Sunday, December 23, 2012

Anchorage Temperatures Hit New Low

Betcha think I'm complaining. Well, not exactly, but as one gets older, it seems harder to take the below zero weather, so I've decided to escape to warmer climes for a month or so. As a visiter, you might enjoy visiting here this time of year, as we have many outdoor attractions, and the night sky is so beautiful. They just opened a rain forest ski trail of 5 K's thru the woods of Girdwood, and the pictures show it to be inviting, if you're dressed for the weather!

This Christmas season seems unseasonably (Pun) long, perhaps because the stores started pushing the buying period in October. Yes, as soon as the witches came down, Santa went up. For me, personally, it's been a period of losing old friends, as there seem to be a heap of close friends who has passed away.

There haven't been any movies to my liking lately, but Christmas day promises to bring several good new films, and the theatres are a toasty place to relax and keep warm. I did go to a film last week, and I had blinking bulb necklace, and they told me to turn it off - well, okay.

The fiscal cliff is supposed to be resolved this week, but I wouldn't bet on it. I am trying to not turn political in my blogs, but it's all around us, and I keep a 'political' folder that is buldging with over a hundred 'gotta save this one' letters. Some are really funny, if you have a warped sense of humor.

Since I've started griping, you may not be interested in this upcoming paragraph, as it's stricty Spenard news. First of all, Spenard is a suburb of Anchorge, called mid-town Anchorage, and it starts in the 2200 block, so I live on the edge, but Spenard Road is fairly short, but cuts thru the club scene. Well, they decided to make a 3 lane road out of the present 4 lane road, to make the traffic flow better. They tried this with Arctic Boulevard, only 2 blocks east, and it didn't work, so now they're going to do it again. Yes, you read that right. Also on Spenard Road is Sunrise Bakery, with Hostess Twinkies and other favorite treats. Well, change that 'is' to 'was' - they went bankrupt, nationally, and that was part of the history of old Spenard.

Our favorite car is parked indoors for the winter, but thought you'd enjoy a picture from warmer times -- he brings it out to our parades, too. Pretty clever.

By now you realize that this is a curmudgeon writing this blog, but let me say that some good things remain, namely my haunts, the American Legion, the Petroleum Club, and Barnes and Noble. As long as they're intact, I'm happy. Downtown is just 2 miles form my condo, and there is a lot of activity there, but parking has become such a problem, most of us limit our trips to town, unless you work there and are provided a parking space. We're just catching up to the cities in the lower states, but it had to come. My next blog will be from sunnier climes, as I'm becoming a snowbird.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Coldest December

It's below zero again today, so I can't wait any longer -- I have to post something and forget about the comfort zone. It's true that I keep a space heater by my desk in addition to a fairly comfortable condo. My big mistake is going outside in all of this, and when you drive south in Anchorage, the sun hits you in the face. I've had to pull over several times just because you can't see the road. So far I've been lucky and no mishaps, but I avoid going out midday. Of course you're aware that our days are still getting shorter, and it's dark by 4 pm, which does affect your mood around here.

Cold or not, activities still abound, and being the Christmas season, there are more parties than ever in Anchorage. Shopping is still the big thing, altho' I read that more people are shopping online these days - it doesn't seem like it in the crowded downtown stores and malls.

My circle of activity was recently expanded and I find that Anchorage now had 2 Olive Gardens, a Coach store and Target. Now, I'm waiting for a Famous Dave's, or is that just a local one in Wisconsin. They advertise The Red Lobster and Macy's on TV, but that's in the future somewhere. But Anchorage is surely different from the Anchorage I first saw when we arrived in 1966. Kind of sad, really, as we don't see women wearing fur parkas, nor any totem poles around, and the parking meters downtown take credit card. We've just been absorbed by progress. I remember getting TV shows a week late, and reading scores in the paper before the games were shown. Now we have so many sports bars, but none as big as The Peanut Farm, which is too big to even explain -- it's huge, and I went there recently for a reunion of my college and it was so mobbed, I felt pretty small in the crowd.

