Home > Uncategorized > Day 72: Ok, meet you in…Anchorage?

Day 72: Ok, meet you in…Anchorage?

Location: Anchorage, AK

Miles Driven: 160

Total Miles: 17,428

After a chilly night in the car (thankfully, I have two blankets), I was on the road around 6AM continuing the drive south towards Anchorage.  I had plans to meet up with a buddy from back East, Matt, who coincidentally was in Alaska the same time I was.  Last I saw Matt he told me about tentative trip plans, then sure enough he ended up flying here on the 5th.  If he was a weekend earlier, as originally planned, I would’ve been too far away yet, but the timing worked out well and I got to see a familiar face all the way in the capital of Alaska.

Matt and me hanging out in Kincaid Park

Pretty crazy how the timing works out, right?

But before I saw Matt, I had to make the drive down to Anchorage, and I had a little over two hours ahead of me from where I crashed the night before.  The drive wasn’t bad…saw a bit of rain along the way, but near Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin) the skies started to clear up a bit.

could you imagine living near this?

By 9AM I had arrived in Anchorage, and met Matt at his friend Rachel’s hotel.  Great to see a familiar face this far away from familiarity.  Not long after, Matt and I headed out towards the downtown Anchorage area to explore a bit.

the view from downtown

A friendly Anchorage bear

Matt and I had a good lunch with Rachel (mmm, peanut butter and jelly gourmet sandwiches on bagels), and then the two of us headed over to Kincaid Park, where recently he and Rachel had seen a moose.

While walking through the park, I had been asking Matt about the moose encounter and innocently asked him “Do you know if there are bears here, too?”  He thought there might be, but wasn’t positive.  We found out the answer to that question a few minutes later when we saw something coming around the corner.

My first instinct was “Oh, a little dog is coming this way.”  I was wrong.

Considering the bear was slowly making his way in our direction, I put the camera down and we slowly backed up a bit.  Or I did, as Matt had already got the hell out of dodge.  I looked to my right and he was gone.  I’ve never witnessed such speed in a human.

I managed to back up a ways and then the bear jumped off into the brush on the left.  The bear never charged, or even got with 20 feet or so, so I didn’t have to employ any of the bear avoidance tips I learned from the rangers at Denali.  But whew, that was a fairly close encounter.

Matt and I chose to take another path in the park.  And this time we got some nice views of the water and the mountains in the distance.

lots of soccer fields at this park

We were also near the airport, so we got to see a lot of jets taking off.

After an exciting afternoon full of bear encounters (1 real, 1 fake), we made our way back to the hotel and eventually joined Rachel, her friend Claire, and Claire’s sister Carolyn for some dinner.  We hit up a hole-in-the-wall called Tommy’s Burger Stop, billed as the “best burgers in Anchorage.”  It lived up to the billing.

Great burger. Jalapenos on a burger = brilliance

Matt had to go back to Georgia, so we took him to the airport and said our goodbyes.  What a great addition to the trip, getting to see a good friend this far away from both our homes.

Rachel kindly offered me her couch to crash on at the hotel, and I was spoiled for yet another night.  On Tuesday, I’ll try to fix that last elusive headlight, and then maybe get out and do some hiking.  Come Wednesday, I’ll head down the famous Seward Highway down the Kenai Peninsula.


  1. The Mommie
    August 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    On the lighter side:

    “If you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing for six months. I could deal with that.
    Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.
    If you’re a bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, but cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
    If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.
    If you’re a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
    Yup, I wanna be a bear.” – Author unknown

    • August 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

      Very cute quote.
      Jip, i can’t believe you encountered a bear this early on and on a paved walkway. You couldn’t ask for a more exciting script to your blog.

      • August 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

        Yea, bear encounter numbers growing almost daily since I’ve been in Alaska

    • August 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      hahahh good find, Mom

  2. John
    August 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm


    You’ve are killing me…you may soon have to change the web site to Joe v Wild!!

    I haven’t seen too much tofu on the menu lately….welcome to the dark side.

    • Mike
      August 11, 2010 at 12:28 am

      I agree, more cheddar jalapeño burgers, less tofu. Maybe you can try some caribou or moose meat while you’re there?

      • August 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

        Well I did have the reindeer dog in Fairbanks, which was delicious. I learned that reindeer=caribou, it’s just reindeer are tame caribou. Very tasty. Haven’t tried moose yet, though.

    • August 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      hahah I need to get back to the tofu, or I’ll be gaining back all that weight I lost. But I’ve been lucky to have some great meals. Joe vs Wild or Joe vs Food!

  3. Matt Sobieski
    August 11, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Joe, I like how you described my response to the bear encounter. When it comes to fight or flight, I’m definitely getting the hell out of there. Both of us did the opposite of what we were supposed to do… 🙂 Great to see you again buddy, have a great rest of the trip back east.

    • August 11, 2010 at 2:03 am

      ha yea, meanwhile while you’re making moves away from the bear, I’m trying to get photographs of the thing. Real smart, right? Great to hang out with you in Anchorage, buddy.

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