Spring is here! Time for upgrades and enhancements!

Another spring is upon us here in Alaska and we’re preparing for a busy visitor’s season.  We have a long list of things we’re working on, which includes upgrades to the TVs and DVD players in all the cabins and rooms, and a new enclosed stairwell for the Heron Roost building.  These are the things we planned on, but in the middle of April we were given a software project we hadn’t planned on!

You probably know if you’ve inquired, or booked with us, we have several website forms we use.  We had two different inquiry forms on our Angels Rest on Resurrection website, and a separate secure (https:) site called “Actually Alaskan” (actuallyalaskan.com) where we had our reservation form. The reservation form is a 2 page form, for added security for our guests.

On April 18 we received just page 2 from someone’s reservation. Later that day we received several notes from guests indicating that they had finalized their reservation…..but we didn’t receive the submissions. This prompted us to do some testing, only to discover that the forms were not working!  Shocked, and a bit panicked, we called GoDaddy, our website provider.

After over an hour on the phone, the technician claimed he had solved the problem. We received his test submissions, so we went to sleep that Friday night thinking they fixed the problem.

The next morning however, when there were no inquiries or reservations, we did some more testing.  Both websites, all the forms, on both failed to work!

Several hours later GoDaddy told us that they had applied a patch to their Website Tonight software that had caused all my forms to stop working!

We’re lucky that Lynda had the time to drop everything else she had planned to work on the websites! (She’s recovering from a shattered femur, so she’s been doing a lot of sitting around anyway! LOL)Screen Shot Angels Rest Secure Booking Site

So, in addition to the upgrades and enhancements we had planned, we now have a brand new secure website for both inquires and reservations!

 

Check out: https://www.actuallyalaskanlodging.com!  We hope you like the design! We’ll be redesigning our main website, angelsrest.com to match this design. This new website should work well from both computers and mobile devices!

Thank you Dear Reader!

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Namaste’

From Deacon Row to Beach Drive, We’ve Come a Long Way!

Looking South from Angels Rest towards Border Avenue

Looking South from Angels Rest towards Border Avenue

In 1997, when I bought the land for Angels Rest on Lowell Point, it was known and identified by the Lot and Block numbers. There were no real road names, and the dirt two-lane track that divided the east and west side of the lots was a right-of-way. “Deacon” after the homesteader that subdivided the land and eventually sold the lots off.

Since I purchased my land, there have been upgrades made to the two-track dirt right of way, turning it into a gravel road.  When Emergency Services and 911 reached our remote part of the world in the early 2000’s, we went from giving directions such as “past the large rock next to the bent spruce” to road names with street address numbers!

Looking from the very north end of Beach Drive, looking south

Looking from the very north end of Beach Drive, looking south

Beach Drive is often subject to flooding particularly during winter and spring months when the ground is frozen, and it rains.  Sometimes the puddles would be so deep small cars could not drive through them.  Over the years, my husband and I have attended several Road Board meetings, with our photos of the problems and requests for improvements. Other neighbors took up the torch after we got tired of local politics and with much perseverance and diligence, and years of waiting, we have finally been rewarded.

This late spring and spilling into June (our apologies to guests who suffered through the process), our local contractor Metco worked for several weeks on the improvements to Beach Drive, which included a lot of ditching, placing of culverts and installing a special drain system to allow the road run-off to run into the bay without the road taking on ocean water. Then they raised the road surface and topped it with fresh gravel.

The result is a beautiful wide thoroughfare all the way from the corner at Border Avenue to the north end of Beach Drive.  We haven’t solved the problem of the north end of Beach Drive not having a cul-de-sac, but the owner of the land to the north, “Silver Derby Campground” has allowed their driveway to connect to the north end of Beach Drive, so instead of having turn around, as in years past, you can make the loop and you end up back at Lowell Point Road just south of the bridge that crosses Spruce Creek.

Beach Drive from corner at Border Avenue

Beach Drive from corner at Border Avenue; Angels Rest is 700 feet to north of this corner

For those of you who have already visited, you’ll really see the difference in this last photo.  In the past, folks would be often be confused when they would turn the corner onto Beach Drive and it would seem as if the road had disappeared into a parking lot.  These most recent improvements have helped to clarify the road and has really opened up the corner and given traffic a way to flow. It’s very exciting!

