At the beginning of June I went up to Alaska for work and had a couple of extra days to look around. An Added bonus was that my cousin Erin lives up there and I got to visit with her, her son Jeremy, and her husband Matt.
First let me say that the scenic beauty of Alaska is unmatched by anywhere that I have ever been. Lush, snow capped, green mountains that roll down to the sea were in abundance and there were all kinds of waterfalls fed by the spring snow melt. An added bonus was that even though it was the rainy season I had surprisingly good weather for almost the whole time. One thing that makes an impression is the sun being up well after midnight.
The first day of free time I went for a 1 hour cruise of the Portage glacier, which was very reasonable at $39. I had a long chat with the Captain of the boat, who was also a Coast Guard vet. We talked about the Guard and the ships that we had served aboard as well as things to do in Alaska.
Flying into Anchorage you can see many of the islands along the coast.
This is Beluga Point, on the highway from Anchorage to Seward.
Small icebergs from the Portage Glacier. Keep in mind that this is 80% underwater.
I served aboard this ship in 1982. Certainly not as nice of a ship as the icebreaker Mackinaw, but I made some friends during my time there. Another part of my past slips away. Sigh. The article has one mistake: the Bramble is 180' long, not 185'.
Shamelessly copied from the comments section of a Yahoo News story...
"Recession The recession has hit everybody really hard... My neighbor got a pre-declined credit card in the mail. Wives are having sex with their husbands because they can't afford batteries. CEO's are now playing miniature golf. Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen. I saw a Mormon with only one wife. If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them. McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer. Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America. Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names. My cousin had an exorcism but couldn't afford to pay for it, and they re-possessed her! A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico . A picture is now only worth 200 words. When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to share a room. The Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas is now managed by Somali pirates. And, finally.... I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck..."
This is the fourth and final post chronicling my 2011 ski trip to Utah, a pilgrimage that will definitely occur on an annual basis as long as I am able. Snowbird was certainly the biggest as far as the resorts go. 3,200 foot vertical drop and tons of trails. Great skiing (as good as Alta) and it also had the added bonus of the high speed tram which gets you to the top in about five minutes, and this really allows you to get in a lot more downhill time. Although the skiing was just as good as Alta, the lodge lacked the atmosphere of Alta, which is two miles away. It had sort of a 1970's utilitarian feel to it, a concrete and steel creation that seems more at home as part of a freeway overpass or some other sort of municipal infrastructure construction. Still, it was laid out well and was certainly doing what it was designed for. I liked the place very much but still favor Alta. Another minor drawback was the presence of rowdy snowboarders who act like they own the place and felt little need to act courteously with their fellow snow sports enthusiasts. They really did not get too out of hand I suppose, but were overly aggressive at times. Their presence was not in any way missed up the road. I did not take as many pictures here because frankly, I was having too much fun skiing. After Alta, I'd say that this was my favorite Utah resort. Being that you can get a combo lift ticket that allows you to ski both places it is a sure bet that I'll be back here. in fact, you can get a super pass that allows you to ski Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton, although I'd just be interested in the first two.
This is the view from the top of the high speed tram. Salt lake city is off to the right.
Out the rear window of the tram is the Snowbird lodge and other village structures .
A better shot of the lodge.
This view is off the back side of the tram...
This shot of me is standing right where the last picture was taken, getting ready to ski down the run.
This is the top, right before I took off down the mountain...
...and at the bottom, looking back up at where I just skied. This is the "bookends traverse" to "white diamonds" that you see in the trailmap below.
Rear of mountain trailmap.
Front view trailmap. My favorite run was a black diamond called "Primrose Path", an over one mile long natural half pipe.
This is the third installment of my 2011 Utah ski odyssey. Alta was absolutely the finest ski resort that I have ever had the pleasure of carving turns at, and I will certainly be skiing there every year as long as my legs will hold me up. This place is old school, and it shows. Built in 1939, it has that authentic feel and not the Disney on snow feel that so many resorts like Solitude have. From the panoramic views, rough hewn furniture in the lodges, and a million other little things that are reminiscent of a European ski resort, this is what skiing is meant to be. Other resorts may have 5 star hotels, wonderful spas and shopping, etc., and if that is what you are after, fine, go to Vail or Deer Valley, but if you want the best possible overall skiing experience (sorry snowboarders, you'll have to go 2 miles down the canyon to Snowbird) this is the place to be. I never believed in love at first sight, and then I saw her, and her name was Alta. Unbelievably Ski Magazine ranks this jewel at #28th overall, but let's break down those numbers:
Terrain variety- #8
Well, there you have it. Not in the top ten for on mountain food, lodging, dining, terrain parks (they don't have or need one), off hill activities, or family programs. This is a skier's mountain, and this is what they do: provide the best skiing experience in America. End of story.
Getting ready for my first run near the base lodge.
Here I am at the top of the Collins lift. It had been sunny most of the day, but as the lifts were getting ready to close the sun hid for a little while behind the clouds.
It began to burn through again just in time for my last run.
Even the parking lot had spectacular scenery.
The deck of the Alta Lodge.
This cozy little bar is called the Sitzmark. It was very intimate, holding no more than 20 or so guests. It made the top ten Apres-ski hot spots recently in USA Today. It was like traveling back in time to 1939. I had two beers here, the only drinking that I did for the entire trip.
The top photo was the right window next to the fireplace, this is the left. I am guessing the entire room is no more than 20 by 20 feet.
The Sheriff of Alta.
Alta trail map. the skier's map to Heaven (Nirvana, or Mecca. choose your own word for paradise).
Anyone lucky enough to ski here will attest to the wonder of this magnificent skier's mountain.
I'm 49 and married with children (look out Al Bundy)went to college and got a degree, have been fixing electromechanical computer controlled machines for over 25 years (currently in healthcare).To do my job I travel the midwest (OH, MI,NY,PA,MN,WI,) south (NC,SC,TN,LA), and west (AZ,CO,WY,ND). In the 80's lived in NYC while in the US Coast Guard, traveled thru Europe, got married. I had kids in the 90's and went back to school until I got my degree in 2000. Last 9 years things have really come together for me professionally. I have lots of good things in my life, but lingering regrets over paths not taken.Seem to be kind of like a shark, if I quit swimming, I stop breathing. There's always something out there... and I can't stop looking until I find IT (whatever IT is).