Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When does a city of over 300,000 people not feel like a big city? When you're in Anchorage. I have never visited a city with so much open space. The city's motto is "Friends at the front door, Wilderness at the back!" In Anchorage more then more than 1600 moose and a couple hundred black and brown bears roam the city's immense expanses of greenbelts. Surrounded by mountains, dotted with numerous lakes and streams Anchorage is really beautiful. Anchorage has been a great break from the immense wilderness of Alaska, a little bit of civilization in a huge land.

On our first night in town we visited The Sourdough Mining Company Restaurant. On our way to Alaska  we stopped at Seven Feathers Casino for the night and met Amanda, the casinos restaurant hostess. She told us, she was from Anchorage and was moving back to help the family run the Sourdough Mining Company Restaurant. She said "be sure to stop by and say hello when you get to Anchorage." Of course, it was her day off.

We visited the Alaska Zoo, where I took a not so graceful nose dive onto the gravel path, injuring my pride and scraping my arm. Jim was disappointed he didn't get a photo of my swan dive. Nice zoo, reminded us a lot of Northwest Trek in Tacoma Washington.
In Alaska many people own their own airplane and fly to get around. Anchorage has lakes dedicated to aircraft use. One of them is Lake Hood. No swimming, no fishing, no boating; only planes, moored, taking off or landing. To get a slip on Lake Hood you have to wait 12 years, once you have the slip the rental is only $100 a month.
We took in a dinner show called the WildRide Sled Dog Rodeo with Dallas Seavy (the youngest musher in Iditarod history.) His Dad has run in 17 Iditarod races, Dallas has run in 4. We got to meet Dallas, ask tons of questions and see non-stop dog action, demonstrating all aspects of dog mushing. After the show we got to meet the dogs and a pile of Alaskan Husky puppies. These dogs are insane; all they want to do is pull the sled, with or without a musher. In harness, they cannot stand still, jumping up and down, barking and straining at the harness. Mushing is not cheap hobby, a kennel of 60 dogs costs about $150,000 a year to maintain. Dallas finances his “hobby” by doing the show.

We spent most of one day at the huge Farmers Market. There were Alaskan handmade crafts (including fir hats,) street performers, and delicious food. We covered all the basic food groups – hot dogs, corn on the cob and funnel cake. By the time we left, every little kid knew Maggie’s name. Maggie has become a kid magnet.

We visited a park called Potter Marsh so I could do some birding. Beautiful location with the Chugach Mountains in the background. The elevated boardwalk was so cool, a moose walked right under the boardwalk 3 feet from me.

We also visited the Alaska Botanical Park. There were some wonderful artfully done vegetable beds, rare poppies in bloom from the Himalayas, and tons of peonies. All the paths were edged with wattle fencing, so pretty.
Tomorrow we leave for the Kenai Peninsula.

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