The Landscape of My Roots

Still not entirely sure what to write about, I figured I would go back to my roots. My mother was in the Air Force for about 20 years and during those years we lived in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1992 I was born in the Alaska Regional Hospital and then lived the following year in Anchorage. Being so young I do not remember much about it, but we have more than enough pictures and stories. Stories of volcanic ash covering our street and cars, stories of a full-grown moose roaming into our backyard, and stories of how my dad was trapped on a bridge with a momma bear and her cubs on opposite ends. The environment and surrounding landscapes are more than gorgeous, they are breathtaking and I hope to one day go back and see the land for myself to remember for many years.

My dad, mom, and older sister in front of a mountain range in Alaska.

Many people travel to the state just to see the rare sights and embrace the beauty. There are many ways of enjoying this landscape: taking a glacier trek, a kayaking trip, white water rafting, zip lining, etc. My sister was able to make a two week long trip to Alaska last summer. Some of their excursions included white water rafting, a flight-see above the mountains, hiking through many areas, and kayaking. With only two weeks, her group was barely able to scrape the surface of things Alaska has to offer. 

This is a picture from my sister’s kayaking expedition.

One of the most noted mountains in Alaska is Mount McKinley, or Denali. It is the highest mountain peak in the United States and in North America. Its elevation reaches 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level and when measured base-to-peak, it is the tallest mountain on land. Some of the other notable mountains include Mount Kimball, Mount Hayes, and Mount Torbert. Mountains are not the only thing Alaska is covered with. Alaska contains over 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields which have been active within the last two million years. Of these volcanoes, about 90 have been active within the last 10,000 years. These volcanoes make up about 80% of all active volcanoes in the United States and 8% of all active above-water volcanoes on earth. Some of the most frequently active volcanoes in Alaska include Akutan, Veniaminof, Pavlof, Okmok, Cleveland, and many others.

Landscape is used throughout art and entertainment. In the movie, The Proposal, the characters make a visit to the homeland of Ryan Reynolds’ character, which is portrayed as Sitka, Alaska. In this movie, you see only a brief glimpse of the mountainous ranges, volcanoes, and deep valleys.

Here’s a scene from the movie:

Here’s an actual picture of the real Sitka, AK:

It can easily be seen that the mountains in the movie were digitally put there. Therefore it can be said without a doubt the movie doesn’t do the real Sitka justice. This just goes to show how our natural landscapes come into play in many different aspects. The Proposal is only one of the countless examples of real life landscapes being featured in movies. Some of the famous films that are based in or incorporate Alaska as a setting include: Balto, Snow Dogs, The Guardian, The Simpsons Movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Grey, and many more. While a handful of these movies provide an accurate portrayal of Alaska and its history, a majority of them do not illustrate it properly. They film in one area claiming to be a completely different one. This can easily be overlooked, but to a critical or familiar eye, it can be insulting. These landscapes have been around since the beginning of time and the least we can do is portray them accurately. Seeing them in person is the ultimate experience, so when seeing it through a camera lens it already decreases its “wow factor.” For this reason, I find it bewildering that film makers cannot do the scenery more justice. In some cases, if they were making an effort to protect the landscape and prevent harm, I would understand. But there are still steps they can take in order to portray the astonishing beauty of the land. Enough of my rant, I just feel defensive when people are misled on things I’m passionate about. I want people to see places for how they truly are!

All in all, Alaska is one of the most diverse and breathtaking landscapes in the United States. Not many get to experience its beauty first hand, so I feel it should be properly and accurately captured for the world to see. We should appreciate our national treasures instead of misrepresent them.

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