Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

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This is a trail for walking or running or biking that is 11 miles long in Anchorage and follows the coast line in the city.  It seems to be in use all the time by people out for a dose of beautiful Alaska scenery as well as exercise.  On any given day you are likely to see people walking dogs or walking with their children as well as on bicycles  or skateboards or roller skates. There are a number of locations to get on and off so the full 11 miles is not necessary to travel on any given day.

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It is also nice to travel knowing you are not competing with traffic for the space.  No motorized vehicles are allowed.

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There are a ton of scenic spots to stop to rest or take photos. As well as many places to view the wildlife. It is very common to hear of moose on the trail.

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This also connects to earthquake park.

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For those not from the area, this is a great way to see quite a bit of Anchorage, find out some of the history while getting in a nice long walk or ride.  Downtown has several locations for bicycle rental if you don’t have one.

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Quilts, Travel, Yes

Fast Fall

Alaska enjoys many aspect of fall.  The nights becoming dark enough to see the Northern Lights again, the trees turning a beautiful shade of gold, the tourists leaving after a busy summer, the really cool weather returning, the first frost of the new season and the check that will arrive from the state. This all happens very quickly.

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It seems like only a few days that we get to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall and then the trees are bare.  The Northern Lights happen a lot, but it has to be dark enough to see them.  A friend recently said when she first moved to Alaska and saw the lights in the sky, she thought it was like angels dancing for God.  I can’t think of a better analogy to describe it. Since my mind turns all things into quilts, I have been looking at using the fall colors and the Northern Lights in quilts.

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The tourists leaving causes other things to happen.  The people traveling around town consist more of families now that the children are back in school, someone needs to get them to school and/or sitters.  The traffic slows just a little.  All the busses taking tourists from one spot to another don’t dominate the roads anymore.  Most of the RV’s have vanished from the parking lots. And, some restaurants actually have seating available as soon as you walk in.

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We already talked about termination dust, but that is not like going out to your car and seeing it covered with frost.  The dust is in the mountain tops and this frost is much closer.  That means all the hanging baskets around town are down and the flowers in the yard and now going dormant.  Or they are put into the small greenhouses that dot the city for winter storage. The military monument in the park is the one exception, fresh flowers are there every day of the year.

And, oh yes, that check. Due to the oil economy of this state, most residents receive a check each year from the “oil money”.  The amount varies yearly  and there are certain residency requirements, but everyone can benefit.  Stores and airlines and individuals companies have PDF sales going on.  (PDF here means Permanent Fund  Dividend.) This is an effort to keep the money in state and help boost the local economy. All these sales and special deals offered certainly can be used by those who don’t get a check.

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This all happens with astonishing speed.  While I came here to spend the summer, I am also very happy that I get to participate in more than one season.

 

Posted in Aging, Airplane, Anchorage, Quilts, Sewing, Travel, Yes

Leaving Alaska

Still not sure when I will leave, but the end is in sight.  On to my next adventure.  I am not yet sure what that will be.

For a little while I will be hanging out with daughters and son-in-laws and grandchildren.   This will give me the opportunity to unwind and take time to make my next big decision. I can easily see a few short trips just to flex my travel muscles again.

At one point in the not so distant past, I flew to a new city at least once a month.  I did some research on each city to see what things I might enjoy.  I wanted to minimize cost so there had to be some form of public transportation from the airport to the city.  In most cases this was successful. My time in Alaska and airports has reminded me how much I like that.  I get it that not everyone has a pleasant time at an airport, but I seem to walk through the airport with a smile on my face.

When some of my European colleagues left they stopped in various cities  across the country  before going back home.  I will do some of that too.  I can see myself going to my daughters, repacking into a backpack and taking a couple of short trips.  Most will be just a day, so I can smell another city and taste the air in different parts of the US.  I hope not to put too many requirements on any one place to visit.

I have learned much about Alaska and myself during this time.  I am still very much in love with the entire state of Alaska and will be back for many more visits I hope.  I have discovered that I will not be moving here any time soon as a permanent resident.  But, two of the people who visited me are both talking about getting a place in Alaska. That would make me very happy so I know I would have a place to visit.

I hope I have encouraged at least one person to take a chance on what the next adventure will be for them.  Taking 6 months and living in another place is HUGE and I have been lucky enough to do this several times. It is worth the things you give up to do this and maybe it makes you appreciate what you give up even more.

Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Hatcher Pass

 

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I wish my photography would give you the full depth of this picture.  It tells us that we are almost at 4,000 foot elevation, but it does not tell you how many miles off into the distance you are able to see. This is near the towns of Wasilla and Palmer. As the name indicates, it is a pass through the mountains, but also the site of large scale gold mining.

The mining is still going on today. It was quite a revelation as we went through the area to see the signs up indicating active mining was going on  While we did not see anything on my recent visit, there were a lot of vehicles that indicated some people other than tourists were in the area.

