Road To 50 Part 14: Alaska

The rugged, desolate state is unrivaled in size, adventure and ferocity.

Alaska provides a thrill like no other. It dwarfs every other state in size, and it’s not even close. This state is so gargantuan that it’s bigger than the next three largest states combined, Texas, California, and Montana. The Last Frontier is a place of natural extremes, with miles of barren, uninhabited land, massive snow drifts, ferocious winters, no sunsets, and northern lights. It’s the only state with the most tundra, and this juggernaut may prove to be too much to handle for even the most seasoned and rugged travelers. I took a family cruise to Alaska’s Southeastern portion in 2013, and it was the best trip I have taken to date. Here are my favorite Alaskan things:

Glaciers

Glaciers. Facebook Travel Alaska
Glaciers. Facebook: Travel Alaska

Gazing at glaciers is among the rarest things I could have ever done, but to be able to walk on one was the most surreal experiences in my life. I took a helicopter from the town of Juneau and plunged into the sharp, snow-layered mountains surrounding the town. The views from above were stunning, with thick sheets of snow even in June. Our helicopter landed on tons of ice, and my family and I had to wear special shoes to walk on the glacier. Roaming the glacier was like a dream, as it was close to the mountains and I was standing on old ice formations. I never could have envisioned the sheer excitement that it brought, to the point where I was completely mesmerized by the expedition on the ice.

Nevertheless, this was treading a slippery slope as massive rifts in the ice were present, and looking inside was an empty hole into the distance that was simply mind-numbing. The best part of this adventure was drinking the purest blue water I had ever laid my eyes on. Walking on the slick ice made me appreciate what Alaska offers and how exclusive and matchless my experience was.

Small Towns

Ketchikan. Facebook Members of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau
Ketchikan. Facebook: Members of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau

The towns I visited were Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, all largely remote. I remember there were miles of the Pacific Ocean visible on my cruise to Alaska, but it was probably freezing, and it seemingly took forever to reach these towns (it really took a day and a half to reach Ketchikan from Seattle). An enthralling part of these towns was that people lived in areas so remote, far away from herds of civilization. I appreciated their tenacity so much, especially since I was on edge about bad Wi-Fi.

Reaching these towns is inaccessible via car, so the lifestyle here is only for a tough group of residents. Due to cruise season during the summer, the towns were booming, and it gave people like myself a chance to see their rich history/attractions. Seeing Juneau from above made me realize how it was inside a large mountain range/forests. I saw totem poles on a short excursion from Ketchikan that were reminiscent of TV portrayals from my childhood. Each town was diminutive and quaint, full of ample souvenir shops and walking areas. The scenery was superb, with mountains in the distance.

Facebook Bombay Curry
Facebook: Bombay Curry

The most astounding thing to me was eating at a place called Bombay Curry in Skagway, a town that I believe did not even have 1,000 residents. It was remarkable to see Indian cuisine reach one of the most remote parts of the country and the world. The food was scrumptious, and the restaurant offered popular Indian cuisine such as curries and samosas.

The Exceptionality

Facebook Denali National Park and Preserve
Facebook: Denali National Park and Preserve

To say this state is one-of-a-kind is an understatement. This is a different sub-header for me, and I know it’s abstract, but I just want to admire and talk about how unparalleled this state is. It’s miles of mostly unspoiled nature that will render you speechless. There’s Denali National Park, the miles of tundra that leads to the Arctic Ocean, sheets and sheets of ice, wilderness, majestic mountains, and icy cold waterways, essentially all of nature’s finest in one destination. I don’t think there’s another place like Alaska in the world. The fact that it’s the easternmost, westernmost, and northernmost state speaks for itself on Alaska’s incomparable characteristics.

Scenery

Juneau. Facebook Travel Juneau
Juneau. Facebook: Travel Juneau

Conquering Alaska is no easy feat. It’s barren, secluded, largely uninhabited, and the Wi-Fi connection is a bit spotty. Yet, the scenery is simply breathtaking. The thick forests, snow-capped mountains, shards of ice, heavyweight glaciers, and freezing Pacific waters were an extraordinary sight for me to witness. Alaska’s scenery did not resemble any state I had ever been to before, and I was moved by the power of nature in this far north frontier. It’s a state that invites all challengers to seek the most exciting adventures and thrills. Alaska is unrelenting, but in its jagged mountains, sheets of ice, frozen waters, and thick forests were some of the most surreal and biggest lifetime adventures I may ever experience. This vacation was so inspirational and riveting that I have written a 3,000-word personal narrative on my experience. If you happen to visit Alaska in the future, be prepared for the trip of a lifetime.

Rishi Patel

Contributor

Rishi Patel's passion for writing is almost as great as his passion for traveling. Traveling remains the utmost favorite hobby and pastime for Rishi, which has led him to visit 47 of the 50 U.S. States and he cannot contain his excitement as he tries to reach the milestone of visiting all 50.

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