01 August 2007

Excursion to (Los) Anchorage

I went to Anchorage on Sunday night to meet up with a good friend from Fairbanks on Monday who is leaving the state at the end of the month for Boston. Anchorage is sort of in-between: 3.5 hours from Very Small Wet Town and 7 hours south of Fairbanks. I drove in on Sunday night where I met the most astonishing traffic I have ever seen in my entire time in Alaska. Cars were piled knee deep around Turnagain Arm from Girdwood to Anchorage and nary a one was moving. I promptly pulled over, let dog out of the truck while tied to the frame, got out my sleeping pad, my book (A Far Country by Daniel Mason – fabulously written), and my dinner and proceeded to make myself comfortable in the bed of my truck. I wasn’t in a hurry and the view of Turnagain arm and the bore tides was fantastic. I know that the traffic was really impressive because out of staters kept coming up to me to tell me that they lived in LA or NY or where ever and they had never seen anything like it and was this normal? (Can’t imagine how they pegged me for someone who lives there can you? ). Around 11 o’clock it finally cleared long enough for DOG and I to reach our campground (~1/2 hour south of Anchorage) where we spent the rainy night quite cozily.
Picture from a previous trip to Anchorage in early spring

The problem with going to the city is that there are always so many things one must do when one goes to the city because there are things you can do and get there that I simply cannot in Very Small Wet Town. So of course, after meeting my friend for coffee she ran around with me to go to the bookstore & exchange read books for unread books, pick up an item that had been dropped off for repair weeks earlier, shop for a tent, pick up pet care items, and so on. I absolutely loathe shopping which may be why I rather dislike Los Anchorage (or maybe it’s because it has won awards for being one of the most unfriendly cities and has more violence then it’s small city status should warrant) and although I always have lists of things I need to do and get in the end I usually only get half before I absolutely must flee the place.

Los Anchorage was built with absolutely no planning, starting with the gold rush years when people weren’t planning on staying so they built where they could. This continued with the oil rush days and continues today. My friend complained that everywhere in Anchorage looks the same. And it is sprawled. It, like the Russian city Petropavlovsk, is located in a gorgeous setting of mountains and ocean but the city itself isn’t very attractive. That said I am very glad for the extensive network of trails within the city which I retreat to regularly when the sensory overload of the city gets to be too much. My friend from Fairbanks was also overwhelmed, despite Fairbanks being the next biggest city in Alaska, and kept asking me – “How am I going to survive in Boston?”.

We parted ways to go to appointments, various annual doctor appointments for me, in-laws for her. I stayed a little later then I planned because I simply could not leave without taking the opportunity to go to the cinema to watch the new Harry Potter movie. Then DOG and I fled south where we both breathed a little easier and CAT was most relieved when we got home having spent her first night on her lonesome since joining the family. It seems if I had stayed a little longer I might have seen the FBI fun at the home of our Senator Ted Stevens.


  1. who knew you'd be so close to the national news?! glad you made it back to small town sanity. i remember.... small town= small but good.

  2. orangeblossoms ~ yeah, it's not often we get there. which explains why so many people ask me which country AK is in or what currency I use when ordering over the phone.

  3. Ah this brings back memories! Made me giggle a little too, it was very well written. I too hate cities.

  4. Yeah. I lived in a town of 500 for a few years. It was great-- except for when it wasn't. I'm not such a solitary ranger as some. I was always glad to go to the city for provisions and culture... and happy to return home. Now life is more suburban/urban. I miss the beauty.... but not the small town gossip or my sense of isolation from other like-minded people.

  5. dj kirby ~ thanks!

    orangebloosoms ~ yeah, I know what you mean...this is definately a SMALL town and everybody knows what everybody is doing and it can be small minded. Gossip is what this town thrives on. Funnily though, I've lived in some smaller towns that didn't feel as small as this one. There's some sort of end of the road mentality here that seems to make it worse.

  6. dj kirby ~ went to check out your blog but it's private :(

  7. Sorry it isnt really I'd just pressed the wrong button on my profile, go ahead and look now cos I think I've sorted it!


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