It’s curious how Levi Johnston, a son of the North Star and known for his connection with the Palin family, describes his home state. We, ghostwriters for his coming-of-age book, were intrigued when he told us to visualize Alaska as a roundish-squarish giant blob, with two dangling peninsulas at the bottom corners.
photo credit: Zach Cordner
“Think,” he told us, “SpongeBob SquarePants,”—a toy his and Bristol Palin’s child Tripp likes almost as much as Levi does.
Juneau, the capitol, Levi says, “is the kneecap on Bob’s left-leg piece of trailing coast”—a land fractured by fjords, glaciers, mountains running down to the edge of the sea.
The Aleutian Islands form Bob’s other leg that splays to the west.
Anchorage is below, in the crotch.
Wasilla is SpongeBob’s bellybutton. It's in a valley called Matanuska-Susitna.
This Mat-Su Valley is penned in by the Chugach, Talkeetna, and Alaska mountain ranges.
Four Alaskan highways go through the Mat-Su. There aren't many more main roads than that.
The valley’s biggest community is Levi’s hometown of Wasilla—with a population of 7800. Even so, it’s the fourth largest municipality in the state. “You can drive,” says Levi, “from my home to half the state’s population in an hour.”
“Everyone is massed in a small piece of Alaska. There is plenty more emptiness out there,” says Levi, standing in front of a scene like no other in the United States.
He looks around as if seeing it for the first time.
“This is my state,” he concludes, "and my son's." Alaska.