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Between winding road and winding creek and beautiful mountain views all around you this is truly a beautiful place to take in nature. Watch the seasons change and just totally unwind from the everyday world of life.

The state park here shows a part of the hard life of miners during the gold rush days.

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The area is also great for hiking, sledding, skiing, camping, hunting and almost any outdoor activity popular in Alaska. Some of the roads would not be passible during the winter and heavy snow, so just be prepared as with any winter travel in rugged territory. But, boy it sure is a treat for the eyes to be in this area. If you are in Alaska add this place to your bucket list.

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Posted in Anchorage, Travel, Yes

Alaskan Version of Jersey Shore

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I could  have  been Snookie???  I never thought about a special summer job as a young adult.  I grew up in a large city and there were all sorts of summer jobs.  You could always mow lawns, but that was not a common job since they were so small in the city.   Mostly it was a life guard at the beach or at a pool, a camp counselor either at a day camp or an away camp for two weeks at a time.  There was always baby sitting and the retail store jobs that might lead to a permanent job after school.

You did not go away to stay with friends at a beach location or any other spot.  Summer was family time and you might have the opportunity to bring a friend or two along, but not a houseful like Jersey Shore.

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Now here in Alaska, no shore line to hang out on, but lots of summer help.  Many from foreign countries or from the same colleges find jobs and room together to save money.  In some cases it looks like the same type of setup.  Sometimes the lifestyle appears to be the same, work hard and party harder.  The end of the summer  will not bring  a spin-off specialty show for any of the participants.

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At the remote locations of hotels or campgrounds, they can be found in droves.  What a great way to pay for college, spend a summer in the semi wilderness and enjoy a lifelong experience that you can’t possibly buy.  New friends are made, new skills develop and hopefully they make some money that is not spent on the way home.

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Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

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This is a truly exciting place to visit. This wonderful bear was sitting like this watching all the people as if he knew he was pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine. He is also only one of the 3 brown bears on display there and sitting down he is taller than I am standing up,  not hard to do with a short person as I am.

 

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Some of the giant vegetables that were left over from the state fair were donated to help feed the animals.  Look at the size of these snacks!

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A few of the Wood Bison left on the premises.  Last year a herd of over 100  were reintroduced into the wild in Alaska.  This is the type that was at one time native to the state.  A year later they are thriving and having new babies in the herd.  Just one of the wonderful things that is done here.

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Native Musk Ox is another animal on the property.  Truly a unique experience, they have elk, caribou, moose, fox, wolf, lynx and porcupine.  All animals you will find in Alaska, they have an internship program if this is something you might like to do over the summer.  The facility is open pretty much year round and close enough to Anchorage for a  day trip.

This is not a zoo and does not have easy paths for walking in all areas, it has dirt roads the become rutted with rain and snow and travel.  It is in a beautiful setting off the Seward Highway.  Also a small gift shop and snack area. Small fee for entrance. This should be added as a must see on your next trip here.

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Quilts, Travel, Yes

Portage Glacier

Recently I visited this glacier for my second time, the first was about 18 years ago and like most people, it also has changed over the past 18 or so years.  The boat that takes you close to the face of this glacier is on a lake formed by the glacier and you go from the dock to the glacier and back again.  There is a ranger on board to explain what is happening around you.

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While the day was foggy and rainy, that did not cause a problem at all. This is fairly close to Anchorage, maybe an hour by car, on the way to other cities so it gets visited a lot, and the boat gets really close to the glacier unlike most ocean cruises. The setting is magnificent.

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The waters constantly flowing from the mountains are what makes up this lake, then there’s the glacier.

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While it is hard to get a good perspective, we are about 300 feet from the face of this glacier.  The face that is showing is also about 300 feet high as it is slowly pushing forward.  We only see a portion from the water, but this thing is big.

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The glaciers name comes from the fact that at one time this was a portage between bodies of water and how you got your boat across was by walking it over the glacier which filled the space between two mountains. The day we visited there were a few icebergs floating on the water from early morning calving on the glacier.

This is another of the awe inspiring places in Alaska, I know I sound like a broken record, but it is just beautiful.  Cold near the glacier so if you visit in the summer, don’t forget your hat and gloves and layers of clothing.

 

 

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Travel, Yes

Big City, Small Town

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I once had a psychic tell me that I kept visiting cities of the places I had lived in previous lives.  It could be, I have no idea.  But if I run into The Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, or The Hollywood Psychic, Tyler Henry, I will have them check it out.

I have been lucky enough to live in several different places in this country and luckier still to have visited many places throughout the world. Living in a city gives you an entirely new view of it.  You are no longer that tourist going from one museum to another or trying to get to 5 historical places in one day. Never getting a true feeling for any of it.

