Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The First of Many Trips to Alaska

My son and I just got back from our first trip to Alaska. My husband was busy working so unfortunately he didn't make it this time. I know what you might be thinking, "Alaska? In February?" Believe it or not, it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was fabulous! It easily might be one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
Due to Anchorage's proximity to the ocean, the winter weather there is surprisingly mild given how far north it is. It was in the 20's most of the time while I was up there. Not bad considering the last time I visited family in Wyoming during this time of year it was 20 below! Then there was also that year I spent at the University of Michigan, when it didn't break single digits for an entire month. After that, Alaska seemed downright balmy, even for a Californian. We've even had colder days here this winter!

With Cousin Steve near Turnagain Arm

So you may wonder what one does in the middle of February in Alaska. I went to go skiing. On Saturday we made the scenic drive down the Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and Alyeska Resort. It had snowed the night before and the conditions were absolutely fabulous. Considering we haven't had fresh powder here at Tahoe in like three weeks, I'm glad I made the journey up north. Just $65 for a half day lift ticket plus night skiing was an absolute bargain compared to the $90+ it costs to ski (without a pass) around here, and surprisingly for a holiday weekend, it wasn't that crowded. My cousin Steve and friend Holly showed me around the upper mountain off of Chair 6 before checking out the aspres scene at the Sitzmark. I indulged in an Alaskan Amber (very good) and then some sort of hot chocolate that tasted like it had VanillaMint Listerine in it (not as good, but it was warm). I normally don't drink and ski, but hey, when in Rome...or rather, when in Alaska...right? We had fun. After that we headed out for some night skiing, which was another first for me. Leave it to the people up there to come up with ways to enjoy the outdoors even when its dark out. The entire lower portion of the mountain was lit up and we got in quite a few more runs before calling it a "day" at around 8 pm.

Skiing at Alyeska
Aspres Ski at the Sitzmark
While I was skiing, CJ got out to enjoy the sights as well with a visit to the Imaginarium (children's museum) in Anchorage. Special thanks to my cousin's wife Lisa and their two daughters for taking care of him. He had a fun time. :)

CJ at the Children's Museum in Anchorage
The next day we all went on a tour of the city. We cruised around downtown, saw the official starting place of the Iditarod, and then made a visit to Earthquake park. The 1964 Alaska earthquake was one of the largest in recorded history. From there were got a great panoramic view of the city and the Knik Arm, which is another one of the waterways off of the Cook Inlet. The Cook Inlet of course being named after the famous captain who explored much of the South Pacific; I had no idea before this trip that he ever made it that far north!

After that it was off to the airport for a little plane spotting. Anchorage is one of the busiest cargo hubs in North America, and we didn't have to wait long before getting to see a fully-loaded Korean Air 747 take off yards in front of us. It was a little snowy that day so we didn't stay long, but I would definitely go back just for the plane spotting. With the number of heavies that visit ANC, and on a clear day with mountains the in the background, Anchorage might just be one of the top places to spot in the entire country.

Plane Spotting near ANC

The rest of our trip up there was spent enjoying time with family that I don't see very often. Now that I've been there, I don't understand why it took me so long to go visit. I had it built up in my mind that Alaska was this far-off exotic destination, but in reality it isn't that far away at all- just about 3 hours from Seattle and 5 hours from Chicago. The mountain scenery is as beautiful as I've seen anywhere including the Rockies, the Sierras, and even New Zealand. The tree line is at a very low elevation there, so the tops of the mountains are pure white. After showing my husband some of our pictures, he really wants to go now too. Of course it doesn't hurt that my relatives in Anchorage are some of the nicest and fun people to be around. You can bet that there will be many more trips back up to Alaska in the near future!

No comments:

Post a Comment