Well, I'm off to an annual party by the visitors and convention bureau, which is now called "Visit Anchorage" -- why would they change the name. . .. perhaps, to spend a few bucks. Thanks to the oil companies, we are in much better financial position that the feds, so I'm in favor of secession, but I won't go into politics here. I promise . . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anchorage visits Soldotna

So you say, where on earth is Soldotna... it's a town on the Kenai Peninsula which you pass thru on your way to Homer. Homer is the end of the road, and the Homer Spit is world-famous, but this time I actually stopped in Soldotna which is on the Kenai River. This is a real vacation spot for inbound travelers, and has grown a great deal since my last visit. But this week, we have experienced huge storms, winds and flooding, and even the old trappers are shocked over the weather and the problems it has caused.

We drove there for the Grand Igloo of the Pioneers Annual Convention, and being the hearty bunch, over 300 Pioneers made it from all over the state. It was actually publicized on the front page - above the fold - of the Fairbanks paper because the vote allows this 100 yr old group to allow women to be officers in the Grand Igloo (state)! Pretty shocking, eh!

The fishing hasn't been as good this summer as it usually is, but sufficed in keeping the guides in the black. It's been a week now, but every so often, the sun peeps thru for a few hours and you remember why you live in Alaska. This picture doesn't show the chaos caused on the Kenai Peninsula, but also, flooding north of Anchorage was just as bad. The Alaska Railroad lost a few feet of track, so all trains were cancelled. Three days of work crew and a million bucks lost found it all fixed up until the next disaster.

Sorry I haven't been blogging a lot, but I'm into some other social media these days . . . not as good as blogging, tho'.

The social scene has picked up in Anchorage with the Symphony's start of the Champagne Pops, new theatrical offerings, the Opera announcing it's season, and the stage show of Schrek comes for a week. .. not my cup of tea, but I'm sure the young 'uns will love it.

And football season is big here at the Petroleum Club, and I won a door prize to make for a good start of fall. . . The stores are already pushing Hallowe'en, and even Christmas, but please . . . . spare me . . . one thing at a time. Come visit my blog again, and I promise to write more often, and more stuff.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Anchorage Saturated with Activity

What with the Olympics on TV most of 24 hours a day, it's hard to find time to take advantage of local events. But, I noticed a clip about a visiting writer from Mad Magazine, who was here to give a presentation. It's been a while since I picked up a copy, but I dropped everything and went to our library to hear Joe Riaola, who spoke off the cuff for a half hour and used video for his second half. I laughed until I cried, and the reader should goto the Mad Magazine website to enjoy the sarcastic humor - if you're into that kind of thing.

The weather has been so beautiful, sometimes that is. Its been changing from hour to hour, but I will say that only one baseball game was cancelled the whole season. I've written before about our short season, which ends by August, but American Legion sponsored games have taken over our ball field, and continue to draw a minimal crowd. The half million dollar ball field is so great, it drains rainfall within minutes. Only the pitcher's mound is 'real dirt', I think.

Since this has become a 'personal interest' blog, let me mention a variety of summer day camps. One of the big draws is the magic camp led by our famous magician, Don Russell.

Nope, this isn't Don's poster, but I just liked it so I stole it - no copyrights here.
Guess I should give a mention to the other activities that fill our time - namely, wakes and political benefits. There just no end, it seems . . . end of blog for now. Come back!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Flits by Anchorage

Do you mean to tell me that summer is on the downside already? The first sign is the Alaska Baseball League season ending. It was a colorful one, to be sure, and the Anchorage Bucs had theme nights including the Mexican night.
The other big event of the summer in Anchorage is the Petroleum Club Golf Tournament, which has over 400 entries. It's a time for reunion of former oil execs, who have returned to their state of origin, but the amazing thing is that the children often decide to remain in Alaska and reap all the benefits of living here.

On a personal basis, I have continued working as a 'travel concierge' and now as a 'relocation concierge' where I act as a hostess to welcome incoming fellows.

Altho' this is my world, I don't mean to neglect writing about the many other outdoor activities going on. There are so many bicycle races, foot races, and biathalon competitions every weekend. The annual Mt. Marathon race in Seward was saddened by the loss of an older fellow. They never found him after he reached the top, and the search and rescue was given up after several weeks.

The downtown merchants host a Block party with Fourth Avenue closed and a tent with a band, bar-be-cue, and margueritas at hand.

