We Love It!

An Anchorage limosine

People who live in Anchorage are used to being the butt of jokes made by those who consider themselves “real” Alaskans. You’ve heard the dings (“Anchorage isn’t Alaska…but you can see it from there”) and the derogatory nicknames (“Anchoragua”) and so on, but here’s the thing: Anchorage enables those who love it to have their cake and eat it too.

No, Anchorage is not the fulfillment of some Hollywood-cliche Alaskana — we residents (what ARE we called? Anchorites? Anchoraguans? Anchorage-ites?) don’t mush dogs from our log cabins to check the trapline — but not many of those who actually live out in the Bush have lives like that either (I don’t recall many mentions of snowmachines or Gore-Tex in “Call of the Wild,” folks). But by living here in Alaska’s version of the big city, we get to enjoy most of the perks of modern life (little things like, oh, medicine, income, culture and such) and still have a lot of the Alaska cliches like moose in the front yard, fresh salmon in the creeks and so on. Sure, there are some (let’s call them) interesting characters here in town, and the fact that it’s a city means Anchorage has some of the negative aspects of any other metropolis. But the bottom line is that Randy Newman was right when he sang “I love L.A.!” It’s just that he meant Los Anchorage, not some smog-choked, paved-over desert in SoCal.

So now as I prepare to hit the road for a spell, let me answer the question: “How do I love Anchorage? Let me count the ways…” with the following, VERY incomplete list in no particular order…

* The view from Flattop on a clear day: mountains from Iliamna through Redoubt, Spurr, Susitna and on to the great peaks of the Alaska Range: Foraker, Hunter and Denali; the lowlands of the Kenai Peninsula; the waters of Cook Inlet; the Chugach Mountains to the east
* Evening alpenglow on the Chugach
* Morning aplenglow on the Tordrillos
* Morning and evening alpenglow on Denali…120-ish miles away
* The honk of returning geese each April
* Seeing the flash of white backs as beluga whales cruise Cook Inlet
* Boarding the plane in Seattle
* That feeling as the plane emerges over the edge of the Chugach and descends steeply into the Anchorage Bowl…and you know you’re home
* Running into someone you know every time you pass through the airport…and also in SeaTac a lot of the time, too
* Awesome sushi at several different places, especially Ronnie’s and Peter’s Sushi Spot
* Moose’s Tooth pizza and beer
* First Tap concerts at the Moose’s Tooth
* Moose, bear (black and brown) and other assorted mega-fauna within city limits
* Seeing outdoor hockey rinks at pretty much every school and realizing that Anchorage is a hockey culture not unlike those in New England and the Upper Midwest…it’s just still developing
* Catching a salmon in the morning and then gathering a bushel of mountain blueberries in the afternoon — and enjoying them both on your dinner table that evening
* Seeing urban streams such as Campbell Creek and Chester Creek as the ice breaks up — and knowing that in a couple of months those creeks will be chock full of salmon
* The drive from town to Girdwood along Turnagain Arm on a sunny day
* Cross-country skiing under the lights at Kincaid Park
* Watching snowline creep down from the Summit of Sleeping Lady (Mt. Susitna) in the fall
* Termination dust in the Chugach on a sunny September day

Feel free to add your own faves. This post will be ongoing…

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