Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things I Learned in Alaska

As we prepare to cross the border back into Canada within the next few days I would like to share some lessons learned:

BEWARE:  STICKER SHOCK, especially for groceries and gas which can be very expensive outside of large towns.  Get a Safeway and Fred Meyers discount card before you get here.  The discounts (especially for gas) are substantial.

Drivers can be pretty aggressive, especially on the open road.  EXPECT them to pass when you LEAST expect it, especially rental RVs. 

When the salmon are running…..there are no driving or parking rules.

You can only drive to about 25% of the state, the rest is fly or boat in.   

It is the most beautiful place I have ever been.

Many, many people move here to escape the lower 48.  Events elsewhere don't really affect Alaska.  They just seem to watch the news and shake their heads in amazement.

There are 7 tribes (First Nations) and a vast amount of incredible culture.  Experience as much of it as you can.

TAPS (Trans Alaska Pipeline) has reduced production 5% a year since 1988.  This is from a high of 2,000,000 barrels a day to current production of 500,000.  There is nothing wrong with the North Slope Oilfields, this is governmental regulation.

Bring plenty of mosquito repellent.

The local, indigenous people are some of the friendliest I have ever met.

NOTHING goes to waste here, but surprisingly they DO NOT RECYCLE. 

Halibut is a fine eating fish, but Rockfish is much tastier. 

Dungeness Crab is much better eating than Alaskan Red King Crab.   

The interior of the state is usually much warmer than the coastal regions.

You can get used to 20 hours of daylight in the summer.  In fact it’s excellent for gardening or solar power. The vegetables grown in the Mat-Su Valley are the largest in the world.  However, our dog and cat had more problems adjusting. 

We visited many wonderful places, but Valdez and Homer were perhaps the biggest surprises. 

I do not play chess any better here than anywhere else. 

Eagles are everywhere and ALWAYS worthy of a moment of pure admiration.

There are more glaciers still here than anywhere else on the planet. 

You can still successfully pan for gold.

There are more dinosaur fossils than you would think.

There are many earthquakes daily. 

Shirley’s Burgers in Talkeetna rank among the Top 3 burgers I have ever tasted.

President Obama DOES NOT visit for events, fund raisers, or own a summer home here, nor is it likely he ever will. 

Sara Palin is not nearly as popular as she used to be. 

Santa Claus’ House in North Pole has a long way to go to rival Bronners in Frankenmuth, MI. 

The best ice cream I have ever tasted is made in Fairbanks.

Cell phone service (and therefore Internet) is VERY SPOTTY outside of towns. 

Reindeer is a little spicier, but a delicious meat.

Few halibut are actually 100+ pounds, but they are ALL heavy as hell to reel in, and delicious to eat. 

You can encounter a moose darned near anywhere, anytime and they are not really afraid of people. 

Not all traffic congestion is the result of automobiles or anything else man made.   

The residents of Alaska are also some of the hardest working people I have ever seen.

Even before the melting of the final spring snow, everybody begins cutting firewood for next winter. 

Most of the folks you see on TV (Yukon Men, Alaska the Last Frontier, Deadliest Catch) are just normal, hardworking people who have had their stories embellished.  In fact one of the ladies we fished with out of Homer is in a weekly exercise class with Atz Lee (Alaska the Last Frontier).  In fact he and his brother Otto live in town; the younger kids and families run the Kilcher homestead. 

I am not going to move here, but I will be back (I see a fly-in bear photography trip or a fishing trip in my future).


….and last, but not least, YOU THINK YOU HAVE ROAD CONSTRUCTION?

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