Social Media Icons

Follow Us:

Main Content

Driving with my Dog to Alaska: Anchorage

Twitter Stumbleupon Mixx it! Print Email icon
If you enjoy this article,
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

By Donald F. Smith, Cornell UniversityPosted November 25, 2012

Five years ago my dog, Beau, and I drove from our home in upstate New York to Alaska and back. The first 13 installments can be found by clicking the "Traveling with Beau" link on the upper right-hand corner of the Home Page.  My wife, Doris, flew into Anchorage and joined us for 10 days. 
While in Anchorage, Doris, Beau and I stayed in a Best Western motel beside Lake Hood, only three miles from downtown Anchorage. 

Lake Hood is the world's busiest seaplane base with a constant stream of lake traffic -- we were told almost 200 flights per day -- and more on the gravel runway adjacent to the water. Because many people live in small, remote communities in Alaska with no road service, air travel (often by float planes in the summer and skis in the winter) represents the only connections to the larger world.

Float airplanes docked in the lagoon adjacent to Lake Hood

Lake Hood etiquette
for dealing with the large number of float planes 

Alaska's major roads are in the southeast quadrant of the state (not including the pan-handle that runs south adjacent to British Columbia's northwestern border). Anchorage has only one road heading south of the city (through the Kenai Peninsula), and two traveling north. One of the northern roads passes Denali Park and continues to Fairbanks 300 miles north of Anchorage. The second northerly road goes northeast and eventually reaches Tok, the route that Beau and I had come on our trip to Anchorage.

Being late August, we took in the great Alaska State Fair, located on the road to Tok just south of Palmer and less than an hour drive from Anchorage.

The fair had a carnival atmosphere
attracting people of all ages
in interesting and colorful attire.
We had seen pictures of the huge vegetables including the prize-winning pumpkins and squash weighing close to half a ton. They are products of the rich glacial soils of the Mat-Su Valley where Palmer and Wasilla are located. 

Central Alaska's midnight sun and cool weather is also ideal for members of the Brassica family such as cabbages that have topped out over 100 pounds, as well as broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas and turnips.   

Enormous vegetables (turnips, cabbage, rhutabaga,
 and broccoli) at the Alaska State Fair. 
Palmer is also the home of a non-profit farm dedicated to the preservation of musk oxen, ancient-looking bearded animals related more closer to sheep than cattle. The musk ox is best known for its ultra fine down or underwool, called qiviut, a rare commodity that is collected, spun and knitted through the Musk Ox Producers' Co-operative. The crafts 'co-op' is formed of more than 200 First Nation women who work in their homes in tundra or coastal villages, producing scarves, caps and smokerings that have traditional signature knitting patterns and are eight times warmer than sheep wool.

Female musk ox at the Musk Ox Farm near Palmer, AK.
Dog sled on the roof of a Wasilla home in August.

Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla is also located an hour north of Anchorage, on the road that goes to Denali. Traveling through this town and also Palmer, you get a sense of what life must be like in winter when the snow allows for dog sled travel. Many of the homes store their sleds on the roofs of their houses as pictured on the right.

As we concluded our third day in Anchorage and surrounding areas, we prepared to head north to the great Denali National Park to see Mt. McKinley, the arctic tundra and possibly some grizzly  bears.
Dr. Smith invites comments at dfs6@cornell.edu.
View original article: http://veterinarylegacy.blogspot.com/2012/11/driving-with-my-dog-to-alaska-anchorage.html
Did you like this article?
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

Related content

Pet Questions Vet Answers®

All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.
Introducing Pet-Pods...

Veterinarian with small dog FREE downloadable PDF files providing a comprehensive review of some of the most timely pet health topics: Allergies, Fleas, Summer Safety Hazards, and Vomiting and Diarrhea.

Newsletter Signup

Get FREE Pet Insurance Quotes Now!

Search For A Vet