After arriving a few hours later than scheduled, we eventually got picked up by our motel shuttle. We stayed at the Puffin Inn - it was perfectly adequate and safe, and even fairly convenient with a bus stop just across the street, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, other than that it was the most reasonably priced one we found during what I presume is peak tourist season in Anchorage. (Just little things, like only one bedstand next to a queen bed (really, you can't shell out another $20 to have a surface next to both sides of a bed that will likely house two people?), that made it seem a little off and dated. Certainly not a honeymoon-level hotel, at any rate.)
We started our first day in Alaska by taking the bus into downtown to rent bikes (definitely recommend Downtown Bicycle Rental - the employees were quite helpful getting us situated on bikes and pointing out things on the map, and the owner checked us back in and was really nice).
|Our bike route|
We started by heading out on the Coastal Trail. We took a brief detour back into town to have lunch at Organic Oasis, a wonderfully hippie place with fresh juices and wheatgrass shots (I had the former, Abe had the latter). It's not all vegetarian, but certainly has plenty of veg options! If I'm remembering correctly I had the Moroccan hummus wrap, and I definitely remember correctly that I enjoyed it.
We continued along the trail to Kincaid Park, where there's a disc golf course nestled among the stunning hills and vegetation. There were some spots that seriously more closely resembled what I thought Hawaii looked like than Alaska. I just walked the course while Abe played, as it was super challenging - very hilly, and lots of brush to lose a disc in. Apparently skiing takes place on these hills in the winter, which sounds absolutely terrifying to me, with all the trees around, but I'm sure it's just as lovely to look at in the winter.
We then continued biking through the park and back towards town. Anchorage is a fairly bike-friendly town, but in a different way than Portland. It seems that the culture expects bikes to act like pedestrians, and share the paved paths alongside the roads with them, rather than be on the road with cars. Fortunately there are lots of those paved paths and it was easy to get around. Along one such path, maybe a mile or two out of the park, next to a fairly busy road, we saw a moose! He meandered onto the path, hung around for a couple minutes, then headed back into the woods.
After giving the moose some space, we biked on to Moose's Tooth for dinner. Moose's Tooth is known for its pizza and beer brewing; it was ridiculously crowded, even on a weeknight. Obviously, I liked the pizza, but surprisingly I also liked the beer that Abe got! We ended up buying a growler of an apple ale.
We returned the bikes to the shop lateish in the evening, having gone a total of 27 miles for the day. (When getting the bikes, we were told the shop was open til 10, but we could return them after that and just lock them up outside. "What time does it get dark", I asked. Um, not until after midnight. Dusk wasn't a factor in when to get back!). A few blocks walk took us to a bus stop to get back to the motel.
|This was at 9:30 pm!|
The next morning, we were exhausted from the past couple days, and after breakfast went back to our room for a nap. We eventually headed out for lunch, this time trying out Middle Way Cafe. Similar mission as Organic Oasis, tons of veg options, but felt a bit more commercialized (in fact, while we were eating there, the manager was having a meeting at the table next to us with representatives of a beverage company about the possibility of having bottle drinks available, including some more mainstream brands).
We spent the afternoon at the Anchorage Museum. I was particularly intrigued by the Five Gyres plastic trash display; we also checked out the hands on science, native history, and oil pipe exhibits.
|Five Gyres exhibit|
We took advantage of the well-lit evening with a stop by Westchester Lagoon Park, which was supposed to have a disc golf course, but unfortunately it wasn't set up for the summer yet; we found the tee pads but not baskets. We took the bus back to the motel and prepared for an early morning the next day to catch the train.