For our family, Alaska is truly a special place.  Terry was born and raised there, JJ was “made” there, and we visit six times a year.  Be it in the land of the midnight sun when you can play in August until 2 am or the coldest February where looking outside will freeze your cornea, there is undeniably something special about this state.

Alaska has four distinct regions—Southeast Alaska – where the cruise ships go. Mountains rising a mile out of the ocean, glaciers dropping off thousand year old ice cubes, Orcas following salmon, and the most perfect salmon fishing in the world.  Fjords that make Norway look like an “also-ran” – mountains that make the Rockies look like hills, and rain – lots of rain.

South Central Alaska is home to Anchorage, the largest city, where half the population of Alaska resides. A truly cosmopolitan city with more fine cuisine and culture than can be found in the majority of US cities. Surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers , it is a city where when it snows people are happy:  they can ski, or snowmobile.  They can readily go fishing (Ship Creek in Anchorage is my favorite), and if they tire of February can catch a flight to Maui and be there sooner than if they went to San Francisco.
The Aleutian chain (be sure to read about our adventures in St. Paul Island),  the Pacific Rim – volcanoes, earthquakes, crab, halibut, bears, and seals,  the only place that Japan occupied during World War II.  A beautiful land with the friendliest people on the planet, who will welcome you and feed you the freshest halibut (and seal if you are really “in”).

Denali is home to Mt. McKinley (one of us climbed it),  tallest mountain in North America. To the average person we say: do not climb this mountain – just photograph it from the Lodge at Talkeetna.  And while there take the LONG bus tour, yes, it is 13 hours, and no one thinks they want to be on a bus this long,  but you will see more wildlife than any zoo.

The Arctic : visions of Kansas with permafrost, but it isn’t. ANWAR, the most diverse and beautiful refuge you can imagine with mountains and fresh streams- wild life  – and not the South-side of Chicago variety (one of us lived on the South Side),  Going to the arctic you will see that if we ruin this with drilling we will lose the biologic diversity that makes the world, not just Alaska, the world, a better place.

Alaska is home, its people, its beauty, its creatures,  a place that can kill you in a day. On the contrary, the harshness brings out the kindest neighbors, and you learn that the pioneers of old lived because they had each other.  That spirit lives today.