13 March 2013

In Which I Rant About ... This & That

I heard once, while traveling through Wyoming, that the folks there are really friendly. I also noticed that the towns are about 70 miles apart, so I asked a guy while pumping gas (this was back in the late '70s, when gas was around 65 cents a gallon).

He said, "Nope, we're not any friendlier than anyone else; just lonely."

I understand that, now. Alaska is 587,412 square miles (about 2 1/2 times the size of Texas, or one-fifth the size of the Lower 48), and has a population of around 731,449 people (as of 2012 Census). Since Anchorage has 291,826 of those, that doesn't leave much for the remainder. In fact, 95% of the state is off the road system. That means air or sea access only.

Add to that the distance from elsewhere ... for example, to get from Anchorage to the state line is a 7-hour drive. Another 20 minutes of driving past the border crossing will get you to the town of Beaver Creek, in the Yukon Territory.

Everything is a long way from here, and there's still only one road in or out of Anchorage. (That's not likely to change, due to topography.) Seattle is over 1,300 air miles to the southeast, or you can drive there in 3+ days. Juneau, our state Capitol, is 650 miles from here, but only accessible by air or sea. It's 365 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks, which takes about 6 1/2 hours of driving ... that's assuming no road construction or accidents blocking the road. And it's more than 600 miles to the North Slope, over the "haul road" which many of you have seen on Ice Road Truckers.

Nearly everything Outside is south of here ... like British Columbia. :) Many of y'all think of Vancouver as "way up there", but we'd have to drive for three days to get that far south.

And that's another thing: many Lower 48 businesses seem to think Alaska is a foreign country, or overseas. They charge more for shipping by first class mail than the Post Office does, or insist that the ONLY WAY they can ship up here is via 2nd Day Air ... and it still takes 4-5 days for the arrival, anyway. And that's when they'll do business with Alaska at all; a number of companies which feature products on Amazon.com won't even do business with us or Hawaii. One retailer actually said to me in an e-mail, "Alaskans are too fussy."  Huh?

There's a movement up here to avoid purchasing from companies that consider Alaska a foreign or overseas destination. We happily joined it long ago.



It's far enough - and expensive enough - that friends from Outside have trouble affording a visit. And after flying this far, you want to stay for several days. Between jet lag and the sheer amount of things to see and do, a short visit would be more frustrating than enlightening.

So, we're sometimes lonely, a bit isolated, and paying slightly higher prices for most goods than elsewhere in the country. (Notable exceptions: Hawaii and California.) But the salaries are higher here, too, and the job market - albeit small - is healthier than average.

But come on up and see us, anyway. The scenery is awesome, and you'll be glad you did. And we'll be happy to see you, and tell you about our wonderful state.

Just don't think you're going to see it all in a short trip. 587,000 square miles is a lot of territory, pilgrim...

20 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

Uhmmm. What dates can you assure me that it will be warm?

Rev. Paul said...

PioneerPreppy, June through September are the warmest months. Typical temps from the mid-60s through the mid-70s.

drjim said...

Alaska is definitely on my bucket list!

Rev. Paul said...

You & a lot of other folks, drjim. :)

threecollie said...

Always wanted to visit your fair state, but probably never will

joated said...

We had a great time in '10 driving just about every road Alaska has along with a boat trip down to Juneau and a couple of others to see glaciers, whales, otters and seals out of Valdez and Seward. Fished out of Homer, too.

Met several Iditarod mushers and an interesting blogger bloke, too. ;-)

We were some 30+ days in state and really enjoyed ourselves. Every bend in the road brought another beautiful vista and some interesting wildlife encounters.

Now that our Halibut is finally all used up (were into catfish and mahi mahi from the Gulf Coast for lent) we'll have to make a return visit.

Rev. Paul said...

threecollie, that's sad. Everyone should visit here at least once ... but I understand.

joated, you two did it the right way by taking enough time to get in a lot of activities & sights.

I wouldn't mind catching up if you wandered this way again, either. :)

Stephen said...

Oh, how I wish.

Old NFO said...

Been there... And Kodiak, and Adak, and Shemya... sigh... Just ONCE I'd like to be able to walk outside without wearing a parka up there... LOL

Rev. Paul said...

Stephen, I'd love to be able to say I bought dinner for your & your lovely bride.

NFO, understood ... and me, too. You really need to try it in July. Heh.

Cathy Monroe said...

Been to Alaska once, didn't see enough. My next plan is to go and see the northern lights.

Rev. Paul said...

Cathy, you'll want to visit during the winter months; Fairbanks & Chena Hot Springs are two primary destinations for that.

threecollie said...

We would come if the cows would give us a few weeks off from work. lol

Rev. Paul said...

threecollie, I've spent time on farm ... I understand. :)

Jennifer said...

Had a cousin that lived up there for several years. I still regret not taking him up on his offer to fly me up there to visit for a summer. He's since moved to Oklahoma, so that offer is no more. I'll get there sometime though. With enough time to experience it.

Rev. Paul said...

Jennifer, it's such a beautiful land, with so many awesome things to experience ... it would be a shame to miss out. :)

Cathy said...

Yes! Alaska is at the to of my bucket list. And this line did blow my mind: " . . .we'd have to drive for three days to get that far south."

Rev. Paul said...

Cathy, I understand your confusion. Clarification: we can't travel south or even east from here, but only north. It's 380+ miles from my home north to the Canadian border crossing into the Yukon Territory. Then you turn south/southeast from there to Dawson Creek, and then south to Vancouver, a total distance of some 2,200 miles.

Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

Rev Paul,
Please tell everyone that inland Alaska (Fairbanks and the surrouning area) is an arid desert.
it was 86 in Fairbanks when we visited your fair state in July a few years ago (and can get to 40 below in Winter). The Nice Lady behind the counter in the store helped us understand why we didn't need parkas when we visited.
Rich in NC

Rev. Paul said...

OG(Rich) - I believe you just did. The summer weather in Fairbanks can swing wildly from cold & rainy to hot & dry, as you just explained. Last July, when we were last there, it was 60 & raining. The previous summer, it was in the upper 70s to low 80s & sunny.