Eight Things That Make Alaska Great

I saw this article the other day and it really spoke to me.  The author details the various reasons why he returned to Alaska.  As my long-time readers know, this is something that comes up in conversation a lot in my household.  We almost moved back at the end of last year, but one thing led to another and we committed to another year on Beaver Island.  Nostalgically, Cody and I talk about our time spent living in our little seaside apartment in the southeastern part of Alaska.  And, when I saw this article it just sparked a new longing.  I thought I'd touch on a few of the author's points from the article and shed my own spin on some of the things that make Alaska great.

1.) The Light. The light in Alaska is truly different from anywhere else in the US because it is so extreme.  In the summer, the sun never seems to set.  Darkness is equated more with dusk, and only then for a couple of hours.  Then, winter sets in, and the few hours of sunlight seem to be frozen in between sunrise and sunset, which makes for stellar skies.

Late evening in the middle of summer.
Afternoon sunset in the middle of winter. 
2.) Tundra. When we lived in Juneau we were actually living in a temperate rain forest, but when I lived solo in the Bristol Bay region I technically lived in the far southern tundra.  I've never lived in a place with only scrubby brush and truly harsh tundra climates.  It's on my bucket list though.

Spongy forest floor in Juneau.
View of the landscape in King Salmon. 
3.) Glaciers.  Yeah, this one gets me every time.  I get that there are glaciers in the lower 48, but Juneau literally has a glacier just chilling in the middle of town.  And, that's kind of the norm for Alaska.  These huge, majestic natural formations are just part of life.  Plus, Cody and I climbed into the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves one time and it was the most incredible adventure I've experienced, thus far.

Mendenhall Glacier in the spring. 
Standing inside of Mendenhall Glacier and looking up at the sky. 
4.) Wildlife.  You're not the top of the food chain in Alaska, which can take some getting used to.  The wildlife is so different than you can imagine without living there.  My best example of Alaskan wildlife is Romeo.  Stuff like that doesn't just happen anywhere.

A little sea star that we found on the beach. 
Giant moose throwing water with his antlers. 
5.) Aurora. At one point, I subscribed to get aurora notifications sent to my phone.  Every time the notification went off I would be scurrying outside to see if I could catch a glimpse.  Unfortunately, my cellphone pictures don't do justice to the magnificent lights, and they say that the farther north you get the more intense the light. I hope to watch the lights from north of the arctic circle once in my lifetime.

Northern lights over Juneau.  Photo courtesy of this link.
6.) Wilderness.  One visit to a big city in Alaska will have you rethinking the term "city."  Even the land right outside the city borders are true, untouched wilderness.  I once hiked and camped in Katmai National Park, which is a park that covers more than 4 million acres.  You want true wilderness?  Head to Alaska, but make sure you're prepared.

Carefully planning a hike using a maps and trail guides. 
Fish Creek in North Douglas. 
7.) Mountains.  Oh, the mountains.  We've all heard the saying, "The mountains are calling and I must go." I pretty much feel like that whenever I think of Alaska.  There is nothing like spending the day climbing a mountain (without seeing another human), sitting on the top, and overlooking the world.  The views from the top make every adventure worth it.
Wilderness warnings on the mountain tops. 
Tall mountains on a distant shore. 
8.) The People.  People from Alaska are just different.  They have different sayings and unique body language.  Their culture is alive and vibrant and unwavering.  My time spent teaching for the tribe taught me more than I could ever explain about cultural diversity.  Also, some of our best friends in the world have come from Alaska.  They are just different, in their own kooky, lovable way.

Cody and the neighbors filleting halibut. 
With our best friends at a rustic cabin.
Your turn...Have you ever visited Alaska?  If so, what was your favorite part?  If not, would you ever consider it? 
Currently listening to...Going Home - The Shins

Comments

  1. Visiting Alaska is definitely on my bucket list. I'd even dedicate a season to living there to photograph the wildlife and explore the state. It looks gorgeous!

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    1. It's a photographers dream! We hope to move back one day in the not-so distant future. It's just such a cool state.

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  2. Oh my goodness, we dream of visiting Alaska! I'm not 100% sure about living there, but the idea of escaping to the great frontier is alluring to us. Maybe one day we'll make the trip. I can say with 100% certainty though that we would LOVE moving up north.

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    1. Living in Alaska is amazing, and my husband and I miss it constantly. It's not for everyone though! A lot of people call the UP "Little Alaska."

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  3. There are so many shows lately about Alaska that it's been making me want to go and visit there. My husband wants to go badly it's on his bucket list of places to go.

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    1. We miss living there sooo much. If you guys ever want suggestions about where to visit, just let me know!

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  4. Alaska is high on my list of places I want to visit! I've got a couple of friends who are either from Alaska or live there now and I am always so fascinated by their pictures and stories of life up there!!

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    1. It's certainly an interesting place to live, especially for people who live in the Bush. I think it's one of the most beautiful places to photograph, too.

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  5. Beautiful pics. My aunt and uncle lived in Alaska for a few years, and might have stayed there forever due to some life-changing circumstances that happened, so they went back to their home state of RI.

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    1. That's kind of where we were at. We moved home to be with family for a year...which turned into two. I think we'll go back eventually though!

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  6. These pictures are just beautiful! I would love to visit, but I'm not sure if I'm cut out to live there. I love the idea of getting away from it all.

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    1. Thank you! It takes a certain kind of person to live there, especially if you plan to live outside of one of the major hubs (Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau).

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  7. I agree with everything you've written here (we moved to Alaska in 2014). I was trying to get my Mom & sister to understand how different it is even if you're doing something mundane like shopping at WalMart: "In Alaska you would walk out of WalMart and there would be MOUNTAINS!" all while gesturing at the flat plains of Illinois...

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    1. Hah! As a fellow native Illinoisan, you could not be more right. My family was always amazed when they visited. Our house was on Gastineau Channel and the mountains were in our backyard. MUCH different than a cornfield! ;)

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