Monday, October 29

Holy Questions, Batman!

Without further ado................

Kellen: We (in the lower states) are so fascinated by Alaska (being dark part of the year, is there snow all the time, how cold does it get, can you plant a garden...?).

Yes, it is quite dark throughout the winter months. We live in the Mat-Su Valley about an hour outside of Anchorage. During the height of winter, the sun 'rises' at about 10:30am & sets by 4pm. Frankly, it sucks! You know its sad when my hubby & I head to Walmart to 'soak up the rays' of the fluorescent lights! But we have it much better than the people who live further north (yes, you can still travel about 750 miles futher north) in Barrow get 3 solid months of darkness...the sun does NOT rise at all! On the flip side, summer ROCKS! We get 20+ hours of daylight! There is nothing like playing with your kids outside at 11:30 at night and it is still daylight! Talk about the ultimate summer vacation! Here is my all-time favorite is a time-elapsed image of how the sun travel s across the sky throughout the day here on June 21st each year...uber cool!

No the snow doesn't stay year-round.....our's melts sometime in April.....each area of the state is a little different. The only places that retain snow are the highest elevations, like the mountain peaks & such.

In our area, the winter temps often dip down to about -20 degrees F. but in the summer we also get up in the 70's and 80's.... The worst part is the windchill. We live in a windtunnel because we are situated between 2 glaciers and boy do the winds howl! It gets pretty bad, but we manage. To put in perspective though, our kids are required to go outside at school until the temps drop below -10 degrees F. Needless to say we invest in warm winter gear :)

And YES you can have a garden, especially in our region. The Mat-Su Valley is the only area of the state can support true farming. We can grown a variety of vegetables..... plus squash and cabbage get incredibly large....think of what that all the sunlight can do! The giant veggies are a huge attraction at our State Fair every year.

Krystyn: Do you find yourself sleeping less hours during the Summer when there is so much daylight?
Yep! It is pretty amazing how quickly your body adjusts! There are studies showing that the average Alaskan sleeps about 10-12 hours a night during the winter and less than 6 in the summer! Somehow the sunlight just energizes you!

Kate: Do you love it? What have you gone back to school for?

Uhm...most of the time I love it....the are definitely the downsides.....long winter, being so far from our families, being so far from everything in general....but still I am not ready to leave. I don't know if we'll stay here forever, but for now this is home.
I am back in school finishing a BA in History while concurrently working on a post-baccalaureate K-8 teaching certification. My first degree was in Early Childhood Education, but that isn't what I want to do anymore! When it's all said & done (2 years from now) I'll have my certification & my M.A.T. (Master in Teaching). Wish me luck :)

EC: once heard (from someone in Alaska) that almost everyone carries shotguns in their home because you never know when a random bear or large animal will happen upon your home or area in which you live - is this true?

Hmm...come to think of it most people here do have guns! Where we live we don't necessarily have them in case animals come near our home, although a black bear set up residence in our subdivision recently. That being said, it is pretty common for people to take a gun with them when going hiking, fishing, etc.....cuz there is a good chance you might run across a bear. We have several friends who have bear skins on their walls that they didn't go out hunting for...essentially they killed them when the bear snuck up on them in the woods.

Are your big cities like our bit cities?
Anchorage is our largest city, and while it is has everything you need, it is still behind most major cities in the Lower 48. We go 'outside' and just drool over all the shops, and restaurants, and activities....okay its topics like this that make me want to move......ugh!

Finally - Doesn't it ever bother you that you can't just "drive across country" like someone would if they lived in NY and wanted to go to California? Do you ever feel landlocked?

Honestly, that is the one thing that probably bothers me more than anything else. Like I said, we have been here for 11 years and before that we were in Europe. It has been years since I have been able to just go on the quintessential American Road Trip. It is pretty frustrating! My mom-mobile (aka the magnificent minivan) is itching for the open road!

Brittany: Oh boy I hear ya.... I grew up in Stark County, Ohio so I have heard it all! up here a lot of people are from the Pacific NW, so they are clueless about anything east of the Mississippi. When I say I am from Ohio I might as well just say a "pasture out in the middle of podunk!"

Kami: No Aldo...while we are getting more stores all the time, the selection still pretty well stinks! :)

Lunanik: I guess the question that springs into my mind is...why live in Alaska?? I don't want to sound rude, I've heard that Alaska is wonderful, there? permanently?
We moved here in 1996 when my hubby was stationed at Elmendorf AFB. It was supposed to be a 4year tour....we ended up staying 8 years on active duty & then he retired after 20+ years service in Sept 2004. We still haven't made up our minds whether we'll stay permanently or not..... only time will tell.....

ohmommy: what clothing items do you put on the kids before venturing outside? What are the best gloves, underwear, etc,,,?

Layers! Layers! Layers! And we don't skimp, even the slightest bit on quality. I have friends who buy the $14 Spiderman snowboots from Walmart up here & I just cringe.....its bloody cold people! So we stick with stuff that is well insulated, and temp. rated. Brands such as Columbia, Lands Ends, Obermeyer, L.L. Bean, etc rate their products to tell you what temps they are suited for. We make sure the kids have WARM gear & we always have spares. You can't afford to have a mitten go missing around here without a spare......oh yeah, mittens over gloves.....your own body heat is better at keeping you warm than any glove.....
And my kids LOVE Acorn socks...they keep the tootsies uber toasty!

cry it out (Mike): As to your request, does Holling still live in Alaska? How about Dr. Fleischman? What ever happened to Chris? (And my real question is ... do Alaskans get a lot of questions about that show? Or is it just me?)

