Chicago and Anchorage

Trip Start May 24, 2005
Trip End Aug 20, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, July 10, 2005

Chicago and Anchorage are two very different cities but great in their own rights. I stopped over in Chicago for a couple of days mainly to meet up with my friend Mark. However I was taken back by the city which has stunning architecture and some excellent food. I had a good fun attending a 4th of July party where there was the usual motley crew of guests including one woman who voted for Bush twice "Well ya know he seem to be knows what he is doing, while Kerry does not have a plan" needless to say we had a good chat. Thanks to Ciaran, Damian & Mark for all your hospitality, sing songs & beers, ye made a great weekend.
From there I caught a quick flight to Anchorage, which has Alaskans say is only 80 miles from Alaska. Anchorage is a small city (300,000 souls) and easy to walk around. What I found great was everybody was complaining that it was too crowded and they want to move further out into the wilderness. Now they say that the State Bird of Alaska is the mosquito and out on the Tundra there is billions of them. One Alaskan delighted in telling me that he once saw an old Moose die from the blood loss of all the mozzie bites! And here was me worrying about bears! They say if you're meet a bear, that Indian tradition is that you say the following to a bear "Hi Brother/Sister (if you have time to notice the bear's gender) Bear I too am picking berries for my family, can we pass each other in peace and feed our families" this is suppose to calm the bear and s/he will let you pass. By the way a bear can be 14ft tall and 1,500lbs! One old Indian woman was asked did she ever encounter a bear? She said yes. She was picking blueberries when she parted the bushes and saw the bear on the other side of the bush eating blueberries. She said "Oh S**t" which apparently had the same effect as "Hi Brother Bear" :-). As usual I am constantly surprised by people who make offers of accommodation, sightseeing etc.
On the plane I help a middle age woman stow a picture and we started chatting. It turns her friend was also an accountant for Alaskan Railways, quicker than you could save priv pass, she had organised my fellow accountant to take me hiking 50 miles outside Anchorage. The mountains were stunning, there was still snow on them, the lakes were full of glacier ice water which is too cold for fish to live in and there was abundant wildlife and not many mozzies :-). So the following day I took a tour with the railway down to Spencer glacier where I went rafting. Thanks Amber for organising the my ticket to Whittier, rafting, and all the other bits and bobs. One of the key Engineers who built the railways in Alaska was an Irishman, John G Henry who is quoted "Give me whiskey and dynamite I will build you a road to hell", he sounds familiar :-)
Alaska has abundant wildlife and is full of nature. While there I saw hawk, moose with a calf, sea otters, deer, salmon jumping out of the water and a flock of bald eagles. Surprisingly most of this was from my ferry, which I travelled on for three days from Whittier (like Courttown without the glamour or buzz :-) to Prince Rupert which is like Courttown. The boat was grand the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferries was like Bus Eireann. The roomette I booked had a window, a window that looked out onto a life boat! It was nice every morning to wake up and see the life boat and know that I had not missed anything in the night :-)The room was small 6ft by 8ft but adequate. Some people did the trip cheaper by pitching their tents on deck or sleeping in the solarium and other common areas. To be honest The highlight was standing on the deck, sipping my southern comfort and watching the sunset when suddenly I saw a whale crest and then he was diving back down quicker than you could say harpoon, it was a glorious sight. I saw a couple more after that which was great. So Folks I now in Prince Rupert for a couple of nights before I move back to Vancouver. Take care and take it easy
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