Wednesday, October 01, 2008

5000 miles to Moscow

So, the Anchorage trip. It almost started with a big disaster. On Friday the 12th, three days before we were scheduled to leave, I realized I only had a printout of my itinerary, and not my mom's. I'd bought her ticket using my credit card, so I should've received her itinerary in my work email. I called the travel agent that my workplace always uses, and found out that not only did he have the wrong email address on file for me, but our flight had been canceled and we'd been rebooked on a different flight that left three hours earlier. If I hadn't called on a bit of a panicky whim, Mom, my officemate, my officemate's girlfriend, and I would've missed our flight completely. Aiee! New itineraries finally in hand, we returned to our previously scheduled routine of avoiding packing and happily anticipating.

On Monday the 15th, we departed at 2 PM, and arrived in Anchorage (via Chicago) at 2:40 AM, or 11:40 PM Anchorage time. OMFG it was a long flight. We grabbed our luggage, hailed a cab, went straight to the hotel, and went to bed. (And let me just say...the towels may have been disappointingly scratchy at that hotel, but the beds were POSH. I wanted to steal the down comforter off my bed, I loved it so much.)

views from our hotel

Since nobody had bothered to forward a meeting itinerary to me or to my officemate, we really had no idea what time we were supposed to meet the rest of our conference peeps the next day. Mom and I went down to the lobby at 8:00 the next morning, and by a stroke of luck ran into two guys I'd met at a previous conference. They informed us that everyone was meeting up at the Snow City Cafe for breakfast, so we got a downtown map from the bellman and moseyed over. And by the way, Downtown Anchorage is a fine example of the way cities should be laid out, with North / South streets assigned letters and East / West streets given numbers. It made navigating easy even for someone as directionally challenged as me.

The Snow City Cafe is a fabulous hippie-ish place, with the Best Pancakes Ever. Mom and I ended up eating there four days out of five, and if you ever find yourself in Anchorage, we can heartily recommend the plain pancakes, blueberry pancakes, and the fruit & yogurt parfait. I'm drooling a little now, thinking about it.

Everybody and their cousin made jokes about me egging Sarah Palin's house before I left (which I would never do, so if the government is reading this, I totally didn't do it), and several people seemed interested in knowing what the political climate was up in Anchorage. It really seemed pretty normal, or at least as balanced as my home (very Red) state. There were several shops with pro-Palin gear, but I also saw at least one with an Obama sticker displayed in the window.

When I pictured Anchorage before visiting, I always imagined generic Alaska-y scenes, like mountains and pine trees, or sparse alpine meadows. I didn't expect lush flowers everywhere:

The growing season is very short in Alaska, but during the summer the days are so long and there's so much rain that the plants just go nuts.

They apparently had a really short, wet, gray Summer this year, and the leaves were just starting to change when we arrived. Usually the leaves have changed and fallen by mid-September, so I felt like we were stealing an extra week of Fall, my favorite season. Vacation with bonus!

Next time, going to sea...

1 comment:

  1. I am so incredibly envious....I wish I could've gone!!! I can't wait until we get to go again this Spring. You are so lucky!

    I am glad you got to visit the Snow City Cafe...I love that place. I think we ate there twice? It would've been more often, except we weren't downtown a lot, and when we were it was usually to attend mushing related events! Their tomato soup was heavenly, though.

    I do have to say that Organic Oasis, about 1-2 miles south, is even better. The best meal I've *ever* had was at Organic Oasis. Coming from someone who has had a professional chef as a roommate for nearly a decade, that is pretty high praise, as I've eaten some pretty memorable meals here at home! My meal at Organic Oasis was so yummy, I even took a photo of it for posterity as "the best meal ever". Yes, I am a dork, but it was that excellent. If you ever get to go to Anchorage again, let me know and I'll give you the address and directions. I swear, Anchorage has some of the best restaurants I've ever visited.

    Lucky you, getting to stay downtown with a lovely view!! We were two blocks from a porno video store, and had a view of McDonalds. So *very* typically Alaskan. Although the view of the Chugach Mountains the other direction was lovely. We stayed out near the airport as that was MUCH cheaper, but I would've loved to be able to stay downtown.

    Did you get to visit Title Wave Books on Northern Lights Blvd? That is one excellent used book store with a lot of cool stuff. The only larger used book stores I've visted were in NYC. Man, if I'd known you were going before you left I would've given my recommendations!

    What is with crazy scheduling issues with flights to Anchorage?? We had a similar problem and almost missed going entirely as they cancelled my flight last February but forgot to rebook it. I only found out when I tried to confirm my flight online 24 hours before we left!

    Mack drinks from the water bottle, too. I think *all* black dogs need to learn that trick, as they need rehydration so frequently in the summer! Clara refuses to drink out of the water bottle, as she might drip and get herself wet, and she's too much of a princess for *that*.