Hello Alaska!

“The Last Frontier” has welcomed three Region 8-ers from the lower 48. Region Chair Judi Haskins, 2013 Conference Co-Chair Nicole Kent and I are in Anchorage this week to meet with Anchorage-based Conference Co-Chair Linda Morgan and other Alaska members who’ve expressed interest in serving on the planning committee. Our on-site planning meeting (with teleconference options for those not present) will continue the efforts started in Portland that will culminate in 2013 Region 8 conference. (If you haven’t already, mark those calendars: April 29-May 1, 2013!)

Nicole and I flew in today. Judi, very wisely, came in a couple of days ago and, between work meetings, has already taken advantage of the outdoor opportunities provided by this majestic state: hiking, whale watching and glacier cruises. After dropping off our luggage, Nicole and I explored downtown Anchorage, primarily driven by two instincts: lunch and souvenir shopping. (This is a good time to mention, as we often love to do on this blog, that there is no sales tax in Alaska!)

I am on the usual quest to add to my hubby’s magnet collection. Nicole was more zen about the process: she’s scoping out the options and will come back later with a shopping game plan. Something I noted immediately: the packaged sausages in the tourist shops are actually made from beef and pork with “reindeer meat added.” Not sure how I feel about that. Whatever it tastes like, I’ve been told by multiple people that I have to try and bring back reindeer sausage. We walked by a hot dog stand that sold reindeer hot dogs, but it was already post-lunch and we were full. A missed opportunity…

The weather…well…it’s a matter of perspective. When Nicole and I left Oregon, it was headed for another 80-degree day. It got to the mid-50s this afternoon. She and I were bundled up and felt really out of place when we walked by a lady on her cellphone telling someone she’s wearing a sundress (which she was!) and was soaking in the sun. After the rough winter they’ve had (record cold record snowfall in some areas), 50-degrees was practically tropical. For us…well, we were a tad cold. I wonder how Judi felt, having survived her own Montana winter.

Tomorrow…poor us…we get to meet puppies. Yes, no kidding. We’re headed to the Martin Buser kennels. Yes, it’s a tough gig but someone has to do it. You think those hospitality handouts write themselves? (Well, actually, they’re usually written by committee members familiar with the area but how can you expect us to pass up a chance to meet Iditarod-caliber dogs?)

The trip is not all fun and games (although planning a conference can be fun, right Team Portland?). In all, Judi, Nicole and I will probably visit 3-4 hotels and 4-5 tourist attractions while we are here. All in the name of research.

Pictures? Yes, some will be posted soon. More will likely appear on the Facebook page quicker. Judi already has a head-start on that.

More to come from “The Last Frontier…”

~ Sally Garner, Communications Coordinator

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