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No, I don't think that's it at all.
Alaska is the most romanticized place on the earth, for good reason. No one would argue that it is also among the most beautiful, from the tall mountains to the grizzlies and such. But the real reason I think people are drawn to it is the same reason people are drawn to the rest of the northwest- they're looking for change. We live in a fast paced world, and there are a lot of people that get burned out trying to keep up. I go to the east coast sometimes and it amazes me how fast they talk, move, etc. It's like everyone's always in a hurry to get nowhere. No wonder people get burned out and want to leave- how can you keep that up?
But it's more than that. People have this idea that moving somewhere new, somewhere remote, is going to solve their problems. Obviously, it won't, but clearly they don't know that. The honest-to-god truth is that if you can't make friends elsewhere, if you can't hold down a job... whatever. If you aren't happy with your life, just moving somewhere else isn't going to help, despite what hollywood may have told you.
Right now this world is the only place that we can live while in these physical bodies. Sometimes, for some people, the world just isn't big enough. I think that is especially true for so many of us citizens of the United States of America. Many of us come from the genetic stock of people who wanted to move to a place where they would have some elbow room with as much freedom from rules and regulations as possible in a free society.
Alaska, for many of us U.S. citizens, is the last place that we can go now that is still part of the U.S. to even begin to seek such freedoms as our ancestors did. Of course though the MTV, and XBox generation need to gain a respect for nature before venturing off to the Great Land.
Reading the bear mauling thread made me kind of laugh a nervous laugh. Especially when I read the part about the pepper spray for bears. I keep thinking how the bear will stop, take the can from their victim, and spray the top of their head with the pepper spray before biting their head off, wanting it to be seasoned just right with the perfect amount of hot sauce.
I used to be surprised about such disregard for the power of nature until I began to witness it daily even in my mostly benign part of the world as compared to Alaska.
Pepper spray for bears. . . Really now.
Better pepper spray than every tom dick and harry shooting our bears because one looked at them wrong. It's bad enough as it is. We can't even have a brown bear hunt in my area because so many are shot in so called defense of property. People leave food on bird feeders, dog food out, dogs chained up etc...which will bring in bears. Then they shoot the bear because it was digging in their trash...which they only need to take to the dump...put wait until the whole truck bed is full. Some peope got no brains. Basically baiting the bears, and then shooting them because they walk into the yard.
Many people have a romanticized notion about what Alaska is like and indeed it represents one of the last few places in the USA where the outdoors are valued and where there is some sense of serenity and space.
Personally I base my desire to live in Alaska on several different experiences:
Summer canoe camping trips in the woods of Northern Ontario with the boreal forests, crystal clear lakes, sound of the loons at night, sense of remoteness and adventure, meeting great nice people.
Winter trips to the Lake Superior coastline to go skiing and snowmobiling. I used to live in the Chicago area and was able to do that from time to time.
Long experience of camping and enjoyment of the outdoors through Boy Scouts (I was an Eagle Scout and still enjoy my weekend trips as much as I did when I was 12.)
Additionally there is the romantic appeal of living in Alaska:
A place where you are not just appreciated for tailgating and your knowledge of sports (where introverts are accepted and you can be a real outdoorsman.)
A place that has an independent spirit and feel like I felt whenever I visited the Northwoods or Canada.
Reading White Fang, Hatchet, Far North and a variety of adventure stories and hearing passages like, "Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous in the fading light."
A place where I can experience the highs and lows of nature - -40 days and darkness, aurora overhead on a bitter cold night, breakup, the lush and mosquito laden summer landscape, trips to the Yukon River and places only locals know about, seeing things other people would only dream about.
Many people come to Alaska only in the summer as part of a cruise or tourbus visit to Denali. Some people enjoy more than that but they are really getting only one side of the experience. Anyone who says they want to live in Alaska after a summer visit is foolish. It takes visiting it at different times of year, maybe a possible extended stay to see what living there is really like.
Right now I'm living in Alabama and like it for the good school I'm going to, laid back living and accessibility of the outdoors, proximity to relatives and plentiful jobs - I don't really feel it in the same way though as I am drawn up to the Far North.
I would like to come to Fairbanks on a couple different trips. Once in the summer and if I like it or if possible it would be cool to live and work there for a month over my winter break.
I don't know how great Alaska would be for legal jobs, I'm in law school right now and would probably be more interested in the Interior than I would be in Anchorage.
I lived in the Chicago area before for a few years and am used to some level of cold.
I would say people really need to visit to know but I hope more likeminded people would move up - people that are tired of the same-old in the lower 48, are friendly, hardworking, and have a rugged sense of individualism. One thing I've enjoyed about Northern people is their sense of humor and independent spirit. And I certainly enjoy hearing about stories like the pepper spray and the bears, or trips in the wild.
I agree. I too grew up in Chicago but have been traveling the world since I joined the military at age 17. I think it is important to visit a place during a few seasons and for an extended period before considering a move. Of course, my very first visit to Alaska was in the summer, but I kept returning for all the seasons, and I stayed for long periods of time, spending most of last winter there. Since weather and winter is such a big part of how Alaskan's live, I think it's imparative that one experience that before making the move. Experience those short days of light where it's just getting light at 8am and by 3pm it's dark again. Deal with the road conditions and the driving. Get a feel for how you will be spending your time in the winters. All those pretty mountains and lakes and streams in the winter take on a very different characteristic than they do in the summer, and many people who base their decisions on summer visits, find themselves squatting in a shack of a place they can't afford, and looking out their windows at that nature they moved up for, yet stay cooped up.
I don't think experiencing winters in places like Chicago or NY can compare. Perhaps those experiences have taught us skills like how to drive and that there is the preparation, the winter ritual: winterizing the car, the house, shopping/stocking up, etc, but I think the intensity of Alaska winters are difficult to anticipate until you have actually experienced them. Plan on packing on some pounds in the winter because you are a bit less active and you get together with your friends more often for dinners because the weather dictates. Stuff like that. I think the winters in Alaska as far as the weather goes, do not have the wet-cold as much as places like Chicago or NY, but it is how the winter permiates your actual day-to-day living, activities, attitude, etc that one must be mindful of. Those things make all the difference on whether one can stay in Alaska for the long haul.
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