Holiday Gift Guide: The Outdoorsy Gentleman

My husband would most likely say that I am the most difficult person to buy for. But sometimes, I really beg to differ. 

Finding that special something for the special guy in your life can be quite a challenge. What do you get the man that has everything? The man that loves to be outdoors, but also lives for a good shave and hair cut? 

Luckily, I've had over a decade to perfect the Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Outdoorsy Gentleman

Holiday Gift Guide: The Outdoorsy Gentleman

A good podcast or audio book is a staple on our family road trips. CBC's Vinyl Cafe is one of our favourites (and even where our daughter's name came from). Dave and Morley's Christmas adventures are some of my favourite stories, and we can now enjoy them all year round with the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Pack - a set of 4 audio CDs. Over 4 hours of stories!

Stay connected while you're outside and on the go with these touch screen compatible fleece winter gloves from The North Face. Full palm conductivity allows you to use your touchscreen devices without removing your gloves and exposing your hands in cool conditions.

3. Sock It To Me Men's Fun Crew Socks 
My husband loves a good pair of fun socks to dress up his not so fun work attire. Fun socks are always a go-to when I'm filling his stocking. Look good, feel good, play good, right? Sock It to Me creates fun and funky socks and underwear with dinosaurs, cupcakes, ninjas, sasquatch, unicorns and all things magical. They make make quality products with unique and inspiring designs, all at an affordable price. If you live in the US, Sock It To Me also offers a fun monthly subscription service, delivering fresh, fun socks to your door each month. (Pictured above: Trail Life)

4. Enso Mens Ultralite Silicone Wedding Band
The perfect wedding ring alternative for those that are not able to wear a typical wedding band. If you’re looking for the silicone ring that you’ll forget you’re even wearing, this is it. Enso's ultralite silicone ring is exactly that, ultra and light, and comes in a variety of different colours and styles. Also in women's sizes, styles and colours. 

Design custom case for your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, MacBook and more with this easy-to-use online design tool from CaseApp. Upload your own photo, or chose from their design library. For my personalized case, I chose to upload a photo of Morley that we took on our recent trip to Alaska. When I receive the case, I was surprised by the quality of the plastic, as well as the resolution of the photo I chose.

OFFER: Receive 20% OFF your own customized CaseApp case with code 20TOANDFRO (valid until 12/22). 

Stanley is a go to brand on our camping trips, and this flask will be a welcomed addition. Hot toddies anyone? An easy but legendary gift that will last a lifetime. Made of rustproof stainless steel, and BPA free. Comes in a variety of colours.  

7. Dollar Shave Club Subscription
Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products right to your door on a monthly basis. Quality razors without the high cost. 

8. Fitbit Blaze Bands (8 pcs)
We love our FitBits, and are always challenging each other to up our daily step goals. But sometimes, I wish I could change up the colour of my band. Now you can! Personalize your wristband to match your daily style and outfit with these 8 pack of FitBit Blaze replacement bands. 

This portable charger is incredibly small and light for its capacity, being smaller than a deck of cards and weighing less than a baseball. With its ability to charge your device 3-4 times before it needs to be charged itself, it is perfect for someone that is on the go or even travelling. Compatible with Android, Apple and almost all other devices charged via USB, and comes in both white and black. 

10. Tile Mate
Keep track of your keys, bags or whatever else you can think of with Tile Mate, the little Bluetooth tracker that easily attaches to just about anything. Perfect for the man that has everything, that also loses everything. 

11. Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast
Does your special someone enjoy spending time in the kitchen? With Lure, readers embark on a wild Pacific adventure and discover the benefits of healthy oils and rich nutrients that seafood delivers. Authored by chef and sustainable seafood advocate Ned Bell, features this cookbook features simple techniques and straightforward sustainability guidelines around Pacific species as well as 80 delicious recipes to make at home. 

The original reusable water bottle from Nalgene is perfect whether you are on the go, hiking in the woods, working out at the gym or even at your desk. It will stand up to any bumps, bangs and drops you throw at it, without springing a leak. Comes in a variety of colours. 

