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Monday, August 4, 2008

Learning more and more...

Alaska is proving to be quite the learning experience mostly because it's discussed in about one sentence in many (most?) US history courses: "And then Secretary Seward bought Alaska for dirt-cheap, a purchase known as 'Seward's Folly.'" Or, at least, that's all I remember learning about this gigantic state throughout my 16+ years of education. Maybe that's the problem with a public school education...!

Today was all about trying new things and experiencing the unknown. You can find the best breakfast in Anchorage at the Snow City Cafe--I enjoyed a delicious veggie omelette chock-full of peppers, onions and spinach. Mmmm...yummy!! After absolutely stuffing ourselves with that, we waddled down to the waterfront to check out the views. A lot of Alaskans we've talked to have said this is the coldest and darkest summer they can remember so unfortunately, the mountain views from the city aren't great. On a clear day you can actually see all the way to Mt. McKinley from Anchorage!
(hypothetically this is what you could see--but most days it's not nearly clear enough to see almost 250 miles to Denali)

We spent the bulk of the day at the Alaska Native Heritage Museum learning about the distinct native groups still living in Alaska. Knowing, like I said before, almost nothing about Alaska or Alaskan history, it was a fascinating tour. One of the highlights was a dance performance by a family troupe, singing and dancing the songs that have been passed down through the generations. Although many of the old tribal ways have been given up or lost, the music has been preserved as a means of celebration and a way to connect the past and the present.

And, in case you were wondering, Eskimos don't actually live in igloos. The only igloos are in northern Canada and even those are only temporary shelters when other housing can't be found or built. One guide told me that the myth of Eskimos and igloos has simply been perpetuated by Hollywood over the years.

Back in the city, we spent some time at The Ulu Factory, where this traditional Inuit (Eskimo) knife is mass-produced. I first became interested in bringing one home after one Alaskan told me how much easier they make cooking--one slice and you're done!

(Although in hindsight, perhaps a knife isn't the best souvenir for someone who doesn't currently have a kitchen and won't have one for any time in the foreseeable future...) They have found ulu knives dating back as far as 2500 BC!

Dinner--more halibut at the fantastic (and highly recommended) Glacier Brewhouse. I swear, I'll come home weighing about 10 pounds more just from the incredible food here! Hey, it's worth it! Now it's almost 9:30 at night and the sun is still shining brightly--actually the first time we've seen it all day! They're averaging 17-18 hours of daylight a day here this time of year.

Off to Whittier in the morning...

1 comment:

  1. so wait... are you telling me you saw the Alaskan Von Trapps perform?