Q: I want to bring authentic gifts to my family in the Lower 48, but I’m on a budget. What should I buy?
A: Bringing gifts every time I travel Outside quickly becomes expensive, so I’ve developed a system that you’re welcome to copy. For good friends and family I actually like, my go-to gift is sockeye salmon and halibut fillets. In-laws and my crazy cousins get chum salmon and cod, but I still tell them it’s sockeye and halibut. The friends of friends I openly feud with have been receiving eagle feather gifts for a few years now. Next time I visit I’m going to make a call to the Fish and Wildlife Service, then sit back and watch the look on their faces.
Q: What’s a hidden getaway only locals know about?
A: Mention this beloved Alaskan eutopia (no, not Costco) to any sourdough and it’s sure to spark a wistful glint in their eye. The weather in this place is predictable. There’s plenty of deep powder, miles of adventurous hiking trails, and uncontested berry patches. There’s never traffic or crowds. Anyone you do encounter is friendly. Rivers are chock full of 50-pound salmon hungry for lures and even the most elusive wildlife is abundant. To learn more about this wonderland, track down someone who has lived in Alaska for 30 years and ask them what Alaska was like 30 years ago.
Q: I’m taking a cruise up the Inside Passage, but I’m having a hard time deciding on shore excursions. Any tips?
A: Ask about the Extra Tough challenge. I can’t reveal all the details here, but it’s a day full of unforgettable experiences. For example, the last time I did this excursion I learned how to grin down a grizzly bear and make friends with a bald eagle. I can now build a log cabin with my bare hands and whistle a tune that will coax a Dungeness crab out of the sea and into my cook pot. By early afternoon, I was so fulfilled I spent the rest of the day floating in the ocean and napping while holding hands with a sea otter.
Q: Top three places to visit in Alaska during winter. Go.
A: 1. Any ice cream shop. You think a banana split on a sunny summer day is enjoyable? Try wolfing down a half-gallon of moose tracks when it’s so cold that the ice cream is actually hotter than the air temperature.
2. The closest bar. There’s no better way to combat the dark and cold. A little liquor will warm your insides. Singing ballads and swapping stories of wrestling polar bears will brighten your day.