When I used to think of Alaska, I immediately thought of enormous, intimidating mountains, eskimos, moose and grizzlies, blizzards, and dying in an avalanche while skiing down some treacherous pass. Now, having been there... I still think of the exact same things, plus a few. I never expected that you can wear shorts in the summer there, or that it's common to own your own airplane for transportation. I didn't know that hockey was the sport that makes the state tick. I was surprised to see signs that numbered interstate moose deaths, and to see beluga whales in the Cook Inlet. But more than anything else, I couldn't believe how, despite the cities, modernization, and civilization, this state felt breathtakingly rough, untamed and dangerous. And I adore that about it.