NPF: NOT WHAT I IMAGINED

Alaska is the only state I've never visited, and sadly it's probably the one that I am most interested in seeing. It's vast, it's mostly empty, and it's…different than the rest of the U.S., right? It's the pristine wilderness! America's last frontier!

Well, according to a certain TV series called Alaska State Troopers, Alaska is a frozen Arkansas. The parts where no one lives are pretty; the parts where there are people look like U.N. refugee camps in Siberia.

I only discovered this show recently, as I dislike A) reality shows and B) police. Anything combining the two would be unlikely to appeal to be. But I'm fascinated by Alaska, it's too cold to leave the house, and the first two seasons are up on Netflix now. The die has been cast.

Six episodes into the series I have learned that Alaskan settlements are giant trailer parks full of meth labs and the most hardcore alcoholics you'd ever want to meet. Oh, it's a dry county? That's OK, we'll drink air sanitizer. And then we'll start beating the shit out of each other, because did you miss the part where we drank goddamn air sanitizer? Of course I understand that a show about police is going to show us exclusively the saddest parts of society. Nonetheless it's interesting to me how easy it is to turn someplace into a paradise in your mind, and how surprising it is to realize that it's kind of a dump. It makes perfect sense that cabin fever combined with high unemployment and not much to do outside on account of the weather would make Alaska an ideal place for alcoholism, domestic violence, and other Trailer Park Pastimes to take root.

I don't consider myself an exceptionally naive person, but for some reason I expected Alaska to be full of relatively happy people because, you know, they live in Alaska. Their neighbors are bears. Everyone gets free money every year from the Permanent Fund (oil). Snow-capped mountains. Glaciers. I thought everyone would be into, like, skiing or something. It turns out they're mostly into acting like guests on Jerry Springer.

Yes, I still want to go to Alaska. It might be more pleasant if I avoid contact with any of its inhabitants, though. Why couldn't you be my snowy paradise, Alaska? How will I live knowing that Nome, no matter how isolated and peaceful it looks on a map, is a permafrost-covered version of Camden, NJ?

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60 Responses to “NPF: NOT WHAT I IMAGINED”

  1. Kanamit Says:

    I haven't actually lived in Alaska, but my impression from a brief visit to Juneau is that it was stunningly beautiful and had a lot of cool, left-leaning people. Plenty of awful people as well, I'm sure, but overall my impression of the people there was positive.

  2. ladiesbane Says:

    Your description was a great metaphor for marriage.

    That said, I recommend visiting Dutch Harbor. Beauty, isolation, and lots of Russkies (Philipinos, Japanese, misc.,) working the crab boats. Bring swag and a camera. The visit pays for itself if you work alongside your students over the summer.

  3. sandstonesun Says:

    Alaska is America's final frontier where people who couldn't get along with other people ended up because they couldn't get along with other people and/or going as far as they can to avoid extradition. And then breeding. One word: Sarah Palin.
    Look into Sitka, Paris of the Pacific (circa 1850 or so).

  4. J. Dryden Says:

    Isn't Alaska where people go when they think Montana is a little too pro-Israel? Where they go when it's either there or Florida and Florida is a much longer drive through states in which they have multiple warrants out? Where they have to pay people moderate amounts just to live there, and insane amounts to work there?

    OK, end of vile stereotyping (though what fun!)–it strikes me that Alaska is a state in which (unlike many other states) there are several viable industries–oil and natural gas, obviously, but also lumber and fishing–but where legislative oversight is kept to a minimum because Washington is a world away and keep those pencil-neck socialists off my back (sorry, stereotyping again). It's therefore a place where the division between labor and ownership is going to be staggering–where the blue collars are encouraged to take pride in their work in lieu of taking comfort in a living wage.

    I suspect that Alaska is devastatingly beautiful, but you can't eat beauty, and you can't use it to clothe your children or send them to decent schools. Living amid beauty that taunts your poverty can't be good for the soul–hence the meth. Oh, Lord, the meth. But lest we get too snarky, we ought to remember that they're sitting on stuff that we down in the non-freak-States need, and need badly. We ought, in short, to treat Alaska and its citizens with respect, as it and they are far and away our most important investment in our future need for natural resources.

