Thursday, August 22, 2013
Alaska--A Vast Wonderland
A trip to Alaska has been on my bucket list for many years, and two weeks ago that dream was realized. It is a vast and stunning state. If you plopped Alaska down in the middle of the continental United States, it would be 1/5th the land mass. It is a little over two times the size of Texas, and like 250 times the size of Connecticut. Only 600,000 people call Alaska home, which makes for a ton of space for the moose, bear, caribou, and salmon who live there. It's no wonder that a ton of passionate park rangers, adventurers, and wildlife enthusiast spend their summers in the 50th state. We met rangers like Patty who studied bears, and was thrilled when she'd scout out a group of bears at their favorite fishing hole, or Dillon (the college communications student) who piloted our river rafting boat, or Steve (the New York rock band drop out) who sat by the waters edge and sang folk songs about Alaska to people taking boat tours on the river. Alaska is a place for rugged individuals.
The wilderness vistas of Alaska are so stunning, they literally take your breath away. The picture above is the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, the state's capitol. A side note: Juneau is the only state capitol you can't drive to. To get to Juneau one must either take a boat or small plane--usually a float plane that lands on the water.
There's a lot of water surrounding Alaska, and in the interior. It's estimated to contain millions of lakes and 100,000 glaciers. And then, of course, there's the vastness of the tundra, and the majesty of the mountains. Denali Mountain (Mt. McKinley) is the tallest peak in North America, and it is a wonder. We happened to be one of the lucky ones to view it on a relatively clear day, standing snow laden against a brilliant blue sky. It is a vision I will never forget.
We saw spectacular things during our visit to Alaska, we met interesting folks, and ate our share of seafood and salmon, but to me one of the greatest gifts of the holiday was a slowing down--a sense of quiet. I took a much needed breath. I know that when life gets crazy back in my home world, I can close my eyes, walk that mountain trail to Dewey Lake outside of Skagway, and find a little inner peace.