So, maybe someday I’ll separate my work blog from my travel blog but in the meantime, they are in the same spot. I absolutely LOVE Alaska and we just returned from another Alaska adventure of a lifetime (destination Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge) and I have to share!

Tutka Bay Lodge (photo I took from the air)

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the greatest countries in the world” John Muir

This trip was one we took with another couple who we’ve been friends with forever, it seems. I call Wendy my travel guru, as she is so great at planning vacations, finding the best restaurants, destinations and hotels. She had called me early fall and asked if we would like to join them for a trip to an exclusive, remote, luxury wilderness lodge called Tutka Bay Lodge ( a National Geographic registered lodge). Of course, we couldn’t pass it up!

I have to do a disclaimer up front on why you will see me in the same shirt in almost every photo. It was the only one I packed that was right for the weather on most days! Had I been in New York, I for sure would have made a few purchases:)

I guess this means that being that I’ve been to Alaska so many times, I’m rugged, breathtaking and untamed 🙂

We’ve been to Alaska twice before, once by way of a Holland America cruise through the inside passage and on another, we flew into Juneau and explored Glacier Bay and took float planes to a magical place called Taku Glacier Lodge. Before continuing about our recent trip, I must mention that flying over 5 glaciers and landing in the water in front of the remote Taku Glacier Lodge and partaking of a salmon feast there was one of the most magical experiences of my life! This trip was a gift from my Dad and Mom to my family and my brothers and their families. Experiencing this with family was a memory that we all will talk about for the rest of our lives. The cruise was first class (highly recommend Holland America for an Alaskan cruise) and our venture into Glacier Bay was a spiritual moment that i go back to time and time again. I can’t explain it. We were the only ship back there (they limit it to 2 a day) and we sat right in front of the glacier. People were absolutely silent and all we could hear was the crashing of ice falling into the ocean and the cries of the osprey. The water was turquoise and clear and pure with pieces of ice floating everywhere. I felt so deeply connected with nature and my God that tears streamed down my face.

At the end of the Tarr Inlet, Glacier Bay, Alaska. The photo does not do it justice.

Anyway, back to the recent trip. This was an opportunity for the men to fish in some of the best waters in the world for halibut and salmon. The plan was to fly into Anchorage, rent a car, drive down the coast all the way to the charming town of Homer (the halibut capital of the world and a trending adventure destination), which overlooks Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. The men were going to do some halibut fishing and then we would leave for the lodge. Then we would drive back to Anchorage, stay the night and head home.


We arrived into Anchorage late, so we stayed at the Alaska House of Jade B & B that night. By the way, I highly recommend this place. Zach and Krista were wonderful hosts and made a beautiful breakfast for us!

Kenai Peninsula

The next day, we drove all the way down the coast on Highway A3 into the Kenai peninsula. This drive is absolutely gorgeous! After commenting every minute on the beauty around us, we realized that it was just going to keep going so we could give the constant comments a rest. We visited the renowned The Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood and ate at a cute little place called The Bake Shop , where the flowers are so gorgeous you have to make sure they’re not fake and everything is homemade (try the cinnamon rolls).

We made lots of little interesting stops along the way and ended up in Cooper Landing at the Kenai Princess Lodge for the night, which is nestled on a hill overlooking the Kenai River. If you stop there, take the little hike right off the parking lot down to the river. There is a phone down at the bottom to call the concierge, as many who make the hike down don’t want to hike back up! This is where I tell you that Ricky, almost 2 decades older than us, kept up with us the entire trip- or rather we kept up with him (my daughter saw him recently and said, “Mom, he looks your age”! I’m glad she didn’t say we look his age)! Down on the river, we saw an eagle catching fish down on the river flying eye level- so cool!

Prior to arriving at the Princess, we hiked down to Virgin Falls. Of course, we had to endure the guys comments about wanting to find the virgins. Gorgeous!

The Virgin Falls, Alaska

No Alaska Adventure is complete without watching the salmon run! The next day, we stopped at the Russian river and fulfilled one of our bucket list items when we watched fly fishermen pulling out salmon left and right. The Russian has to be one of the most beautiful rivers in the world! In addition, there are awesome walking trails beside the river. Next time we’ll bring some poles and try our luck.

Fly fisherman on The Russian River


Along the way through Soldatna, Kasiloff and then Homer, there was gorgeous, shocking- pink Fireweed everywhere.


We checked into another B & B, Halcyon Heights, in Homer. I don’t really know what to say about this place- super interesting and I made my little grandchild Harlee laugh hysterically with some stories about it when we got home. I’m sure it piques your interest for me just to say that in spite of some funny things, I highly recommend it. Juxia, the host, is an incredible cook and ask for Steven’s special coffee 🙂 . We ate at Cafe Cups that evening- one of best restaurants in Homer. Make sure you make a reservation.

