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Olivia Newton-John's trip to Alaska.

I discovered Alaska when my husband, an avid outdoorsman, and I headed out with two close friends to this beautiful, pristine land.

My first impression of Alaska is still with me. I remember the incredible smell of pine; it was heady and overwhelming. We were so taken with this scent that we pressed fresh pine needles and cones into our luggage to take home to our children.

When we arrived near Ketchikan, which is considered a busy tourist area, we began to feel revived after our journey from the mainland. There were no real signs of people about, and as we gazed at the exquisite sunset that night the skies nurtured our citified souls.

In the morning, we hopped aboard a small seaplane and flew to Naha Bay. From above we saw lakes in the tops of the craters, and waterfalls and greenery like I had never seen! The sky was filled with seabirds, their cries so loud we could hardly hear ourselves speak. We landed on a shimmering, clear blue lake, and our pilot pointed us in the direction of the trail that would lead us to our destination.

The first signpost we came to had bear-claw marks on it. "There's a bear close, be careful," warned our guide, provoking a lot of nervous laughter.

Wildlife thrives

in this fertile terrain

I remember everything so vividly; my senses were perfectly alert and attuned with nature. We walked down a very narrow and winding trail that took us near a waterfall where three black bears were catching spawning salmon with their paws and mouths. We watched them lumber back to their caves, returning again and again to the water to find food. They noticed us watching them as they fattened up for the winter but seemed unperturbed by our presence.

We watched the salmon swim upstream. The sight was primitive and beautiful, yet sad because many couldn't make it to the top of the stream. There, the salmon lay in pairs in ponds where they laid their eggs, thousands of them in perfect symmetry. As we headed back to the plane, a porcupine shuffled across our path.

That night we sat around a campfire on an isolated, sandy white beach and beheld one fo the most incredible phenomena in the world. As we sat singing songs in the crisp, star-filled night, the northern lights danced across the sky. I was once again reminded of nature's power and beauty. I knew tomorrow would be another glorious day.

We spent several more days in Alaska at a remote fishing retreat, where we bathed in natural sulfur springs. Young dall porpoises, with their faces in a permanent smile, raced to play with us in the wake of our fishing boat. We saw schools of killer whales, and on the shores of the bay stood timber wolves.

Looking back, I'll never forget seeing a bald eagle for the first time. We took photos of this magnificent specimen. He swept across the ravine, his call cutting to my very core. How unfortunate that these birds have been driven, poached and hunted almost to extinction in most of the United States. What a blessing it is that they are protected and thriving in Alaska.

During my time in Alaska, many people approached me with their environmental concerns. Alaskans are fiercely proud of their home but are losing the battle against the consequences of mining and deforestation. When the trees are cut down, the natural shade that protects the spawning grounds of the salmon is lost, and their eggs are killed by the heat, threatening the balance of nature as well as the vital fishing industry.

Seeing Alaska's plight only reinforced my desire to help save the pristine areas of the world, which are becoming so few and far between.

My way of doing this is to encourage everyone to encounter and embrace Mother Earth. For once you do, you will feel, as her children, the desire to protect her.
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Title Annotation:Special Advertising Section; My Favorite Place
Author:Newton-John, Olivia
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:663
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