Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 15, 2013

Dress warm for Nov. 4 Lions Travelogue to Alaska

By Ken Steadman
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — “Lure of Alaska” will be the next featured Fairfield Glade Lions Club Travelogue presentation on Nov. 4. You may want to put on a few extra clothes to stay warm if things get frigid. However, Dale Johnson will try to give you a warm presentation at the Palace Theater starting at 7 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at the door for $7 each, or season tickets are still on sale for $30 each.

Alaska still issues a siren call of inducement, of seduction, at least for some. A seduction that resonates at several levels, of course. Some people come only for the petroleum royalities, immune and indifferent to the primal appeal this land has for others. Alaska is a place where sizable fragments of the natural world still exist, unfettered by any human influence. But, it is also a challenge. Alaska is a place where men and women come to test themselves against the land, against the weather and against themselves.

It sometimes draws men like Phil Koontz. Phil was an engineer and, for a while, an attorney. He followed his dream to live in Alaska 12 years ago and implemented that dream by building his own log house. It’s a dream that still resonates within the minds of many people in the “lower 48.” Even though it is a cherished dream of many, it is a tough thing to do.

This is not the Alaska frequented by tourist, but it is an Alaska which was more like the way it was years ago all over the state. Wildlife is still here, but more reclusive, not seen easily along the highways, which is a disappointment to casual tourists. But, in “Lure of Alaska” you will see grizzlies fishing for salmon, and competing with each other for the best places. Black bears also relish salmon when conditions permit, and we see them feeding in an amazing profligacy of fish, the bears choosing to eat only the caviar.

Anchorage is now a city of 300,000 – almost half the population of the entire state. Forty miles north of this city is the Matnuska Valley, and a surprising agricultural region with about 900 farms. They produce some amazing crops in 22 hours of sunlight every day. Some cabbages will weigh up to 127 pounds.

Denali National Park is the crown jewel of Alaska’s park system. But it is not the largest. The Wrangel-Saint Alias is 13 million acres … America’s largest. It contains the abandoned Kennicot Copper Mine which flourished in the early 1900’s, a fascinating story about Alaska.

There are moose, people, cities, fishing, the Marine Highway, receding glaciers and more, in a gigantic land that maintains an aura of mystic in the psyche of many people still yet.