Monday, January 18, 2010

A Visit to the Big City

Teaching online classes and homeschooling has freed us up to travel so the kids and I tagged along with Doug last week as he traveled to Soldotna and then Anchorage for conferences.

Even though we've been to Anchorage a lot this year compared to previous years (about once a month compared to every 2-3 months), it is still a culture shock for me to go to "the big city." It took us 40 minutes to go 3 or 4 miles during rush hour traffic, there are homeless men/panhandlers on many street corners, the malls are like malls everywhere and I couldn't tell what city I'm in (kind of like airports).

A trip to Wal-mart was the greatest culture shock of the trip. It had been well over a year since I'd set foot in a Wal-mart. I am used to Ulmer's in Homer, the local drugstore/pharmacy/sport shop/rental place, the sort of small town catch-all shop that dotted the country before Sears, Kmart and Wal-mart took over the country. I was in awe at the wide aisles and the humongous array of choices. There was well over half an aisle of body washes alone, with dozens and dozens of choices (don't people use soap anymore??). And finally, the huge variety in ethnicities also amazed me. I know the Anchorage School District has over 100 different languages represented among the children attending school in Anchorage, but it seemed as though there was a wide representation right there in Wal-mart.

My favorite part of the trip was discovering the outdoor speedskating rink near the intersection of C and 40th Streets. My aunt and uncle told me about it recently, and said it is hotmopped daily, making for an beautiful 1/4 mile track conveniently located in mid-town. We had about an hour before we needed to be at the hotel to pick up Doug from the conference, so we swung by.

It had snowed a few inches the previous day but the rink had been cleared though not hot mopped. It was smooth ice, and despite being right next to a slew of office buildings it was nice to be ice skating on such a large rink outdoors. The Chugach Mountains rise in the distance, as seen in the picture to the right. It was a gem that will have me hauling our ice skates to Anchorage whenever we go up there in the winter.

We're small town people, but as far a cities go, Anchorage is a decent city and we enjoy the shopping, recreation and restaurants. Ironically, most people we've met who live in Anchorage consider Homer a distant and foreign place that is a long, long ways away, while to us the drive to Anchorage is a quick 5 hour hop, skip and jump. If we lived in Anchorage, we'd be the same way: why leave when you have it all right there?

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