Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday, March 31st

I actually saw a few snowflakes today. They just floated down out of nowhere. That lasted about 2 minutes on this very sunny day. Just as I predicted there was plenty of black ice on the roads this morning. Don't worry if you didn't see it today because it will be there again tomorrow since we will get down to 26 tonight. There was still plenty of snow to enjoy on the afternoon walk. That wind was so brisk we decided we needed to warm up. No better way to get toasty than by eating a bowl of gumbo. Yep, our walk ended at the Gumbo House. Greg had a bowl of Kitchen Sink gumbo. It was spicy and full of chicken, shrimp, and oysters. I had a bowl of red beans and rice. It was like eating a big serving of fire! We both had sweat beads on our foreheads after a few minutes. Spicy! We shared a blackened chicken po' boy sandwich. Yummmmm.

It was still light at 9 tonight. Unbelievable. As you can tell by the picture, the spring flowers are beginning to emerge. I am ready for it. I'm just not ready for the mosquitoes and bears that come out in the warm weather. Staying light all day and night will take some getting used to also. But I'm up for the challenge.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday, March 30th

You'd think that since it was 43 degrees around 4:30, more of this snow would have melted. However, when you take a look at the top picture you can see just how deep it still is. It was very sunny today but the wind was quite brisk. We began our walk on the Coastal Trail. The top few inches of snow on the trail have begun to melt. It was like walking in sand or a giant slushee!! The calves of my legs were really burning when we returned home after walking about 3 miles.

We took the Chester Creek Trail near the lagoon. As we rounded a curve near the disc golf course, a moose was right there on the trail! We stood and watched as several joggers moved way off onto the disc golf course to avoid any contact with the moose. Better safe than sorry! We took the same way around. This moose wasn't quite as big as the ones we have been seeing, but it was still impressive. Even a smaller moose is a force to be respected. That makes today's moose #10 on this year's moose sighting tally.

We left the trail near Virginia Avenue and walked through several neighborhoods on the way home. The city is very pedestrian-friendly. There are sidewalks on both sides of the streets and for the most part they are kept free of snow. We saw a condo for rent. I thought the sign said for rent but when we checked online it was for sale. Sorry, we won't be able to cough up the $450,000 for the small or the $1,000,000 for the larger condo. Unless a local oil company needs a tax write-off, I don't see these babies filling up any time soon. The median price for a home here is $350,000. Looks like we'll be renters while in Anchorage.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 29th

Hard to believe the month is almost over. It did get to about 42 degrees today. On the close-up picture of the tree you can see that it is beginning to bud out. We saw this tree as we walked on the Ship Creek Trail this afternoon. There was quite a bit more melting on the trail but there is still plenty of snow on the ground. It still gets below freezing every night so all slush is refrozen. The railroad monument is on 1st Avenue near the Railroad Museum. The railroad is a celebrated and important part of Alaskan history.

On both sides of the train engine are totem poles. There are many totem poles throughout Alaska. They served as billboards or signposts to the Natives. Totem poles can be carved to illustrate a family's history, kinda like a family crest. They can also be carved to honor the death of a loved one. Some totem poles serve as historical recordings. A few totem poles are called shame poles. On shame poles a face will be carved upside down. This means someone has an unpaid debt. In 2007, a shame pole was erected in Cordova, Alaska to show local displeasure with the Exxon Company. The pole has an inverted and distorted face of the former CEO of Exxon on it. The courts had ruled that Exxon owed debts to the area for causing the oil spill in the Valdez area.

Typically, a totem pole will have an eagle or raven on it. They may also include beavers, foxes, bears, and frogs. They are made by traditional ways with hand tools, no machine manufacturing should be used to produce these historical artifacts.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, March 28th

Even with our 13 hours of sunshine today, we only got up to around 40. In fact, they are predicting snow for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I had been led to believe spring was here because I did see about 2 inches of tulips and hyacinths peeking up out of the dirt in a downtown park yesterday.

Decided to take it easy today. Early this afternoon we walked over to the Egan Center for the Alaska Kennel Club show. I wanted to see the standard poodles. Greg wanted to see the Siberian Huskies. There were lots of gorgeous dogs in the show. There were 4 rings of dogs showing at most times. He claims we will need a guard dog if we move out into the bush. I will definitely need a large dog to make me feel safer while walking on unpopulated trails and such. We stopped in a couple of souvenir shops when we left the show. Since they were getting ready to close, we came on home. Enjoyed a James Bond movie marathon on TV and rested at home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday, March 27th

Got a day pass for the bus and rode out to 100th Avenue and Old Seward Highway. We walked the last few blocks over to the Target store. About 2 snowflakes fell on us. Got some yummy pancake mix- chocolate raspberry mix and a pumpkin mix. Picked up a few food items and just walked around and enjoyed this nice large store. Stopped by home and then hit the bus again. Rode out to Midtown and ate at Carl's Jr. This is called Hardee's back home. Had a jalapeno burger. Greg ate 3 double cheeseburgers. Yep, that's right 3!! We stopped by the Safeway Grocery and got milk and eggs. On the way home we walked down part of the Chester Creek Trail. Saw a large bull moose laying down by the trail. So if you are keeping count, that's 9 moose spotted by us so far this year. We got home about 8 and it was still light outside. We are up to 13 hours of sunlight now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, March 26th

You'd think as you looked out the window on this very sunny day that it was warm outside. You'd be wrong. It stayed in the mid 30s all day. The breeze made it feel quite a bit cooler. Since we are up to almost 13 hours of sunlight a day, we decided to make a short trail walk before dinner.

These pictures were taken on the Coastal Trail. That is downtown Anchorage silhouetted against the mountains. The views along the trail are beautiful in all directions. The inlet is always interesting and the mountains never fail to amaze.

After about a 2 mile loop on the trail and back up 5th Avenue, we stopped for dinner at La Cabana. We got to eat here because we had a buy one, get one meal coupon. Greg thought the food was okay. But Taco King is still our favorite Mexican restaurant by far.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25th

We enjoyed a nice afternoon by going for a walk. It was about 39 degrees when we set off. It was a clear and beautiful day on the trail.
Well, it's officially spring here because the brown bears came out of hibernation at the Alaska Zoo here in Anchorage. Great, now I'll have to be on the lookout for bears on the trails as well as moose. Speaking of moose, check out these pictures we snapped on the Chester Creek Trail this afternoon. If you're keeping score this is the 8th moose we've spotted. It was huge! It was also wearing some type of tracking collar. Probably was a problem moose. You know, if it killed one more person they would have to put it down. We snuck right on by it. It was only about 15 feet off the trail. I was such a chicken I tried not to even make eye contact with it! Of course, Greg wanted to get closer to get a better picture. Fear and common sense finally kicked in and he continued along the trail with me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24th

Got up to 38 here in Anchorage today. Sun didn't peek out much but the warmth did seem to melt quite a bit of snow.

Finally got all the transcripts and forms ready to be mailed to Alaska Dept. of Education for my teaching certificate. Stopped by Greg's office and his friend helped me put the finishing touches on the packet. Thanks again Christina!

I learned a lot about native culture and regional recipes while chatting with Christina and Marge. I may put a few of these interesting cooking ideas to use if we move out into the middle of nowhere. A few- but I doubt we'll ever be hungry enough to prepare stinkheads. Stinkheads are a Native Alaskan "delicacy". You basically bury the heads of salmon or fish in the ground and let them age to perfection for about 2 weeks! Yum, my stomach is beginning to rumble just thinking about them. But it was fun just to listen to their stories.

The bronze sculpture is in celebration of Alaska's statehood. It is located on 2nd Avenue near the beginning of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. You can get a view of Ship Creek and the Inlet from this platform.

The trees in the pictures are notable because of the moose scrapings. Virtually every tree had signs of moose activity. This must have tired them out because we saw only signs of their existence, we didn't see any actual moose today. Oh well, better luck tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 23rd

Quite an overcast and cool day. It probably wouldn't have seemed so cold but the wind was quite brisk. The temp stayed in the mid 30s all day. Wouldn't surprise me to see some snowflakes tonight. After the daily Post Office stop, we decided to walk along the Coastal Trail. The mountain and inlet views are really awesome from this trail. We took the North Chester Creek Trail at the lagoon. This trail cut through a disc golf course. There were several intrepid players on the course despite the cold temps. In case you are not familiar with this sport, it is similar to golf except the object is to throw a frisbee into wire baskets on poles. We walked until we intersected A Street. Leaving the trail, we were once again on the sidewalks and heading back home.

