We left Alaska a little more than two weeks ago, but I must confess that a lot of the spirit of Alaska is still in me. I absolutely loved it up there! I told Fred several times during our trip that if it weren’t for family and friends back in the Midwest, I would definitely want to move up there — he agreed. A few things about this great state strike me as interesting:
⊗ Alaska is the largest state by area but the fourth least populated with the smallest population density — it’s HUGE and not many people live here — that’s in large part why we loved it here so much!
⊕ Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the United States combined.
⊕ Juneau, the capital, can only be reached by plane or ferry; no connected roads come into the city.
⊕ About half of Alaska’s 735,000 residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area.
⊕ As I referenced in a previous post, The Road System doesn’t connect that much of the state and plenty of people life off the grid – cool, eh?
⊕ Oil, natural gas & fishing are the main industries up here, but tourism is also a significant part of the economy.
⊕ There are virtually no taxes up here — income, sales, goods, etc. — oil pays the bills, and in general, Alaskans trust the industry and are in support of expanding it.
⊕ We enjoyed many modes of transportation up here including big planes, bush planes (both wheel and float), trains [the Alaska Railroad; so cool!], a rental car, hotel shuttles, travel company vans, big boats, small boats, kayaks, and hiking boots — 76 miles of hiking in them, to be precise. All modes were awesome!
⊕ I’ve eaten a lot of pizza in my day, having lived both in Chicago (15 years) and an hour outside of New York City (4 years) but THE BEST PIZZA I’ve ever eaten is in Anchorage at a place called the Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzaria. I’m not exaggerating! They don’t take reservations, and at peak times during lunch and dinner the wait is over an hour, but wait you do, and it’s worth it.
We set up our own itinerary for this trip and worked it out so that we visited six of the eight national parks, coming back to our base of Anchorage for 1-3 nights after every park visit.
Each park/preserve was so different, but all were stupendously fabulous! We’re coming back next year to visit the other two parks up here, and we’re already looking forward to that trip. Those parks are above the Arctic Circle and we just couldn’t fit them into our itinerary this year, but we’ve already got another amazing 12-Day Backcountry Adventure Trip with Alaska Alpine Adventures lined up for next year to visit them — anyone want to join us?!?
One of the bothersome things we saw up here was the impact of global warming. More than any other state, Alaska is feeling the brunt of climate change, and it’s not good. Temperatures are rising causing glaciers to melt at an alarming rate. Because of this, ocean levels are rising and threatening coastal communities that have been around for thousands of years. Extreme weather has fueled hundreds of wildfires; at one point, more than 600 burned in Alaska this year. I sure hope that as a nation and in the rest of the world we can get this figured out soon and stop damaging our precious Earth!
We are blessed beyond belief to be able to have made a trip such as this, and are fortunate to be able to go back there next year, as well, to complete our national park visits. We encourage anyone who is even remotely thinking about traveling up in Alaska to do it. Do it now! Don’t pass GO! Just GO!!!! I’ll be thinking about Alaska for another 11 months until I get up there again….
Breaking news: Today President Obama will officially restore Denali as the name of North America’s tallest mountain, siding with the state of Alaska and ending a 40-year battle over what to call the peak that has been known as Mount McKinley until now. The peak was named Mount McKinley in 1896 after a gold prospector exploring the region heard that Ohioan William McKinley, a champion of the gold standard, had won the nomination for president. Alaska natives have long called the mountain Denali, and have asked the federal government to do the same, but Ohio politicians have blocked the change, wanting to stick with McKinley as a lasting tribute to the 25th president who was from that state. At last the name has been changed back to it’s rightful name, showing honor and respect to the Athabascan peoples native to the land.