24 Jul Finding Alaska Part 2
In my Part 1 blog post I shared some experiences while going outside of Anchorage. This Part 2 post will focus on the city itself and some of things I did there. Anchorage has a lot of offer: several live theatres, a busy mall, some excellent restaurants and a beautiful museum.
A local spot for crepes, Alaska Crepery, is a fun neighborhood place with a friendly staff and an extensive menu of delicious crepe variations along with coffee drinks and other beverages. The space is inviting with chair groupings for casual socializing in the center and tables around the perimeter. The large picture window at the front features two hanging egg-shaped chairs that are enjoyed by customers who want to be seen by passersby. This is a popular spot and the steady stream of patrons keep it busy and full.
I stopped in one morning and ordered the Breakfast Crepe which was full of scrambled egg, bacon, cheese and various peppers and it was perfectly prepared and very flavorful.
For the best handcrafted ice cream, Wild Scoops offers inventive flavor combinations using Alaskan ingredients sourced from local growers, gardens and vendors and they avoid artificial flavoring. It’s a hot spot and you can be sure there will be a line daily down the block. Get there early!
The Anchorage Museum is a sprawling compound that houses not only classic and contemporary works but also hosts an impressive gallery in conjunction with the Smithsonian on the indigenous tribes of Alaska and their history. There is also a special Alaska exhibition which tells the story of the state through more than 400 objects, immersive installations, soundscapes and moving images.
The museum has a lovely garden and lawn that is an inviting place to sit and contemplate the outdoor sculpture or ponder the works in the museum. It’s a quiet, relaxing space and full of fireweed, which I learned was a special weather indicator. This indigenous plant blooms slowly over the summer from bottom to top. When the very top blooms, winter is only six weeks away (and that means snow)!
Before departing I wanted to find a special souvenir and I discovered Oomingmak, a shop which is a co-op managed by Native Alaskans that live in remote villages. The men and women who participate in the co-op hand knit hats, scarves and tunics with yarn made from the super soft qiviut or underwool of the musk ox which is one of the finest fibers in the world. The products are lightweight but supremely warm. While visiting the shop I was able to experience the raw underwool and the downy feel is almost frothy to the touch.
After looking through the available offerings I chose a scarf featuring the Unalakleet or wolverine pattern based on a ceremonial dance mask. It’s a stunning scarf and came with a special card signed with the name of the maker. I look forward to wearing it when the fall season arrives.
With my scarf, photos and many memories in tow, I boarded a plane to return home. It was a fantastic trip and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Alaska is a unique place in the United States: rich with history, natural resources, majestic topography and warm, welcoming people. It’s definitely worth further exploration!