On August 10, 2007 I stepped off a plane in Anchorage, Alaska and made personal history. Until that day, Alaska had been the only state in the United States I had not been in. When I stepped off the plane – I completed one of my travel goals – to have been in all 50 of the United States of America.
In our short time in Alaska we stayed with our very good friends Gym and Kathy Erickson who moved to Anchorage about five years ago from Minnesota. In the three and a half days we were in Alaska we did two day trips – one South down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward – including a five hour cruise from Seward around Resurrection Bay and a little out into the Pacific Ocean. On the way back from Seward to Anchorage we took a side trip toward Whittier (but not through the tunnel) and stopped to hike up towards the Byron Glacier. It was awesome to be close to a hanging glacier. The other day trip went North through the Matanuska Valley to the Talkeetna Mountain Range and the Independence (Gold) Mine State Historic Park. We panned for gold in two of the streams that are within the Independence Mine State Park. On the way up we stopped along the Little Susitna River – which was stunningly beautiful (and swift). Over the days we were there we also saw both Mt. McKinley (Denali) and Mt. Fouracres a number of times.
We had been looking the entire time in Alaska for a moose or two and had only seen brown specs on a far off hillside that were called moose. On the way to the airport to come home – God showed his faithfulness to me… there they were – a cow moose and her calf – standing in a shallow wetland right next to the road. I got a couple of photographs and finally saw the “up close” moose I had been looking for.
I also learned a new word in Alaska – the word is Touron. It is a combination of tourist and moron. I learned about the word when I asked Kathy Erickson if we found a moose if I could go stand next to it to get my picture taken. To do that would have put me within the definition of a Touron – so I did not try to do that.
We were in Alaska for three and a half days and four nights. The weather was incredible – blue skies and temperatures in the low 70’s with low humidity. Although we were about 2/3 the way to the Autumnal Equinox the days were still long. The sun going down after 10:00pm and the sky still light at 11:00 to 11:30pm. The Erickson’s kept saying that August is usually overcast and rainy. Since none of our days fulfilled that weather forecast – we told the Erickson’s that we were going to tell everyone that August was the best month to go to Alaska. Our one disappointment with Alaska was that we did not see the Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights while we were there. On our last night in Alaska – full of sensory overload from the beauty of all we had seen – I told the Erickson’s that I had saved the best state for last.