Sunday, January 10, 2016

January 2016: A Good Time to Visit Alaska?

Lucas loves the snow-no white toys though!
Sure it is! Plan now for the Iditarod - we are counting the days and hoping for snow. The history of the Iditarod is told well in a book, The Cruelest Miles, or you can get a quick report when you visit the event site.  Here's the thing: planning ahead is imperative if you want a place to get some sleep.   Anchorage fills up, and posts along the trail through Alaska do too.  Try the 'inspected and approved' B&Bs of Alaska for clean, safe, pleasant places where you will be well taken care off.  Want to know what more there is to do at this time of year? Check Winter Events for ideas!

There are great places to eat in Anchorage - every visitor must go to Mooses Tooth for amazing pizza and the micro-brewery favorites. They have a sister restaurant with a different menu, called Bear Tooth. Restaurants are not all downtown: try Torchon for some amazing entrees!  And Southside Bistro in south Anchorage (that will mean all of about six miles driving) is top shelf (and near several B&Bs that are inspected & approved.)

Anchorage has a trademark: the drive through coffee kiosks.  Try them all - drive up, get a fresh pull at what ever strength you like - you may never go into a nation-wide-label coffee shop again.  Just try to count all the coffee kiosks you see in a square mile. 

You won't lack for things to do, and you will want a nice place for the night.  Some B&Bs feature fireplaces and hot tubs along with hospitality, privacy, and peacefulness.  With the 'inspected & approved' label you get assurance of professional business practices, licensing, permitting, and insurance that might otherwise be hit or miss.  And you will get innkeepers who know the city and the state so when you want a recommendation, you have your own expert.

Want to make a choice based on particular amenities? Or by geographic areas so that you are staying near your old roommate, cousin, or friends?

When you are ready to tour the state, we can guide you to good B&Bs outside of Anchorage - just ask!

Mary M Rydesky, AABBA President, is one of the Innkeepers with  Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association. She operates Jarvi Homestay.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sixth Annual Awards Presented to AABBA Associate/Travel Partners

Sixth Annual AABBA Awards
Another Alaskan summer has passed, and earlier this week the Anchorage Alaska Bed and Breakfast Association (AABBA) celebrated by honoring and showing gratitude to all of our Associate / Travel Partners at the 6th annual Associate Travel Partner (ATP) Appreciation and Awards Ceremony!  

The purpose of this event is to thank each and every ATP for the great service and Alaskan experiences they provide to our guests. 

Each year the event is accompanied with a spread of homemade foods, good conversation, stories and camaraderie.  We always learn something new about the goods, services, and travel opportunities available to our guests.  This year, we learned that Once in a Blue Moose has been a family owned Alaskan business since 1969, with now three generations of Alaskans bringing unique gifts and souvenirs to Alaska's Visitors.  And Ascending Path has extended its tour repertoire to appeal to families and elders, with new adventures to come in 2016! What great stories and plans!  

Patrick receives award for
Kenai Fjords Tours
from VP Mary M Rydesky
AABBA’s Associate / Travel Partners offer a variety of services and goods that provide and create a quality, enjoyable, memorable experience for leisure visitors and business travelers.   It is always so difficult to choose the annual winners from among 50+ Associate / Travel Partners representing restaurants, museums, cultural centers, theaters, land, sea and air tours, marketing, lodging, and other types of support services. 

Awards were presented in the following categories for the 2015 season:

Best Alaska Experience - Alaska Native Heritage Center
Best Dining Experience  Glacier Brewhouse, Haute Quarter Grill, and Orso Restaurant
Innovative Approach to Making Guests Feel Special -  Kenai Fjord Tours, Orso Restaurant
Best Business to Business Service in Support of Tourism The Alaska App, Sam Wasson Photography
Rookie of the Year, New Member - South Restaurant & Coffeehouse
Advocacy for Bed & Breakfasts in Tourism - Visit Anchorage!

