where 2 wear it

Alice’s Adventures in Alaska and what she wore there

map of my road trip round southern Alaska

The prospect of a 1,500 mile road, rail and ferry trip around southern Alaska posed a sartorial challenge for someone more used to designing elegant frocks and slick business suits for my clients at Alice & Co in London.

The Lonely Planet guide said ‘no matter what your travel plans are, pack your fleece’. That’s the one thing my overstuffed wardrobe doesn’t have!

This seemed to be an adventure which required ‘gear’ rather than outfits. I was fearing the worst – cold, wet and lots of mosquitoes…

A trip to the loft yielded a red padded anorak – La Redoute catalogue Boys Dept, circa 1992.  And I had my trusty Dubarry country boots and a mega-size bottle of Mosquitex repellent.

 Anchorage…

was enjoying an early summer heatwave so sandals and short sleeves might have been more suitable. Better still the mosquitoes had yet to wake up although I believe they can get very nasty.

Downtown Anchorage is a funny old place, much of it was flattened by an earthquake in 1964 and rebuilt without much planning. But it does have the fabulous Anchorage Museum, some great restaurants and a very good microbrewery. Many residents live in the surrounding mountains where it’s not uncommon to find a moose in your backyard. There’s a severe shortage of roads in Alaska but no lack of rivers, sea and lakes so those that can afford it keep a sea plane in the garage.

Shop

If there’s a good shoe shop to be discovered I’ll find it and between drinking an Ice Axe Ale at the Glacier Brewhouse microbrewery and the ladies powder room I stumbled across Suzy Q which has an astonishing array of styles and colours – you can even hold your birthday party there.

The Anchorage Museum shop has some elegant jewellery and  intricately woven baskets made by Native Alaskans keeping alive their fine craft skills. If you’re a knitter you can also buy qivuit wool from the musk ox which is eight times warmer than sheep wool and softer than cashmere.

Picture of a wool handbag with crewel work embroidery made by Native AlaskansPicture of a handbag made by Native Alaskans in red wool and embroidered

These gorgeous embroidered bags could be by Kenzo

picture of three leather handbags made by Native Alaskans from Anchorage Museum

Some nifty leatherwork

Eat

Glacier Brewhouse – my seafood chowder kept me energised all afternoon.

Sacks  – Looks old fashioned but serves great food – try the local halibut which is an Alaskan staple.

Orso – Italian inspired with fresh local fish and seafood. Don’t miss the crabs.

The Snowgoose has a big terrace you where you can sit and watch the sun go down with a cocktail or brewed on site beer – but that might not be until four in the morning.

Play

They’re very big on reality TV in Alaska and if you’ve ever wanted to be in Ice Road Truckers here’s your chance. The cheery team at Salmon Berry Tours will organise it for you.

The brave and skilled drivers at Carlile Haulage have featured in several series and you can visit their HQ and have a go yourself on their $133,000. simulator. It’s uncannily real and quite scary, you really feel you have the weight of the giant truck behind you. Our group all came unstuck on a hairpin bend and jackknifed in the blizzard. Think I’ll stick to my Fiat 500.

Picture of Alice driving the simulator at Carlile Haulage

My  Ice Road Trucking outfit was red jeans and a John Smedley sweater.

I’m a big fan of Derbyshire-based John Smedley,

who make classic, colourful knitwear that is ideal for travelling.

The high-viz vest is courtesy of Carlile Trucking Co.

Anchorage to Seward by train…

Picture of the Alaskan Classic Costal Classic train en route from Anchorage to Sewardpicture of Alice having breakfast on the Alaska Railroad Costal Classic train

Aboard the Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic you can enjoy the landscape and your breakfast from the observation car.

In the 3 hour ride I spotted a black bear, eagles and Dall sheep.

I wore a vintage tartan chenille jacket from Ooh La La Vintage Paris.

Seward

Picture of Alice wearing Alice & Co outside the Resurrection Hotel Seward Alaska

An Alice & Co knit outfit and scarf for dinner at the Resurrection Roadhouse

picture of Alice trying a pair of waders in True Value Seward

Shopping in True Value Seward Harbour

Seward is a popular place for boat trips – I ticked off whales, sea otters and seals from my I-Spy book of Alaskan wildlife.

