A love letter
Valentine’s Day always gets us thinking about the ones we care about the most. It’s an annual reminder to say the words “I love you” out loud. We’re not sure there has ever been a time when we’ve needed to say those words — and hear them in return — more. So here goes…
We love you and we can’t wait to welcome you in Alaska.
The past year has been challenging for all of us in many ways. And we wish we had the magical powers to make all your troubles go away. What Alaska can offer is a respite, a place to roam wide open spaces and marvel in beautiful scenery — and all the necessary COVID-19 precautions in place to keep you safe on your vacation.
But don’t take our word for it. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked a few residents from across the state to share what they love about Alaska. We were so touched by their words, we had to share:
“Being a lifelong Alaskan, I have seen many parts of this state. The beauty of the land and the ocean still often take my breath away. I love Alaska for her beauty, but I also love the people and cultures that make our state so unique. I am proud to share our stories and histories with visitors and friends because I just love this place.” — April Counceller, Executive Director, Alutiiq Museum & Archeological Repository in Kodiak
“Some people are born in Alaska, others are called to live here by an overwhelming, adventurous sense of life. I enjoy surprises and solving problems; Alaska provides changes and challenges every single day. We gain or lose a few minutes of sunlight a day; that's a phenomenal change that impacts the wilds of Alaska. We gain or lose an hour of light every 10 days, depending on the time of year. Surrounded by the highest concentration of mountain peaks and glaciers on the planet, the outdoor life is as dramatic and life affirming, as coexisting with nature can get.” — Neil Darish, Owner, McCarthy Lodge and Ma Johsons’s Hotel in McCarthy
“I love Nome! Our road system—the most extensive in rural Alaska—winds through precious wilderness that includes rugged mountains, rolling tundra, scenic rivers, lovely lakes and expansive vistas that fill your heart. These places are home to wildlife ranging from over 100 bird species to herds of muskoxen to millions of spawning salmon. Our endless summer daylight encourages full immersion in this natural world. Alaska Native people whose families have been tied to this landscape for over 500 generations continue to welcome newcomers like me. The result is an ever-changing blend of cultures and individuals whose combined talents, skills and life stories shape the evolving narrative of our small town.” — Carol Gales, Owner, Roam Nome in Nome
“It’s really hard not to fall in love with Interior Alaska summers. The long summer days are the perfect backdrop to boating, kayaking, hiking or camping. All the while rejuvenating your spirit as you connect with nature. And after a full day of outdoor fun, squeezing in a soak at the hot springs is an excellent way to unwind and relax.” — Mandy Sullivan, Vice Chair, World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks
“The thing I Iove about Alaska is the wild, untouched and unique spirit that shows in the people and culture and locations. I can go anywhere in my state and immerse myself in diverse cultures and community experiences.” — Jasmin Smith, Founder/CEO, Baby Vend in Anchorage
“Every morning I go for a walk with my dogs and there are no highways, stoplights or sidewalks in sight. The only noises we hear are birds and the wind rustling the tundra. It's a real blessing — starting each day with nothing but wide-open spaces and dramatic landscapes.” — Teresa Floberg, General Manager, Tonglen Lake Lodge near Denali National Park and Preserve
“I’m not a big town person. Even when I was traveling in the military, I couldn’t wait to get home. There was so much opportunity for me to do different things here. I didn’t get into the art world until I was 28 or 30, but I always found something to do. I worked as a commercial fisherman for a while. It was an adventure. The ocean gives us everything we need. And at home on this island, Alaska is a paradise to me.” — Ken Decker, Tsimshian artist, Crazy Wolf Studio in Ketchikan
“My love for Alaska is a profound and beautiful thing. To define that love must include the unrelenting beauty, the access to it and the people.
The beauty is epic in its wild and majestic presence. The nature is alive and vibrant. And within Alaska access to it is instant. Whether it’s one of the 750+ documented trail systems out our back doors, or access to the various forms of water. With over 6,600 miles of coastline and 33,900 miles of shoreline the ability to experience water is key to beauty and a sense of freedom that nature allows.
There are diverse cultures of people here, inherently bonded over our choice to live in a state that is slightly off the path most taken. Is it the fact that we have the lowest population density in the nation? Is it the hardiness required to withstand the sometimes-challenging weather? Or the sheer distance from “the rest of the world?” It has to include the deep pride in our state, including its past and its present? Whatever the combination that bonds us, it is the people that truly provide the ties that bind.
I’m grateful every day for my turn on this land. Never more than in the heart of a pandemic, I’m appreciating the security living here brings and how fortunate I am to experience it every day! It’s time to say thank you Alaska for all the love, and please know I’m returning it to you tenfold!” — Holly Johnson, President, Wings Airways in Juneau
Want to explore the Alaska these folks call home? Order an Alaska vacation planner today. And if you’re looking for more vacation-planning tips from local experts — find them here.
Editor’s note: The health and safety of Alaska’s visitors and residents, along with its member businesses, remains a top priority to the Alaska Travel Industry Association throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Alaska tourism businesses are open under the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan and can help you decide if it’s right for you to travel now or in the future. We encourage you to stay in touch with your travel providers for the latest updates and travel requirements.