If you happen to visit any of these businesses, join us in thanking them for their service and dedication by congratulating them on their 2015 recognition.  We would also love to hear any feedback you might have on some of your own Alaskan experiences and memories made possible by one of our Associate / Travel Partners! 

--Innkeeper Krista Walker, Alaska House of Jade, is a member of the
 Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The 2015 Tour of B&Bs: A Review

Reflection Lake B&B -on the deck
Have you ever had one of those lovely Sunday afternoons that you didn’t want to end?  That happened to me last Sunday.  The Anchorage Alaska Bed and Breakfast Association (AABBA) held a progressive dinner.  Bed and Breakfast hosts in our association contributed appetizers, main dishes, salads and desserts.  Three bed and breakfasts were selected to host the various ‘courses.’

The event started at 3:00 PM with appetizers at the home of a new AABBA member, Reflection Lake Bed and Breakfast.  Hosts Annie and Jason Zeng opened their entire home for us to enjoy and view.  Seeing the care and quality they have given to their home really makes me proud to have them join our association.  One of the loveliest parts of their home is a deck that goes from the dining room out towards the lake.  We had our appetizers while sitting, visiting and enjoying the peaceful surroundings and looking at reflections dancing on the lake.  Their guests enjoy this space surely as much as we did. 

Calla House B&B
Our next stop was at Sam Penney’s, Calla House Bed and Breakfast.  Sam has been an active member of AABBA for a very long time.  She is really skilled in the art of hosting.  Her home shows the same detail and attention and care Sam gives to her many guests.  The Calla House is set in a peaceful neighborhood with views out back.  Sitting on the swing outback, several members commented about the visiting birds who flew close to us while gathering their own choice bites from feeders – they added to the ambiance. Here we had salads and main dishes and lots of visiting.  There was plenty to eat and eat we did! 

Judy's A Touch of Class B&B
Our last stop was at Judy and Jim Powell’s, Judy’s A Touch of Class Bed and Breakfast.  Since dessert is my favorite, I was most happy to enter this large lovely home that has many Alaskan touches gathered over the many years the Powells have live in Alaska Their home backs up to a green belt area full of beautiful natural trees and vegetation. When you look out their back windows you forget you are still in the city. Their large dining room table quickly filled with pies and cakes brought by our members. A quick association meeting was held after we all filled our plates and settled into seats in Judy’s kitchen/family room area. Some people continued to go back to the dinning room table for seconds and thirds but who’s counting.  At the end of our meeting I noticed there was nothing left to eat … just empty pans and plates that looked licked clean.

During the meeting, people were encouraged to share thoughts, experiences and ideas for the future of our businesses.  Our biggest laughs came from people sharing some of the silly and not so silly things that has happened during the summer experience of hosting people from all over the world. When our meeting ended, people just stuck around and continued to visit. No one seemed in a hurry to get home.   All in all it was a lovely Sunday full of great food, conversations, and new ideas. 

I was asked to share the recipe for my Sourdough Carrot Cake.  This recipe comes from a recipe book called Simply Sourdough-The Alaska Way- by Kathy Doogan.

Sourdough Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup sourdough started
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon backing soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Anchorage Walkabout Town Hosts
Mix together oil and sugar. Add starter and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Fold in pineapple, carrots, nuts, coconut and vanilla.  Shift together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon: add to the starter mixture and blend well.  Pour batter into greased and floured 9”x13” pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioner’s sugar (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Combine all ingredients, beating until smooth.

Bake, cool, frost, and enjoy!

Sandy is a member of AABBA and treated all guests to a taste of the Sourdough Carrot Cake.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Birds in Alaska: A Birdwatcher's Paradise

Hello there, birdwatcher! 

Does the thought of flying aloft on high currents strike your romantic side? Does a quick call and flutter of wings have you looking for the culprit? Do you maintain a bird bath or bird feeder? 

Welcome to the ranks of over 60 million 'birders' who actively watch birds, and the millions more who enjoy seeing them from day-to-day who never think of themselves as avid “birdwatchers”!

