Alaska 2023

Day 14

July 21

  Today I will visit the Anchorage Museum which is a pretty long walk from the motel - about a mile from where I sit. But it's a straight shot down East 6th Avenue once I make it up to the corner.  
  It's a pleasant walk and it takes me right by the main city cemetery which has a beautiful flower display out front.  
  I am a bit surprised that there are still be some residential houses in the downtown area. Usually they get converted to businesses of one sort or the other if the city has been established for very long.  
  Soon I arrive at the museum but they are not open as of yet.  
  It's a very impressive building from the outside ...  
  surrounded by nice park with lots of pretty flowers on display.  
  It's an unusual visual mixture as the white ones are in such contrast to the black eyed susans.  
  Soon they open and one of the first displays I see highlights the importance of the railroads in the settlement and development of Alaska.  
  There are various artifacts from this bell that once was part of a steam engine ...  
  to a scale model of what an early train yard would have looked like.  
  There are some exhibits that I just don't understand but I guess that's because I am a simple hillbilly not versed in the finer things of 'art'.  
  I am amazed at how many different native tribes there are in the Alaska area ...  
  each with their own solutions to the environment ...  
  depending on the climate of the area where they lived.  
  They each had their own customs and rituals that suited them.  

When I round the corner I see this profound statement that really strikes home to me-

"What you do not see,

do not hear,

do not experience,

you will never really know."

It is true of the native Alaskan life but it is also true about riding motorcycles out on the road. People who have never done it cannot understand it or really grasp the reality of it. The wide open views, the ever present smells, the wind in your face, the immersion in the surrounding environment are all things that have to be experienced. They can never be adequately explained by words and pictures regardless of the quality or the quantity of each.

  Then there are some interesting displays of various sleds that the native Alaskans used.  
  Further down are some handmade snow shoes that they used on a frequent basis. These allowed them to walk on top of the snow instead of being buried deep in it and struggling to walk.  

There is also a vast display of ulus. A ulu is -

A short-handled knife with a broad crescent-shaped blade traditionally used by Inuit women.

  There are various versions of what I would call parkas on display also. But these would often mean the difference between life and death when the temperatures would go low.  
  They even have native Bibles on display which I find interesting considering I worked for a company that published Bibles for over 26 years.  
  Since the Russians were the first nonnative people in the area, there are several displays devoted to their culture. These are called 'peg calendars' that allowed the people to keep up with what day it was.  
  Then there are the displays about mining which was a big part of the rush of the settlers to Alaska.  

But this display really catches my attention when I see it. Invented by Edwin Smith in 1903, this machine uses a vertical wheel to convey salmon past gutting knives and cleaning attachments in preparation for canning. Smith originally called it 'the Iron Chink', a crude reference to the Chinese cannery workers it would replace. On the first day, it cleaned 22,000 fish in nine hours, or about 40 fish per minute. It would revolutionize the commercial salmon industry and force many laborers to search for a new line of work.


One of the saddest displays is about the Good Friday Earthquake that I first saw information on in Seldovia. A bit of history -

The 1964 Alaskan earthquake, also known as the Great Alaskan earthquake and Good Friday earthquake, occurred at 5:36 pm AKST on Good Friday, March 27. Across south-central Alaska, ground fissures, collapsing structures, and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused about 131 deaths. Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world since modern seismography began in 1900. Six hundred miles (970 km) of fault ruptured at once and moved up to 60 ft (18 m), releasing about 500 years of stress buildup. Soil liquefaction, fissures, landslides, and other ground failures caused major structural damage in several communities and much damage to property.

Anchorage along with many other cities, towns and villages in Alaska suffered incredible damage in less than five minutes.

  And they even have the story of the construction of that 'lovely' Whittier Tunnel I rode through earlier. It don't look like it has changed much since its construction during World War II.  
  There are other models depicting life in the area during its settlement.  
  I finished up my perusal of the museum and get back out on the city streets. Since I'm down here and have the time, I figure I'll wander around and see what I can see.  
  When I happen upon this mall, I decide I'll go in and see what kind of shops they have.  
  It turns out that one of the shops is a nice shoe store and I am always looking for well built comfortable shoes. I peruse their wares and finally find some that I am interested in. The clerk brings out ones in my size and I fall in love with them. They are leather Merrills which is a brand I am very familiar with. My orthotics fit in them perfectly and I am now a proud owner of new shoes which I wear back to the motel.  
  As I head that way I spot this 'interesting' building - "Federal Bureau Of Investigation'.  
  Since it's been a pretty long walk back from the museum, I stop by the convenience store across from the motel. I pick up some lunch since breakfast went missing this morning.  
  I take a nice long nap after lunch which feels really good. Since I already know where I am headed for super, I decide I will figure a different way to the Lucky Wishbone than walking the main drag like I did yesterday. I figure the city is probably laid out in 'squares' so there are no true shortcuts, just a little less busy streets.  
  Soon I arrive at my intended destination so I go in and get me a booth.  
  It is interesting that this restaurant has been in business since 1955 - almost 70 years of operation and still going strong from all appearances.  
  It was started by a World War II B17 pilot that survived the war and wanted to provide good fried chicken to the local area. He lived to be 96 and apparently ate lots of his own cooking - which says something about fried chicken!  
  I decide I'll go with some a little less 'plenteous' and I pick a chicken sandwich and onion rings. It's still pretty bountiful and there are enough onion rings to make a feast by themselves.  
  And since it is my last evening in Anchorage I decide I'll celebrate with a chocolate sundae that is just a real killer.  
  I am able to make it quite well back to the motel in the strength of that meal and it does not take me long to fall into a pleasant sugar coma induced sleep.