Saturday, February 25, 2012

I’m back and Impressions of Alaska

As I’ve written a few times before, I’ve been away from this blog for a while. There will be no apologies though.  I write for myself when I feel like writing.  Few of my friends read what I post, but they do so at their own risk. Occasionally, I’ll write something to put mark what I think and when I was thinking it, or something that is longer that fits into Facebook or Twitter that I can point anyone interested toward.  The truth is that I’ve just not felt like writing recently.  Life has been very busy with fun adventures and activities, but I’ve not been able or I’ve not wanted to write about them in public.  Life continues to be good.  My mood or physical heath haven’t changed markedly over the past few months.  The biggest thing that has changed to get me back to writing here is that I feel like it.  So until my mood changes again, here goes.

As I write this, I’m finishing up a business trip to Alaska and I’m on a 777 between Seattle and Tokyo, Japan.  This trip to Alaska was my first.  I’ve now been to 47 states.  I still have not been to a Dakota or Nebraska.  My employer has a big support site in North Dakota, so that might get me to that state sometime.  I have no idea why I would end up in SD or NB, but I never thought I ‘d go to Afghanistan, and that happened, so we’ll see.

It sounds like bad luck that my first trip to AK would come in February, or that I’d go to the interior of the state where temperatures run 20 degrees colder than Anchorage.  Now that the visit is done, I’m not sure myself.  Yes, it was cold.  Two weeks before my visit, lows in Fairbanks were hitting –50 F and highs were –10 or –20F.  I got lucky that I visited during a winter heat wave.  Highs almost got up to 20 F and lows got as low as –5 F.  It was cold, but could have been much more challenging.

Driving was a challenge.  The roads were covered in snow and ice.  I’m a southern boy.  I don’t get much practice at this type of driving.  Silly me, I was thinking that they get snow and ice all the time and would have it cleared so long as the snow was not falling.  Not so.  I guess there is really nothing you can do when the freeze is solid for months at a time.  There was a light at the main road near my hotel where I had to turn left.  The turn was protected by a turn light, but the road was so slick that I couldn’t get the car through the intersection before the light turned yellow.  Some snow fell and my car slid a few times, but I didn’t get stuck or hit anyone or anything. The rental car was returned unharmed and I was glad to get that done.

A few other things were unexpected about AK.  Snowmobiles are called Snow Machines.  There was/is a big 2000 mile snow machine race going on across the state, The Iron Dog.”  The speed and distance sounded insane to me, but there were daily updates on the radio and in the newspapers, so this is real sport in AK.  Another sport that I heard about that I did not get a chance to try was Moose Turd Bowling.  I asked some of the locals about it, and it is exactly what it sounds like.  Luckily, it is strictly a winter outdoor sport.  The summer or indoor MTB champ would have both my respect and disgust.

The last and lasting impression of AK was the people I met.  I didn’t meet a single Alaskan that was not exceptionally friendly.  When I met a waitress at a restaurant, her hello sounded like she was talking to me instead of at me as I’ve come to expect.  The gas station attendant stood at my window and chatted while the car filled with gas.  I am perplexed why people would like living there in the cold and snow, but I’m equally impressed with the people in AK.  Perhaps latter has a lot to do with the former.

Thanks Alaska.  I think my trip had a lot of good luck.