Written by MilwVon on 13 Mar, 2011
Every time I'm in Alaska during the winter months, I'm amazed at the resilience of its residents. One would think that temperatures below zero would keep people inside and not very mobile but nothing could be further from the truth.During my first couple of…Read More
Every time I'm in Alaska during the winter months, I'm amazed at the resilience of its residents. One would think that temperatures below zero would keep people inside and not very mobile but nothing could be further from the truth.During my first couple of winter excursions to Fairbanks, I enjoyed learning about dog sleds as a means of transportation especially along the Alaskan river system. Of course, we have probably all heard of the television show "Ice Road Truckers" that in recent years has featured drivers on the "haul road" north of Fairbanks heading up above the Arctic Circle to Prudhoe Bay. Many of their deliveries are to remote villages that can only be accessed when the marshes, lakes and rivers freeze over.For visitors in the Willow area, much of their transportation is also via the water system, either by boat in the summer or snow machine in the winter. This year I got to see the "Eagle Taxi" at work hauling a wedding party some 25 miles to a remote family cabin during the Iditarod race weekend. The specially built vehicle was enclosed and had a propane heater on snow skis. It was pulled behind a large snow machine and was very efficient in moving the wedding guests throughout the weekend.While out on the Iditarod Trail we saw spectators arriving by the apparent transportation of choice in Alaska . . . the snow machine. There were literally dozens of people lining the 200 yards of trail, many of whom had arrived by the "iron dogs". It was pretty amazing to see this one guy arrive pulling a small trailer loaded with plywood (to creating a stable base/floor), a Weber grill, lawn chairs and a large cooler. This guy was ready to party! Tailgating Alaska-style was ready when his friends arrived about an hour later.Of course with the high number of bush planes in Alaska, everyone seems to have access to fly-in options to just about anywhere in the state. Even if it means renting a plane and pilot for the day, or taking a planned flightseeing excursion, it is the way to get around to remote areas. My friends John & Pete did a flight trip out further on the Iditarod Trail, to the Rainy Pass check-point on Monday.While outside of Willow at the restart of the race, we did see someone arrive by helicopter. We were later told that they owned that helicopter and were not tourists on a tour. Amazing!We stayed at the Eagle Quest Cabins & Lodge near Willow for the restart. They provided us with transportation down to the Iditarod Trail via their "people mover" . . . a cart with two benches pulled by an ATV. This was just like what David and I had experienced at Lake Clark Nat'l Park last summer during our stay at the Silver Salmon Creek Lodge.People also seem very adept at getting around on skis, either skijoring (having a dog pull them) or self-propelling on cross country skis. It was fun to watch a dad teaching his young daughter to cross country ski while in Willow. She couldn't have been any older than four or five.It is good news that while it is cold outside and perhaps miserable for those who don't care for the harsh winters, there are ways to get out and about in Alaska to see what otherwise would not be accessible to people.Close
If your travels bring you to Anchorage for business or an abbreviated visit, do yourself a favor and get out of the city! There are a lot of very beautiful places less than an hour from downtown Anchorage. My friend Jane was amazed…Read More
If your travels bring you to Anchorage for business or an abbreviated visit, do yourself a favor and get out of the city! There are a lot of very beautiful places less than an hour from downtown Anchorage. My friend Jane was amazed at all of the beauty that surrounds Anchorage, and just how little you must drive to really be out into the mountains experiencing mother nature at her best.Heading south of the city on the Seward Highway, you will not have to go far for the opportunity to see moose. Heck, you may even see them right in town, but hopefully not too close or personally. Just this past weekend one visitor made the national news when trying to get too close to a moose in the city. While she wasn't terribly injured, I'm sure she learned the lesson about approaching wildlife . . . THEY ARE WILD!Potter Marsh is one such place where moose may be observed at a safe distance. Further down along Turnagain Arm you may also be lucky to see Dahl Sheep as we did