Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Niagra Falls, up the Canadian Rockies, and then it's only a few hundred miles to Anchorage." - Rogue, X-Men


A typical Alaskan house. As you can see, most Alaskans are between two and three inches tall. This saves on heating bills. (Photo of prize winning entry at State Fair)

I was talking to my brother, also named John (this is a True Fact™ - our parents weren’t very creative), who was contemplating a trip up to Alaska to see Denali me. Since he regularly travels to places where cannibalism is not only practiced, but considered due form (this is also a True Fact™), he has about 50 kajillion airline miles, not to mention vaccinations for diseases that most doctors can’t even pronounce: diseases that make you lose your eyebrows, or worse, your eyelashes. Unfortunately, these airline miles are on airlines that, if they come to Alaska at all, only stop in Anchorage.

My Brother John: “So, I’m planning on visiting for five days or so.”

John (Me): “Okay.”

My Brother John: “I was going to fly into Anchorage, since I can get there on my frequent flyer miles. Can you come pick me up?” (My brother is as cheap as I am.)

John (Me): “Uh, sure. It’s approximately a 361.7 mile (22 km) drive from here, one way. It’ll be a long drive there and back in a day, but I could do it.”

My Brother John: “Really? I thought it would only be an hour or two from Fairbanks to Anchorage.”

I think people think that way because they put Alaska down and to the left on maps, it must be near Hawaii and it’s probably about as big as, say, Arizona. Nope. Cut us in half and Texas would be the third largest state, not the second. Rhode Island is still giggling about that one.

Anchorage is the cosmopolitan population hub that sits so near Alaska that you can literally see Alaska from there. Anchorage is exactly like (as near as I can tell) any other urban/suburban town in the US – laws, zoning, no legal shooting in the city limits, building permits. Travel an hour, and I think most of that regulation necessary for polite living lower 48 thinking disappears.

When I’ve visited Anchorage (Los Anchorage), I feel much like I’m in any thriving urban area. You see the parks behind little fences, as if to keep the forest in, and the houses built an inch or three apart. This is not to disparage Anchorage – it’s a nice place with great restaurants (Gwennies comes to mind), but it’s, well, the ‘burbs with moose and the occasional bear. The weather might drop to -20ºF in winter.

In and around Fairbanks (Squarebanks), life tends to farther extremes. As I’ve written before, a house made entirely out of used pallets, a vintage 1938 Folsom Prison bus and duct tape is right next to a house made from spun diamond, and both neighbors go out moose hunting together. In the wintertime, it gets as low as -65ºF. Fairbanksans don’t throw anything away (where you gonna tow that junker to, anyway?) so some yards get a bit . . . cluttered.

Anchorage is nice, sophisticated, and polite. Fairbanks is the weird uncle that drove your mom nuts. On behalf of weird uncles everywhere . . . rejoice! You have a home, so now stop asking me to pull your finger.

11 Comments:

Blogger Coldfoot said...

While you're in Anchorage why don't you swing by Soldotna and get me a Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

Make mine a Heath Blizzard. And a couple of Dilly Bars for the little Koldfeet.

9:00 AM  
Blogger SusanE said...

I love Fairbanks already.... hey do ou know Alex? LOL

4:09 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Ok I gotta ask, are the roads in Fairbanks the kind you have to have a spotter for? In northern Ontario it takes 31/2 hrs to travel 55miles on some roads (that isn't a guess either, that is planned knowledge so you don't get stuck drivin the road in the dark). The spotter isnt for animals it is for boulders and holes. If you arent dodgin boulders and holes you are getting your doors blown off by logging trucks! We would travel anywhere for good fishin.(If you are interested in google earthin the place I am talkin about... It is a logging road north of Chapleau that dead-ends at Missinabi Lake.The Missinabi River heads north to James Bay)

12:26 AM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

Maybe the rest of Alaska could ask Anchorage to become their own state. You already treat it like a step-child.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Duck Hunter - I think the southeast part of the state is already gunning for that designation. Last week, when I drove 1,000 miles (which took about 22 hours of just driving, Lynn) to get from one Alaska town to another - and both on the south coast - only then did it really hit me just how big Alaska is.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

But, but... I thought your brother was named Ebenezer? Did he change his name and enter the Witness Protection Program? Maybe that's how many people end up in Fairbanks.

Looks like I should go see Anchorage first. Fairbanks could be too much of a shock to the system.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Joann said...

Please explain John and Brother John...or does that already explain it?

8:44 AM  
Blogger John said...

coldfoot,
I keep doing that, but they keep making me eat it before I hit security at ANC.

dame koldfoot,
Yours was good, too. The Dilly Bars were almost too much. Almost.

susane,
Heh!!!!

lynn,
While there are those roads here and thter, most of them are in pretty good shape, if by shape you mean "sine wave" and not "smooth".

duck,
They are a beloved step-child.

jill,
It's still my plan to give that part of the state to Canada, so I hope you can speak Canadian. Eh.

woof,
We call him Ebenezer. His first name is John.

Anchorage is like most cities in the US, but I don't think Metallica or the NFL would ever stop and visit.

joann,
Yup, my first name is John, and so is his. Really. But we call him Ebenezer.

7:22 PM  
Blogger DogMa said...

OK John & John, do you share the same biological parents?

As creative as YOU are, I just assumed your own mother would have been able to come up with a second name for the next kid in line...just sayin'.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

Now, I want to come visit.

10:47 PM  

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