Thursday, August 28, 2008

Best Views of Anchorage

Cuddy Park in Midtown AnchorageThis is the post where I play tour guide, taking you on a virtual tour of Anchorage and some of the things you could expect to see here.

The only thing missing in the pictures are the bears. Did you hear? We've been overrun lately, with four attacks in the city this summer and last week someone hit a 700 pound grizzly with their car. On a four lane street downtown in front of Cal Worthington Ford. Crazy.

1. Cuddy Park is in midtown Anchorage and here in the picture you can see a few of the buildings in the area--one of them is where Andrew used to work before he started his new job a year or so ago. Gosh I make it sound like he's working for the CIA or something. "There's an unnamed building which I can't point out where he used to work for an undisclosed corporation before transferring to another more discreet and unrevealed company." You'll never find him, never. Anyway, I love this new park that has gone in behind the Loussac library, there are trails and a bridge and ducks and poppies. Just about anything a park-lovin' woman would want.

Resolution Point in Anchorage, Alaska2. Resolution Point is right in downtown Anchorage (and along the coast as you can see here). I'm going to quote from last year's post on Art in Anchorage by saying that the Resolution was Captain Cook's ship and Captain Cook gets credit for "discovering" Anchorage, hence the name Cook Inlet, bestowed on the body of water next to which our fair city is settled.

To be accurate, however, Captain Cook never made it this far up the inlet, having instead given the job of exploring to William Bligh (yes, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and supposedly grumbled about the whole experience in his journal because he'd been hoping to find the mysterious Inside Passage and had been foiled yet again in his attempt. Resolution Point has a bronze statue of Cook staring out to sea and though he never made it to Anchorage it's one of the prettiest places on the coast and a wonderful place to view the inlet and Mt. Susitna which you can see off in the distance in the picture. It's also a good place to find tourists.

Potter Marsh in Anchorage, Alaska3. Potter Marsh is part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge which extends 16 miles from Point Woronzof on the west down south to Potter Creek not too far from our home.

If you're a bird-watcher Potter Marsh gives you a chance to see Canada geese, northern pintails, mallards, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, red-necked grebes, horned grebes, yellowlegs, northern phalaropes (what?), Arctic terns, trumpeter swans, snow geese, Northern harriers, bald eagles, short-eared owls, Pacific loons and mew gulls all at one point or another during nesting, migration or hunting.

If plain old mammals are more your thing the wildlife refuge has moose, muskrats, coyotes, beavers, weasels, mink, snowshoe hares, red squirrels, voles, and shrews with an occasional lynx, river otter, red fox, and black or brown bear.

No mammals? You want fish you say? Well how about coho, chum and king salmon, sticklebacks, Dolly Varden (best fish name in the world), Arctic grayling and sculpins (whatever in the world they are). They're there too.

And if you want to steer entirely clear of other living creatures you can visit Potter Marsh in the winter when it's frozen over and go ice skating. Now that's convenient.

The Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska4. The Talkeenta Mountains are north of Anchorage along the Matanuska-Susitna (or Mat-Su) Valley and every time we head up to my parents' cabin on the Kashwitna River we pass this view. It's not the best picture as I took it going at 70 mph--uh, make that 65 mph, I'm sure Andrew was obeying the speed limit--with the window down and much complaining in the back seat.

"Roll up the window! It's blowing us all over back here!"

"Just . . . a . . . minute . . . need . . . better . . . shot . . . "

They just don't understand the artistic effort that a blog requires. At least you can kind of get the idea from the pretty valley floor and the mountains rising in the back--we were just about to go over the Knik Bridge. We'll be passing that way again this weekend.

Cook Inlet in Alaska5. The Seward Highway goes from downtown Anchorage south along Cook Inlet and you've heard me say it before that it's probably the prettiest drive in the world.

How can I claim that this view is one of the prettiest in Anchorage? Or how about that last picture of the Talkeetna Mountains? How can they qualify as a view of Anchorage when they're obviously no where near the city?

Well the answer is easy because Anchorage's municipal boundaries are enormous. When I say enormous I mean ENORMOUS. The actual, technical city limits go from something like Portage, forty miles south to the Mat-Su Valley up north and all the mountains in between. The total size of the city is 1,961.1 square miles (that's 5,079 square kilometers for my metric friends) which, if calculations serve, makes us bigger than the state of Rhode Island with their mere 1,214 square miles.

Not that we're bragging or anything.

Winner Creek, Alaska6. Winner Creek in Girdwood (about 30 minutes south of downtown Anchorage) is also technically part of the city so I'm including this beautiful picture from our hike there last summer. You can read more of the details in my post, Winner Creek Trail: Best Hike in Alaska, which has more pictures of this fun trail complete with a hand-tram over Winner Creek.

That's the last cheaty picture, the rest of the shots will be within distance of actual buildings and highways and stop lights.

7. Lake Hood may not look as if it's near any buildings but really and truly it is right next door to the airport. It was merely my luck in timing that I don't have a big Boeing 737 hovering in the shot because on the far side of that lake to the right is the Delta Terminal, the gigantic Fedex building (a huge hub), the big ol' UPS building and the post office. To the left of the picture is a hotel with a restaurant on the edge of the lake. It's a happening place I tell you.

