May your journey be your joy.
I LOVE WATCHING the serious faces of travelers as they emerge from a labyrinth of airline gates at the Anchorage International Airport, vacation-bound in the Last Frontier, determined, it seems, to have fun, or else. Sometimes I lurk around the baggage claim, watching them collect their super-charged fishing rods, extra-cool gear, and wonder, will these people laugh at least once during their trip?
The irony of being so serious about having fun on vacation does not escape me, especially in Alaska, where visitors break piggy banks and credit card limits to see as much of the 49th state they possibly can in a short amount of time. Expectations are high, almost as high as Disneyland, and I’ve seen the resulting sad faces when a bear didn’t appear, a whale didn’t breach, or a fish wasn’t caught. But, friends, joy is everywhere in Alaska!
How do you find it? Stop looking so hard, for one. Honestly, we spend so much time searching for big show-stoppers that we miss the intricate details right under our feet. Or noses and chins, as the case may be. See this photo of my husband and son?
Yeah, dorks. Both of them. But look at those faces - two happy campers for sure, and all they needed was a handful of lichen from the forest floor. Lesson learned.
We’ve also learned how to laugh when times are difficult. Flights are weathered in, cars break down (ahem), plans change. Travel in Alaska can be tough, really tough, but the ability to maintain a sense of humor regardless of the situation is a valuable attribute, indeed. Make a silly video on the smartphone and send it to a faraway relative. Make up a goofy story and write it down, encouraging the kids to draw a picture to go along with it (because you will, of course, have crayons and paper handy, right?). Tell jokes. Sing. Smile at the people sitting next to you.
Getting his WOW on
Joy is a concept many people feel should be reserved for those “WOW” moments in life. As far as we’re concerned, every moment is a “WOW” moment, and should be treated accordingly. That’s why we travel, to find it. Or, to rediscover that we never really lost it in the first place.
Where’s your “WOW”?
Erin Kirkland's family travel and outdoor recreation website AKontheGO.com has an all new look! She and her joyful family live in Anchorage.
GIVEN ANY FORM of transportation, I still like driving the most. A sense of independence envelopes me as frost-heaved sections of Alaskan blacktop weave crazily beneath the tires in a road-trippy spiritual connection that causes spontaneous singing to music by Blondie and the B 52’s (don’t judge, I’ll bet you have a funky selection of travel tunes, too).
This is my car:
It's never a guten Tag when the car breaks
down in the middle of a trip
I desperately wanted to write about my beloved Volkswagen Jetta for this post, since it’s been a few days - weeks, really, since I’ve seen it. Alas, my little blue VW ceased to function since arriving in Homer sometime in early June, and I have yet to get it back (sob).
Summer is traveling time in Alaska - for fun, for work, and for the sheer joy of driving around corners and over mountains other people pay a fortune to see from the air. But driving Alaska’s roadways can prove challenging when, god forbid, something goes wrong. In the guise of confronting the difficult topic of “detours” this week, I thought I’d provide a tool kit for savvy Alaskan road trippers. As we all know, stuff can and does happen, but having stuff happen in the middle of nowhere can ultimately prove uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. Being prepared is not just for boy scouts, so pay attention, make a list, and embrace the wide-open Alaska road.
1. Communicate. Hand off an itinerary to someone; neighbor, family member, or friend. Be sure to include phone numbers, dates of travel, spare keys, etc. Just in case.
Be sure to leave a seat or two free for souvenirs!
2. Pack wisely. Leave room in your car for emergency supplies, including extra water, non-perishable foods, flashlights or headlamps (even in the summer!), cash, car jacks for recharging phones, duct tape, sleeping bags, trash bags, a small tool kit, your car’s manual (you’d be amazed how many people forget this), jumper cables, flares, and toilet paper. Parents should also consider adding some small toys, books, and/or activities. Trundle all this gear into a waterproof container or duffel, making sure it is easily accessible.
3. Have a plan, and review with kids. I love to plan, just ask anyone who works or lives with me. For all their teasing about plans A, B, and just in case, C, I know everyone in my family has a handle on what to do in the event of a fire, flood, tornado, or insect plague (okay, maybe not that last one). Do rehearse a “breakdown” plan with your kids. Who will stay behind? What tasks should be accomplished? Review the safety considerations; no one goes outside the vehicle without an adult, never open the car door to a stranger, even one flashing a badge. If you’re traveling by yourself with a child, stay together at all costs until help arrives (and it will).
