One of the things I like to do in the Sceneramic Photography news letter is to highlight some of the places I've been fortunate enough to have visited. In this September, 2015 edition I thought I'd share some of my experiences in and around Anchorage, Alaska.
As a consultant in one of my previous jobs I had the pleasure of visiting Alaska 88 times over a span of 10 years accumulating a total of 2 1/2 years there. During all that time I had the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful and amazing people who I will alway cherish as friends, as well as having had a chance to visit some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
While I may be a little biased having spent that much time in Alaska, I honestly believe you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the United States -- or other countries for that matter -- that has more outdoor activities to offer its visitors and residents all year round.
While summers offer nice cool weather ideal for hiking, biking, and sightseeing, the much shorter winter days not so much. That's why so many places in Alaska, and certainly Anchorage, host events just about every weekend for folks to either get involved in or just observe.
USA, Alaska, Girdwood, Winner Creek TrailUSA Alaska Girdwood Winner Creek Trail Trees Fall Colors Land
Note - Watermark does not display on ordered prints. Winter activities include everything from walking around Anchorage looking at the christmas light displays, or on the more extreme end of the scale, camping out in the rugged mountains learning survival skills. Brrrrr, the latter never did appeal to me. I always opted for sticking around town so I could dive into a pub to warm up, enjoy a beverage of choice, and chat with the locals.
From a photographers’ perspective the Alaskan photo opportunities are better than winning the lottery. Because of the majestic scenery, spectacular views, and breath-taking vistas I'd say it would be just about impossible for anyone to take a bad picture unless they go out of their way to goof it up.
Lots Of Fun Things To Do
Although Alaska is considered the "last frontier”, life in and around Anchorage, at least, isn’t that much different than anywhere else. Sure the winters are long and hard and the terrain can be brutal and unforgiving at times, but that's all part of its appeal and mystic. If you get involved with the great outdoors it's an experience you will never forget.
Hiking Trails & Photographers
As I already eluded to, for outdoor enthusiasts who also happen to be photographers there are so many hiking and biking trails scattered along the foothills of the Chugach State Park system catering to all levels of experience and energy levels. Even the gnarliest of trails can be safely explored without fear of meeting up with grizzly bears or other undesirable trial companions. That said, if you are going to wander into unfamiliar wilderness it may be advisable to take someone along who knows the trails and wildlife habits to help ensure a safer experience.
USA, Alaska, Portage, Portage Glacier, Country Road, Fall ColorsUSA Alaska Portage Glacier Highway Dirt Road Fall Colors Land
Note - Watermark does not display on ordered prints. If You're Not Into Hiking
If hiking's not your cup of tea, just jump into the car and go explore and enjoy the vastness of the land.
One of my favorite drives is from Anchorage heading out of town along the Turnagain Arm to Alyeska. There’s plenty of things to see and do along the way so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time for sightseeing. If you have the time I'd suggest heading a little further down the road to the Portage Glacier, also on the Kenai Peninsula.
If you're planning at least an overnight trek then I'd suggest heading down to Kenai, Homer, Seward, or one of my favorite places, Valdez. If it's Valdez you're heading to you'll certainly want to stop at the Worthington Glacier on the way. It's one of the few places anywhere you can walk right up to the glaciers from the parking lot and touch and interact with them.
If your destination is Alyeska just off the Turnagain Arm, you’ll definitely want to put enough time aside to eat at the Double Musky Inn just off Crow Creek Road. The food and atmosphere is wonderful.
If you’re a steak lover, you’ve got to go for the French Pepper Steak. For seafood my favorite is the Crab Stuffed Halibut. If it’s Cajun you’re after then try the Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya. If you're able to save enough room you have to try one of their fresh deserts. Oooh, they're so deliciously decadent!
So, if you’re heading to Alaska, specifically Anchorage, I’d advice that you do a little preplanning beforehand. Alaska's a very big, rugged state and there’s usually a lot of miles between points A and B and a lot of very interesting things to see and do between the two. If you don't do any planning you'll be surprised at just how fast the time goes when you're trying to cram so much in.USA, Alaska, Highway 1, Lake Reflections, Fall ColorsUSA Alaska Highway 1 Lake Reflections Fall Colors Water
My advice especially for first-timers is to double whatever time you've allotted yourself for excursions so you'll have enough daylight to do all the things you want to do. In summertime this isn't so much of a problem because in June and July there's about 20 hours of usable daylight. However, in December and January there's only 5 1/2 hours of usable daylight and the snow packed roads will definitely slow you down.
If you don't allot yourself enough time I can just about guarantee you’ll run out of daylight long before you run out of things to see and do. I can tell you that from experience. So many times I stopped at one place for half-hour for a "quick look-around" (famous last words) and, before I knew it, I'd burned away four hours and still didn't get to see and do everything I wanted.
My final words of wisdom are: Plan wisely for your excursions, take along plenty of snacks and water, and be prepared to factor in weather conditions as weather in Alaska can change in the blink of an eye.
Now, go forth and enjoy Alaska the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, un-rushed.
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