Alaska is BIG! It is twice the size of Texas when the tide is in and three times the size, when the tide is out. The 700,000 inhabitants have plenty of room to roam around or to sit still. About 1/3 of the population live in Alaska’s biggest city, Anchorage. Nevertheless, when I spent an hour or so wandering around Nordstrom’s Department Store in downtown Anchorage, I wondered how many of the roughly 200,000 city inhabitants planned to buy the over-priced racks and racks of summer dresses and/or blouses on display. Then I remembered that 2 – 3 million tourists invade the city from Memorial Day until mid-August. All retailers over-stock popular, colorful items to entice the visitors to part with their money. Tourism is the 3rd largest industry in the state after fishing and forestry. A popular misconception is that oil is king in Alaska because each person who resides in Alaska receives $2000.00 a year from the oil companies. In addition, no one pays state taxes because of the oil pipeline.
Lots of people think of Alaska as, “The last frontier.” Sitting next to a roaring wood fire while staring out at the snow-covered mountains, add to the myth. Sighting moose and bear in highly residential areas confirm the frontier status for many. The myth melts slowly or crashes quickly when the viewer realizes that the only way he/she can watch a glacier calf or admire a pod of whales is from the deck of a cruise ship. Myth or reality, Alaska conjures up a deep appreciation for the majesty of nature at her most pristine. No wonder more Americans take cruises to Alaska than to any other part of the world. Eat your heart out Caribbean!