4. Know your route. Even familiar roadways can quickly become unfamiliar during inclement weather or construction season. Check up on the latest road conditions with Alaska 511, a super website managed by the Alaska Department of Transportation, with up-to-the-minute updates for Alaska’s major roadways. Also consider purchasing a Milepost, a great mile-by-mile book for each of the highways and many side roads of our state. Known as “the bible” of northcountry travel since the late 1940’s, the Milepost can also be downloaded as an iPhone or Android app.
Travel wise, travel safe, and don’t forget the tunes. That’s how we roll, up here.
Erin Kirkland publishes AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to family travel and outdoor recreation in Alaska. She is currently working on a guidebook for vacationing families in Alaska.
It is a wise father that knows his own child.
- William Shakespeare
STANDING ALONG THE fringe of a decidedly warmer Pacific ocean than the one we had left behind 24 hours earlier, my husband and son stood hip-to-shoulder, surveying the sandy shoreline and topaz water. We had arrived on the Hawaiian island of Oahu after a nearly catastrophic year of accidents and illness, and we figured we deserved this 10-day respite of surf, sunshine, and family rejuvenation.
The decision to visit Hawaii together had been a plot hatched by my dynamic duo - the older (dad) had promised the younger (son) a trip somewhere warm after dad's arm and body had healed sufficiently from an accident that nearly claimed his life and left us flattened and battered like the bicycle laying on its side in the backyard shed. Hawaii, they believed, was the Promised Land of togetherness after 12 months of physical pain and emotional separation.
Sometimes, the mere act of packing up and moving on, however briefly, is all it takes to return roses to cheeks and light to a pair of eyes. I saw a slow but steady progression of both as days began and ended with sweet tropical scents, pounding waves and side-by-side footprints in the sand. The ocean, with its warm breath and peaceful color became a welcome ally, and we splashed within its coral-circled arms from dawn to dusk.
Our son, a timid swimmer in Alaska, made headlong rushes into the waves with his dad, wiry arms akimbo, shouting praises to no one in particular as he danced among the foamy crests. I watched their banter from the security of my grass mat, pretending to read a novel but more interested in the relationship rebuilding before my eyes. This was the missing piece, the part I had swept under the pillow with my nightly tears and daily medication lists and therapy appointments. I wasn’t about to let it fall by the wayside like I had so many other aspects of our life.
The remaining days were full of bold explorations and tentative moments of insight; my husband’s first overhand strokes 50 yards offshore in a triumphant return to ocean swimming, our son’s impressive dolphin kick while adorned with fins and snorkel mask, drinking out of a coconut, watching a rainbow form over our mountainside bungalow.
“Should we try to encourage him to talk about your accident?” I had asked my husband one night shortly after his return from the hospital.
“I don’t know,” he replied thoughtfully, curling the still-swollen fingers of his casted arm. “I think we’ll just have to watch carefully and show him everything’s going to get back to normal soon.”
I thought about that statement a lot during the course of our trip, and how, in his quiet way, my husband had indeed demonstrated courage and love and fatherhood to a seven year-old boy who, hopefully someday, will be able to return the favor to his own children.
My husband and I had hoped a trip to Hawaii would provide a needed diversion at best, and perhaps enable us to return home a stronger, more confident family. I’m glad it worked out that way.
Erin Kirkland is the author of AKontheGO.com, an Alaska family travel website and blog.
WE EMERGED OVER the canyon rim, looking like we hadn't been in society for weeks. We were out of place among the day hikers, our 30-pound packs dwarfing their backpacks clearly separating us from them. Our legs were blotched red from the knee down, not because of sunburn, but because of caked-on dirt mixing with the sweat and sunscreen. We had been hiking for almost seven hours straight, but spying the top I felt an extra boost of adrenaline. We had just finished overnighting in the Grand Canyon.
My family and I had started our trek at five in the morning the day before. As we descended down the trail past thousands of years of history with every step, the sun was just about to peek out over the horizon. Even after hiking in Alaska, I couldn't get over how picturesque the scene was. To the east, a fine mist blanketed the rocks, partially obscuring the countless crevasses and canyon spurs jutting out from the mighty Colorado River. As the sun started to rise, the west became sharper and when we reached "Ooh-Ah Point" less than an hour into the hike, the canyon opened up for our viewing pleasure. The beauty of the canyon filled my vision, from one peripheral to the other. The morning sky was a light blue, it reminded me of Alaska, also how it was only 50 degrees in the sun. But I knew that would soon change, only I had no idea how drastic that change would be when it did.
