Alaska Cruise – 08/06/95

SUN. 8/6 This morning we will tour Anchorage,stop at the Anchorage Museum, and the largest float plane anchorage in the world then on to Seward for our ship. It is a beautiful, clear day. No traffic as it is Sunday so we had the streets to ourselves.

In 1964 the earthquake literally destroyed downtown Anchorage office buildings and many others. The quake was 8.5 to 9.2 on the Richter scale. The Hilton somehow survived but the ground in front towards the water sank. In rebuilding they learned what to do if this should ever happen again. There are many earthquakes as there are three faults in the area.

They had 100 plus inches of snow last year. The temperature can go to minus 70 degrees with wind chill. Alaska RR started in 1915. It was narrow gauge at first.

One can pay up to $10.00 a gallon for milk. They heat with electricity. The bill can run $600 to 700 a year. There are many beautiful flowers everywhere. There are hanging baskets along the streets as there are in Victoria. They are attended by residents who water and trim. Some go along with small tractors with trailers behind. Housing is high. A house the size of ours can go for 200-300 thousand dollars. In one area you would see no two houses alike. Their high school; some damage during the earthquake. The ground dropped around that as it did in many places. One class wanted to paint an eagle on the side of the auditorium with their class number. This was not allowed but they cleverly hid the numbers “71” in the talons.

We went thru Earthquake Parkon our way to the Airport Museum. One in thirty people fly and one in 50 own planes. At the museum we saw a film on the recovery of a PBY Catalina from the Alaskan bush. It is now on display at the museum as are many vintage bush planes. The airport here was utterly destroyed during the earthquake. I didn’t realize how bad the quake was until I saw some of the affected area. I remember seeing pictures of Lowell Thomas’ house sliding into a crack in the earth.

The Iditarod Dog Race starts in the beginning of March on 4th Ave. in Anchorage and then the dogs are shipped to Wasilla on Sunday. Susan Butcher won the race 4 times and is now retired. The best time was 9 plus days. The race is from Wasilla (Anchorage) to Nome, a distance of about 1,049 miles. It commemorates a 1925 race to rush serum to Nome to thwart a diphtheria epidemic.

We then went to the Anchorage Museum of Art. A tremendous amount of History is recorded here, the families who settled here, the Pipeline, animals, the ways of life here in the wilds over the years. You could spend hours here as in any museum. The totem pole in the museum was done in the late 19th Century, displayed at the Fair in 1904 in St. Louis and in the New York’s World Fair in 1964. A totem pole is “read” from top to bottom always. Usual symbols are a raven, a dog fish (shark), wolf or fox and a bear. The raven stands for the Kingdom of the Air – the shark, Lordship of the Seas – the wolf, the Genus of the Land – and bear, link to man.

After exploring the Museum we went on to the Reception Center. This is a huge place for meetings and also used as a bus center for tourism. Great idea..The buildings here are beautiful, very modern, as most are thanks to “1964” disaster.

Buses leave here every 15 minutes for tours such as ours. Such efficiency. Heaven help you if you are late. Well managed.

We are now on our way to Seward our embarkment port. It will take about 3 1/2 hours. We have a great driver. He is a teacher, you might know. So many tour buses seem to hire teachers for the summer. This one teaches Special Education.

Headlights must be on at all times, a safety precaution.Alaska had lots of money in the eighties so spent a lot in improving the state. Economy is declining now like “the lower 48″.

Down the highway to Seward the Chugach Mtns. are on the left and the Gulf of Alaska on the right. This is the Kenai Peninsula: Lots of marshland with high tides as in Nova Scotia. This is the highest. They advise not to get caught in low tide. The tide is fast and that glacial flow can get like cement. You must pullover to let traffic by if there are more than 5 cars behind you. Good Idea!!!

It was said that as much as 75,000 acres dropped down, thus becoming a salt water marsh from the tsunami caused by the quake. We passed the Aleyska Ski Resort which produced the Olympic Skier, Tommy Mo,in the 1992 Olympics. His house is built with double walls (insulation) and 5 cables over the house to stabilize it. Many others do the same.

The hotel in Anchorage, the Hilton, was here during the quake but sustained no damage and it is high-rise built deep into the ground aware of what earthquakes can do.

At a rest stop high in the mountains we all got out to see the view. John and Doris had a bad fall in trying to go up a bank. John was hurt when his camera went into his chest. He had had plastic surgery to correct that flesh-eating virus which had invaded him.

The view was beautiful. As we went down the road we encountered construction which went on for 6 miles. DUSTY. That road is very crooked but it is very pretty going down from Turnagain Pass. We went over Johnson Pass which is along the Iditarod Trail. Lots of fire weed around Moose Pass which is a check-point for the race.

We arrived in Seward on time at 5:30. Hurried to dinner. We have a nice cabin, lots of room and closet space. Next was the compulsory life boat drill. We had signed up for 4 trips.

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