After more than a year of planning, the ship that will officially become USS Anchorage sails into town next week. Set to arrive on Wednesday, May 1 around 8 a.m., the Anchorage will be our Navy’s newest warship, and the first time a U.S. Navy ship has ever been commissioned in the great state of Alaska.
AKontheGO was a privileged part of engaging families and friends of crew members to ensure their Alaska experience is a memorable one. After all, April in Alaska can be a bit sticky – weather and activity-wise, with the potential for rain, snow, or brilliant sunshine, or a combination of all three. The summer tourism season hasn’t quite kicked into high gear, either. But, with a wonderful January weekend visiting the “Anchorage Nation” at her home port of San Diego, we covered all that. Now, it’s time to party.
Families, we welcome you to our home. Here are some highlights and things to remember (and great information for anyone visiting Alaska this spring):
Weather: As of five minutes ago, the forecast for next week is calling for showers, sun, and temperatures in the mid-40s. This is likely to change, but chilly and damp is the general idea. We are pushing 16 hours of daylight, with sunrise around 6:20 a.m. and sunset at nearly 10 p.m.
Packing: As we discussed back in January during our onboard presentation, the site for the commissioning event (Port of Anchorage), is cold and breezy. Add in the above weather forecast and those acclimated to southern California temperatures might be shivering in your shoes. Pack gloves and hats, and layer up with fleece and wind and waterproof jackets/coats. Our attire is decidedly casual, so don’t worry about standing out – everyone else will look just like you. Footwear for activities should include waterproof hiking boots/shoes, or sturdy rainboots that fit well enough for you to take a short hike (for children, especially).
Add some rain pants, fleece layers, and a rain jacket, and you should be all set. A day pack in which to carry all of this stuff when the sun does come out and your kids get too warm is a nice addition. Plus, you’ll want to bring a camera to capture all the Alaskaness you’ll be seeing.
Activities: Our friends at Visit Anchorage have created a lovely list of fun things to do while you’re in our fair city, so be sure and sign up for your favorites. We also recommend taking the kids to the Anchorage Museum (FREE on Friday, May 3), the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature (FREE for kids May 1-May 6), and the Alaska Zoo (adults 25% off)We especially recommend the zoo these days, for an adorable little polar bear cub named Kali has taken up temporary residence, and simply loves to see kids. Really, he’s quite the ham (see goofy photo, above).
Also highly recommended is a stop at the Alaska Veterans’ Museum on Fourth Avenue. A small but wonderful facility showcasing the important role of the military to Alaska’s history, the museum is offering free admission to crew, and 1/3 off admission for crew families while the ship is in port.
Hiking is a popular family activity, and AKontheGO will be heading out with a few families who have expressed interest in stepping out as a group. Yes, the bears are up, and yes, the moose are busy eating tree branches, so if you feel more comfortable hiking with an Alaskan, meet up with us on Friday, May 3. This trail will be accessible (inasmuch as a slushy, early-spring trail in Alaska can be), short, and suitable for all ages, but has yet to be determined. If you are interested, please keep a close eye on our Facebook page, where updates will be posted regarding start time (tentatively scheduled for late morning), location, and a short list of items to bring.
Also, find a complete listing of USS Anchorage family and crew discounts and special tours HERE.
For those community members and visitors who wish to take advantage of the ship’s time at the Port of Anchorage, find a schedule of tours HERE, including a very important message about shuttles (the Port of Anchorage is a secure port, meaning there is no entry for private vehicles), and security. For those with special needs, including mobility issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Virtual tours will also be available. ALL tours are free to the public. Be ready for long lines, lots of climbing ladders, and chilly temperatures. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, and long pants. Trust me on this.
It’s going to be a wonderful week. Alaskans, join us at a Dock on the Block celebration on Wednesday, May 1, from 5-9 p.m. at Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage. Music, food, kids’ activities, and tons of fun will be had by all!
Anchors aweigh, folks. It’s time.