Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Season in Anchorage

I have several drafts which will not post, so I'll try to update the October posting here, and if it does work, I'll tell you about our Christmas season, because there's a lot happening in Anchorage, and to me, personally, too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anchorage Welcomes Winter

My posting at Hollowe'en didn't post -- trouble on the line, but it did in my wordpress blog (username is veracrews). I never did figure that one out, but here I am, back again, to tell you a little more about Anchorage . . . it’s so beautiful this time of year, especially if you’re inside looking out at the snow, but there are horrendous storms on the Western Coast of Alaska.

This doesn’t seem to have slowed down the social life of Anchorage. The Petroleum Club and other watering holes have a big football following, with huge monitors and several games going on at once. It’s hard to sip and socialize at the same time. . . but we try.

As a member of the Real Alaskans, we are planning a Hawaiian cruise for next May. It's open to others, of course, but the advantage of a group is the 'amenity points' given you, to be used for gaming, surfing internet, drinks, etc. If you are interested in this, go to my website and click on Real Alaskans for details. I really love cruising and I'm planning to go down the Amazon River next month. Whee! But it's always great to get back home.

The big Thanksgiving event of the year is approaching, as we are hosting our Great Alaska Shootout. This is a 4 day tournament of women’s and men’s basketball teams, with invites to college teams from the lower states. This was originally a great local idea for pre-season, with special dispensation from USAA, but has been copied by so many colleges that it’s hard to get the top teams anymore. But it still goes on with peripheral events that still draw crowds. The local competition is the Nutcracker Ballet, which is a first-class production. We do want to encourage you to come in the winter and enjoy the beautiful Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, in a very black sky. This is an added bonus to your visit!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hallowe'en Approaches Anchorage

This beautiful image came from the daily news, so I can’t give credit, but I really like the setting . . . it’s almost time for Hallowe’en, and it’s a big deal in Anchorage. I guess dressing up gives us an alter personality for a short period. We’re watching the ‘termination dust’ coming down lower on the mountains, and soon we’ll be covered in white. We still change to studded tires around this time, and take all the plants (that we hope to winter over) indoors.

The Center for Performing Arts has a full schedule, with the Symphony and Opera, but the big performance this week is “Fiddler on the Roof”. It’s a tried and true musical, and we have a fresh look with a new director, Sam something, who gave us a talk about the goings on backstage in preparation. It’s a well-oiled machine that spends over a week in set-up and then they leave after the first performance!
The political scene is also quite active, and there are fund-raisers almost daily. . . and wildlife is still coming to downtown for foraging. So we continue to enjoy life in big A, as the snowbirds leave for the winter.
Sports of all kinds are going strong with the local high school, and the sports bars are thriving with the overlapping of baseball and football season. The NBA has been delayed this year, but there’s enough going on to fill in the blanks. Signing off for now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's a New World Out There

Don't go away . . I'm really trying to update you on Alaska life, but it's not easy because I'm in Mexico and having to read the Anchorage Paper online. If you want me to tell you about Mexico, I'll wait until I can find some images to make reading more fun. Mostly, being here just supports my reasons for you all to come to Alaska to vacation. We have it all. The weather here is decent, but not sunny and warm as I expected. Shopping is okay, but I went the market today and didn't find prices any lower than elsewhere. I'm using the Mexican keyboard on this computer and can't find the At sign... Guess I can get into my curmudgeon stage of life. Later, Vera

Friday, August 26, 2011

Alaska State Fair and beyond!

Could it be that time already? It seems time goes faster as we get older. So there goes summer of 2011, and it was a good one for Anchorage. We have been spared the hurricanes and tornadoes of the East Coast this year, and the weather has been a spotty pattern of sun and drizzle. That's good for our crops, and the State Fair will again be showing the results of the 23 1/2 hours of sunlight. Expect to see some BIG cabbages.

Note also that other smaller towns are vying for the attendance at fairs and farmer's market. One of the newer markets is the one in the parking lot of the famous "Chilkoot Charlies". They host weekly unique booths, plus the Mobile Mender (a lady who sits at sewing machine and does your repairs!)

