It's the People You Meet
~Friday, July 22, 2022~
Day 32 of Alaska Trip
One more item to pick up at UPS before painting the town. Our first errand was the UPS Hub to pick up our last item in Anchorage…..a bottle of Matrix Sleek Shampoo of all things. Even when traveling, what’s a girl to do without her favorite shampoo?
Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city with a population of 292,000, reminded me a bit of downtown Louisville, KY, with outdated buildings mixed in with new, and favorable areas mixed with unfavorable ones, like most big cities. There are several plans in the works to revitalize the downtown at a projected cost of $200 million; one of which is the demolition and new build of the boarded up 4th Avenue Theater with its art deco facade. All it takes is one or two buildings to get things rolling. One of the buildings we enjoyed touring was the Sevigny Studio.
We just loved, loved, loved this artist. Katie Sevigny is a graduate from the Chicago Art Institute, moved to Haines, AK, post graduation, then ultimately landed in Anchorage. On occasion, she can be seen working at the studio, creating her latest pieces. Much of what she sells are originals on canvas, but it was the landscape metal art (reprints on metal), we were most intrigued with. Her color palette is exceptional. We made sure to get her business card for a future purchase perhaps. This trip to Alaska is so special, it would make sense to have a unique piece of hers on the walls of our new home some day, don’t you think?
The 4th Avenue Marketplace was a perfect place to start in Anchorage to get a little background on Anchorage. From its humble beginnings, Anchorage began as a railroad construction settlement at the mouth of Ship Creek. For many years the railroad would be the only means of motorized transportation from the seaport of Seward to Anchorage, employing 1,000 men, offering 37.5 cents an hour for common labor and 40-60 cents an hour for carpenters. The construction settlement did well in its modest establishment as a tent city, housing more than 2,000 people, eventually developing 25-30 restaurants, 18 grocery stores, 18 barber shops, 1 bath tent, 6 laundries, 2 watch repair shops, 3 tin shops, 2 drug stores, 1 sawmill, 2 movie tents, 1 newspaper, 2 lawyers, 10 cigar stores and many other small businesses. Being on government property, there were no saloons. In 1915, the townsite was moved to higher ground where permanent buildings were constructed on the site which we now know as “downtown”. And did you know that streets of typical railroad towns, running north to south were listed alphabetically? And that the east to west streets were numbered?
After a day of exploring, we gained an appetite for a light snack and headed over to the 49th State Brewery, which had been on our list.
Known for having the best rooftop perspective of the city, we decided to wait a little longer to get the optimal views. On a clear day, one can view Mount Susitna and Denali, which wouldn’t be in the cards for us today with all the cloud cover. But we enjoyed the views of the city and boat launch areas, just the same. Seated next to us was a couple in their mid-60’s I’d say, traveling Alaska for the summer. That is until a very unfortunate event occurred while touring a glacier. They were seated in a glacier tour bus, when another heavy set man stood up, lost his balance and landed on her ankle, breaking it. She is in a boot for at least a month, maybe two. What are the chances? We’re so sorry for her situation as it’s put a little damper on their Alaska trip for sure. We wish her a speedy, full recovery!
We were thrilled that it worked out to meet up again with our friends Katie and Wayne from Utah (you might remember them from our 4th of July post in Chicken, AK). If it wasn’t for Katie’s “Happy 4th” greeting from the Chicken Saloon, we may have never met. Even though we had something in common with touring Alaska, there was something about them that made Jeff and I feel like we’d known them for years.
We really hit it off. I tell ‘ya, it’s all about the people you meet that makes this travel thing the best! Before going our separate ways after Chicken, we exchanged contact information vowing to reconnect in Anchorage in the coming weeks. And they were arriving today. We were able to reserve a campsite for them very close to ours so that they’d have a smooth arrival. By the time we arrived back from our day of touring, Wayne was already hard at work preparing a delicious meal for us….foil wraps which we weren’t too familiar with. The concoction, a perfectly spiced combination of beans, pineapple, peppers, onions and a few other goodies made for a delicious meal, not to mention an easy dish duty. Between the guac and chips and our foil wrap dinner, we were quite full, to which Jeff suggested we all do a walk. So after playing a round of “Play Nine '', which Jeff won (call it beginner’s luck), we started our evening walk when the most unexpected thing happened. We ran into a large group of teenagers traveling from Mexico on a summer trip to Alaska. While they were enjoying an evening of skateboarding fun, Katie struck up a conversation with a few of them, which engaged the rest of us in a whole conversation about each other's travels (thanks Katie for breaking the ice). The majority of them are hikers/climbers, being chaperoned by one 24-year-old leader. I think we can infer they are a rare group of responsible teens. It was an absolute delight meeting these young people, inspirational in a way, that they ALREADY seem to value the importance of being connected to nature and possess a sense of adventure (the experiences of life vs. stuff mentality). It was quite refreshing to engage in adult conversation with these young people who were very respectful and very well spoken. Once the subject of climbing came up and they found out that Jeff had climbed Mt. Shasta 3 times, the whirlwind of questions began. As Katie, Wayne, Jeff and I were about to head back to finish our games, the nicest female ranger approached the group to see if they’d be interested in checking out a female moose and her babies. She didn’t have to ask THEM twice. What a picture it was seeing all 15 teens loaded up in the back of a ranger’s vehicle, on a mission to see something they’d never seen before. It was the coolest thing to watch! I’m just sorry I didn’t have my camera to capture the moment.
The light was certainly playing tricks on us, as we thought it was only 8:00 or 9:00, only to find out it was actually 11:30. The night was still young so we let the games continue, this time back at our place for a round of Fast Track! Who knew the game would last until 2:00 a.m.? Even though it was way past everyone’s bedtime (except for mine), we still had a great time! Now time for some 💤’s. 😴