Linda was there on business, but we still had time for
fun and sightseeing. Of course, Linda, the consummate businesswoman
(actually, she's an engineer), knows how to
mix business with pleasure!
We noticed that there seemed to be a lot of espresso places all over
Alaska. There was even one in the visitor's center/boat landing at Portage Glacier, for
cryin' out loud, which is quite a few miles from civilization. Crazy. I guess
it makes sense, though, since with 9 months of winter, you'd probably want something
to warm you up, and often.
In the city of Palmer (just north of Alaska), where Linda's field trip took her, she noticed
this little Dean's-Photomat-turned-espresso-stand, which she said was frequented
by "construction types."
But don't worry, folks, Alaska isn't just full of espresso stands. While this trip was
work-related for my wife, it also served as an info-gathering trip for me. I worked hard to
capture a small taste of Alaska for you, the concerned c-store public.
According to the 7-Eleven ad in the tourist guide magazine, there are 39
7-Elevens in all of Alaska! Considering the size of the state, though, that makes
for a pretty small ratio of stores per square mile. I'm sure a good portion of
them (more than half, I believe) are in the Anchorage area. Coincidentally,
that's where we happened to be staying (really, I had no say in the matter!).
Anchorage has about 250,000 people living in it, which is roughly half the population
of Alaska, so I guess it makes sense that they'd have half the c-stores.
Why, here I am. This sign indicates that Anchorage is the air crossroads of the world. Because of its place on the globe, it's a natural halfway point between lots of places because you can fly over the north pole, you know. I wondered, though, where might a thirsty young man find himself a frosty beverage in this town....?
Wisconsin and International Airport Drive
This 7-Eleven was just down the street from our hotel which was quite convenient. It's right next door to a Subway and a pizza place, which makes it even nicer for the traveler (or local) who wants a quick lunch without having to worry what kind of fresh fish to get (how much salmon can one person eat, anyway?). The prices are a tad bit higher at both the Subway and the 7-Eleven. Not too surprising, I suppose, since they probably have to get most of their stuff from Seattle, which isn't really that close. The Big Gulps (32 oz) were on sale for 99c. Normally they're $1.09. Sheesh. The Super Big Gulp was $1.29, and the Double Gulp was something like $1.59. A 64 oz refill was $1.19. Golly. But really, you don't go to Alaska to drink large frosty beverages, do you? Funny how gas was about the same price as you can get it in Mira Mesa (which is actually a little more expensive than surrounding areas for some reason).
As for drink selection, it was fairly standard. They didn't have stuff like a lot of flavored iced teas, but they had enough variety. The cookie situation was interesting. They didn't have any of those "independent" type large cookies I like to take now and then, but they had more varieties of Mother's Cookies than I've ever seen. They had a whole row of 'em. It was something. Anyway, here's the picture for ya:
Seward Highway in Girdwood
The other 7-Eleven we went to was in the small town of Girdwood. As far as we can tell, Girdwood exists only because of the Alyeska ski resort just up the hill. It's somewhere between Anchorage and the Portage Glacier area (where we were going), and not completely remote though it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. They seem to do pretty good business, though, because I guess people figure it's one of those "last gas/food for 3,000 miles" situations (it's only about 30 miles south of Anchorage, though). And gas here is a little more expensive than in Anchorage. Along with the 7-Eleven, there is a place called Taco's, an Italian place, and a couple other stores I don't remember. We ate at Taco's, and, to be fair, I'll just say that if you're from Southern California, you shouldn't expect to find anything too spectacular in Mexican cuisine by heading north....
But, this 7-Eleven, if anything, was one of the more picturesque 7-Elevens I've ever been too...
(if you look real close, you can see me... I'm next to the trash can that's under the ATM sign)
Just up the road in Girdwood is Alaska's only candle factory.
We had time to kill, so we thought we'd visit the candle place. It's just a
little house that a married couple has been using to make candles since the
late '60s. They have someone carve a figurine, then they put some kind of
epoxy stuff on it to make a mold, and then they pour wax into the mold with
a wick. Not complicated, but I guess they're the only ones who thought to do it.
They use a combo of seal oil, crude oil, and paraffin, and it's guaranteed to be
drip free and smoke free (though I think most people use them as decorations
rather than light them up).
Go to home page!