49 of 50

After over a year of waiting for COVID-19 to settle a little, I finally made my way to Alaska in August. This was the 49th state I have seen, with only Hawaii remaining on the list. Although for the purpose of inclusivity, I’m going to make it a point to also see our neighbors in places like Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, etc. Because honestly, who needs any sort of excuse to see a tropical island?

We arrived in Anchorage in the early afternoon to overcast, what I would label as “moody” skies. Turns out that sky is a prominent feature in much of Alaska and I have to say I loved it. Any time the backdrop is a giant mountain range, it’s always a weighty view. Add some dark to light grays and it is often overpowering. I don’t mind being overpowered by something that is, frankly, more powerful than I am.

The first leg of our stay was near Talkeetna, which is something of a tourist spot. Our cabin was a proper retreat though. An a-frame in the middle of the woods, the second we stepped in the door, the world outside fell away. Time stood still as the world outside. It was quiet magic.

The town of Talkeetna is a charming little village with some of the old roots still visible. I believe it would be a completely different place during the winter, and would thus have a completely different feeling to it. Probably won’t ever see that but I can imagine it from the folks I met.

While in Talkeetna we made the trek up to Denali and although our time in the park was short, it was staggering to see so much untouched wilderness. It was the same week that another Hoosier was mauled by a bear in the park, but we didn’t see any, no landslides either.

Upon returning to Talkeetna for our last day in that region, we chartered a plane ride to land on a glacier and I can honestly say it was one of the most humbling experiences I have lived to date. To stand on ice as old as recorded history and know I was near eons long processes was incredible. To be at the base of Denali reminds you of how small you are, and how little your shit matters. It was an honor worth the price of admission.

We made our way south of Anchorage for a change of scenery and stayed near the town of Kasilof, directly on the Cook Inlet. This was another peaceful retreat from all that we know. Since we were close to Homer we spent most of a day there and checked out the “Spit”. The views are 360 of the sea and the surrounding mountains and glaciers. Despite it being a busy tourist area, it still felt completely primal. Like we had gone somewhere far reaching, because we had.

On our last day, we spent time in Anchorage and walked Kincaid Park. We saw a moose grazing on the side of the road on the way in and a giant bull moose in the woods while walking. Just another humbling sight to behold in a state chock full of them.

Truth be told I know we didn’t have nearly enough time to spend in Alaska and we had to grab all we could for our memories while we were there. It may not have been once in a lifetime because it’d be nice to go back, but having just this glimpse made me want to go further and see the even less traveled areas. The kind of places only accessible by boat or plane.

It put me close to 50, with plans to finish the list in 2022. It was a reminder of what all is out there to be seen, and that there isn’t enough time in 1,000 lives, let alone this one, to see it all.

But I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna try…

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