The Walgren clan about to descend into the Canyon...
The hours ticked by, and with each step down, the temperature rose. We encountered a frustrating paradox while hiking. We wanted to look around at the scenery, but as soon as we'd lift our heads up off the trail ahead, our foot would hit a rock and our heartbeats would soar from 80 to 180 in the span of a second as we envisioned how one more misstep could speed up our descent drastically.
Sadly, as the hike dragged on and the temperature climbed faster than the sun, the Grand Canyon started to lose its charm. I was still trying to appreciate it, but that was now a secondary goal. The primary one was simple - get to the bottom of this hole.
We accomplished that after around eight hours of hiking when we reached the base of the canyon where we set up camp. It was the early afternoon so for the rest of the day our only itinerary was to avoid the heat. The temperature topped out at 115 that day, but conveniently there was a creek next to the campground. Water had never felt so refreshing.
We woke up the next morning around 4:30, and I was surprised to see that we were among the last to get going. Everyone had the same idea - get out of this pit as early as possible to beat the heat. The ascent wasn't as bad, heat-wise because the higher we climbed, the lower the temperature became. By the time we saw the lodges on the rim, the temperature was in the 80's, a stark contrast to riverside.
And, back to the top again...
I'm really glad I got to hike the canyon as a kid. Now I'll always have fond memories of it, even though at times, going down into it, it felt like a deathmarch. But I can say now that, "I know what it's REALLY like," to be down inside the Grand Canyon, something those who never leave the rim get to experience.
NEWSFLASH: IN CASE you missed this week’s Kids These Days! broadcast of Inside the Teenage Brain: Teens take risks! Yes, parents, grandparents, and guardians of anyone age 12 to 18, you’ll need this nugget of information while on vacation.
I’m thrilled to finally receive validation confirming the teenage brain is wired to do crazy stuff. In fact, I learned it aches to do stuff; wild, crazy and overly nutty stuff, especially while in the company of other brains with equal settings.
No wonder parents hear the whining, witness the iPod tune-out, and see the rolling of eyes while teens are pushed and prodded through museum after historical site after interstate road trip. Here’s the irony of traveling with teens - young people need to feel a bit out of control to be in control; of emotions, bodies, and other people, we adults included. A teenager, I’ve discovered, is happiest when barreling down a mountain on a bike so fast the wheels are practically on fire, even if mom or dad is standing at the bottom of the hill shielding eyes from certain inevitable calamity. A teenage traveler wants to feel the rush of adrenaline as much as a parent wants to feel none, and I can’t think of a better state in which to offer such experiences to a growing adolescent body and brain.
Alaska is perfect for teenagers. Enough mental and physical challenges are available no matter where a family decides to begin their travels. Below are a few excellent options that just might rate a “that’s cool!” statement when completed. Do double check age, weight, and ability requirements, however, before booking any challenging activity for your son or daughter.
Mountain biking. Alyeska Resort in Girdwood and Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau offer summertime mountain biking around the area’s slopes. Between the cool chairlift ride up and the screaming fast trip down, kids will feel the thrill of independence coupled with the knowledge that everyone is watching from the lodge and hitting “update status” on their Facebook app. For a longer, touring-type approach, try Sockeye Cycles in Skagway or Haines, offering multi-day trips as far as the Canadian border, all gear and bikes provided.
Zzzzzzziiipppping through Alaska's forests
Ziplining. Really, what could be more in tune with a teenager’s zen than a series of zips 100 feet in the air? From Ketchikan to Talkeetna, ziplining is fast becoming the activity of choice among the adventure-loving set. In southeast Alaska, try Alaska Canopy Adventures and their 11-zip trip set high among the hemlock and spruce trees. Talkeetna is the latest community to jump on the zipline bandwagon, with Denali Zipline Tours, slated to begin zipping through the trees sometime in July, 2012. Note: Most ziplining companies require participants to weigh between 90 and 270 pounds, for safety reasons. “Zippers” must also be able to understand and fulfill self starting/stopping procedures along the course.
Mountain adventures. Alaska possesses more glacial ice and rock than many other states in the Union, and much of it lies within easy access of the state’s largest community of Anchorage. Ascending Path guiding service leads day and overnight trips to remote areas of Alaska, with a ton of learning along the way. Want to climb a glacier? No problem, the Spencer Whistle Stop Rail and Ice Climbing trip combines a great trip aboard the Alaska Railroad with a little moraine exploration on the flanks of Spencer Glacier.
