We’ve been in Anchorage since last Wednesday so this blog covers a lot of territory.
We have been catching up with traveling Escapee Club members, touring the downtown area on foot, by tourist trolley, and by car. We’ve explored surrounding waterways, looked for salmon, and taken a glacier tour. We’ve gone shopping, done laundry, fixed “stuff” and, of course, eaten out! We’ve learned lots about native cultures, oil pipelines, railroads, and wetland marshes. We’ve seen bears, moose, foxes, bald eagles, and lots of geese. (See Wildlife section below.) Now for the details…
Today we joined an estimated 30,000 locals downtown for their annual 4th of July parade and community celebration. This is a very patriotic community and very proud of their statehood (they became the 49th state in 1959). Today’s parade honored their military, community groups and diverse populations.
Alaska SKP Reunion
Our foursome joined the dozen members of the “Loosey Goosey Last Frontier Gang” – Escapees traveling in Alaska – for a happy hour and spaghetti dinner at the Anchorage Moose Lodge. We have been following each other’s journeys and worked hard to catch up with them to compare experiences and plan future stops. The group photo is taken from both ends of the table to hopefully catch everyone.
We took a National Parks Service walking tour of Downtown Anchorage and learned about Alaska’s history from Native settlements, explorations for a Northwest Passage by Capt. Cook (statue), Russian ownership, to becoming the 49th US state.
We spent a couple of hours visiting the local weekend Market Place and then went looking (along with a few fishermen) unsuccessfully for salmon in nearby Ship Creek. The guy in shorts had to be freezing!
Gloria and Frank King scanning the creek for salmon
Live performers, model villages, and static displays helped explain how the various Native communities pass along their cultural traditions and values to the next generations.
No photos inside the downtown Anchorage Museum, but saw a photo exhibit from the Alaskan Gold Rush, extensive oral history and artifacts displays from the state’s many Native communities, and played in a fun, hands-0n kinetics and physical science laboratory for children of all ages.
Driving the Seward Highway
Twice we traveled south along the Seward Highway (AK Hwy. 1) for scenic trips along the Turnagain Arm. We stopped at many of the pullouts to look for Beluga whales (saw none) and other wildlife, receding tides, snow covered mountains, valleys, creeks and marshes.
Portage Glacier Tour
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour boat excursion to within 300 feet of the Portage Glacier. Yes, it was nippy out on the water.
Because of all our touring adventures, we’ve had more lunches or afternoon dinners out while in Anchorage than usual. Saturday we stopped by a downtown restaurant for an early dinner to discover a band was setting up for an evening concert. Can we say "sound test” many times? Sunday we attempted to go to nearby Girdwood, but this ski resort area was in the midst of their annual Forest Festival and traffic was crazy. Lunches at the resort were priced well above our levels so we settled for a sandwich shop by the highway.
We did make a stop on the way home at “Alaska Wild Berry Park” which came highly recommended in a recent blog by friends Sharon and Don Del Rosario. The entrance to this candy and jelly factory features a huge, 20-foot, 3400 gallon chocolate waterfall. Sorry, no finger dipping allowed. The factory was not operating on Sunday but the signage by their glass window displays were very descriptive of their techniques in creating their hand-made treats. We resisted the chocolates and the gang went to another section of the “park” for ice cream cones.
Tonight, however, we had success with good food, good service, reasonable prices and window seats overlooking Cook Inlet at the Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Lady Brewery in downtown Anchorage.
Our entrees (partially eaten): Frank’s “Blackened Alaska Cod Fish Tacos”, Gloria’s Alaskan Cod Fish and Chips”, Luke’s “Wasilla White Pizza”, and my “Smoked Salmon Corn Chowder Pot Pie & Salad”. Yummy!!!
When we reached Anchorage, our expectations for finding animal wildlife were not very high. WRONG!!!
We are staying at the Black Spruce FamCamp on the Fort Richardson Army Base just outside Anchorage and discovered there is a bear that has been visiting lately. We had heard close encounter stories from our Escapee friends who had been staying here, but got our own viewing right outside our windshield. (We’ve also seen two red foxes and a bald eagle here, but no photos.)
When we were headed to the Alaskan Heritage Museum Frank spotted a moose calf along the right side of the entrance road. While we snapped away, Luke answered our question of where Momma was – she was watching baby (and us) from the left side of the road. Normally, it is not a good thing to be between a momma and her calf, but this mom was more interested in devouring a bush rather than charging our Honda CR-V.
Where we had hoped to see bears and moose at Potter’s Marsh, we didn’t. We did watch three families of Canadian Geese out for a community gathering. You have to look closely in the long grass to see the chicks on shore.
Potter’s Marsh is part of the Anchorage Wildlife Refuge that was created when the construction of the Alaskan Railroad system destroyed the local lands. Today a series of viewing boardwalks extend out into the marsh to let us experience the wildlife without disturbing their habitat. At the very end of the boardwalk we also saw two bald eagles sitting quietly in a tree. A local photographer told us these eagles had a nest nearby.
Not quite “wild”, but a 16-year-old bald eagle was on display during today’s Anchorage 4th of July festivities. The handler told us the eagle does not have a mate but still builds a nest. We can’t wait until we get to Deep Creek State Recreation area in Ninilchik to see hundreds of bald eagles along the beach.
NEXT: Seward (maybe)