Monday, October 08, 2007

Visting Anchorage? The Basics ...

I've seen a few questions on the big series of tubes from folks planning to come to Anchorage this year to watch their team lose to the Seawolves. So as a courtesy to those visitors, I thought I'd provide some basics. Last year I wrote this fairly comprehensive post for visitors. It has suggestions on lodging, dining, bars and activities. It's chock-full-o-links. For BU, Wayne State and Robert Morris fans the weather this week looks to be highs in the mid 40's with lows hovering right around the freezing mark. There's still leaves on the trees and the grass is still green. During the rest of the season the one thing to keep in mind that Anchorage is at 60 degrees north latitude and as such can be pretty damn cold. You generally won't need arctic survival gear, but be prepared. There are more than a few intermittent mild periods during the winter as well since Anchorage is perched just above the northern Pacific Ocean which often moderates the temperature. Just don't count on it. I wear shorts to every UAA Hockey game but we ain't playing outdoors ya know. Bring your winter coat. Anchorage is a fairly cosmopolitan city of about 300,000 people. Most of what you're used to back in whatever city you're coming here from exists here as well. Except there's no Red Lobster or Olive Garden; but if that makes your trip here a bummer then you're really not looking for an Alaska-style experience are you?

The airport is on the west side of town and most of the hotels and the Sullivan Arena are near the middle of town. You won't have to drive more than a few miles to get from one to another. Beware that rental car companies don't equip their vehicles with studded winter tires. Sometimes, the roads up here are pretty slick so take your time and use a light foot on the gas pedal. Don't ask anyone where the igloos are. Don't try to use the word "Eskimo" in some sort of attempt to make a joke. Do marvel at the winter beauty. Don't expect to walk from the Sullivan Arena to anywhere other than the parking lot. The tourist traps are pretty much all downtown on 4th avenue, so if you can't leave without your own Ulu that'd be the place to get hooked up. Anchorage is pretty simple to get around with multiple north/south and east/west corridors running the length and breadth of the city. For more information just google "visiting anchorage" and you'll get boatloads of useful links.

Everyone always wants to know how long the days and nights are. The best answer is that as winter solstice approaches the amount of daylight progressively gets less until Dec 21st when there is about 5 hours and 30 minutes of light. Then it progressively gets lighter until June 21st when the sun goes down for 5 hours and 30 minutes but it remains light enough to continue daytime activities almost the whole 24 hours. The sun really just dips below the horizon.

That's about all that comes to mind that I really didn't cover in the post I linked to above. Enjoy your visit and come back anytime you feel like watching your team bow to the mighty Seawolves. Below is an overhead view with some basic labels showing you the layout of the city. Click on it to get a larger readable version.


Anonymous said...

Great info Donald, thanks for adding it. There are visitors coming up this weekend, and some Tech fans coming in February.

BTW, looks like Tassone is practicing this week and is fine.

Jimjamesak said...

Thought I could add some info especially on some travel stuff:

Prepare to adjust to a big time change. Since most of the people will be coming from the Eastern time zone you'll be looking at a 4 hour time change. The good news is that it's a westerly time change so it is a bit easier but it'll still mess you up for a day or two. The time change going home will be even worse so take a day off of work or two to recover.

Rain/Snow is possible on Saturday and Sunday. These'll be the days that most will be leaving to go home. While snow and rain isn't that big of a deal normally, for air travel it means two things: 1. De-icing and 2. Delays. This will probably be the first time for de-icing this winter so things will be a little slow. If the weather is crappy you will be taking off (Anchorage Int'l rarely closes) but it will be late.

Also if you are on a long flight (AKAir to Chicago, Continental to Houston especially) be aware that you are on a plane that is flying to the edge of it's range, if your destination has bad weather that day, you will be stopping somewhere to pick up fuel.

Donald Dunlop said...

All good points. I should have touched on the time difference but since I didn't it's good that you "had my back".

Jimjamesak said...

Hey man that's what I'm here for.

Anonymous said...

You're right on the money about the rental cars.

One time my pickup got hit in the UAA lot. The guy's insurance got me a rental car while my truck was in the shop. Imagine going from a 4x4 to a Ford Focus with no snow tires in the Anchorage winter. Pretty big difference! They really should equip those rental cars with some winter tires.

Keep in mind that in Anchorage in January you're not driving on pavement, you're driving on 6+ inches of packed ice. My wife got that stupid thing high-centered on the edge of a mudhole, no joke.

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