AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 1): Adventures in Downtown Anchorage

For the past few months, I’ve been planning a Memorial Day weekend trip to Anchorage, Alaska with my friends Rona and Evelyn. The trip finally happened this past weekend and it…was….awesome!

As you’d expect, I have so much to write about what we did during the four days that we were there. Rather than lump them all into one post, I think I’m going to try and spread them out to about five or six, so here we go!

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Evelyn and I came into Anchorage around noon on Friday after flying from LAX with a (really short) stopover in Portland. Rona would be coming in on a later flight, so Evelyn and I picked up the rental car and checked into our hotel room at the Embassy Suites. After dropping off our stuff, we took the hotel’s complementary shuttle service to get brought downtown, where we tried to figure out lunch.

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What did we end up having? Reindeer hot dogs. Well, the hot dog wasn’t entirely reindeer since it’s apparently really gamey by itself. There’s beef mixed in and it has a pork casing. It didn’t really taste too different from a regular hot dog, but I think it was a fitting first meal in Alaska. Afterwards, Evelyn and I split up to go on our own adventures. I went to the Anchorage Museum while she took advantage of the lack of a sales tax and went to the mall.

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The Anchorage Museum has several great permanent exhibits that focus on art, history/culture, and science. The first place I checked out was the Imaginarium Discovery Center, which has a lot of fun interactive exhibits such as a pulley system in which you can sit on a chair and pull a rope to lift yourself up. There’s definitely a lot of fun stuff there to do, whether you are a kid or a kid at heart.

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On the floor above, there is the Alaska History Gallery and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, both of which were really interesting and provided more background to Anchorage, Alaska, and the people that call the region their home. I don’t see how you can go to a big city and not want to learn about its history! They had information about Alaskan native culture, Alaska’s road to becoming the 49th state, and the creation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

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When I visited, there was a temporary exhibition called Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, focusing on the collection of ocean pollution found at the world’s five large gyres. Gyres are swirling vertices in the ocean that end up redistributing and aggregating debris in the water. The five main gyres are in the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian oceans. I remember learning about how there was a massive floating island of trash back in elementary or middle school, but there are actually several of them. The artists in this gallery transformed some of the trash collected into art to raise awareness of this problem and how it affects marine life. Some items like styrofoam cups and cigarette filters take forever to degrade in the ocean.

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Rona called me while I was in the museum to let me know she arrived in Anchorage, so we met up at the museum entrance a little while after and headed to the mall to surprise Evelyn. Evelyn and I made reservations for dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse earlier that day so we decided to make our way to the restaurant and enjoy our first meal together as a trio in Alaska. I ordered an Alaskan salmon BLT wedge, which was pretty much a salad with Kenai sockeye salmon. It was really good and I finished EVERYTHING on that plate. The three of us also ordered a flight of craft beer which included their blonde, amber, Hefeweizen, IPA, and oatmeal stout.

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By the time we finished dinner, it was almost 10, which is when our hotel’s shuttle service to-and-from downtown stopped, so we called for a ride and were lucky not to have waited too long for the shuttle to pick us up and bring us back. It kinda took some getting used to having the sun start to set at 11 at night. It definitely messes with your internal clock a bit since seeing the light makes you feel like you should be up when it is actually starting to get late.

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Our hotel had blackout curtains to help create that darkness and we knocked out, ready for the next day.

Check out other posts in the AnchoRAGIN’ series:
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 1): Adventures in Downtown Anchorage
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 2): Reindeer Are Better Than People
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 3): What’s the Address for the Glacier?
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 4): Glacier Kayaking
AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 5): A Wild Moose Chase

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