 Then I enjoyed a drink on Fox Island

picture of Alice enjoying a glass of champagne on Fox Island, Seward,Alaska

… while watching some hardy sea kayakers.

picture of sea kayaking Fox Island Alaska

Seward to Homer by road…

was a 170 mile drive but we had the road to ourselves except for the odd moose…

Picture of Moose Pass Alaska

Homer…

was one of my favorite stops.

Picture of the Homer town sign Homer, Alaska

It has lots to recommend it including horse riding with a cowboy

– a fabulous five-hour trek up the valley, fording rivers and cantering on the beach.

Alice horse riding in Homer Alaska

A vintage 60s sweater from Portobello Market, a red corduroy cap from Sicily and my sturdy Dubarry boots kept me warm on the ride.

Alaska iphone resized 30Alaska iphone resized 33Alaska iphone resized 32

Mark Mansett lives on his ranch with no mobile and no email but does in true cowboy fashion ride into town to pick up his messages.

So do leave one, you won’t be disappointed.

Or how about…

going on a bear-watching flight

picture of mother and baby bear Alaska Bear Adventures

with Alaska Bear Adventures

picture of mother and baby bear Alaska Bear Adventures

picture of mother and baby bear Alaska Bear Adventures

picture of mother and baby bear Alaska Bear Adventures

Best paw forward!

Drink

When you’re done with your day’s adventures you can treat yourself to a drink at

Alice’s Champagne Palace.

Picture of Alice's Champagne Palace Homer Alaska

Picture of Alice's Champagne Palace Menu Homer Alaska

Drank the champagne and bought the tee shirt…

Eat

The Idiot fish (yes, it’s really is called that) at Two Sisters Bakery.  Also try their tiny local oysters and leave some room for the delicious home made pastries.

Homer to Whittier by road…

This is a long and lonely drive that takes 4 hours, and as the scenery became more and more bleak so our petrol gauge sank lower and lower…

I began to worry if we’d make it through the Whittier tunnel,

which at 2.6 miles is the longest tunnel in North America. We did it, on the very last drop.

Whittier is straight out of a JG Ballard novel. Most of the population live in one giant tower block linked to the harbour by a spooky tunnel under the railway.

The Prince William Sound museum has some interesting exhibits of military history and lots of reminders of how close it is to Russia.

When you’re done with your Cold War history lesson you can have a reindeer sausage hot dog for lunch.

picture of Alice in front of the Whittier tunnel signPicture of Arctic Dogs Menu

Whittier to Valdez by ferry

Next stop: jump on a car ferry to Valdez, the voyage is a peaceful seven hours past yet more spectacular mountains and if you’re lucky lots more ticks for your I-Spy book.

The cheerful crew seemed just as excited as us passengers to spot sea otters, seals and porpoises even though they must see them every day.

Valdez is an oil terminal so not a place to linger but just out of town hidden up a hill is Robe Lake Lodge

a cosy log cabin – if you don’t mind stuffed moose heads and bearskin decor.

The young owners built it themselves which has got to be impressive!

picture of the interior of Robe Lake Lodge

Valdez to Anchorage by road…

Another long drive where we stopped at the Wrangell-St Elias National Park, which is the size of Switzerland.

Here I admired the Common Loons, easily the most stylish dressers in Alaska with their black and white tweedy feathers.

They could be the inspiration for a winter outfit.

picture of the common loon duck

Our last stop was at friendly Sheep Mountain Lodge

Picture of Alice at Sheep Mountain Lodge

picture of Alice and Russell the stuffed moose at Sheep mountain Lodge

I dressed up for a last delicious dinner of wild Alaskan Salmon in a wool jersey dress from Paris, where my friend Tara has a boutique filled with unique treasures.

In the greenhouse I met Russell the Moose. Russell is left over from a reality show about taxidermy. Well the winters here are very long..

Need some travel clothes? then click here to get in touch.

***

For my next post I’ll have my feet firmly back on the pavement on the mean streets of Manhattan
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