Day 2: Hiking Lake Byers

After arriving at Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the bar and prepared for our afternoon hike. 

McKinley Princess Lodge is beautiful! It’s unique for many ways. For one, it can show you one of the greatest views of Denali. However, only an estimate 40% of the guests will see it because of the pesky clouds it almost constantly hides behind. Denali stands at 20,320 ft, so it is hard to miss. With so many surrounding foothills and peaks within view, and all of us so eager to lay eyes on it, we thought we saw Denali a couple times.  However, we were told, “If you are unsure if you are looking at it, it’s not Denali.”  In addition to a traditional “Wake-up Call”, the lodge offers a “Mountain Call”. Someone is always on the look for the mountain, and when it comes into view, they will call all the rooms so you can get a chance to view the peak! We didn’t get a chance to see the peak while at the lodge, but it showed itself to us in the near future.  

McKinely Princess Lodge Night View

Mt. McKinley hiding behind the clouds

Another way its super unique is Princess Cruises created these lodges to expand their business onto the land before or after cruises. The lodges are only in operation from May through September.During the season (May-September) Princess employees and houses about 2,000 employees.  On September 21st, the employees drop to 30. Just a couple people at each lodge to stay back and make sure all is well…..AKA The Shining. NO THANKS. There are entire towns in function because of the lodges.  Signs on the road ways say “All Services May-Sept, 2 Miles Ahead”. People bring their RVs and park them behind the coffee shops, gift shops, ice cream parlors, gas stations, and live there for 4 months, working in the shops all day before returning home during the off-season. 

One thing I love about the summer months in Alaska is the length of the days due to the crazy amount of sunlight.  The sun rises around 4am and sets around 11pm. We were able to go on an evening hike from 2-8 pm around Lake Byers. I was originally not interested in hiking with a tour guide, but he was truly awesome. First, he prepared us with all the proper gear, equipping us with rain coats, pants, boot covers, hiking poles, hats, and anything we needed.  I opted for the rain pants, and am very glad I did, walking the brush and mud, I would have ended up incredibly wet and muddy.  

Lake Byers Alaska

Our guides name was Will, and he was extremely knowledgable.  I learned a lot while hiking 5-6 hours with him. The trails were lined with wild blueberry plants.  They were delicious, and we ate copious amount along the way.  Another plant we learned about was called the wild cucumber.  It looks like a little reddish-pink jelly bean hanging from some leaves. Its squishy.  It tastes like the perfect combination of watermelon and cucumber.  Refreshing! 

DSCN2254

Lake Byers is a salmon spawning area.  We saw all sorts of salmon in different parts of their life cycle. We learned a lot about the plants, birds, fish and wildlife during the hike. It was a beautiful day with only minimal rain, a short 5-10 minute drizzle towards the very end. 

DSCN2232

This entire bridge is tilted at least 30 degrees to the right. Its extremely sketchy!

DSCN2253 DSCN2224

After the hike, we had dinner at the Lodge Restaurant, aptly named Twenty Three Twenty (20,320) which is the height of Denali. We had some great laughs during that dinner. My dad and I were crying over the silliest things. I think we were becoming delirious because of too much oxygen, not enough sleep, time zone change, and good beers. After our late dinner, we got ready for the next day!

xo R

 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes, BITCH.

This weekend, I attended a Blueberry Festival and now have a quart of blueberries to use!

That means ALL DA BLUEBERRY PANCAKES! This is a great recipe for just two people, and we each got two decent sized fluffy pancakes! (Four Pancakes Total)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

RECIPE:

  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Milk (we use 1%, but you can substitute with your favorite)
  • Blueberries, HOWEVER MUCH YOU WANT! See photos to see how much I used :)
  • Butter ( appx 1 Tbsp total) for after flipping, coating pan optional
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray for coating pan

 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsINSTRUCTIONS

Heat pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with butter, depending on how fat you want to be today.

