July 24: First Day in Girdwood

Woke up to a leisurely breakfast at our B&B — despite our hostess’ threat, “if you’re not out here by 8:05, you’ll miss breakfast,” she fed us at about 9:00. The hostess at Glacier View was a little odd (that seems to be a trend among Alaskans, if I may generalize based on a very small sample group), but she sure was good with plants. Her fuchsias were a sight to behold!

We hiked couple of miles of the Crow Pass trail. This trail goes through the mountains, first in the alders and cottonwood trees and then in the tundra, along the roaring waters of the Eagle River and by an old mine. The wildflowers were, once again, spectacular. It was a cold hike — couldn’t have been out of the 40s.

Came down and then did the two-mile Winner Creek hike, which is known by the locals as “the Hand Tram Hike.” This is a forest walk, through ferns and tall trees. The US Forest Service has built a great pulley-operated tram over the creek, and one or two people can ride over the rushing waters. I felt like a kid at a carnival — I went over four times! There’s also a gorge overlook, which reminded both of us of the gorges in the Finger Lakes area, but the water here runs much faster and has a turquoise tint. And it’s so cold that I’d never think of trying to take a clandestine swim.

After our two hikes, we stopped at the local coffee shop/used bookstore. Small, but cute. Then we checked into the Alyeska Resort, which is just the opposite. This is a ski resort on a grand scale, and it’s like nothing else we’ve seen in Alaska. It’s a great place to relax, but it’s strangely large and fancy and crowded in comparison to all of our other experiences. I suppose it’ll be a good place to begin the transition back to the lower 48.

Dinner was at Chair 5, a loud, local, woodsy pizza & beer joint that put us squarely back into the local scene. Had a fabulous Caesar salad with blackened halibut and a California veggie pizza (artichokes, mushrooms, olives, and avocado). Now we’re hanging out on the second floor lobby, a fire behind us and a view of the ski resort tram out the window.

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