Days 26 (Friday July 24), 27 (Saturday the 25th) and 28 (Sunday the 26th) were devoted to activities in and around Anchorage.
Friday we took in BAT to get an oil, oil filter and fuel filter change. In addition we headed over to the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to the commissary and package store for some supplies…we were bummed because for the second base in a row we were “randomly) selected for a vehicle search by the guys with guns and dogs. I’m thinking they must have a conspiracy against gold pickup trucks since it happened twice in a row. In the evening after all our chores were done we went over to the Alaska Wild Berry Gift Shop to spend money…then across the street for dinner at the Alaskan Sourdough Mining Company…the food at this one wasn’t so hot though. After dinner we went next door to see the Dusty Sourdough show. Dusty is a Glen Campbell wannabe who sings songs and tells stories…we had been told ahead of time that the show was terrible but we actually found it pretty decent. Dusty is a nice guy that sings mostly 50s music but did a pretty credible job of entertaining us for an hour or so.
Saturday we had a couple more chores…laundry mostly. Once all of that was done we headed out about 0945 for a trip 20something miles back up the road towards Denali to visit the Thunderbird Falls which are a nice 200 foot tall double falls in a canyon about a mile off of the highway. One thing we did notice in our travels around Anchorage is that there are an awful lot of freeway exits with just one or two places to go once you get off. The very small state park containing Thunderbird Falls was one such area…the exit went to the falls parking lot and only to the falls parking lot. After the hike up to the falls and our picture taking…Neil hiked down to the base of the falls as well but Connie wasn’t feeling great so she passed on the hike down into the gorge. In addition to some more photos of the falls…he saw a half dozen or so 20something braindead almost teenagers doing really dumb stuff. The rocks were wet and slippery and you had to sort of walk on some rocks in the stream to get to prime waterfall viewing and picture taking position…and while the rocks were perfectly navigable in hiking boots and with hiking poles as Neil had they were not so great to get out on when you were in a lime green mini skirt, flip-flops, and with a 6 week or so old newborn strapped in a carrier to your chest. He saw one young lady so dressed…warned her that where she was going was not the best place to go with her footwear choices…and was promptly ignored. He saw her a few minutes later with her lime green mini skirt pretty well soaked with the cold glacier water as she had obviously slipped on the rocks. The baby looked fine though…so the only apparent harm was to her pride. We were amazed at the number of toddlers, babies, and pregnant women we saw on this 2.5 mile round trip hike…it was pretty steep with a lot of ups and downs and not where you would typically expect to see those kinds of hikers.
After the hike we stopped by the Native Alaskan Heritage Center for an hour or so and took in some of the native exhibits. Came home after that, headed over to Mass and then grilled a pepper steak that we split with Bill and Linda along with some ‘shrooms and onions, cheesy taters, and some Turtle Walnut Brownies that Linda made.
Sunday we were scheduled for a trolley tour of downtown Anchorage…and in keeping with our trolley tour record from Dublin and Belfast last summer it poured rain most of the tour. Despite that we continued on the route and actually learned a few things…most noticeably about the Anchorage earthquake back in 1964. Known as the Good Friday Earthquake…it struck at 1756 local time on Good Friday which was actually a good thing as downtown was mostly empty due to the holiday. The quake went on for over 4 minutes and registered 9.2 on the Richter scale. Parts of Anchorage and Valdez dropped 38 feet. The resulting tsunami resulted in a wave 220 feet high in nearby Shoup Bay AK as noted by debris left behind by the wave after it receded. Despite the large magnitude…only about 140 people were killed but damage was about $311 million or $2.28 billion in current dollars.
We did get a few nice photos.
At the berry place they have a 20 foot tall chocolate waterfall.
And a medium sized…but not adult yet… polar bear that Neil and Connie posed in front of for a picture by our friend Nick on the trip.
On our hike out to the waterfall we spotted some nice berries near the path.
A shot of Thunderbird Falls from the viewing platform at the top of the gorge…the lowest portion of the falls isn’t visible from here.
Neil hiked down to the bottom of the gorge to get a shot of the lower portion…had to walk on some slippery rocks to the pool at the base but was rewarded with some nice shots.
On the way back to Anchorage…we spotted an exit marked Mirror Lake so got off the highway to take a look…nice view, huh?
At the Alaskan Native Cultural Heritage center we spotted this female mallard duck…but by that time we were a bit tired and it was raining on and off so we didn’t get many other photos.
Sunday evening we had a potluck here at the park with the other caravan members…as with all potlucks there was plenty of food and we all went home happy. Tomorrow we’re off to Homer AK, about 220 miles south and we have plenty of cool stuff to see on the way there.