As I often forget to look for the blessings of living in Alaska, I decided to list a few with a little help from my AKRWA friends. We could keep going, but for one blog, twenty-five are plenty.
- You can wander around looking at scenery and no one thinks you’re nuts.
- Tourists. We keep their money and send them home at the end of the season. They also wander around looking at scenery. Often recognizable by their matching jackets, fanny packs, and bright white tennies. The motorhomes and tour buses also give them away. A camera is not always a good indicator of tourist status as many locals carry them around as well.
- You can drive to the Yukon River, but unless you’re going to boat or fish it, why would you want to? I suppose because it’s there is a good enough reason. That or because you’re writing a book…
- We have North America’s biggest mountain. And yes, that IS on the same continent as the rest of the US, aka The Lower 48. We just call it Outside, because if you aren't in Alaska, then well, you're Outside.
- Biggest state. 2.5 times larger than Texas. It’s been discussed time and again, splitting the state in two and making Texas the third largest state in the US. Then hunting season comes along and the discussion gets dropped.
- Men. Got lots of ‘em. Just have to shop them the same way you shop the Salvation Army – very carefully.
- Summer. Long days and everything is green, not burned brown. Driving at midnight without headlights, toasting the sunset at 1 am and welcoming the sunrise at 4 am. ‘Nuf said.
- However winter does counter summer. Unless you like long dark nights for cuddling with your sweetie! Bring on the cocoa with seasoning. (Seasoning = peppermint schnapps, Bailey's, Kahlua, Frangelico, whiskey... use your imagination!)
- Permanent Fund Dividend. Buy those airplane tickets to Outside to counteract winter. Or a new snow machine (snowmobile to you Outsiders), ATV or big screen TV.
- Mountains and the ocean. You can have both in the same town.
- Fishing and hunting are considered acceptable activities. In fact, people brag about what they bag and are happy to get moose roadkill. The opening of moose season is practically a state holiday.
- Sparse population. In ten minutes you can be far away from the crowds. Traffic jams are easy to plan around and avoid.
- Alaska skies. If you can get above the birch trees, you get an ever-changing view. From sunsets to the Northern Lights, which come out to brighten up long winter nights, the sky never looks the same from day to day and changes many times a day.
- Monster cabbages. One cabbage makes enough coleslaw to feed fifty people. We also love our flowers which thrive under the midnight sun.
- King Crab at $9.99 per pound in your local grocery store. Reindeer sausage too!
- More salmon than you could eat in a lifetime. If you like it, and feel up to catching it, that is.
- You can wear blue jeans and flannel to the opera and most people won’t notice. Same thing if you wear satin and a tiara. Perfume just might get you thrown out.
- Fur Rendezvous. Where else can you buy a fox fur hat? And I do mean fox fur hat, as in they keep the shape of the head and the fur of the body drapes down your back, complete with tail and paws. Also known as the Trapper Hat. Rondy is also a time of fun and merriment and no one complains when you wear fur, usually because it’s often the best way to stay warm when temps drop below zero! And yes, we do keep the carnival running at -15. Ever have a tailgate party at -20? An experience you’d never forget.
- Gold nugget jewelry. Especially cool when you get it made from nuggets you found in a creek. Actually makes standing in 35 degF water for hours on end fun and rewarding.
- Odd jewelry. Yes, you can buy earrings and other items made from moose nuggets.
- In Anchorage, sunny skies and 80 degrees are sufficient reasons to shut down the office. Makes up for the deep snow days when they don’t close schools and businesses. At 90 degrees people pass out from heat stroke, unless you're floating in a lake with a frosty beverage in hand.
- Tourist gidgets. Alaska has the best, and highest quality, tourist store stuff around, hands down. Also the most unique Christmas ornaments to be found anywhere with the widest variety.
- Wildlife. Moose and bear right in town, possibly even in your backyard! Eagles are almost pests. The downside here would be the extra-humongous mosquitoes and the extra-tiny no-seeums. But on yet another side, no snakes or cockroaches! Few spiders.
- Wildlife of the human variety. See the note about men. Ethnic diversity is wide and tolerance levels are high. People watching is a fun sport.
- Being a writer, you get to observe all the above, and more, at close range and then put it all in your books!
If you have any questions, or perceptions, about Alaska, I'd love to hear them! I can either confirm or correct the myths and legends, so don't be shy, hit me with your best.
Morgan Q. O'Reilly ~ Romance for all your moods. Get Some Tonight.
The Morgan Diaries ~ The new Fall season starts next week! Check it out, starting with Trailer Trash Tuesdays and Sutton Fox's trailer from her book Lion Tamers.