The Alaskan Otherness

Early Show - Sarah Palin's parents - September 29, 2008.
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.

I went to Wasilla, Alaska, Saturday to speak with Sarah Palin's parents. The drive up from Anchorage is breathtaking.

Alaska is still a wild, wide open country. Even in a place where Walmart and Target have become part of the landscape, moose still roam freely through most peoples' backyards.

It's a different life up there. Nature in all its glory and yes even danger is within reach, the folks who live here are pioneers in spirit if not exactly in fact.

The long harsh winters will hone some toughness into anyone's personality, and folks there say that Alaskan spirit is what will serve Sarah Palin best in the end.

There is an otherness to being an Alaskan. They know they live far from the lower 48, geographically and philosophically.

Self-reliance, a still spine and a solid work ethic are all the credentials you need up there, and they wonder what the rest of us don't understand about that.