After a brief stop in the room, we made a cigarette run for Greg. We had to walk to the Lucky Seven store on 4th Avenue. This place will remind you of those small old-style country grocery stores. You will smell like greasy fries and hamburgers when you leave. We stopped by the mall and got the Food Court's Tuesday night special, a corn dog for $1. What a bargain. They were hand battered and pretty good. We'll have to walk the entire Coastal Trail to work off those calories.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, March 22nd

Doesn't feel much like spring today. In fact, we had snow showers on and off all day. No accumulation to report. It was quite brisk, about 31 degrees, which gave me a perfect reason to wear my new boots. Sorry, I know it breaks your heart to hear that I don't have a picture of them. Never fear, I'm sure Greg will post a close-up of them later. Today he was too busy trying to keep warm.

The picture of the train was taken down near Ship Creek. There are many trips you can take by rail here. We plan on taking the train to Denali this summer. They have cars with these cool viewing decks and glass tops.

We also hope to take a few glacier cruises down in Prince William Sound. There is a glacier about 100 miles north of Anchorage called the Matanuska Glacier. It is the largest glacier you can get to by road in Alaska. Called a "valley glacier", it is 24 miles long and about 2 miles wide.
I have a feeling we are going to run out of time and money before we run out of things to do in Alaska.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday, March 21st

Slept a little later today due to the fact that we were worn out by all that walking in the last few days. Greg's friend at work, Mindy, called and offered to take us shopping and sight-seeing. She has now attained the coveted SBF (Super Best Friend ) status!! She really does help us out immensely by offering to drive us there because it is a pain to struggle with the bags as we walk from the stores to the bus stop.

We left the downtown area and rode down the Seward Highway for a bit. We passed Potter's Marsh. This is a wetland habitat that will be home to many migratory birds this spring and summer. This state wildlife refuge is host to numerous waterfowl, shorebirds, arctic terns, and American bald eagles. On the craggy tops of the cliffs that line the side of the highway you might get lucky and spot Dall sheep and mountain goats. However, they must have slept in also because we didn't see any today.

Just up the highway is Beluga Point. We pulled over and stopped to enjoy this lovely area. It is along the Turnagain Arm and offers great views of the inlet and distant mountains of the Alaska range. Mount Redoubt, an active volcano, can also be seen from this point. It is a very beautiful place as the water meets the Chugach Mountain range. This is a great place in the summer to view Beluga whales as they come into the inlet. Orcas, or killer whales, have been known to follow the belugas into this area. Looks like we will have another free whale watching area close to home.
After leaving Beluga Point, Mindy took us up on a side road and we were able to see Mount McKinley, aka Denali, in the distance. It was an imposing sight even from about 140 miles away. At 20,320 feet it is the tallest mountain in North America. It is so large that it makes its own weather system. Greg wasn't able to get a good picture of it, but we will hopefully visit it this summer.
Deciding to do a little shopping we stopped at the Fred Meyers store. I scored a pair of Sorel boots for $25. They are really comfortable and will keep my feet super warm. We got a few groceries and hit the road again.

Next stop, one of my favorite stores- TARGET!! I have been lugging a gift card around since I left Cookeville and it has been eating a hole in my pocket. I spent every penny and some in the store today. They have their $1.00 spot near the front entrance and I bagged a Curious George journal. Bought myself a new hat- you all know how I am about my hats. This is a winter hat, but don't worry I saw summer hats in there also. I'll save them for next time. Target also had OPI nail polish but they were sold out of the best red color ever, I'm not really a waitress. So, I settled for a nice pink color today. Got several other goodies and off to lunch.

We all enjoyed the buffet at Sicily's Pizza. Pretty good deal for $9.95 each. Buffet and drink are included at that price. Lots of goodies on the buffet and needless to say Greg got his money's worth there today.

Home again to do laundry.