back in the summer of 2006. You can also expect to see eagles along this stretch of the highway. Be sure to take advantage of the pullouts along the water which will provide you the best opportunity for photographs.Further down the Seward Highway, approximately 30-45 minutes from Anchorage you will come to Girdwood and the turn to Alyeska Resort. Girdwood is a quirky little place (think "Northern Exposure") with some restaurants worth a visit for breakfast or lunch. At Alyeska Resort is Seven Glaciers Restaurant which is an outstanding choice for an Alaskan fine dining experience. (See separate review in this journal.)Beyond the Girdwood turnoff, you will next come to the road to Whittier along which is Byron Glacier and the Portage Glacier Lake. Both are also worthy of some time exploring, depending on how much time you have. Many hike the trail up to Byron Glacier, while others do the drive to the Whittier Tunnel turnout for the photo op across the lake to Portage Glacier. In the summer you may even see small icebergs in the lake.Driving back out to the Seward Highway, you will see the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center at the intersection. This is another nice experience, especially if you are visiting in winter when most wildlife is not visible to humans. (See separate review in this journal.)If you wish to head north from Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to any of the towns in that direction. Both Palmer and Wasilla provide interesting stops to view the mountains and nature. Personally, I enjoy the detour trip on the Old Glenn Highway that travels along the river and then over into Palmer. From there you can head to Wasilla and the Iditarod Headquarters or on up to the Hatcher Pass area and Independence Mine.During this winter trip to Anchorage, my friend Pete and I did drive a short distance on the Hatcher Pass road, stopping short before we lost decent road conditions. It was beautiful and pristine, with avalanche warnings throughout the area.Had we had the solar activity to see the northern lights, I would have headed up in this direction to view and photograph the aurora. Unfortunately I missed out, but Pete did get his chance on his last night in Alaska. HURRAY Pete!There is so much wonderful and wild beauty at your Anchorage doorstep. Please be sure to get out and see a little of Alaska, if only for an afternoon.Close
In addition to the nice dining experiences at the Hilton Hotel (Hooper Bay Cafe) and the Millennium Alaskan Hotel (Flying Machine Restaurant), I also dined at a couple of other restaurants that came highly recommended by locals and tourists.Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Beauty Brewing…Read More
In addition to the nice dining experiences at the Hilton Hotel (Hooper Bay Cafe) and the Millennium Alaskan Hotel (Flying Machine Restaurant), I also dined at a couple of other restaurants that came highly recommended by locals and tourists.Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Beauty Brewing Company717 West 3rd AvenueAnchorage, AK907-277-7727With plans to attend the Rondy Melodrama at the Snow Goose Theater, this made good sense to plan for dinner before the show. Initially we were told they were not accepting reservations, but after speaking with their manager, we were taken care of for a 6pm table.As one of the first brew pubs in the city, it was hard to not consider a beer for dinner. Instead, I went for a fruity adult beverage with Malibu rum. For dinner, I wasn't really hungry for a big entree so I chose the french dip style roast beef sandwich with their homemade kettle chips. Jane ordered the blackened salmon sandwich with chips. Both sandwiches were very good, although the service was a bit slow and seemingly not too familiar with the menu or dish preparations.Having eaten a light dinner, we both splurged for dessert. I enjoyed my root beer float which featured their own local brew. It was good, but I don't think as good as Milwaukee's own Sprecher root beer. My dinner including the adult beverage and float came to $32 including tipIn the summer, they have a lovely rooftop dining area which I recall from my June 2006 trip to Anchorage. I will return here again on a future trip to Anchorage as the food is very good.Peanut Farm Bar & Grill5227 Old Seward HwyAnchorage, AK907-563-3283At the recommendation of our flightseeing pilot, we headed out from the airport to the Peanut Farm Bar & Grill for lunch. Neither of us wanted to eat a big lunch since we knew we had 6:00p dinner reservations at a very nice restaurant in Girdwood so we chose to eat light. Jane went with their soup and half sandwich special, featuring a chicken caesar