So a lot of people have asked me what I think about living in Alaska. It is a hard question to answer briefly, so for those of you who chose the, "long answer," here goes.
Shopping in the winter is a pain, but if you want to shop for a whole month during the coldest part of the winter (so you don't have to leave the house, duh!) and you don't have a big enough fridge/freezer for a month of food, you can always throw whatever can be safely frozen into a big cooler outside.
In Anchorage, the mountains are gorgeous, year round. In fact, so are the ones in Denali.
In the summer, you can go to Denali.. and it is seriously one of the most gorgeous places you'll ever see.
You can also go to Seward, which, much like Denali, is gorgeous. It's a little more expensive, but...
Tell me getting to take a picture like that doesn't make it worth it.
There are electrical outlets EVERYWHERE you go. (I'll explain why in a second). Meaning if you are out and your cell phone, laptop, or other rechargeable electric device is dead, you can charge it.
There are a few "fun" things to do during the winter. I'll let you know when I get around to bundling up enough to go do one.
Sled dogs are cool. And cute.
I live 10 minutes from the, "North Pole."
I could theoretically have a pet reindeer here.
I can see the Aurora Borealis occasionally, on a clear night.
It's fucking cold.
A lot of the housing you can rent here won't allow you to have pets (so no pet reindeer for me :( So sad.) If they will, it's probably too expensive to afford.
Fairbanks has no mall. Well.. they have something they call a mall.. but there are STRIP MALLS back home that are bigger. Anchorage is a little better, they have two fairly large malls.. but that is six hours away in the summer, and more like 12 during the winter, and dangerous to drive.
Unlike most states in the lower 48 (that's what we call you folks in the continental United States.. because yes, you're below us :P) you can't get into a club or a bar until you are 21 or over. If you're old, it doesn't matter.. but even if you're 21, if you have 20, 19, or 18 year old friends, it sucks. And if you're like my husband, and over 21, but married to someone younger than 21.. it sucks some more. And if you're like me, and not turning 21 for another 11 days (yeah, that's right, my birthday is coming up) it bites pretty bad too. And I am pretty bummed that my 18 year old friend won't be able to come be my designated driver on my 21st birthday too. It is the lamest thing ever.
Did I mention it is really fucking cold here? I think I did, but allow me to explain a little better. When you think cold, you're probably not thinking about the -60 cold in Fairbanks, or the -20 in Anchorage. That is about as bad as it gets, and it's not that year round, or even for huge chunks of the time.. but seriously, three days of -60 weather is pretty bad. And -50 isn't much better, nor is -40, -30, or -20. Honestly, once you start getting into the negatives, it all pretty much sucks.
I have to plug in my car so it won't freeze overnight, or while I am at work, (that is why there are electrical outlets all over) and when it is cold enough that you have to do that, the extra 5 minutes spent outside is really quite painful.
If you don't wear the proper winter gear, you can get contact frostbite just from touching things that have been outdoors for a significant period of time. You can even get hurt through your clothing if you lean against something that cold long enough.
You drive on snow. And I don't mean nice, soft, powdery snow. I mean snow that has been hard-packed into something about as slippery as ice. Granted, they salt it and throw down tons and tons of sand to give you traction.. but it is still VERY easy to end up in a ditch.
Everything is more expensive here. I mean EVERYTHING. It is incredibly expensive to ship to Alaska, and the cost, of course, gets passed on to the consumer. So I pay more for groceries, clothing, furniture, other household goods, and services than anyone in the lower 48 would.
So there are the pros and cons.. here we go with the interesting thoughts.
Everyone asks me what I think of Sarah Palin now, because I'm in Alaska, and she is our governor. So since you asked, here you go. I think she is a nimrod. She is to Alaska what George Bush is to Texas, an embarrassment. The idea of her being one heartbeat from the presidency scares me shitless. If you say, "but she is a woman, shouldn't you be rooting for the one who is going to further the feminist agenda?" expect me to smack you. If you think I should choose the next leader of my country, and the next person in control of my husband's fate, based on sex, race, religion, or any other unimportant characteristic, you obviously do not know me at all.
We have a lot of specialty clothing stores up here. They cater to the unique needs of Alaskan residents. My boots are rated to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.. I could get them rated lower, but if it is below -40, I'm probably going to avoid leaving the house anyway. They do keep my feet toasty warm, and the other winter gear I have does a good job of keeping my body warm. The only problem is that it takes forever to layer and bundle up enough to leave the house when it gets really cold.. which is why I became a World of Warcraft addict.
If you're coming to Alaska, bring a nice camera. I mean it. You'll hate yourself if you don't.
I've never seen a polar bear. I probably never will.. If I do, I will let you all know, though, I am sure. I'll probably take a picture and send it to everyone I know.
No, it isn't dark 24/7 in the winter, or light 24/7 in the summer. It's really really close at some points, but there is always sunshine, if only for an hour or two, in the winter, and there is always a dusky/dark period of time in the summer. I guess there is a place further north where it is actually completely dark/completely light during parts of the year, but Fairbanks is the northernmost "city," (as opposed to a town, village, etc) and we don't quite have that extreme.
I can carry a concealed weapon in Alaska. I can carry it anywhere I want, pretty much, and I don't need a license for it. I am not sure what I think of this, which is why it is neither in the pros section nor the cons section.
I guess if I had to sum up my opinion of Alaska in one sentence, the old saying, "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there," captures my feelings fairly well. I could deal with Anchorage, but I've been in Fairbanks for most of the time I've been here and it's a little on the dull side. I could see myself in Anchorage because it is way more beautiful, way less remote, and it doesn't get anywhere near as cold. They call this place "squarebanks" for a reason though.