Sun shines on icy paradise

Alaska’s raw beauty is legendary and worth making the trip to see.
Alaska’s raw beauty is legendary and worth making the trip to see. Kristy Muir

IN Alaska more people are injured and killed by moose than brown and black bears combined every year.

A fact which would have been useful before I had jumped out of the car and darted across the highway to get a picture with this four-legged creature grazing on the side of the road.

"I can't get you in the frame," my mate yelled at me.

So I moved in even closer, talking to her like I would any animal as he snapped a picture of me.

It wasn't till posting it on Facebook that I found out how lucky I was to have come out unscathed.

The animals in Alaska all look cute and cuddly - how could you not be tempted to roll around with some black bear or polar bear cubs?

Actually, that would be safe enough, but if mama bear caught wind of it, it would be a different story.

I unfortunately didn't see any bears in the wild in Alaska, but I did check out a few of them at the Alaska Zoo just outside of Anchorage.

It was a cheap excursion for a poor backpacker, a $12 entry fee and a free shuttle bus there.

But if money is not an issue you can take wilderness tours all over the country to check out the native animals in their natural habitat.

You can see Alaska in as few as three days or spend weeks tripping around, but if you don't have much time you needn't worry, because during the summer months there is up to 23 hours of sunlight each day/night.

I could barely wrap my head around the fact while driving back to Anchorage from Homer, it was 11pm and the sun was only just setting.

The sunset can last for hours and the sky will change continually from bright orange through to deep pink and purple.

Make sure you put seeing a summer sunset in Alaska on your bucket list - words can barely capture how you feel when you see it.

Another thing you should put on your to-do travel list is take a road trip through Alaska, because everywhere you look in the 49th state of the US is picture-perfect.

If you still need more reasons to visit this off-the-beaten-track destination, there is no tax, and nothing is overpriced to make up for this - it is a backpacker's dream.

Besides seeing a moose, while in Alaska, I managed to see and snap the perfect photo of a bald eagle. I have to admit it was possibly the highlight of my trip to Homer, besides watching my road trip companion, Olivier from Quebec take a dip in the glacial water of Kachemak Bay.

If you land in Anchorage, don't be disheartened, it is a grey, old and broken down city with native American bums lining the streets and drug dealers occupying the corners of the most run down areas. But the city is not without its charm, you just have to dig a little deeper than most destinations.

To truly experience what an Alaskan town is like, you need to either head down south or up north, towards the polar bears.

I would recommend heading to Homer, it is a fishing village and an artists' colony, littered with tourists in summer. It is one of the major tourist attractions on the Kenai Peninsula. The appeal is its location and surroundings.

During the summer, activities centre around the Homer Spit, a gravel spit that juts eight kilometres out into Kachemak Bay. Set near the western end of the Kenai Peninsula, Homer is 355kms from Anchorage and well worth the drive.

Along the highway you can stop off at a number of small towns along the way, but make sure you pack a sandwich and some water because food-stops are few and far between.

Once you're at The Spit there is lots to do from browsing shops and walking around the small boat harbour to the boardwalks and scales where you can watch trophy-size halibut being weighed.

The seaside town has an RV park and campground too if you decide to stay the night.

Beachcombers who don't want to use driftwood for their campfires can pick up lumps of coal that have been washed ashore from an underwater coal seam.

I heard the character of the spit changes in winter when the tourists have folded their tents and driven off in their RVs. I was also told it is the time when the eagles return in large numbers. The attraction for them used to be a woman who, for several years had been feeding them.

Unfortunately Jean Keene, widely known as the "Eagle Lady," passed away January 13, 2009 aged 85.

In 1977 Ms Keene moved to Homer, where she worked at a seafood plant and was given permission to gather surplus and freezer burned fish for a pair of eagles wintering by her home. Ten years later, more than 200 eagles were gathering by Mr Keene's home from late December through mid April. To feed 200-300 eagles, she loaded about 230kgs of fish into barrels and then into her pickup for the short drive home. She chopped the fish into smaller chunks making them easier for the eagles to carry. Homer officials passed an ordinance to ban eagle feeding on the Homer Spit; soon followed by an emergency ordinance to extend eagle feeding for 60 days beyond Ms Keene's death. Since eagle feeding had already begun for the winter, wildlife officials agreed it was best to taper off the feedings. The Homer City Council allowed friends of Jean to feed until March 27, 2009.

There are more quirky stories you can discover while travelling through the country, so instead of heading to your typical US destinations, head to Alaska.


  • 1,530,699 sq km
  • 29 volcanoes
  • 54,563 km of shoreline
  • 2253kms North to South
  • 4345kms East to West
  • 89 kms east of Russia
  • Over half the world's glaciers

Topics:  alaska paradise

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Cooroy's wild body art

BODIES OF WORK: The 2017 Body Art participants stand out in a crowd.

Body Art Festival coming up

Last chance for tickets to Sorting Out Rachel

STAR: Glenn Hazeldine in  Sorting Out Rachel  which opens in Noosa this week.

New Williamson play has audiences hooked

Council looks to limit Main Beach east events

EVENTS POLICY: Noosa Main Beach events such as the festival of surfing should be safeguarded under the new council policy.

Council adopts its Main Beach events policy

Local Partners