Combine Dry Ingredients (Whole Wheat Flour & Baking Powder)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsMix in wet ingredients (Milk & Egg).  If it is too water-y, add a dash more flour until you’ve reached desired consistency. If it is too thick, add a dash more milk until you’ve reached desired consistency. Then just mix that shit up a couple times, don’t go crazy…you ….crazy people.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

Pour some of that goop into a pan and plop some blueberries in it right away!

I’m a crazy person and prefer every bite I take to be consistent, so I prefer to plop blueberries into pancakes rather than into the batter so that I know I’m getting even distribution. Yeah, I know…..I’m a crazy person. Do what makes your heart happy!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsFlip that shit, LIKE A PRO, no excuses. Then put a little bit a butter on top.  Every stove is different, so just test/check the readiness using your spatula around the edges and taking a peek underneath!

This picture shows more butter than I ever use, but it was extra delicious. #fatday

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

Stack on a plate, add some syrup of your choice! This would obviously go even more delicious with a blueberry syrup, but I just use whatever we have on hand, which happened to be some good ole Log Cabin made with no High Fructose Corn Syrup.

My boyfriend was spawned from the devil and doesn’t use syrup.  I don’t know why we are together sometimes. He clearly doesn’t have his priorities in line ;-)

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancake IngredientsWhole Wheat Blueberry Pancake Ingredients

 

Let me know how you like them.  Did you make an substitutes? How did they turn out?

R

Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival!

Blueberry Festival

Yesterday, T and I went to the Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival!  I’ve been planning to go for the last 6 weeks and somehow forgot about it until we drove past it on our way grocery shopping. So we made a 2 hour pitstop to get the full experience!

The festival had:

  • Tasting Tent
  • Three stages providing various entertainment
  • Craft Tents
  • Food
  • Produce
  • Pony Rides & Petting Zoo
  • & the Bethlehem Township Mounted Police

The Tasting Tent featured 6 companies providing Beer, Wine & Mead of different varieties all crafted locally. This
“Pints from the Past” Tasting Tent included The Colony Meadery (made from fermenting honey!), Pinnacle Ridge Winery, Brew Works (a local and regional favorite), Funk Brewing (taproom opening soon in Emmaus, PA, very exciting!), and Frecon’s Cidery.

Blueberry Festival Tasting Tent Historic Bethlehem

The Colony Meadery provided a very large variety of meads to sample.  My favorite was Mo-Me-Doh, as it’s name hints, it is like a Mead Mojito and had hints of mint and lime! Very delicious.  This was my first time sampling mead and I’m hooked!  Sweet to the taste, full of flavor that hangs in your mouth, more viscous than a wine or beer.

The Pinnacle Ridge Winery also had a large variety of wines to sample.  I love Rieslings, so I sampled their award winning recipe.  It was more tart than I was expecting, reminding me more of a Gewürztraminer, which I still love :)  I also tried “Niagara” which reminded me of Welch’s White Grape Juice. It was sweet and delicious!

20140719_170614

Brew Works had their thematic Blueberry Belch on tap. One of my personal favorites.  It’s light and refreshing and a great summer fruit beer. They make each 15 barrel batch with 150 pounds of 100% real fruit!  It’s definitely noticeable and makes a real difference compared to breweries that use artificial crap.  This unfiltered wheat ale is one to try!  I highly recommend it!

Blueberry Festival Samples Historic Bethlehem

I was expecting more for the Entrance Fee w/ Tasting Tent @ $15/person.  The website made it seem there would be food for sampling and more breweries than the 6 they had.  The Tasting Tent was the highlight, without it, the Blueberry Festival would have been a bust for us.

Overall, we had a great time, ran into some great friends, tasted some great beer, wine & mead, and spent a beautiful day outside!  We also walked away with a quart of blueberries!  Follow me to be notified when I post some awesome recipes featuring blueberries this week :-)

Burnside Plantation Historic Bethlehem Blueberry Festival