Things to do in Alaska
Anchorage Museum of History and Art
Arriving in Alaska is like coming to another world, not just
another part or state of the United States.
One of the
best ways to acclimate yourself to this majesty and beauty of
this far off state is to go the local museum to discover
something about the people, the history and the art.
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is just the
answer for you and will handle all the information that you will
need to start this magnificent journey.
It is found in the downtown area and was started in 1968,
a hundred years after the territory was purchased; with 60
borrowed paintings and a marvelous collection of 2500
ethnographic and historic artifacts borrowed from the local
It is presently in the process of a hundred million dollar
expansion and you can imagine that the spectacular results will
be something awesome to view.
Their mission or objective is to share the history, art
and sciences of the state with the world.
Originally the building was a 10,000 square foot
structure with all the borrowed items and a staff of only two
people. Since that
humble and meager beginning, it has grown and expanded two
times, but most recently in 1986 to the present 140,000 square
foot collection of 450,000 photographs and 21,000 objects.
The staff has had to increase to handle this massive
collection and it now is at 36.
The museum was accredited in 1973, and in 1992 became the
institution of the Alaskan office of the Smithsonian NMNH Arctic
Studies Center for research, education and exhibitions that help
to support the museum's mission.
This world class museum enjoyed over 180,000 visitors
from around the state and world, and is the cultural hub for the
community. It has
been one of the top ten destinations for visitors, and is always
involved in educational and rotating programs for its citizens.
The new Imaginarium will become part of the museum to
help over 50,000 people and 400 schools as well as 45
communities with its educational programs.
The exhibition program has juried shows, traveling and
interpretive exhibitions from other museums that have given
Alaskans knowledge of the art and culture of other countries
from Africa, Tibet, Korea and Japan.
Prince William Sound
The Gulf of Alaska is an area of the Pacific Ocean that is
defined by the southern coast line of Alaska that runs from the
Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island that is in the west going
towards Alexander Archipelago in the east towards Glacier Bay
and Inside Passage lay.
This coastline is an exciting example of the ruggedness
of the state with tidewater glaciers, mountains and forests and
The two largest glaciers are the Bering and the Malaspina that
flow out onto the coastal plains of the Gulf.
The coast itself is very indented with Prince William
Sound and Cook Inlet; which are the two biggest connected bodies
of water along the coast.
Prince William Sound is on the eastern side of Kenai
Peninsula and surrounds the city of Valdez, which lies at the
southern most end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
The other villages that are located on the sound are
Cordova, Whittier and many smaller islands; plus the Alaskan
villages of Tatitlek and Chenega.
Along this area, the Chugach National Forest spreads,
which is the second biggest forest in the United States, as does
the mountains of Chugach, which are also glaciated.
The whole area is full of islands and fjords and many
tidewater glaciers; these are glaciers that stop at the water's
edge and eventually break off forming the icebergs that you see
floating in the waters off the coast or elsewhere in the colder
parts of the world.
Actually glacial ice is the second largest source of water on
the earth, and most certainly the cleanest purest water
available to us now.
The main barrier islands that exist here are the Hawkins,
Hinchinbrook and Montague Islands.
It was here in 1778, that James Cook entered the sound
and named it Sandwich Sound after his patron the Earl of
Sandwich; however the editors of his maps changed the name to
Prince William, who was next to become the King of England.
In 1964, the biggest tsunami hit the area as a result of
the Good Friday earthquake that completely destroyed Valdez and
killed many Chugach villagers.
It was here also that in 1989, the oil tanker Exxon
Valdez hit Bligh Reef, running aground and releasing a huge
amount of oil; which in turn destroyed 22 killer whales, a
quarter of a million birds, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles
and 3000 sea otters.
It was estimated that the Exxon Valdez spilled almost 11
million gallons of oil into the ocean and causing one of the
most devastating disasters in the history of the modern world.
The facts surrounding this mysterious "accident" are
still questionable, and it took many years and court cases to
extract the monies from the company.
There are believed to be about 26,000 gallons of oil in
the sand and soil of Alaska.
The amount that the company paid out was less than a
billion dollars, for punitive and compensatory damages, but the
destruction to the environment and the terrible toll on the
animal kingdom is unimaginable.
This tremendous loss of animal life is unpardonable and
some day those people involved will have to make a great
Hazelwood was the man responsible and many believe he was drunk
at the time of the accident and left command with his third mate
Gregory Cousins in charge, who was not trained to handle the
sound's dangerous waters.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
This trail runs 11 miles along the Anchorage coastline and is
not for motorized vehicles.
It starts at Second Avenue in the downtown area and stops
in Kincaid Park; is completely paved and allows traffic in both
directions. In the
summer months, it is used by cyclists, walkers, joggers,
rollerbladers and runners; while in the winter months it is used
for cross country skiing and skijoring; which is a winter sport
that has a person on skis being pulled by a horse or dog or
motor vehicle, although that is not allowed on this trail.
Both the skier and dog wear harnesses and are joined by a
rope and the dog or horse pulls the skier at whatever pace the
dog chooses or by the commands of the person.
The Tony Knowles trail is part of the yearly Tour of
Anchorage cross country ski marathon and the trail is full of
wildlife. Some have
said that out of all the trails in the area, this one is the
crown jewel and the best way to enjoy it is with a bike.
It seems like an easy trail with some hills and a large
one near the end with most of it flat.
It goes around Cook Inlet, and is home to marshes, spruce
forest land and muskeg.
Some of the focal points include Point Woronzof, where
whales have been sighted, Kincaid Park, Earthquake Park and
Views of the Sleeping Lady or Mt Susitna and Fire Island are
beautiful with Denali being able to be seen on clear days.
Some of the fantastic animals along the way might
include; waterfowl, red foxes, moose, bald eagles and coyote.
The picture to the right shows some of the trail and a
huge bull moose that was seen along the side.