Posted: Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There I was down town Anchorage attending safety classes at the Merriott Motel and watching all the tourist from all over the world file in and out of the motel. Huge tour buses dropped off or picked up large groups of people from all over the world all day long. I walked around the down town area of Anchorage viewing the tourist and studying the places they went and the items they were picking out of some of the souvenir and gift shops.

I was extremely disappointed in this and must admit that this is one part of Alaska that I hate. The commercial part of Alaska is something that in my opinion is wrong and I’m very disappointed that so many from all over the world pays a whole lot of money to see such a small part of Alaska. These people are often times looking to see a wilderness adventure but instead see only the commercial or down town part of Alaska.

Later on I met a couple at the airport that was here from South Carolina and taking an ocean cruise out of Seward. They were sitting there waiting for the shuttle which was suppose to be two hours away and then they had to ride to Seward and wait for the ship to get in before boarding. They were extremely disappointed in that they had to wait at all as they were told someone would pick them up as soon as their plane landed and would take them right to the shuttle. The elderly man had bad knees and unable to walk long distances. He was so disappointed he stated “I wish I had my money back already and was back home!”

Often times in this type of business we Alaskans paint a much brighter picture of things then it really is. And yet there are also some people that your simply not going to make them very happy no matter what you do. But yet I am convinced that there are a whole lot of people that have visited Alaska and never really had the chance to truly see Alaska and the many things it has to offer. Driving or walking around Anchorage is not the picture I want to remember about Alaska.

Personally if I had to live in Anchorage I would not live in Alaska. I hate the traffic, and so many of our businesses geared for tourists. I would much rather live in the woods then be forced to endure city life like we find in Anchorage. During the many hours I spent wandering around down town I was approached by several local residents who all asked me the same question. Do you have a cigarette? I would hate to be on the street, broke and addicted to something I have no money to buy. I wonder how many of our tourists were asked the same question.

I can’t imagine being down on my luck and having no job or a place to live let alone any food and compelled to beg for cigarettes. The wilderness of Alaska has attracted people from all over the world but for many all they know is what they see from the streets of down town Anchorage. This is not a very pretty picture and one that I would not paint for my family or friends that come to Alaska.

There are plenty of jobs both seasonal and full time in Alaska if your willing to look and use each job here as a stepping stone towards a better one. Yes getting started in Alaska can be very tough, I know I have been there myself. But yet the opportunity here is still way better then it is in a lot of other places if your willing to simply do whatever if takes to survive. Living on the street simply tells me one thing, you chose to give up..

After working my 2-week hitch on the slope followed by two days of Randy Smith oil field classes I arrived home to a meal of home raised grilled chicken. A meal that I really enjoyed and one I would have loved to share with someone less fortunate then me. I will spend the remaining days of my two weeks off fishing and preparing for my up coming mountain goat hunt with my son Travis. I will also be making my rounds delivering some fresh home raised chicken and fish to several elderly members of our community. If you know of someone that has such a need don’t just think about it, tell me so I can help them out too.

I also think that there are many tourists out there that are leaving Alaska disappointed and frustrated because the picture the tour people painted for them is not the one that they are seeing once they get here. It would do my heart good and I know it would certainly inspire them too if we helped a few of these people truly see Alaska the way we know it. When is the last time you took a total stranger out fishing? Invited an elderly couple over for dinner with a different license plate then Alaska? Show them something besides just the commercial part of Alaska. Shared a meal with someone you did not know? How many of us could easily share several meals and not hurt us one bit financially? Isn’t that really what being a true Alaskan is all about?

I often times think about the prayer ending that says “Keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.” We are all very blessed to have had the opportunity to live in Alaska, which has often times been called the most beautiful place on earth. I am very thankful that I moved here and even more thankful that sometimes I am in position to be able to help out others too. You do the same when you see someone in a situation less fortunate then you. See you next week!

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