wrap. I ordered the bowl of homemade beef barley soup but also wanted a roll or some sort of bread with it. For an added $1.00 they added a breadstick that was only average at best. With a soft drink, lunch came to $9.50 (plus tip) which I thought was rather expensive for what I got. The soup was good, don't get me wrong. I just don't think the bowl was worth the price they charged ($5.75).That's OK . . . it served the purpose of getting something light as we headed out of town and it was on the way, in the direction we were heading to catch the Seward Highway to Girdwood. I think I would say if you want to dine here for pizza (which did look very good) or a burger, during the game . . . this would be a good spot to drop in. They had televisions everywhere including small tabletop monitor sized for personalized viewing.Close
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 30 Jul, 2010
During my many forays into Anchorage, I noticed many things while I was exploring my new surroundings. One of them is that Anchorage is a very diverse city with people of many nationalities living there. According to the latest census, Anchorage is home…Read More
During my many forays into Anchorage, I noticed many things while I was exploring my new surroundings. One of them is that Anchorage is a very diverse city with people of many nationalities living there. According to the latest census, Anchorage is home to 69% white people, 6% African-American people, 5.5% Native peoples, 6% Asian people, 8% Hispanic, and small percentages of other nationalities. To me, Anchorage was more ethnically diverse than Boise, Idaho or the Pensacola, Florida area two places where I have lived for most of my adult life.
The ethnic diversity of Alaska is from its history as a railroad and military hub. While most Alaskan towns got their history from mining, Anchorage had no natural stores of minerals in the area but it was a good port of call for the railroad.
Anchorage is a relatively young city only founded in 1914. Before Alaska became a U.S. Territory in 1912, the Anchorage area was just a railroad construction port for the Alaska Railroad that was built through the territory from 1915-1923. Alaska was founded in 1914 and was incorporated as a city in November 1920. Before Anchorage's foundation, the Alaska Railroad's headquarters was a tent city known as Ship Creek Landing.
The railroad was a very important part of Anchorage's economy from the 1915 up until the 1950's when the U.S. Military started to install bases in the Anchorage area in the 1940's when there was a threat of Japanese invasion. Elmersdorf Air Force Base near Larissa's home and Fort Richardson are today still a very important part of Anchorage's economy and several residents moved to Alaska after being stationed at the military bases in Alaska and falling in love with Alaska's beauty and topography.
Anchorage suffered millions of dollars in damage during the Good Friday Earthquake in April 1964 that killed 115 Alaskans. Earthquake Park was created from this disaster, but the 1960's brought money to Anchorage in forms of rebuilding.
Oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay in 1968 and the pipeline and folks that work for the oil industries have been an important part of Anchorage when the major companies made their Alaska headquarters in Anchorage. I did see the building that houses the infamous BP folks on many occasions driving through Anchorage, but Exxon is the thorn in Alaska's side after the horrible oil spills at Valdez in 1989.
I'd be tempted to move to Anchorage, but I don't know if I can handle the 24 hours of sunlight in the summer or the 17 hours of darkness in winter along with the extreme cold, but I hope to visit this awesome city and explore more of its history and culture again.
My friend Larissa never took down her Christmas tree in her apartment two years ago. It is so beautifully decorated with handmade Alaskan ornaments, she felt it needed to stay up to show her guests the handicrafts of Alaska. Some people would probably…Read More
My friend Larissa never took down her Christmas tree in her apartment two years ago. It is so beautifully decorated with handmade Alaskan ornaments, she felt it needed to stay up to show her guests the handicrafts of Alaska. Some people would probably think Larissa is crazy, but I can't blame her and made Christmas ornaments my motus operandi when souvenir shopping in Alaska. That and seeing twelve moose during my whole trip had me buying souvenirs with a moose theme as well. This journal entry will tell you about some of the best places to buy Alaskan souvenirs for you and even your four-legged friends in downtown Anchorage.
