My Alaskan hosts were very kind in allowing me to borrow one of their pickup trucks for the week. (Ah, another first – I’ve never driven a pickup truck before, but then again, I haven’t driven in Alaska before either. Though I did drive our Suburban – so it wasn’t all that much different.)

Anyhow, I decided to stick around town the first day and just get the feel of the truck.  So, I headed downtown. Like most big towns, Anchorage has a large mall. Of course, most of the stores are the same you see anywhere – but every dozen stores or so, was one that reminded me I was in Alaska.

My favorite of the unique shops was the Iditarod one which had all things … Iditarod. I used to watch the race on TV, but haven’t seen it shown the past few years. (Does anyone know if any channel still shows it?) I wandered around the store looking for a keychain with husky puppies on it for the 9yo. I didn’t find one, but while I wandered I did hear a couple people who had actually raced in the Iditarod discuss their experiences – which was cool. (Actually, I’m sure it was more than cool – very cold.)

(Just for the record – I did not walk in ANY stores we have at home. The ONLY reason I was in the mall was because G. told me to park at their parking garage. I was not spending Alaska time at the mall.)

The interesting thing about Anchorage – at least the part I was in that day was the mixture of people – I don’t mean diverse as in ethnically diverse, but just a mixture. The first street was quiet and almost deserted – but then I came across a park with rows of beautiful flowers and a long line of people waiting at a food truck. I walked closer to see what was happening and saw it was a mobile food pantry.

I walked across the street and found another grouping of stores that had a lot of business people – and a Starbucks. I did spend some Alaskan time there, getting a gift card (for my wonderful niece BethAnnie) and a cup of hot chocolate. I then sat for a few moments and signed her BD card.

I walked down a block to another street and suddenly I was surrounded by tourists and a quaint visitor’s center tucked in among the taller buildings. By this time it was raining so I headed down to the Alaska Experience which is a theater with some Alaska-flavored movies. The first one had a lot of scenery. The second one was a fascinating story about a man who quit his job to photograph northern lights. He sleeps during the day and then goes out to the wilderness at night, builds a fire, cooks his breakfast and waits…

I had another first that night. G. cooked us a great meal of salmon which had been dipnetted. Very good.

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