LOL! Good one.... oddly enough I never watched Northern Exposure during it heyday because we were overseas. But once we moved here I learned that the 90's series was based on the small town of Talkeetna, home to the world famous Moose Dropping Festival...yeah you gotta see it to believe it...

When we first moved here there were a lot of questions about the show...but that seems to have died off on recent years.

alexandra's world: Have you seen a difference in climate lately? Like, less snow? The whole global warming thing... I'm obsessed with it now!

Hmm.... its hard to say. Each & every winter is incredibly different. We still get incredibly cold & tons of snow. And we haven't seen the extreme temp. increases in the summer like the rest of the US. I am sure there are effects, but not to the degree the Lower 48 is experiencing them.

And last but certainly not dear sister Femmie: Wait...I do have a question... when does Alaska get to come home??? That seems like the best question of any posted, and I bet the crazies on the phone don't ever ask that one! We sure do miss you guys...and we aren't shoveling snow yet...does that persuade you at all?
Good question...I really don't know sweetie! while I'd love to say soon, it's only been less than 6 months since we were there last. I wish I had an answer...... Hopefully a isit is in our near future. And as far as moving, I am gonna have to keep working on the hubby with that one....he wasn't impressed when he MSN ranked Canton among the 10 worst cities for jobs in the nation.... ugh! But you know I love ya! :)

Someone commented that they were suprised to see our house- whilewe don't live in igloos, our houses are so different from Lower 48 houses. They totally lack in architectural detail. They are built to withstand the elements...period! I love to go outside & see all of the "pretty" houses (yes, I am whining...)

Ya wanna hear something really lame...I get mopey about the weirdest things......I hate that I have never lived anyplace where there has been a Target (but we are finally getting one next year.) I hate that we don't have pumpkin patches and apple orchards. I hate that we don't live close enough to go to an amusement park for the day. I hate that there are only like 3 places to have your kids birthday party, so believe me those 3 get old really quick! I hate that I get to wear short & flipflops less than 3 months out of the year. I really hope that someday I get the chance to live in a warm climate, even if just for a short while. When I was little I wanted to live in Florida more than anything.....I think I got my directions confused somewhat..... I hate that just to get my family out of state it costs a minimum of $2000! And I HATE that no one will ship anything of a substantial size to Pottery Barn desks or stinks! Okay...enough whining already ........

Anyway...thank you everybody for your questions & all of those of you who left awesome comments ( I am sorry I didn't mention everyone...I gotta get back to my schoolwork...but I'll be sure to visit all of your blogs soon)! I really enjoyed them :)

**** And yes my kids call my mom "Gma"...not just Gma, but Grandma-Gma. It's quite funny. When D. was little, my hubby nicknamed my mom Gma, cuz he said Grandma was just too long to say. Well it kids actually lengthed her name......


The Other Jen said...

Wow, that's the most amazing picture I've ever seen. Period.

I'll come back and read all the questions and answers tonight, when time is not a factor.

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I will be a regular here, great writing!

krystyn said...

Oh I SO need to move their for the Summers. :-)

Kami said...

Neat post. I visited Alaska when I was five. My parents idea of a vacation was to travel 2000 miles in a van to Alaska. We camped in the van too. Fun eh?

I know. We don't venture more than 2 hours in our van. And we sure as hell don't sleep in it ;-)

I love the cliche questions like do you live in igloos. Us Canadians get those all the time as if Canada is all Artic Tundra...hee hee. And I didn't think your house looked that much different from houses here :-)

Jill said...


i had a friend from chugiak... is that close to where you are?

LunaNik said...

I have to say that I've always been mystified by Alaska and the people who live there, that's why I really, really enjoyed this post. The long summer days sound really amazing (and that pic is beautiful) but I don't think I could deal with the frigid weather...I'm definately a warm weather girl! Oh, by the way, I would be upset if there wasn't a Target nearby too...what is it about that store that is so appealing???

Nilsa S. said...

This is a great post! A great way to come home from vacation and read all about life in the great beyond!

EC said...

Great answers!! I learned so much!!

Awesome picture too :)

LunaNik said...

Forgot to mention that I picked up the Bigelow Eggnogg'n tea you recommended and OMG..mmm, mmm good!!

JenKneeBee said...

That photo of the sun moving across the sky is beautiful! I've always wanted to move to Alaska for just a summer. I'm much too wussy for full time status :)

Julie Pippert said...

How fascinating to learn so much about living in Alaska. One of my friends and fave bloggers, Omega Mom, just moved there, and another fave blogger, Scribbit lives there too.

Great post!

And I linked you on my blog today!

Using My Words

Victoria said...

Sooo interesting! My son wants to visit the "Inside" again sooo badly. He was taken with the snow, the animals and the culture. That photo is awesome!!

Janssen said...

I'd never thought of the vegetables getting bigger because of constant sunlight. . .how nifty.

Patriot said...

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carrie said...

I remember walking home from school IN THE DARK when we lived in Anchorage. And then, the break-up. Oh! Dirt everywhere.

But the endless summers and the hot air balloons. Those were a treat in their own special way!

I love all your answers.