What is on your gift list for the guy that has everything? I'd love to hear!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for a review, however, all opinions are 100% that of To & Fro. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links helps to support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

Holiday Gift Guide: Toddler

While we may have celebrated Morley's first Christmas last year, this holiday season, we are expecting it to be a bit different.

Slowly but surely as she begins to see decorations, trees and even the odd Santa pop up, she is starting to grasp that something magical is about to happen. She knows who Santa is (and oddly is not afraid of him), but not yet exactly get what he brings.

Santa or no Santa, we are excited to celebrate this Christmas through the eyes of our toddler. Including seeing her reaction to some of the pretty awesome gifts waiting for her under the tree.

Do you have a toddler, and are having a hard time finding that perfect gift? Check out To & Fro's Toddler Holiday Gift Guide - some of Morley's tried and true favourites, plus a few new ones that  we know she is going to love.

Toddler Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide: Toddler

1. Valtech Magna-Tiles 48 Piece Deluxe Set 
We first discovered Magna-Tiles at a friend's house, and I instantly knew Morley had to have her own set. I'll admit, there are many toys out there that fall flat. These magnetic tiles were one of the first toys that I have seen her play with that has kept her engaged, for a long time. I guess I could say the same for myself. I was down on the floor engaged with the tiles, and playing with my daughter. It was incredible to watch her little mind work - how to put them together, and then how to break them apart. They are an amazing toy and learning tool! Magna-Tiles comes in a variety of different colours, sizes and shapes, and can be purchased in sets of 32, 48 and 100. 

Toddler Holiday Gift Guide

2. Paw Patrol Soft Potty Seat
Morley has started to become very interested in the "pee pee potty" (but that's another story for another post). So to start the pre-planning, we got her a Paw Patrol soft potty seat. "Paw 'Troll" is one of her favourites, this seat will hopefully peak her interest even more. The removable cushion makes cleanup a breeze, while built-in handles ensure easy transport and comfort for your child.

3. Fisher-Price Little People Travel Together Airplane
What a classic. I have fond memories of playing with Fisher-Price Little People when I was younger, and am thrilled that they are still around. Morley is a big fan of the farm, and I know she will love to ‘hairplane’ too. The variety of Little People toys and playlets make the ideal educational toy and help children explore their creativity and develop social skills like sharing and taking on new roles.

Ok, this one may not be so much for toddler as it is for toddler's mom and dad.  Mabel’s Labels created durable labels for families - baby labels, child safety products, sports labels, household organizational labels and seasonal items. They’re extremely durable, they’re laundry, dishwasher and microwave safe – and they’re 100% guaranteed. To prevent her things from going missing at school, we recently purchased the starter label pack which comes with 24 mini custom name stickers, 8 custom shoe stickers, 42 tag mates stick on clothing labels and 2 personalized bag tags. The labels are customizable with the option to chose your own theme, colours, text and font. 

You better believe Morley will be on her first pair of skates this winter, even if they are just a simple pair to teach her the basics. The skates have two long straps that attach around the ankle and 2 short straps that attach over the foot, with a double blade provides superior balance. Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years, and adjustable for youth sizes 6 to 13. 

    6. cuddle+kind Doll
    I really can’t say enough about cuddle+kind. These dolls are ethically produced, hand-knit dolls that help feed children. And although the price may initially shock you, once you understand what this company is all about, you will be in full support. 

    Morley received Willow the deer (little - 13”) when she was around six months old. She sleeps with her every night, has taken her on the plane and in the car, and as a result, she has been washed multiple times. You could say she’s been around the past year, but is still the same quality as if she were new. 

    Ezpz mat is the original, all-in-one placemat and plate that suctions to the table (as seen on Shark Tank). The mat is made from 100% food-grade silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC, latex and phthalate free. It is designed for infants and toddlers, age 4+ months. 

