We arrived in the gate at Anchorage exactly on time at 9:45 pm AKST. Alaska Standard Time is an hour behind Pacific Standard Time. Of course as a kid I learned that there are six months of daylight and six months of darkness in Alaska, and I always suspected that was somewhat of a urban legend. I had a hard time accepting that there was a place that exists on Earth where it was just sunny all the time. I figured that there had to be time when it was at least almost dark. I learned right away I was both right and wrong. Here we were at 10:00 pm, and it was sunnier than it was when we had left Denver! At first it was hard to adapt to mentally. The sun, coupled with our excitement of arriving at this new place on our first trip of summer vacation, made it hard to remember it was 1 am where we had come from. We couldn't even call anyone back home and tell them how amazing it was, because they were asleep! The sun would "set" while we were in Alaska at about 1 am, but it gets about as dark as it does at maybe 7 or 8 pm (in summer) everywhere else, and it "rose" again before 4 am.
We took a $25 cab ride to our hotel in downtown Anchorage. We stayed at the Howard Johnson's, because it was the cheapest hotel we could find as last minute as we had made the reservation. I'll get into the hotel later... there was a bed there, which sufficed, just leave it at that for now. As soon as we got there, we went out to see what we could find, but didn't make it far: everything was closed. Again, it was after 10:00 on a weeknight. We did see a bike rental place right across the street from the hotel, and made a note to stop there in the morning. We had hoped to find a store to get something to eat, but no such luck. There were a few expensive vending machines at the hotel that we had to settle for. And then we spent the rest of the night watching Disney Channel and Alaska Channel - a channel with commercials that play over and over - and sorting through some tourist flyers and maps we got from the hotel lobby. We literally had no plans or ideas or what to do until then, as we had only ultimately decided on this trip the day before!