Tag Archives: dining

Musk Ox, Butte and Knik River Lodge

Sept. 7th – Friday Rebecca took me over to the Musk Ox Farm outside of Palmer.

Their hair yields a fiber called “qiviut”, which is incredibly soft (softer than cashmere) and can be spun like wool. Qiviut has exceptional insulating qualities (8X better than wool) and is also very strong, because the fibers are long.

Musk ox were eradicated from Alaska in the late 1800s, but were reintroduced. A decades long project to domesticate them has been going on about 70 years. They are remnants of the Ice Age and they like bitter cold – their long snouts warm the air before it gets to their lungs.

Our tour guide told us the finer points of “musk ox love.” At the Musk Ox Farm, usually only 2 bulls are chosen for breeding each year, with 2 females each… this year 2 babies were born (50% reproductive success rate).

Each year the babies are all born late April to early May. Except for Magnolia… her father was only a year old and not supposed to be able to father any children yet. She was born Sept. 27th, to everyone’s surprise. You can’t tell that musk ox is pregnant. The mom gets antsy, starts spinning around, squats and drops out a calf!

After a delicious lunch sharing a sandwich & soup, then indulging in gelato and a cannoli (Rebecca hadn’t ever tried them before), we tried to climb up The Butte. The first part of the trail wasn’t too bad, but it got steeper, and we had forgotten to bring water with us. We ascended a steep slope with a metal grid trying to hold the dirt in place. Then we got to steep stairs, and before reaching the top we looked at each other and said, “We’re good!” and started descending back down!

Rebecca then called her husband Bill about meeting us, and drove me out the Knik River to a fancy new lodge where she & her husband had been treated to a helicopter ride on their anniversary. We had to stop several times for road construction on our way out wondering why this stretch of highway with low population was high priority for roadwork. But the route was very scenic, especially the bridge across the river.

The Knik River Lodge has views that make you gasp. While waiting for her husband to join us, we had appetizers and wine out on the deck. A few mosquitoes made me regret not bringing my insect repellent in the car, but they were easily swatted away.

After Bill arrived, we moved inside to be big free and a bit warmer, as we moved into evening. Rebecca and Bill shared shellfish, while I had their grilled salmon. The presentation was lovely, but the entrees were a little bland. We got talked into dessert, which was also disappointing. .. there were not any fresh strawberries on the shortcake although we had been been specific about our question.

Bill & Rebecca each took a different route home, on the old and new highways. Bill managed to beat us, despite Rebecca’s competitive attempt. We were home in time to meet the young physical therapist who had been living in the garage apartment for wine at 8:00 PM. Marty has been doing “traveling” work and most recently worked 3 months in conjunction with the medical practice Rebecca’s son has, so the garage apartment rental had worked out perfectly. But she was moving out over the weekend, taking her time to drive through Canada back to the U.S., where she will begin a new temporary assignment with the Navajo nation in October. She was a fascinating young woman, just a little younger than my own 2 daughters, but I was so sleepy I had to retreat up to bed and go to sleep. Oh, well.


Overnight in Boston

I was booked overnight for a single room at the College Club of Boston on Commonwealth Avenue, not far from the Boston Public Garden. From the Back Bay railway station, I had a choice of walking a few minutes, catching a bus one stop, then walking another few minutes for 9 minutes travel time, or just walking for 11 minutes travel time. I chose to walk. Of course, I think the walking times on Google Maps were set by 25 year olds in good shape wearing track shoes, but that’s just an educated guess from an older woman in her 60s.

It had been raining earlier and the streets were wet, but it was a wonderful evening for walking. The temperatures were still in the high 60s and humid, so I got hot walking to the hotel  (I’d been a little cold on the train and put on an extra sweater). The streets were well-lit and it was obviously a nice area – nice businesses, hotels, well-kept older homes turned into condos/apartments. The other people on the street were mostly well-dressed older couples out for the evening or college students out on a Friday night. I did see a couple other people with suitcases, and cabs dropped people off at hotels.

