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Friday File: The Anchorage Museum

If you’re on an Alaska cruise that takes you to Anchorage between now and the end of the season, there’s still time to see Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage at the Anchorage Museum. For us, the museum trip was recommended by Guy Glaeser, the Princess Cruises expert on Alaska, and it turned out to be better than he said. The Cook exhibit is there only until September 7, after which it will be replaced by one on Vincent Van Gogh. There are no pictures of Cook’s amazing journey below because photography wasn’t allowed in that section — and there is far more to this museum than one exhibit, as you will see…

Street

It’s walking distance from any part of downtown‚ stylishly designed and located at the intersection of C Street and 6th Avenue.

Baseball

Until November 1, an entire section is dedicated to Alaska’s rich history in baseball, and players from Satchel Paige to Tom Seaver.

Alaska in 50s

Another section gives you a detailed look at what life was like in Alaska (and other places) when it became a state in 1959.

Papa Joe's

There’s always been a wild side to Alaska, and that’s why this cleverly-worded teeshirt from a bar makes it into a museum of all places.

Native section

Many creative artifacts from Alaska’s native history, including this jacket that’s guaranteed to keep you warm anywhere in the state.

Captain Cook

The best photo allowed of Captain James Cook hangs in the lobby of the hotel that bears his name, just a few blocks away.

Kids section

As the first Smithsonian Affiliate in Alaska, the museum collaborated on Spark!Lab, an interactive attraction for kids (of all ages!).

Olympics

Anchorage bid for the Winter Olympics in 1992, losing to Albertville, and this sweatshirt is a reminder the Games still haven’t come.

Today at portsandbows.com: Angkor Wat, Cambodia's tourist jewel

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
November 28, 2015
San Juan (return): Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $67
www.celebritycruises.com

Alaska: A Land Of The Midnight Sun

Midnight SunALASKA — Yesterday was the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Alaska, it was longer…or at least it looked that way.

When the cliche “the sun never sets on…” is bandied about, nowhere is it more valid…nowhere does it have more authenticity than in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Whatever time is on the clock or watch or smartphone, bedtime comes with sunshine. To deal with it, Alaskans put foil on the windows so they can fall asleep.

Visitors like us pull the blinds as tightly as possible and hope that slit of light will not be the root of insomnia.

The picture above was taken 13 minutes before midnight from the Denali Princess Lodge, as close as this load of Star Princess cruise passengers came to the Arctic Circle, a couple of nights before Summer Solstice. The sun really does never set further north, where it’s the brightest all night long on the 21st of this month. That’s one of the things that makes an Alaska cruise so unique in June.

In the 49th state — and other places this far north — long daylight is one of the things that makes life unique. Helicopters take tourists on rides over the mountains until 8:30, stopping then only because the pilots aren’t allowed to log any more hours. Young children are able to sleep in daylight, perhaps, because that’s the only summer they’ve ever known. Maybe Alaskans welcome illuminated nights as the trade-off that comes with the dark days Tom Seaverof winter when they rarely see the sun for long.

In the Alaska Baseball League, since 1960 there has been a Midnight Sun Game played on June 21 in Fairbanks, home of the Alaska Goldpanners. Last night’s game started at 10:30. One of the game’s alumni is Tom Seaver, who went on to pitch his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“You can explain it forever,” Seaver recently told Alaska historians. “Until you experience it, you just don't believe it.”

Seaver was right.

In the news…

• Harmony of the Seas on the water for tests in readiness for 2016 launch

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways, Viking a creative pair

Costa Diadema
7 nights
December 12, 2015
Savona (return): Marseille, Barcelona, Palma De Mallorca, Rome, La Spezia
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.costacruise.com

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