A Weekend in Alaska

Moose!I’m not sure what I expected of Alaska. A great white baron North I suppose. It’s a place I’ve never really thought about; it’s always just kind of been there, on the map. I had never thought about coming to Alaska, and as a result never put much thought into what it’s like here. Well, I am discovering that it is not a great white baron North, and far from it! In fact, it is very green at this time of year. The lilacs and the daisies are both in bloom (as a result of the short but accelerated growing season), the trees are green and the vegetation is really very lush.

I’ve spent my first weekend in Anchorage seeing what there is to see. Maybe I should have been working, but, well, I didn’t. Friday after work my boss here, a coworker and a former employee went to a bar down the street from the office for a beer. It was a typical bar, and did have some Alaskan brews on tap. So I tried two different ones, and both were tasty. After the pub, three of us continued on to a brew pub downtown. There was a long wait to be seated, but the pub had two areas – a restaurant area and a bar area, and in the bar area you can seat yourself. So we wandered over there to look for a spot … there weren’t any, but my boss here is 76 years old and walks with a cane, so it didn’t take long to find a table! Dinner was excellent – more Alaskan beer and some fantastic and very fresh sockeye salmon. We didn’t get out of the restaurant until 11pm, and it was still light out. (Today’s sunrise was at ~4:30am and sunset at ~11:30pm – giving us almost 19 hours of daylight… and there seems to be more nighttime activity here as a result).

Saturday morning my coworker met me at the hotel and we headed over to the office via a restaurant for some breakfast. I had eggs and reindeer sausage. First time I’ve had reindeer – it was good! At the office, there is a little red truck that I can use, except it’s a standard. Well, I was getting a bit sick of waiting on being picked up and felt bad that someone had to pick me up and also take me for lunch, etc. (Renting a car isn’t cheap and my company really is very small here – 4 people in total!). So, I decided that if I am going to get around on my own I would have to figure out how to drive a standard … g-u-l-p. As some of you know, I’m not a big fan. Dave has taught me before, but I’ve never found it easy and have always found it nerve-wracking waiting at a light and not knowing if I’m going to stall when the light turns green! So we spent a bit of time going through it all, with me practicing a bit. It went well, and at the end of the day I managed to drive from the office to the hotel and didn’t stall once. My heart rate still goes way up at red lights though!

We spent the afternoon biking around Anchorage. The city has an extensive trail system, which is possibly better than Ottawa’s. I rented a bike downtown, and Greg had his in the back of his truck. So we drove out to a place with parking and access to the trails and away we went! We biked up the coastal trail, which follows Cook’s Inlet, to Kincaid Park, where there was a disc golf tournament going on. Disc golf is very popular here – there are four courses and we passed two of them on our bike ride. We continued through the park and stopped for ice cream at a place like Dairy Queen only better because the ice cream is super-creamy and they don’t cheap out on the ‘blizzard’ toppings. Then we continued on some roads/sidewalks (everyone bikes on the sidewalks here), and then onto some more trails within the city. On one of these, we saw some ladies stopped as they looked at something in the bush. It was a moose! Actually, it was two moose – a mother and its baby. It was amazing! They were right within the city, so close to one of the discgolf courses, just hanging out in the creek. I was able to get some great photos. By the end of the afternoon we had cycled for over 3 hours, and probably 40-45km.

After the biking, we wandered through the Sat-Sun Market, which is located downtown and is full of vendors mostly selling crafts, some souvenirs, some meat and fish and a few selling fresh produce (which was probably shipped in from Seattle). There were also a bunch of stalls selling ready-to-eat food. It was quite the place! I might have to go back next weekend and buy some souvenirs or something. There is a lot of really nice stuff here that one could buy, but it is not as cheap as I am used to when traveling in developing countries! Not sure what I will buy, if anything. Then we headed to a restaurant that overlooks the inlet for some more Alaskan beer and some delicious just-caught-today king salmon that was mouth-wateringly good.

Hiking at Eagle RiverToday was a little less busy! My coworker offered to take me up to Flat Top, which is a nearby mountain where you can hike to the top and see some great views. However, it was raining this morning, and even more cloudy than it has been yet! So that didn’t happen. Instead, I hung out in the motel, practiced the stick shift a bit and then we headed out to an alternate hike this afternoon. We went to the Eagle River Nature Centre, which is about 40 min outside of town. We went on a 3 mile hike along the river. It was so peaceful, and despite the clouds some of the views were amazing. The country side is so green and lush – it’s not quite the Peruvian jungle, but considering the conditions up here it is pretty incredible. No wildlife sightings other than a few birds, but I did see another moose this morning not far from the motel while I was driving around! We’ll have to see if I can get to Flat Top when there are fewer clouds in the air. I headed to a nearby hotel that has a pub overlooking the lake for dinner…more fish, which was good but not quite as tasty as the two previous nights.

Well, tomorrow is back to work. This week is going to be a busy one trying to get this proposal together, but I sure am learning a lot about cold-weather engineering. It’s very interesting!

I’ve posted some photos … there are a few from a nearby hotel lobby which are of a stuffed polar bear and grizzly … they are huge!! And the whole lobby of this hotel is decorated with stuffed animals.

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Posted in alaska | travel | work Submitted by Meg on Mon, 2008-07-14 14:04

outdoor adventuring paradise

Submitted by Meg on Mon, 2008-07-14 21:34.

Alaska is definitely paradise to people who like the outdoors. There is so much to do! And I haven't even scratched the surface. Hopefully I will have more adventures next weekend...until then I'm at work!

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Your latest adventure

Submitted by Kim (not verified) on Mon, 2008-07-14 20:31.

Great post Meghan! Sounds like a terrific opportunity for you. And learning more about cold weather engineering is bound to come in handy when you're tired of working in hot developing countries and decide to focus on projects closer to home.

Looking forward to reading more of your stories.

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Meese?

Submitted by kevin@haggaret.com on Mon, 2008-07-14 20:07.

Goose, Geese.
Moose, Meese.

Just kidding! :)

Wow - sounds like an excellent weekend Meg! Cycling and lots of DG (even though you didn't play) sounds like the perfect weekend to me. Glad you are getting to enjoy Alaska in the summer instead of the winter.

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