Anchorage, Alaska and Beyond: June 20th to June 24th, 2009

Anchorage Travel Blog

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First viewing of a moose in Potters Marsh, Alaska

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".

Portage Glacier

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.

Fantastic scenery driving south of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm
  Come prepared for rainy (or snowy) weather as roughly six out of every seven days it rains.  One hour cruises, which operate May to September, ferry tourists across Portage Lake to the glacier.  Dress for the weather as wind on the cruise can be a problem as well.  One crew member told me "There is no bad weather--only bad clothes" (and I had to laugh) as I stood there dripping with rain.

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.

Girdwood

Between Anchorage and Portage lies the town of Girdwood, Alaska, which is a ski resort in the winter.

Taking the boat out to Portage Glacier, about 55 miles south of Anchorage
  I stopped for a late lunch and visited two restaurants--The Bake Shop and Chair 5.  The Bake Shop is famous for its soup and locals will drive from Anchorage just for a bowl.  Expect long lines as this restaurant is popular.  I also stopped at Chair 5, which is more of a ski-type restaurant.  The menu was hilarious as the cover warned that firearms, fist fights and cussing were banned (and I don't think they were joking).  Try the Chair 5 halibut-wich, which is a really fresh fish sandwich.

Seward Highway

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.

Potter's Marsh

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.

Snow melt was causing instant water falls
  The marsh is filled with wildlife and a long viewing deck stretches through the marsh.  Bring your binoculars as birds and wildlife are everywhere.  I was lucky enough to see two moose and a bald eagle guarding its nest (apparently there were two babies).  When parking at Potter's Marsh, there is a white memo board at the entrance where a daily list of animals and birds spotted are posted.  I got to the marsh around 5:30 p.m. and the memo board was full.

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.

  Exhibits inside explain that roughly 200 knitters statewide hand knit the wool to make beautiful hats and scarves.  The Oomingmak own roughly 60 musk ox on a farm in Palmer, Alaska.  Apparently some of the musk ox recently had babies and the public is invited to visit the farm.

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.

Amazing scenery on the way to Portage

Deadhorse

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.

 

 

 

 

dallastexas says:
Amazing scenery. Nice pics. Donna, seems like you are having a blast
Posted on: Oct 03, 2009
tomassgringo says:
Great photos for a great blog!!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2009
marix_sublime says:
donna, where's the halibut-wich?? you forgot to upload a pix. i wanted to see it, hahaha!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2009
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First viewing of a moose in Potter…
First viewing of a moose in Potte…
Fantastic scenery driving south of…
Fantastic scenery driving south o…
Taking the boat out to Portage Gla…
Taking the boat out to Portage Gl…
Snow melt was causing instant wate…
Snow melt was causing instant wat…
Amazing scenery on the way to Port…
Amazing scenery on the way to Por…
A view of Portage Glacier--notice …
A view of Portage Glacier--notice…
Headed to Portage Glacier where it…
Headed to Portage Glacier where i…
On board the M/V Ptarmigan
On board the M/V Ptarmigan
More views of Portage Glacier
More views of Portage Glacier
Another view of Portage
Another view of Portage
Purple lupine which grows wild alo…
Purple lupine which grows wild al…
A lone fisherman along the Seward …
A lone fisherman along the Seward…
More incredible scenery
More incredible scenery
Entering the town of Girdwood whic…
Entering the town of Girdwood whi…
The Bake Shop in Girdwood--famous …
The Bake Shop in Girdwood--famous…
Girdwood
Girdwood
Chair 5--A ski restaurant in Girdw…
Chair 5--A ski restaurant in Gird…
Downtown Anchorage
Downtown Anchorage
Extremely dangerous mud flats alon…
Extremely dangerous mud flats alo…
More mud flats
More mud flats
Lots of tourist shops with moose o…
Lots of tourist shops with moose …
Downtown Anchorage
Downtown Anchorage
Alaska is celebrating its 50th ann…
Alaska is celebrating its 50th an…
Potters Marsh--just south of Ancho…
Potters Marsh--just south of Anch…
A second moose viewing in Potters …
A second moose viewing in Potters…
Potters Marsh--look at the 11:00 p…
Potters Marsh--look at the 11:00 …
Potters Marsh
Potters Marsh
Qiviut--musk ox wool which native …
Qiviut--musk ox wool which native…
On the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail-…
On the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail…
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
A view outside of Anchorage from t…
A view outside of Anchorage from …
Deadhorse, Alaska which is an oilf…
Deadhorse, Alaska which is an oil…
Tundra on the North Slope of Alask…
Tundra on the North Slope of Alas…
Arctic Ocean in June not far from …
Arctic Ocean in June not far from…
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photo by: anupa_rk