In Septemebr 9th 2021, I made it to Alaska spontaneously booking a trip from Los Angeles to Anchorage the biggest city in Alaska state, usually before travelling to any location I do some research and discovery beforehand.
However, this one was completely unplanned, spontaneous and even I would say accidental, one of the most curious and cheapest destinations that I found that time was Anchorage, unhesitatingly I booked the flight and eagerly waiting to explore the wilderness of Alaska. A friend of mine dropped me out to the airport. After a long flight from LAX I landed to Anchorage, leaving the sunny weather behind I arrived at night after seven hours of flying and the first reaction was ‘it is so cold in here’ and for Middle Eastern like me, 40 degrees fahrenheit is extremely cold, luckily it was still summer in Alaska otherwise I don’t know how could I survive the cold.
The next day I was planning to have an outdoor activity but unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy which made it almost impossible to stick to the plans. I googled nearby locations and found out that Anchorage Musuem is highly recommended by locals and travellers, so I gave it a shot. I drove twenty minutes from my Airbnb place to the museum, the building from the outside looked fine nothing special but from the inside it was extraordinary, while exploring the rooms, the history of the native Alaskan people, and walking between the exhibitions. A rounded circle radar system caught my attention, I stepped towards to the radar and there was a quote by the US Army General William ‘Billy’ Mitchell saying:
“In the future, whoever holds Alaska holds the world” I immediately snapped a photo of the quote and stared couple of minutes searching for reasons behind this quote, I couldn’t find any prospect or information so I decided to deep dive into the importance of holding Alaska taking Bill’s perspective, first I had to look up Billy Mitchell and his history.
Billy Mitchell was known as "father" of the United States Air Force, he participated in many wars including Europe, US and Cuba and always believed in the power of the air force to his nation, honored many awards by the congress for his achievements, he resigned after an infamous claim that the he said “US government don’t enough support the development of the Air Force” which the congress denied later on, and that time he also stated the strategic importance of Alaska. I was wondering if it was only a strategic military location so it led me to read more about the military standpoint.
It is worth pointing out that Alaska was acquired by the US from Russia for relatively small amount of money, though maintaining the land and inhabit Americans wasn’t easy at that time for the US. In the beginning it was used for Military strategic location, as it shares borders with Canada and proximity close to Russia while creating sort of a shield for other forty eight states, with many military bases makes it an important part of the nation’s defense. But then I questioned myself: “Beyond military reasons there must be more reasons for holding Alaska”.This couldn’t be much better as the next days the weather was perfect fit for outdoor activities, while the quote is still stuck in my head. I spent the time exploring the landscapes, mountains, ice-bergs, whale watching and outdoor activities, I was astonuished that there were many tourists from different nationalities exploring Alaska, the tour guide even noted that Alaska plays crucial role in tourism in the United States in general and it is very crucial for the state’s economy as it attracts more than two million visitors every season. A fun fact that the guide mentioned iis that one of ten people work at the tourism industry. Then they also mentioned that the state is home to reserves of oil, gold mining, natural gas and minerals which has transformed the state's economy and performed in meeting the energy needs of the entire country. And the revenue generated from oil production also has allowed for investments in many fields benefiting both Alaskans and the nation as a whole. These facts empowered the Billy’s saying even more. Today Alaska role extends beyond its natural resources and military strategic as I mentioned earlier. It is considred as an environmental conservation, the state is home to many national parks, including Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park, these protected areas indicate the state’s unique ecosystems and contribute to the global efforts to biodiversity.
After two weeks of many activities from cruising to the glacier and seeing a real ice berg which was jaw dropping view, the dancing northern lights above the sky out in Fairbanks which left me jumping like an excited child – Since I was a kid I watched Aurora lights in Disney movies and never imagined that it exists in real life – seeing it was absolutely stunning experience. When I captured the Salmon’s last journey in the river I was inspired by the determination and long distances this fish made, astonished by the longest tunnel in the world in Whittier, felt like an explorer in National Geographic.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and connecting the dots. The first day was meant to be rainy so I could visit the museum and get exposed to the quote prior to the adventures I took. Little did I know that it would definitely open my eyes to many different perspectives and enlighten me to see the state from various views and even understand the state more deeply. This experience hasn't ended as I'm planning to visit the state again in two years with a longer and yet more adventurous trek with my friends. This time, I have plans and companions as I convinced my friends to join me, and I hope you will have the chance to discover Alaska from your angel too.