Friday, February 10, 2006

Final Thoughts on Alaska

I told the group in Alaska that if wasn’t for a previous trip to the state, there might never have been the book BoomtownUSA. In my years of traveling around the USA doing industrial projects, I’d found incredible towns that I wanted to write about. We had talked about it at our strategy sessions at Agracel, but didn’t know anything about writing a book. We shelved the project in the late 90s.

My parents took all seven children and their families on a cruise to Alaska in 2002, a total of 35 people. While on the cruise I ran into a professor from SMU who had written a book about writing a book. I bought it, read it during the cruise and brought him to Effingham to do a one day seminar on reviving our book project. The way he explained it sounded pretty simple and we thought that we could crank out a book in about six months. It ended up taking us three years, but once we started down the path of researching the book, there was no turning back.

That trip to Alaska was in my mind when we got the call to do the talk in Alaska. I hadn’t been back since that cruise and told Sarah at my office to change some events around to allow me to go back to the state.

I was a bit apprehensive about returning in February, thinking that there wouldn’t be much daylight and knowing that the temperatures would be well below freezing. I was right about it being cold, the temperatures ranged from 5 below to 12 above, but I was pleased with sunlight until 5 pm.

I took advantage of having the afternoon free before my red-eye flight back home, so I drove down to Whittier, about 50 miles south of Anchorage. I was amazed by the scenery, especially the way that the mounted up ice turned Cook’s Inlet into a moonscape like surface.

Whittier, which is the western most port on Prince William Sound, was set up by the U. S. Army as “the secret port.” The army built a 2.5 mile railroad tunnel that linked the port to Anchorage. In 2000 the tunnel was opened to vehicle traffic, making it the longest vehicle tunnel in North America, albeit a one lane one that alternates directions during the day. Whittier was pretty dead in February but looks like it really bustles in the summer. Gorgeous, quaint town!

I’d love to return to Alaska again soon. Sarah: See what you can do to get me back there. Anytime!


Larry Paine said...


I have just been bit by the "write a book bud." I would like to know what your SMU prof's book is.

Larry Paine
Concordia, KS

BoomtownUSA said...

Larry: Best of luck to you on your book. It was fun to write it, but even more of blast getting ou on the road to give my talks about it afterwards. The title of Richard Hansen's book is "Credibility Power." I hope that you enjoy it.