    It's worth noting, too, that Palin's election (and the subsequent discovery of her true political and intellectual character) came as an appalling shock to many–indeed, most–of the legislation in Juneau, who were delighted when she left to run for Veep, and who let her know upon her return that she could not expect their nuts-and-bolts-necessary support from thereon. Hence, the resignation, which bad as it was for her image, was light-years ahead of the catastrophe the rest of her term would have been. I daresay none of us is as delighted with her crash and burn as they are, which speaks well of them, no?

  5. ADM Says:

    I have an old friend that I only keep in touch with through facebook who happens to live in Alaska, and the stuff he posts looks very much as your imagination wishes Alaska to be. Lots of hiking (even in Feb!), beautiful scenery, white capped mountains, solitude, nature, bears, etc. No d.v. or trailer park pastimes or even trailer parks going on in the background.

    Maybe your show and my friend"s facebook feed offset?

  6. Nunya Says:

    Alaska is a place you have to experience. Yes, people aren't particularly well educated in the traditional sense but I have met some of the cleverest people on the planet there. How else do you manage a fishing boat, a logging business and be an attorney during the winter?

    I love to stereotype but Alaska deserves more than that. It's not paradise but for three months a year, it truly resembles it.

  7. Nate Says:

    I also want to visit Alaska very badly, and fish some of those rivers before they are completely ruined by deforestation, mining, and oil. This post reminded me of a friend from Australia who comes and visits annually, because in Australia, they get about as many paid days off as they work. Anyway, apparrently the Aussies hold our Mighty Mississippi in high regard as some sort of untamed, pristine river flowing through the wilderness, co clean you could drink it. He took a boat trip on it before making it to Milwaukee. He didn't have anything nice to say about it.

  8. Jane Says:

    Norway and Sweden are pretty too. Unfortunately, especially Norway.

    We have a problem in that many of the young people in rural areas move to the city to study, find spouses and jobs there and stay away. This is especially true of young women, since a lot of the jobs there are mostly filled by men (building and repairing buildings, tending dams and power lines and putting up wind power, breeding & training hunting dogs, hunting guides, snow scooter guides)

    In a little town I know well, the first child in twelve years was born last September. The nearest child under a year old is 30 miles away.

  9. Talisker Says:

    cabin fever combined with high unemployment and not much to do outside on account of the weather

    This overlooks one other important feature: No daylight in the winter. By that I don't mean it gets dark at 5 pm, I mean it gets dark in November and doesn't get light again until February. (I'm grew up in Edmonton which was bad enough, I really don't want to think about the cold and darkness of an Alaskan winter.)

    Northern Norway is beautiful, full of lovely people, very orderly and reasonably prosperous, but still has a lot of gloomy alcoholics. Something about the Arctic conditions just does that to people.

  10. Fiddlin Bill Says:

    Wait till you see the reality show on antarctica.

  11. Amused Says:

    Alaska is a big place. I can just imagine what you would think of New York City, Ed, if you based your judgment on a cop show set in the South Bronx.

    Now, I haven't been to Nome — though based on what I've read, the western part of Alaska is the poorest part of the state and has particularly high rates of alcoholism, suicide and domestic violence. However, I've traveled through the middle and eastern parts, from the Arctic (Barrow) all the way down to Homer, plus (on a separate occasion), the usual cruise circuit in the southeast. I can tell you with certainty that Alaska is not "Camden, NJ" — and I've been to Camden too, so I know. Everywhere, I met wonderful and interesting people, including many who had moved to Alaska by choice, and love it. Barrow, despite its rather hefty size by standards of the Arctic, appears to be a close-knit community, and a very friendly one.

    For every bad thing that you can point out about Alaska, there is context that is often missing, it seems to me. Yes, some people get depressed in the winter when there is no daylight — but the flipside of that is how much people in the Arctic appreciate the summer. One of my most vivid memories of the North Slope was seeing small kids play outside at 11 PM, and teenagers zooming along the beach on scooters, wearing t-shirts in 40-degree weather. Yes, there is little to do in the winter (or, in some places, in the summer for that matter), and to be happy living in Alaska, you have to embrace quieter pastimes and a more languid pace of life — which most Alaskan residents do.

