• Post category:Alaska

Exploring Downtown Anchorage

Alaska is such a big state!   To get to the heart of it – Anchorage – we took an early taxi yesterday to Sea-Tac airport to catch a 10 am Alaska Airlines flight. The flight took around 3 hours 40 minutes.  We are booked into the Embassy Suites, Anchorage for 2 nights.  The hotel is in Midtown Anchorage, but there is a free airport shuttle Downtown, so exploring is easy.

On Alaska Airways, for. example, the stewardess did the usual check with the passengers sitting in the exit row and explained that they needed to take responsibility for the exit etc. Then, in a loud and very cheerful voice, she asked them to confirm they had understood by saying “Now give me a YES!, verbal and very assertive please!” They all dutifully and enthusiastically obliged – funny.

We spent a couple of hours exploring downtown Anchorage on the afternoon we arrived. The Saturday afternoon craft market was a good place to visit. We bought a sunhat!

First job the next day was an early morning walk to Walmart to buy some English breakfast tea. Only coffee in the room – just not the same and worth a bit of a walk to find the real thing. Everything in Walmart seemed to be supers-ized – the minimum milk carton was 4 litres?!

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Then, we took the free airport shuttle from Midtown to Downtown Anchorage. We walked for a couple of hours along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which was a good start to the day. The sun was shining brightly, but there was a chill in the air early on. The area reminded me a bit of the Camargue – marshy mud flats, with lots of birdlime.

We walked past some beautiful houses – all made of wood, which seems amazing given there will be at least 4 feet of snow most of the Winter and Winter here is mid September to mid May. Several houses had windows below ground level – I suppose if it is dark for a large part of the year, it doesn’t make much difference?! The houses generally all had lots of windows and large garages.
Anchorage Alaskan wooden house with buried windows

Alaska Public Lands Information Centre

A visit to the Alaska Public Lands Information Centre was informative.

We learned about the bear reserve at Kenai, where visitors draw lots to be allowed to form part of a limited number tour. Humans coexist with bears there, with strict rules about leaving each other alone, no feeding etc. It all seems to work well – although what would happen in a bad Winter if the beats got hungry I don’t know. There has never been a casualty though.

We learned about the Gold Rush and an obliging park ranger showed us how to pan for gold and treated us to a trip through the emergency exit doors to see Mount McKinley in the distance – a rare sight in Anchorage, because usually, it is too cloudy to see it at all. He was pretty excited about it.

Anchorage Mount McKinley
The elusive Mount McKinley
Anchorage Panning for Gold in Anchorage
Panning for gold
We passed a beautiful quilt shop with some stunning completed quilts on display. One of northern wildflowers particularly took my eye. The shopkeeper explained about how the town was devastated by an earthquake in the 60’s – most of 4th Street (the main thoroughfare) sank under the road. No wonder everywhere look so clean and new here – most of it is!
Anchorage Beautiful Alaskan Wildflower Quilt

Foodie Firsts

Lunch was at Humpy’s – a great alehouse with a choice of over 50 draught beers and a pledge of “no crap on tap”! We had a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup with a taster flight of Alaskan beers – superb.

Lunch at Humpy's Anchorage
Lunch at Humpy's Anchorage

Captain Cook Tour

We rounded off the day with a guided walk around the parts of the town linked to Captain Cook led by an enthusiastic Alaskan Uni student who dressed the part and put her heart and soul into the job. Alaskans do tend to do that – they all seem to be very upbeat and energetic.
Anchorage Captain Cook Tour Guide
Captain Cook Tour Guide

Learning the Lingo

I learned some Alaskan today:

Bluebird – a perfect sunny day with a blue sky 
Cheechako – a newcomer, who hasn’t done a Winter yet
Outside – Any place other than Alaska – i.e. the Lower 48
Sourdough – an Alaskan old-timer
Termination Dust – light snow on the mountain tops signalling the end of Summer

Anchorage An Alaskan Bluebird!
An Alaskan Bluebird!
Denali National Park Denali Termination Dust
Termination Dust