Mission

MISSION:
To spend quality time in at least one area of every state. Quality time means exploring the area; rest stops, gas stations, airports or train stations do not count. The goal is to explore the natural and cultural environments of these regions. Each location visited has a story, pictures for my amateur hobby addiction, and maybe a piece of jewelry/art.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Back from the TOP OF THE WORLD

Happy Holidays everyone.  I am back from my great Alaskan adventure.  It is always interesting heading up there, and going in the throws of winter just adds to the adventure...  I have to download a handful of my pictures (there are not too many) because there is proof that I walked on the ocean.

One week in Alaska and I got to see three great contrasting areas: Anchorage (this BIG CITY, by Alaska standards); Barrow (the "capital" of the North Slope and utterly isolated); and Fairbanks (the second biggest town in Alaska, at 10% of Anchorage's population)

My trip began with a quick stop in Anchorage after flying for almost 9 hours.  I waited forever for my luggage and taxied to my hotel... and was just awed with the recent snow... they had been hit with a big storm right before I got there and everything sparkled with fresh white powder.  Trees were covered, the ground crunched and the holiday lights twinkled off the icy layers.


I met up with a friend for lunch, at the Snow Goose.  In the summer, the river runs by the windows - now, it was just a field of white.  Funny, my friend that lives in Anchorage had never eaten there - but now he knows... that is really my job when I travel - I showing people things I know when I travel... and I swear I must look like I know something because, even here, I get asked for parking advice and directions (sad thing is that I can give it).   After lunch, I headed to the Post Office to mail my holiday cards because I think it is cute to mail them from "Santa's home state" when I can; sure, it is heavy to haul them out (but I got to write them out while I was traveling).

I shopped a few galleries and checked in at work.  My main objective with the quick layover was mainly to acclimate the cold.  Winter in DC has been warm; when I left the Capital area it was still in the 60's... and I was headed to the extreme arctic... I thought I would experience weather shock.  I wanted to get what little sunlight they had "in"; it was practically the winter solstice and I was headed to the land of darkness.  (And I needed to check in with the office).

My most exciting find was a shoe boutique right there on 5th Ave... when did Anchorage get cool enough to support a fancy shoe store?  These were not hiking shoes or outdoor sturdy shoes... no, these were colorful, adorable girlie shoes, and the best part - they carried sizes up to 12.  This summer, I discovered the new(er) bakery/cupcake cafe and now, a fancy shoes store... next thing I know, Anchorage will finally get a Macys (it currently has Kohls, Nordstrom, JCPennys)... I just had to support this boutique endeavor, and bought the most adorable pair of black/white/yellow flats.  Completely not wearable in Barrow, but get for DC's 60+ weather.  And again, while on this trip, I cued a fellow shoe lover into the location of the boutique - she did not know about it either (and she lives there).

My trip to Barrow had me vacating Anchorage a little more than 24 hours after I arrived.  There was only one Alaska Airlines flight to Barrow, and it left at 6am... that meant getting to the airport no later than 4:30... good thing I was still on east coast time.

My trip to Barrow was not a straight shot... no, I had 3 stops... We flew to Fairbanks - people got off, more got on... and while those doors were open, you could feel that temperature drop.  Anchorage was pretty decent in the 20s and 30s... By the time we hit Deadhorse/Prudoe Bay, the temp was negative 20+.  I had to laugh, it was beyond freezing outside and in the airplane, the Hawaiin artist, Izzy, was looping (over and over)... I love Izzy - if you have not heard him, look him up and enjoy the ukulele.

I was one of only 2 women on that plane... most travelers to Deadhorse are there for the oil fields... it is not really a tourist destination... and those that got on there were headed for their "2 weeks off"... I was one of only a few to deplane in Barrow... walked right off into negative 20+, not jetway, no walkway - just a metal stairwell and a cold walk to the hanger. (no joke).

Once my luggage was brought it - I looked for a taxi... but unlike every airport I have visited - there is no taxi line... and being that this was my first trip to Barrow, I had no idea what to do.  And there, my first stranger came to the rescue... I asked someone getting into their car what the protocol was, and they just called me a cab... yeah for nice people!!!!

(more later - after I do the photos)

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