Anchorage, Alaska

A short visit to set up for the Alaska Railroad trip to Fairbanks

Trip Report:  20070808

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The Trip

Our stay in Vancouver was nice, but short. There was much to see but the weather sucked. It was raining all day at some level, so we hiked around downtown and then took in a movie. We left for the airport the next morning for our flight to Anchorage. The flight was uneventful (the best flights are...) and both Kathleen and I dozed for most of the flight. As we neared Anchorage, the cabin was abuzz with conversation. When I awoke, I looked out the window and could not believe what I saw. The views were astouding. I had heard that the area was beautiful, but even with that expectation, it did not prepare me for the sight. The photos below are what we saw.

The photo above in no way does justice to the scene. Sadly, my seat was on the sun-side of the plane, so that fuzzed the image. Plus, shooting through dirty, scratched plexiglass that they use in plane windows does nothing to enhance image quality. But, it was the best I could do. Our first view out the window was of this awesome field of glaciers with ocean inlets interspersed.

As we got closer, I could see some kind of minig operation. Note the facility on the edge of the water near the center of the photo. There is a tank farm to the right of the facility and glaciers above.

Just past the mine (you can see the tank farm in the lower left of the photo), we spotted this huge glacier flowing into a lake. Note the striations in the ice flow.

Here is a closer view of the glacier. Note the crevices near the face.

On the shade side of the aircraft, the viewing was much better. There were large glaciers to the east of our position.

Looking down, we could see that the terrain was barren due to the harsh weather and snow pack. I am pretty sure that the areas without vegitation were above the timber line.

As the aircraft turned on final approach, we got a view of the mountains to the north. These are very tall with many glaciers. This is stil somewhat in the sun and therefore the colors are washed out.

We got to our hotel and they had a stuffed grizzly bear in the lobby. This dude is big and I am sure that if you were to meet one in the brush, it would likely be a fatal encounter.

We decided to spend the balance of the day hiking around downtown Anchorage since we did not have a car. Just outside ouf the hotel, there was a salmon fishing derby in progress. We polled the fisherman several hours later and nobody was catching anything. The river was too high they claimed. I find that a bit hard to believe.

Past the fishing area was a rail yard for the Alaska Railroad where we spotted this abandoned locomotive.

Next to the loco was this freight car. What was interesting was that it was rebuilt in 1947, thereby suggesting that it was built much earlier.

We spotted this very trick old truck that is used as advertising for the Anchorage Cold Storage. The owner did an excellent job of restoring this rig.

The weather was kind to us. The locals told us that it had been raining and crummy for weeks prior, but the day of our arrival it was sunny and hot. This thermometer was in the shade. After the bad weather in Vancouver, this was a real treat.

Munich had its lions. Seattle has pigs and Calgary has cows. Anchorage has grizzlies. This one was popular with the tourists for photo ops.

The old and the new. The cabin is the visitor center and is constructed in the traditional style. The Hilton is the highest structure around and also serves as the television tower. The folks in the visitor center stated that when the 1964 9 point earthquake hit, this building was one of the very few that survived.

The visitor center also had this nice sculpture entitled "Sprit Bridge".

Downtown Anchorage had lots of well maintained flowers like these.

We went to the local brewery that had a 3 story deck that afforded a reasonable view. The harbor area can be seen with its cargo container cranes and fuel storage tanks.

On the way back to the hotel, we spotted this monument to Alaska's statehood.

Our hotel is very close to the Alask Railroad passenger depot (that is why we chose it..). Outside we spotted this old steam engine.

The next morning, we would board the Alaska Railroad for a run to Denali where we would spend 2 nights. From there, we would head into Fairbanks on the second leg of the train trip to see our good friends Dan and Janet Johnson.

Alaska Railroad: Anchorage to Denali

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