We’re grateful to the Kenai Peninsula Borough for securing the funding for the project and for coordinating and implementing it; and to Metco for doing such great work!

 

Chinook’s Bar ~ Where great food and great views meet

View from Chinooks Downstairs Dining Room

View from Chinooks Downstairs Dining Room

Chinook’s  Waterfront Restaurant is now Chinook’s Bar. Located in the Seward Small Boat Harbor, for the first time in many years this establishment has been open throughout the winter.  Last summer when our housekeeping staff and I would lunch out, the girls favorite place to eat was Chinooks.  It  was their favorite for the setting and large windows; and because there were two large flat screens that had a movie of Alaska wildlife and scenery.

We thought, after hearing positive reviews from locals this winter, we would have a Friday night out, and try a meal at Chinooks. We didn’t realize it had become more bar than restaurant.

Our seats are on the lower level in the dining area with the windows looking out over the harbor.  We didn’t get a window seat, since it was rather crowded when we arrived, even though it was just 5:30 p.m. To reach our table, we had to walk through the bar, between two bar areas with people drinking. There wasn’t any other way to get where we were going. There are other seats to the right that you can get to without having to walk through the bar, without as good a view. In summer, if the 2nd floor dining area is open, it has an extraordinary view. They have removed the flat screens from the lower dining room; the girls would be sad. The ambiance is much more bar like than restaurant now. Not sure what the upstairs atmosphere will be like.

As far as the meal, I will start by saying, my preference if for people to stop messing around trying to “mix it up” or spice it up, or whatever the new 21st century cuisine is trying to do.  I couldn’t even wrap my head around some of the descriptions of things on the menu. I suspect the reason for some of this new “cuisine” is that chemicals, additives, artificial flavoring and the ubiquitous “natural” flavoring have ruined most people’s taste buds. People can’t taste normally anymore, so they must have, what I can only call “weird” combinations. My husband and I, eat organically when possible; and avoid at all costs chemicals, additives and packaged products.

We were looking forward to fresh Halibut! Seriously! April is when they start fishing for Halibut, and we haven’t gone out fishing yet. There is nothing so delicious as a piece of well prepared, fresh, Halibut! A nice grilled fillet, or perhaps some fresh halibut fish & chips. We both love halibut, and were so looking forward to a great meal of it.

Photo Apr 18, 7 49 36 PM

Halibut BLT

I should warn you, we are a couple of old fogies when it comes to eating out! We like nice straight forward, well prepared and seasoned meal. We don’t care for a lot of show or unusual flavor combinations. The menus came and our waitress took our beverage order. We both ordered ginger ale.  None of the appetizers sounded appealing to us. Well, that’s no big deal, we didn’t really need them. 😉 On to dinner:  the Dinner Special was Halibut wrapped in prosciutto. The Halibut sandwich was a halibut BLT.  The very last thing I wanted was my halibut wrapped in bacon. I gave up and ordered the chicken sandwich instead.Paul ordered the halibut BLT, thinking he would just take the bacon off.

The drinks came. When someone orders Ginger Ale and you intend to serve them Vernor’s, you should tell them. I was expecting a Canada Dry style. It’s ok, we  can both drink it; it  just would have been nice to know. I might have ordered Sprite or 7-UP instead. I had started out with one of those, then thought of the ginger ale as a nice alternative. We don’t drink soda on a regular basis, so it’s like a splurge.

Our food arrived after a while. It was busy. My chicken sandwich came with a nice, but cold, ciabatta bun. There was a nice handful of small leaf lettuce and a couple of slices of tomato.  I rarely eat a sandwich by hand. I prefer eating the protein and veggies with my silverware; I dislike wasting the bun, but I’ve learned that cooks don’t like special orders of “hold the bun.”

Both sandwiches had a “sauce” or condiment on the bottom bun. This is a twofold problem.  For people who eat their sandwiches the way I do, we miss out on the sauce because it’s mostly soaked into the bottom bun.  For people who pick their sandwiches up, the sauce has made the bottom bun soft and mushy. Eventually, it falls apart; most likely, long before the person finishes eating.  They end up like me, with their silverware.

Chicken Sandwich

Chicken Sandwich

Paul’s halibut BLT didn’t come on a ciabatta bun, but instead came on what appeared as a better than average, plain, un-toasted, hamburger bun. The sauce had the predicted effect on his bun.

