That place used to be a strip joint

That’s the most common comment from Deb as we drive through the snowy streets of Anchorage.  It makes me wonder if 1970s Anchorage had any establishments that were not strip joints.  Maybe some were just bars, which is why they’re out of business–they failed to offer the necessary entertainment.

To go out and about:  wade through the snow to your car, start it.  Don’t lock the keys in.  Go back inside.  Come back in fifteen minutes, and brush 6″ of snow (that’s about 10 cm for our metric friends) off your car.  Brush it all off, don’t just leave the roof covered in it.  Get the lights, breaking off the ice.  Lift up the wipers and smack them down hard enough to break the ice off.  Back out of your parking with a burst of speed, but do not do this when a road grader is plowing the street.  Get ready for streets narrowed by snow berms on each side.  The sidewalks are buried in the berms, so do not hit the young lady walking down the side of the road in her toque and bunny boots.

It is overcast, the daylight is dim to begin with, and powdery snow swirls through the wheel ruts on the main drag.  Visibility ranges from a couple of miles to a few hundred yards.  Most road activity happens with the slowed pace necessary when it’s possible to skid nearly anywhere.  Your wife (your chauffeuse) swears at anyone who blasts past her, appears about to pull out in front of her, straddles lanes, or commits some other breach of good driving etiquette in her estimation.  Corners involve a certain caution, plowing through churned snow.  Roundabouts, which I’m not sure really suit Alaskan conditions, need special care, especially those double lane roundabouts as macho road warriors skid around them and think it’s great fun.  In essence, there is a mudbogging feel about Anchorage winter driving from start to stop–just replace the mud with snow.

Deb felt strong enough today to get out and about, which was just as well because I broke Herb’s snow shovel early in the visit, and I was overdue to replace it despite his protestations that we didn’t need to.  That was a good excuse to go back to Title Wave Books, one of the great things about Anchorage.  Do you like travel books? Our Barnes & Noble in Kennewick has one section of ‘travel essays’.  Title Wave has six times that.  It has even more books about bears.  If there is anything about bears, from lies told to cheechakos (‘tenderfeet’…’Outsiders’…’people from the lower 48’) to authentic treatises on the habits of the grizzly, that Title Wave’s bear book section cannot answer, that’s because everyone who learned it got mauled to death before being able to put it into print.

I begin to think that Alaskan isn’t a state residency, but a citizenship.


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