Thirteen years ago, Sam Gordon Riber accompanied his father on a trip that ended the elder Riber’s years-long effort to visit all fifty of the United States.
This week, the South Carolina native replicated his father’s achievement with a visit to Seward, partaking in some of the Gulf Coast’s major attractions: gorgeous scenery and world-class fishing.
“This was very impulsive plane ticket for me that I bought a couple months ago,” he said. “If you want to get to all 50 states, you have to strike while the iron is hot.”
Now a student at the Stanford Graduate Business School, Riber, 28, flew to Anchorage with his friend and classmate Tommy Patek, also 28. Together, the two young men drove to Seward where they embarked on a tour of Kenai Fjords National Park with Major Marine Tours.
Originally planning to go fly fishing near Cooper Landing, the duo found their plans altered by circumstance as the Swan Lake Fire spread beyond the Sterling Highway and began menacing Cooper Landing over the weekend.
Riber and Patek, who describe themselves as “enthusiastic anglers,” decided to go halibut fishing instead.
The urge to visit every state in the union came naturally to Sam Riber, as it had been a fixation of his father, Ezra, for as long as he could remember. In a way, it is an homage to the country that took in his predecessors.
“I would say I’m a pretty patriotic guy,” Riber said. “My family is Jewish, and my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. I’ve always had an appreciation for this country.”
It runs in the family. Riber reports an immigrant great-grandfather who, lacking certain knowledge of his own birth date, adopted that of the country instead.
Scratching Alaska off the list marks the end of a pilgrimage.
“It feels special,” Riber said. “My whole family is excited. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”