    The areas south of Fairbanks comprise the most affluent and densely populated part of Alaska. Again, lots of people who moved to Alaska from elsewhere, and most of them love it. These are also the parts where you'll eat the best fish you've ever tasted.

    Alaska is magical. True, some of it is dark and depressing, but isn't that true of every place?

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    I'm sure Alaska's beautiful.

    And so, I hear, is Siberia.
    But yet, I suspect that I wouldn't want to visit there for long. Maybe a 'once, and done,' type of thing, so I could check it off my bucket-list – IF it was even on my bucket-list.

    My family has relatives who still live in Siberia. where they were sent by Stalin, and ordered to stay.
    And then they adapted.
    And, they found once they were out of the GULag's, that the pay in Siberia was better, so they either stayed, or went back after trying the rest of Soviet Russia.

    Years ago, when they visited us, I always felt that I was talking to people who were victims of "Stockholm Syndrome" – siding with something that was a pretty awful experience.
    And when I talked to them, and they talked about being couped-up for about 3/4's of the year, and the brief, beautiful, and bug-infested summers, and how that wasn't bad at all, if I had a bucket-list, I'd have taken Siberia off of it.
    And I'm a person who happens to LIKE winters – now, I happen to like ice-cream, too, but I don't see what pleasure I'd gain from eating that at every meal, 9 months a year.

    I know some people who took the cruise along the Alaskan coast, and they LOVED it!
    Now THAT sounds like something I'd like to do – see the beauty, and still be on a cruise ship most of the time, with an occasional visit to a small village – but be able to get back on the ship whenever I ran into someone like "St. Sarah of Siska" Palin and her family. THAT might ruin the cruise even more than being on a cruise ship with sewage problems.
    So, I think I'll just stay here in upstate NY, and enjoy our winters, thank you very much. Spring is coming here in about a month or so – and not in 3 or 4 months.

  13. gwenhara Says:

    I imagine Alaska to be a lot like Montana.

    Why should Alaska be any different than Montana? Granted, Montana is my home state and I don't like it but I get so tired of people romanticizing it as some sort of epic romantic wilderness state full of ruddy hard working people with earthy life values and pithy quotes. Or even worse, everyone imagines it like A River Runs Through It crossed with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with a dash of On the Road. Not true. Simply not true (except for the misogyny of Kerouac, that's true).

    Montana, like everywhere, is full of poverty, unemployment, and tons of fucking meth. There's so much meth in that state it numbs me. And the winters suck. You get depressed from never-ending snow, darkness, and cold (not as bitterly cold as my current state, Wisconsin, but still cold). Mountains (if you're on the west side) don't pay the bills.

  14. Isaac Says:

    I Lived there for two years. It's a very odd place politically, on average it's extremely libertarian. It's a barely regulated paradise for well-off greenies who want to poop in a hole in the ground, gun nuts who want to kill everything that moves, and burly pedos who want to take advantage of the 16 years age-of-consent.
    The whole economy rests on substance abuse, fishing, oil, tourism, and military bases. Also immigrant labor. It's a comfortable place to retire if you are rich and white. In Kodiak there are houses and condos owned by absentee out-of-towners who show up once a year for their big hunting trip or bird watching tour. The story goes that Ted Nugent shot a bison there. Except those bison live on some guy's fenced farm, and he'll shove them from one pasture to another with the bucket of his tractor so you can take your prize shot.

  15. Anonymouse Says:

    I was stationed in Elmendorf, which is not that far from Anchorage, in the mid-1990s. The scenery was beautiful, it's true. The people? Not so much. Sure, there were some lovely people. They were in the minority. There were some enchantingly quirky folks like the ones in Northern Exposure, but not too many. What did they have? Lots of right-wing conspiracy nuts, meth-heads, and all the typical Springer crowd. The Native Americans were treated very badly. Non-whites of any ethnicity were treated very badly. Lots of small-town mean idiocy that would rival any deep-South place.

    You can see how Sarah Palin back-stabbed and grifted her way so high before being outed by her own crass and mean ignorance on the bigger US stage. Apparently the locals didn't like her much, either, but she had too much dirty information on too many people, so locally she couldn't be stopped.

