4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Frontier soul: Anchorage, AK

Sculpture in progress at Anchorage's Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Sculpture in progress at Anchorage's Alaska Native Heritage Center.

It was my second day in Anchorage and I was lost. Winding along side streets in a residential neighborhood, trying to find my way back to the main highway, I noticed a vehicle with a rotating red light behind me.

My heart sank. I knew immediately I had rolled through a stop sign.

”License and registration, please. Do you know why I stopped you?”

“I apologize, officer. I was somewhat clumsily trying to find my way back to the highway. This is my second day here in Alaska and I’m lost.”

The officer studied my license. “Wow, you’re from California! ’Scuse me a second.”

Several minutes later he returned.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“I have three requests to make of you. First, be a little more careful of the stop signs around here. Second, spend plenty of money while you’re here. Then, when you get back home, tell everyone what a magnificent place this is.”

He shook my hand and left. Today was my lucky day.

I came through on his first request, stumbled somewhat on the second (thanks to Servas), and – if you’re reading this – well, here’s the third.

Gateway to the vast Alaskan wilderness, Anchorage is a manageable city with a downtown on a human scale: compact, walkable and lacking the skyscrapers that characterize so many American cities. Biking and hiking trails snake around the metropolis. Brushes with wildlife are among the daily experiences of its citizens.

“When a moose wanders through the neighborhood, you just stay out of its way and walk on the other side of the road,” said Marta, my Servas host.

I looked out her window and imagined one of the creatures rummaging through a garbage can at the edge of her driveway.

Granted, when you go to Alaska, your best plan is to get out as soon as you can to the spectacular wilderness that beckons just outside the city. However, a day or two in Anchorage can be a worthwhile experience in its own right.

Traditional dance at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center introduces the visitor to the various native cultures that inhabit Alaska. I watched a demonstration of games played by native tribal kids in the Arctic during the long winter season. There were several variations of a game involving kicking a ball hanging on a string, something like a tether ball. Traditional dances followed.

Native crafts at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The Heritage Center also allows you to watch native artists pursuing a variety of crafts. There are indigenous dwellings and structures, even a grey whale skeleton. Sled dog rides are available, led by a former Iditarod champion. These all combine to add another dimension to your understanding and appreciation of the Alaskan experience.

The Anchorage Museum features additional information, artifacts and artwork of the various indigenous Alaskan tribes. There’s striking artwork depicting the northern wilderness experience. It may inspire you to head for the mountains, but not without a cautionary tale or two.

Perhaps the most eerie and memorable element of the museum for me were the photos of doomed climbers posing before heading on an ill-fated trek up McKinley.

The best view in Anchorage is from the top of Flattop Mountain.

For a spectacular panoramic view of Anchorage and the surrounding area, hike up Flattop Mountain, located in Chugach State Park just east of the city. It’s a fairly easy hike for most people and can be done round trip in under two hours. It’s best to take your time, though, to savor the view that’s especially memorable at sunset.

When you return home, you can tell folks back home that you climbed a mountain in Alaska. It may also whet your appetite for more challenging hiking endeavors outside of the city.

While in Anchorage, I stayed with Marta, a teacher originally from Florida who found a new home in Alaska. Like so many Alaskans transplanted from the lower 48, she’s a hardy sort, having taught out in the bush, and quite proud of the beauty of her adopted home.

Everyone I met in Anchorage seemed down to earth and friendly – including the policeman. I didn’t see any bears or moose wandering through the neighborhoods while I was there, but I did see enough to whet my appetite for the wilderness.

Just one road leads out of town. Head north to Denali or south to Kenai.

Make your choice and go.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Festive Community Caroling, Holiday in the Village

Events December 3-December 7, 2022
Next Article

Mexico fire comes up canyon to Campo

Buckman Springs Road jammed, the diner at Cameron Corners, Minutemen scan border near the 94, who rides TJ-Campo train, University of Healing, the sand trucks
Sculpture in progress at Anchorage's Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Sculpture in progress at Anchorage's Alaska Native Heritage Center.

It was my second day in Anchorage and I was lost. Winding along side streets in a residential neighborhood, trying to find my way back to the main highway, I noticed a vehicle with a rotating red light behind me.

My heart sank. I knew immediately I had rolled through a stop sign.

