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Alaska Senior Editor Michelle Theall shares Alaskan portraits from her time traveling and meeting people around the state. For this photo Theall writes, “When you live in Utqiagvik at the edge of the world, you make your own fun. Three kids sit atop a roof to rest after a day of biking along the Arctic Ocean. In typical Inupiat villages, seal pelts hang off ATVs and meat dries on sawhorses in front of homes. Gas is $7.00 a gallon and a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola will cost you $10. However, bike riding and climbing on a neighbor’s shed remain free for now.” If you live or work in Alaska, you know that life here is different: simultaneously slower, harder, and more adventurous than in the Lower 48. People are fiercely independent, yet friendly. Communities possess unique personalities, defined in large part by their denizens or tourist offerings. Climbing and mining…

Pickled veggies. Photo courtesy Foundroot. Leah Wagner and Nick Schlosstein are a husband and wife team who run Foundroot, an online business selling seeds proven for Alaskan growing conditions that are open-pollinated, which allows for home gardeners to save their own seeds. Foundroot sources most of its seeds from farms and other ethical companies in the U.S., and in 2017 they started a small farm in Haines where they grow seeds and produce for the local market. Foundroot has sent more than 16,000 seed packets to over 65 Alaskan communities and throughout the Lower 48. What does Foundroot mean? Leah: We were playing with a bunch of different ideas for the name when we started. Ultimately, we felt like we found the root of the food security problem, and also the root of the solution. In breeding those seeds we found the ability to really do something beyond meeting basic…

I just landed in Sitka after leaving Haines, where I spent two lovely weeks in the Valley of Eagles. While bald eagles are everywhere in Haines, they’re also everywhere in Southeast, including Sitka. Still, there’s a difference between them: we’ll call it the lazy factor. Haines eagles are spoiled. I visit them in November during the end of the chum run. The chubby birds wait for a salmon to flop close to shore, and then they drag it up onto the rocks and feast on it. Or, they steal a fish from another eagle already dining on one. Their young also have easy access to meals, and don’t need to rely on mom and dad to bring food back to the nest as they mature. The eaglets don’t have to learn to dive into the water to fly off with a struggling fish in their talons. They just have to…

A few days ago, my 13-year-old son Logan and I descended in the Southeast in the tiny hamlet of Haines, Alaska—aka the Valley of Eagles. I take photographers here in October and November for the annual spectacle of the thousands of bald eagles that congregate on the Chilkat for the last of the chum salmon run. They fight and soar and spend most of their time trying to figure out how to steal a fish from another bird, rather than snag one of their own. But spring here is a different story. Yes, there are eagles, but the natural landscape takes center stage—even for a teenage boy. Our VRBO for two weeks here cost more than our monthly mortgage—after you gulp and gasp as I did, I’ll tell you it was worth every penny. Our cottage sits at the end of Mud Bay Road on an isolated inlet aptly named…

As we head into the new year, we asked you, our readers, about your favorite destinations in Alaska. No need to turn to Yelp or Travelocity for reviews—our Facebook poll reached more than 104,000 loyal Alaska magazine followers. We received a few hundred photos featuring everything from the northern lights to bears fishing in Katmai. The results? See below and start planning your vacation to one of these spectacular locations. Hatcher Pass / Hatcher Pass Management Area Hatcher Pass edged out Seward as the number one destination in 2015. Readers wowed us with photos of the Little Susitna River and wintery trails leading to Reed lakes. One Facebook follower said, “Archangel Valley. Can’t beat it!” The area encompasses 300,000 acres, and its proximity to Anchorage (it’s a three-hour round- trip drive) means easy access to recreation in the picturesque Talkeetna Mountains. Waterfalls, glacier-fed rivers and lakes, tundra and wildflowers, along…