For used and new books on Alaska or other subjects that interest you, check out Title Wave Books on 5th Avenue. They also have a main store on Northern Lights Boulevard that has a larger variety of books, but I did pretty good at the downtown location. I bought four of Rita Mae Browne's Mrs. Murphy Mystery books for under $15 and then got all weepy browzing through a book on the top 100 baseball announcers. It's no secret with friends and family that I got weepy seeing the entry about Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione calling the end of the 2004 World Series. Six years later and I still bawl at his words ". . .and for the first time in 86 years, the Boston Red Sox are world champions of baseball. Can you believe it?!" Title Wave Books has a great collection on Alaska literature at prices cheaper than Barnes and Noble or Borders.
I noticed that there are a lot of furriers in Anchorage, and if you are interested in fur (I do not wear fur of any animal), you can check out those stores or just window shop. Would you like a fur bra and panty set to keep you warm during those cold winter nights?!" I think I will stick with Hanes and Victoria's Secret, thank you!
For Russian tea and other hot beverage goodies, shop at Kobuk on 5th Avenue. This quaint little emporium as they call it has a vast array of antiques, souvenirs, teas, chocolates and other goodies that tested my willpower a lot. I bought some great smelling Russian tea but make sure when you are storing it at home to keep it in its plastic bag or you will get the oils from the cinnamon and spices all over the place and the stains will not come out.
For cheap postcards, t-shirts, and other souvenirs, go to Polar Bear Gifts on 5th Avenue and F Street. There are two floors full of Alaska clothes, postcards, pens, jewelry, dolls, and other Alaskan booty. There are always sales at Polar Bear Gifts, and I got myself an Alaskan girl in native costume porcelain doll for $12, half price. What really made my day at the Polar Bear was that they have a section of souvenirs for your four-legged companions that won't break the bank. I was able to get my little Lab Amanda and Zoe and Xena Alaskan made salmon flavored Yummy Chummies treats for cats and dogs along with a 99 cent Alaska dog bowl for Amanda and a bandana for under $15. Zoe and Xena won't touch the Yummy Chummies, and I told them they didn't have caviar there while Amanda chewed her bandana roughhousing with our new edition, her boyfriend Marty the Border Collie. She can still wear the bandana, but only inside now. BRAT!
Cabin Fever is a quirky little shop on 4th Avenue and G Street that has Native jewelry and that infamous "I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY HOUSE" t-shirt. Just find the big stuffed bear with that t-shirt on him, and you are there. I also bought my friend Tami a necklace with a native wolf design on it for a good deal.
Larissa's Christmas tree has several hand-painted flat ceramic ornaments of Native animals in their tribal symbols and other Alaskan themes. Larissa's friend Trevor owns a quaint little shop on D Street between 4th and 5th Avenues that is named One World, One Native. Inside is a great collection of Native crafts from Africa, Alaska, and around the world. Trevor was getting his ceramic ornaments from a native woman from near Palmer, but while we were visting his shop, he got a package of her ornaments with a note saying that she had died from complications of a fall and didn't know if he would be getting anymore ornaments. Too bad. They are beautiful works of art, and I hope to expand my collection from the polar bear with tiny Fireweed flowers on it. Trevor gave me a nice little discount for my ornaments being a friend of a friend. At the time of this writing, we don't know if Trevor had to relocate his shop, but you can walk on D Street and see if he is still there if you ever make it to Alaska. Trevor is a very charming man and greeted me with a hug even meeting for the first time.
So there is shopping in Anchorage for you in one journal. Things can be expensive in Anchorage, but with a little footwork and money smarts, you can get some great souvenirs from Alaska without breaking the bank. And several of the shops like Polar Bear will ship your souvenirs home for you so that you don't have to load them into your suitcase.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 27 Jul, 2010
When I told some people of my plans to visit Alaska this May, some of the folks would ask me if I was going to Wasilla to see Sarah Palin. I told them we were only driving through Wasilla on the way to Fairbanks…Read More
When I told some people of my plans to visit Alaska this May, some of the folks would ask me if I was going to Wasilla to see Sarah Palin. I told them we were only driving through Wasilla on the way to Fairbanks and muttered something under my breath like, "and would love to throw eggs at her house." i am not a fan of Sarah Palin at all because of her Bambi killing lifestyle and lack of intelligence. Sarah Palin might be from Alaska and was very popular while running for Vice President along with John McCain in 2008, but you go to Anchorage, and not many people like Mrs. Palin very much. Oil in Alaska is a very hot topic here in Alaska, and Sarah Palin has burned a lot of bridges and p-----d off a lot of Alaskans the way she has handled the oil situation in her home state.