Girdwood (that's Alyeska Resort town) has it's big Forest Fair in July, followed by Blueberry Fair, and this weekend is the Fungus fair. Along with costumes, you'll see mushrooms of all varieties (including the beautiful red ones that are poisonous) and taste the local delights.

Talkeetna has the Bachelor Auction and permits to climb Denali.

Homer had Creative Writing Workshops, many Art Galleries, and theatre, in addition to the expected water activities.

Seward has the big Silver Salmon Derby, and the image above shows an osprey fishing -- they are quick! Seward is also the jumping off place for cruise ships. Whittier has been added as a docking site for cruise ships, too, as it's closer to Anchorage, where you all want to go . . . don't you?

Fairbanks is the 'other' big city in Alaska, and has it's fairgrounds, and the great one-of-a-kind Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs (actually 60 miles each). The main campus of the University is there, and the campus equals many of the big guys in the lower states.

Now I don't know how I got on this quickie travelogue, but maybe it's because I'm going outside for a few weeks, and will miss all the things here. But just to keep you interested, I'm posting a few images, totally unrelated to my blog script!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Blogging in Anchorage

If you're following my 'occasional' blogs, let it be known I've done more than what's published . . . somehow my last blog ended in cyberspace. I should take time to perfect these because I intend to solicit business for cruises and tours. I'm an occasional consultant for Why Not Travel, and just too busy socializing, I guess to pay too much attention to my webpage. However, I will say that I have a lot of scoop about traveling around Alaska, and can recommend good and bad trips. Also, I'm the president of the Alaska Council of Hostelling International, so I know the economy stops, too.

The thing about Alaska, tho', is that there are a lot of sad happenings, like outdoor activities. Surely, you wouldn't think an experienced pilot would have such a tragic weekend trip.

This picture shows the perfect family who were killed in a mid-air collision while flying to their cabin in the bush. I didn't know them, but couldn't help feel sad over this. Sure, I lost two friends last week, who were each being called in their time, and it didn't strike me as sad at this one.

The other dangers in Alaska is being attacked by bears. This could happen at any time, and even in populated areas, as they love our food goodies, even though they may have been thrown into the trash can.

I really didn't start out to sound so depressed today, but it's just the mood I'm in . .. Some good things are happening too around Anchorge. The Anchorage Bucs Baseball club is finished their season in the middle spot of the Alaska Baseball League. But some players have been called, or drafted into the majors, and the season is ending with fireworks and retirement ceremony for the 31-yr. founding father/manager of the Bucs. His successor will have big boots to fill. I have not even touched on the many great farmer's markets, fairs, block parties, and trade show and concerts, but we have all of the above . .. and too many tourists. The business people don't think so, but the locals kind-of avoid Fourth Avenue crowds in the summer. Gee, do I sound like the local curmudgeon. Not me, I love it here and am willing to share my hometown with you all, so come on up, and remember that I can be your inbound travel consultant!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Great Summer in Anchorage

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle (borrowed from Jim Croce), it would be the month of July. With the great weather, outdoors is the place to be. We have street fairs, bike rides and relays, running activities, and of course the Alaska Baseball League and American Legion provides nightly entertainment.
My favorite farmers market is the Spenard market, which is located in the parking lot of Chilkoot Charlie’s. The director brings in unusual things.

Last week featured raptors from the local Bird Treatment Center. Another unique booth is called “Mobile Menders”. This is a gal who has a sewing machine set up and does mending. It attracts both men and women, and she does very well.

Golf tournaments overlap each other and the big one – the Petroleum Club tournament – has over 400 golfers. Many former Alaskans choose to return this time of year to play and visit.
This doesn’t exclude going indoors for at least three live theatres. Cyranos has monthly plays, and this month is “The 2011 Putnam County Spelling Bee”. The title doesn’t reveal how funny a musical it is. Our local favorite, Whale Fat Follies, has also returned for a 6 week run, and it’s sold out every night. The Anchorage Community Theatre is showing “39 Steps” and Out North has a variety of plays by local writers.
So as for me, I put movies on the back burner until September when it starts getting darker, and darker. The Opera returns, and Symphony has the Champagne Pops open their season. The Concert Association has a full schedule, too, so you have a choice. It’s hard to ignore them all, but it’s possible.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alaska! Why not . . . .

The Grand Princess pays a visit!