The weather has not always cooperated, altho' the beautiful days are welcomed, and most activities go on, rain or shine. Why, they ask. . . well, this is Alaska, and we're tough.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bastille Day in Anchorage

Sure! We recognize international holidays here, too. Our popular restauranteur, Jens - whose restaurant bears the same name - always brings in llamas and other livestock and bales of hay, to display under the tent outside his place, and there's costumed French notables, beheadings, carriage rides, and a loud New Orleans style band, etc. But that's not all that's going on in our city.

We have downtown activity, too, with the Town Square becoming a poplar place for fairs and markets. It's a great drawing cards for our many tourists, who can walk to most of these place, but for the locals - well, me, anyhow - we would have preferred some parking available, not unlike Union Square. A tourist would think that the large parking garage within a block of this congested area would suffice, but they don't know that this garage is only for State of Alaska government employees. The State has more money (our money) and can afford this, plus taking over the large Ensearch Building, a beautiful 15 story edifice originally built by Texas trillionnaire, H. Hunt. Across the street is the new Dena'ina Convention Center, which is a 3 story marvel (this means it was built within budget). The name is interesting, and I prefer my pronounciation (dee-na-een-a) to 'theirs (de-nine-a). Okay, so I'm poking fun at my favorite city, but there are funnier stories I can relay here.

For those getting out of town, we note the fishing is good if you're after halibut, but the salmon runs are down this summer. It's still a pleasure just to get out on the lakes, rivers, and inlet to try your luck, and I've been lucky to have friends supply me with enough salmon for the winter. But nothing tastes as good as a king salmon, never frozen, and gently sauteed.

Baseball season is at the half way point, and scouts have already taken some of the Anchorage Bucs best pitchers, so we hope to struggle thru and maintain the top half of the board. We had a fun night recently called Mexican night and with it was a mariachi band, colorful Folklorico dancers, and margueritas. Of course, without a full liquor license, we had to fake it, with salt-rimmed glasses of Mike's hard lemonade - but it worked!

Well, it's been a chilly July, but we're pretty tough up here, and the tourists I've talked to are glad to escape the heat of the lower states. I read the the numbers are down, but there seem to be a full, crowded sidewalk of tourists daily and the cruise ships are coming in with full loads, so we're not suffering. Enough said!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sunny Summer

It's beautiful summers like this that keep me in Alaska. It is so beautiful outside and all the flowers are blooming around the city and on my patio! It's hard to choose which events to attend, as there's such a big choice. Last night the sun went down at 11:30 p.m. and came up shortly thereafter. We gave up at the baseball game, as it was in the 21st inning, with no winner yet, and I still don't know who finally won.

One annual event is the Solstice Walk thru the downtown cemetery. It's led by Audrey and Bruce Kelly who lead the pack from tombstone to tombstone, telling stories of the occupants below. It was more colorful when the late John Bagoy did it, as he started a project about 20 years ago to label the unmarked graves, which often times - ahem - were the mistresses buried near the provider and wife. Since the husbands usually died first, their graves were marked, but no one around to do the wive's.

Then we have a small group of storytellers, actually those of us who are good at Lying, so here's a shot of the Liar's Club.

Anchorage spends big bucks on hanging baskets of beautiful flowers all over town. The farmer's markets abound also, as there used to be one only. Now there are many, and the Spenard Farmers Market in the parking lot of Chilkoot Charlies has grown into a major one. It's in it's fourth year now, and features only Alaska products and crafts. Musical group add a lot to it, too.

The climbers at Mt. McKinley continue to clog the mountain, and there are more deaths than usual this summer. Four climbers, out of a group of five, just fell down a cravasse, and the rescue team is trying to reach them, but have given up. The one survivor tells a grim story of their fate.

There have been several passings of Alaskans recently, and a variety of wakes have taken place, but I'm sure the reader (YOU) don't really want to hear of these. For those of us who live here, it's reunion time at many of these.

The local arts are thriving, and Cyrano's continues to put on old and new and innovative plays. I personally like to attend these, altho' some are much better than others, but you know . . . different strokes for different folkds. Well, it's play time. . . so I'll leave you to your own summer fun

Monday, June 11, 2012

Approaching Anchorage Summer

Talk about action! It's hard to keep up with what's going on indoors and out in our fair city. On a personal basis, I'm volunteering at the American Astrological Conference, which has drawn registrants from all over the world! Looking at the schedule shows that none of the events listed are in either of our three planetariums around the city, but I hope they will be visited anyhow.