The College Club of Boston was as easy to find as they promised, and I’d been given a code to get in the front door.  I was greeted by the concierge, given a room key, told about the Continental Breakfast in the morning and shown the elevator. I stayed in the “Oberlin” room – all the rooms are named after colleges. Mine was a single – twin bed, charming antique secretary, dresser and bookcase, lovely lamps and artwork that all felt appropriate to a house built around 1860 as a Victorian townhouse, when the French influence resulted in a slate mansard roof. Each room is decorated with a particular style. The larger rooms have their own bathrooms, the single ones (half the size and half the price) have a shared bathroom down the hall – but it was elegant, marble, sleek, lovely.

For late dinner I walked back down Commonwealth toward the Public Garden, then a few blocks around to the Apres du Midi restaurant – which was awarded best French restaurant in 2011. They had just put out the sidewalk tables again, so I sat outside, enjoying the flower boxes on the railing beside me and passersby. After questioning my waiter, I decided on roasted chicken breasts, which were served in a delicious sauce over orzo and a few vegetables. I started out with a white wine from the Loire Valley – it was crisp and light and suited the meal and the evening. The French bread brought at the beginning was delicious, although I didn’t care for the olive oil to dip it in. There were some very tempting desserts – I almost got the lemon meringue pie with raspberry mousse, but then remembered my pants are already tight on me! But what a perfect meal and what a perfect evening!!









The Rose Tree Taverna past Kabos

Retracing my route back through Vitoulade to the main highway and glad it is easier in daylight, I go in search of breakfast, then a store where I can buy some drinks and simple snacks to have at my studio rental. Heading south on the main highway, I notice the open businesses, the new businesses and the closed and shuttered businesses.  I think about the crisis of the Greek economy, and hope the tourist season is exceptional this year.

The village of Lefkimmi is on the eastern side of lower Corfu.  I drive around what appears to be downtown… the street really is one way in a loop, which helps because its awfully narrow.  I pass a school, an Greek Orthodox Church, some businesses like clothing stores, mini-markets, and a couple of bakeries. I debate trying to find parking and going in to a bakery for breakfast, but don’t happen to see a good parking spot. I ended up deciding to try another town and go back down the highway towards Kabos

Kabobs turned out to be full of fancier resorts, downtown chock full of loud signs and people, businesses trying to outdo each other to get tourist business. I would say the demographic they were aiming for was young, materialistic, shallow and insensitive to native Corfu culture. I hated busy Kabobs, but determined to drive to the end of the road, exploring.


Out of town I managed to find The Rose Tree Taverna- a quiet, traditional open air establishment. I was the first guest of the day, and had a chance to visit with the gracious host and owner, Dimitri. He recommended a dish his wife Aliki cooks, that was grilled eggplant stuffed with minced meat and cheese, covered with a béchamel sauce. It came with cucumber & tomato salad, and a Greek version of fried potatoes. I also had hot tea – when I requested lemon instead of the offered milk (like the Brits enjoy), I got a smile out of him.  I also choose baklava for dessert… it had more honey and was gooier than what I’ve had in the States, also more cinnamon. It was really good, but, as Dimitri had warned, very sweet.

Dimitri has owned the business for 14 years, buying and remodeling it, adding a side play yard for children. Dimitri tries to cater to those who want a more authentic Greek dining experience. He plays Greek music, or sometimes 80s music – he does play Abba, whose music was made into a Broadway musical and later play set on a Greek island. Right now he is worried about staying in business with the economy so bad and so many other business going bankrupt.


I have been keeping up with stories of the Greek economy, the election of more progressive, socialist government officials, and the efforts of the European Union to keep Greece from defaulting on loans.  Dimitri didn’t vote for those newly elected, and is worried about Greece’s downward economic spiral. He is now cynical about all politicians and elected officials, describing some Secretary of Defense who ended up with millions of dollars and 22 houses from serving in government. He also views the Greek government as bloated, describing family members and supporters of politicians being rewarded with government jobs. Inflation is out of control – last year Dimitri got a school loan for his son’s college expenses at 14.9%; this year the bank wouldn’t lend him any money for educational purposes.  The business costs, including utilities, have all gone up.

I enjoyed our conversation before other guests started arriving, and was tickled to find I’m regarded as a Yankee – English speaking American as contrasted with British or Aussie. I may plan to go back for another meal, because the food and company were both good.  I left a generous tip – although I am not wealthy, my country is, and I am glad the Rose Tree Tavern was around for me to patronize.