This weekend was the first time I'd spent more than a few hours in the City of Anchors since I moved up here. Anyone (in any profession) who's ever attended a conference already knows what I did: ate greasy mall food and overpriced-but-still-greasy bistro specials for three days straight; spent the daytime hours sipping lemon tea and purified water in stale, 80-degree hotel conference rooms; absorbed a lot of industry knowledge laced with a touch of trademark self-importance; stayed out way too late every night in crowded reggae clubs; and tried in vain to sleep in a frigid hotel room with snoring coworkers.
Talk about exhausting. It was a lot of fun to meet the denizens of Alaska's alternative press, including the folks of Insurgent 49 and The Ester Republic. Through it all I only really got out once, on Saturday, for an eight or nine-mile run along the coastal trail and the perimeter of the city. That small tour of Anchorage made me feel more homesick than I have since Christmas. There are so many similarities between Anchorage and Salt Lake City. I actually spent much of my outside time entrenched in moments of de ja vu: the apartment decks lined with bicycles; the nondescript architecture; the sun-lit viaducts; the big, barren body of saltwater nearby that seems to be largely ignored. Both cities feature towering mountains wrapped around nearly-tapped-out suburban sprawl. They both have populations in the quarter-million range. They're both clinging to the fading soul of their downtown area while the parking lots and trinket shops quietly move in. Salt Lake and Anchorage could be sister cities, if it weren't for Anchorage's insistence to put a moose, bear or eagle on just about every enterprise in town.
All in all, I overindulged and spent too much money, but I met some passionate people and did a lot of speed learning. Will I be a better journalist for it? I don't know. You got any more of that lemon tea?