Teenagers want to show us they can, indeed, be “all that.” Give them the opportunity and see where it takes them, and you.
Erin Kirkland is the mother of two boys; one teen, one wanna-be-teen. Follow her crew’s Alaska adventures at AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to Alaska family travel resources.
ARE YOU AND your partner suddenly presented with a few hours (or even a few days) of uninterrupted adult time? Perhaps, instead of immediately calling your favorite fancy restaurant and delicately sampling the latest pop-culture cuisine while sipping a colorful cocktail, consider something decidedly Alaskan.
Fresh air, exercise, and even the opportunity for some learning - that’s what parents in the 49th state can look forward to on date night. Nothing fancy is required, no specific equipment or expansive knowledge, just a willingness to participate with your beloved.
While the majority of outdoor recreation ideas that I generally offer include the kids, many of them also work for spousal dating bliss. A great place to begin is at your local visitor bureau, where everything from campgrounds to science centers are listed. Take a few moments to revel in the opportunity to find information and ask questions without your usual cadre of little helpers - what a feeling, yes?
During my exhaustive research for this post, I asked a few readers about their favorite dating expedition in Alaska. Below are some responses, all of which merit a thumbs-up from me.
1. Camping. Fortunately for we Alaskans, camping is easy to manage, thanks to a gazillion acres of federal, state, and local land, and myriad both public and private campgrounds within easy striking distance of just about any community in the state. A great place to find a suitable campsite is through the Alaska Public Lands Information Center(s), located in Anchorage, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, and Tok. Each center, besides offering incredible exhibits about our state, provides listings for hundreds of campgrounds, parks, and public lands available for overnight stays.
2. Berry picking. What could be a finer opportunity for uninterrupted conversation while at the same time providing sustenance for your family? Berry picking rated high among the responses, and rightly so. Hiking to a remote (or local) berry patch, plunking brightly-colored berries in the pail, sharing a picnic, and taking your time to chat about whatever comes to mind. There’s just something about working on a project together that promotes meaningful dialogue. Our personal favorite spot is high above Anchorage at Arctic Valley, just a short drive from home, but with stunning views, easy access to berries, and great hiking trails, too.
3. Riding the rails. A perfect day or overnight journey for couples is the Anchorage to Talkeetna route. This four-hour journey to the heart of Alaskana is full of interesting sights, great service, and opportunities for more talking time, reading, and dining in the Alaska Railroad’s lush passenger cars. Why not splurge and take the Goldstar class, where you’ll receive primo service in your own dome car? Stay overnight in Talkeetna if you wish, at the historic and charming Talkeetna Roadhouse, where owner Trisha Costello’s fresh baked goods and enormous sourdough hotcakes will make you stand up and cheer. Rock for a while on the front porch, wander along the quaint streets, and visit the Talkeetna Museum, a great place for a history lesson about the town itself, and the rugged mountaineering individuals who climb mighty Mt. McKinley.
Ready? Summer’s not going to last long, better get out while you can!
Erin Kirkland is the publisher of AKontheGO.com, an Alaska family travel resource. Listen below to an audio excerpt from this week's KTD radio program in which Erin offers even more ideas for dating your Alaskan partner.
WE ARE ON a family vacation! My partner and I have a passion for travel. We value how it teaches so many valuable lessons, puts stereotypes to rest, and broadens a person’s perspective on the world. We prioritize passing these values of travel on to our sons. It has been 1½ years since we have taken a vacation together, too long.
Pools and popsicles, always a favorite summer combo
One of the definitions of vacation from Webster’s dictionary is: a respite or a time of respite from something. Yes we are seeking a time of respite and we know what that something is. It's four specific somethings: the daily routine, our workplace demands, other commitments, and the unpredictable weather of Southeast Alaska.
Beach boys in San Diego
We are escaping the daily routine by leaving our home and our beloved animals in the care of a friend and leaving our town. I feel fortunate to have paid time off from work so that I can put my workplace responsibilities on hold and make this experience possible. I informed contacts with my other commitments to expect delays in me responding to emails and that I do not plan on attending teleconference meetings. After glorious weather in April, May has been cold, wet and the snow level has crept near sea level. The sunshine has been elusive and warm sunshine seems like a fantasy. We need to escape this place for rejuvenation, reset and high quality time together as a family just having fun!