Both sandwiches had bacon, totally different from each other; both thick cut. We were given a choice of sweet potato fries or just potato. I didn’t realize I could have had a side salad instead of fries; I might have done that. I liked the style of potato fries although I would prefer a darker crisper fry. These aren’t my favorite sweet potato fries, but I liked them ok.

We had time to kill, so we tried some dessert. A slice of flour-less chocolate cake, and a slice of goat-cheese lemon cheesecake.  (I forgot to take photos!) We were not informed by our wait-person that the desserts are made on site, but have heard since that they do make their desserts, which is rare for Seward, especially in April!  There was no goat-cheese flavor, it was just a light lemon cheesecake. The chocolate cake was quite dense and intense. They were both fine.

We don’t eat out a lot. We were just looking for a good, simple meal. We don’t need the scenery since we live here. We have no idea what’s at the bar; we don’t drink.

Look at the menu when you get there, or here if you’re planning head.  If you see things that look good to you, go for it. The view from the dining rooms is awesome, the windows quite large and clean. The food was fine. The service was good. 🙂

Thank you Dear Reader,
With Great Love, Namaste’
❤ LAMP ❤

P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!

P.P.S. Any pepper or salt you see in the photos, we added. I almost forgot to take photos; luckily I caught us before we’d cut into things! 🙂

Spring’s Struggle with Old Man Winter

April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013

April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

Our days are growing longer by almost 6 minutes a day and we’re close approaching that time of year in Alaska, when it’s light out when we get up, light out when we go to bed, and light most of the time we’re sleeping. The long days of sunshine warm the ground. These are the predictable aspects of spring. The atmosphere that wraps around the Planet Earth, and results in the weather, is as unpredictable as the wildest tiger! Mother Nature is whimsical or has become more whimsical as the years have passed, I’m not sure.

Everyone seems to agree that the groundhog, who predicted an early spring, was badly mistaken this year. Although the Seward Highway is remarkably clear of pack ice, road damage and frost heaves are more plentiful this year. The seemingly constant snow is melting off the highway quickly, and long days make a round trip to Anchorage easily possible. Time to start stocking up for summer! Just a short month till our summer staff arrives!

Thank you Dear Reader,
With Great Love, Namaste’
❤ LAMP ❤

P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!

Summit Lake Lodge Dining Review

Summit Lake Restaurant Entrance

I thought this post published months ago, so I apologize for the delay!  Summer season took over!! I’m getting ready to publish a post about the Humpback whales that have been frequenting Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords; and as a byproduct discovered several unpublished articles!

Back on May 25, 2010 my husband and I made a quick trip to Anchorage. As we passed through Summit, we noticed that Summit Lake Lodge was open and sporting a “New Menu” sign. We wondered if that meant the lodge, which has been for sale for a number of years, had finally gotten some new owners. (We’ve since asked around and have been told that no, it’s still same owners.)

When, on our return trip, it timed out well for us to stop for lunch on the way home, we paused to debate our options. We were hungry, but as my husband pointed out, if we waited another 45 minutes, we could eat at the Smoke Shack – hands down, the BEST meals in Seward or maybe anywhere (see my review in an earlier post).

Wanting to give Summit Lake Lodge a chance, knowing that no matter what, it would be good fodder for a blog post we stopped.

We were seated in the “lower” dining room, at a window table (where we enjoyed watching the swallows who were numerous, and busy nest building.) The dining room had a clean feel (unlike a greasy spoon in Soldotna that I once ate ate, where the hanging lamps were dust encrusted.) This was a pleasant environment, and the setting outside by the lake is charming.

I’d neglected to bring my Blackberry so I didn’t get any photos of our meals. They were pretty enough, and arrived quickly (too quickly). Sadly, neither was good, and both had been pre-made. My husband had the
Club sandwich, which was made with three thick slices of bread and little else. My husband loves bread and eats quite a bit each day, but it was too much for him even – overpowering; he ended up pulling the middle layer out. My Black and Blue salad sounded great in the description, but failed to live up to the menu in ingredients and preparation. The blackened chicken wasn’t blackened (it was spiced in some way), and it hadn’t been cooked recently. The blue cheese and other ingredients, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, were conspicuously missing. There were maybe 3 flakes of diced tomato on this salad, and I had to look hard to find them.