    In anticipation of our vacation to Cuba when Morley was 10 months old, I purchased one of the mini mats. I must admit, it was such a smart decision, especially eating at an all inclusive resort where who knows the last time the high chair tray was cleaned properly and all that was available to eat off of were ceramic dishes. 

    8. Melissa & Doug 20 Wooden Animal Magnets
    We have an animal lover on our hand, and now, thanks to these wooden animal magnets, also an animal expert. The variety of domestic, zoo and farm animals allow young children to learn to identify their animals, and even incorporate colours, allowing your child to sort. They are a strong magnetic, and are easily stuck to your refrigerator. This is also key in keeping them occupied when trying to prepare dinner.

    What are your favourite gifts for toddlers? Will any of these be under the tree this year? I'd love to hear!

    Disclosure: I received product in exchange for a review. All opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links helps to support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

    Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    Give memories, not things. A popular phrase around the holiday season, and one my family has quickly come to adapt.

    I will admit, there is nothing I love more than receiving a new pair of socks or a refill of my favourite body wash in my stocking, but when it comes to a gift, I’d much prefer to receive an experience. Something to create memories with my family. 

    Living in Toronto, I can attest to the fact that there is an unlimited supply of experiences - ways to taste, hear, touch, smell and see your way through the city.

    Today’s gift guide includes a round up of five experiences available in Toronto that make the perfect holiday gifts.

    Best of Toronto Experiences

    To & Fro’s Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    Available in numerous big cities across North America, the Toronto CityPASS allows you to see the city’s top attractions, handpicked and packaged together at a significant savings. The Toronto CityPASS admission includes the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre. Purchasing the pass saves you approximately 33% versus buying an individual admission at each attraction. It is valid for 9 consecutive days starting the first day of use, which is plenty of time to see all of the sights at your own pace. 

    Cost: $86 per adult; $58 per child

    Recommended for: the staycationer 

    CityPASS is also available in other large cities - New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, BostonPhiladelphia, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston

    Get up close and personal with the stingrays at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada! This one-of-a-kind experience allows guests to be in Ray Bay with the cow nose, southern, spotted eagle and rough tail stingrays. It also includes a behind the scenes tour to learn how the animals are cared for and the water is cleaned. 

    Cost: $99 per person (includes admission, behind the scenes tour, backpack, towel, USB flash drive of photos)

    Recommended for: the animal lover

    Oh hey, that's me. As you can see, I can speak from experience - if you have an animal lover in your life, the Stingray Expereince at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is a no bRAYner. (See what I did there?!)

    Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    History buff in your life? This hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour is the best way to see the city from the comfort of a double decker bus. Tickets are valid for up to 48 hours and include a free Toronto harbour and islands cruise. The 21 stops to chose from include the CN Tower, Eaton Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario, St. Lawrence Marker, The Distillery District, Hockey Hall of Fame and more. The informative guides will animate the sights and attractions along the route and are more than happy to give advice on how to make the most of your time in the city.

    Cost: $38.05 per adult; $34.51 per senior and student (with valid ID); $20.35 per child (3-12)

    Recommended for: the history buff

    The CN Tower EdgeWalk is Toronto’s tallest urban adventure, and the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk. This 1.5 hour experience takes pale on the roof of the CN Tower’s restaurant, approximately 356m or 1,168 feet above the ground.

    Cost: $225 per person (include keepsake video, printed photos, certificate and re-entry to the CN Tower)

    Recommended for: the adrenaline junkie

    The Best Experiences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Mariposa Cruises Toronto Dinner Cruise
    Enjoy a truly unique evening on the water with Mariposa Cruises. Dine, dance and experience the magnificent scenery along Toronto’s harbour and islands. Watch the sun set on Toronto’s harbour and take in the sights and sounds of the city’s waterfront and towering skyline. Evening dinner cruises depart spring to the end of December and include a delicious buffet-style dinner and fully-licensed cash bar while you cruise from 7-10pm. Mariposa offers a wide selection of cruises, be sure to check out their website for available listings. 