Most bookstores in Anchorage had an area set up for Sarah Palin books and coloring books, but one store called Cabin Fever on 4th Avenue had the anti-Sarah Palin section that I enjoyed looking at very much when visiting the little souvenir shop. The anti-Palin section had t-shirts that said ALASKA: I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY HOUSE. I just about bust a gut laughing so hard at those t-shirts (one of them is on display on a big stuffed bear outside the establishment. I bought four of those t-shirts at once for Mom, my sister, Larissa, and I and thought that the coup of souvenirs.
When Sarah Palin wrote her book Going Rogue last year, Larissa and a few of her friends took a copy of the book and burned it in a bonfire. Larissa sent me a copy of the photo that I put on the entertainment center next to my copy of the anti-Palin book Going Rouge: An American Nightmare.
All through my trip in Alaska, Larissa and I were looking out for funny political bumper stickers and other funny things. One night on the way home from dinner, we saw a bumper sticker on the car in front of us that said RUN SARAH RUN AND NEVER COME BACK!. Larissa and I both got shots of that one with our cameras. Another time we were going into the Bear Tooth when we saw another bumper sticker lambasting former Vice President that said ANOTHER WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION and his picture with a rifle with it.
Canada is looking to bypass a pipeline into Alaska and try to get some of their oil for their use. This has ticked off many Alaskans and one of the Gubenatorial candidates this year has a catchy campaign slogan that Larissa and I saw a sign for outside of Fairbanks. It said, "CANADA MY ASS! IT'S ALASKA'S GAS!" So just because Sarah Palin is from Alaska doesn't mean most Alaskans like her.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 23 Jul, 2010
Here's a secret that only my Mom knows. I am afraid of birds and have been since childhood. I don't mind the cute little sparrows, blue jays, and cardinals, but I freak out when a pigeon or bigger birds get near me.…Read More
Here's a secret that only my Mom knows. I am afraid of birds and have been since childhood. I don't mind the cute little sparrows, blue jays, and cardinals, but I freak out when a pigeon or bigger birds get near me. When I went to New York City as a teenager, my Girl Scout troop ate at Battery Park, and I had an experience that rivaled the attack scenes in Hitchcock's hit movie The Birds when the pigeons kept swarming us as we at our sandwiches. People thought was funny, but hey, it wasn't!
So what am I doing in Anchorage, Alaska going birdwatching with my friend Larissa at Potter Marsh outside of town? My friend is a big bird lover and watcher and has many books on the hobby, and I was being a good sport and went along for the ride praying I wouldn't be dive bombed by some p------d off blue jay if I got too close to its nesting grounds.
Turned out this adventure was a good one for Larissa and me. Upon arriving at Potter Marsh, we headed right to the wooden trails that line the entire marsh so that the birds aren't disturbed by the humans that come to see them in action. We were greeted by a nice gentleman named Jim Stevenson, who was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida and now spends his summers in Alaska and winters in Galveston, Texas researching birds from all over the USA and writing books about them. While Jim is in Alaska every summer, he conducted guided birdwatching tours throughout Alaska from the South all the way to the Arctic.
Jim was very kind enough to give Larissa and I a guided tour around Potter Marsh to check out all of the birds. Larissa was interested in seeing Arctic Terns who summer in Anchorage, but Jim said they were further down the road, and we could go down there later after we checked out the other birds in the marsh. So off we were to check out Alaska's bird population.
Jim had a very powerful telescope that he allowed Larissa and I to look through whenever we saw a bird in the water or in the trees nearby or across the marsh. With the naked eye, it was hard for me to see any birds or wildlife way across yonder in the trees, but Jim has an eagle eye (pardon the pun) for seeing birds from far distances, and he would point out starlings and other birds while we were touring Potter Marsh with him.
