“Don’t go walkin’ in a glacial stream.”
That was a stellar peice of advice given to me and my friend when we first visited the great city of Anchorage, Alaska. Moral of the story? Never underestimate the sudden power of a small stream on a hot summer day. When the sun is beaming down on acres of glacial ice, that trickle of a stream can quickly become an avalanche of frigid flowing water that swallows you up like a guppie in the Pacific before you know it. And don’t forget,our great ball of fire can still be shining brightly at midnight in Alaska. Apparently, the saying is a great metaphor for life, too.
In any case, you should also keep an ear out for the loud, low rumbling bellows of the gigantic moose that also call the state home. They do share the land here, and they are not always friendly, but majestic nonetheless when you see their powerful snout raining down on you from above. We were warned of their powerful hi-hoof kick as a reminder to keep a safe distance should we spot one. After setting out for a late morning stroll after breakfast, we began to realize we were two stick figures in a neverending snowglobe of wilderness and could quite possibly be the only two souls around for several miles in a 360-degree radius (except for that nagging bellow in the background).
Until, that is, we encountered a couple jogging towards us who, to our delight, was a welcome sight since we wanted to gut check our directions. Before we could get out our how do you dos, we were greeted with a breathy but urgently concerned gasp. “Is THAT all you’re wearing?!’ Shocked, we looked each other up and down, assessing our attire with a double-eyed squint - not quite sure which one of us was under the sharp eye of judgement. Holding back our laughter, we realized we had both set out to discover the great wild yonder not nearly prepared for the elements that were awaiting us. With tucked tails and about-faced to the comfort of our hotel, defeated but thankful that we didn’t push our ambitious pursuits any further.
Which brings me to my biggest point about Alaska, our 49th state: you are not in charge. If you ever want to be humbled by the awesome power of Mother Nature, visit this beautiful and unspoiled countryside for fishing, mountain and ice climbing, river rafting, dog sledding, wildlife watching, Northern Light viewing and so much more. Anchorage is the perfect launching point for other ventures into the wild, which also holds 40 percent of the entire state’s population.
Native culture dictates what we all inherently know when we kick off our shoes and dig our feet in the sand. It resonates when you take a deep breath and let it in. From the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Know who you are. An important value of nearly every Alaska Native culture is to understand where a person comes from and where they are going. In museums, cultural centers and historic sites across Anchorage, visitors see how generations of Alaska Native people have woven art, language, land and family into hundreds of unique culture groups.
Accept what life brings. Across some of the most challenging land in the world, Alaska Native people have gathered around the warmest fires. Annual celebrations throughout the year draw on traditions of gathering, hunting and celebrating and bring them into a contemporary light open to all.
Share what you have. Alaska Native people continue to share their rich heritage, contemporary innovations and promising future. Visitors step into Alaska Native galleries where history meets imagination and listen as historic songs meet a modern dance beat.
Get to know Alaska’s first people at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This renowned facility, located on a wooded 26-acre site in east Anchorage, offers a unique opportunity to experience and participate in live performances and hands-on demonstrations. Watch an award-winning film and check out the exhibits before stepping outside to visit six authentic life-sized Native dwellings.