Our collective fight against the novel coronavirus continues. Alaska is pushing 200 cases of COVID-19 after a rough weekend that included another death. Children are still out of brick and mortar schools, parents are continuing to work from home, and as Passover and Easter both come upon us, we are reminded once again that we are indeed physically distant from loved ones.
We’re also physically distant from places. This is the time of year in Alaska when daylight stretches out well past 9:30 p.m., reaching into our winter-weary souls with an infusion of hope for summer and the open roads, briny seas, and bluebird skies. It’s that stuff I’m missing the most right now, a way to treat my wandering moodiness for somewhere other than my house, yard, and too-clean garage.
Many destinations are apparently feeling the same, because a ton of them have begun offering virtual tours, photo galleries, and web classroom sessions to walk us through these uncertain times, Alaska-style.
A few weeks ago, the state’s tourism bureau put together a nice list of inspiring places to virtually visit. I added a few of my own, specifically geared toward families with kids. All together, I think, we’ve provided homebound, Alaska-wanting people with a few mental escapes from our current situation.
From Travel Alaska‘s post:
Catch 25 minutes of bear cam footage from 2019; see walrus on their Round Island haul out; or spend time with an Arctic Snowy Owl in Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow).
Take a hike with a National Park Service Ranger at Exit Glacier; walk the pristine rainforest shorelines of Southeast Alaska; and see just how towering a traditional totem pole can be.
The blog post, aptly named “Get Inspired,” also has virtual tours of Alaska museums, including the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, Anchorage Museum at Ramsuson Center, and the Kodiak Alutiiq Museum.
For kids, check out these options:
The Alaska Zoo is offering FREE distance learning opportunities while their physical facility is closed to the public. From polar bears to tigers, you can bet you’ll learn something from these interesting presentations.
The University of Alaska Museum of the North has soundscapes available on their website from The Place Where You Go To Listen, a truly unique way to capture Earth’s seismic vibrations, sounds of the aurora borealis, and the rhythms of daylight and darkness. It’s truly amazing.
The Valdez Museum is working hard to bring up to speed their virtual classrooms and education opportunities for visitors. We love this little museum, and think it’s worth a few minutes of viewing:
The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer needs you, kids! Their new crop of calves will arrive shortly, and they need a theme, so get creative and come up with a variety of names that center around your chosen theme (last year it was cheese). Also, the farm’s website has a bunch of videos featuring their cheeky oxen, often with fabulous commentary.
The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward says they miss us all terribly, but they’re trying to muddle through with daily programs at noon and 2 p.m. The center’s live cams will also be operational on a daily basis so you can see all your sea lion, puffin, and harbor seal friends. Wave back!
The National Park Service suspended its WebRanger program in 2019, replacing it with downloadable Junior Ranger booklets covering a variety of topics. No matter where you live, or what parks may or may not be near to you, these JR topics are bound to engage your kids. You can also go to individual park unit websites and access photo galleries, soundscapes, and virtual tours, depending upon the park. It’s a lovely way to plan for a time when we can get outdoors and into the wilderness: https://www.nps.gov/kids/junior-rangers.htm
Curious about Earth’s (including Alaska’s) ocean environments? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has an excellent website filled with activities, videos, and images related to oceans. There’s even some pretty cool games that don’t feel like schoolwork.