We saw some other meals go by. The fish and chips looked good but a small portion of fish. The cole slaw looked like it might have been ok (but not homemade).

It is a lovely setting, and if it’s a nice day, don’t stop for a meal, but instead, visit their out building (not pictured) where they serve coffee and ice cream. Ice cream is always is a good choice. 🙂

Summit Lake as seen from the Lodge parking area

You can’t go wrong with ice cream 🙂 Save your money for a meal at the Smoke Shack (see previous post) or Salmon Bake (review forthcoming).

Lowell Point Road Is OPEN!

Phase 1 of the City of Seward’s Lowell Point Electrical Upgrade project is now complete, so the daily road closures are over! Phases 2 and 3 of this project remain, but impact on road traffic will be (better be!) minimal from here on out.

Last post about this project I called it “Classic” and it has lived up to that title thus far. First, the notice announced work would begin on Monday 3/29/10 at 8am. Residents were quite angry to discover, after making arrangements to deal with a closed road – Monday 3/29 was an Alaska State Holiday, so of course no City work would be conducted. Tuesday, 3/30 crews started promptly at 8am. Since we were promised passage when they were working in a wide section of the road, and they were working in a wide section, residents were further angered when traffic was not allowed to pass. When I called to find out what was going on, and pointed out that it was only the 1st or 2nd day and “it’s already getting ugly,” I was met with agreement and promised a phone call once the problem was identified.

The follow-up call marked the beginning of a month-long series of conversations that would include “Welllllll, we can’t let traffic by because _________” (fill in the blank). They may have put in writing that they would accommodate traffic whenever they could – but in reality, they never would, even when they could! (It didn’t help that at some point during the project, rather early on, someone (a local, most likely a neighbor) pushed too hard to get by, thereby ruining all chances for accommodation, for everyone.)

Work continued that first week till the excavator broke. That repair took a day and a half, so we lucked out and the road was passable while we waited. Several times that first week I went to “get in line” at 4:45pm to go to town only to discover the crews were already gone. How frustrating that was to have postponed errands and appointments and then to discover that the road had been passable! For how long, we had no clue.

At the end of the first week they were proud of their work – all 2 1/2 days worth. The second week they ran out of parts, so work ceased. Then, on Good Friday, parts in hand, when the rest of our country has knocked off at noon, these folks worked right up to and even a few minutes after 5pm. They worked 3 1/2 days the second week.

So the project went. Locals and visitors, customers and residents all put up with the disruption, every day watching them move closer to what was clearly the wide section, looking forward to them keeping their word of allowing passage.

At the end of the 3rd week they’d almost reached the indisputably “wide” section of the road, and they’d be out of the City limits, so out of their jurisdiction. Everyone expected some accommodation of traffic.  When I called to discuss the coming week’s schedule because of our busy customer schedule, I heard the most infernal and annoying “Weeellllll we can’t because ______”  list of excuses. I’m sure the guy has been to a seminar on “How to Blow Off the Public in 3 Easy Lessons.” Ironically, the next day they had to quit work for the day (week) because they ran into “a problem.”

We want to thank all our customers who, all with great cheer, accommodated the recent treatment of the City of Seward Electric Department.  We had customers forced to leave at 8am because they did not have the liberty of staying till Noon (we offered).  We had others, who were road weary and anxious to arrive, only to discover they could not check in at 4pm as planned. Stay-over guests had to adapt their schedules, going to town at Noon and then having to rush to get back by 1pm or being forced to stay in town till 5pm.

We were to be “in the know” but after the first two weeks communication was rare and the last week, non-existent. We pleaded on behalf of all our customers for a 10am opening that last week. We were ignored.  We’re thankful that this phase of the project is over.

The remaining phases involve pulling the wire though the cable and vaults they just buried, then connecting the new wire to power. Both phases are delayed till further notice as they wait for the wire.  Once the wire arrives, the pulling of the wire will involve opening up each of the 8 vaults that they buried, which may (will) involve some road work.  Given that we are almost into peak Visitor Season, there is every expectation that traffic will have to be accommodated and allowed to pass in some kind of intervals. Once that part of the project is complete we will have to brace ourselves for power outages; we’re hopeful that will be insignificantly disruptive.

Thank you Dear Reader, till next time!

