Only in Alaska. Only in Alaska. Words I find myself saying more and more often, the longer that I am here. It has been 1 year, 6 months and 22 days since we have left “the lower 48.”
I am sure some of the unique qualities of this beautiful island can be found other places, but this is the first I have been exposed to such a different lifestyle.
Remote Island + Alaska wilderness = Adventure
When my husband told me that we were getting transferred he broke the news to me in a… unique way.
DH: “So we got our orders…..we are going to a Pacific Island.”
Silly Me: “WE ARE GOING TO HAWAII!!!”
DH: “Well, not quite…we are going to Kodiak, Alaska.”
He was ecstatic…I was not quite jumping for joy, as my visions of surfing some of the best waves in the world (because I can do that….hah!) and drinking umbrella drinks (more like it) quickly vanished from my head. I soon came to terms with the amazing adventure that was in store for us (and wouldn’t change this for the world).
That was when our 6,000 mile road trip and 4 year adventure began 🙂
I understand when people ask stereotypical “Alaskan” questions. Especially since Alaska is always an afterthought on a U.S. map. Usually scaled incorrectly and squished in the lefthand corner. No wonder there are so many MISconceptions. Alaska is NOT an island, but it does have 2,670 islands that help make up the state! Kodiak Island is about the same size of the state of Connecticut. I just think the lower 48 is jealous of Alaska’s massive size.
Some other misconceptions:
- “Oh my gosh, how do you deal with no light half the year?” (I dont…)
- “Have you met an Eskimo.” (you mean an Alaska Native?)
- “Do Eskimos really live in igloos?” (…really?…)
- “Have you seen a polar bear?” (Seen, yes. Currently share the island with them, NO.)
- “I could never go there – IT’S SO COLD!” (Kodiak actually has warmer winters then most of new england and the mid-west…)
- “Can you really see Russia from your house?” (….again, really?….)
- “Do you have to use an out-house to go to the bathroom?” (It is 2016 and yes I guess I will spoil myself with the convenience and luxury of modern day plumbing.)
YES some of the most intelligent people I know (college graduates with six figure incomes), have asked me some of these questions!
Yes, I get PAID to live here, it is called a PFD. It took months to really sink in. This state wants ME? In Massachusetts you had to pay the state for everything! A license for your town beaches, your dump (and you had to bring it!), your DOG! When we got here we weren’t use to all this freedom that it felt awkward. I can drive my 4-wheeler around the woods? Wait, I can carry a gun on me?
My next door neighbor is a Kodiak Bear – so yes, that is kind of the State of Alaska 🙂
Alaska Aviation System “Nearly 82% of Alaska communities are not accessible by road, making aviation more than a convenience or a luxury – aviation is essential in the Alaskan way of life (http://www.alaskaasp.com).”Just here on Kodiak Island there are seven villages located remotely.
Kodiak Island a Rainforest – YES and Rainforest. In order to be considered a rainforest it has to receive between 98 and 180 inches of precipitation, including snow. Kodiak’s rainforest is a temperate rainforest, as opposed to a tropical rainforest. I sure didn’t think that I would find a rainforest in ALASKA – or be living in one. They said pack rain gear….sure ok…umbrella √, hunters √, raincoat √. WRONG. It rains SIDEWAYS here! For a WHOLE season! Rain gear is what you put OVER your clothes, and if your use an umbrella, you are a tourist 😉
There is also a different philosophy here. In the lower 48, when it rained – everything STOPPED. If you changed your plans, or stayed in because it was raining. My gosh! you wouldn’t get anything done! Here in Kodiak we do just about everything in the rain. Go for hikes, fish, errands etc. We aren’t made of sugar after all 🙂
XtraTuf boots, a fashion necessity. What started out as the essential fisherman footwear has turned into “the must have” for many Alaskans. These boots are worn every which way. With shorts, jeans, skirts – you name it.
If you want fresh food, look in your backyard. Considering your food comes in on a barge, your best bet is to be as self sufficient as possible. Currently we have an extra freezer just for the salmon we caught, King Crab legs, Buffalo, Grass-fed beef (from a local rancher, where you buy 1/2 the cow), Chicken we raised, ptarmigan (state bird), and deer. We have yet to get a mountain goat!
This year we are excited to put up a greenhouse so we can have all our own fresh produce. Locals also barter their items or sell them at local farmers markets. Who knew that EVERY part of a chicken was worth something? From the egg, to the chicken, down to its poop (fertilizer)!?
I thought I knew coffee, and then I moved to Alaska. The coffee at the locally owned coffee bars here in Kodiak will put any corporate owned coffee chain to shame. Between the quality of the beverage, food and atmosphere you can’t go wrong. The good news is I know what good coffee is, the bad news is my caffeine intake has significantly increased!
Its no wonder Alaskans like their coffee! With a whole season of rain and the summer where the sun doesn’t set till midnight, everyone needs a little extra pep in their step. There sure is beauty to both seasons. There is magic in the night sky during clear winter nights. On these nights you can catch Aurora (Aurora Borealis) dancing through the sky – also known as the Northern Lights.
The American Bald Eagle. One of the most majestic animals. Our national bird. When I first moved here and saw an Eagle, I was in awe. Jaw dropping beauty. These enormous birds, only feet away, stretching their almost 7ft wingspan right in front of your eyes!
Until you have to live each day worrying that same beautiful bird might fly right in front of you and nab one of your precious puppies (or chickens). Here in AK even a rabbit is bigger then my dogs! From foxes, to birds to bears everything is out to eat them!
No one ships to Alaska! your new best friend is AMAZON PRIME. If you weren’t an internet shopper before – you are now. Now when I dare to venture to a new online store, before I even get my hopes up I look at its shipping policy. Lesson learned quick – No one ships to ALASKA!
Small town with a sense of community. I live in a town with 1, yes 1 stoplight. There is one, two-lane road from the “town” of Kodiak to where we live – “outside the city limits.”
With a simple road system comes different kinds of traffic problems, flooding, mudslides, and horses….
Coming from cities with endless selections of restaurants and bars it sure is eye-opening when you have a handful to choose from. Even though there is a lack of restaurant/bar selection there sure isn’t a lack of flare. There is a bar for everyone. You have your dive bar, dance bar, after-work vise bar.
♥Anchored in Alaska
NO seriously. Do it.
Disclaimer: I did not ask permission to post her blog. But I’m going to go ahead and doubt that she will sue me. I think she really wants Ben and Jack to go to college. So I’m banking on that.
T, because you are my first guest blogger, I’m sending you a gift! It’s really time to start sisterhood of the traveling sweatpants. These sweatpants have known unlimited amounts of adventure! It has to be sweatpants. A pair of jeans fitting an entire group of friends correctly is outrageous.