The driving force behind my visit to Alaska this week was to photograph the Welcome to Alaska sign. Over the past four years I have crisscrossed the USA with the goal of photographing the welcome signs for all 50 states. And Alaska was, appropriately, my Last Frontier. (Stay tuned for more info about my book State Lines that will be published later this year.)
As I stood alone at the end of the Alaska Highway facing the sign, my emotions were mixed; I felt a certain sadness that this journey has come to an end, but at the same time I felt a strong sense of accomplishment. I set a goal, focused my energy and resources, and succeeded. (I also felt the biting of mosquitos on my skin, a minor annoyance that only temporarily distracted me from the moment.)
The sign is simple and sturdy, displaying details that define Alaska: the shape of the state (the largest in the country), wildlife and wildflowers.
As I turned my back on Alaska – and closed the book (literally) on my state welcome sign project – I faced not only a new country, but a new journey. Why not photograph the welcome signs for the Canadian provinces and territories? Nothing is stopping me, so I started.