About halfway through our tour of Potter Marsh, the most amazing sight happened, and it was another great highlight of my Alaska adventure. Jim saw something in the tall pine trees across the marsh and focused his telescope to the trees and said, "Hey! This ought to make you salute the flag!" It took me a minute to get the telescope focused, but when I did, sitting in the tree was a magnificent Bald Eagle, our national bird and symbol of freedom and the American way. It was gorgeous with its white head and regal bearing. It was the first time in my life I had seen an eagle up close and personal, and I was wishing I had a camera with a nice telephoto lens to get a shot of the eagle.
After the eagle, Jim, Larissa and I completed the tour of Potter Marsh and got into our separate cars and went a little ways down the road to see the Arctic terns. They are small gray, black, and white birds that are related to the seagull family. The Arctic terns spend summers in Anchorage laying eggs and hatching their young and then winter in the Arctic. Many of them were nesting in nests in the marsh but one tern was resting near the parking lot. I wanted to get a shot of him with my camera, but he must have been protecting his nest and hissed and then started to fly around us. I thought we would get dive bombed and made my way back to Jim and Larissa safely. After last year's pig episode, I wasn't about to explain another freak injury to my friends who would have had a heck of a time trying to believe another "Dianne getting chased by wildlife story!"
After a while looking at the terns, Jim, Larissa and I parted company with handshakes and hugs. Larissa bought one of Jim's books on birds of Alaska which has all photos taken by Jim except for two of them which were borrowed from friends. I lost Jim's business card that he gave me, so if you are interested during the summer go to his website from the Galveston Ornithological Society at www.galvestonbirders.com.
I am still a little leery on birds (and snakes too), but this birdwatching trip at Potter Marsh with Jim and Larissa in Alaska gives me a better understanding and love of wild birds and their habitats and to respect their surroundings.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 23 Jun, 2010
Part II of this journal on my moose hunting adventures will tell you about the best moose sighting I had while in Alaska last month. My friend Larissa and I drove up to Fairbanks the first weekend I was in Alaska. Fairbanks is…Read More
Part II of this journal on my moose hunting adventures will tell you about the best moose sighting I had while in Alaska last month.
My friend Larissa and I drove up to Fairbanks the first weekend I was in Alaska. Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city, and it's about 350 miles north of Anchorage. It's a long ride up Highway 3 from Anchorage to Fairbanks, but you are bound to see some form of wildlife along the way including moose.
The ride up to Fairbanks was long and tiring for both Larissa and I. To keep our legs from stiffening up and cramping, fuel up, get refreshments and potty breaks, Larissa and I made frequent stops along the way. One of our stops was in the small coal mining town of Healy, which is about 100 miles south of Fairbanks. After stopping for gas and the required bathroom and refreshment break, we got back in the car to continue our trip to Fairbanks.
We were barely out of town when Larissa and I saw a crowd of people pulled over on the left side of Highway 3 looking into the woods. Guess what? It was another moose, and she was grazing away ignoring the crowd of rubberneckers that had stopped to admire her and take pictures. Larissa pulled her car over to the opposite side of the road so that we could get our own shots of the moose. We crossed the road and stood on the side to see the moose grazing away. Once again, you need to respect the moose and not get too close or you could be hurt by these huge animals. The cow moose didn't seem to be bothered by our presence, and I started to take pictures of her grazing away.
But surprise. This moose had a baby with her and I scrambled to get a shot of her making sure her baby was eating OK. After I put the camera down, another baby came out. TWINS!! Cow moose are known to have multiple births and these twins were a great surprise for me. I got a shot of the cow moose nurturing her baby, and it was the best shot I got of a moose during my whole trip. After I took the picture and showed Larissa, I quoted Christoph Waltz's Oscar winning performance in Ingolorious Basterds, "That's a bingo!" and vowed to enlarge the shot when I got home to Florida. I didn't get too close to the moose and her babies and got a good shot. I have already been chased by pigs from my neighbor's yard this year, and I didn't want to add being chased by a PMS-ed moose protecting her young!
