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Dave and Jan's travels:
Alaskan wilderness

Alaska is really sparsely populated. There are around half a million square miles and the same number of people. By European standards that's already deserted. Then factor in that two thirds of those people live in just two cities, and you start to get some sense of the amount of space. And that space without people - that's wilderness.

Another way to grasp this is to study road maps. Start with the 48 connected US states, and you see a huge system of interlinked roads. Now look at one of the few gaps in this network. It is likely that it will be labelled "National Park" or similar: it will be one of the few pockets of wilderness left in the country. 

Now look at an Alaskan road map. What you'll see here is a mirror image: large areas of emptiness with occasional pockets of roads. The roads don't join up! Just think about this. What it says is, here's a place where uncivilised and wild is the norm, and human civilisation exists only in isolated pockets.

Now, I'm not claiming that all, or even most, Alaskans live out in the wilds. But they do get exposed to the wilderness more than you or I. Bears walk down the streets of the largest town in the state. Most Alaskans see a dozen or wild creatures larger than themselves every year. Then there are the winters. Fairbanks usually goes down to -50 degrees or more in winter. At these temperatures, simple mistakes result in missing fingers, or worse. And people do go out in the wild. Lots of people backpack in the middle of nowhere. Killing and eating animals is average, everyday behaviour.

In summary, people in Alaska develop different instincts, have different needs and often different viewpoints to people who live far away from wilderness.  And in general, they have a great 'can do' attitude because, I suppose, most of the time to get it done they have to do it themselves.