It seems like I posted just yesterday, but here it is mid-June. Anchorage has been buzzing with summer excitement. Take today, for example. While I biked over to the Spenard Farmer's Market, and enjoyed all the booths, neighborhood friends, fresh produce and plants . . . at the same time, in midtown, 7200 women were running in the annual cancer benefit. Also, we had my club's annual picnic, and there's another big one this weekend in Wasilla at Snyder Park, a 40 acre parcel right downtown which was donated to the Pioneers of Alaska.

The other regular markets were open, of course, and the downtown streets are flooded with tourists. The two local baseball teams had games at Mulcahy Park, which really crowded the parking lot, which doubled as the take-off point for the women's run. Whew!

We have been blessed with sunny weather and this summer promises to be one of the memorable ones. One bummer for the locals is the installation of new parking meters - one per block where you simply insert your credit card. It's hard to swallow that one, expecially when downtown parking on the streets was free, and ample, just a few years ago. Putting in two-bits wasn't too bad for 60 minutes, than 30 minutes, then 12 minutes. Did you ever think you'd see the day when you used a credit card to park, and to pay for a fast food meal. Well, it's happened!

Another recent change is the docking of cruise ships. Whereas both Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises used to dock in Seward, well, that's over. Seward is a delight small town where you could spend a few hours looking around or visiting the Sea Life Center, and many art and craft shops. It's a pleasure to visit there anytime. However, now the cruise lines have built a new dock in Whittier, which is many miles closer to Anchorage, but it takes the same amount of time to reach Anchorage by boach or train.

This is because there is a huge mountain interrupting the only path to the Seward Highway. Several years ago, they built a one land railroad track thru the mountain, and if you were driving, you needed to put your car and/or boat on the train to get to Whittier. About 4 yrs. ago, they decided to pave this one lane, 3 mile tunnel, and you now take turns on direction to and from. I don't know what the price is for cars, but the coach I was on this week, where I visited the Island Princess, paid $125. I think it's free the other direction. But you wait inline not unlike the ferries out of Seattle, and you may or may not get to drive thru on your half hour, as there's way too much traffic.

These are just some of the changes of late, but we are definitely making a buck on 'travel'. Now, that's the editorial 'we'.

You know my baseball team is the Anchorage Bucs (dot-com) but they have yet to show their strength as the short season is just started. So give 'em a rah, rah, and see you later.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here We Go, Anchorage

Time flies when you're having fun. The tourists are arriving in Alaska via cruiseships, planes, and bicycles. Now don't laugh at that, they really do have many long distance bikers here, or coming here. This week, they had a 'fun' bike ride to Arctic Valley. See image above! This is a hill only a few miles from downtown, and it's all uphill. It's surrounded by military property. Did you know that the two military installations here have merged, and now it's called Elmendorf-Fort Richardson. Makes sense, doesn't it? At the crest of this Arctic Valley Mountain is two ski-areas. . .. on military, and the other is civilian.

It's a great place to learn to ski, and surely more affordable for families than our chic Alyeska Resort. But, in the spring it turns into a great place for hiking, or biking. Some bikers choose to commute to work

Weekends bring many benefit rides and rallies, plus farmer's markets and Tai Chi in the Park. But, there's a lot going on indoors, too. It's a nice time to Alaska, and the Visitor Guides can direct you to some form of your interest. Come on up and visit the Great State.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Day - May Play

It didn't take long to welcome in spring, and change our lifestyle. Yes, it's time to put away the snow boots, mittens, and skull caps, and bring out the flip-flops. And none too soon. I don't know how long our beautiful weather will last, but it's outdoor play for me. Our Hostel Council has set up for a bike ride on May 21st, and the Mayor has given up a proclamation staing just that. I hope the sun tunes in, and give us a beautiful day for the ride and ice-cream social following it.

There are bike races, footraces, and biatholons every weekend, it seems. And as for indoor sport, the ice hockey team, the Alaska Aces, is on it's way to winning the Kelly Cup again! The summer baseball season is also looking good, with it's first game coming in just a month!

As for indoor events, I would say that the graduation ceremonies of the 5 high schools in Anchorage takes the limelight. However, Blue Man Group is coming for a week. They send their own cleaning crew, both for the stage and the first few rows, which gets it's share of the flying 'stuff'.