  16. Brian Ogilvie Says:

    I'm sure Alaska has changed a lot since the 1970s, but you might still find John McPhee's _Coming into the Country_ (1977) to be a good way to get beyond the reality show version of Alaska. McPhee has a knack for getting people to open up, but he's no sentimentalist.

  17. Hazy Davy Says:

    I went in November. It's pretty much as you want it to be—you will see very few people, unless you want to. (At least between Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle.)

    And, in our case, you will meet mostly people determined to be self-reliant, who are tough.

  18. Major Kong Says:

    My friends from the Alaska Air National Guard always talked about the "Fortress Alaska" people, as they called them.

    There are a lot of people who are there because they really want to be away from everyone else.

  19. Major Kong Says:

    And what's with all the Alaska reality shows, anyway?

    Between the ice truckers, crab fishermen, loggers, gold miners, state troopers, bush pilots and the Palins – there's something like 15 people living in the whole damn state and they all have their own TV show.

  20. Isaac Says:

    Major Kong… the worst was how some stupid stinky crab fisherman suddenly became celebrities, flush with cash, chased around town by gushing autograph seekers.

  21. cromartie Says:

    I had the good fortune of spending a month in Anchorage in January.

    Anchorage reminds me of Toledo, if Toledo actually had an industry to prop it up and a military base propped nearby. Just a generic, bland city filled with not terribly bright, but very friendly on the whole, people who like the lifestyle.

    You don't go there to find attractive women, either. Then again, as a female friend of mine described the men in the dating scene "the odds are good, but the goods are odd."

    Even in Anchorage, you have to embrace the isolationism. This is the last frontier, after all. And it is beautiful Beautiful scenery and even the worst salmon is the best salmon you've ever tasted. A lot of people have issues with the isolationism and so they end up addicted to something to cope.

    Places with a high level of isolationism, like Alaska, Hawaii and Australia that happen to be beautiful aren't any different than the places that have high levels of isolationism that aren't. Not the most urbane of people. It comes with the territory. That's why they're nice places to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.

  22. ladiesbane Says:

    I'm getting a huge kick out of these comments. I grew up in Montana, just outside Glacier Park, but have relatives state-wide. My great-grandma, whom I knew well, moved there from Tromsø, Norway, gem of the Arctic. Look at how many of us turned up here. Odd.

  23. JohnR Says:

    I never go anywhere, because everywhere I go is disappointing. People, meh!

  24. Nick Z Says:

    This reminds me a lot of the post you wrote on the general shoddiness and disrepair of much of America, as manifest in its crumbling infrastructure and decrepit neighborhoods ('Somalia, or St. Louis'?), and how those outside the US have this mistaken picture of everything so shiny and new. I had a similar experience. Every summer my family would take a vacation down from Alberta to some of the mountain towns in Montana, since my brother would often play in baseball tournaments down there there. I recall it as fresh and idyllic. My brother, however, once described to me his surprise when he visited Montana 20 years later at how crappy and rundown so much of it was.

  25. Jon Says:

    My family was also stationed at Elmendorf in the 90s, which is right next to Anchorage, in the sense that if you exit the gate, you're in Anchorage.

    Isaac pretty much nails my experience. I was in high school at the time, so I wasn't paying much attention to politics. Pot had only recently become illegal, and pretty much everyone there who was inclined still grew their own and smoked it. Not a whole lot of meth at the time, at least not in Anchorage.

    I'd say Anchorage, Homer and Fairbanks mimicked your typical American city, and the moment you left any of them it immediately became small town America. Gun nuts, racism and all.

    However, it was still the most beautiful place I've lived, and having been an air force family, I can say with some authority that means it's the most beautiful place in America.

  26. Guitar Slim Says:

    On the plus side I bet the 'Bad Boys' theme song sounds really cool performed Aleutian Style.

  27. Bob Savage Says:

    Your gratuitous slap at Camden pains me!

  28. John Doheny Says:

    I haven't gigged in Alaska for many years, so I can't really speak to its current condition. I must say though, that the most striking think about this post to me is that you seem to be serious about the ability of commercial television (and reality television at that) to give an accurate representation of anything. I'd strongly advise rethinking those assumptions.

