Alaska has never been home to me and yet it beckons me to live there. I’ve been a few times over the years and every time I come back to the lower forty-eight, I feel as if I’ve left a part of my soul there. It’s beautiful and treacherous all at the same time. If I didn’t have the responsibilities that I do here, I would already be there learning to live in a colder demographic. I have never had seafood so fresh as I have in Alaska. I’m not normally a salmon eater but I was able to enjoy salmon there. Halibut became my favorite seafood treat. Since I can’t have shellfish, I found that the halibut made me not miss what I wasn’t allowed to have. Everywhere I looked there were snow-covered mountains around me. It felt as if I was one with nature and snow was plentiful. The beauty was only a part of what enchants me. The culture is one of hard work and appreciation. Never in my life had I seen mosquitos so large that they appeared to need their runway until I visited Alaska.
Just about everything has to be shipped there. Granted, they don’t tax most items and if you live there, they are one of the few states left that pays folks to live there. The first time I visited, I was married. It was one of the few places that my husband felt he could live. That was saying something because he did not like to travel away from the south. That’s another story for another day but he was not prone to adapting to change well. I fell in love with the state. It has a serenity that transcends time and space. It truly is one of the last frontiers. Humans co-exist with nature. Polar bears are part of what people encounter there. I wouldn’t want to come face to face with one without being able to protect myself though. Granted, they were there first and humans invaded their space but they are trying to do like we are – survive.
The air is cleaner there. The water appears to be cleaner and the taste of the seafood is unparalleled to many other areas in the world. Many of the trees are petrified. The earthquakes that have occurred have shaken up several areas but if you get the opportunity to visit places like Whittier, Alaska, you will find yourself transported back into history. They are extremely reclusive and social all at the same time. There are only a couple of ways in the town. The port closes at night and there is a tunnel that is one way through certain times of the day. That tunnel is approximately 2.5 miles to get in and out of the town. Virtually everything there is in seeing distance. They have a clinic that can handle minor ailments, they even have a church in the basement of a building. Most of Whittier can remind a person of a quaint life with tons of indescribable beauty. When I first found the town, I fell in love with it instantly. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the outdoors so much. Being confined into four walls doesn’t always equate to happiness. There is something to be said for being able to breathe in the fresh air, feeling the sound surround you with the calmness that only water can bring, and the peace that surrounds you with the mountains that seem to envelop your soul like a blanket. Essentially, the building is a fourteen-story home to an entire town. If high winds and earthquakes don’t bother you, you will feel right at home. Maybe I’m crazy but to me, those are small obstacles that can be overlooked. The heart knows where it belongs and the people who reside there are not afraid of what mother nature may present. The tower is called BTI or (Begich Towers). There are very few places that are like this. Fortunately, it is a wonderful respite from a crazy and hectic world in which most of us reside.
In the 50’s BTI was built for the families and Officers of the US Army. They were condos that were mostly concrete and the location was determined for security reasons. Because of the fact the deepwater port there never freezes, and almost never-ending cloud cover, it made it perfect for being able to be concealed from enemy aircraft that would loom ahead. Whittier is the gateway to the Prince William Sound. The first time I went, my first thought was if you love being remote, this would be the perfect spot. They have what they need and they don’t worry about the rest. It’s a unique concept that many of us could learn from. Alaska offers opportunities in many walks of life. Hunting and fishing are a given but there are plenty of things to make the area feel like home.
There are downsides to Alaska. If you are not used to so much darkness, then you might not adapt well to the winters where there are only a few hours of daylight. The summer months make it to where the sun never truly goes down. It can be confusing on the body clock. There are some things that you have to adapt and adjust to living there but many of the folks who have settled there, are surprisingly from states you never would have thought. I met a lot of people from the southern states when I visited. It was interesting to hear their stories as to why they did but most of them fell in love with it. I guess in many ways, they were called to make it their home as well.
COVID has made traveling more complex than ever. If this virus ever settles down, I will go back to Alaska and hopefully either live there or at least have an extended stay. The romanticized part of me knows that it’s a very hard life out there but true happiness comes from within and when you put your heart and soul into something you love, then nothing can cloud your vision. For me, that vision is traveling back to Alaska and exploring more of the terrain. I may never get there. This virus has made our lives more challenging than ever, but I refuse to give up on dreams that take me to where I want to go. What about you? Are there places that struck a chord that makes you feel like you belong even when you have obligations preventing you from going?
Some of you may be content where you are and that’s okay. Just don’t be afraid to spread your wings and see what this big, beautiful, world has to offer. You may find a life you never knew possible. Wherever home is for you, celebrate the places and people that mean something to you. Life is unpredictable but home should never feel foreign. Home isn’t a place that you should feel as if there is no escape. Home truly is where your heart resides. It doesn’t matter how close or far away you may be from a physical landscape. As long as you see with your heart where home resonates, you will be able to create a home anywhere.