August 3, 2009

Anchorage – a Day Off for R&R

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A Day In Anchorage Alaska

After disembarking the cruise ship in Seward, Alaska on August 2, we took a fantastic boat excursion through Kenai Fjords National Park as can be seen in our photo section. After that tour, we boarded a bus heading for Anchorage. They call these deluxe motor coaches in the cruise tour advertising, but I call them what they are – busses. If you have a choice of bus or train between Seward and Anchorage, take the train.

Our Itinerary called for a two nights stay in Anchorage, so I had purposely left the next day open for rest and rehabilitation, including a rental car. Translation: Sleep-in, town tour, Wal-Mart and Laundry. The evening that we arrived in Anchorage, I couldn’t pick up the car because it was Sunday, so we walked from the Hilton Hotel over to the Glacier BrewHouse Alaskan Brewery. I had previously made reservations with them over the internet so our table was ready even though the restaurant was crowded.

Remember, this was after a long active day – cruise ship, bus, boat tour, bus, and then the hotel. I forget what my wife ordered and I forget what I ordered for dinner, but I will NOT forget what my granddaughter ordered. She had a Pesto Shrimp Pizza that appeared to be quite oily. Cold water shrimp on a pesto cream base, marinated crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, braised spinach, and Chevre goat cheese. Actually, it looked pretty good and then she followed that up with Crème Brûlée, a traditional vanilla custard, candied sugar top and fresh strawberries. Do you see where this is going yet? Yes! A volcanic eruption, clear across the table. How embarrassing is that? Actually, this became overwhelmingly funny. It reminded me of the chocolate volcano cake that we had joked about on the cruise ship only this was a crème volcano. I said that to Annie and she was laughing too. Anyway, we got cleaned up and then headed back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. No hotel fire alarms that night and no further eruptions.

The next morning, Annie and I took off on foot for the car rental place. It was about five blocks west and a couple more south. Not too bad walking as it was nice and cool. We got the car and headed back to the hotel parking lot to pick up Jeannie. The rest of this will quite likely be very boring. A Subway for lunch, the Wal-Mart and a few other stores for this and that, and we did our laundry at a Laundromat where the windows faced south on a hot sunny day. Don’t forget that these Alaskan folks have a winter of 20 degrees or so below zero and they need all the heat energy they can get. They apparently believe a summer day is great so they have no fans, shades or ventilation. It was so damned hot in that place that going outside was a pleasure and a total reverse from Florida.

We had packed so many clothes in our suitcases that we decided to ship one suitcase back home with the excess. All that formal wear for cruise ship dinners was simply a waste on an Alaskan road tour. We stuffed the case full and took off for the UPS store. This was not easy as there was absolutely NO parking available at the UPS store on a narrow city street. I found a huge parking lot right behind the UPS store that was quite full, but handy. On the way into UPS, someone was yelling at us! It was a cop telling us that we couldn’t park there because it was a city lot for government business. No signs to tell you that – you’re just supposed to know. Anyway, she let me off the hook and the suitcase went on its way neatly packed in a cardboard box. It arrived home in good condition and this turned out to be a great way to get it done.

We had an uneventful dinner at the Sea Galley, but I wouldn’t want to go back there again. Finding a restaurant in Anchorage isn’t all that easy, especially when you need a gluten free menu. We should have gone to the Anchorage Outback Steakhouse. After dinner, Annie and I returned the rental car and we walked back to the Hilton. On the way back, we walked past a store window with a really nice scrimshaw display. We went inside and the quality of their merchandise was authentic, beautiful and priced accordingly from the hundreds to the thousands. Great to look at, but nothing in my budget range.


After a good night’s sleep, it was time to board the bus again in the morning and head over to the train station for our big tour with the #27 group to Denali National Park and then Fairbanks. The train car seats were assigned so we didn’t need to worry about hurrying or getting in line. The cars were spacious and comfortable with room for our carry-on bags under the seats. Breakfast and lunch was served in the lower dining section of the car. I spent a lot of time out on the platform between cars taking pictures as you can see from the photo pages.

Next Page: The Alaska Railroad.

See our pictures and full story here: Alaska Cruise Tour

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