Birds delight through their beautiful plumage, amusing songs, and their ability to fly. It’s no wonder humans have such an interest! It may be that birding is the least expensive hobby a person can get into. Aside from your eyes and ears, all that you need to bird watch is paper and pencil to track your finds. From there, like many other hobbies and sports, it depends on what you want to make of it. Binoculars and field guides are the next logical step to help you see and identify bird species better. Some go as far as high-powered scopes and sound amplification devises to make sure they can catch sight of the birds they seek. Whether you are an active birdwatcher for sport, or simply love the sight and sounds of birds going about their daily routine, member inns of the AABBA invite you to enjoy a bird watching vacation with us.

In Alaska,  wide-open spaces and expansive natural habitat provide the perfect setting for bird watching. And when you choose a bed and breakfast lodging option, the setting is even more perfect, as most are set away from the more populated areas. Really, are you more likely to spot birds in downtown areas where the hotels are, or the outlying communities that are home to our bed and breakfasts, where the lakes and nature are only a short walk away? Do hotels provide porches and gardens from which to actively watch area birds? Isn’t the ability to step outside your cozy inn, straight into the natural surroundings more supportive of birding than stepping outside a hotel into the urban bustle? Try Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, on the south side of Anchorage en route to the Kenai for a viewing adventure!

Imagine waking to a delicious breakfast at your chosen bed and breakfast, stepping outside to observe the bird activities of the morning, attending the local birding festival, and then returning to your chosen inn to walk the grounds or the area to find even more species that are native to Alaska. No matter what time of day or year, a B & B lodging option is the perfect place from which to enjoy your bird-watching activities.

Alaska is also home to some great Bird Festivals for all bird-watching interests. Whether you enjoy the sport in general, or have interest in a single species, we have a gathering for you. Each festival is located close to some of our member inns. Whether you come for the festival only, or extend your Alaskan vacation to view birds native to the area, a bed and breakfast is the ideal lodging option to support your bird watching fun!

We offer the following list of birding events to help you coordinate your Alaskan birding vacation. We invite you to select your lodging from the Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association's inspected and approved inns.

April, 2015 (all month):  Alaska Hummingbird Festival -Ketchikan, AK

April heralds the return of Hummingbirds to Alaska. This celebration at the Southeast Alaska Discover Center includes kid’s activities, hikes, art, and more.

April 30 - May 3, 2015:  Stikine River Birding Festival -Wrangell, AK
Celebrating the birds (including bald eagles) that come to the River each year to feed on the ‘hooligan’. Take part in seminars and activities for the whole family.

May, 2015 (TBA):  Upper Tanana Migratory Bird Festival - Tok, AK
A single day of celebration at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge including activities, art competition, live bird presentation, and a morning bird tour.

May 7-10, 2015:  Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival - Cordova, AK
A week-long celebration during the migratory birds' stopover in Cordova.  Enjoy seeing the birds, hiking, talks, and more.

May, 2015 (TBA):  Spring Migration Celebration - Fairbanks, AK (Call 907-459-7301)
Another celebration of the spring migration at the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.  A free event with games, crafts, birding, and more for the whole family, sponsored by five Alaskan and US birding and wildlife organizations.

May 7-10, 2015:  
Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival -Homer, AK

Celebrating of the avian stopover to Kachemak Bay. See a wide variety of bird species including puffins, terns, curlew, stint, and more. Activities for the whole family will be available.

May 14-17, 2015:  Kenai Birding Festival - Kenai, AK
A family-friendly event to celebrate the migration. Kids’ activities, guided tours, and more.

May 28- 31, 2015:  Yakutat Tern Festival - Yakutat, AK
See one of the most populous Aleutian Tern breeding colonies in the US and enjoy guided tours, cultural events, art, talks, and kids’ activities.

August 28-30, 2015:  Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival - Fairbanks, AK
Celebrating the fall migration of the Sandhill Crane. A family-friendly event featuring seminars, nature walks, photography workshops, banding demonstration, and more.

