Travels through Alaskan north

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Greetings from the state of Alaska!

Seldom do I travel this far from home, but I am a member of a national legislative organization which happened to choose for its annual meeting site the city of Anchorage, Alaska.

As a member of the group’s executive board, I had special responsibilities which required my attendance.

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It was difficult to pass up an opportunity such as this, especially when the organization is footing the bill for the trip.

This is actually my second time to be in Alaska.

My wife and I made a trip to the Anchorage area a little over five years ago.

The difference in the two trips is this time I had an opportunity to see and do things that were not included in the agenda on the previous trip, and most of these new things turned out to be highly interesting and educational.

Whether one arrives by airplane, ship, or highway, you soon learn that Anchorage is the ideal base camp for every Alaska experience.

There are approximately 800,000 people who live in Alaska and half of this number reside in Anchorage.

On Thursday, I flew with a group of legislators to Valdez.

You may recall that this is the Alaskan city where the great Exxon Alaskan oil spill took place several years ago.

Valdez is located on Prince William Sound which has the densest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world.

Observing these glaciers ranks high on the things one needs to do to make an Alaskan trip a great experience.

I was in meetings all day Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday afternoon I took a boat ride up the Talkeetna River.

We had the rare opportunity of a large black bear jumping in the river just ahead of our boat and swimming completely across in front of us.

The bear looked small while in the water, but once it reached the far bank you could see that it weighed not less than 300 pounds.

On the trip up the Talkeetna River there was one spot where you could clearly view Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America.

We had the good fortune of having a cloudless day and the mountain was a beautiful and rare site.

The one thing I wanted to do but did not have time to include on my schedule was visit the communities of Homer and Seward which are considered the &uot;halibut capitals of the world.&uot;

These communities are several hours south of Anchorage and it takes a full day to include this experience in your Alaska adventure.

I did, however, get to eat some of the freshest halibut I have ever had and I also got to patronize two of the finest restaurants in the entire state.

One was Simon and Seforts and the other was The Crown’s Nest, located in the Captain Cook Hotel, where I stayed.

Alaska is a beautiful part of our country and I wholeheartedly recommend it if you have the chance to travel that far from home.

It is also a very huge state.

I was with three Texas legislators one evening at dinner and our Alaskan host made the comment that if Alaska were divided in half Texas would still be the third largest state in the union.

My Texan friends took this ribbing quite well, but the Texans I know still think of themselves as the biggest and best.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.