Browsing Tag


Europe, General travel, North America

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

March 14, 2018 • By

It’s my favorite time of year, St. Patrick’s Day. Clocks spring forward and daylight devours night, colorful buds sprout on deserted branches and storefront windows display rainbows, four-leaf clovers, and cauldrons full of gold signifying the start of the festivities. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, especially in the United States.

Fantasy Aisle, Irish flag

The Republic of Ireland Flag

Who is St. Patrick to the Irish?

He is the Patron Saint of Ireland, credited with bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle in the latter half of the 5th Century. It is believed he died on March 17 and the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Church and Eastern Orthodox faiths observe this date to celebrate his life and missionary work.

My Irish friends don’t understand the fuss Americans make regarding their holiday being widely celebrated in the United States with elaborate parades, month-long festivals and shamrock colored shakes at McDonald’s. For the Irish, it’s a bank holiday and businesses, schools and even pubs are closed (outside of major cities). Many Catholics attend Mass, people dress up in green, pin a corsage to their lapel and little girls fasten flowing ribbons in their hair. The Catholic Church grants a dispensation on St. Patrick’s Day giving people the day off from Lenten observances and the children take full opportunity to consume sweets and adults relish in a pint of beer or glass of whiskey all in the name of St. Paddy.

A family friend, Jean O’Callaghan of Lahinch, Ireland, told me, “I’m a bit of a cynic or something, but for a long time now, I am not sure he (St. Patrick) existed. A bit like Santa Claus but was a super marketing coup.”

When Jean was younger, there were small parades in Ireland comprised of boy scouts, the army and local brass bands or football (rugby) clubs. Nothing like today’s sizable parades in Chicago and New York and definitely no corned beef!

Fantasy Aisle, Irish Ensemble

My Irish outfit on St. Patrick’s Day during March Madness

In the United States, we adorn green top hats, drink green beer and Guinness, march in parades but mostly we crowd pubs and restaurants to listen to Irish music and toast our Irish comrades across the Atlantic Ocean. We drink Baileys Irish Cream, dance the Irish jig and embrace our often non-existent Irish roots with buttons declaring, Kiss me I am Irish or Irish for the Day and my favorite I Bleed Green.  The American ensemble typically consists of floppy hats, green shamrock sweaters and beads. We love beads. I admit to wearing a Leprechaun inspired hat and Kelly green fitted jacket every holiday.

Fantasy Aisle, Father Daughter in Ireland

Family trip to Ireland in 1999

In 2016, my father became an Irish Citizen after a year’s wait. It took both of us working side by side examining difficult to read ship manifests and his family’s genealogy reports from County Mayo to piece together his family’s 150-year-old history before he could apply for citizenship.  The Irish Government grants citizenship to foreign-born children and grandchildren of Irish-born citizens. When I asked my dad why he wanted to be Irish, he said, “It was important to honor his ancestors who strived to give him a better life.” My dad is a proud Irishman, the only true Irishman in our family (my mother maintains German roots). His paternal grandfather hailed from County Mayo and his maternal great grandparents from County Meath. I treasured the time I spent with my dad working on his citizenship papers and while my DNA report states that I am only 68 percent Irish/Great Britain, on St. Patrick’s Day I am 100 percent Irish.


General travel, North America, soul searching

Redefining Sexy by Brooke Edwards, Wild World Wanderings

September 15, 2017 • By

This is the first post as part of a new series featuring strong and determined women travelers and guides. Today’s guest author is Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings on “redefining sexy”.

Fantasy aisle, Brooke Edwards in deep snow redefining sexy

Redefining Sexy

Alaska Girls Kick Ass reads the hot pink bumper sticker donning many a vehicle in the 49th State and beyond.  And it’s actually true, Alaska girls DO kick ass.  I truly feel honored to be a woman amongst some of the strongest, most athletic, interesting, hard-core, sexy, feminine, beautiful, talented Renaissance women of Alaska.

