Alaska: 15 Amazing Things You Want to Know

Alaska 15 Things You Want To Know

Most people have formulated a misconception about the “Land of the Morning Sun.”  But there are a lot of reasons why Alaska makes a great place to visit and explore.  It was once a territory which finally became a U.S. State in 1959.

Whenever someone mentions “Alaska,” what usually is the response you get to hear?

Well I admit, I never even cared about replying to it!  I have this misconceived notion myself that it is a remote, rugged, freezing cold and snowing all the time, that people live in igloos and get around with a dog sled.

Do not blame me but most of the TV shows I have watched have depicted the State as such.  Those mental images from the Discovery Channel’s shows like the “Alaskan Bush People,” “The Deadliest Catch,” “Railroad Alaska,” among others, created these pictures in my mind on how one has to be adventurous to survive in that environment.

But…

You got to experience it to appreciate it first hand.  To some degree, this great State is none of that at all.

I was surprised when I arrived at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.    When we droved out from the airport, the roads are all paved and wide; the business and commercial buildings are sprawling against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.   Everything that I have experienced so far really proved to be amazing and such one beautiful place I have ever been in my life.

Of course, compared to other states, it is colder by the standard.  The coldest months in the year is from October through April.  Though homes do not typically have an air conditioner, but rather a heater, being someone who loves the cold, I definitely enjoy the natural air conditioning.

Most people even have this notion that there are only 4 hours of daylight.  Unless you are in Barrow which has only 4,212 population on the northernmost part of the State, you will experience 65 days of straight darkness.  But in the southern part like the big cities of Anchorage, Seward, and Juneau, you will experience plenty of sunlight and even brighter days, especially during the summer months.

The motto of Alaska is: “North to the Future.”

On this note, let me move along and introduce you the 49th State with the following noteworthy and wonderful facts about “The Last Frontier.”

1. Sun and Moon Movements

Having used to watching the sun and moon rise (up) and set (down) all my life, I am surprised to witness this! The sun and moon move from left to right throughout the day and night.  Watch the short time-lapse video that I put together to show to my friends this spectacular moment.

2. Proximity to Russia

The gap between Alaska U.S.A. and Russia is less than 55 miles wide. And if we are to include the Russian-owned island “Big Diomede” and the American-owned island “Little Diomede,” Alaska and Russia are as close as only 2-1/2 miles apart.

3. The North Pole Exists

It is a good news to know that there is indeed an existing and real North Pole!  About 1,700 miles south of the geographic North Pole lies a City of Fairbanks suburb of North Pole with a postal zip code 99705.

North Pole Welcome Sign
North Pole Welcome Sign in Alaska

A real-life Santa Claus was even elected to the City Council at one time.  The North Pole is a home to the world’s largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus.

What is even incredible to know is that when Post Office receives letters to Santa from the boys and girls worldwide,  the citizens of North Pole answer the letters with an authentic wish of “Merry Christmas!” and many times with the gifts they wished too!

"Santa

4. Alaska Oil Production

The State accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.  Gasoline may not be the lowest in the U.S. but gas prices are lower than in most states.

5. The Alaskan Seas

Alaska is the only U.S. State to have coastlines on 3 different seas – the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Bering Sea.

Port of Kodiak Island, Alaska
Port of Kodiak Island, Alaska (Photo Credit: Pixabay.com)

6. World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall

The World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall at 20 feet is located at Alaska Wildberry Products, Anchorage.  It is a little version of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”  But the one we have here is more than Hollywood, it’s the real thing.

World's Largest Chocolate Waterfall
World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall in Alaska Widberry Products, Anchorage

7. Other States

When you are in Alaska, you would refer to the other U.S. States as “The Lower 48” like an Alaskan.

8. Land Mass

Alaska is the largest State of the United States. Its area is remarkably 1/5 of the size of the entire continental U.S.A.  Even when we split Alaska into two, Texas will be the 3rd biggest state.

Map of Alaska
Map of Alaska

9. Seaplane Base

As most Alaskans travel within the peninsula via plane or boat, Anchorage’s Lake Hood is the world’s largest and busiest seaplane base with over 800 take-offs and landings on a busy summer day.

10. Own Time Zone

When the stock market closes the day in New York, Alaskans are just finishing lunch. There is a 4-hour difference between the two coast-to-coast states.

Alaska, "The Land of the Midnight Sun"
Alaska, “The Land of the Midnight Sun” (Photo Credit: Pixabay.com)

11. Get Paid to Live in Alaska

Do you know that you get paid to live in Alaska? From rent to food to the high cost of travel, Alaska is not easy on the budget. To help offset the cost of living in the 49th state, the state government offers everyone who has lived in Alaska for a full calendar year, January to December, an annual Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). The amount varies from year to year, but it’s always a welcome benefit.  Since airlines usually drop ticket prices when the PFD is distributed, there is no better time for friends and family to book their next visit.

