It’s been a while since my last post…and it had been a while since the previous post, as well. Sensing a pattern here. 🙂
Due to the passage of time, I have decided not to revisit our Southwest trip now, though I may still do that one day, but instead to try a new format to share a recent trip that checks off one of our bucket list destinations: Alaska. We found Alaska to be everything we hoped; beautiful, vast, unspoiled, and almost indescribable. That said, despite my normally wordy style, I am resorting to a (mostly) image format. Let me know what you think.
Welcome to the first installment of the Bucket List: Alaska series.
We arrived in Anchorage in the middle of the night, so we grabbed a few hours of sleep before venturing out to explore the northern-most, and most populated city in Alaska, with around 300,000 residents.
We decided to take a trolley tour to help get our bearings, and determine what else we might want to see during our one day in town. It was a good choice; our guide was entertaining and educational, telling us about the 1964 earthquake which all but decimated much of Anchorage, but took relatively few lives due to the event occurring after 5 pm on Good Friday. Anchorage has created Earthquake Park out of one of the worst impacted areas, providing green space, trails, and interpretive exhibits, as well as, providing informative pictorial displays around downtown. Unfortunately, I did not get photos of the earthquake displays, being too busy reading them…
After the trolley tour, where the four of us were joined by another couple destined for the same Alaska itinerary, we found a theater showing a film by photographer and videographer Todd Salat, which featured time-lapse photography of the incredible phenomenon which is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. From Wikipedia:
An aurora (plural: auroras),[a] sometimes referred to as polar lights, northern lights (aurora borealis) or southern lights (aurora australis), is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions.
Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere) due to Earth’s magnetic field, where their energy is lost.
The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color and complexity.
I will say that Wikipedia provides a very scientific explanation of a thoroughly emotional visual experience, for me, at least. We had been told that there was a chance we might see the Northern Lights in person during our two weeks in Alaska, but even if it was guaranteed (which it is NOT), I would still recommend seeing a time-lapse film given the chance. More on what we actually saw of the Northern Lights in a future post. 😉
Following the film, we were fortunate to be able to visit the Anchorage Market & Festival which is an outdoor market held every weekend from May to September. With food, entertainment, artwork and crafts, and the largest selection of ‘Made in Alaska’ items anywhere, there is sure to be something for everyone. But no photos from our visit, sadly.
All this touring and sightseeing had the group of us clamoring for sustenance, so we headed to the highly recommended 49th State Brewing Company. Offering award-winning beer, fresh and locally sourced menu items, and a rooftop patio overlooking the Cook Inlet and Alaska Range, we were on top of the world!
Well, the storm hovered, but never arrived, so more walking was in order after dinner.
Our new friends took a pass, but the four of us made our way down to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which winds 11 miles along the Cook Inlet from downtown to Kincaid Park. We enjoyed a couple of miles of the trail, and despite reports of frequent wildlife sightings on the trail, our experience was limited to beautiful vistas of the forest and inlet.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief visit to Anchorage, our introduction to the wild 49th state of Alaska. Our next installment will take us from Anchorage to Talkeetna via the private dome cars of the Alaska Railroad Wilderness Express. You can go straight to the next post by clicking here.