Being sexy here is not the curve of your breasts, nor is it what ridiculous amount of money you spent on designer jeans. Alaska Sexy is how a woman skis a more jaw-dropping line than most dudes. It’s how she rows the rapid and pulls over to catch, fillet and cook her salmon over a fire.  It’s how she owns the dance floor with wild confidence, secure in her own skin and extra tufts.  Alaska Sexy is a goggle tan and sunburned lips.

Alaskan women are wilderness guides, hunters, fisherwomen, carpenters, adventurers, endurance athletes and more. They build their own homes, catch their own fish, chainsaw their own firewood and fix their own trucks.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy by Brooke Edwards, Brooke with skis on a mountainside

Photo Courtesy of Heather Thamm. Brooke

In 1998, life presented me a quandary: move to Montana to chase a boy, or embrace the wild unknown of my lifelong dream to go to Alaska and guide.  I chose the wild unknown, and, with what little savings I had, managed to purchase my first home: a small hippie shack dry cabin in a bog on railroad ties with the address Toadstool Turnpike, Girdwood.  Hearing that I would have to heat my cabin with wood and haul my own water, my dad gifted me his 25-year-old Stihl chainsaw with a big red bow on it as an early Christmas that year.  He wanted to provide me with the gift that heats you twice: gathering your own wood and burning it later.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy, The Girls Gone Girwood logo on a t shirt

The Logo as part of Girls Gone Girwood

When I first moved to Girdwood, Alaska, I was expecting to find a bunch of dudes who fit the state saying “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”  I steeled my resolve to keep my independent status while I survived being the fresh meat in town.  Instead, I found an incredible group of inspiring women, from boat captains to bush pilots, heli-ski guides to firefighters.  They took me in, taught me real skills that in 20 years of wilderness guiding in Alaska have proved invaluable.  Namely, skills that are hard to define, such as perseverance, tolerance for adversity and following your passion over money.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy, girls of Girls Gone Girwood in skis on a mountainside, photo courtesy of Ralph Kristopher

Photo courtesy of Ralph Kristopher. Girls Gone Girwood

I am grateful for my Girls Gone Girdwood, the funny name we called ourselves back in the day.  Without the GGG, and other phenomenal women getting after it, I would still be struggling to redefine sexy from what society has stuffed down our throats–the airbrushed, manufactured, far-too-skinny magazine model female–to the different vision I embrace today; of strength, power and inner beauty shining from inside out.

To get a sense of what I’m talking about, check out this short 9 minute film highlighting two of my favorite girlfriends and mentors: Leighan Falley and Kirsten Kremer.

The last two summers, I was lucky enough to guide Colton Smith and Jack Steward with the TV show Rock The Park on ABC Saturday mornings.  One year, I took them on a remote river trip on the Aniakchak River where you fly into a lake in the crater of a volcano and raft it out to the ocean.  The next year, they asked me [to join them] for another adventure and this time we ventured on foot deep into the heart of the brutally rugged Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of The Arctic.

Their show is an educational TV show aimed at families with the mission of inspiring more folks to get out and enjoy our National Parks.  Their motto is “If we can do it, so can you!”  To me, this couldn’t have rung more true as I pondered the impact on little girls nationwide watching me, a woman, guide these young fit men in some of the wildest corners of our planet.  I thought to myself, “pay attention, girls: If I can do it, so can you.”

Here’s to redefining sexy and owning our power in the wilderness and at home, ladies.  Let’s Do This!


Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings hails from the Great Pacific Northwest, where her passion for all things outdoors was born. Alaska has been her home for the last 20 years. You can find her year-round exploring mountains and rivers in both the vast wilderness of Alaska and international wild locales.  Brooke has an M.S. in Environmental Education with a primary focus on Ecotourism from The Audubon Expedition Institute. She’s spent over 2 decades incorporating these principles in her guiding.  Brooke would love to share her passion for all things travel by custom designing the perfect itinerary for you.