As far as biologists are aware, there exists no animal either dumb or disoriented enough to migrate north in winter. The great gray whale, the humble mallard, the little tern, all head south when the weather starts to bite, and most of us, harboring some shared clump of DNA, follow suit without really thinking about it.
Which is precisely why, for our good health and contrary sense of well-being, we should occasionally buck the Cancun-bound tide of pasty faces and cocktail umbrellas and point one's personal compass north. More specifically, north to Alaska.
And why not? The views still are there, 20,000 feet of Mount Denali rising abruptly from the tundra -- a somewhat nondescript land feature whose marshy hummocks, covered in snow, suddenly turn graceful. The wildlife are still there, such as the big-schnozzed moose that wander Anchorage neighborhoods, biting the hearts from garden cabbages. The people are still there, the halibut fishermen playing penny cribbage in the sawdust-covered Salty Dawg Saloon in the weathered little fishing town called Homer. In summer, the town's status as the last stop on the North American road system draws flocks of RVs, but in winter the tourists are only the bald eagles that come to feast on the salmon left for them by a soft-hearted local who goes by the name (appropriately enough) Eagle Lady. Everywhere in Alaska, prices are lower, crowds are smaller and temperatures in the south-central and southeast parts of the state -- despite Alaska's Eskimo-and-igloo reputation -- closely mimic those of Minneapolis