P.s. We welcome your comments and questions (the link is at the top)

Lowell Point’s “Classic” Electrical Project

Road Closed Sign at City end of Lowell Point Road

The City of Seward’s Electrical Department is desperate to replace the underground cable that feeds Lowell Point its power. Currently, there is a single 3-wire line feeding power to Lowell Point; only 1 of the 3 legs of that wire is working. Should that last wire fail, all power to Lowell Point would be lost. At first blush, to hear the folks from the Electric Dept. speak of their high level of concern, one might think of them as altruistic, caring so about the power failing for the residents and businesses of Lowell Point. The way the City of Seward has treated us though, begs the question-who are they really doing this for? We all understand how important this project is, but the wanton disregard for the residents, customers, service providers, and vendors of Lowell Point in the planning and scheduling of the project has been a slap in the face. The Public Notice about the Road Closure is anything but considerate or caring, of anyone but themselves. No consideration was given to the elderly resident requiring a constant supply of  oxygen, to the school children, to trash collection, or the requirements of several businesses, ours included, that rely on Lowell Point Road for access. As one outraged neighbor pointed out, their interest in getting the job done is more likely self-serving: The City of Seward’s septic pond sits on Lowell Point.

Excavator and other City Equipment

In any event, this work is now being tackled by the City’s Electrical Department. The Public Notice  (and small white signs on the Road Closed sign) states that Lowell Point Road will be closed Mon through Sat from 8:00 am to Noon and from 1:00 to 5:00pm. It goes on to state that the work will continue for as long as 2 months and will also include power outages.

Since the Public Notice was first issued we have received some concessions. If the City keeps its word, all things considered, these concessions should keep the project from having much impact on visitors to Lowell Point, and Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, LLC customers.

According to the head of the department, the only time the road closure will really be restricted to 8-12 and 1-5 are the times when the crew is working in a narrow section of the road. There are several spots that are really one lane, but the majority of Lowell Point Road is 2 lanes, and we’ve been promised that when work is occurring in the wider sections of the road, traffic will be allowed to pass. You may have to wait a few minutes, but a little patience should be all that’s necessary.

PLEASE NOTE: They have not funded a flagger or road crew for this project. So, regardless of where they are working, they are going to have the “Road Closed” signs displayed. Those “in the know” will know whether it’s possible to get past, or if it will be necessary to wait for the Noon opening or end of day.

We hope to be “in the know” at all times, and will keep our Twitter feed (subscribe to receive our tweets), Facebook status feed (become a fan to receive notices), and this Blog up to date (search for Travel Alerts to find the most recent post or subscribe to be notified of new posts). We’re also normally just a phone call away.

After the first week, “Classic” is a fitting word to describe the project. They said work would begin on Monday 3/29; but that was an Alaska holiday, so they didn’t work. Tuesday they were not in a narrow section of the road, so many were surprised to discover they could not pass. Crews were trenching across the road, and had failed to mention that as another reason to restrict traffic flow. Wednesday they didn’t work at all because the “vaults” they are installing hadn’t arrived. Thursday they worked part of the day, till the excavator broke down. Friday they started late because they had to repair the excavator. Then, even though it was Good Friday, they worked till end of day.

Looking North at the excavator and other equipment

Crews are not working Saturdays at this time. They’ve asked to reserve the last 2 Saturdays in April as possible work days, but we won’t know about that till we’re closer in time. If they’re not in a narrow part of the road there should be little impact, even on Saturdays.

There are numerous other options in place to make getting back and forth to town easier should folks need them. There is free parking at the North end of Lowell Point Road and also in the boat harbor. Folks can leave their cars and walk or water taxi, or bike. Although the City has been asked to fund water taxis, at this time all they’ve agreed to do is waive the $3.50 port fee.

We’re hopeful this project will proceed smoothly and disruption to our guests will be minimal. We’re monitoring the situation daily and will help our guests in whatever ways we can to minimize the disruption of schedules. For example, on a day where the closure will be strict, we’ll extend check-out times till Noon. We will also allow early check-ins if possible (this is only possible if the unit was unoccupied the night before).

Regarding the days with power outages, at this time those days are not scheduled. We’ve been told the disruptions will be minimal. We’re hopeful that’s accurate.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this work by the City of Seward may cause our guests, visitors, staff, suppliers, and vendors. Please don’t hesitate contacting us for up to date information!