Lake Hood in Anchorage, AlaskaThe fun thing about Lake Hood is that you can turn off a busy road, pull into the gravel parking lot and sit there to watch the planes taking off and landing. All within 15 minutes from my house.

The amazing thing is, Lake Hood is an airport in itself. It's a float plane harbor where float planes such as the one you see taking off in the picture come and go. Lake Hood Seaplane Base (the official name) happens to be the busiest float plane harbor in the world with an average of 190 flights per day. And I bet the flights there take off on time--beat that Alaska Air.

Alaska is so large and most of the villages are only accessible by air so small planes are very popular. One in sixty-four Alaskans has a pilot's license--I wish I did. That would be very cool. Actually, I'd prefer to learn how to fly a helicopter, I've always wanted to fly one of those.

Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage, Alaska8. Westchester Lagoon is a man-made lagoon just below the downtown area. The picture you see here is the downtown area overlooking the western section of the lagoon and while Andrew and I love our neighborhood and home Andrew has always had this longing to have a house on the edge of the lagoon. There are some beautiful neighborhoods there--kind of a hip place to live for power professionals who are okay with the home prices there.

I'm not sure why it appeals to Andrew so much, I mean it's very pretty and the ice skating in winter is always a bonus but I'm not really someone who likes the pace of the traffic and the sounds of the cars and the people wandering through your yard at all times of the day and night.

We used to live down town seven years ago and it wasn't a bowl of cherries--sometime I'll have to post the story about the poor man who was stabbed to death a block down from us and staggered to our front door before dying in front of the house.

Oops, I guess that kind of hits the key points of the story right there, but I promise if I ever were to flush out all the details it would make an interesting--and sad--post. I guess it makes things sound much more dangerous than they really are but I still would rather not live downtown.

Ship Creek in Anchorage, Alaska9. Ship Creek runs right through the downtown area--you see here in the photo the Port of Anchorage where cargo ships (not cruise ships by the way) come and go. The boys like to go down there and see the boxes being unloaded. Elmendorf Air Force Base is off to the right across the bridge on up at Government Hill.

The great thing about Ship Creek is that the salmon come through and when the run is on you'll see fisherman fighting for space along the banks for their shot at catching their limit.

We took David there last summer for an outing which I wrote about in my post Ship Creek in Anchorage, Alaska. There are more pictures there if you're interested. It's a lovely place to see.

4th Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska10. 4th Avenue isn't quite what you'd see in New York or even Seattle but it's got it's own little charm that I enjoy.

In summer there are tourists everywhere which make it hard to hit my favorite restaurants but with the extra daylight waiting a bit for dinner isn't such a bad thing.

The picture isn't the best but 4th Avenue is particularly historic because after the 1964 earthquake pictures of the damage to this street became famous--I'd post some here but I'm sure they're copyrighted so look at the library's archive page instead.

Anyway, that would make another interesting post--what it was like to live through the '64 quake. I wasn't alive but my parents were both in high school with the Good Friday quake hit measuring between 8.8 and 9.2, the largest ever recorded. Maybe I should get my Dad to write a guest post about it.

4th Avenue is still the center of town and depending on the season you can find outdoor concerts, the most beautiful hanging flower baskets, great food (love those reindeer sausages) and dog sled racing which I covered a while back in my post Fur Rendezvous 2007.

And if all this doesn't convince you to come by for a visit I don't know what will.

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Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I didn't even read this post I just skipped down to the comments...Does this make me want to visit the Last Frontier again? Of course it does! Ever since I found your blog I wanted to get back there, and you just continue to rub it in. Daily you taunt me Michelle Mitchell...

Joyful Days said...

I've always wanted to visit. You just made me sure of it. How lovely!


Doll Clothes Gal said...

Absolutely breathtaking! We have never been there but it is certainly on my list.

tjhirst said...

Yes, do get your dad to write a guest post about it. We would love to hear from him and have his perspective.

SarahHub said...


Sara in Fort Collins said...

Aaah. You take me back. Memories. Man, do I miss Alaska. Cuddy Park? I left in late 2001. It's kinda sad when you realize life went on without you there. And you have Target now! What's this world coming to?! I remember when WalMart finally made the treck north! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I hope to come for a visit next summer.

Heather said...

My sister has wanted to move to Alaska for years. I'll have to pass this post on to her. You paint a pretty picture. I'll add you to my list of trips I want to take when I become independently wealthy and can go anywhere I want. :o)

Killlashandra said...

The Seward Hwy is my favorite. Reminds me of when I too that one trip to Alaska with the family a long time ago. We too the ferry from Seward to Valdez. Wonderful trip and I learned all about growlers. :)

Karen B said...

I've never visited your wonderful state but maybe a cruise someday? I remember the earthquake and how unbelievable it seemed. Do have your dad guest blog.

Enjoy your blog daily - thanks so much!

Beth said...

When is the best time for a visit? :-)

Absolutely stunning!

MommyTime said...