The sighting of the cow moose and her twin calves was one of the biggest highlights of my entire trip to Alaska, and I will never forget it. It was worth a separate entry in my latest Alaskan journal!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 21 Jun, 2010
I am 43-years-old and never seen a moose in person during my lifetime. Some people dream of meeting their favorite sports stars (I dream of meeting Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park) or…Read More
I am 43-years-old and never seen a moose in person during my lifetime. Some people dream of meeting their favorite sports stars (I dream of meeting Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park) or actors, but I have dreamed about meeting a wild moose in person.
When I was young and growing up in Rhode Island, my family and I would go to Rangeley, Maine for a week every summer. The monotony of swimming in Rangeley Lake, rock hunting, and other relaxing things would be broken up at least once during the trip by taking a nice ride into Quebec or around the area looking at real estate. Dad had dreamed about a house in the Maine wilderness for years, but it never came true, and he somehow wound up in Idaho in 1987. Still can't figure that one out! A couple of times, I didn't go for these rides and stayed with my Nana and went blueberrying near Saddleback Mountain. Then the family would come home and said, "we saw a moose poking his head out from the woods on Route 16!" "Darn!", was my reaction wishing I was there to see the moose myself. No one thought of bringing a camera for this momentous event.
The last time we went to Maine was in 1986. Dad had to work and went back to Rhode Island after the first weekend and I was left with Nana and Uncle Dave to do whatever we wanted to do. The following Thursday, Dad and my sister Erika came up for the final weekend of our trip after Dad got out of work. It was dark driving on Route 4 heading into Rangeley, and Dad was driving like Mario Andretti to get to our rental cabin. Dad and Erika were chatting about things when Erika looked to the road and screamed, "DAD! LOOK OUT! MOOOOOSE!!" Sure enough, a huge moose had come out to the middle of the road and Dad and Erika could see his long, spindly legs in the line of Dad's headlights. Dad slammed on his brakes really fast, and it was a miracle that his company car wasn't turned into a "moosemobile" that night in Maine. We still tell that story at get-togethers.
Cut to May 2010. I am in Alaska and desire to see some moose and won't be happy until I see one. My friend Larissa knew of my wanting of seeing moose, and she was very accommodating in taking me around several spots in Alaska to catch sight of the elusive Morty the Moose.
After Larissa got out of work after my first full day in Alaska (May 19), we met up with her friend Jo, who is a bush pilot and photographer, who runs a photo studio in Anchorage. We met at Jo's shop Keller's Photography and talk about driving in style, we got to go moose hunting at Earthquake Park in her VW Beetle that is made to look like an orca. COOL! People were watching us as we passed them on Northern Lights Boulevard and Jo would get a lot of compliments and thumbs up along the way. Wonder what Mom would think if I decorated the car in Red Sox colors?, I thought. HEE HEE!!
We arrived at Earthquake Park near Anchorage's nice Turnagain Heights near the Cook Inlet after watching planes taking off and landing from the airport. It was at the airport in a field that I see my first moose. It was far away grazing, but Jo said that counts as a moose sighting, and I got as best as a picture as I can. We arrive at Earthquake Park, and it's windy and cool, and I am cursing myself for not bringing my hiking boots since this was an impromptu trip for moose. Feet freezing in my sandals, Jo, Larissa, and I make our way into the woods on a dirt path. We see a mallard duck in a creek and then it happened. A moose closer up an in person than the one at the airport. I have found Morty the Moose. Wait a minute. It's not a Morty, it's a Morticia the Moose. It's a pretty good-sized cow moose and she is grazing away watching us across the creek. We all take pictures and Jo gets some of me seeing the moose and my commentary. "COOL! AWESOME! WOO HOO!!"
After goofing off and walking around Earthquake Park some more and taking goofy shots of me and Larissa trying to be Nadia Comaneci posing in gymnastic positions (man, I am in bad shape there!), we head out to the airport that Jo keeps her plane (more on that later) and catch another moose heading out. More shots are taken, and now I have seen more moose than everyone else in my family, and I have only been on Alaskan soil for one day. NYAH NYAH NYAH!!!
