Alaska

Cuss, It's Cold

I don’t care what biology says, I’m an ectotherm—an iguana at best. I worked in a laboratory that was essentially a glorified icebox and my manager (you’re still my hero, Becky) let me assemble a small fortress of space heaters and heat lamps. So when I decided to finally visit my childhood friend in her beloved Alaska, I immediately called her and let her know I'd be usurping extra coats, blankets, and sleeping bags. When I hopped over from a warm and sunny Salt Lake City, I was prepared for brisk cold and whatever generic snow-white Alaskan trope I had in my head. I was so wrong.

Alaska. Oh, my cuss, do I adore you. The sheer scale is incomparable. It’s an outdoor or wildlife lover’s Valhalla. As we drove down to Beluga Point, I was speechless as I stared at the shoreline teeming with regal bald eagles—60 large, gorgeous birds. While we were hiking in the Chugach National Forest, we practically ran into a mother bear and her cubs igniting adrenaline-fueled admiration and slight panic. They’re nimbler than I imaged and incredibly inquisitive. It’s amazing how apparent the hierarchy of nature becomes when you start doing frantic math in your head to figure out how much space you need to retreat or whether there were two cubs or three. It was still enthralling.

And by the end of it, I forgot about heat lamps and space heaters. I want to go back. Today. Now.