Oh, I've wanted to visit Alaska for years, and every time I read one of your posts about your very outdoorsy life, I want to come even more. These photos are beautiful! Someday I'll make it there...

Anonymous said...

Looks so nice!!! I would love to visit!

oh and I have a question: If I use pictures off of other websites on my blog, is it sufficient to cite the website below the picture, or do I need to use more precise references when using pictures from other websites? ( I primarily use pictures of what a plant/ orchid will look like when it is blooming size, but other than that all the other pictues on my blog are my own).

Thanks :) I thought you might know since you a a blogger expert!!

Shannon said...

The Seward Hwy view is stunning! The guest post from your dad would be interesting- it would be neat to hear about the quake from the perspective of someone who went through it.

Scribbit said...

You asked about picture attribution? The safest thing is to ask for permission from the site who owns the picture. If it's a site such as a government site where it's difficult to get permission I give attribution of where I found the picture, linking to the site, in the post. Though actually? I've just tried to avoid the whole situation in general by using my own photos entirely nowadays, just to be careful. If someone objects to how you've done it they'll usually just ask you to remove their photo so if you do it wrong you'll probably hear about it.

And just to be clear, these photos are all my own shots :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for answering my question!

Oh, and of course I knew the pictures were your own! Your blog is great by the way!

I just thought that since you have been blogging for a while, and have such and excellent blog, you would be able to answer my question :)

Thanks again!

dolphin lady said...

Thanks for the tour! It has been many years since we worked on cruise ships, docked in Whittier and took the bus/train to Anchorage. And I met a man walking a reindeer right down the street in the middle of Anchorage! Still a little on the frontier side, I would say. Sure wish I could visit again and bring my kids.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I just love your Alaska posts. Because of you, I solemnly swear that I will drive the Seward Highway when I get to your fair state, and I will declare it The Prettiest Drive Anyway. (Next to Big Sur, anyway.)

Did I ever tell you that my family is constantly plotting an Alaska trip? My brother-in-law spent about half his growing up years there, so he wants to take us all up there to explore his favorite spots.

Jenna Consolo said...

Great pics! I remember many of these places. How I love Anchorage!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, what absolutely stunning images those are. I can't even stand the beauty. You are soooo lucky.

Karen said...

Sigh. There you go again...making me homesick. :)

I used to live in the Turnagain area and LOVED the bike trails - I'd rollerblade and bike around everywhere during the summer. MISS. IT.

Bobbie in AK said...

I especially love the photo of the Seward Hwy. The drive to Girdwood (and beyond) is wonderful. I have friends who live in Prominence Point and the view from their backyard is spectacular. There are so many reasons I love living here and the views are right at the top of the list.

Emily ~ Little Window Shoppe said...

These pictures are BEAUTIFUL! I want to visit. :) I can't believe the bear story...I even had to re-read it to my husband. That really is unbelievable...700 lbs, wow.

diana said...

we vacationed in your beautiful state this last summer. we flew into anchorage at night (although it looked as if it was day) and didn't head out to homer until the next day.

i agree with you. the seward highway along cook inlet was absolutely breathtaking. we loved homer and the kenai penninsula. and when we returned to anchorage, we stumbled upon tat hood lake area. that's where i'd want to live =)

we enjoyed our visit there in part to how beautiful it was.

Abby said...

Awww you make me miss Anchorage. We just left there a year ago after being stationed at Elmendorf for 3 years. What an experience!

Mo Mommy said...

Thanks so much, you always seem to post something nice right when I feel so homesick I just about can't take it. Seriously, a little misty eyed right now. I'm desperately hoping to visit next year and show my kids where I grew up. Alaska has reached near mythical status in their eyes ;)
I want a post about food. Gwennie's has no equal!!

Damselfly said...

I want to go!

Cuddle Cottage said...

I'm convinced! I need to show these photos to hubby and sell him on the idea too!

AlaneM said...

OMGosh, how georgious! I've always wanted to visit Alaska - my dad's cousin lives in Illiamna - but these pics make it even more attractive!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

The photos are beautiful - WOW...but I still am having trouble getting beyond the 700 lbs bear on a 4 lane highway...yeah, you lost me there ;)

Gabrielle said...

Oh, that was beautiful! I do want to visit Alaska! I would want to see everything you have detailed, it all looks so wonderful....I love your "birds" section and the "What?! bird" :-) I just could not help to think if I were one of those birds I would be the Pacific loon, but since I am on the Atlantic....Great post Michelle, I enjoyed being somewhat transported!

JanMary said...

Wonderful tour.

Do you get commission from the Alaskan Tourist Board?

It is great to get the inside info and best spots from a local.

You mention tourists a lot- is it a bit tourist destination? If so, what countries are they from?

Here in N Ireland, tourists fall generally into 2 categories - coach loads of Americans, coming back to their roots, on a whistle stop tour of Ireland, including a few hours at Giants Causeway. The second tend to be europeans in camper vans, usually wearing lots and lots of clothes, hats and scarves on what we consider to be a warm day and we are all in t-shirts!

Since "peace" definite increase in tourism generally, and we don't mind sharing :)

Amy said...

Beautiful pictures!