Susan Sommer


Each fall around Alaska, friends and family gather buckets and bags and head to their favorite blueberry spots. These, of course, are kept somewhat secret from the masses, but in general, anywhere there is tundra, you should look for blueberries. While high on a hillside or low beside a lake, berry picking lets your mind wander while your hands stay busy. Solve problems large and small, or just decide how you’ll use your berries throughout the winter—freeze them for pies, muffins, pancakes, and smoothies; dry them to toss on cereal; or make jam to enjoy all winter. For details on nutrition, storage, and recipes for blueberries and other Alaskan foods, visit cespubs.uaf.edu/publications.

Want to see what the weather is like at any given moment around Alaska? You’ll find the most comprehensive system on the FAA Aviation Weather Cameras site. Choose Alaska for the location on this Federal Aviation Administration resource to find out if your destination is sunny or overcast. A screen capture of Berners Bay between Juneau and Haines It’s also fun to peruse places you’re not visiting, just to see what they look like. From Akhiok to the Yukon River Bridge, stations include popular tourist destinations like Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali (still called McKinley on the website), Homer, and Ketchikan. But try clicking on someplace you’ve never heard of—perhaps Nunapitchuk or Perryville or Chistochina. Bon voyage!

Easy to difficult outings near Anchorage Hitting the trail is a great way to enjoy summer in Alaska—it’s good exercise, you can unplug from technology for a few hours, and you might encounter wild animals. Here are five scenic hikes within easy reach of Anchorage. 1. Turnagain Arm Trail (easy) A typical view along the Turnagain Arm Trail With four trailheads along this approximately 10-mile route, you can do a quick hike or bring a picnic and make a day of it. South-facing and snow-free early in the season, this trail is a great introduction to Alaskan hiking—you’ll see wildflowers, mountain views, and maybe even Dall sheep or brown or black bears. • • • 2. Dew Mound (easy) Bear track on the Dew Mound trail Trek through a forest of birch, cottonwood, and spruce on this 6.1-mile loop. Take a lunch break at the exposed rock of Dew Mound…

Home of the Alaska State Fair and freakish veggies The traffic light pulsing like a heartbeat at the intersection of Alaska Street and Evergreen Avenue gives Palmer a definite small-town feel. And though nestled in Alaska’s fastestgrowing borough, the town retains its charm and friendly pace. Still, it’s far from sleepy. Each autumn, Palmer is home to the Alaska State Fair, but throughout the year farmers markets, community celebrations, parades, and popular cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops keep things hopping. In 1935, when Alaska was still a territory and the Great Depression ravaged the nation, 203 families traveled from the Midwest by train and ship to reach the Matanuska Colony, an experimental farming community formed under President Roosevelt’s New Deal. They lived in a tent city at first, then began farming individual 40-acre tracts. About 6,500 people call Palmer home today. The town’s roots are firmly planted in the fertile…