Getting up close and personal with the wildlife at the San Diego Zoo
Yes, flying out of Southeast Alaska to go anywhere is undeniably a financial commitment, but it’s our reality and we relish the opportunity to see other parts of the world and discover new experiences as a family so to us it's priceless. So we do our best to be savvy about costs and get the best deals possible because these days shared traveling moments are worth every penny. We are confident that this investment of time away and money spent will lead to lifelong memories and connections for our sons. Even though we are only 4 years into our parenting journey I feel like the opportunities to be together as a family are fading already and I want to enjoy these respites as a family to the fullest while we still can.
WITH SUMMER VACATION in full swing, many parents are a wee bit reluctant to allow their youngsters to loaf away these next three months; sleeping in until noon, eating ice cream for breakfast, and allowing valuable brain cells to deteriorate. Thankfully, the scope of family vacations has swung toward teachable moments, summer break or no, and many tourism outlets are responding with more hands-on activities than ever before.
Or, "hands under" as the case may be...
Opportunities run the gamut from extreme marine science to self-guided tours expressly designed for younger visitors, each offering a unique Alaska perspective combined with some awesome entertainment.
Our best bets include organizations who offer not just an exciting few hours of Alaska fun, but a healthy dose of stewardship, history, and environmental awareness as well. Some attractions are geared toward the whole family, some place an intense focus on kids only, giving grownups a little time to pursue their own recreational bliss.
Below are some favorite indoor and outdoor options around the state:
• Southcentral Alaska, with its diversity of culture and environment, provides a wealth of opportunities. We like the Center For Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer, with close-in and more remote sites for wilderness and marine science. Try the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Drive, up above Homer, with kid-friendly trails, weekly nature programs, and a self-guided tour of this historic plot of land. Near the ocean, families can take a short boat ride across Kachemak Bay to the Peterson Bay Field Station, an on-site marine camp with incredible tide-pooling, hands-on science, and great hikes. You can even stay overnight in the yurt and look for otters, whales, and puffins from the front porch. Bliss. If you can’t swing a trip across the bay, check the center’s Classroom Yurt on the Homer Spit for summertime classes and opportunities for a little up-close viewing of the area’s creatures and plants.
See sea shells down by the (Homer) seashore...
• Interior Alaska has the benefit of the University of Fairbanks’ programs and events, geared toward all things Arctic. The Museum of the North features a new slate of exhibits that outline the history of our Arctic landscape, mammals, birds, and geologic formations, and engage school age kids, in particular, with a self-guided scavenger hunt and activity sheet. Ask about their periodic special events, too, when scientists from UAF are on hand to provide specific activities and answer questions. Teenagers and parents may enjoy the awe-inspiring Place You Go To Listen, a dramatic, real-time recording of Earth’s magnetic sounds that are almost impossible to describe with words. Don’t forget to walk the grounds outside, either, and savor that awesome view!
Exploring the Sitka Sound Science Center in southeast
• Southeast Alaska places a heavy emphasis on marine science, and understandably so, with so much of the area’s industry relying upon a healthy and sustainable oceanic atmosphere. Our family stumbled upon the Sitka Sound Science Center last summer, and were thrilled with this little powerhouse of marine ecology and education. Still undergoing growth but featuring a touch tank, interns, and outside hatchery ponds, you can find the center right across the street from the Sheldon Jackson Museum, overlooking the beautiful and salmon-rich sound. During our visit, staff and a host of young volunteers were in the process of putting together a complete whale skeleton to hang from the rafters, and we hear it’s complete and ready for exhibition. The Science Center is destined to be a community winner, and deserves support from visitors, so do check it out if you’re in Sitka this summer.
Parents, remember that all of these organizations provide classes, lectures, and updates for adults, too. Check websites for family camps, volunteer opportunities, and special events that involve everyone in the family!
Erin Kirkland is the author of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to family-friendly travel and recreation in Alaska.
OBESITY IS CHRONIC among all American children, not just those in the 49th state, but it still shocks me - 1 in 3 kids begin school overweight. The contributing factors are many - too much screen time, more working parents, lack of urban planning etc. Even our food is less healthy.
Summer break has arrived in Alaska, depositing thousands of children and their families in the swirling, whirling world of the midnight sun, chock-full of outdoor activities, including those of the food-related kind.
Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, Ester, AK:
Trying a carrot fresh from the soil!
