Our first morning in Anchorage came far too quickly. We didn’t get to bed until almost 2 am, but sleeping until 8 am seemed like we were waking up at noon. The weather was gorgeous, and the first days of 70 degree weather seemed to make the residents a little giddy.
We met up with my dear friend from law school, Susanne, a resident of Anchorage since we graduated in 1987. Susanne married a local man and has worked for the Alaska Judiciary and courts since we graduated. It is always great to see her, though our visits are too few and far between.
As a local, Susanne advised us on what to do and see while we’re here, and full of information about the area. We walked from the Hilton a few blocks to the Snow City Cafe.
The Cafe was crowded, and the crowd had spilled out onto the sidewalk. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, so Susanne suggested that we stroll across the street to a scenic viewpoint of Cook Inlet.
Just down the block from the Cafe, we found a viewing platform with a large statue of Captain Cook, famed 18th explorer who made his way to Alaska from Britain. We’ve seen other monuments to Captain Cook in our travels, from Nova Scotia to Hawaii. The guy got around.
Captain Cook’s statue is located in Resolution Park, with a beautiful view of Cook Inlet, looking across to Mount Susitna. The mountain is called Susitna, a Native word meaning “Sleeping Lady.” Susanne explained that it was so named because from some angles, it looks like a woman lying on her side with her hair streaming out. The photo at the top of the post is the view of the Inlet and Mountain from the viewing platform.
Susanne pointed out Ship Creek, one of the few urban salmon runs in the country. My dad is an avid fisherman, and since he is joining us on Monday, Susanne noted that she would have suggested that he try his hand at fishing here, but it can be dangerous. She noted that the silt from the river is treacherous, and every year the fire department has to rescue some poor soul who gets stuck in the muck and can’t get out. One person lost her life when the tide came in and they were unable to free her from the clutches of the mud. We agreed that this was not a place for either Alex or my dad to try out their salmon-catching skills.
We lingered on the viewing platform for some time, while Alex enjoyed burning off some energy by running up and down the wooden decks below us, exploring different viewpoints. The weather was perfect, with no hints of rain, or the snow that had blanketed the area only a few weeks before. Susanne noted that she had been cross-country skiing to work a month or so ago, and so it was odd to think she could even take off her jacket.
We got back to the Snow City Cafe just as our table was ready. We ate a hearty breakfast, and headed down fourth street to the Anchorage Market & Festival . The Market is a seasonal event, running on Saturdays through the summer months, from 10 am to 6 pm. The Market is located right across from the Anchorage Hilton on 3rd Avenue, between C and E Streets.
The Market is a blend of artist fair, local food products, produce, and music festival. When we arrived, a country-sounding band was playing, followed by a string band playing Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister,” on violins. There are a wide variety of crafts, like the Christmas ornaments depicting various Alaskan scenes and animals.
Alex really liked the native masks and small carved totem poles. He used the money his dad gave him to purchase a small totem pole to take back home.
We walked through the 300+ vendor booths, sampling birch syrup candy and cherries from Washington State. There were also 30 or so food vendors on site, featuring halibut and chips, and other festival fare.
There was a large display of Russian nesting dolls for sale, I guess because Alaska is so close to Russia that they are easy to import. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), the Barack Obama nesting dolls did not seem like a big seller. Winnie the Pooh probably would fare better here.
Alex tried on an authentic coonskin cap, made from real raccoon fur. He looked like an authentic frontiersman in this get-up.
There was a particularly large booth with hundreds of decorative, hand made zipper pulls. Susanne remarked that anywhere else in the country, a zipper pull might seem rather mundane, but in Alaska, it was considered high art. Since most people wear coats and jackets most of the year, that might the only bling you can see, so it made sense to me.
I managed to escape with only a few purchases and most of my money intact. Alex bought his totem pole and a fighter jet from a toy vendor that was not particularly Alaskan, but something he was drawn to nonetheless. We had a great time checking out the beautiful handmade goods, photography, and artwork.