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.