It's always a thrill to bike. The rush of air is invigorating. New places look better when you face it head-on and not through the window of a tour bus. When I saw there were some bike rental shops in Anchorage, I made sure I'd have time for it. My last day was devoted on just two wheels and my quest to eat Pinoy food.
First, I needed a good breakfast. There's a restaurant in the hotel but I heard it isn't good. Since I wouldn't be flying until 5 PM, I asked at the front desk for a late check-out and was pleased to hear my request granted without extra charge. If only for that, happy as I was, I could have just ended up patronizing the hotel's restaurant.
I walked down L Street and came upon Snow City Cafe. It's 8 AM and the place is packed, there's even groups of people waiting. A good sign, right? Since I was alone, the waitstaff told me I could grab the next empty seat on the bar area. They do have plenty of choices for a filling brekkie. I ended up ordering the pancakes and a fruit smoothie. It didn't take long for the order to arrive. Mouthfuls of tasty buttery pancake helped me plan my day as I studied the city map.
Just a block away from the restaurant is Pablo's Bicycle Rentals. They have a variety of bikes for rent, among them hybrid Cannondale bikes. A 3-hour rent is only $12 (with $5 per additional hour) and $30 for a full day. The rental also came with a lock, helmet, map and a bottle of water. With the map, the guy managing the shop (nothing really but a container van!) pointed to me the areas I could go.
One of the many parks the trail go through is the Earthquake Park. The name sounds unusual but it is so-named because of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake which occurred on, well, a Good Friday. The 9.2 magnitude temblor that hit Alaska remains the biggest in North America. A massive portion of what used to be the actual shoreline in this area succumbed to liquefaction. Since this park is part of the usual bus tour itinerary, I was glad to make it there before the bus crowd came along.
I moved on until I got to the end of Runway 14-32 at Ted Stevens International Airport - which is where I will be flying from later that day. An elevated spot beside the trail offered perfect opportunity for plane spotting. Most of the planes taking off from the runway were either cargo planes or domestic flights, none of the big commercial planes going to Asia.
Instead of continuing on the coastal trail, I made a detour. It was almost lunch time and I already knew where I wanted to eat based on the map I have reviewed. I biked my way to Northern Lights Boulevard, relishing the quiet neighborhood scene in this part of the city before turning right into busy Minnesota Drive. Tucked in a corner among rows of shops is Shepherd's Asian Bistro & Grill, one of the only 2 Pinoy restaurants in Anchorage.
It turns out that Jerry - the owner - is not only a cook and restaurateur but also a concert producer. Outside his restaurant is a parked van promoting an upcoming concert of the "Sessionistas" (Nina, Juris, Sitti, Richard Poon, et al). He escorted me to my table and I was impressed with the overall restaurant ambiance. There's even a space for those karaoke nights and band sessions, a great way to exercise the vocal chords on those cold dark winters.
When I told Jerry I sought out his place because I really wanted to eat adobo, he showed me his "turo-turo" counter laden with Pinoy dishes which he and his wife cooked. I got a hefty serving of chicken adobo and bopis. The combination of aerobic activity and anticipating familiar food was so effective that I practically devoured everything. That great meal cost me less than $12.
After lunch, I pedaled once more on bike-friendly paths. Back at the rental shop, I clocked 5 hours, or a total of $22. No complaints. It felt great before being stuck on another long cattle class flight back to New York.