My past work history had given me opportunity for discounted travel and as a result many times I would focus on one museum or location to visit because I knew I could come back in two or three months it I felt it necessary.  This gave me the opportunity to not rush to try and see France in 2 days.

Living in the US, I grew up in the Midwest and lived in both big and small cities.  Lived in a couple of places in the East again, both big and small cities.  On the west coast lived in a big city, but had friends living other places that I visited frequently. Some places where I never “lived” but visited on a monthly basis, feel as if I lived there.

This brings me to Anchorage. The population in the Anchorage area is over 300,000 so that might constitute a big city.  It feels like a small town in many ways.  In my daily travel I constantly run into the same people over and over again. The public transit system feels like small town.  A few downtown venues feels very much like big city places.

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So is this a small town trying to be a big city or a big city stuck in some places. One of the interesting things to me is that I first visited Alaska some 20 + years ago and Anchorage was a small city even though it was the largest city in Alaska.  Some of the business I visited look just about the same, many are no longer recognizable as the same.

I think this is a place that does not want anyone to define it or categorize it, it thrives on its individual stance.  That also says a lot for the people who inhabit this place.  The native who were living here for a very long time are fiercely independent and creative.  The “new” people who moved here from all over the world are also fiercely independent and creative.

Most people I encounter are from somewhere else once upon a time, but having lived here for 10 or 20 or 50 years consider Alaska their home.  They all say that when they  visit other places it is so nice to come home to Alaska. Many have that homestead attitude of making what you have at hand work for you. Most have different reasons for coming here originally, but have become Alaskans.

I truly am grateful that I am having this opportunity to live and work in a city that I think is a great place to visit  and a beautiful place to live.  No, I am not moving here permanently, but I will surely come back to visit again and again.

 

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Travel, Yes

Anchorage Skyline

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A skyline by definition is an outline of land and buildings against the sky.  In some large cities it is virtually impossible to see the sky for all the tall buildings in the downtown area or city center.  Anchorage downtown has a wonderful body of water that defines one side of it, and mountains that determine the opposite side.

The city of Anchorage mountains behind it’s high rise buildings kind of makes them all look small by comparison. The waters of Cook Inlet are in front and depending on the tides, the mud flats sometimes visible.

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This is the opposite view of the Anchorage skyline with a beautiful view of Denali in the background.  On clear days the mountain can be seen from many downtown high rise buildings.

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While many are justly proud of this skyline, I must say some suburban cities where I have lived have larger skylines.  With high rise apartments and businesses moving to suburbia, the architecture becomes very diverse.  Also with many cities, space for new building is extremely limited.

I recently took a class here to paint the Anchorage skyline.  In deference to my instructor I will not show you my painful painting of the skyline.  I will very much enjoy hanging it at home as a pleasant reminder of my time here in Alaska.

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This is not my painting or one based on my class.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Choices, Chances, Change

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As I was preparing to leave my home and come to Alaska for 6 months I knew these ‘C’ words would be with me daily.  I  made some good and some bad choices deciding to do this. I somehow always knew Alaska was a part of my life, just not sure how or why.  In hindsight of course many things are now clear.

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Many, many years ago on a family vacation, we were at a national park and the gentleman guiding the tour told us he worked over the summer only as he was retired and loved his job.  Don’t know where that got filed, but it my brain it was filed somewhere.

Then about 15 years after that, I was in Alaska with a friend.  We had a slight car problem and were stopped along a highway by a small store and went inside. In talking to the man running the store, he suggested, out of the blue, working over the summer and said he was sure I would get hired.  This also got filed away somewhere.

Once I was retired, 20 or so years later,  none of this was uppermost in my mind.  I was kind of in survival mode. Due to some changes in my world, I was simply lucky to put one foot in front of the other and get through a day.  It took me several years to return to feeling in charge of many` portions of my life.

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I only wish I had someone like me in my life who had taken a big chance and made a big change.  I don’t know that I would have listened or followed, I needed my own drummer to follow.  This has been one of the most delightful and wonderful summers of my life.  At the age of 70, I have a few summers to compare and will always be grateful for the choice to come here.

I have learned so much about the great state of Alaska, it still holds many mysteries and I only hope I have more opportunity to keep discovering them. While I am not ready to move here on a permanent basis, I am sure I will visit again.

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I guess the fact that some of my co-workers are leaving next week and more the week after that has caused me to be reflective.  I am very aware that my time here is limited. I am pleased that I checked off some bucket list items. I am grateful that my health has allowed me to do this.  I only hope that I can inspire at least one person.  I know the two people who crossed my path for a very short time had no idea their words would bring me to Alaska all those years in the future.

My adventures for this year are not over, next it is the choice of where I want to spend this winter, a beach in Florida sounds really good right now.  All I can suggest is that choices, chances and change are often really  great. I  encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone from time to time  and say yes to whatever the universe is offering.