Thursday, November 26, 2009

Anchorage vs. Boston

Well, I hope you missed my blog over the last few weeks. I could have posted from the Boston Library, where I was getting my email, but an hour was hardly time to sort thru the daily things. Okay, I should have carried my laptop, but no . . . it's nice to visit a big city, but nicer to get back to Alaska. People comment that the cost of getting here is just too much, but it won't be any less next year, I guarantee, so you should plan your visit now. Why come to Anchorage?
First, our weather is as good or better than Boston. It doesn't rain all day, ever. The traffic is never more than a two red light wait, and drivers are polite. Usually, they are! Unfortunately, the highway engineers have been tampering with a satisfactory highway network, by forcing in roundabouts, and making some 4 lane major arteries 3 lanes. They say it improves the flow, but this is only because many avoid those roads now, causing less traffic. There was a successful campaign by the businesses on Fireweed Lane (a major east-west mid-town street) to keep these city planners out of the area.

Now, comparing museums, I have to admit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is quite fabulous, and the $20 admission is acceptable, but there is a limited amount of time and energy to visit all the galleries in one visit. The Anchorage Museum of Fine Arts is also great, altho' quite a bit smaller, but adequate, and the $7 admission is more reasonable.

Restaurants abound in both cities, but overall, the prices in Boston are much higher. Anchorage boasts umpteen Mexican restaurants, and I didn't see any in Boston. The fast-food chains are in both places, and sidewalk cafes are inviting. Starbucks are found on most corners, it seemed, and shops between Copley Square and Arlington/Boston Commons are quite fancy. But Boston has no Nordstroms. How can that be! Anchorage has a downtown core with Nordie's and J.C. Penney's being the two major stores, and free parking at Penney's garage. Forget about parking in Boston -- it can be done if you want to pay $12/hr. Well, I don't.

Public transportation in Boston is pretty special. You can even take a subway to the airport (a shuttle takes you the last part right to your terminal) which is truly easier than turning in a rental car, or getting a lift there thru a toll-gate. Logan Airport is huge, and they've upgraded many restaurants and shops since 9-11, I understand. However, Anchorage has upgraded their airport, too, and it's easy/free access. . .but there's no public transportation to get there.

There are many educational colleges there. Northeastern Univ. just dropped their football program, but there's Harvard right across the River and many smaller colleges. On the music scene, you have Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory, and other smaller schools. In Anchorage, you have ME! Yes, I teach piano, but we have the University of Alaska, Anchorage (UAA) and Alaska Pacific University. . . and Charter College completes the diversity of offerings.

The sports scene at this time of year focuses on skiing, and Anchorage has Mt. Alyeska Resort, which is one of the best anywhere, and only an hour's drive away. Boston offers trains to Conway, N.H. and other ski resorts in N.H. and Vermont. The cost is prohibitive and unlikely that most can afford such luxury, whereas in Anchorage/Alyeska, ski bums have it good, with a hostel nearby the mountain, and reasonable prices for lift tickets and food.

I guess you can say I'm hooked on Alaska, for so many reasons. We even have our own history, altho' different from the elitists of New England. What can compare to the gold miners, and early settlers in Matanuska Valley. They have a story to tell, and it is just as colorful, in a different way.

So I guess the bottom line is that Alaska is a great place to visit, and even greater to live here. Come and see for yourself.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Living in Anchorage

It just happened a minute ago. I went downtown Saturday morning to help decorate tables for our Harvest Dinner tomorrow. . . then was dragging home (actually a 2 mile drive) down a main couplet when big ole mama moose and her darling yearling (also big) decided to cross the road right in front of me. Lucky I was alert enough to slam on my brakes and watch their nimble steps across C Street. I didn't have time to get my cell phone out for a picture, but thought I'd post this old one anyhow to give you an idea of their size. A friend of mine hit one a few years ago and it totaled his car. Also he was reprimanded by Forest Service, and had to fill out forms to show it wasn't his fault that the moose ran out from the woods into his car. Yes, they have right of way, as do bears and other wildlife.

I don't remember any November in the past 43 years since I came, that didn't have snow. We're having a long autumn season, and it's all right with me. There are so many events going on, it's just hard to keep up. The First Friday Art Walk is always pretty special, and this month the Museum of Art and History is featuring a friend from Fairbanks, Sandy Gillespie. We have a huge new addition built on the west side of the original museum, that is quite overwhelming. It was designed by some famous architects in U.K., named Chittendon, or something like that. Well, if this were a proper blog, I'd look it up, but I'm just chatting here. In addition to this, this weekend's events include (but are not limited to) a Book Sale at the Library, Silver Tea at the American Legion, Gift Bazaar at the new Dena'ina Center, installation of new pastor at our church, Heritage Center Dances, and more.
On the sports scene, the football season at the high schools is winding down now, but the indoor programs at the schools are in full swing -- wrestling, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, etc. Sunday morning and evening has the NFL games in many bars, and clubs, and since Alaska timeis 4 hours earlier than East Coast time, it's easy to stay awake until the end of the game.
So, let me again tell you that Alaska is a great place to visit year round. Don't think that because you entered on a cruise ship and left the next day that you're seen Alaska. There's much more. One of the best tours I ever took was an extension of an Alaska cruise that took us to Fairbanks, Chicken, Eagle, Dawson, Whitehorse, Skagway and Juneau. . . and don't forget to buy travel insurance when you come here, there, and everywhere. See my webpage for info and app!