    Cost: $74.95 per adult; $41.22 per child (4-12 years)

    Recommended for: the romantic

    *Fine print: Quoted prices are subject to change, and do not include HST. Be sure to visit the attraction website for more information, including experience policies, availability and how to book. 

    What are your favourite gifts to give and receive during the holiday season? Any favourite experiences you’ve received? I’d love to hear!

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will help support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

    Favourite Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

    When people hear that we lived in Alaska, their initial response is usually shock. They picture it to be this exotic, yet cold and dark, place and me to be this insane person for choosing to live there and loving every minute of it.

    Let me tell you a little secret - it's not so remote a place. Yes, at times it can be dark and cold, but I wouldn’t necessarily use the words exotic or remote. At least, not where we lived in the largest city of Anchorage. For a city of 300,00(ish) people, despite being well over 4500 miles from what we call home, it does have all of the modern conveniences of home - Walmart, Costco, Target, to name a few. 

    Popular Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

    What is different than life in the concrete jungle of Toronto is that Anchorage is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces we have ever seen, both in the city and just outside. You can drive a mere five minutes out of the city and be, well essentially, in the middle of nowhere.

    And while we loved to explore outside of the city, we also enjoyed frequent afternoon trips to the more local outdoor spaces. Today, I'm sharing some of those popular outdoors spaces in Anchorage, Alaska with you. 

    Flattop Mountain, Anchorage, Alaska
    An oldie, but a goodie. The first time we climbed Flattop, circa summer 2011.

    Flattop Mountain
    Flattop is easily Anchorage’s most identifiable peak because of its  well, flat top, and is also Alaska’s most visited peak. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can ascend the 1.5 mile, 1,350 vertical foot trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit in about an hour and take in panoramic views from Denali to the Aleutian Islands. And when I say ascend, it is not a simply foot path. The last part of the climb involves a bit of skill. If you want vistas without the challenge, you can walk the short path from the parking lot to the overlook. 

    If you don’t have a car, Flattop Mountain Shuttle has a service that transports you from Downtown (at 4th and C Street) to Flattop. And, if you are driving, visitor beware, the parking lot does get crowded in the warmer months. There is also a $5 fee per car, or you can purchase an annual State Parks pass.

    Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska

    Kincaid Park
    Kincaid Park offers the easiest way to get outside right in the city. This 1400-acre forest sits atop an old glacial moraine and offers one of America's top trail systems as well as Anchorage's largest moose population. The park is home to a maze of walking, biking and skiing trails, including the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which connects Kincaid to downtown Anchorage. Be warned, if you visit in the winter, a lot of the trails are designated for skiers only. Be courteous of their trails. 

    This park is also home to Anchorage’s only sandy beach, a secret to most. It holds a special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here.

    Potter Marsh, Anchorage, Alaska

    Potter Marsh
    Potter Marsh, part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, is one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, and is a year-round home for beavers, moose and bald eagles. Occasionally, you may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water. You can get close to the marsh without getting your feet wet by walking the 1550-foot boardwalk, complete with interpretive signs and spotting scopes. Flanked by the Chugach Mountains on one side and the Turnagain Arm (and Seward Highway) on the other, this area provides excellent photo opportunities without leaving the city.

    The Alaska Zoo, Anchorage, Alaska

    The Alaska Zoo
    It might not be your conventional way to get outside, but it is still outside none the less. The 25-acre wooded hillside setting of the Alaska Zoo allows visitors to get up close views of many animals that call the great state home, as well as some from other like-climate parts of the world. What started as a home for an elephant named Annabelle who was won in a contest, has evolved into a home for orphaned and injured wildlife from across the state. Today, the non-profit Alaska Zoo is home to 100 animals and is dedicated to promoting the conservation of arctic, sub-arctic and like-climate species through education, research and community enrichment. 

    It holds a very special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here

    Have you visited Anchorage, or live in the area? What are your favourite outdoor spaces? I’d love to hear!