  29. Kirsten Says:

    It would be a shame for you to judge Alaska based on reality television (which we all know is a true, unedited, unbiased depiction of reality, right?) The people of Alaska are as diverse as its terrain, and for every loser featured on Alaska State Troopers, there are myriad more Alaskans who would help you jump your car on a cold morning, watch the Northern Lights with you in the middle of a sub-zero night in January, and share a beer with you at the Moose's Tooth. You do Alaska, and yourself, a disservice writing about it as though reading a biology book has made you a doctor. Go visit, and see for yourself how great The Great Land is, in reality.

  30. CG Says:

    I expected more longtime Alaskans to weigh in. They didn't, so I gotta represennnnnnt.

    Alaska is gorgeous in a way you can't find in Montana or Idaho, its obvious ideological cousins to the south. Life in the bush can be super fucked up—here in Anchorage too, but on a level more identifiable to the general US population—but when you can turn your back on kids huffing gasoline under a porch to face these fucking mountains, it don't seem too bad. Maybe that's the difference.

    Maybe, too, because even the granolas wearing thousands of dollars in REI gear are laid back as hell. Don't expect an Alaskan to be on time, and if you're worried about looking underdressed at a nice restaurant, don't. Someone there is wearing Carharts unabashedly.

    Visit in the summer if you're not a masochist. Don't linger too long in the southeast and give the moose some space. God damn this feels contrived. Whatever. Anyone who lives in a place even REMOTELY quirky (no pun intended) has their own speech—notice all thr comments from people who dropped in for a week.

  31. CG Says:

    Hellllll yes, Kirsten. Your less-cynical comment nails it.

  32. tveb Says:

    To all the Montana people, Missoula is nice, so far.

  33. Rosalux Says:

    Alaska shouldn't have ever been part of the United States, not being contiguous to the rest of the 48 and having (originally) no cultural/historical/political connection. It's really, like Hawaii, just another sordid episode in our expansionary-imperialist past. Give it back to the natives.

    Also, never understood why people live in freezing climates. Madness. I don't care that it's lovely for one month in the summer.

  34. Megalononymous Says:

    Yeesh, aren't there more Alaskans who read this blog?

    I live in Juneau, and it is indeed a beautiful place. There are a lot of domestic violence and substance abuse issues up north, but mostly in rural areas, which you won't do more than pass through if you ever visit. For the most part, we're very laid back people who aren't big on dressing up. Except for the hipsters, of course. It is a conservative state, but in a delusions-of-self-sufficiency libertarian sort of way, not a god-hates-gays way (Juneau, however, is very liberal).

    Come visit. I probably take having a glacier in my backyard for granted, but all the visitors I've met have been overawed.

  35. tbs Says:

    Friend of mine spent a good bit of time in Alaska. He said if you act like an asshole after your second winter up there, no one will help you. True assholes don't survive. Dirtbags aren't necessarily assholes.

  36. Mo Says:

    Pretty much everything you need to know about Alaska politics and resource management you can discover at themudflats.net.

    The series on the militia arrests and sentencing is worth the trip all by itself.
    http://www.themudflats.net/?cat=1058

    Having lived in Southeast Alaska for 38 years now, my assessment is pretty much that it's a fabulously beautiful environment, an unforgiving climate that will kill you if you stop paying attention, and a continuing target of industries that want to fill their sack and leave the locals to clean up the mess. Fisheries, mining, logging, petroleum, cruise ship tourism – rape and leave a shitstain wherever you go. But, jawbs! So lick that shit from the boots that tramp your land into a mire. We could have been Norway if our petroleum wealth had been managed and taxed properly, but at least we have the Permanent Fund to buy us a box of cookies while the petro companies dine on steak.

    And the ignorant Arkansas hillbillies who moved up here during the pipeline boom have become an entrenched reliably Republican pack of bible thumpers who hate gays, love guns, and are addicted to booze, oxy, meth, and sugar. The militia gun goons are having a rally on the steps of the state capital building tomorrow, and they're all a-twitter with excitement. I'm having a tough time not hoping that one of them gets shot in the nuts.

