Heart of Alaska RV Caravan travel blog

This was a free day. We unhooked and drove into Anchorage. Our first stop was at the “Anchorage Market.” This was essentially a big arts and craft fair with a lot of food booths thrown in. We found a paid parking lot across the street. As we drove in a large truck was pulling out. I waited and took that slot. Moments later the gal in the truck came back to my window and offered me her parking ticket. I said thanks. It took a few moments to realize that it was still good for an hour and a half. It not only saved me money but it saved me waiting in a long line in front of a machine on a pole that dispensed parking tickets. That was a nice start to my day.

Once inside the market we walked up one isle and down the next. The booths mostly had the same stuff that we have been looking at in the souvenir shops. There were several guys selling enlargements of their photos. One had 11 x 14s for $20 or two for $30. I saw a grizzly that I would like to take home. Of course I had to buy two. Evelyn eventually found one she liked and we shared the cost of two. We managed to cover the whole show before the parking time ran out.

Next we went to the Ulu Knife Factory. We could see it from the parking lot but we went around in circle trying to get there. One likely street got us stuck on a bridge to the other side of Ship Creek. Once we managed to get back to the proper side we came up against one way streets going in the wrong direction. Eventually we figured out a way. We parked in the factory lot but walked over to Ship Creek to see if the salmon were running. We found lots of fishermen wading in the shallows or fishing from the banks, but only one had any fish. We think that the bulk of the salmon had not reached that point yet.

When we went back and into the factory, I looked for some literature about the knife. Evelyn and I both support an old friend of hers who takes time off of work to go to Africa and build schools for poor villages. The neumonic for his mission is ULU. I thought that he might be interested in what the first nation used the word for. Webster defines it as “a knife with a broad, almost semicircular blade, used traditionally by Eskimo women.” It does a nice job of chopping and it is also used for filleting. All of the demonstration areas were empty on Sunday. Only the sales areas were staffed. We noticed that the factory prices were actually higher than what we had seen elsewhere. We looked but didn’t buy.

From there we headed out to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here the cultures of all of the Alaskan Native tribes are represented in one location. Since it was well after noon, we ate lunch in the parking lot before we went in. Once inside the main building we saw many displays, enjoyed a couple of movies, listened to a couple of talks, and watched native song and dance demonstrations. One demonstration of native sports by two young men was truly amazing. We also got to browse the tables where native artists displayed their works for sale.

Afterwards we walked out back to a large area surrounding a 2-acre lake. Six different traditional village settings were available to wander through. Young natives were available to answer questions about their native cultures. Almost all were college students working there for the summer.

In one village there were several carvers. Three were working on pieces of a full size totem pole and one was carving miniature totem poles. The parts that were already finished and painted were very pleasing to the eye. The portions that were under the knife were harder to interpret. It was an interesting display.

We spent a greater part of the afternoon there. Then we headed back toward the RV park. We knew that there was a Costco there and we needed a few things. First we used their gas station. It turned out that we only saved a penny per gallon – no big deal! Evelyn went inside to find 5 things. After an hour she came out with 4 of them and a lot of frustration. It seems that this Alaskan store was set up completely different from the ones she is used to in California. She also found that avocadoes don’t ship well to this end of the earth.

When we returned to the park we found that the fifth wheel on one side of us was gone. About 8:00 PM a huge motorhome moved in. It was too long for the spot, was parked crooked, and hung out into the driveway about 4 feet. They parked their toad next to us and it encroached into our space. It made me feel like a little kid being intimidated by a big bully. Luckily I could shut the curtains on that side and pretend that it didn’t exist.

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