Beluga Point is an iconic place in Alaska. The rocky turnout along the Seward Highway jumbles into muddy flats and rushing waters that flow to and fro in Turnagain Arm. White beluga whales can often be seen as they feed, usually in mid-summer when the salmon are running. Windsurfers take to the breezes and long boarders ply the famous bore tide from spring to fall.
This week, however, it was the site of two events that, for hours at a time, shut down the Seward Highway that hugs the cliffs of Turnagain Arm and provides access to Girdwood and the Kenai Peninsula.
Alaska State Troopers shut down the highway at Beluga Point on Wednesday for over 12 hours, after they received a call about an armed man firing a handgun. They never did find the man.
On Friday, the highway was closed once again, this time for a diplomatic visit. China President Xi Jinping, on his way home from a visit with President Donald Trump, stopped in Anchorage and had dinner with Gov. Bill Walker and First Lady Donna Walker. There was a sightseeing visit to Beluga Point.
Troopers had issued an enigmatic message with no details other than the highway would be “closed for an event.”
The Governor and First Lady Donna Walker hosted the Chinese president and his wife, China’s First Lady Madame Peng, at the Crow’s Nest restaurant, which is atop the Captain Cook Hotel.
During the time Walker had with President Xi, he talked up the state’s oil, fish, air cargo, mineral, and tourism industries. And he especially advocated for his gasline, for which he is looking for financial backing.
Alaska Gasline Development Corporation President Keith Meyer was able to make a pitch to the president about the gasline, Walker said.
“We have the opportunity to talk to them sovereign to sovereign. They could be a customer, they could be a financier, they could have a minority equity position. The entire value chain is available to them,” Walker said today during a press conference in Anchorage.
“It was a Chamber of Commerce day, if you will,” he said. “It was a beautiful day and they really enjoyed the time at Beluga Point.”
“He referred to it as a Shangrilaska,” Walker said.
The Chinese president arrived on a Boeing 747, which is still not made in China.