Our daughters are starting their own families now and a new generation of Alaskans in my family are learning to appreciate that early morning light, the sound of loon song echoing over the lake, and fat fresh blueberries just picked from the bush.
Since 4 a.m., you've been straddling a narrow path on the edge of a rushing current, your back against a steep slope of hard-packed mud. There's barely room to swing the rod, your feet are wet and you can forget about a place to sit.
Head over to Lake Hood, the busiest seaplane port in the world with more than 1,000 aircraft basing themselves on the lake. There are more than 90,000 takeoffs a year, so you'll be able to book a flight on just about any day.
I've traveled all over the world, yet every time I am away I long to return to you. Every season brings a different adventure and unique beauty, but nothing compares to the sights and scents of late summer.
Whether a cheap cruise or an expensive fishing trip, if you want to have your hand held -- or if you just feel like blowing a bunch of cash -- operators are standing by. It doesn't have to be like that, though.
Alas, as it turned out I returned only for visits, visits that always make me wonder if maybe we shouldn't just sell everything back in the lower 48 and stake out a new claim on your beautiful, rugged terrain.
What would an America under tyrannical Canadian rule look like? More polite? Cheaper health care? Would we all have to call macaroni and cheese "Kraft dinner"? The best way to envision this nightmarish alternate-universe dystopia is to peek in on the quiet town of Hyder, Alaska.
Alaska is sometimes thought of as America's last frontier, with the state's rugged mountains covering huge amounts of land, much of it largely untouched by humans. An Alaskin cruise brings passengers alongside wildlife and glaciers with panoramic views from the ship's deck.
The trick is to find out where the bears go to eat, and follow them. And where do they go every summer and have for centuries? To the rivers, brooks and creeks where their primary diet, the salmon, are swimming upstream.
The premise of dog mushing is simple: hook a few dogs together along a rope, attach the rope to a sled, stand on the runners of the sled and hold on. The reality of dog mushing is infinitely more complex.