Living Ain't Easy In Alaska

A diesel-powered tour bus travels down the only road through Denali National Park in Alaska in this file photo, date not known. Soot, mostly from diesel engines, is blocking snow and ice from reflecting the sun's glare, contributing to a "near worldwide melting of ice" and as much as a quarter of all observed global warming, according to top NASA scientists. AP/Al Grillo Photography

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Alaska is an easy place to fall in love with.

I've been up there a number of times, and every time I visit I encounter an interesting character or two. The country up there is wild and diverse. I've walked on top of glaciers and been eaten alive by mosquitoes. I've snowmobiled around the tallest mountain in North America and caught salmon and trout.

Living up there is anything but easy though. A lot of the people who move to Alaska are looking for adventure. Many find it even harder than they imagined. And almost all of them are pretty sure they and their state are misunderstood by the rest of the country.

Did you know that Alaska has one of the highest tax rates and one of the highest per capita numbers of state employees? Did you hear that most every year Alaskans get a check from the state from oil revenues? Sometimes those checks are worth thousands of dollars.

It's a little bonus for those long winters. And for toughing it out. And for being different from the rest of us.
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