By most standards, Anchorage is not a large U.S. city. But since it is a major city, so far north, a population of 300,000+ seems large. What the heck do these people do for a living? Better yet, what do they do during those long, cold winter nights? My guess is that many babies are born toward the end of the year?
Yet, Anchorage holds 31% of this state’s population. Alaska has their own time zone, Alaska Standard Time, which is one hour behind Pacific Standard Time, and four hours behind Eastern Standard Time. Yet the city is about the size of Delaware, or 1961 square miles, much of which is uninhabitable. It is both a city and a county, known otherwise as a municipality. It is a port city with several suburbs.
Having been here twice before on business hardly qualifies me as an Anchorage visitor veteran. I do not remember much, other than the long daylight in the Fall. Yes, the winters are cold, and the summer days (19.5 hours of sunlight) very long. June is usually the best month for long days and good weather.
To reach Anchorage by land from the contiguous states, one must drive through Canada via the Alaskan Highway. It begins in northern British Columbia, and ends in Fairbanks. The Seward Highway serves traffic entering the Kenai Peninsula to the south. I decided to drive out along Turnagain Arm, to the Kenai, and Portage Glacier, a mossy beautiful drive. I saw more ice than I have ever seen!
With a few days to here, I found that Anchorage is not very walkable except for the compact downtown area. This is the historic core, with tourist activities, shopping (even a Nordstrom), hotels, and the train depot. Midtown is fairly commercial, with Northern Lights Blvd as the main landmark. South Anchorage is largely suburban, West has Bootlegger’s Cove, East has the universities, and Spenard the seedy, red light district, with Ted Stevens Airport. The East has hospitals and universities, Hillside is mostly residential, and the rest, most either tourist or residential.
This city is rather dull, between seasons, with high avalanche danger due to global warming. Seafood is rather expensive, craft beers are all the rage, and the locals are very friendly. Downtown seems to have its fair share of poets and derelicts. I needed to get out to the countryside.
I had the best bowl of pho tai in decades here in Anchorage. I may even have sushi or king crab tempura for dinner. And for dessert, you will never guess. The Alaska Aces, their minor league ice hockey team, trying to squeeze into the playoffs. It was quite entertaining for only $25. And a quick perusal of the Alaska State Museum just for jollies. I actually found some interesting information about the entire Russian Alaskan culture and interactions over the centuries.
See you in Fairbanks, up in Hillblom (an old friend who was a bush pilot up here during the pipeline construction) country, for those of you who know the famous bush pilot, the Sky King of the Yukon. He is a legend up here!!
Top photo: Portage Lake
Middle photo: The Anchorage Aces hockey team
Lower photo: Turnagain Arm