    Life with Toddler

    Life with a toddler is flying by. It seems like just yesterday when little miss Morley was a fresh nugget being brought home from the hospital, and we were stumbling our way through the new adventure called parenthood. And now, a short 20 months later, we feel like we’re finally getting a handle on things with our sassy, walking, talking toddler.

    Life with a Toddler: New PC Organics Baby Food

    It is amazing how much has changed in such a short time. Within the short 20 months, many milestones have been checked off the list.  At first, they started small - first laugh, first tooth, first step, to name a few. But now, they have become larger in scale - learning her colours, shapes, letters and numbers. She can walk, she can run and she can climb. Despite the size, they are all milestones I don’t want to forget. They are all memories I don’t want the "momnesia" to erase.

    I’m not talking pregnancy brain. But, yes, that too is definitely a real thing. I’m talking about what occurs when time moves way too fast and in the blink of an eye, your baby has gone from a little bug that is completely dependent on you to one that can move where she wants to go, voice her opinion and even, feed herself.

    Life with a Toddler: New PC Organics Baby Food
    Life with a Toddler: New PC Organics Baby Food

    Yes, feed herself. Girlfriend sure loves her food, so that feat came pretty natural to her. While it started out messy, she has now learned to pick up small items with her fingers, use a fork and spoon and tell you when she doesn’t like something. Or in her words, “No want!” as it is swiftly swiped off her tray and onto the floor. Oh ya, did I mention the sass that comes with being a toddler?

    Despite her very few food dislikes, little miss Morley has quite the appetite, and has quickly adapted her mama’s snacking ways. 

    Whether we are on a road trip to grandma and poppa's house, a trip to the park, or any adventure in between, Morley's bag is always filled with nutritious, yet flavourful snacks. New PC® Organics™ baby food products are packed with balanced nutrition and flavour for your self-feeding little one. Snacks like mini rice cakes and fruit and vegetable oat bars are 100% certified to Canadian organic standards. It's healthy, it's tasty and it's easy for moms like me.

    Life with a Toddler: New PC Organics Baby Food

    The new line of PC Organics baby food products is the perfect way to nurture your child’s love of food. They are also mama and dada snacking-approved, but, sshhhh, don’t tell Morley that.

    Have you tried PC Organic baby food products for your self-feeders? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

    Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and PC Organics Baby and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

    Best Free Apps for Toddlers

    I’ll admit, when it came to baby and the iPad, at first, I was not a fan. It’s not that I was worried about too much “screen time”. If I was, I’d be pretty hypocritical. At such a young age, I just didn’t see the need when she was surrounded by so many enriching books and toys, and the outdoors. I’ve also seen giving a toddler an iPad take a turn for the worse, as in, the world was ending if they did not have it. Ya, that probably played a part in turning me off the idea of screen time as well. 

    My time to give in to the iPad came on our recent family vacation to Alaska. Despite creating this very elaborate busy bag for Morley, I knew it had the potential to fail us and that we needed to have a trick in our back pockets, just in case. Enter the iPad.

    Best Free Apps for Toddlers

    Toddler apps can be a beautiful thing for a parent. Just when you think a situation with your child is about to go south — say, a 14+ hour travel day —you whip out your digital device and poof! 

    But, before we could give her the iPad, we needed to fill it with appropriate apps for someone her age and with her interests (mostly choo choos and baa baa sheep at the time).  

    The problem was, how do you go about finding toddler apps that appeal to your little one, and are somewhat educational? There are thousands of toddler apps out there, but I wanted quality. Something recommended by someone like me for someone like me, the mother of a toddler.

    After scouring the internet for suggestions (and asking a few mama friends), I came across approximately 20 new apps that I thought Morley would like. That may seen like a lot to download, but I knew there was likely to be some hits and misses among the bunch. And, hits and misses there were. Some may have been a hit to Morley, but I didn’t see the value. And, on the other hand, there were some I loved and thought for sure she would too, but they couldn’t keep her attention. You could say it was a bit of trial and error.

