Writing has been one of my passions since I was 10 years old and entered my first contest in elementary school back in Virginia. I think I get this love of writing from my parents: My mother is a voracious reader, and my father is the best letter-writer you'll ever meet. Growing up surrounded by natural spaces, I also gravitated toward the outdoors and spent most of my time wandering the woods behind our house. As an adult, when my love of the outdoors met with writing, I knew I had found my place.
After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1990, I went to work at the Roanoke Times, and worked to hone my outdoor-writing skills. In 1993, I took a leave from that job to hike the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, an amazing undertaking that would change the way I view the world.
That AT adventure led to a goal of seeing the ultimate outdoors: Alaska. In 1995, I packed my belongings and headed north. Here, I worked as a reporter and writer with the (Kenai) Peninsula Clarion, The Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News (where I wrote an outdoors column, "Head Out," for several years) and, currently, the Alaska Star.
The Alaska adventure was meant to be a "trip" I thought would last a year, maybe two. Instead -- and this is a refrain that you will hear from people often here in Alaska -- the place grew on me. Here I am, nearly 16 years later, still calling Alaska home.
Writing about the outdoor adventures available here in Alaska is an endless process. There are mountains, rivers, oceans and valleys to explore. There are trails to hike, ski and run; roads to bike; and off-the-beaten path locations worth experiencing that are only accessible by plane.
Even day-to-day life is an adventure (Case in point: As I write this, I am being held captive by two moose outside our house who will not stop browsing on the trees. The sled dogs -I have an aging, but beloved team of seven- are cowered in their doghouses outside, waiting for the marauding moose to leave).
I hope you find my guidebook helpful. I have tried to write it in such a way to take the unknown away from planning a trip here. By organizing it by activity, the outdoor adventurer here can then get the most important part right -- WHAT they do while visiting -- then fill in the blanks (where to stay, what to pack, where to eat) afterward.
I appreciate any and all feedback. As always, guidebooks are living, breathing documents that change every year based on the available guides and businesses operating. Some places close, others open. As each year progresses though, my goal is to include those activities that are tried and true in each edition. As I experience Alaska, I will share it with you, the readers, in the hopes that you will find Alaska as truly amazing as do I.