Anchorage, Alaska and Beyond: June 20th to June 24th, 2009
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I visited Anchorage, Alaska as part of my job in June, 2009. While I was working most of the time, I did get to see some interesting things. I also experienced my first earthquake at 5.4 on the Richter Scale!
I arrived on the longest day of the year in Alaska so there were celebrations for the Summer Solstice. A celebration festival was going on in downtown Anchorage and many locals were hosting solstice parties.
The state of Alaska is unusual and truly is "The Last Frontier".
About 55 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway is Portage Glacier. Portage is located off Turnagain Arm in the Chugach National Forest, the second largest forest in the United States.
The lake is roughly 600 feet deep but is a "dead lake" as fish cannot survive the glacier silt. The glacier itself is blue because of light and pressure. Glacier ice is very dense and the denser the ice, the bluer the color. Portage Glacier is beautiful but unfortunately, the glacier is shrinking.
Between Anchorage and Portage lies the town of Girdwood, Alaska, which is a ski resort in the winter.
Along the Seward Highway, scenery is spectacular along Turnagain Arm (basically an arm off Cook Inlet). There are lots of viewing points and if you are lucky, you may be able to spot a major tide change or beluga whales.
Just south of the Anchorage city limits along the Seward Highway is Potter's Marsh, which was accidentally created when the Alaska Railroad was being built.
Qiviut (pronounced "kiv-ee-it")
Qiviut is the wool that is naturally shed from musk ox, which is combed from the stomach. Qiviut is some of the warmest wool in the world and is fairly rare. In downtown Anchorage, there is a local native Alaskan co-operative who run a shop called Oomingmak. The shop is in a small brown house close to several hotels.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Around the City of Anchorage, there is a 12 mile hiking trail with great scenery. The trail is also good for biking as it is paved. Be careful of moose (there are signs warning about how to prevent moose attacks) and the mud flats off the trail are deadly, as the mud acts as quicksand. As the tidal changes are severe, people have been caught out in the flats, sank in mud and then drowned with the tide change.
Located at the very top of Alaska, roughly ten miles from the Arctic Ocean, is the town of Deadhorse. Deadhorse is purely an oilfield town (not for tourists) but it is amazing being so close to the Arctic Ocean. In Deadhorse, the general "store" has a photo of a polar bear peaking through the store windows and the local "hotel" (really a trailer) can also be used as the jail. I had to laugh that when we arrived it was 33F with 40 mph winds and some of the locals were wearing t-shirts.
Near Deadhorse, I was lucky enough to get to fly out over the Arctic Ocean where there was still ice in the water in June! It was amazing being that far north.
Overall, Alaska is a beautiful state and very remote. It is completely different from any other state I have visited in the United States as you really are on the frontier.