa says, “You can’t fix stupid.”

7. the first summer adventure trip is planned. We are rafting the Tazlina River this summer. Also the Gulkana. Definitely Kenai. Another sign it’s spring: over scheduling.

8. the first garage sale sign appears. Hallelujah, it’s spring! Pursuit of “the good deal” is almost as popular as pursuit of the salmon.

9. sunglasses are needed at 7am. 

10. garden ads are heard on the radio. Nurseries are open for those fuchsia starts. Game on! (I got carried away with myself just now. No game for a couple of weeks at least. Sorry about that. Keep those plants indoors for a bit longer.)

So you see, dear calendar companies, planetary cycles notwithstanding, spring is not spring in Alaska until…it is. Or at least until you are parked for a couple of minutes at a green light. Until then we call it winter.


Seen any capri pants lately? Has spring arrived?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tips for attending the downtown Fur Rondy events

I know what you’re thinking. This tip sheet would have been a lot more helpful a couple of days ago. Well, now you plenty of time to plan for next year. It is Fur Rendezvous time in Anchorage and that means lots of events all over town for a couple of weeks. If a previous downtown Rondy experience left you disenchanted or you have never gone, you’ve come to the right place. Read on!

rondy 047

1. It is always, always cold at Fur Rondy. Somewhere between 0 and 20 Fahrenheit. Plan accordingly. And for new Alaskans, “accordingly” does not mean a hoodie, jeans, and cheap fleece gloves. I’ll spell it out for the sake of the kids: snowsuit or snowpants and warm coat, hat, gloves or mittens (see number 4), warm snow boots. Optional: neck gator, scarf, snow skirt, warm non-cotton socks, long underwear, sunglasses.

rondy 024

2. There is always a cold wind downtown for the parade and dogsled race. I promise. Sometimes the wind is very bad (2012) and sometimes it merely makes things a little colder (see number one). If we ever get a Chinook (warm wind) for Rondy, I promise to turn to dust.

rondy 039

3. Please leave your dog at home whilst attending the World Championship Sled Dog race. It says that right in the official Rondy brochure, page 48, under the “Be a Good Spectator” section, and I quote “Your pet dog will not enjoy watching sled dog racing events. A fast moving team will frighten most dogs. They are also a distraction to the racing or training dog team. Do not bring your family pets to dog mushing events.

I am seeing more and more people bringing dogs to this event, so the Rondy organizers may want to promote this tidbit more prominently than a burial on page 48. I happened to be on hand for an instance today (2013) when the dog athletes got distracted by dog couch potatoes, and it was dramatic. Check out the pictures below for a team that decided to go off the trail and visit a dog that was barking at them. The quick thinking by the trail monitor in yellow saved this musher some time sorting things out by himself. The purse for this race is $70,000, so you can imagine that the sprint dog mushers dearly want to take home a piece of that pie.

rondy 061

rondy 062

rondy 063

4. If you are bringing young children who are not walking themselves around the festivities, bundle, bundle, bundle. Those fleece gloves from Old Navy are not going to cut it with the stationary set. If the kids are strapped to your chest, riding a sled, carried, or in a stroller they will be colder than you. You are walking around working up a sweat, they are motionless, getting cold.

Alaska is “mind your own business” country, but I did break this old adage a few years ago when, milling about the dog race spectators, I spotted a very young infant with exposed hands. The (who I assumed to be) parents were facing away from the child in an infant seat stroller, quietly wailing in the frigid temperatures. I tucked a blanket over the kid and told (who I assumed to be grandma) that the baby looked cold. She stepped in and took charge of the underdressed baby.

Unfortunately, I see cold children every year at Rondy. Here’s a lifelong Alaskan’s take: if you can only invest in one really nice outerwear item for your kids and everything else has to be cheap, let your investment be gloves, or even better for young children, mittens. (Knit gloves or mittens just don’t count, except maybe as something to wear inside the “real” mittens.) If their hands are cold, especially young kids and infants that haven’t figured out pockets or speech in complete sentences, they will be suffering from the cold and you will be miserable trying to placate their crying. You can quote me.

rondy 064

5. Watch the dog races from Cordova Street. That is the best kept secret around. Milling around 4th and D Street to watch the start is fun if you are tall like me. If you are petite or a child, heaven help you if you show up after the race starts and expect to see anything. It is really crowded at the start. Just walk down the street ‘til you hit Cordova and turn south. There! You have a whole street to yourself. The kids will love it, and will actually see something. You’re welcome.

rondy 068

6. Plan ahead. Downtown is pretty much a nightmare for driving on the Saturday of the race and parade, so leave early, pack light, and park far away. I took my own advice and parked on 15th Avenue this year. That might be taking things a little too far, but I got a great walk out of it and didn’t have to battle road closures, police cruisers everywhere, and confused traffic patterns.

rondy 018

7. If you brought kids, bring a backpack or bag. In mine this year: an extra set of gloves for all, a scarf, and some snacks and water for the kids. Sometimes I put in hand warming packets if it’s a particularly cold year or a particularly whiny child.

rondy 019

8. The parade is about a 1/2 hour. Why this fact is not more publicized, I’ll never know. And while normally I don’t advocate spending lots of time in shopping malls whilst clad in full winter gear, after the parade is over, duck into the 5th Avenue Mall to warm up. Another plus, the mall has a bathroom and your kid has to go. You can hang out until the dog races start around noon or until you can’t stand the kids begging for another pretzel with cheese.

rondy 020

9. If you have young kids and watched the parade and dog race, do yourself a favor and save the carnival and snow carving competition for another day. They are ongoing every day for all of Fur Rendezvous (this year February 22-March 3). If you do not choose to heed this warning, I will not be responsible for the adult and/or child meltdowns that occur.

These tips are guaranteed to cut down on the whining and increase desire to return next year and do it all again. Which is good, because what else is there to do at the end of February in Alaska? Go Rondy!


Been to Fur Rondy? Have a tip of your own?


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