Day 22: July 7, 2016
A Day in Anchorage

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When I first arrived, cousin Deb and I discussed things to do in the area and a downtown museum was placed at the top of the list. She reminded me of this yesterday as I was preparing to drive to Homer and suggested that I could still work the museum in by staying another day. I told her I'd think about it as I headed to the car. I was barely on the road when the decision to extend my stay was reached. Changing the Subaru's oil was also on my list of things to do in Anchorage and it was something I really couldn't ignore. Staying one more day was almost mandatory. When I made that decision, I assumed that the trip to Homer would completely fill Tuesday and Wednesday but I got back to Anchorage early enough to get the oil changed on Wednesday afternoon. So, instead of starting toward home today or rushing to get an oil change, I'm off to visit three museums.

First up is the Alaskan Aviation Museum. About a decade after the Wright brother's first flight, an airplane flew in Fairbanks and aviation has been an important part of Alaskan exploration -- and just plain living -- ever since. Alaskan specific bits of aviation history are on display here which made it a real surprise that the first airplane I came to was made in Ohio. That black plane is a 1934 Waco YKC that was built in Troy, Ohio, about fifty miles from where I live. This one been in Alaska since 1937. The display in the next photo is on the airplane crash, near Barrows, Alaska, that killed Will Rogers and Wiley Post. The red plane is a 1928 Steerman that operated in Alaska from 1929 until 1937 when it crashed. It was recovered and restored in the 1960s. The last two pictures are a collection of airplane skis and a glimpse of some of the other airplanes inside the museum.

There are airplanes outside, too. The big one is a Boeing 737 in a special Alaska configuration that allowed it to be used as all cargo, all passenger, or anything in between. The steps that lead to the 737's interior allow somewhat aerial views of other aircraft and a two story control tower offers nice views of seaplane landings and takeoffs.

Next it's the Anchorage Museum in downtown where a major portion of the first floor is loaded with hands-on interactive displays. They are really targeted for kids but I used a display fed by an infrared camera to take a selfie. When I headed to the second floor, I looked down to get a picture of the intriguing lobby.

The second floor contains the Alaska Gallery which is where I spent most of my time. Here Alaska's story is told through numerous well done displays containing all sorts of artifacts. The pipeline, as it does everywhere, has a large presence. The last photo is from the third floor where items representing various First Nations groups are beautifully displayed. Fourth floor space is used for temporary exhibits. At present, films from multiple artists are being shown there.

This is Bernie's Bungalow Lounge. It's about a block from the museum. Even though I could find nothing on the outside that identified it, I knew this was Bernie's from the address. I'd looked it up because of a "This American Life" episode I'd heard recently. This is where Buzzwinkle, a moose intoxicated on naturally fermented apples, first appears in the episode. Knowing I would be in Anchorage before too long, I decided I'd drop in if it was convenient. Can't get much more convenient than a one block walk from the museum. The story can be heard here.

It was only a few blocks from Bernie's to the Glacier Brewhouse. They produce some really good beer although the place seems more like a restaurant with brewery attached than the other way around. One of their brews was an oatmeal stout aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels which I liked very much.

The same David Reese who drew my attention the the Salmon Bake restaurant near Denali, declares Humpy's his favorite Anchorage restaurant after two visits to the city. I certainly can't fault him. The halibut in dill sauce was superb.

My third museum stop was at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. I timed my arrival to coincide with the start of the day's last dance demonstration and last guided walk around the lake. I opted to take in the dance demo then circle the lake on my own.

As promised, here's a photo of my hosts in which they are actually recognizable. There's even one with me in it. Deb and Pat have put me up and put up with me since Sunday and have given me some true Alaskan experiences including caribou sausage and self-caught halibut. Huge thanks!

That big rock wasn't always there. It was a gift from Pat to Deb. During negotiations to buy the house, the seller sent a letter in which he listed all of the "four footed mammals" that sometimes wandered through the place. That list included salmon. So far, Pat and Deb have had to provide their own four footed salmon but they're OK with that.

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