November 9-15, 2015:  Alaska Bald Eagle Festival - Haines, AK near Glacier Bay
This time of year sees thousands of Bald Eagles feeding on late-running salmon at the Alaska Bald Eagle Preserve.  Activities include photography workshops, cultural tours, demonstrations, speakers, entertainment, banquets, and more!

Reposted and edited courtesy of the statewide Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association. Events updated for 2015
On behalf of the Innkeepers o  Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seasons of Change

We are in a changing world and we have to reinvest ourselves to succeed in a world of change.  The Swiss Efficiency and other members of the AABBA  offer accommodations that range from classic Bed & Breakfast to modern...the signs of change!  With the growing demand of the traveling public, we like to grow and accommodate the guests needs.  As one of the world's great philosophers of change once said:  Survival belongs not to the strongest, or to the smartest, but to the most adaptable.

In today's world, it is important to do research about the reputation of the place you will stay.  Are they licensed? Do they participate in a peer inspection and review program? Are they solid, intending to stay in business? Is the place known to the local community (and in a positive light?)

Having organizational membership such as in the AABBA is important to our B&Bs. It indicates that we uphold a code of ethics, maintain hygienic, safe standards for guests, and we accept inspections both scheduled and impromptu. We meet with other B&B owners to share new strategies for improving our hospitality. We are accountable to one another....not just to the office of business licensing!

Why ask? Because you want to know the B&B will be in business when you arrive, and that it will be safe, clean, and enjoyable. You want to know the breakfast will meet your needs and maybe even thrill you with locally grown specialties. And you want to know you are experiencing Alaska in a way franchises can't offer: with the personal conversation of a local resident/host. 

So how will you set your standards? What research will you do? How will you know you have positioned yourself for a glorious trip? Start with the Hotline at 907-272-5909 or visit the website, checking the information on 'inspected and improved'. It will help your decision making anywhere you go!

Verena Kaeppele of Swiss Efficiency is one of the Innkeepers in  Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day Trips North of Anchorage

Get outta town!  A short 10 mile drive north of Anchorage allows you to sample what Chugiak-Eagle River has to offer. 

FIREWORKS, ANYONE? Watch fantastic fireworks in the Land of the Midnight Sun!  Eagle River Lions host the Fourth of July event at Lions Park.  It begins at 6pm on July 3rd 2014 and features a full evening of festivities, concessions, and entertainment; and ends with a fabulous fireworks display at midnight.

4th of JULY PARADE!  The Chugiak Area Business Association with support from the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department hosts an old fashioned 4th of July Parade!  The  parade begins at 2:00 pm at Latimer Fire Station and ends at Chugiak Elementary on Friday, July 4th, 2014.  Bring your bags for candy and enjoy one of our community”s oldest traditions!  Come early and park along the parade route--the road starts closing at 1:00.

More JULY FUN!  Bear Paw Festival is the second week in July (July 9 - 13th, 2014) with events covering five days. Bear Paw features a large community parade, great hometown entertainment, carnival rides, games, vendors and hilarious contests like Slippery Salmon Olympics and Running with the Bears ñ Tri-Bear-a-Thon.  Other noted events are the Bear Paw Royalty Pageant for high school age men and women, the Classic Car Show and Rotary’s Ididaduck Rubber Ducky Race. Bear Paw is coordinated and annually sponsored by the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce with the support of many of our businesses, members and nonprofit organizations. Visit the festival website at for more info.
Arctic Valley

ARCTIC VALLEY is one of the few places near Anchorage where you can drive up into the alpine environment!  Look for the sign off the Glenn Highway to enjoy this scenic drive.  It provides both easy and challenging hikes, along with stunning views. Bring your camera!

