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Alaska, The Last Frontier

June 25th, 2008 Posted in Stef Ann Holm Blog by Stef Ann

So I haven’t blogged lately.  Out of town again.  Went on a cruise through Alaska and loved it.  I’ve never done a cruise before.  I wondered if I’d get seasick.  One night we had rough seas, rocking the ship like a cradle.  I didn’t even realize it in my sleep.  I woke up to use the restroom and my hubby told me to be careful walking.  I figured out real quick that I was being knocked into the wall.  Never felt queasy.  This is a good thing! 

We were on the Regent Seven Seas, a fabulous ship.  I kept calling it a boat.  Oops.  We flew to Vancouver, BC and sailed with seventeen other couples my husband knows from work.  What nice folks!  Our first day was spent at sea, and the company faked Greg and the guys out by saying there was a “meeting” when in fact, the men spent the morning cooking with the ship’s chefs a la “Iron Chef.”  My hubby’s team won!  Gotta love the outfits they all wore.  I’m feeling those dew-rags. 

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We docked in Ketchican first.  Lovely town.  Very green, colorful.  Lots of shops.  I didn’t know this, but the shipping companies own most of the stores.  Very odd.  We were told do not buy from the shops that aren’t locals. 

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We took a float plane ride over the fjords.  Our pilot landed on a pristine lake and told us to get out and walk on the floats.  Hello?!  We did . . . great photo, but I was standing on aluminum barely a foot wide.  One slip, and into the frigid water we go.

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The next day we traveled through narrow passages with icebergs.  I didn’t know this, but only 1/9 of an iceberg is visible on the surface.  The rest is under water.  Also, there are more bald eagles in Alaska than any other place.  I love this photo as it shows the eagles on the iceberg.  And icebergs aren’t white.  Many are this artic blue.  The water is so dense, so compacted and frozen, it turns this color. 

Next port was Juneau.  We found the candy shop and loaded up on fudge, chocolate bark, peanut brittle, kettlecorn.  I forgot to mention, when you cruise, this is what you do.  Eat and sleep.  And sometimes shop.  And maybe walk in a town.  Other than that, you drink any cocktail you feel like–all included, eat any time of day, whatever you want.  It’s ridiculous how much food is at your beck and call.

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This is the Regent in the Juneau port.  This photo was taken from another float plane trip.

One of my favorite towns was Skagway because of its historical flavor.  We took the “Ladies of the Evening” tour to get the history of working girls in Alaska.  We also took a street car tour.  This building is unique in the regard that it has more driftwood on the outside than any other known building. 

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For beauty, and totally untouched splendor, non-touristy–Sitka.  Hands down.  Would love to go back and vacation there.  This town was so quaint.  The cruise ships can’t dock there (all passengers are taken ashore on the tenders), thus, the shops are locally owned and operated.  I bought a funny painting for my kitchen.  Everything in the picture is “Alaskan”.   I love it.

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The second to last day, our captain piloted the ship to the Hubbard Glacier.  Words can’t begin to describe this wonder.  We sailed through ice so thick, you couldn’t see the water.  At one point, a berg scraped the hull, leaving paint on the berg, and we sent the tender boat out to check for damages.  This is us with the glacier in the background.

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This was a truly fabulous trip.  I loved it.  I’d do a cruise again.  Only next time–some place warmer!  Brrr. . . .


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A Chef's Affair

June 10th, 2008 Posted in Stef Ann Holm Blog by Stef Ann

Boise has some pretty good fund-raisers.  I’ve been to several now, one even at the Governor’s Ranch.  The latest one my hubby and I attented was the Chef’s Affair at the Boise Centre on the Grove.  I’d wanted to do this one because I love to cook and I like Tyler Florence even more.  He was the celebrity chef for the event.  Since the evening was black tie–we got spiffed up and went to the small gathering of “fans” to see Tyler cook for us.  What a fabulous hour and a half!  We learned how to make some really good things.  When I try them, I’ll post the recipes and share.  I bought Tyler’s book and had him autograph it to me.  I rarely get an autographed book from someone since I do that for my job, and meeting most writers–well, they’re my friends anyway.  But this was quite exciting to have Tyler sign my cookbook for me. 

