Alaska has "been in the family" since I can remember. My uncle lives on the Kenai Peninsula and my grandpa would come up here and hunt with him all the time. We always knew when he went hunting because the next trip to the grandparents house in California was ...... you guessed it moose roast. BLAH! My grandma could cook anything, but moose. I don't think anyone can cook moose well. I don't like it. It's not a good meat to me. I can do the sausage, but not the actual moose steak or roast. GROSS! My point is when we got orders to come up here in 2008 I wasn't shocked about Alaska. I was surprised we got this place as an assignment, but Alaska itself wasn't scary or mystical like it is to a lot of others. This is our 2nd tour. We were here from 2008-2011 and now again 2013 until further notice which will probably be 2016.
I get a lot of questions about Alaska. I'll chat about my most common ones.
How bad is the darkness? I don't mind it. I don't suffer from seasonal depression so it really doesn't bother me, but I do have happy lights in the kids rooms and in the main living area. I do think it messes with my kids so they turn them on.
How do you sleep during the summer with the sun? We have blackout curtains, but really all that time in the winter with the short days you will see kids http://st8frommars.blogspot.com/2014/02/alaskaaaaaaaa.html?m=1 at midnight playing trying to make up for lost time. The land of the midnight sun is what it's called and Alaskans celebrate it! I do have a watch and I really recommend wearing one if you come up here. Time gets lost here whether you're in the dark or in the light you can't tell what time it is just by looking outside like in other states. And it gets so cold here that your cell will just shut off if it gets too cold so I say wear a watch.
where do you shop? We have Walmart, Sams Club, Fred Myers, several sporting goods stores. Anchorage has way more stuff. Online ordering is key. Some place don't ship up here and those places have lost my business and I will tell you why. We didn't choose to come up here. We are up here because my husband is in the Army, if a big bad company can't swallow the shipping or even charge a little extra for shipping because its too much trouble then I don't buy. You don't support me when I'm far away I don't support you when I'm close. There's my spill lol
How BIG are moose, really? The largest moose I have seen with my own 2 eyes had a rack wider than my Ford Expedition and it's chin was taller than the top of my Expedition. Not taller than my ski rack, but for sure taller than the truck. They get really big and they are really mean! The moose I am talking about charged our moving vehicle. They are no joke! I believe that Alaskan moose are the largest. Don't quote me, but I think so.
How do you deal with the cold? Just like you deal with hot, humid or dry climates. You get used to it. If you hate the cold all you need to do is make it to your 1st January because everything after January will feel warm. Anything above 0 will feel ok. I've lived next to the hottest place, Death Valley, being stations at Fort Irwin and now one of the coldest places. You DO get used to it. It's not bad.
What do you wear? What is always wear. I have a large wardrobe anyway. We move to such drastic places I might as well just keep everything because you just never know. The key is good outerwear! If you have good boots, mittens, snow pants and ear covers you'll be good to go.
How beautiful are the northern lights? Beautiful!!! Have you seen Memoirs of a Geisha? There's a part that shows them washing the dye out of silk strips in the water. The cloth just flows in the water as the dye swirls around the fabric then down the stream. That's what it looks like only in the sky in the dead of winter.
It's a different way up here. I think things go slower, the people appreciate their state and what it offers, they keep with tradition. Today was the start of the Yukon Quest. It's a 1000 mile dog sled race from Fairbanks, AK to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. They still mush up here and it was a great thing to see! The dogs were ready! Jumping and pulling at the sled. One musher had all Siberian Huskies! They were beautiful! I hope he wins because he has all the same breed of dog and it looked like how you would imagine a mushers sled would look. I also hope one of the women come close. There's a special education teacher mushing so you know I want her to be at the top. It was a great morning watching them start on their journey. Great watching the tradition of the race! Although, it has been so warm up here they had to start downtown when they usually start on the Chena river. They also drove in the snow and dumped it on the street so the sleds could glide. 2nd street had about 2 feet of trucked in snow. They didn't have to go far to get the snow, but it was pretty crazy to see one street downtown full of snow.
At the risk of having a crazy long blog today I will say this, I don't want to make Alaska seem too fantastic because that could contribute to people coming up here which will ruin the core of what this state is about. I think Alaska likes being the forgotten state because they are left alone. This state is everything America stands for. They love their state, their people and the biggest thing I notice is how much they try to give back. They either try to live off the land or try to keep Alaska goods being sold in the stores. Last time we were up here my hubs friend gave us about 30 lbs of salmon. Just gave it to us! He could've sold it and make some good money on that 30 lbs. That's how they are up here. I really do love it up here even if people think I'm crazy. There's a stillness to this place when other places have this underlying buzz to it. It's almost like when you walk into your home and you can feel a TV on verses when you walk in and there's no TV on. If you don't know what I'm talking about try it. You don't have to hear the TV you can feel the TV. That's what it's like up here for me, like I've come home to a nice clean house with every turned off. =)
Here's some photos from The Yukon Quest ... Sorry so long, but people ask me and wonder about this place so I thought I'd do one long blog.
This is a painted vent. Most cities just have them flush on the sidewalks, but because of the snow ours look like this. It's fireweeds =)