    Luckily, I finally failed it down and today, I'm sharing the hits with YOU! Check out my tried and true list of the best FREE toddler apps. 

    *Please note, we are Apple users, so these are apps intended for iPhones and iPads only. Sorry Android-lovers!

    Best Free Apps for Toddlers

    Best FREE Apps for Toddlers

    Row 1:

    A fun-filled learning app that features baby’s favourite Laugh & Learn™ characters. Children are encouraged to interact with engaging animations, sing-along songs & sound effects. 

    Children are encouraged to learn animals and the sounds animals make through interaction with engaging animations and sound effects! Baby can tap, tilt or shake to set a learning world in motion! Designed for babies 6 months & up.

    All aboard! Morley is really into “choo choos” right now, so she loves this app. This app takes kids through a variety of tasks that build and steer a LEGO® DUPLO® Train from station to station. Your child will play the role of the train driver, load cargo, build bridges, stop at crossings, help passengers, refuel, and lay new tracks to steer the train safely around obstacles.

    Row 2:

    We love watching Splash and Bubbles on TV, and now we can take them with us wherever we go! This app allows you to join the main characters - Splash, Bubbles, Dunk, and Ripple - on a journey to the world’s undersea habitats, where you’ll discover the creatures that live there and learn about the many different ways plants and animals thrive in the ocean. Then use the animals, plants, and objects you find to build and decorate your very own ocean!

    I was a big fan of Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood when I was young, so this TV show and app are a hit in our house. The Daniel Tiger’s Storybooks app offers a library of interactive stories narrated by Daniel Tiger, and show him learning little life lessons, like sharing with friends and being a helper.

    Coming from this mama, kids are never too young to start learning about their natural world. This app offers daily activities that will get your family outside, exploring your neighbourhood and learning about nature. It's part of PLUM LANDING, a PBS KIDS project that helps kids develop a love for this amazing and beautiful planet we call home. It features 150+ unique missions to explore your local plants, animals, weather and more!

    Row 3:

    This app is an easy-to-use painting application that is designed specifically for little kids to enjoy doodling freely, and without mess. It has more than 20 “brushes”, such as neon, fireworks, rainbow brush, crayon brush, oil brush, etc. Your child’s Picasso can then be saved onto your phone to share.

    Out of the whole list, I would say Kids Doodle has seen the most action. Because it keeps her occupied, and we don’t always carry the iPad when we’re out, I also have downloaded the iPhone version.

    This is an app full of games, activities, and videos, which will help teach your child about letters, sounds, and words. (Please note, the free version only contains Letters A, B and C. You must upgrade to unlock letters D through Z.)

    Animals are a hit in our house, and this flash card app allows Morley to become an animal expert. Whether it be trains, horses, boats, sheep or cats that interest you child, this learning app allows children to choose from an extensive list of sounds lovingly presented in cartoon images for easy recognition. Each sound has five different versions to listen to. So, for example, if your child selects the dog, listens to the sound of a dog, and then taps it again, a different dog sound plays accompanied by a different dog image to enjoy.

    Row 4:

    I know you may not associate this app with a toddler, or learning activity, but on a long travel day it is much appreciate. The Netflix app allows you to pre-download your favourite shows to watch when you are offline. No wifi needed to watch. It is a lifesaver in the car! 

    When connected to wifi, this app is a great alternative to Netflix. The official YouTube Kids app is designed for curious little minds to dive into a world of discovery, learning and entertainment. YouTube Kids gives your family an easy way to watch their favourite shows, or explore anything that captures their imagination. It’s free, simple to use, and full of family-friendly videos.

    Our personal favourite YouTube videos? Shaun the Sheep - with no words, it is entertaining for the whole family. Mama and dada included.

    Travel with Harvey, Jinja, Robin and Jack as you explore space, fly through a forest, build a robot, design a monster, drive a firetruck, deep-sea dive, become a superhero, visit your friends and more – all in one whimsical world. This free app gives you unlimited access to the complete collection of 20+ games, all in one kid-friendly app.

