Sunny fun in Anchorage

Anchorage Travel Blog

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Well Hallelujah!  The weather broke and the sun came out, make Anchorage a sparkling, beautiful city.  Anchorage usually has 100 days of summer weather of over 65 degrees, but we got experience Day 12 and Day 13 (Aug 6th and 7th).  I'm playing catch-up on the blog, so I'll summarize our fun:

Fellow-Lazy Daze Owner, Beth Davis and her adult son Brad, were great fun and we really enjoyed visiting with them.  Brad helped me reinstall the medicine cabinet that somehow fell off the wall when Lia was opening it (I don't want details of how that happened- it survived the Dempster Hwy, but not the Lia). 

Beth and Brad joined us in the Ship Creek Campground, which is closest to downtown.  http://www.

bestofalaskatravel.com/alaska_rv_parks/pages/anchorage_rv_map.htm We could dry camp there for just $26, which was more convenient as it was walkable to downtown.  Plus, we would have paid the extra $6 (more than Centennial dry camping cost) for parking in Anchorage.   We hope to see them again at the Balloon Fiesta in October, as they are headed north now. 

Rode bikes on the Tony Knowles bike path

Trolley Shuttle Tour of Anchorage- very interesting and fun 50-minute tour.  The driver was a hoot.  Here are some of the things we found interesting:

  • Anchorage has 1,000 hanging flowerpots in the downtown (and they are huge!) and a water truck waters them every morning.
  • There is a 40-year waitlist for the airline slots on the water around Lake Hood- they are deeded down the generations.  1 in 100 Alaskans owns an airplane (about $100,000) as they're a primary form of transportation.
     
  • An Eagle painted on the side of the High School was a gift by the Class of 1971.  The principal forbade them from putting their class year on the painting, so they secretly asked the artist to incorporate it into the design, which he did about 11 times (or so).  It took the principal 4 years to determine this and in 1981, as the student's 10-year reunion, the principal showed up with detention passes for each and every one of them.  Haha! (Bus Driver's Dad was in this class)
  • An underground house was in a neighborhood (Bus Driver's Mom's neighborhood- very personal tour!), and the only sunlight entry was through 2 small skylights.
  • Earthquake Park- an area where you could see the land dropped about 12 feet.  The earthquake sent waves through town in 1964, virtually eliminating the towns of Valdez and Seward on the coast, as well as Portage.
  • Turnagain Arm, the waterway that comes south of Anchorage, was so named because Captain Cook, in seeking the Northwest Passage, had to "turn again" to head his ship back around.
  • Special "moose gates" near the airport keep the moose off the runway.  They had curved metal openings that swivelled like a turnstill.  If a moose is hit on the road and killed, you can get on a list to get called so you can go to the site and salvage the meat (up to 600 lbs of meat).
  • Our bus driver asked if we'd tried the Alaskan beer, gone to the brewery, and experienced the Alaska State wine.  When we hadn't, she said that this was the wine:  "I wanna go to Hawaii!" (whine).  Very funny.
  • Our bus driver said that with the 2:1 male/female ratio in Alaska, up to 5:1 in places, friends asked her why she wasn’t married.
      She said, “While the odds are good, the goods are odd.” 
  • Bus Driver sang a lovely rendition of the Alaska State Song (about the flag's stars of gold on a field of blue) at the end of the tour, essentially tripling her gratuity.

Went on the Solar System walk, which starts at a large sun sculpture.  Then you wander west down 5th Ave. and see some informational boards about the other planets.  Not particularly clear which direction to go, nor as dramatic as expected, but an interesting concept nonetheless.

Ate dinner at Simon & Seafort's, www.

simonandseaforts.com , a Chowhound-recommended nice restaurant.  Toasted Daddy/Ned for the great experience and crab-stuffed, macadamia encrusted halibut!

Booked our ferry down the inside passage.  This was no easy feat!  Here's what I recommend if you want to stop along the way.

  • Go to the Alaska Info Center and ask or order in advance) a printed schedule because the website is too slow. 
  • Note the requirements for the See Alaska pass (travel between either Haines or Skagway to or from Prince Rupert). 
  • Cross out all the times that embark in the very middle of the night
  • Plot out a schedule based on when ferries travel to the cities you want to visit
  • Check the arrival times of all the ferries to see if you're arriving in the middle of the night (must look on the website, not on the printed schedule)
  • Plan to book a cabin for all overnight passages (usually to and from Sitka as it is far away)
  • Then write out your schedule, highlight your dates and times, and take it to the Alaska Visitor's Center
  • They will call the ferry reservationist for you and get it booked, print an itinerary, take your credit card, and give you their  business card in case you have trouble.
  • Stand there in the Visitor's Center and double-check the itinerary against your notes.  Make sure the RV is listed for each leg and that a cabin is booked for the nights you want it.

We booked Haines, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Prince Rupert and with the RV it's around $2400.  Now, we will get "up to 25% off" of the people fares with the See Alaska Pass for up to 3 of those stops, but the ferry reservationist could only advise us to get the pass applied when we check-in for the ferry in Haines.  There is no information available as to which discounts apply to which legs, so any money that we get refunded is a gift (since we'd have taken this route regardless). 

Of course we do not have to pay for about $1000 in gas that it would cost us to drive from Haines to Prince Rupert.  However, mostly we are taking the Alaska Maritime Highway because many of these communities (including Juneau), cannot be reached by road, so it is just an opportunity cost that we had anticipated for the trip.

 

The only stop we didn't book is Ketchikan, as the ferry schedule did not work out well (arrived in middle of the night), it is Alaska's 4th largest city, I've been there, and it's popular with cruise ships, so we skipped it.  We plan to leave Haines on August 18th and arrive in Prince Rupert on September 2nd.

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Anchorage
photo by: anupa_rk