The next morning, Kevin and Rick went halibut fishing and Wendy and I explored the beach and the town. The guys fished with North Country Charters and Captain Ben did not disappoint! That night, Pattie at Captain Patties, cooked our fresh halibut family style. The best halibut I’ve ever had! Just hours ago they had been swimming in the cold, cold waters of Alaska.

Wendy and I explored Bishops Beach, which has to be one of the most stunning beaches anywhere! They were enjoying an unusually low tide and we saw all kinds of sea creatures in the tide pools.

Bishops Beach, Homer, AK

We also went to the famous Salty Dawg Saloon on the Spit- fun, crazy place to have a beer and take an instagram with who-knows-how-many dollar bills surrounding you!

Alaska Adventure: Part 2 to come

Then, we headed back to the B & B to pack up and get some rest for the main event the next day, Destination: Tutka Bay Lodge. Join me for the highlight of our Alaska adventure in Part II!


This post is obviously not specifically about the building business but this adventure did include some old homes and structures that were very interesting!

We were at our place up north when picked up a large coffee table book that my Dad had given me 2 months before he passed away, called Ghost Towns of the West. My life was filled with adventure with my father. He loved Arizona and he was a walking historian on everything Arizona. We shared a love for outdoor experiences; such as, motorcycles, jeeps, desert trips, discovering remote Arizona places, harley rides, etc., etc. I was feeling sentimental and wanted to go on an adventure later that day to 2 ghost towns that weren’t too far from where we were; which was Heber, Arizona. I was intrigued by Aripine and Zeniff. Kevin and my Mama are always up for adventure so we set out!

Sidenote: On our way out of town, we stopped at a little drive through espresso place off Hwy 260 called Perky’s Espresso. One of the best latte’s I’ve ever had…chocolatey, strong, smokey and smooth. She uses espresso ice cubes so the iced lattes aren’t diluted- makes all the difference! I don’t do dairy and she didn’t have almond or coconut milk but she made it with Oat milk, which I’de never had but loved.

Then we headed for Aripine. Aripine is in Navajo County, Arizona. It was originally named Joppa and was settled by the Mormons in 1883. The name was, at some point, changed to Aripine; which was derived from the first 3 letters in Arizona and pine (because there are lots of pines in the area). From HWY 260, we hit the FS332, which was a dirt road, and about 30 minutes later we were there. What I would like to learn more about are the homes there that looked well cared for and possibly lived in but yet we didn’t see one soul…or ghost, I should say, not one car, etc. The most interesting structure here was a charming stone house with a metal roof and some silos.

Then we headed to Zeniff, located about 15 miles south of Holbrook. We inadvertently took a wrong turn and ended up in an area that was super remote with thick undergrowth. We were joking that people could go back there and never be found again when the most amazing property appeared right in front of us. It was a 25 acre ranch that was for sale for $1,450,000.00 – right in the middle of nowhere!

Then we got back on track and were on our way to Zeniff. We saw a grave marker off the road and stopped to pay our respects to Mr. Larry Grant.

The GPS said we had arrived in Zeniff but there wasn’t really anything to signify that we had in fact arrived anywhere. We started driving around and it ended up being very interesting. Zeniff was settled by the Preston Bushman family in 1911 with the goal of dry farming but they were continually flooded out and thus, their farming operation was abandoned. Preston’s father, John Bushman, had helped settle Heber and Preston had dreams of settling his own town…and that town was Zeniff. Zeniff’s location on the cattle trail made it an important stop for cattle drives to Holbrook. There were acres of corn, oats and clover for the livestock, as well as pastures that the cowboys could turn out their cattle and horses in. The only problem is that the wells all went dry. The story is like a crazy soap opera about the Bushman’s financial problems and of how they were swindled by Fred Turley, which led to their abandoning Zeniff and moving to Mesa, AZ. in 1938. In 1956 Southwest Forest Industries purchased the land built a paper mill on it with the intention of using the Dry Lakes as waste storage. Soon after, Zeniff became unlivable due to the horrific smell from the waste water. We actually met someone about a year ago who had a family member who had worked in the paper mill and he said that that family member had gotten cancer very early in life and it was attributed to his work there. Only 3 buildings remain today. You can see the old dams, pastures, crop fields and where large trees were planted in between sections, possibly to cut the wind. There appears to be an active ranch or farm operation in the area, though. I found it difficult to find information on Zeniff but this youtube was about the most helpful thing out there:

If anyone knows anything to add or correct my surmisings, please let me know in the comments!

As we drove around surveying abandoned crop fields and old corrals and fences, out in the distance we saw a horse. Being as we hadn’t seen a soul all day, we were feeling social so stopped and whistled to try to get him to come over. He held his distance. We got back in the car and just as we started to drive away, he started running towards us! We got back out and introduced ourselves. We picked what were some old crops still growing here and there to feed him but they stunk- not sure what they were. He turned his nose up at them and we promised to return with cold apples some day.