Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Hot Dog

Map picture


In Search of the Perfect Hot Dog

When we departed Homer, our ship cruised northward in the beautiful Cook Inlet and docked in Anchorage itself. This is unusual. While the scenery is magnificent, the harbor itself is small and larger cruise ships dock instead in Seward from which passengers have a 2 hr. ride into Anchorage. Even smaller ships tend to avoid docking directly in Anchorage because it requires a day of sailing to get back to the East side of the Kanai Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska, which is where the cruise ships operate. I am telling you this, because getting to travel the Cook Inlet directly into Anchorage was a real treat, and not all that common.

Arriving into Anchorage on Memorial Day meant that virtually everything was closed. Since it was the end of our first cruise, it was what the ship calls a “turn around day,” with former passengers leaving and new passengers arriving. The ship offered a short tour of the city, but we set out on a mission to locate the World’s Famous “M.A.’s Gourmet Hot Dogs.” I know this sounds crazy, but a friend had read about a street vendor in Anchorage who was said to be a real character, and who offered the world’s best hot dog. Lisa and I seriously doubted that the guy would be at his usual place in front of City Hall on a holiday, but that did not stop us from venturing forth.

We found a local taxi driven by a Pakistani. Since it was pretty early in the morning, we thought we would leave locating our hot dog until a little later, and so we asked him to show us around, and in particular, show us any scenic spots. As you would imagine, the city was pretty quiet; in fact, dead so we whipped around it fairly quickly. Then he set off to show us a few places to take photographs and along the drive, he quickly pulled over so that we could take pictures of a large moose across the street. It seems that here in Alaska, the moose are everywhere, and of no real interest to locals. We stopped at two places for photographs, and at the first stop, we were immediately surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes which literally ran Lisa baDSC_5829ck to the cab. I ran to the overlook, snapped a few pictures, and then ran the gauntlet back to the cab rather quickly. One more stop for pictures, and then our driver took us to the airport to a favorite location for he and his daughter to sit on weekends and watch the planes take-off. It turns out that our driver was an aviation buff, and even had an app on his iPhone 4 that allowed him to listen in to the airport and control frequencies. Now I know what you are thinking, because the thought went through my mind, too. I am sitting here just yards from the airport runway sitting with a Pakistani, who comes equipped to listen in to the aviation frequencies; this may not be too bright. But he seemed like a nice enough fella, and anyway the woods around the airport were full of guards in bullet proof vests on a very obvious patrol of the perimeter. I did get a good picture or two of a departing 747, after which we headed off to find our gourmet hot dog.

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To our surprise, when we arrived downtown and pulled up to city hall, there was our outdoor hot dog stand all set for business.


From what we had read in the internet, the owner was a real character, and during weekdays the lines to get a lunch stretched over a long distance. Today, however, there was only one fellow in front of us. Lisa and I decided to just share a reindeer hot dog until we knew what we were getting into, and true to form, the owner was a character, but he freshly grilled our dog and split it for us in record time. Now I have to be honest, it did not do much for me. It had a very thick skin which turned me off, and while it was tasty enough, I got a bad feeling that I should not eat more than the two bites I had already taken. So when he was not watching, I dumped what I had left into a nearby trash bin; Lisa pretty much did the same.

Our mission accomplished, we headed back to the ship, only to literally run over a couple wearing helmets and riding Segway’s. It turns out that here were our new found friends taking a Segway tour of Anchorage before their flight home at 4:30. We, of course, stopped and did the hugs and kisses routine, but as we did so, I began to taste acid reflux. I did not think much about it at the time, but over the next 30 minutes as we drove back to the ship, it got much worse to the point that I could hardly wait to get to the room and take some medicine. So much for my gourmet hot dog experience, but then everyone has different tastes.

Today our ship has sailed back south through the Cook Inlet, completed the turn to the East and is now negotiating some absolutely gorgeous narrow channels as we move to enter the Gulf Of Alaska. In going through the narrow channels, we have spotted quite a few glaciers, and saw our first sea ice just a few minutes ago. The weather is beautiful with a mostly sunny sky and temperatures a relatively mild 50 degrees. Later this afternoon we will transit the College Fjord on our way to our stop at Valdez tomorrow.

I have posted some pictures from Anchorage, but will finish up tomorrow. I have also really appreciated the comments from everyone and glad to know that so many of you are enjoying our travels.


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