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We enjoyed a five course meal made by Idaho’s top chef’s.  Oddly enough–my favorite selection was the “pork belly.”  I know–major yuck-factor, but it actually won the audience award for favorite entree.  The evening raised quite a lot of money for the Idaho Food Bank.  I am amazed, and proud, of how Boise steps up to the plate and takes care of things when they are needed.  My husband got into quite the lively bidding–with the “female” auctioneer coaxing him on.  Too funny.

Coming soon:

Tyler’s recipe for skirt steak and homemade onion rings.  Oh–and a strawberry shortcake that looked to die for!


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Aloha and Mahalo

June 2nd, 2008 Posted in Stef Ann Holm Blog by Stef Ann

So we went to the Big Island to celebrate our one year anniversary.  I’ve been to Maui, Kauai, and Oahu–so this was a new adventure.  The island is very dry on the Kona Coast where we stayed, but we found lots to do.  We arrived and it was late, so no time for checking out the property of the Four Seasons.  The staff was fabulous and they upgraded us to a suite for our celebration!  The room was gorgeous and they had two dozen red roses for us in a tropical arrangement.  There was also the bouquet I’d had made for my hubby as a welcoming gift.

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The next morning, we sat on the balcony and had this amazing view.  We fed the red birds that came looking for nibbles of the banana bread I baked and brought with.

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That Sunday morning, we went to a church service on the beach and joined the Calvary Chapel.  Pastor Izzy did a beautiful job delivering the Word from Samuel.  From there, we had the best hamburgers ever.  A gecko ran passed my plate!  (We were eating outside.)  This is us at the restaurant.

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 We walked around Kona, did a little shopping.  We laid out at the hotel, had a good dinner, then Monday, we drove to Volcano National Park.  The road was pretty tight and winding.  All I can say is–thank goodness I don’t get motion sickness. 

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This is the site where the volcano is currently flowing lava.  All you see is the gases coming out of this crater, but there is a lava tube that’s flowing into the ocean.  We saw this quite well from our helicopter ride.  The stuff that looks like steam is very harmful to you.  It’s called VOG and unfortunately, if the tradewinds aren’t blowing, you breathe that stuff in. 

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Later that night, we enjoyed our anniversary dinner at the restaurant above on the Four Seasons property.  We had a romantic sunset dinner.

The next day, we took a helicopter ride and saw the volcano from the air.  Here’s part of the lava tube where you can see the red-hot lava.  It was a once in a lifetime chance to see it.  I loved that helicopter ride!  My first time in one.  I may take lessons just to learn how to fly one.  I thought it was awesome.

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We got to fly over Harrison Ford’s house, then our hotel.

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Back on the ground, we took a photo with our pilot–Koji (I’m sure I’m not spelling that right–he was awesome!)

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The next day we rented a Harley and drove up passed Waimea and to the lush coast.  We had reservations to ride ATVs in the forest and go swimming in a waterfall. 

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This was, hands down, the dustiest ATV ride I have ever been on.  On the ride up, on the motorcycle, I kept thinking the VOG was getting to me because I had a tight chest and sore throat.  Yeah well . . . The next day I woke up sick.  Nobody wants to go to paradise and have a sore throat.  I slept most of the day.  Friday–we were due to fly home around noon.  My husband had to take me to the Waimea ER where they confirmed I had strep. 

I’m home now and I’m still not feeling quite 100%.  I’ll be so glad NOT to be sick anymore!

The Hawaii trip was fabulous and fun, packed full of lots of things.  I love that about my hubby–he likes to get up and go, or relax by the pool.  Me–I love to see new things and do all that there is to do while I’m on vacation.  I don’t usually go for the R & R.  But I do enjoy a good meal and a glass of wine at sunset.  That was just heavenly.