If you've seen the show before, you'll understand. They even bring their own wash machines, I hear. So let's hope our beautiful Performing Arts Center looks the same after, as before.

As you may know, I'm a travel consultant, and I might just add that the cruisetours in Alaska, and partially Canada, are well worth the extra expense after you get off your cruise. Oh, yes, I book cruises too, but I want you to know that the interior of Alaska has a lot to offer, as does Dawson City, Canada,m so I am just mentioning that because I just set up a page for this blog - -- read it when I get something up on it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Alaskan April

None too soon, April is upon us and it has brought a much-needed respite from the long, cold winter. Don't get me wrong, as Anchorage is beautiful any time of year, but as I get older, it gets harder to accept the long, dark nights. However, it's all forgotten now. I guess it's obvious that I haven't finished my learning curve of this blog, because I just made an error. You see, I have returned to booking cruises and cruisetours with Why Not Travel and was trying to set up blog for them. Well, instead of doing that on her account, I did it on mine, and it's taking me forever to switch it over to her. So if this blog doesn't make sense, it's because my mind is elsewhere right now.

But I must tell you some of the things happening in Anchorage, because we have had a deluge of events. On a personal note, I gave a speech at the Liars Club (it's the truth) and we had a Kids Fair and Womens Fair and a grand opening - three big things this weekend. The opening was our War Museum, and they cordoned off Fourth Avenue to display military trucks, Hummers, etc. and had a festival type atmosphere inside. Evidently, Alaska is the last state to get a war museum, and there were veterans there from the last 4 wars. Am counting right? They all wore their dress uniforms, some unbuttoned. There were lots of walker, wheelchairs, etc. Some ladies did a line dance, and musicians continued the entertainment. . . we did it right!

On the ski scene, this is the last week for skiing at our Alyeska Resort and the slush cup in coming. I simply must get some images to post here for you next week. It's always a fun event. Even the tourists have started arriving, and it looks like it'll be a wonderfulsummer. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Alaska Welcomes Spring

Each winter seems longer than the last. We are happy to welcome spring with the melting snow and melting dog's droppings, potholes, gray days (sometimes), weather above freezing, and dirty cars. Oh, this does sound so awful, but it's just knowing those sunny days are around the corner that keeps us loving Alaska.

I have considered this blog my travel blog, and now I have to announce that it truly is one. You see, I wrote an article on cruising that was published in our Alaska Women Speak Magazine, and reading it made me realize I love booking travel, both inbound and out. So I joined my two friends at Why Not Travel, and we are booking singles and groups with personal service.

I feel I'm a specialist in cruising since I've tried so many cruiselines and I can match a client to a cruise of his liking. So this page is to introduce me and ask for your business on your next holiday.

Just because I'm partial to cruising doesn't mean I ignore other options. Give us a try ... here's my page. Check back soon -- I promise to write more, and let you know why our travel web page is ready. You'll find some good information about Anchorage there!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

The gods are angry with Anchorage, too ... after doing their dirty deeds in New Zealand and Japan, they decided to not let Alaska out of this, and they continued their annual big dump of snow for St. Patricks Day. This did not deter the revelers, tho'. The corned beef and cabbage was abundant around town. Other activities have been squeezed in to finish off winter right!

One sad note is the death of a prominent doctor on the ski slopes on Mt. Alyeska last week. He was out for a playday with his son, and the ending was quite a surprise for all. It just should not be, but life goes on, sad to say. This is turning into a very sad blog, but there are some happy things happening around town, too . . . and we are following the Final Four. I'll try to find a more pleasant picture to post. How about the Iditarod poster by our local artist, Jon Van Zyle. Yes, the big race is over, and it was a good one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Iditarod Time in Alaska

This is the big finish for winter in Alaska. The crowds have increased each year for international interest in our dogsled race. As proof of the demise of winter, the temperature are going above freezing during day in Anchorage (altho' it's still below zero on much ofthe trail).

Fur Rendezvous also had a big year, from the opening fireworks display to the ice show, and personally, our magic show. All were quite successful and well attended. The Miners and Trappers Ball drew their usual crazies, and the rides on dogsleds on the Park Strip attracted many families. The Running of the Reindeer grow each year, and teams dress up to run the two blocks on Fourth Avenue with the critters.

