The first of the month we had the opportunity to have our daughter, Candice, come and stay a few days. Her visit happened to coincide with the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod and the last few days of the Fur Rondy so we were able to do a couple of fun things while she was here.
We started on Friday with a trip to Girdwood and the Alyeska Ski Resort. They are located about 20 miles south of us up the Turnagain Arm. Our plan was to ride the ski tram up to the top, have dinner there, and then come home to our apartment. On the way, the skies were quite overcast and we were afraid that we weren't going to be able to see anything but clouds from the tram. As you can see by the pictures, though, the sights were incredible! The food, on the other hand, was very expensive but only so-so.
|Riding up the tram, still under the clouds. The water in the distance is the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. Girdwood and the resort are hidden in the trees between here and the Arm.|
|Same angle from above the clouds. Still in the tram.|
|In the tram, looking back down the hill.|
|Sea of clouds surrounded by mountains.|
|Looking out over some of the ski runs toward the Arm and sundown.|
|The "Roundhouse." A museum and part of the complex at the top of the mountain.|
|Catching the last rays of the sun on the tips of the mountains across the valley.|
|The restaurant we ate in. I thought it appropriate that the Seven Glaciers Restaurant had a "Caution. Icy Conditions" sign out front.|
|Sister Taylor's salad. That's lobster and bacon on butter lettuce.|
|Elder Taylor's dinner. Rock Fish on pureed potatoes with a few pieces of grilled Brussell Sprouts and pieces of bacon.|
|Sister Taylor and Candice both had one of these. Rice, shrimp, scallop, reindeer sausage.|
|Desert - Baked Alaska, of course!|
|Mother and daughter.|
|Elder & Sister Taylor|
When we got back to ground level, we experienced one of those cool things about Alaska (and other places I'm sure). The moisture in the air around you turns into ice and floats to the ground. When the lights are just right it looks really cool! I hope you can see it in this video. I know the videos don't come out too good on the blog.
The next day, Saturday, we went to the Iditarod Ceremonial Start. The real race starts up near Willow, about an hour north of Anchorage, but every year they have a ceremonial start (often referred to by locals at the "false start") in downtown Anchorage. The last couple of years we've been a little low on snow so they build up a lane down the middle of the street and the dogs run on that. On some of the cross streets they let the cars through between dogsleds and volunteers fix the snow afterward. Most of those volunteers are the young missionaries from the Anchorage Alaska Mission. Candice and Sister Taylor and I ended up making a donut run, delivering donuts to all the missionaries as they worked at each intersection.
|One of the teams running down the street. The person riding in the sled is called an "Iditarider." They bid on-line (big bucks!) for the privilege of riding in one of the sleds during the ceremonial start.|
|Elder Bailey (left) is from Utah. Shoveling snow is probably nothing new to him. Elder Na'a (right) is from Samoa!?|
|The elder with the shovel is Elder Fawson. He started his mission in Samoa, caught some tropical bug, had to go home to recuperate, and then ended up in Alaska! He admitted to being just a little bit cold.|
|Scarfing down donuts while waiting for the cars to go through so they could break up and shovel some more snow.|
Later In the afternoon we went downtown to one of the Fur Rondy (rendezvous) events called, "The Running of the Reindeer." Similar to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain but only in that four legged animals are involved.
First they cordon off several blocks of one of the downtown streets, making sure that there is plenty of snow on the roadway. Then hundreds of participants, quite a number of them partially to mostly drunk and wearing zany costumes of all descriptions, are let loose from one end of the street. After they get part way down the street, a half-dozen reindeer are let loose behind them. After those reindeer run through the crowd of runners, then a second wave of reindeer are released. Once everyone gets to the other end of the street, then the reindeer are taken back to the starting point and another heat of runners are set on their merry way. And believe me, "merry" is the appropriate word. The whole thing is quite fun.
And, Yes, Virginia, there are people injured every year in the running of the reindeer. It just happens that they are injured by one another, not the reindeer. The reindeer are pretty mellow and agile animals.
I think I've told you this before, but do you know what the difference is between caribou and reindeer? Reindeer can fly! ;-) (Reindeer are simply domesticated Caribou.)
|Don't look terribly large and ferocious, do they?|
|This is the Fur Rondy, remember? These guys were selling animal pelts at the fur auction that is held every day.|
One of the other events during the Fur Rondy (held before Candice got here, unfortunately) was the Blanket Toss. A big Native Alaskan guy ramrodded the whole thing, allowing tourists and visitors to help toss the blanket and to be tossed. It was pretty cool. The object is to land on your feet and remain standing. The "blanket" is a bunch of Caribou hides sewn together with a large cable around the edge to hold onto.
That's about all I have time for today. More to follow on the trip to Fairbanks and the International Ice Sculpture Contest and Festival.