One local classy jazz band is Rick Zelinsky's, so here's a shot of them I stole.

This weekend found 4,000 ladies in the Women's Breast Cancer Survival run, and it's become a well known annual event nationally. Of course, it was won by our local heroine, Kikkan Randall. She's a cross country skier of note, which translates to the track too, and the color pink abounds!
The alternative lifestyle community also took over the downtown streets with a parade and trade fair, and the annual Renaissance did not lack for a devoted crowd either.

The Botannical Gardens have a wonderful fair over the weekend, and it has become a great family event, which has a variety of talents including my magician partner.

The National President of Hostelling International also came to town to host an appreciation dinner for the good works we're done in hostelling. We had a great dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse, which is a popular downtown watering hole, besides being advertised on the many cruiseships, so it's the first destination of many cruisers.

Our weather has been cooperating, too, although it is unpredictable as showers appear for a while every now and then, but overall, the sunshine brings everyone out. There are farmer's markets on at least 10 venus that I can name, but my favorite if the Spenard Farmers Market, which is just a few blocks from my condo, but the organizer is a talented gal who bring booths of local color, and one of the clever ones is the "Mobile Mender". If you can't figure that out, it's a gal with a sewing machine that mends stuff you don't want to... great for bachelors, too.

The other event of note is the arrival of the Bore Tide, a unique tide that comes in the width of Turnagain arm, which fights the oncoming winds, so becomes around 5 feet across. . .(smaller ones happen more frequently) this event draws hundreds of cars, doubled by people to Beluga Point and other spots to watch this. It helps if you carry a bottle of wine and toast the tide as it rolls across the arm!

Well, I've finished my report and haven't even mentioned all our golf tournaments, and lakes, fishing, campers, etc. but you have to make time to engage in all these choices.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day in Anchorage

The Pioneers of Alaska honor and remember all the loved ones lost over the past year at services in the downtown cemetery. While we have a tract here, other organizations have similar tracts. The American Legion tract is next to ours, and Post 1 has put out white crosses with poppies at all of their marked graves. It’s a very touching ceremony there and after this comes a pot luck at the Pioneer Hall and a barbecue at the Legion. This marks the start of tourist season and friends have already arrived on some Princess Cruises, which now dock in Whittier. This makes the drive to Anchorage a bit shorter than the former docking station in Seward. The mileage is less, but the trip takes a rather extended time because there is a one way tunnel from Whittier, which changes direction every half hour. This was formerly only a railroad tunnel, and they even have some fun runs thru the three miles, as running is big in the Anchorage area. Downtown in Anchorage has blossomed into a huge flower garden, and local businesses grow every year. The showcase of businesses was held by Visit Anchorage (formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau) to familiarize locals with where to send our guests. I think the most clever booth at the Spenard Farmer’s Market is the Mobile Mender. If you haven’t figured that out, a lady sits at her sewing machine and does just that . .. great for bachelors and some of us lazy ones. Well, talk to you later. . .

by the way - I posted a salmon painted Alaska Air plane, since the flying butterfly on my other blog didn't fly on this one . . . sob . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Signs of a Beautiful Summer in Anchorage

Glad that you found this page, and I hope to update you with the summer activities around my place. Now that the tops are down on convertibles, my choice of a good on is this.
click here I don't know exactly what I've done here -- guess I should study this a little more. Well, I'll sign off faster than I had hoped because this is really a test to see if I can show you the neat red 'car' but it's a pdf file and I can't figure out how to post it, so I'm sending you to my webpage!

Sure enough, this is me making an exit - from the long winter (Note my heavy winter coat>

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beautiful Anchorage

Looking around Anchorage, if you just ignore a few remaining dirty mounds of snow, you’d never know it was a very long, cold winter. Bike races have started and the trails are full of families walking, and running! It’s just great and you’d best come and visit us soon! Oh, the lake pictured here is about 50 miles south of Anchorage on the beautiful drive heading south to Seward. I will let you know that it’s always cold and windy here, but it does make for a beautiful pristine image.
One thing I’m thankful for is that our roof didn’t cave in from the weight of the snow on it . .. many homes could not withstand the heavy weight of over 4 feet, and it’s also dangerous to climb up and shovel it!

