Anchorage & Alyeska, Alaska
January 24 – 27, 2014
After spending 24 hours in -17 degree weather, I jumped right back on a plane and headed to Alaska for the weekend to visit my father. He’s been working in Alaska for about a month now on a project so I figured I would take this opportunity to spend some time with him (and my mother who flew up earlier this week). Since Anchorage is currently covered in snow and the town is small with just under 300,000 people, I really didn’t get to see or do much in the town. The sidewalks are not salted like other major cities (aka NYC), so they are covered in black ice and almost impossible to walk on without slipping. It’s dark until about 9:30am and there are only about 25, if that, decent restaurants to choose from in town.
Food. First stop, Sushi & Sushi where they serve some of the freshest raw fish I have ever tasted (and I’ve had some great sushi). Portion sizes are generous and the slices of nigiri are about a half an inch thick. The second night, I ate at Glacier Brewhouse which is rated one of the top restaurants in Anchorage. I had the two most recommended items on the menu (the Halibut and the Clam Chowder), along with the cask conditioned ale and the IPA, both were quite good. Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria is apparently the #1 restaurant in Anchorage according to Trip Advisor. While they have great pizza, I’d recommend stopping by for lunch and making a reservation at Simon & Seafort’s for dinner to watch the sunset. Fine dining located down town, its the perfect place to enjoy your last meal in Anchorage and you can even see the “Sleeping Lady” in the far distance.
Turnagain Arm. On our way up to Alyeska, we drove along Seward Highway known for its stunning views of the Turnagain Arm. It’s arguably one of the most scenic drives in North America. It reminded me of my drive along the PCH, except to your right were dramatic views of endless snowcapped mountain ranges and to your left were countless mini waterfalls. When its completely frozen over, people are known to go ice climbing there along the roadside! I did happen to see a few people rock climbing along the highway on our drive back.
We stopped at several turnouts along the way, but the two that were the most memorable were Beluga Point Lookout and Windy Point. Beluga Point is named for the white whales that are usually spotted from that point and, well, windy point… let’s just say, hang onto your hat! Passing Alyeska, we attempted to make our way up to the Portage Glacier. However, we ended up stopping at the Trail of Blue Ice since everything else was closed. We didn’t get to see it up close, but it was still neat to see the glaciers from a distance.
Girdwood. Just an hour outside of Anchorage, we spent the weekend at Alyeska Ski Resort which is known for its steep terrain and deep snowpack. With expansive mountain and ocean inlet views at your fingertips, Alyeska receives average 650” of annual snowfall at the summit. It’s located in Chugach State Park, the third largest state park in the US spanning 495,000 acres.
We dined at Four-Diamond rated restaurant Seven Glaciers. With the spectacular mountain views and a stunning sunset over the mountain ranges, it was a great way to relax and enjoy the evening. Seven Glaciers is known for their steak. I would suggest starting with the oysters and the scallop bisque, then ordering the New York steak – not the vegetarian portobello mushroom risotto that I ordered. I immediately regretted ordering that once I tasted a bite of the steak!
I didn’t get a chance to see the Northern Lights (pretty bummed about that), but if I ever do come back to Alaska I would return during the spring or summer so that I can hike, go bike riding, see glaciers up close, and maybe even go snowmobiling through glacier city.
No regrets! My trip to Alaska was completely on a whim and it was a great chance to see a part of the world I had never seen before! My 2014 theme is officially:
Experience the Unexpected.
2014 will be about being open to experiences and adventures that I would normally not take, living life without a plan, and just seeing where the wind blows. Some of the greatest moments in life happen when you least expect it and I want to be ready to embrace them with open arms.
I often, and I mean often, get caught up in the day-to-day. I spent the first three and a half weeks of the year working every single day, not sleeping, and I eventually became really ill. I had no life outside of work. I had lost my balance. When the opportunity to visit Alaska arose, at first I told my father I was too busy to visit, but then I made it work and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him and my mother this past weekend. They’re getting kind of old so I have to cherish these moments while I can.
If there is a will, there is a way.
I really need to apply this more often to my personal life and not just work. Balance is so important for my own sanity and will even help me be productive, creative, and efficient at my job. I hope to remember to keep a healthy balance throughout the year so that I will enable myself to experience the unexpected.
Here’s to 2014! It’s going to be an awesome year!
Next up… San Francisco later this week and then Cabo, Mexico in February!