The next morning, I watched one of Charlaine Harris' panels, and then met up again with my author friend for a sightseeing expedition. The usual thing is to go South toward Portage Glacier, Homer, Seward, Girdwood. I suggested we head the other way to Wasilla, Alaska. Because there was a Waldenbooks there! It was another gorgeous day, and we drove along with the Chugach Mountains on one side of us, and the Alaska Range lurking off a little in the distance, with some fall foliage maybe just the tiniest tinge past its peak. Wasilla/Porter Alaska have around 70K of the 350K people that live in the "Anchorage Bowl," which in turn has around half of the population of Alaska. When we were driving along the main drag and passed by a strip mall with a sign for the "Alaska Cheesecake Company," I said we had to stop. I come from NYC, we have cheesecake here, and I had to see what these upstarts were. The owner was very glad to see us. I got two cheesecake cupcake sampler packages, one for me and one for my host, and we were her first customers of the day, and spent about as much as she'd taken in the entire day before when she said it had been pouring rain all day. Her rent was $1800/month (well under $2/square foot) which the owner of the used bookstore in the same strip mall thought was quite extravagant on a square foot basis, while I was quite amazed because this was so much less than any kind of rent you get in NYC. And it looked as if the typical take for the cheesecake business was maybe $200 per day. In any case, it was surprisingly good cheesecake; I enjoyed my cheesecake cupcakes immensely. Sadly, they don't have a web site. The Waldenbooks itself was revelatory. It's hardly the biggest I've been in, but it had well over 50 titles of mine on its very crowded shelves, twice as many as the LI stores and a good 25% more than the nice store near Seattle, and in fact more than any Waldenbooks I've ever visited. 70,000 people, and they either buy their books at this little Waldenbooks, at the grocery store, or drive 45 minutes or an hour to Anchorage. We had lunch at an Italian-y restaurant that was praised in my Fodor's for its large calzones, and mine was good.
I doubt that the Waldenbooks will have as robust a selection today because of the inventory cutbacks at Borders, and I do not know if Governor Palin ever shopped there. The store has some new competition from Pandemonium Booksellers. The Alaska Cheesecake Company still does not have a web site that I can find, otherwise I would link and suggest you all send away for cheesecake. I think Evengelos was the name of the restaurant where I had yummy calzone. Not being able to divine the future, I did not devote sufficient time to exploring the ice-skating rink/sports complex or the Wasilla library or any of the major tourist sites now in the news. I have nothing else to say on the subject of Wasilla.