12. The State Flag

The state flag was designed by a 13-year-old boy. After calling on students throughout the territory to submit their ideas, Alaska ultimately decided on Benny Benson’s scene of the Big Dipper and the North Star in 1927. It would become the official state flag upon Alaska’s adoption into the Union in 1959.

Official Flag of the State of Alaska
Official Flag of the State of Alaska as designed by 13-year old Benny Benson

Little boy Benny did not even want to participate because there were older students who may be have had better ideas.  But what he wrote in his description advanced him to win the competition:

“The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

13. The Capital in Juneau

Juneau is America’s only State Capital that is not accessible by road.  Juneau has no road access to the rest of the State. It is the only capital city in the United States accessible only by boat or plane. It is also the largest, covering 3,108 square miles.

Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska (Photo Credit: Pixabay.com)

14. Coastline:

Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the United States combined.

15. The Purchase from Russia:

In 1867, Russia agreed to sell Alaska to the United States for  $7.2 million, which amounted to about two cents an acre.  Wow!

Alaska Museum
Alaska Museum, Achorage

There is still more to write next time, folks!  But one thing to note about Alaska’s economy if you are planning on a vacation before I wrap up on this post…

The State does not have an Alaska State Tax.  However, there are cities and boroughs that charge sales tax.  Therefore, before heading to The Last Frontier, be aware that Anchorage has no sales tax while Seward has 7%.  Having that in mind, it would save you up on food and souvenirs to enjoy more on tours.

So, if you have visited Alaska and have amazing and fun facts to add, let me know in the comments below.  And if you haven’t been on this side of the world yet, place it on your bucket list and let’s learn to manifest it.


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20 Tips for Everyday Point-and-Shooters

Perfect Shot Tips
Tips for Everyday Photography

20 Tips for Everyday Point-and-Shooters

Want to achieve a perfect shot at your everyday photography?   Want to know the best point-and-shooters’ tips that will improve your images?

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We always like to look at pictures, don’t we?  That is why we have pictures of ourselves, our food, our travel, friends, and family and post them on our favorite social media.

But if you are like me, I appreciate really good pictures.  I see the creative art in every frame even on my point-and-shoot photography. And that’s just the creative artist in me.

Most often I get attracted to something really spectacular and then when I come to review the photos, I tend to see something not right and it doesn’t seem appealing to me anymore.

Sometimes I wonder why I snapped it in the first place.  Yet surprisingly, those are the pictures that get the most likes on my Instagram.

In my quest for a perfect shot, I experiment with trial and error.  Good thing that we are already in the digital age where I am no longer wasting film and developing prints.

For my own pursuit to better photos, I also seek expertise from more seasoned photographers.  I study their technique, color combinations, balance, and texture.  Andhttp://www.shawacadamy.com that’s why I have this compilation of tips that I want to share with you to become a better Point-and-Shooter. Continue reading “20 Tips for Everyday Point-and-Shooters”

GenSan: A Story Beyond “PacMan” and Tuna

If you love eating tuna or have watched a boxing match of one of the greatest boxers of all time, Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao, then let me take you to this destination city.

General Santos or “GenSan,” in short, is the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.  We export tuna to Japan’s fish markets and delis in the U.S.  Likewise, it is the gateway to Saranggani Province, the hometown of Filipino pound-for-pound boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is now an elected senator serving his 6-year term representing his province.

Continue reading “GenSan: A Story Beyond “PacMan” and Tuna”

12 Essential Travel Gemstones for Crystal Enthusiasts

12 Essential Travel Gemstones

With the proper intention of protection, safety, and calmness for my sake and those I travel alongside with, my essential travel gemstones assist me in making my journey fun and inspirational!

The 12 essential travel gemstones, which I call my “friends” are always with me – be it just a walk around the corner or another vacation trip.

Some I keep the tumbled stones in its red silk pouch and some I wear from my custom-made pieces of jewelry.

My fascination with collecting gemstones and crystals started when I was introduced to yoga for my personal well-being.

On one section of the yoga studio, I was so amused with the variety of gemstone jewelry for sale that I wished I could also make and create for myself and as gifts for others. With the synchronicity of events that followed, I saw myself tracking down every crystal show and gemstone expo around Northern California.

Since then each time I travel to different states and explored the cities, I seem to end up finding a little metaphysical store tucked somewhere in a small town I was traversing. It feels like there is an internal GPS leading me to discover them somehow.

From then on, I became a collector and a jewelry designer enjoying the new-found interest as a hobby.

