Stuff no one tells you: Alaska

15 Sep

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We’ve spent over a month in Alaska so far and are loving it! The state is very diverse geographically–you can see everything from mountains to flat plains to oceans to small streams to dry country to damp rain forest. There are some aspects of the state that we did not anticipate though…

August and September encompass the rainy season. It’s conveniently not mentioned in any of the guidebooks. They actually say the best months to visit are June, July and August but no mention of rain. And rightfully so. Rainy days here are miserable. Windy cold rain is a horrible combination. The locals say it will rain until it starts to snow. But the sunny days (we’ve been here so long they’ve finally started to outnumber the bad days) are magnificent! Fingers crossed we have nice weather until we leave on the 20th.

Things are more expensive here. Not just because of the cost to freight stuff up here, but because most of the cities are at the end of the road. The small towns greatly outweigh the large ones so there’s not as many people to cater to. And with only a thousand or so residents, a town can get by with one grocery store that has high prices and no competition.

You will probably not see Mt McKinley. The clouds in Denali are really low and even on a “clear” day, best case you’ll see the middle of the mountain. Its crazy because you’d think the highest point on the continent would always be visible. So odd. We were lucky enough to be part of the 30% that see a portion of Mt McKinley.

Wildlife here is spectacular!! We have seen everything from bears and moose to hordes of bald eagles to amazing sea life: whales, seals and puffins. Granted, we did go to the Sealife Center in Seward to see the aquatic animals up close but we did see them in the wild as well.

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The cities in Alaska are extremely remote. Aside from Anchorage and Fairbanks, everything else is a small town. There are only roads to like 30% of the state. Otherwise you ferry or fly. And there are lots of cities that are populated and even tourist destinations but you can’t drive TO them. Nome, Kodiak, Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau all have no roads to them. You. Can’t. Drive. To. The. Capital. You have to ferry or fly there. Actually, I don’t think you can ferry to Nome or Kodiak anymore, just fly. It’s a pretty penny too.

The roads aren’t THAT bad. We heard horror stories about highways with potholes the size of a small child and truck drivers who nearly side swipe you while they douse your car in dirt and rocks. We heard that it is a miracle to make it out of Alaska with your windshield in one piece. We even met one traveling group who marked each crack in their windshield with the date and location. Thankfully we did not experience ANY of this!

There are some delicious breweries in this state. Homer Brewing Co and Haines Brewery were particularly impressive as were the Moose’s Tooth brews and the ever popular Alaskan beers which thankfully can be found at most stores here.

Sunlight until midnight is amazing!!! And with a handful of hours of twilight, we were so much more productive. But losing 6 minutes every day is draining. When we first got to Alaska, the sun would set around 11:30pm. Now, it gets dark at 7pm. The shorter days mean the weather is going to turn soon. And that’s an indication for us to go! Alaska has been phenomenal but its just about time to get back to the lower 48 and some beach weather!

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6 Responses to “Stuff no one tells you: Alaska”

  1. Toni Spiers Solomon September 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    thanks for a great review of or state…….your even talking like us Alaskans lol ( lower 48 ) keep us updated with your travels …..hope you come back to visit …….Toni and Sol Solomon Anchorage

    • Sarah September 16, 2013 at 12:48 am #

      we hope we make it back here someday. but our time so far has been fabulous!

  2. Trish September 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Miss you guys!

    • Sarah September 16, 2013 at 12:48 am #

      xo you too!!!!

  3. Emma September 16, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Alaska looks like an amazing corner of the world to visit 🙂

  4. Shari January 18, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    Potholes….spring is the time they get really bad…during the thaw. They are much worse on the Canadian side of the AlCan highway. Those friendly Canadians try to mark all of them…but its impossible b/c the terrain changes so frequently. I have almost ended up air-borne a couple of times. Glad you missed all of that mess! Met you both in Sitka. Its fun to read of your travels!

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