One of the absolute best perks of my job is seeing our great country. When I first started in Columbus, OH on 1991 I had only visited 10 states – Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Now, I have performed or spoke in all but 6 (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii).
While I have found truly beautiful places along the way – Boise, ID really is a hidden treasure – I was completely blown away by a trip to Anchorage, AK. While performing for the Mat Su Health Foundation at the Aleyeska Resort in Girdwod, AK I was treated to pure awe. You literally couldn’t stand anywhere and not want to take a picture.
After the Friday night performance, I had all day Saturday to sight see. I had to wait until after 9:30 am for the sun to come up. So I had a great breakfast and made a short list of where I wanted to go.
On the drive out of Seward I had to pause for two moose to cross the road. The first a female and the second an apologetic male chasing after her. He probably had said something stupid.
My first destination was the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (although I stopped 12 times before I got there to take snapshots and videos of the mountains and waterways along Highway 1). This awesome spot allows you to get out and walk or drive around a two mile loop and see everything from Elk and Moose to the rare but expanding herd of Wood Bison and Bears. For less than $15 it was a true bargain.
About an hour South of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula, I got to see a glimpse of the ever retreating Portage Glacier. Hundreds of years ago the glacier was estimated to be about 14 miles long. In 1986 a Visitors Center with stadium seating and floor to ceiling glass windows was built so travelers could view the glacier from a warm and windless spot. Sadly, the glacier is no longer even visible from the visitor center (although you can take a boat ride to see it). It’s current size is approximately down to 6 miles. Impressive nonetheless, and thought provoking to say the least.
I stopped at various pull over areas all afternoon and saw salmon swimming in a river inches away from the shore. I felt like grabbing them and firing up a grill! But, they leisurely swam away. I watched Bald Eagles soar and stopped a hike short when I noticed a set of bear footprints. They were big and so deeply sunk in the ground I knew it had to be one heck of a specimen. I didn’t want to stick around and find out!
Overall, this has to be the best scenic trip I have ever taken. It was an arduous 15 hour travel day from home – but well worth it. As I walked through the airport Sunday morning I checked the departure screen. I noticed that a flight to Hawaii was about to board and it’s only 5 1/2 hours … hmm … that could knock another state of my list!