Day 1: Introduction

Hi all! This is Traci Hollowell again.

So why am I introducing myself when I have a perfectly good “About Me” page AND my blog isn’t new? I fell off the blog wagon and it sucked because writing and sharing adventures make me pretty damned happy.

Me! 2020
The 2020 Traci

The solution? A 31-day blog challenge! (Shout out to Baby J & Little A.) That’s right, I’m going to go from slow, inconsistent posts to every single day posts. I’m sure there’s a successful blogger somewhere who just got goosebumps and a sense of something very very ominous.

I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.

-Lily Tomlin

Oh well. This girl’s gotta do something. To make things even better, I’m building a house and preparing to move. Stress and boxed up blogging tools are helpful. (Say it like a mantra.)

I can’t promise great content, but I can promise this Stella is working on getting her groove back.


21st Amendment: Tales from the Kettle

Tea + Beer = ?

flat lay photography of tea in white teacup with saucer
Photo by on

Ahem… My name is Traci and I’m a label whore. I couldn’t help but purchase this beauty once I saw it. The artwork, the name, the story! A big part of me was aware as I grabbed the 2017 Employee Homebrew Competition winner that it might not be quite my taste. Actually, I was pretty sure things would end in tears and I’d never drink tea again. Worry pushed aside by perfection in font, I continued down my path. I hope you enjoy reading about my findings.

21st Amendment Brewery

This ale was a stunning dark amber with low clarity. I initially took a big sniff because I love the smell of tea, but was met with only beer smell. Sorry tea lovers. My first sip revealed a strong yeast flavor and smoke. I hate smoke. (Crying emoji here.) The drink finished with a bitter coffee-esque aftertaste. It’s heavy like a Monday morning.

Don’t like yeast. Don’t like smoke. Don’t like bitter. Didn’t like this beer.

That said, these guys should be proud of pushing boundaries. This was full of unique flavor. I will drink tea again, and I will purchase more pretty cans in the future. I now have the added mission of finding a tea-beer I actually like.

Homebrew Competition Fun


Brewer: 21st Amendment Brewery

Style: Scottish Style Ale

ABV: 9%

Purchased: La Bodega

Wine, OH!


It has snowed people! While the rest of the country has been getting the white stuff for weeks, Anchorage has been oddly barren. Thank goodness our prayers have been answered because winter is just a brown slab of depression without its accomplice.


The idea of hats, gloves, and winter sports were in my head as I headed out with my husband to run the usual errands last weekend.

  • gas up the vehicle: check
  • donate clothes: I’m going straight to heaven.
  • stop by the ATM for girls’ allowances: do they really need to learn the value of money?
  • grocery store: oh my gosh, kill me… now
  • stop by La Bodega beer boutique: WooHoo. Grown-up reward!

At La Bodega I stumbled onto the adventure in a bottle I’m writing about today. Augsburger Christkindlmarkt is a spiced wine from Germany. Although after doing a bit of “research” (googling), I discovered it’s only available in the USA currently. I was a bit disturbed by this. Why, if it’s made in Germany, is it only available here?

I came up with three possible reasons:

  1. Germans are just sick of drinking the same thing every holiday season.
  2. Many Germans died slow, horrible deaths after drinking this wine.
  3. Only Americans would be cheesy enough on the holidays to buy a bottle of crazy looking spiced wine from Europe just because it snowed once.

It was the third reason that concerned me most.

Undeterred, I invited my husband, Derek, to join me in a taste-test toast. (Truth be told he had to try the warm, weird wine with me. It’s in the marital contract. Must partake in all crazy antics wife requests. Fine print is a bitch.) We diligently heated the wine up in mugs using the microwave. Very posh, I know.

A careful sip...
A careful sip…

We raised our cups to each other and my husband said, “go ahead blogger.” (I feel it’s important to note the way “blogger” was said. It sounded like something a bar of soap would be sucked on after uttering.) While I took offense to my hobby being used like a bad word, I did realize I’d have to step up to the challenge I had purchased and brought home. I took a quick sniff, nothing worrisome, and continued to the inevitable sip.

I didn’t really taste much more than warm grape juice. The spice was possibly cinnamon, and not abundant. With its high alcohol content, 9%, I likened it to moonshine- flavorless but impactful.

I was a bit disappointed, but happy I hadn’t tasted something so vile it would ruin all hot, scary, red wines for all winters to come.

Happy winter adventures!


Broken Trams & Missed Signs

The fiancé, the soon-to-be-step-daughter (STBSD), and I drove to Crow Creek Mine with the intention of hiking a trail we hadn’t been on before. While popular with many Alaskans, the Crow Creek Hand Tram trail was new to us.

We began this adventure with a stop at the mine itself to obtain trail head directions. The lovely teen (I want to point out how lovely she was because so few teens get credit for good behavior these days) behind the counter told us our destination was ¼ mile up the road on the left. Excited, we began to beat feet.

I am terrible with directions, space, distance, etc. Due to this tragic disability, I kept my thoughts to myself as we trudged up the road. Thoughts like, “I think we’ve walked further than ¼ mile”, “You’d think there’d be a sign”, and as the large trail head complete with sign and parking lot which we had passed on our way to the mine came into view, “If this was the trail head, wouldn’t she have mentioned?” Well, dear reader, this was one way of reaching our desired trail, but we would solve the ¼ mile mystery by the end of our journey.

The map found at the trail head was clear and informative. There was also a sign telling us the hand tram was out of use during a repair period that began June 2nd and would continue 4 to 6 weeks. While the hand tram was supposed to be the highlight of our trip, a quick check with STBSD determined we would carry on anyway.

Along the trail there were many signs stating trail choice and distance. It was also hiker friendly (well maintained and not too muddy) and I noted many a small child. I was also encouraged by the number of hikers. There were enough to keep bears away (bears being fear #2 on my “worst fuzzy creatures ever created” list) but we never felt crowded. For the most part we were alone with the occasional head nod and “hello” as a group passed by on their way back up the trail.

Trail Sign
Trail Sign Example

Upon reaching the closed hand tram we spent some time giggling at the safety signs- I always get a kick out of the poor unfortunate figures meeting with disaster. We also walked delicately to the edge of the gorge.


There is quite a drop off from that point. The water below rushes fast enough for a good rafting adventure and we actually saw two single-man rafts zip by. (Now that looked like an adventure for another day!) My STBSD mourned the broken tram and we turned tail and headed uphill toward the car. The trip up was a much more satisfying workout, but I would still consider it beginner level. (Although for those with small children please note I saw two parents carrying their toddlers back up. I can still remember how that can change a beginner level activity into an “oh my gosh, kill me now” activity.)

1/4 Mile Sign
1/4 Mile Sign

About ¾ of the way back (a total estimation calculated with my aforementioned, regrettable disadvantage when it comes to distance) we noticed a sign that read “Crow Creek Mine”. As that was where our car was parked, we opted to swerve right down this path. Sure as, well you know… we popped out right next to the mine. I would go as far as saying we popped out a mere ¼ mile away. I began to rib my fiancé about his obvious lack of man-skills, but then he giggled and pointed behind me. On a birch behind me there was a sign pointing out the entrance to the hand tram trail. We had both missed that. As we erupted into laughter, my STBSD rolled her eyes and shook her head. She’s more than used to being dragged on enjoyable misadventures. Heck, what would she do with her time if we didn’t give her something to complain about?

The broken hand tram and the accompanying view.
The broken hand tram and the accompanying view.