When GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, she catapulted to instant worldwide fame.
The press spotlight put on Palin and her family also spilled over onto her home state, known to many people in the "Lower 48" -- as Alaskans call the rest of the continental U.S. -- as the setting of "Northern Exposure" and as a favorite cruise and outdoor adventure destination.
But with a little help from such shows as Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" and History's "Ice Road Truckers," TV viewers have come to see more of the working life of the vast state known as the Last Frontier, from crab fishing in the Bering Sea to heavy hauling in support of oil drilling.
Even with this, there's a lot more Alaska yet to be seen.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, TLC premieres the eight-episode documentary series "Sarah Palin's Alaska," executive produced by Mark Burnett ("Eco-Challenge," "Survivor," "The Apprentice," "Shark Tank"), which follows the now-former governor of Alaska and her family and friends as they embark on an odyssey through the state's land, wildlife and industries.
While Palin is still very active in politics, Burnett says the show is not about that.
"I give my word," he says, "it's nonpolitical. Sarah and I never even discussed politics. It's just fun. Sarah makes her comments, but it's just her, right? I think she had a great adventure."
Calling in between speeches and rallies in the thick of the run-up to the midterm elections, Palin agrees with Burnett, saying, "It was physically challenging. Most every episode has elements of danger. (My husband) Todd and I, and our kids, we've grown up doing the things that you're going to see on the show -- hiking and hunting and climbing and rafting, commercial fishing.
"All these things are highlighted in the show, when it comes to showing the uniqueness of the livelihoods that are made in Alaska, carved out of a wilderness, made on the water.
"We've done all of those things all our lives, so it was natural to us. But at the same time, physically, there were a lot of challenges involved in showcasing what those livelihoods are."
Palin doesn't just narrate beauty shots in the episodes. She participates, whether it's salmon fishing in bear country or on Bristol Bay, halibut fishing near Homer, talking about the state's rich stores of oil and natural gas (a favorite topic of Palin's, both as governor and as a vice presidential candidate), or heading north of the Arctic Circle on a caribou hunt.
"We eat," she says, "therefore we hunt."
Caribou is not the only local delicacy on the menu.
"I think we're going to show some of the subsistence food," Palin says, "that especially the Yupik Eskimos so enjoy, like fish head stew and akutaq, which is Eskimo ice cream. It's supposed to be made out of seal oil and sugar and berries, but we make it out of lard.
"The caribou that we harvest one night, we cook it over the campfire. Scenes like this are not, to me, unusual at all. But as we're filming, I realized some people are going to think that these are some odd practices to allow our palates to be tickled."
As for the most difficult thing she did for the show, Palin says, "Mine would have been climbing the chunk of ice and rock on Mount McKinley, because I'm deathly afraid of heights. I didn't think that I'd be able to do what it was that we set out to do.
"Once we arrived on the glacier, looking up at the summit we would have to try to conquer, it looked impossible. I had to mentally and physically challenge myself more than I have in many, many years. It was probably the toughest episode.
"I was glad that I was in shape. It's inherent up there that you're outdoors, you're active. We don't waste a lot of time just sitting around."
Although Palin was familiar with Alaska's timber industry, there's nothing like heading out to Afognak Island and seeing it up close.
"To get to be there," she says, "with those workers on the front line, with those loggers who are out there in the camps for 11 months out of the year, working seven days a week, totally self-sufficient in little communities -- I learned a great deal in that particular episode."
In turn, viewers will get to learn what Alaskans do for fun under the midnight sun.
"We have fun at end of the day," Palin says, "playing a round of Eskimo bingo or Scrabble. I think, OK, maybe a lot of Americans did that 30, 40, 50 years ago, and they may look at us and say, 'You guys are backwards. You guys aren't with it.' But it is what we do."
'Sarah Palin's Alaska' tours the Last Frontier
The eight-episode documentary "Sarah Palin's Alaska" premieres Sunday on TLC.