What to do in Anchorage on a winter day? That was the decision. We arrived in Anchorage on Thursday night and the Iditarod start was on Saturday, leaving us with a day in Anchorage for exploring and relaxing. We were up early due to the time change, despite being tired from the trip out. After a quick breakfast, we were out exploring the town. The downtown core of Anchorage is compact and we visited most of it quickly. A stop at Starbucks for a coffee refill and some discussion about the day ahead hatched a plan. Hertz has a rental counter in the Hotel Captain Cook, our hotel base for the trip, so we grabbed a car for the day – a one day rental was cheap, since Friday is a weekend day – and we were off! As soon as we decided to rent a car for the day, I realized I had made a tactical mistake – Melissa was going to miss out on a true Anchorage experience – breakfast at Gwennies – an event that should be part of any Anchorage adventure. Just gives us an excuse to come back!
The first stop was Earthquake Park for a few photographs. The view from the park of the inlet and downtown Anchorage are worth the visit. Winter adds a stillness that is only broken by the departing aircraft overhead. We then took a quick tour around Lake Hood, it was fun showing Melissa the seaplane/ski-plane base attached to Anchorage International Airport. Anchorage International Airport is really two airports sitting next to each other. The seaplane base is extremely busy during the summer months, as it is the primary departure point of departure of seaplane from the Anchorage area. During the winter months, the lake freezes over and it becomes a ski-plane base. This is next to a very busy international airport that is a major cargo-plane hub.
We then headed south down Alaska A1 towards the Seward Peninsula. We had no agenda and just planned to enjoy the chance to explore. The drive along the Turnagain Arm is always beautiful and the light snow gave it a different feeling than my previous visits down this road in the summer.
We pulled over often for photographs, don’t ever ride with us if we are in the mood to shoot photos, as we pull over and explore on a regular basis. We decided to head up toward Portage Glacier and see how far we could get in our Toyota Camry – not the best car for off-roading.
The visitors center was closed for the winter but the views were worth the trip. The lake was frozen over and visibility was low, but it gave an almost eery feeling to the area. Portage Creek was only partially frozen and the contrast and reflections in the water provided excellent material to shoot.
We headed back through Anchorage and up toward Willow just to explore and then back to Anchorage to drop off the car. It was a great day and the cost was much less by doing just a day rental. Dinner that night was at Simon and Seafort’s. We usually treat ourselves to one nice dinner when on a trip, and S&S was just the establishment. I have been eating at this restaurant for about 10 years on visits to Anchorage. I have taken co-workers, clients and friends here for dinner and have never been disappointed. The food and service have always been excellent.