Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Anchorage Dreamin', or Waiting For Denali

So, for various reasons (many of them good) The Mrs., The Boy and I headed down south to that (relative) metropolis of Anchorage last week. The weather was good, and, although Yahoo says that it takes 9 hours, 37 minutes, we found our actual time (including various stops of a couple of hours) to be closer to 6 hours. Not bad.

Here's a pic we took as we headed toward the Alaska Range (as with all pictures on the site, click on it for a bigger version). Now, I've spent tons of my life in Colorado, but Alaska is something else entirely. The Mrs. says it's more wild. It is. It's also taller, bigger, and colder. A friend says that Colorado is Alaska-Lite. After three months here, I can buy that.

This is the Alaska Range. Denali is hiding in here, somewhere.

We stopped in at the Totem Inn in Healy, Alaska for a late lunch. There were six other patrons when we were in there, but the facility is sized for about six hundred. This gives credence to comments made by local folks in Fairbanks that March and April were the best months to be here: no -50F, no mosquitoes, and no tourists. This place is sized for business. I imagine that during the wintertime, if open at all, it's just one or two people. If you're looking for work, though, the Totem Inn is hiring, right now. That's what the sign said.

Healy is a lovely place, and would likely be a great place to live, except that you could only work at the Totem Inn, and then only for four months of the year.

One of the reasons Healy would be so nice to live is that every morning you could get up and look at this:

This mountain is Not Denali. On the way to Anchorage, we saw any number of really big, really cool mountains. All were Not Denali. Denali can be translated to "The Great One." On our trip to Anchorage, Denali could also be translated as "The Missing One." The mountain itself is 20,320 feet high, even taller if you're using metric. Damn high mountain. Second tallest that I'd ever seen. If I could find it.

For some reason, Alaskans, who desperately want to have the Official Name of the mountain be Denali, are frustrated. Why?

In Ohio (yes, that Ohio), some dimwitted congressperson puts forward a motion at the start of every session that prevents Congress from acting on a name change that everyone outside of Ohio wants, specifically, to change the name of the mountain from McKinley to Denali. Well, I say the heck with Ohio. We Alaskans can get a big eraser and climb the mountain and erase the McKinley. Then we can write down whatever we want up there. Let the Ohioans try to stop us! There isn't even a direct flight from Akron to Fairbanks. They'd get lost on the way.

So, we saw many mountains that were Not Denali. Still, pretty. Maybe we'd see Denali on the way back.

As we got closer to Anchorage, there were actual signs of physical inhabitation by humans again. One sign was bathrooms not consisting of a place to write your name in the snow by the side of the road, which was important to The Mrs.

Another of these signs was the Alaskan character showing up again. We took this picture of an odd sign that someone put on their house. Wal-Mike's. What the hell does that mean? Must mean something to Mike. Enough that he took several pieces of plywood and made a sign. I'm not sure I want to meet Mike, though. There were three (I kid you not) decapitated moose heads right out front of Wal-Mike's, sticking out of a snowbank.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, but beautiful. Anchorage was gray and cloudy. Every time I've been to Anchorage, it's been gray and cloudy. So, I offer the following:

all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
i've been for a drive on a spring day
I'd be safe and warm
if I was in Fairbanks
Anchorage dreamin'
on such a spring day

Anchorage is referred to by Fairbanksans as "Los Anchorage." For the record, I did not see Paris Hilton. I didn't see Denali, either, so that doesn't prove much.

Fairbanks is referred to by Anchoragites as "Squarebanks." For the record, I've not seen my seventh-grade science teacher here.

I don't know about you, but I smell trouble in the air.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the photos. Looks incredibly peaceful!

11:31 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

Ahem... Wal-Mike's is worth checking out on the next trip down south.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really missed out by not stopping in at Wal-Mike's. Mike is my brother and when my Dad and younger brother left Alaska for Colorado back in 1970, Mike stayed on Alaska. The building that you see is not only Mikes house but it is also a second hand store filled with every piece of Alaskan memorabilia that you can imagine. Do yourself a favor and stop in.... You'll never meet another like him and He'll have you in stitches the whole time you're there. An oh! by the way!
Tell him Gary sent ya!

6:35 PM  

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