Anchorage never had a chance. A stop on our itinerary sandwiched between heavenly Homer and the towering Denali, Alaska’s largest city was not calling to us. Of course, if one is in Alaska it would seem an oversight not to spend some time in Anchorage and I guess our tour company agreed since we spent 3 nights and 2 days in a city whose motto is “Big Wild Life”.
The drive here on Sunday was quite busy as weekenders and tourists alike poured off the Kenai Peninsula and made their way either home or to their next destination. Apart from more traffic than what we have come to expect in Alaska, it was an uneventful ride over roads that we had already traveled on. Now, that being said, remember these roads are in Alaska and marvelous scenery typically abounds around every curve.
Our drive on this day was no exception especially as the Seward Highway began to follow along the Turnagain Arm about an hour south of Anchorage. The Turnagain Arm is a body of water just off the Cook Inlet known for its mud flats (and quicksand) and for the phenomenon called a bore tide. A bore tide happens when the leading edge of the incoming tide meets the flow of the outgoing tide creating a wave of water that travels up and out of the bay. These waves are particularly treacherous for mariners and can reach a height of 10 feet. Unfortunately, we did not witness this event on our drive but we surely enjoyed the “movement” of the mud flats in the waters and the play of light upon both. With the backdrop of the Chugach Range, it is quite picturesque!
Anchorage itself sits on the Knik Arm just off the Cook Inlet with the Chugach Range off in the distance. It is home to just under 300,000 people and its city limits span 1,961 square miles. Its history is steeped in the railroad and even today, much of its economy is centered on transportation. Its airport for instance is the world’s 3rd busiest for cargo traffic because of its location on routes between Asia and the lower 48. And, a fun fact, it is the only airport in the country that has a dedicated water runway for all of the seaplane traffic in this area! Anchorage also enjoys the status of being the official starting point for the annual Iditarod Dog Sled Race which as you might expect, is quite a big deal in these parts!
Though most of our time here was spent quietly, we did enjoy taking a bus tour around the area, shopping for souvenirs downtown, and running some much needed errands. I don’t think we did justice to the motto “Big Wild Life” here in Anchorage, but Denali is definitely calling and we must go!