Sunday, September 09, 2007

Becoming an Alaskan


Date: Sept. 9
Mileage: 15.4
September mileage: 209.6
Temperature upon departure: 56
Rainfall: .23"

I'm coming up on the second anniversary of the day I moved to Alaska. In most states, two years is probably ample time to establish residency. However, Alaska seems to hold its citizens to a much higher standard. It takes time and effort for Outsiders such as myself to wedge into this culture. Bureaucratically speaking, I belong to this state - I have the driver's license, the license plates, the rental lease. But culturally, I still have work to do.

Top 10 reasons why I'm not yet an Alaskan:

10. I don't own a pair of XtraTuf boots or anything made by Carhartt.
9. I don't have a dog named Kenai.
8. I have yet to go "polar bear swimming."
7. I think pink salmon is delicious.
6. I've never received free money from the state, although that Surly Pugsley I bought on "PFD credit" would beg to differ.
5. I've never eaten anything made of ground-up moose or reindeer, and probably never will.
4. I still think a "snowmachine" is a mechanism that ski resorts use to manufacture artificial snow. Those recreational vehicles that blaze nice trails through the powder are called "snowmobiles."
3. I have yet to buy a boat.
2. I don't believe the federal government "owes me."
1. I live in Juneau.

21 comments:

  1. There's a similar test for people becoming Australian....most drink beer, must own swimming gear, must have surfed, etc etc...I think everywhere has their culture that apparently must be adhered to to become accepted.....why is that

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  2. I missed you and your posts while you were in Sitka! I was at Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods this weekend. Saw some bikers have a Van drive them and their bikes to the top (14,100 feet ASL) and they road them down the 19 miles from the summit. When you get tired and want to coast, I recommend that! Garden of the Gods would be a beautiful place for an honest ride and renews the spirit.

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  3. That's pretty funny! As Steve said, nearly everywhere has there "you ain't from around here are ya" types. One thing I learned the hard way, listen to people. People like to talk about themselves. As a young kid when I first moved away from my home in Florida, all I could talk about was Florida to my new friends. It's all I knew. They quickly grew tired of this and I found myself alone. Listen more than you talk, let them have a little fun at your expense, and eventually you'll be sharing stories with them and talking about the newbies yourself!

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  4. Loved my visit here this morning... I shouted you out on my blog today.. take care :)

    - and stay warm.

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  5. Curious to the background to the salmon bullet... is there a problem with pink salmon? Is there another kind?

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  6. I think red salmon tastes better than pink --kings aren't as tender (but king crab is great!), and moose burgers and reindeer sausage are to die for. However, I've grown fond of 'roo burgers down here...

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  7. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Good list, but the list of requirements for an outsider to become an Alaskan I was told when I moved up here was:

    1) pee in the Yukon river,
    2) have a romantic interlude with a Native Alaska,
    3) get mauled by a bear.

    On a side note, may I suggest that you apply for and get your PFD money. Even if you disagree with the industrialization of the arctic for oil extraction, there are charities in your community that would love the donation (e.g., the Glory Hole in Juneau). Mine goes to Beans Cafe in Anchorage each year, because people need to eat more than I need a new snowmachine (for making snow or otherwise).
    Peace.

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  8. that was so me when I moved to my smalltown on the Island...I actually had a clerk in the local store say...."your"re not from around here are you?" Was it that obvious? great post....cheers

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  9. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Why wouldn't you try moose? I'm sure it is much better for you than gold fish and pepsi. ummm... moose meat balls...or moose steak on wine...
    Monika:)

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  10. Having just finished my first season pitching fish in Alaska (Cordova), I can tell you hands down, just from the point of view of someone who was constantly waist deep in dead fish, that Reds, Silvers, Kings and Chums are far more desirable to handle. Pinks are nasty little fish... and most of the fisherman would bring in anywhere from 400 to 5000 pounds of them little bastards... (they were only going for about 10 cents a pound) - usually it was the Russian fisherman with big hulls bringing the big hauls.

    As far as the taste goes, I can't say. The first time the served fish head soup in the mess hall, I gave up eating fish.

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  11. My wife was born on Kodiak and your list reminds me of their "Alaska" stories. "Crabs were so big, we threw away the body meat" comes up most times they get going.

    I've been in Seattle for almost 20 years and it still feel just as much a New Mexican as I do a Seattlite.

    I'm sure there are people in Anchorage that have lived there all their life and don't experience Alaska nearly to the level you show us on your blog.

    Always a good read.

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  12. followed Shelby over here to take a peak.

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  13. Alaskans do parade their years of residence like badges of honor, but #1's fightin' words!!!
    There are plenty of tough real Alaskans I know that don't meet the majority of these criteria...and Kenai sounds like a name someone definitely not from Alaska would choose. :) Nice picture today - is it from Sitka,the ferry, or...?

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  14. BWC, "Real" Alaskans don't eat pink salmon. It's considered the trashiest of the fish, and Alaskans already have an abundance of good fish - silvers, kings and reds.

    Monika, Good to hear from you again! You should e-mail me and let me know what you're up to. I thought you knew that I don't eat mammals.

    Dorothea, the picture's from the ferry ride to Sitka .. don't remember exactly where. And we don't need to fight, the list is just a joke :-). Most of my friends in Southcentral always tell me about how Juneau isn't "really in Alaska." I do agree with that statement to a certain extent. The geographical seperation makes it such a unique area, it is almost like a seperate state. The same I'm sure could be said of the North Slope, the west coast, the Interior, etc.

    I actually do know a few Alaskans with dogs named Kenai, but they are "Outsider" Alaskans like myself.

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  15. Oh, ok! =) I really wasn't sure how serious you meant to be... I hope someday I'll be a "real" Alaskan woman, but it can seem like a lofty goal! Funny, though, one of the reasons why I don't really want to move to Anchorage because it isn't really in Alaska, i.e. 'Los Anchorage' ...although there are places in South Central *closer* to or *in* Alaska. :-)

    (So Southeast Alaska should be part of ?Canada? I suppose I could understand that feeling a bit...I think the part of Texas between New Mexico and Mexico should be part of the latter state. But then again, Alaska wouldn't be Alaska without its grand variety of terrains and habitats. Even the Russians chose to have their capital in Southeast.)

    Enjoy the Sunny Autumn Weather - Cheers!

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. I love your list.

    I has been four years on the first of September, that I moved to the U.S..
    I wonder, what I would have to put on that list????

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