I just created a Microsoft Word file for this blog post and saved it as “AK_Rad.” Here’s why.
On Tuesday, my flight landed in Anchorage at 11 p.m., about three hours after taking off from Seattle. It was lighter when I landed in Anchorage than it was when we took off.
Holly Brooks picked me up from the airport. I was really tired, haven awoken at some 21 hours earlier that morning to finish packing my stuff. But she suggested that we go for a swim in a nearby lake, which in addition to being a swimming hole also doubles as a seaplane takeoff and landing area. Actually, I’m pretty sure that it’s not a swimming hole at all, as the water was rather lukewarm and mucky, and consequently Holly pulled a total bait-and-switch on me and decided that instead of both of us going swimming, she’d just watch, laugh at me, and take pictures. Not that I’m complaining, really—I got to go swimming in the midnight sun on my first night in Alaska:
The next day, Holly took me on an amazing run with Reese. We drove like 20 minutes out of town up a big hill, then ran up into this wide-open valley with steep mountains on either side. This photo captures about 50 percent of the awesomeness.
Thus far, in four days in Anchorage, I have done two epically awesome mountain runs, two absurdly rad mountain bike rides, and one extremely painful rollerski session with the APU ski team. They did intervals; I did interval (singular), then flailed around for another 20 minutes before one of my pole tips fell out and I got tired, and then skied easy while dodging mosquitos for the rest of the session.
Okay, so, those pleasantries out of the way, I have numerous further observations about Anchorage as a place to live and work.
First is that it is amazing when it comes to access to outdoor things. I have heard once or twice that people say that Anchorage “is 10 minutes from Alaska.” Well, okay, first of all, I saw a moose in a subdivision yesterday while warming up for rollerski intervals. And, second, even if that saying is true, then whatever, because 10 minutes is not that far, and it is an amount of time that I am totally willing to spend getting to Alaska, because Alaska is sweet. I mean, my apartment in Harlem was 12 hours from Alaska, so Anchorage is definitely an improvement.
Second is that it is a really strange place with a lot of unexpected things. For now (until I can come up with a better metaphor), I’ve been saying that Anchorage is kind of like a weird mashup of Long Island suburbia, Vermont red-neckness, and Florida bizarre-ness. For those of you who are skeptical, I present the following evidence. First, the blessing of the float planes.
Second, this decal on the back of some dude’s truck in downtown Anchorage.
Third, the supermarket, which is just like any other gigantic big-box suburban supermarket. There are no polar bears roaming around, no seal blubber for sale (at least that I could find), and there’s heat and electricity too. In fact, I learned today that Anchorage even has Groupon!
Seriously though, the city is a surprisingly interesting and diverse place. I kind of knew that already, but it’s even more so than I expected. I was taken on a driving tour of the city today, and saw:
–Gleaming office buildings owned by corporations controlled by Alaska natives.
–A movie theater/brew pub, which is a great combination.
–A gourmet cheese store called Fromagio’s Artisan Cheese (no word on whether the proprietor is named Fromagio)
–A Vietnamese pho restaurant
–A building that used to be a strip club until it got busted for being a front for selling cocaine, or something along those lines
–A sale on bear spray
Time for bed—it’s 11 p.m. and the sun is getting somewhat close to the horizon.