Are you suffering from the midwinter doldrums? Too much wet? Too much snow? Not yet, you say. Well, hang in there; it’ll happen, and when it does let me recommend a fix: The Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival in Anchorage. It is probably America’s friendliest beer festival. Next year’s extravaganza (the 10th annual) is set for Friday and Saturday, January 16-17, 2005. Right in the middle of winter!
Why stay home in soggy Oregon, hurricane-smitten Florida, or soggy, snowy Chicago when you can visit Anchorage—and drink good beer.
One might ask, “Why the heck would anyone go to a place like that in the middle of winter?” I would answer, “Why not? Where’s your sense of adventure?”
And it is an adventure. Is there a better time to see Alaska, our largest and most interesting state? What is Alaska famous for? Cold, of course; so if you want to visit, it should certainly be in midwinter.
No Snow Job
Anchorage is THE city in that great state, a place where 42 percent (265,000) of all Alaskans (635,000) live. It is also home to four of Alaska’s 10 breweries and brewpubs. Why stay home in sodden Oregon, hurricane-smitten Florida, or soggy, snowy Chicago when you can visit Anchorage, nestled at the foot of the beautiful Chugach Mountains. There you can ENJOY the cold with access to nearly half of the people who live in that state. In Anchorage (350 miles from the Arctic Circle) when it snows, the streets are cleaned instantly, as are the sidewalks.
The folks I met swear that it never snows during the GABBWF. I believe them. It certainly did not snow during last year’s festival, despite the 6 degrees F (14 degrees C) temperature. Not that it hadn’t already snowed, because there was about 2 feet of it lying around, but very little of it remained on the streets or sidewalks. The biggest proof of all this is the fact that no one there drives an automobile with tire chains.
Alaska is one grand state. It crosses four time zones with 3 million lakes and a fifth of the US land mass—equal to that of Texas, California and Montana combined! We got it for a bargain price (purchased from Russia in 1867, “Seward’s Folly” cost us $7.2 million, less than 2 cents an acre). It became our 49th state on January 3, 1959.
The highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley at 20,230 feet and 200 miles distant, was visible as we drove about town. Sunrise? About 9:36 a.m., with sunset at 4 p.m. Each day about was about 4 minutes longer than the day before! And, yes, moose actually can be found wandering the outskirts of Anchorage from time to time.