After nine years of marriage, I finally got to meet my husband's family. About a year ago, one of his aunts decided to host a family reunion. Since he hasn't been back to Alaska since leaving 13 years ago, we thought this would be the perfect summer trip for us. We were in Alaska for eight days with the first half of the trip spent with family and the latter half on our own.
While I am friends with most of his family on Facebook, we all know that the person on Facebook and the person face-to-face can be two entirely different people. I'm happy to report that his family was exactly as I expected them to be. They were warm, kind, and welcoming. Meeting them was super easy and it felt like I had known many of them forever. I cannot get over how much I laughed during those four days. There was one particular story about a toilet seat that still has me chuckling.
Fairbanks, with a population of about 32,000, is surprisingly non-dairy friendly. There were two breakfast places that made a huge impression on me. The first was the Little Owl Cafe. Everything in the restaurant is gluten-free and many of the items can be made vegan. I had a glorious vegan Belgium waffle with coconut whipped cream that was totally worth the sugar headache. It was a huge portion that I was able to share with Mr. Smith and my father-in-law.
The second place was LUNCH Cafe and Eatery. I almost cried when the cashier told me that the entire restaurant is dairy-free. I could safely eat anything from the menu. I ended up having the Florentine eggs benedict. It was perfection. I shared both of these places with my family and I hope that they try them out.
After the reunion, we drove to Anchorage as Mr. Smith wanted to show me around where he grew up. We spent two nights there. It was neat getting to see where he lived as a kid and where he went to elementary and middle school. We also went to the Alaska Zoo and got to see several types of bears, including a couple of cubs in the nursery. On the morning we left Anchorage, we had breakfast at the Snow Owl Cafe. It was wonderfully vegan-friendly (i.e., no dairy). I had the veggie bypass that was essentially a bunch of veggies on top of hashbrowns. Yummy!
Then we ended our trip with one night each in Seward and the Kenai Peninsula. We took a beautiful two-hour drive along the coast to Seward. I can see why people fall in love with Alaska based on this drive. We went to the Seward SeaLife Center and enjoyed walking through the aquarium. In Kenai, we had dinner with Mr. Smith's dad. It was good to finally meet him after all of these years.