“If you could go on a trip to anywhere in the world where would that be?” I ask my son.
It was a sunny afternoon. I was sitting at the table drinking coffee and dreaming of the great time we had in Vanuatu when he was six years old.
We saw bright tropical fish as we snorkelled in the warm blue sea. He spent the day running around collecting hermit crabs as his father and I soaked up the sun on the beach.
I drifted off thinking about crystal blue waters and sipping drinks with pretty umbrellas as we’re serenaded by local musicians.
“Alaska!” our son replies.
“What? Why?” I blurt out.
Our boy has never shown an interest in Alaska before. And a few years ago he would have answered Vanuatu for sure.
“Because it is cold. And you see snow stacked as tall as you.”
“That’s it? For the cold and the snow?”
“No. The wilderness looks awesome. And you get to try reindeer burgers!!”
His enthusiasm and his desire to eat their native fauna make me smile. He is getting more adventurous as he grows older.
I quickly google reindeer burgers. Links to Humpy’s Alaskan Alehouse, Anchorage, pop up on my phone with an image of a giant burger and chips.
It looked enormous.
It’s odd how we experience things for the first time. I had never, until this moment, wondered what reindeer meat tasted like. But here I was, on this sunny Australian afternoon when the Jacarandas are in full bloom, wondering if an Alaskan reindeer burger about the size of my face would be delicious.
I begin to wonder if reindeers are native to Alaska. The wild ones are called caribou and it looks like they are.
Thanks to the internet I now know there are more caribous than humans in Alaska. 32 herds of about 900,000 caribous roam its arctic tundra, mountain tundra and northern forests. And there are 700,000 people who call that part of the world home.
I tell my son this. He loves it and I bask in his amazement. Ha! Thanks, Google.
Not to be outdone, he drops in a little fact of his own.
“Did you know that it used to be part of Russia?”
“Yeah. The Americans bought it off them.”
How does my kid know all this stuff? He was only five years old and starting his first day of school yesterday. Alaska was indeed bought from the Russians for $7.2 million in 1867.
As it turns out, he watched a YouTube channel Minute Earth some time ago and the information stuck. I realise his brain is a magpie nest of random facts that have yet to be translated into amazing grades at school.
I secretly, in the darkest, most competitive part of my soul, wish there was a subject for random trivia so I can show him off to other school mums.
Poor kid just wants to visit Alaska and I’ve somehow transformed it into a tiger mum competition.
I continue to research the state. The internet throws up some wild and beautiful images of the countryside. I see snow-capped mountains and plains that stretch on forever; rugged coastlines and hot mountain springs; giant blue glaciers against the grey sky. It looked pristine, clear, fresh and as far away from Sydney as we could get.
“Ok sweetheart,” I respond. “Let’s have a chat with your dad to see if we can visit Alaska one day.”
“Yesss!! That would be awesome Mum!”
Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Where would you escape to?