    Best Free Apps for Toddlers

    Recommendation: When giving your toddler the iPad or iPhone, I highly recommended using the Guided Access setting, which temporarily restricts your device to a single app and does not allow them to do some major rearranging of other apps. Learn how to set it up here

    Does your toddler enjoy using the iPad? What are their favourite apps? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    A Walk Through the Alaska Zoo

    Whenever we travel to a new destination, the animal lover in me always enjoys visiting the local zoo or aquarium.

    Our recent visit to Alaska was no exception. Except this time, the local zoo wasn’t a new place to us. We’ve been there many times before.

    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

    The Alaska Zoo is a pretty special place - not only is it the only zoo in the entire state of Alaska, it has a proud, and extremely interesting, history dating all the way back to 1969. 

    What started as a home for an elephant won in a contest (crazy, I know), has evolved into a home for orphaned and injured wildlife from across the state.

    Situated on 25 acres on the Anchorage hillside, today The Alaska Zoo is a non-profit dedicated to promoting the conservation of arctic, sub-arctic and like-climate species through education, research and community enrichment. 

    It also holds a special place in our hearts. When we lived in Anchorage, the Alaska Zoo gave me an opportunity to do something I love, experience some incredible adventures, meet some amazing people I still consider good friends and ultimately, hockey aside, was a large part of the reason we were able to stay in Alaska for three years.

    And this visit around, I was very excited to be able to share it with Morley.

    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

    Allow me introduce you to some of my furry and feathery friends… 

    Wandering down the trails, you’ll pass the two resident polar bears, wolverine, moose, red fox, Canadian lynx, musk ox, owls, eagles, and wolves just to name a few. Venturing further you’ll meet the resident porcupine, black bear, bald eagles, coyote, dall sheep, mountain goat and three brown bears. Jake, the Kodiak, is the oldest resident at the zoo and arrived in the 80s. Amur tigers and snow leopards, not found in Alaska but in similar climates elsewhere, also call the Zoo home. 

    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

    All of the animals come with a special story, and all play a big part in why the zoo is so popular amongst Anchorage residents and visitors.

    For example, my pal Peabody the great horned owl (pictured above on the right) is missing a wing. As a result, he can't fly. And an owl that couldn't fly wouldn't be able to hunt for food or avoid predators in the wild, and therefore would not survive. Having been rescue and rehabilitated, he now has a permanent home at the Zoo and is a favourite amongst the school children he visits. 

    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

    That's Lauren the dall sheep and Maya the musk ox above. They both came to the Zoo at just a few days old. Lauren was separated from her herd in Nelchina, AK and Maya rejected by her mom shortly after birth.  I had the fortunate opportunity of working hands-on with both of them, harness training them and eventually being able to take them for walks on the Zoo trails and even off grounds for outreach. Now Maya is well over 200 lbs (with some pretty sharp horns), and a mama herself. 

    You can say I have a pretty strong connection with the place. 

    When the fact that I worked at the Zoo came up in conversation, Anchorage locals were never shy to tell me their own connections to the magical place. And I was always happy to listen. Whether it was remembering visiting the elephant as a child, having Peabody the great horned owl visit their classroom or just enjoying a Christmas-light lit stroll down the snow-covered trails, every person’s connection with the Alaska Zoo is unique, and just as special. Much like the animals that call this place home. 

    The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

    If you are visiting the Anchorage area, I highly recommend scheduling time to visit the Alaska Zoo. Two hours is all you need to take the quick drive up the hillside, say hello to my furry and feathery friends and help support a place that does amazing things for conservation and the animals of Alaska. 

    The Alaska Zoo
    4731 O'Malley Road
    Anchorage, AK 99507
    Ph: 907-346-2133

    Do you enjoy visiting zoos and aquariums in your travels? What one is you favourite? I’d love to hear!