Monday, June 4, 2018

Lessons I Learned in Alaska (from my Wwoofer)

Alaska, according to Shea O'Brien, 20, who grew up and lived her whole life on the east coast where everything is tame.  (Note:  she spent weekends hiking and time with another family....not just ours)

Really Alaskans are pretty crazy:  1.  to live here;   2. to STAY here.  Life is so much harder here.  There's a certain practicality and toughness of the people.  It doesn't work out so well for you if you aren't tough.  I value their moxie.  It's a git 'er done quality.

Alaskans really think they are better than every one else, even the term "Lower 48" says it all!

They all really like to talk about bears.  BUT, when you mention that fact, they bring out all sorts of other stories of moose, fish, and other vermin.

Another thing:  cracked windshields!  No one even bothers to change them.....the nicest cars can have just totally shattered windshields.

They believe they are their own country.  Everyone just kinda does whatever they want.

There's an outdoor culture here that's just wild.  A certain point at the top of every mountain that runs out of trail where there are no trees and you scramble up however you can.  Once you realize there's no rules and no fences, you just do as much as you can without dying!

Shea peeling logs


Shea conquers the cottonwoods

Bear terror is the worst---never mind the earthquakes, avalanches, high murder rate, moose, high cost of living, the snow and ice with extreme temperatures. Everyone just shrugs it off and eats a lot of ice-cream.

First of all, there are some really cool things about Alaska.  They have their own time zone AND the whole state is the SAME area code!  But they are still more than twice the size of Texas.

It's so strange that there's a near complete lack of amphibians, reptiles, and fireflies.

There's a strange lack of tree variety here.  They are, for the most part, all one color and all the same height:  tall.

It's crazy that you have to fly everywhere---most towns and villages have no roads to them!

The first thing I noticed about the buildings is that they are square.  I started calling them lego buildings---everything is a log cabin or legos!  There's a complete lack of architecture.

Pull offs are NOT NORMAL.  Why are people pulling over so much?  What is there to see, anyway?

Names of everything are so straight forward and literal.  The street names are funny enough (Denali, Northern Lights, but the creeks....we passed Mountain Creek....duh, a creek coming from a mountain; then goat creek, then 20 mile creek.  Hmmm I wonder how long the creek is?  At least the names are consistent....it doesn't end.  No John Doe memorial street, or civil war battle field creek.  It's just very clear how everything got its name. I just can't stop:  there's a lake called Beach Lake with a little trail going to the beach.  Oh look!  There are a couple eagles flying around this river:  Eagle River.  So funny!

Mosquitoes are the size of quarters---you can see 'em and git 'em.

Lessons I learned the hard way:  
     1.  Bring a raincoat 100% of the time, especially if you are sure you won't need it!
     2.  Hiking boots means actual hiking boots, not work boots.  There's a difference. Whatever you THINK the weather's gonna be, you're wrong.

So if you are visiting Alaska......be prepared.

****Cindee Karns, scribe





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