I came to Kodiak a year ago this week and already have had many wonderful experiences that I will not soon forget.

I’ve seen breath-taking, undisturbed views of the Buskin River after a fresh snowfall and had the pleasure of watching a variety of wildlife and marine life in and around Kodiak. I’ve seen worries of the day fade as they were replaced by images of beautiful wildflowers and the powerful sound of crashing waves as they pushed sand into creative patterns.

After reflecting on a year filled with such colorful imagery, I have created a list of my personal favorites:

Favorite beach: White Sands Beach. I love the view with its unique sand patterns. The tide pools. The bay view and the nearby hiking trails.

Favorite feature: Split Rock at Mill Bay Beach. That rock formation, less than a mile from my house, still captivates me. I love to get new camera angles every time I visit, while imagining what could have caused this. I’ve posted photos of it on Facebook multiple times and try not to get offended when they don’t get the attention I think they deserve from my friends on the lower 48 who have never seen anything quite so amazing.

Favorite hike: Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. I love the seasonal changes. The lush greenery. The great vantage points. The beach access. Its historical significance.

Favorite view: From the top of Pillar Mountain — from both the front and back.

Favorite quality-of-life enhancement: Light traffic and short commutes. After living in Dallas and Tampa, the value of streets that aren’t crowded with rage-filled road warriors and a drive to work that takes fewer than 10 minutes cannot be overstated.

Favorite community event: Crab Fest. Having something that is safe, affordable and offers something for everyone is an important asset for any community. Crab Fest organizers put it all together in a way that’s better than most fairs and festivals of similar scale.

Favorite hangout: Harborside Fly-by Coffee. I meet friends there. Conduct business there. Spend Saturday mornings there with my wife. I could watch planes take off and land all day long while enjoying a strawberry banana smoothie.

Favorite season: Winter. I loved the way those wet, dark months wrapped their arms around me and told me it was OK to slow down and enjoy what was most important in life.

Favorite piece of travel trivia: That Amazon can predict — to the day — how long it’s going to take to get what I ordered from Pittsburgh, California or New York.

Favorite piece of magic: No magical place gives up all her treasures too easily, and Kodiak has been no different. As many of you know, I have spent considerable time trying to get a glimpse of a Kodiak bear in the wild. But, as of today, that special animal still eludes me.

Favorite “could do without”: Mosquitos and other biting insects. I had heard stories about bugs in Alaska before arriving, and unfortunately most of them have not been exaggerations.

Favorite thing: My favorite thing about Kodiak is unchanged from the day I arrived on this beautiful island with its lush greenery and life-sustaining waters. The unmatched kindness of the people here is the one thing that separates Kodiak from all other great places.

Of course, no place is perfect and Kodiak is no different. And, while some of its shiny appeal may have faded, I have come to realize this: The luster that remains when I look at Kodiak today makes it a more special place than I could have imagined 12 months ago when I was packing my bags.


Kevin Bumgarner is publisher of the Kodiak Daily Mirror print edition and  kodiakdailymirror.com. He and his wife, Melanie, have three grown kids and a beagle named Sadie. He can be reached at  kevin@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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