I am looking for an image of our Dome to post, as that’s where most of the school sports like soccer and track take place because the ground is still pretty wet. This dome is just huge — picture two football fields, and you get an idea of its size.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Anchorage Springs Spring

We thought it would never come, but it is the beautiful season in Alaska. Trees are budding out, and sun is warm and moods are good. Just remember to not look down, because the puddles this year are bigger than usual, what with the record amount of snow.

Surely we have to accept some sadness along the way, such as some house fires, roofs falling in with the weight of the snow, and the recent find of a missing barista who disappeared two months ago.

But spring is also the season for birthing of new pups for future Iditarod Races, and also the moose calves will be appearing out of nowhere with their offspring, as well as the 'city' bears.

The new baseball season will be upon us shortly, and the Anchorage Bucs are moving their offices to the former gym on the park strip. (City-owned) That will make them lots closer to the Ball Park, and it's a new ball game without the founder/manager with us . . . he passed away over the winter.

One blunder I feel the city made was their choice of a 'statue' outside the newly expanded museum.

Note this picture, oops, it's upside down, too . . .which I scanned from a magazine, so it lacks quality, however, you can see that it is a bunch of blocks sitting on the grass (no foundation), on the far corner of the museum property. You might think it was created by a nursery school in their tinker toy class, but no . .. the half million dollar structure was designed by a Brit, who supposedly had great credentials. Oh, well, it's still a beautiful city and it's MY city. I'll try to update my posts a little more often, really!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Winter Wanes in Anchorage

It’s almost spring on my calendar, but the weather hasn’t caught up yet. As the Iditarod is probably ending today, it completes the big races of Fur Rendezvous, Iron Dog Race, Iron Dog and Yukon Quest.

The weather didn’t deter the arts, which thrive in Anchorage. The performing arts had a full schedule of concerts, symphonies, operas, and Broadway shows. The visual arts are hosted not only galleries, but most downtown restaurants, and First Fridays are very popular, where you can stroll, walk, or run between the galleries.

Outdoor sports draw younger ones even in below zero weather, and the schools have a full program that is seldom cancelled due to temps, and there is also a full schedule if indoor sports to participate in, or view at our many sports bars.

So it’s a good time to “Visit Anchorage”, which is the new name of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. I haven't even mentioned the peripheral pleasures of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, as they've been putting on a display more beautiful than ever. You have to be patient and hope they are 'out' and it's not to cloudy to obscure your view, but what else is there to do at 3:00 a.m.?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fur Rendezvous Time in Anchorage

February is our transition month, because it's time for Fur Rendezvous. This helps us to put the below zero weather behind us, and enjoy being outdoors for all the events of "Rondy". We have dogsled races locally, which precede the big Iditarod Race to Nome which follows the 2 week celebration. We have mushers from all over the world who have come to race.

But we have many other events. The Miners and Trappers Ball is always a good one for costuming, and the Run with the Reindeer rivals Pampalona's Running of the Bulls. A long time tradition of the Pioneers of Alaska Pancake Feed, where we serve over a thousand breakfasts at our downtown Pioneer Hall, and a parade follows this on Saturday. There is a great melodrama which is always sold out, run by the Sourdough Sweethearts (I think it's them) and you can even ride in the sled of dogteam on the Park Strip . . . yes, there's something for everyone. Come visit Alaska! We have a lot going on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Freezin' in Anchorage!

This is the coldest January on record. Perhaps you think I've dropped this blog - well, I haven't. I just have a problem posting it, so I have several blogs sitting my my draft box. Well, it's okay because I have nothing to say except, "Br-r-r".

I will admit, it's beautiful looking out from my warm condo, but I've been running to and from my car, and wherever. Unlike most 'real Alaskans' I don't have a remote start, so it takes a mile or so to get warm. The other beautiful part of Alaska is watching the Aurora Borealis, which I'm including on my post for you to enjoy. There are some websites that actually show the movement of the beautiful colors, and there is even a hum - m - m that goes along with the view.

Activities do not stop altogether, as indoor sports mostly in the schools and 'the Dome' continue. The Dome is a big bubble next to, but separate from, the Crosspoint Church/Fellowship. It's really big, like 2 football fields, and the schools rent it a lot for the outdoor sports programs.

Like I said, it's just too cold to do anything, but then I'm a senior citizen. There were days when I actually liked it cold. But think of all the jobs that require being outdoors.