Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Beautiful Downtown Anchorage

Anchorage is simply beautiful. It's a thoroughly modern city, but with the character and charm of a small town. You can get any service you need. From the airport, you can fly anywhere in the world- from fly in fishing trip to a local lake or stream to just about any international city. And don't worry, the runway is fenced so as to keep the moose out from in front of your plane as it takes off. No joke! Dress is casual if you want it to be, and most do, but there are also places to get dressed up and go dining and dancing if that's what you were hoping to find in Alaska. We do NOT fit into that last category, but we did get together with Gary and Judy for a cook-at-table side Japanese dinner at Kobe Steak House- very nice.
The visitor center is a classic log cabin with an earthen (sod) roof. What better place to plant your garden than on your roof where the moose can't eat your cabbage? There are downtown contests to "decorate this" just like I have talked about back home in Maine where we "did up" a lobster, and in tiny Talkeetna where they do moose. In Anchorage they do salmon. And why not? After all, Ship's Creek, runs right through the downtown and passed the Ulu factory and under a bridge with a restaurant on it where they serve a salmon bake fresher than you can get anywhere else in the world. If you had a mind to, you could park downtown in a parking garage, go to the furrier and buy a native stitched fur coat, eat a four course meal at a restaurant, shop for trinkets at the tourist traps, select a local made Ulu knife at the factory, ship freight from the shipping depot, watch the train leave town headed for Mount McKinley, then walk about one block in your hip waders, rod in hand, and fish for just about any kind of salmon that happens to be running at that time- and if you were good at time management, you could do it all in about an hour (well, OK, you'd have to eat pretty fast, but you get the idea).

The town was laid out by the military during a no-nonsense time in our history, so the long and narrow town is laid out in a grid. Streets run alphabetical one way and numerically in the other direction. A couple main roads have names, but they just tell you where the road goes. Guess where Seward Highway will take you....You could get lost if you tried hard enough I suppose, but even those of us who use a GPS to find a post office in town can get the hang of things after just a day or so. Anchorage is a "bowl." The bowl is bordered by mountains and sea. You want to go south, keep the mountains on your left. You want to go north, keep them on your right. You want to go east, head toward them; west, toward the sea. There is nowhere, nowhere in town I tell you, that you cannot see either the mountains or the sea.

Below, decorated salmon art: "Salmon Eggs"


Good information and nice gardens at the Visitor's Center.

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