”License and registration, please. Do you know why I stopped you?”

“I apologize, officer. I was somewhat clumsily trying to find my way back to the highway. This is my second day here in Alaska and I’m lost.”

The officer studied my license. “Wow, you’re from California! ’Scuse me a second.”

Several minutes later he returned.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“I have three requests to make of you. First, be a little more careful of the stop signs around here. Second, spend plenty of money while you’re here. Then, when you get back home, tell everyone what a magnificent place this is.”

He shook my hand and left. Today was my lucky day.

I came through on his first request, stumbled somewhat on the second (thanks to Servas), and – if you’re reading this – well, here’s the third.

Gateway to the vast Alaskan wilderness, Anchorage is a manageable city with a downtown on a human scale: compact, walkable and lacking the skyscrapers that characterize so many American cities. Biking and hiking trails snake around the metropolis. Brushes with wildlife are among the daily experiences of its citizens.

“When a moose wanders through the neighborhood, you just stay out of its way and walk on the other side of the road,” said Marta, my Servas host.

I looked out her window and imagined one of the creatures rummaging through a garbage can at the edge of her driveway.

Granted, when you go to Alaska, your best plan is to get out as soon as you can to the spectacular wilderness that beckons just outside the city. However, a day or two in Anchorage can be a worthwhile experience in its own right.

Traditional dance at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center introduces the visitor to the various native cultures that inhabit Alaska. I watched a demonstration of games played by native tribal kids in the Arctic during the long winter season. There were several variations of a game involving kicking a ball hanging on a string, something like a tether ball. Traditional dances followed.

Native crafts at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The Heritage Center also allows you to watch native artists pursuing a variety of crafts. There are indigenous dwellings and structures, even a grey whale skeleton. Sled dog rides are available, led by a former Iditarod champion. These all combine to add another dimension to your understanding and appreciation of the Alaskan experience.

The Anchorage Museum features additional information, artifacts and artwork of the various indigenous Alaskan tribes. There’s striking artwork depicting the northern wilderness experience. It may inspire you to head for the mountains, but not without a cautionary tale or two.

Perhaps the most eerie and memorable element of the museum for me were the photos of doomed climbers posing before heading on an ill-fated trek up McKinley.

The best view in Anchorage is from the top of Flattop Mountain.

For a spectacular panoramic view of Anchorage and the surrounding area, hike up Flattop Mountain, located in Chugach State Park just east of the city. It’s a fairly easy hike for most people and can be done round trip in under two hours. It’s best to take your time, though, to savor the view that’s especially memorable at sunset.

When you return home, you can tell folks back home that you climbed a mountain in Alaska. It may also whet your appetite for more challenging hiking endeavors outside of the city.

While in Anchorage, I stayed with Marta, a teacher originally from Florida who found a new home in Alaska. Like so many Alaskans transplanted from the lower 48, she’s a hardy sort, having taught out in the bush, and quite proud of the beauty of her adopted home.

Everyone I met in Anchorage seemed down to earth and friendly – including the policeman. I didn’t see any bears or moose wandering through the neighborhoods while I was there, but I did see enough to whet my appetite for the wilderness.

Just one road leads out of town. Head north to Denali or south to Kenai.

Make your choice and go.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Jesse Daniel Edwards returns, Taz Taylor shoots, Swive performs, Sara Petite revues, and Roger! stays home

Upcoming Little Italy, Ramona, San Carlos, and Solana Beach concerts
Next Article

Thuy, Winter Wonderland Fashion Show & Luncheon, On The Trail of Der Blaue Reiter

Events December 1-December 2, 2022
Comments
2

Agree very much with this story on wonderful Anchorage but I will say that the hardy souls who call this city home may not fare too well with being considered good-looking.

"The Worst Dressed People Live ...in Anchorage, Alaska!

Travel + Leisure magazine, in its annual America's Favorite Cities survey does not mince words: "Instead of wearing clothing with classic lines in colors that match, they wear tight-fitting tops that show off rolls of fat.!" Yuck. The men wear lots of flannel. Yuck again.

May 19, 2013

Too funny, I was just in Anchorage last weekend. I missed out on the Heritage Center, but went to Flattop even though it was covered in snow.

May 24, 2013

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close