  37. mayya Says:

    Alcoholism and domestic violence aren't just "Trailer park pastimes." They are unfortunately all too common in every state and every social stratum. I understand the impulse to make a fairy tale of any place you've always been enchanted with it, but if you expect some sort of Eden from anyplace on earth, you're doomed to disappointment. We have to carry our paradises with us, wherever that happens to be :-)

  38. Major Kong Says:

    I've been to Anchorage and Fairbanks, but didn't spend a lot of time in either place. It seemed nice enough, but wouldn't be high on my list of places I'd want to move to.

  39. Amused Says:

    @Rosalux: If Alaska weren't a part of the United States, it would be a part of Russia. Most Russians today still think Russia should retake Alaska.

  40. Rosalux Says:

    @Amused: Just because imperialist Russia beat us to the punch (and we had to buy the land from them) doesn't make our occupation of the land any less imperialist or rapacious. Though that would make for a good Bond film. James Bond uncovers a covert Russian plot to retake Alaska and so must disguise himself as a grime-smeared fish-monger in a secluded Alaska seaport. The film ends with Bond beating the chief KGB agent to death with a live salmon (after which he quips something like: "There was always something fishy about him…").

  41. Andrew Laurence Says:

    Southeastern Alaska's climate is similar to that of Seattle – chilly and rainy in the winter, but hardly freezing and much warmer than "civilized" places like New York City.

  42. Andrew Laurence Says:

    Where I live, the age of consent is 18, but someone who wants to fuck a 16-year-old (with consent, of course) is hardly a pedophile.

  43. Haskell Acker Says:

    My first visit to Alaska was in 1988 to spend Christmas with friends from high school and college. They moved to Alaska in the late 1960's. I made about 10 move visits before moving to Anchorage in 1998. I fell in love with Alaska on my first visit. The subsequent visits were made so that I could experience every season, get to know more people, and to assess the potential for being successful in my work. I'm a psychologist in independent practice. The only regret that I have is that I didn't move here sooner.

    Alaska is a place of extremes, in almost every sense of the word. Winter is wonderful. Most Alaskans remain active throughout the year. The amount of daylight is a function of where you live in the state. While it's true that Fairbanks has 2 or 3 months of total darkness in winter, it's also true that Anchorage and Juneau have more daylight in winter. While it's true that Fairbanks has 24 hours of daylight for 2 to 3 months in summer, it's also true that Anchorage and Juneau have reduced daylight but not total daylight.

    Regarding the people, again Alaska is a place of extremes. I've met some of the most talented and professionally successful people I've ever known.

    Oh, I didn't mention that I moved here from Atlanta, Ga., where I had lived most of my life and that I'm 68. I also didn't mention that I'm about as liberal politically as anyone can be. There are lots of liberals in Alaska, but we are clearly out numbered by rigid conservatives. Lots, and I mean lots of Alaskans are totally embarrassed by Palin and those ofher kind. It's nice to know that she spends most of her time in Arizona. Like I said before, Alaska is a place of extremes.

    I still love living here and have no desire to live anywhere else.

  44. mothra Says:

    Well, first, since I live in a city that the show "Cops" loved because of all our, um, well, shall we say "content perfect for those who like staring at car wrecks," I would caution you to make judgments from shows filmed from law enforcement's perspective. Pretty much the cops in any place are not having dreamy interactions with the locals much of the time and the producers of those shows edit heavily to show the most outrageous encounters.

    Second, I have visited Alaska and it is, without a doubt, simply gorgeous. Granted, I was a tourist, but I visited a friend who lived and worked there, so didn't only interact with people in the tourist industry. I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life in Denali National Park (at 10:30 at night). And that is saying something, given I see a fabulous sunset nearly every evening in NM.

    You should really go, Ed. You won't be disappointed. Yeah, Alaska has idiots. Because people are idiots. Plain and simple.

  45. Brian Says:

    Your implication that domestic violence and substance abuse are the sole provenance of trailer parks and rural Alaska trumps your reliance on a 'reality show' about cops to denigrate an entire population as an example of your ignorance.

    Unless, of course, your entire article was a commentary on the absurdity of reality television. In which case, I was fooled, and I am sorry for the above statement.

  46. jjack Says:

    Boroughs.

    We don't have counties.

