This week, we have a guest on the blog: Dani Pettrey! Her ALASKAN COURAGE series takes place in a state most of us would love to visit. In case you can’t book a flight and head out there yourself, you can learn a little bit about Alaska as Dani shares some facts from her research for the books. Enjoy!
5 Fun Facts about the McKenna Family’s Home State
Alaska is a land of extremes. It’s the Northernmost, Westernmost (and Easternmost! Its string of islands stretches all the way into the Eastern Hemisphere) state in the US. It’s the biggest state, with the brightest summers, the darkest winters, and the most uninhabited land. With excitement written into the history of every river and mountain, it’s no surprise the adventure-loving McKennas feel so at home here.
- In the middle of the Bering Strait off the coast of Alaska, you’ll find Russia’s Big Diomede Island, and the United States’s Little Diomede Island, less than 3 miles apart from each other. This puts the two countries not only within eyeshot of each other on a clear day, but also within (hypothetical) walking distance when the water freezes. No wonder Russia and Alaska have such a closely-tied history… something Bailey discovered first-hand in Submerged!
- Most states use basic building materials like steel and concrete to build bridges, but did you know that in Alaska ice is used to build bridges over certain streams and rivers? Using water, ice chips, and snow, ice bridges are built up to bear the load of passing vehicles while also allowing the water’s flow to continue beneath its surface. The McKennas reflect this same kind of resourceful, out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to navigating impossible terrain (think Piper and the cabin incident in Shattered).
- Alaska is a popular cruise destination today, but it might surprise you to know cruise ships have been making their way to Alaska for pleasure travel for over a hundred years. Alaskan cruises were pioneered in the 1880’s by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. Even then, smugglers tried to use cruise ships for their nefarious purposes. During one cruise in 1881, a US revenue cutter intercepted the ship and found hundreds of pounds of opium hidden in barrels under the ship’s cargo. A pre-cursor to Darcy’s adventures in Stranded? Maybe so.
- Kayden is in good company as a record-setting Alaskan climber. In 1912, at a time when climbing was mostly a men’s sport, it was a woman named Dora Keen who first conquered the 16,140-foot Mount Blackburn. She succeeded on her second attempt, even after battling storms, glaciers, an avalanche, spending 20 days without tents, and sheltering in snow caves with sometimes only candles as fuel. If Dora was a fiction reader, I think she would have enjoyed Kayden’s story in Silenced.
- The snowy mountains of Alaska are the perfect place for adventure sports like free-climbing and heli-skiing, but they’re also home to a race called “The Last Great Race,” otherwise known as the Iditarod.The Iditarod dog sled race commemorates a month in 1925 when the entire city of Nome was struck with diphtheria. There was no way to get through the frozen land with medicine, and dogs and their mushers raced against time to bring a saving serum via sled to the people. Watch for more about dog sledding in Reef’s book, coming next, and check out my Bethany House Book Banter tomorrow (May 23rd) to learn the title of the book and see the cover!
Check out these websites for more Alaska fun facts on the Alaska-Russia connection, ice bridges, cruise ships and smugglers, Dora Keen, or the Iditarod and its history. And be sure to visit Dani’s website and Facebook page to connect with her!
All right readers, here’s your question (it’s a tough one): if you have read any of the ALASKAN COURAGE series books, which one was your favorite? If you haven’t, which cover intrigues you the most?