After weeks of driving through the bush, tiny towns and narrow roads where the most exciting thing happening was wildlife or weather related, we came down into Anchorage the other day. It began ominously. The road first grew decent shoulders, and then took on another lane, and all of the sudden we were driving past Jiffy Lubes and junk shops, fast food places and giant plastic monkeys holding a sign that said "Gorilla Fireworks!!" Then came more cars, more people, insanity, and there we were in the city of Anchorage.
Somewhere I read that Anchorage has a million people, but I think I was sorely misinformed, because TSO read out of the Milepost that there are only 600,000, which is plenty enough anyway. I also read that the Anchorage area contains about %70 of Alaska's entire population. I think I read this from the same source. It may not be accurate. It may, in fact, be a gigantic lie intended to mislead me, a lie that I will pass on in full confidence to future generations, a perpetual sewage pipe of ignorance dumping into the clear stream that is the human existence. But I digress.
Perhaps it is because I'm finally hitting travel fatigue, or perhaps it's because I do not like cities and had gone so long without one, but Anchorage immediately gave me the blues. The Anchorage Blues. We struggled to find a campsite that night, mostly because I was tired and not reading the AAA book correctly, sending TSO back and forth on a wild goose chase over the same stretch of highway, finally locating the campground and narrowly beating out a hundred frenzied RVers for the very last site. And the site was fair enough - our neighbors were friendly, descendants of native peoples, who let us enjoy their campfire with them - though we were rained on all through the night and into the morning.
We camped along the Turnagain Arm, a fjord of the bay that drains completely at low tide, leaving vast mud flats. Clay flats. There are stories aplenty of people (usually foolish tourists) who have wandered in to the quicksand like clay and been trapped as the tides come in, sometimes ending with the people losing their legs to get free, and sometimes ending with them just drowning. The warnings were enough that when we walked down to the edge of the clay, we did not stray from the rocks. Turnagain Arm took one look at us and growled... and we kept our distance.
The next morning we caught the open air weekend market in Anchorage itself, which was grand in that I had studied enough of the Anchorage map to get their without dilemma. Getting away and "casually driving the city," however, turned out to be different story, and as I circled the block a fourth time looking for nonexistent parking spots and getting stymied, again, by another one way street, I decided that I do not like Anchorage, at least while behind the wheel of a car. Oh, to ditch Bosco and explore the city on foot! Unfortunately there was no sign that said "Ditch Your Car Here," and so I panicked and flung us in the direction of south, out of Anchorage towards the Kenai Penn.
Anchorage got shoot up by a big earthquake in the 60's, and has now payed it forward by shaking me up. Blah, the Anchorage Blues!
We are now at a laundromat in Soldotna, and my clothes are dry, so that's the end of that story.