Continue reading “12 Essential Travel Gemstones for Crystal Enthusiasts”

Traveling with Eyeglasses: 10 Tips for a Fun Vacation

Do you travel with your eyeglasses?

You or probably someone you know wears eyeglasses. But in a very, very rare occasion that you have not met anyone in the entire earth who wears them, well… this may not be relevant to you at all.  For the rest of us, I have several “healthy eyes” tips on enjoying your vacation traveling with eyeglasses.  Nothing can stop us from having a great time, but knowing how to travel wisely with your eyeglasses will preserve unforgettable memories that will last our lifetime.

Would it be very ironic to take a great trip to a once in a lifetime destination and yet not have the pleasure of seeing the places of interest?


Continue reading “Traveling with Eyeglasses: 10 Tips for a Fun Vacation”

Villa Escudero: Filipino Tradition Comes Alive

I am from the Generation X. We were those kids whose teen years were spent during the 1980s. We were sometimes aptly called the “Baby Busters” because we are the children of the “Baby Boomers” and “The Silent Generation.”

The present Y2K generation may have not experienced playing in the streets with other kids like we did back then.  While most kids nowadays are hooked in video games and computers and interacting with other gamers online, we get rough and tumble on the riveting games like patintero,” “siyato,” and  tumbang preso,” to name a few, and we occupy the entire street whenever we play.  I got bumps and bruises every now and then; but I have to admit that I was remarkably good at those team games.

Sadly, seldom do I see much of the Filipiana settings nowadays except on stage.  Hence, when I went to Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort in San Pablo, Laguna, I was charmed by the way the owners preserved the rich legacy of the Filipino traditions.

Let me identify several high-points of my overnight stay as I reveled in every bit of the Filipino culture.

Continue reading “Villa Escudero: Filipino Tradition Comes Alive”

A Manifesto of Freedom

Responsible Freedom

Is freedom really free?  I believe there is not one soul who would want to be contained in a box for a lifetime because certainly, I know that we are born to create the life we were given.

Every person has that innate urge to express themselves in one form or another.  We were born with a free will. However, it does not mean that we can just do anything we want based on our whim.

Freedom is not about going on a rampage without being aware of its effect on other people, culture, or the place. It is granted to those who make themselves accountable for their actions by the virtue of respect and fairness.  It is being aware and present as you create yourself into being.

I believe travel gives me the opportunity to be creative – to explore, to appreciate, to treat local people well and learn the culture around me and at the same time get to know more about myself.  It is a win-win situation.

In every angle I turn, there is a story.  Those are the stories that I have not read in books or watched on TV but more so of what I have personally experienced with my interaction with people, places, and situations.

There is always a story to write and I can be a part of it.

Freedom Expereince
Zipline adventure at 7 Waterfalls Lake Cebu, South Cotabato.

When I travel there is a deep sense of freedom.  They always say that travel is not about a certain place but enjoying the journey of getting to your destination.  I believe it is so. And what captures my heart most is the pit stops and fanciful observations along the way.

 Although some people thought that travelers have this affordability factor to consider, I myself do not have to go to a far-away land to fulfill my wishes to travel.

Where I am is where I should be. The question that requires a creative answer and question is: What is the best that can come out of this?

There are several junctures when I get to a place either by invitation or by impulse as if luck has just invited me in.

And when I get there, I always find something uniquely special about the locale that I can treasure, which when someone asks about it, I could tell the story.  This is the kind of freedom that nobody can take away from me.

I have this collection of shot glasses of every place I go.  It gives me a remembrance of what the trip was like and where was I when I bought it. It was a simple way of collecting memories on top of my photographs.

 I am not a TOURIST but a TRAVELER.

Tourists usually arrive at their chosen destination, takes pictures but never engages with the locals disregarding their culture and society. 

A responsible traveler is one who finds out about their destination, their culture, and their rules.  A traveler helps the community they are visiting by reducing waste, respecting wildlife and its people.

 “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” -Aliyyah Eniath

Being a hobby photographer gives me an edge of expressing the artist in me with my creation.  Whenever I capture the beauty of what the universe presents in front of me, I realize the fulfillment – a moment of freedom to create.

I admit that there are numerous moments which I missed at times when I was busy with other trivial things – stuff that really does not matter, in retrospect. Nonetheless, nature is always forgiving and constantly gives me yet another opportunity to see the choice of seizing another beautiful moment.

The best thing that I benefit from travel is a chance to re-invent myself. Memories are created so I just go and follow the destination of where my heart leads…that is what I call FREEDOM.

If you like to read more about travel not only to another destination but also in life, sign up below to get more.

If you would like to hone your photography skills for your everyday snap and shooting, I have a cheat sheet that you can get here.

What is freedom to you?  How do you create your freedom during your travels?


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