Unlimited PTO Diaries: Alaskan Adventure
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the need for companies to help their employees unplug and recharge has never been more clear. Studies have shown that work-life balance is most strongly correlated with job satisfaction. At CrossComm, we are steadfast in our commitment to work-life balance and encourage our employees to use our guilt-free unlimited paid time off (PTO) benefit as a way of caring for themselves and their families. In the “Unlimited PTO Diaries,” we asked our employees to share how they celebrate life, outside of work.
A Bi-Annual Tradition
My friends and I have been vacationing together since we were freshmen in college. Some of my best stories and most significant memories are born from those experiences. After graduating, we decided we would continue to meet every two years and relive our glory days. It has become a great tradition and something our spouses, partners, and children look forward to as we age.
Everyone who has met me knows I am not a fan of cold weather. I’m the type of person who wears sweatshirts in 70-degree weather. Like black bears, I'm active during warmer months and hibernate during the winter. I don't even like ice in my water! Just kidding, I don't drink room temperature water. I know it is better for you, but it does not quench my thirst. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic – back to the story.
I have always wanted to visit Alaska. I have heard stories from family and friends describing their trips and wanted to experience it for myself. Yes, even if that meant turning into a popsicle. However, I didn't know when and where I wanted to go. After surviving the pandemic and keeping my traveling local, I was itching for an adventure. I just needed to get my friends on board.
Surprisingly, it didn't take much convincing. They loved the idea. We all like hiking, nature, and mountains, and figured this was the perfect time to go. Although we all wanted to see the Northern lights, nobody wanted to endure the cold winter months of Alaska ( especially me). So, we picked a date during the summer, started planning, and the rest was history.
Food, beer, and outdoor activities are a must on every vacation. So we ensured our itinerary included local eateries, excursions, and sightseeing moments.
Friday (Anchorage, Alaska)
0500-1830– Everyone Arrives
1300-1400 –Grocery Shopping
1830-2030 – 49th State Brewing Company
2000-2200 – Bar crawl/ hopping
Saturday (Anchorage, Alaska)
0730-0930 – Snow City Café
1000-1100 –Anchorage Trolley tour
1100-1200 –Juneteenth and Summer Solstice Festival
1200-1330 –Bike ride through Coastal Trail (11 miles)
1400-1700 –International House of Hotdog and OEC Revolving Sushi Bar
1700-1930 –Explore downtown
2000-2200 – Alaska Escape Room
Sunday (Girdwood/Palmer, Alaska)
0730-0900 – Drove to Girdwood
0900-1130 – Summer Dog Sled Adventure (1000 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood, AK 99587)
1400-1700 – Virgin Creek Waterfall Hike- Girdwood
1700-2000–Reindeer Farm - Palmer
2000-2200 - Bar crawl
Monday (Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska)
0630-0900 – Drove to Kenai Fjords National Park
0900-1030 – Exit Glacier View Loop/overlook Trail (2.2 Miles)
1130-1530 – Kayaking in Resurrection Bay, Kenai Fjords; Adventure Center
1600-1700 – Nature Center
1700-1930 – Drove back to Anchorage, Alaska
2000-2200 – Glacier Brewhouse
2200-0000 – Relaxed
Alaska was everything we hoped for and much more. We stayed in Anchorage because there was plenty to see and do around the city, and some of the best hiking spots were only an hour or two away. One of my favorite parts of the trip was walking around downtown Anchorage, exploring the local craft shops, and learning about the city's history. The locals were friendly, and the ambiance was peaceful. It was very different from a metropolitan area, like the Triangle, where everyone is constantly rushing and trying to beat traffic. Alaskans operate at a slower pace. So you can't help but slow down and take it all in. If you're looking for a stress-free vacation, then Alaska is the place for you.
The food was excellent! We had a little bit of everything Alaska has to offer. However, Snow City Cafe and International House of Hotdog would take the trophy if I could only pick two. Reindeer hot dogs are now one of my favorite foods! You can find hotdogs everywhere in Alaska, but the International House of Hotdogs is where you want to go. They make delicious gourmet hot dogs that are based on cities from around the world. Buffalo, reindeer, chicken sausage, beef, they have it all.
However, Snow City Cafe has you covered when you're not in the mood for hot dogs. They are a local brunch spot in downtown Anchorage that serves breakfast all day. Their matcha latte and stuffed french toast are out of this world. I recommend getting there early. It is a trendy restaurant and will get packed very quickly.
Summer Dog Sledding
Fun fact - dog sledding isn’t just a winter activity! On our third day in Alaska, we took a trip to Girdwood and tried the Summer Sled Dog Adventure. I learned about the Iditarod, which is an intense long-distance sled race that travels from Anchorage to Nome. We met famous mushers, petted puppies, learned Alaskan sledding history, and interacted with dogs that ran the Iditarod. The dogs are insanely intelligent and strong. You can tell we enjoyed every part of it.
Take some time to catch up, slow down, and get to know the people you call friends and family. Remember, "The best things in life are the people we love, the places we've been, and all the memories we've made along the way." If you can't decide on a place, give Alaska a try, I promise you will not regret it.