When our family travels, no matter where we travel, mealtime is often a highlight of the day. Whether we’re exploring a new restaurant or packing a picnic dinner for a mountain trail, it’s fun to share breakfast, lunch or dinner someplace different. But how healthy, really, are our choices? Oh, I try to stick to my guns for the majority of our travel time, insisting upon fruit and/or veggies at every meal, but frankly, after a few days, I become rather lax about this rule. Apple pie for breakfast? Why not. Dr. Pepper with lunch and dinner? Okay.
I’ve made a promise to myself - this summer will be different. Alaska is flush with healthy food choices, both of the restaurant and farm variety. Maybe, just maybe, if we involve our timid eater (did I mention I am raising the World’s Pickiest?), our mealtime outcomes will be a bit more on the healthy side of things.
What’s our strategy? Education is a strong factor in enticing our son to pick healthy menu items instead of just being picky. Knowing where a certain food originates is part of the plan. We adore Calypso Farm and Ecology Center near Fairbanks, where the whole family can participate in learning about food, eating, and growing a garden of healthy foods. Milk a goat, pick a carrot, or make a pizza in their wood-fired oven, all while receiving practical advice from an extremely dedicated staff and volunteer force. Find the farm in the town of Ester, a short drive from Fairbanks, and consider attending their annual Open House, July 22.
Shopping for food is important, too. We generally tend to eat breakfast and lunch in our cabin, hotel room, or on the road, noshing on foods we’ve found at local farmers’ markets or the grocery store. Alaska has so many outdoor markets, in just about every community of the state, and we love to wander the grounds, listen to music, and become a temporary part of a town’s fabric. The Alaska Farmers Market Association is a coalition of farmers and markets around the state, offering a big list of those to visit. Buy some local produce, bread, jam, and cheese, then enjoy your own Alaska picnic. Life doesn’t get much simpler, or better, than that.
Exercising is key to a healthy appetite, too, we’ve found. A brisk walk, bike ride, or kayak paddle before mealtime can be just the thing to make young tummies growl with hunger, resulting in kids who are more inclined to eat the good stuff. If eating out, I usually order an “appetizer” plate of raw veggies and dip before our main course, and with good results, since my kiddo is starving after a full day of Alaska fun.
Eating together is a precious time of day, one that should provide not only physical sustenance, but emotional nutrition, too. Why not make it a time of discovery and discussion, while on the road this summer?
Follow the Kirkland family’s adventures at AKontheGO.com.
THE VISITOR SEASON has arrived! Cruise ships now tied up to the docks daily in our downtown area. The skies overhead are often filled with the varied sounds of aircraft taking guests on once-in-a-lifetime adventures in our backyard. It is difficult to be in any area of our town without seeing some effects of the many visitors to our community. My first summer in Alaska and many more were made possible by the strong visitor economy that exists in this state. My partner also spent many years in the guests and hospitality economy that supported our way of life. For these strong connections to our history the summer visitor season is a time of year that we appreciate.
Just hangin' out on Mendenhall Glacier...
Our oldest son has had exposure to cruise ships since the first months of his life and he prefers to call them “rocket ships.” Although we have had many frustrations with many of the visitors that we have experienced over the years we never cast them in a negative "ugh tourists" light to our boys. For the most part we have many reasons to enjoy and celebrate the visitor industry that affects so many Alaskans in various ways.
Here are 4 reasons to appreciate and welcome visitors to our state.
1. Economic boost. Visitors are renewable resources that leave money in our state supporting local businesses, families, and municipality sales tax.
2. Unique seasonal opportunities. There are restaurants, visitor centers, and tours that are only available during the visitor season that our family can enjoy as well. Many of these opportunities would not be possible and/or affordable for our family without the tourism infrastructure.
3. Reminder of privilege. Every guest that I see in our community reminds me how much people seek Alaska’s grandeur, beauty, and uniqueness. I use this as a reminder of how privileged we are to be able to call this state home and truly experience what this state has to offer.
4. Showing our best. There are many misconceptions about Alaskans. I value the exercise and investment that many people undertake to journey to the state. I know their experiences can give them a better perspective of who we are and what we value.
Visiting the hatchery in Juneau
We are a family that prioritizes travel and new experiences. We strive to treat the visitors to our community with the friendliness and respect that we hope to find when we leave the comforts of the 49th state. Perspective and comparisons for us are valuable along with the experience of travel itself.
Today we set-out for the lower 48 in the quest for warm sunshine and some quality family time together! We hope to be welcomed and appreciated as visitors in another state.