Everyone wants to come to Alaska. They’ve heard about it, talked about it, questioned if it’s always dark or always cold and do the bears really eat all of you? Then there are the moose and the giant King Salmon. And the scenery. And the whales jumping out of the water.
All true. At times. On a good summer day, a day when the sun comes up at 3:00 am and the moose are nibbling the blossom’s off my wife’s roses while we sleep and golden beams are lasering their way down the snow covered slopes of Mt. McKinley, it is a true day for living.
When you are looking at a grizzly bear face to face or a bull moose in mating season you can wish you were in Sacramento eating fresh pineapple on the capital steps.
There is so much to say about Alaska that to try and condense it is like trying to drink all the water out of your swimming pool with a milk shake straw in an hour.
Of all the people there, half of them are swimming around the outside edge of Alaska life, not really becoming Alaskans. The other half have feet planted solid on the soil. They live and breathe Alaska. It is not hard to tell them apart. There are the natives and the people who have been there since statehood (1959) and people who went to the one high school in Anchorage.
Then there are the people who come to Alaska and really live it. Some die doing it. Some live the life while young and talk about it when they’re old and the gleam is still in the eye. They may not run the dogs anymore, but the dogs are there and so is the old pickup and one day they’ll just put the dogs to harness and take a spin on the new snow. You never know. They point to the sled and harness hanging on the shed wall. It could be tomorrow or next week.
You can grow old in Alaska whether you try or not. You can buckle your belt below your belly, wear insulated Carhartts in winter, and leave your earflaps down. In the summer your skin can tan and thicken enough to blunt a mosquito’s stiletto. You can sill claim a gold mine, run a wild river, live in a small community, collect your permanent fund dividend and leave when the termination dust hits the high country. You can also get an MFA degree from the University of Alaska, drive a Porsche, wear a suit and tie, and work 9:00 to 5:00.
You can meet them all at the Alyeska Bake shop in Girdwood. Get there before the tour busses and you’ll get the best omelets, the best cinnamon rolls, the best sourdough pancakes and bacon you ever ate. You can walk around that mountain town and feel like an Alaskan.
One photo here is a young bull moose who didn’t think I mattered. He walked past me like I was a tree.
Visit me at www.jimmisko.com where you can read the first chapters of any of my novels free. All of my books are on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, and sometimes on Books-a-million; you never know about them.
(PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUTHOR)
(PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUTHOR)