We just returned from an 11-day trip to Alaska — quite an undertaking, both the travel itself, and going 11 days without internet access! We flew into Anchorage.
I guess I got ahead of myself a little. It was fun to see Alaska take shape from the air …
Once we arrived, the airport had a distinctly Alaskan vibe. It felt cooler than the Midwest for sure, but wasn’t snowing or icy or anything. Maybe it was just the lack of our lovely humidity that caught my attention.
Exploring Anchorage on Foot
So, as is usual for us, we spent quite a bit of time just walking around the city, exploring a bit. There were several of these murals painted on buildings. My oldest daughter really liked Anchorage because she said it reminded her of our own town — large enough to have plenty of things going on, but not too “big city.”
The biggest downside of living in Alaska, I think, would be the darkness. Apparently, their winters aren’t as bad as you might think (at least in most of the parts of Alaska that are actually inhabited to any degree). But, being so far north, they get lots of light in the summer and very little in the winter. There are weeks in December and January where there are only 4-5 hours of light daily. One lady we talked to said that people who grew up there dealt with this pretty well, but that it was more difficult for people who moved in. I can imagine! The other side of this is that summer days are very long. The sun comes up around 4 a.m. when we visited, and it was still light after 10 p.m.
Anchorage — Fun Facts
- Anchorage is Alaska’s most populous city, at around 300,000.
- 40% of Alaskans live in Anchorage.
- The city limits of Anchorage are nearly the size of Delaware — so, while the population isn’t huge, this is a big city, area-wise. That area includes a military base, several suburbs, and Chugach State Park.
- Anchorage has been named the most tax-friendly city in America by Kiplinger. I have to say that it was a treat to realize that several locations in Alaska did not charge any sales tax.
Anchorage is situated on Cook Inlet, shown above. There’s a statue of Captain Cook, who discovered the inlet. He was quite an explorer, charting most of North America’s western coastline for the first time, and sailing thousands of miles across uncharted areas of the globe. When you’re out on the ocean and see how vast and deep its waters area, you can really appreciate the courage and adventurous spirit it would have taken to do something like that.
That night, we were told (by who I can’t remember — another tourist? Someone at the hotel desk?) to walk over to Ship Creek. There were many men (didn’t see any women) there, fishing for salmon. From what we had been told, I was expecting to see fish leaping out of the water on their way upstream. But as would turn out to be the case with wildlife sightings on this trip, that didn’t happen. I watched and watched (for this trip, I splurged and brought my sharpest contact lenses!), but despite my niece pointing out dark areas every now and then below the surface, I could not have identified any of them as a salmon. I think perhaps we were a few weeks early for the great deluge.
So there you have Anchorage — well, mostly. We also visited Anchorage Museum, which I’ll tell you about next time.
Have you visited Anchorage? What can you add to the discussion?