Looking for moose is a fun thing to do on vacation in Alaska, but take caution when observing them. Keep a respectable distance from them. It's tempting to want to get up close and personal with a moose, but a bull moose is about 1,500 and pretty dangerous, and a cow moose can give PMS a run for its money especially if she has calves to protect. They will charge you in a minute and be on top of you faster than Tedy Bruschi on a Miami Dolphins quarterback. If you have a good camera lense, you will get a good shot of your moose and be happy and alive.
More of my moose hunting adventures will continue in my entry In Search of Morty the Moose in Alaska Part II."
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 18 Jun, 2010
I was pretty much on my own the first three days I was in Alaska. My friend Larissa had to work for the rest of the week, but I am really good about just being dropped off somewhere and exploring my new surroundings.…Read More
I was pretty much on my own the first three days I was in Alaska. My friend Larissa had to work for the rest of the week, but I am really good about just being dropped off somewhere and exploring my new surroundings. Larissa would come get me at her place on her lunch hour and take me downtown where I would explore the Anchorage Museum, Elder Park,or other things for several hours until Larissa picked me up and we would go to dinner and other adventures before retiring for the night. Being in Anchorage in Late Spring means almost 24 hours of daylight and plenty of time to have fun.
My first full day in Alaska had me going to the Alaska Law Enforcement museum and other places, but what I saw at the end of my first full day in Anchorage had me seeing Anchorage's Finest in action from an up close and personal view.
After an afternoon walking around, sightseeing, and souvenir shopping, I was beat and thirsty. There is a Starbucks on 5th Avenue right near the Key Bank, and would be my final desination fo th day before Larissa came to pick me up. After spending about an hour enjoying a drink an reading the local newspaper while resting my sore ankle on the couch there, I needed some fresh air and more exercise.
So, I stepped outside into a windy downtown and started to walk. Near the Performing Arts Center not far down the road from Starbucks, I noticed a crowd gathered and looking across the street at the park located there. It's a popular place for vagrants and other undesirables of Anchorage's society, and there were four police cars dealing with with incident on hand.
It turned out that one of the folks loitering in the park was stabbed, and someone said it may have been some kids who did the dirty deed and took off towards the Anchorage Mall further down the road. The man who was stabbed was ambulatory and had his shirt up to show where he was stabbed. From where I was standing across the street, I could not see any blood, and some of the rubberneckers observing the incident left when it didn't look serious. GEEZ!
The police officers were very cautious about the whole thing and frisked the man who was stabbed to make sure he wasn't carrying any weapons, and at first I thought he was the perpetrator, but he was the victim. In the meantime, I struck up a conversation with a couple of locals named Marianne and Dan. Marianne was half-Athabascan while Dan was an African-American from Brooklyn, New York. They were very nice in telling me about Anchorage and asked where I had been during my visit. Being there only a day, I told Dan and Marianne that I hadn't been to many places, yet, but I was planning on hitting the Anchorage Museum and the Native Cultural Center within the week. They gave me a whole bunch of places to check out while I was there before they left to get some ice cream at a restaurant nearby. My experience with Dan and Marianne was the beginning of many great experiences with the locals of Anchorage and other places in Alaska, and they will remain with me for the rest of my life.
After a while an ambulance and a fire truck pulled in across the street to take the stabbing victim to the hospital. People who never have been to Alaska or read about the place have to realize that although Alaska doesn't have a lot of people living there, the crime rate in the cities is bad. Domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, drunk and disorderly conduct, and petty theft and violence runs rampant, and it can be worse in the Native villages. Several towns and villages in Alaska with large Native populations have banned the sale of alcohol and have become dry or damp villages, but people will do anything for a drink and find other ways to get a fix. So when you are in Alaska, take the same precautions you would if you were visiting a big city in the Lower 48, but keep an open attitude about where you are visiting.