Spring break in the schools has more students staying home as the red flag goes up on Mexican resorts, and especially border towns. The price of gas is always 30% more than in the lower states, and it a luxury just to drive to Alyeska Resort.

So I'll close with a promise to be more prompt in reporting all the fun we're having in Anchorage. My usual blog was delayed because of a new project I'm working on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anchorage Swings

Well, the busy month of February is over . .. so I removed the ad for our magic show ... which, by the way, was a success. . . v

Friday, February 4, 2011

Calm January in Anchorage

Unbelieveable, beautiful sunny weather in Anchorage while the rest of US is buried in snow, freezing, desperate. The image above is Madison, Wisconsin.

So why am I indoors on my computer . . . guess it's an addiction, but I have been outdoors plenty. This is SuperBowl weekend, and that's more indoor time for me, as our club has a big roast suckling pig, plus other attractions. But, if you have a minute for a laugh, try this link.

Well, now that this has turned into a comedy blog, I'll share another one that just cracked me up. I don't know who to credit on this one, but it was sent to me, to help determine the dog that's on meth. I don't know these dogs personally, but I think I was smart enough to figure it out. Can you?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wild Winter in Anchorage

If 'wild' and 'cold' go together, this is the winter of both. However, everytime I compare our winters with those back East, I think this is still the place to live. There was a period of time when the temperative did not rise above zero, but now it's a balmy fifteen degrees or so, and there are indoor and outdoor choices to fill your days. The ice sculptures in Town Square are quite beautiful and a stroll thru this park is a delight.

The University offers so much that you could be flitting back and forth between the Planetarium show at the Conoco-Phillips Science Building, Folk Festival in The Wendy Williamson Auditorium, Jazz Benefits at the Arts Building, and Sports events on both the campus and the Sullivan Arena.

Skiing dominates the outdoor sports, with downhill skiing at Alyeska Resort, which is 40 miles south of town, and cross country skiing at Kincaid Park being the dominent venus for these.

Plans are gearing up for the Fur Rendezvous celebration, which promises to the big lead-in weeks to the Iditarod Raes. So it won't be long until the long dark days are over and we will have survived another year of an Alaskan winter. It's still a good time to visit Anchorage before the big crowds of summer start arriving.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Anchorage Wild Winter

The weather pattern in Anchorage is quite different from the rest of the state. While the northern area maintains its below zero weather, we are now in the plus numbers, and going thru the sloppy days. It's a pleasure after a few weeks of unbearable cold. I took the image above from our daily newpaper, and it's so close to my condo, I thought that this typifies our wild life.

This beautiful rack remains on this beautiful moose, but I'm ready to accept it anytime. I realize that he's going the wrong way on our one way thoroughfare, but he still gets right-of-way. I recently did some minor work on my car, so used a neighbor's heated garage, as my carport just wouldn't do. When I pulled out, I was greeted by a similar size moose, and I'm really afraid of them up close. . . with reason, but I won't go into that here!

While the moose feed off our our beautiful flowers and summer crops, there are plenty of berries to whet their appetite in the winter. The obviously like city life. But remember, they have right-of-way . . . oh, did I saw that before?

The new year brings with it a ray of hope for so many things. Forget the resolutions, as I refer to decisions made in the nation's capitol. This is not a poltical blog, so let's focus on visiting Alaska in the winter. The city hosted a "Fire and Ice" celebration for New Year's Eve. It also voted to allow fireworks from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m., but, as expected, it caused a lot of concern, and especially was not kind to the pets. It really kept the police busy responding to the 'crazies', so they'll be changing law for sure next year. I will say, tho' that the very black sky enhanced the beauty and colors of the fireworks.

The calendar is filling up with the traditional events of winter, namely Fur Rendezvous, and sports events. These include many cross-country events at Kinkaid Park, and Alpine ski races at Alyeska Resort. The Concert Association has an assortment of programs, and they have school performances at the Center for Performing Arts throughout the winter. There is so much to do in greater Anchorage that we wonder how the snowbirds don't want to stay around. The tourist will like to visit in the winter and see what a 'real' winter looks like!