EKLUTNA VILLAGE HISTORICAL PARK is centered in the native village of Eklutna with a smooth exit off the Glenn Highway. This site is the home of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. The church, documented as the oldest building in Anchorage with a construction date of approximately 1830, provides a glimpse into the historic Russian influence in the region. On the church grounds are brightly colored native spirit houses that rise above the graves in the ancestral burial ground. Eklutna Village Historical Park is part of the Orthodox Church. Please call to arrange for visiting from mid May through mid September for tours. Phone (907)-688-6026.
EKLUTNA LAKE offers hiking, ATVing, kayaking and mountain biking opportunities. Watch for signs off the Glenn Highway.

Take this trail guide with you for a safe and fascinating day. The Eklutna Lake brochure will round out the details you should know for a memorable time.

Eagle River Nature Center

The CHUGACH STATE PARK EAGLE RIVER NATURE CENTER is located at mile 12 of Eagle River Road and provides the gateway to Chugach State Park. Parking fee required. Summer and winter staffing hours vary. Call (907) 694-2108.

SOUTH FORK of Eagle River is a 12 mile round-trip trail that offers easy access to the backcountry. One hikes through beautiful alpine country and a large boulder field to arrive at two alpine lakes.  Access is off Glenn Highway, look for exit to Highland Road.  Parking is located near the end of Hiland Road.
Thunderbird Falls
THUNDERBIRD FALLS is located in the northern part of our community and is the terminus of a comfortable one mile family walk on a well maintained trail.

It is a must see for all who visit this area--look for the sign off the Glenn Highway past Peters Creek.  This is another place to use your camera as you catch the essence of Alaska's beauty! 

And when the day is done, consider staying at a bed & breakfast for a special treat. Hosts whose B&B bears the 'inspected and approved' certificate are peer reviewed by AABBA for your comfort and assurance.

Terri Semmler, owner of Inlet View Bed and Breakfast is one of the the Innkeepers of the Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring Migration: Birders Take Note of Alaska's View!

During the late spring months of April and May, Alaska is such an exciting place to visit, especially if wildlife viewing is at the top of your list!  There are countless opportunities for viewing from air to sea and even land! Wildlife from as far as the south Pacific migrate up to the arctic region to take advantage of the abundance of available resources.   Migration is the seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.

If you are an avid birder there are several must see hot spots in Alaska. One of the most spectacular locations for birding is the Island of St. George in the Pribilofs, where over 3 million sea birds come to nest forming one of the largest colonies of sea birds in the  northern hemisphere! Species you will see include common murres, thick billed murres, tufted and horned puffins, black legged kittywakes, and most of the world’s population of red-legged kittywakes. 

Other notable birding locations include Denali National Park, where you could spot pine grosbeaks, ptarmigan, and northern goshawk; Kenai Fjords, Copper River Delta, and Glacier Bay National Park.  See the National Park Service for more view information. 

Birding locations closer to Anchorage include, points along Turnagain Arm, to Girdwood and Portage Valley, as well as north to Palmer Hay Flats Reservation Area. 

There are also many opportunities to view marine species migrations including grey whales, humpback whales, orcas, and you can even see the federally endangered Cook Inlet population of the beluga whale at points various within Cook Inlet.  Some migrants you can even take home with you if you’re so lucky.  Five species of salmon head up the streams and tributaries to return to the same breeding grounds they were hatched to lay eggs. 

Quite impressively one of the US’s longest terrestrial migrations occurs right here in Alaska without ever leaving the state.  Caribou can travel over 400 miles each year and never make it out of Alaska.  Other Alaskan mammals migrate much shorter distances including the black bear, brown bear, moose, and various small mammals travel back and forth each year between there wintering and summer grounds.  All of these species can be viewed almost anywhere in Alaska, and most of them right in Anchorage, with just a little luck and watchful eye. 

If you’re visiting Alaska during April and May, and beating the great crowds of tourist migration, visit the links below to find out more about where you can be sure to witness some of the world’s most spectacular species in action. 

Alaska Wildlife Migration Links

Krista & Zack are Innkeepers at Alaska House of Jade and are members  Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association