  47. jjack Says:

    Forgot to close my trolling tag

  48. jjack Says:

    Fuck it, I'll throw in a real post since all of us Alaskans are having fun in here. I was born in Ketchikan (extreme southeast) and have lived in the Anchorage vicinity since coming of age — with a four-year stint in Butte, Montana in between Anchorage-area stays. Yes, Alaska is cold and the winters are long, but there are two things I've seen in Montana that I never saw here: -40F for a week, and snow in June.

    My only bitch is that I wish Anchorage/Valley had better transit. If they ever get the commuter rail going and fix People Mover so it doesn't suck ass, I'll have no desire to leave.

  49. Major Kong Says:

    I can't watch "Cops", I might see one of my relatives.

    "Run cousin Eddie! Run!!!"

  50. CP Says:

    As someone who has been to all 50 states, I feel I should mention that Alaska was my favorite state to visit. That dumb show could be filmed within 100mi from any of us. Obviously that is part of the reason you are disappointed, but so what? That shouldn't be surprising enough to disappoint you. It doesn't change the fact that Alaska is more beautiful than other states and has a lot to offer.

    Think of Alaska as a bigger, better, and coastal version of Colorado with better seafood than Maine. If you like food and/or nature, any disappointment you experience will be self-inflicted.

    I should also add that you could run into some interesting people there (including some of your readers). We passed through a town with a population of 11. As one would expect, they had a general store. We stopped in and made conversation with the well-spoken owners. Living in a remote town of their own near the Arctic Circle, they had to home school their children. And as he should have, the man bragged about how his wife was such a good teacher that one of their daughters was attending Penn State. Stop by Joy on your way to the Arctic Circle if you're looking for some good conversation.

    That reminds me…Story, Indiana is bullshit.

  51. gwenhara Says:

    ladiesbane,
    I grew up in Whitefish. I hate that town. I went to school in both Missoula and Bozeman and I lived for a year in Billings. Then I went to Louisiana. I spend a great deal of time figuring out ways not to go back to Montana.

    I imagine Alaska inspires similar feelings in people who grow up there.

  52. Erin Says:

    I was also born in Ketchikan like jjack was. Lived there for 10 years, moved to Homer for 5, back to Ketchikan until graduating HS then off to the military and more school with many stops in between before finally settling in Anchorage 8-ish years ago. I work as a land surveyor on TAPS (Trans-Alaska Pipeline System) between Deadhorse and Valdez.

    It's like anywhere else. Just not a lot of people in a whole lotta land. I'm pretty immune to the beauty most of the time though. It distracts from the people who should be paying attention to driving rather than white-knuckling their RW cars on hockey rink roads or gawking at the shit I've already seen hundreds of times. It's a moose eating 40 feet from the road, not an excuse to stop traffic South Carolina plate asshole.

  53. Mo Says:

    Erin – Ketchikan, huh? How'd that pulp mill thing work out for y'all?

    Right.

    And if you view beauty as a disease to which you can become immune, may I suggest Maricopa County for your retirement home. Buy lots of barbed wire.

  54. Erin Says:

    Mo- I worked at the pulp mill for two summers during high school. It was good, hard work. That said, it was a blight environmentally and deserved to be shut down and nearly completely razed.

    I never said beauty was a disease. I said/meant I was immune Alaska's particular beauty since I've seen it before. I've lived here long enough that it's just where I live and work.

  55. gwenhara Says:

    Erin,
    I understand what you're saying. Mountains and all that don't really do anything for me because I grew up in it. It's funny to me that people seem affronted when I don't gush over mountains and all that. No one reacts the same way to someone acting blase about ocean views or deserts.

  56. ladiesbane Says:

    @gwenhara: sing it! I moved to Oregon for college and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Later years in Maricopa County and New Mexico were a negative karma investment that landed me in the heavenly Bay Area. But I'm just doing time in heaven until I can move back to the PNW. And Montana? Never. Again.

  57. Kaleberg Says:

    You're probably a city boy. Urban poverty, you know, but you aren't that familiar with rural poverty. It looks awfully similar everywhere. As others have noted, that show could have been filmed 100 miles from anywhere.

  58. Death Panel Truck Says:

    Go to Anchorage in July. I have, twice. You'll have a lot of fun. The mosquitoes will eat you alive.

  59. Soylent Greenberg Says:

    There are just too damn many people on this planet. I do, however, have a solution…

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