There are white Americans, African Americans, and First Nations people in Anchorage. The white Americans are kind and friendly, but this has a sort of (probably unintended) superficiality about it. The African Americans are kind and friendly, and it comes from the heart. I love them. On the other hand, the First Nations people retain a sort of invisibility which is very hard to describe. They are a proud and successful people and you can see that from the many buildings which they own, and from which they run all kinds of organisations, from tourism to welfare. But as a people they are very much in the background somehow.
These are only my first impressions. I would have to live here for quite some time to give you an informed and educated summary.
Anchorage is a pretty nice place. It is surrounded by mountains and lies north of the 60th parallel. The equivalent in the southern hemisphere, 60 degrees south, is somewhere closer to Antarctica than Australia or New Zealand. In summer, the sun never really goes away for too long, but spends most of the time doing a circuit of the sky. Today, the sun rose at 4.46am and will set at 11.08pm. How amazing is that! The days will continue to lengthen until June 21, when sunrise is 4.22am and sunset 11.42pm. It is incredible to be walking around in broad daylight at 9 or 10pm at night.
At this time of the year, to walk outside is to be greeted with weather that is cool and fresh; quite pleasant. It has been around 15 degrees and sunny. I know that sounds cold, but it is not a cold that goes right through you, like western Queensland winters, or Melbourne all year round.
A few photos of downtown Anchorage:
As you would all be aware, gun ownership is legal in the US. I haven’t seen any guns, or gun shops for that matter, but haven’t really been looking. However, it seems you can’t just wander around with your guns wherever you please. The Alaska Club is a gym just down the street:
However, don’t even think about a workout unless you satisfy this criteria:
You have the right to bear arms, but not while you’re pumping iron.
There are hot dog stands on every street corner up here. I guess it’s the same over most of North America. The hot dogs, though, are not saveloys thrown into a bun with a bit of tomato sauce splashed over the top. No, in Alaska, you get Reindeer hot dogs…
I don’t know if it’s the way my brain works, but seeing this sign immediately conjoured an image of Rudolph, with his cute red button-nose, walking trustingly and unknowingly into the slaughterhouse to be turned into hot dogs for food-loving Americans and their children. Meanwhile, Santa pores over the newspaper, fruitlessly scouring the lost and found section…
I didn’t buy one. Perhaps if they’d called them “Venison Hot Dogs” I’d have given it a go. Poor little Rudy.
They have these on every corner too. There are no newsagents as such; if you want to buy a newspaper this is where you go:
The Anchorage Daily News is an interesting read, though not a patch on Canada’s Globe and Mail (can you tell I’m biased towards all things Canadian?). Anyway, this paper does not seem to be a tabloid, but they made much of Fergie’s latest alleged indiscretion, where she apparently tried to sell access to Prince Andrew. I can just imagine the British tabloids would be absolutely hysterical over this one. Okay, if it’s true, then maybe she was being a bit greedy, and therefore anyone who’s never been greedy has the right to throw a bunch of stones at her. The rest of us can leave the poor old bugger alone.
This morning I took the bike down to The Motorcycle Shop for the service. It should be ready later this afternoon. They seem a pretty good bunch who know what they’re doing. It will be great to get on the road again, in any case.
I would like to thank everyone for reading these blogs, and also for your very positive comments. Looking at the stats, I was blown away to find there have been almost 1100 views to date, so thanks! (It doesn’t tell me who reads the blogs, just how many views).
Tomorrow I am off to Seward, about two hours south of Anchorage. I don’t know what the internet access will be like down there, but here’s hoping.