Thursday, March 4, 2010

Alaska Driving101

I would like to create a blog dedicated to everything Alaska. I'm a pretty typical Alaskan woman. I've lived here for 29 years and really don't want to ever move. I lived in Maryland for a year and a half, got married, and brought my husband to my beloved home for our honeymoon. After spending two weeks enjoying the wilderness, we went back to the busy and crowded lower 48. It took my husband about a week to decide he was ready to move to Alaska.
Alaska is worlds away from the other states. Our population is small (626,932) but our state is huge. Most of us love fishing and hunting, including myself. I don't necessarily hunt any longer, but I would not be opposed to hunting again for subsistence. I plan to live in a cabin somewhere in the woods, far from stores and highways, so I would consider game for meat. Caribou makes a nutritious, low-fat meal. For a lot of Alaskans, a moose or caribou are essential for survival. Natives hunt for the village, sharing and using every part of the animals they kill. Personally, I think the biggest problem is killing moose on roadways. Seeing a moose after it's been hit by a vehicle is a good way to ruin my day. It's gruesome, and a lot of people try not to look, but I believe it's the responsibility of every driver to look at the results when things go wrong. Burn the image into your brain and remember it when you want to talk or text while driving. Most of the time, accidents with moose happen at night, when a person can only see the road. It's so important to watch the sides of the road and look for that glint of an eye caught by the headlights.
A lot of Alaskan roads and highways have no light. There isn't always a power source to provide visibility, so night driving is hazardous. Fortunately, this is only a problem in winter. Summer provides nearly 24 hours of daylight, depending on the location in Alaska. It makes for the best road trips ever. Winter road trips are almost non-existent. Roads are icy, lots of mountain passes mean avalanche danger, sudden snowstorms cause many accidents and good daylight is available from around 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In Alaska, this doesn't get you very far.
I'm still always surprised when I find an Alaskan who hasn't tried to explore the state much. Of course, these people are usually only found in Anchorage. Anchorage is the largest city, and is overflowing with lower 49 transplants. It's a melting pot for people from all over. Texas, California and Maryland provide Anchorage with most of its new citizens, but places like Hawaii, Mexico, Korea and Japan also contribute to a growing population. It helps that Anchorage has military bases, an international airport and a sea port. There are a lot of military personnel and their families stationed in Anchorage. Besides these things, a lot of newcomers to the state go to Anchorage in search of jobs. Unfortunately, my husband and I fall into this category, somewhat. I live an hour from Anchorage, so I commute like many others. Commuters from my area double the population of Anchorage on weekdays. It's a hectic drive, and worse once arriving in the city. A lot of commuters do their shopping in Anchorage before driving home. One reason is to avoid rush hour, another is no taxes. Yes, no taxes. However, the citizens of Anchorage have increasingly high property taxes and less fire and police service response. Still, they refuse to implement a sales tax to offset these conditions. However, implementing a sales tax could drive commuters to buy more locally. I think this would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I can't decide for the Anchorage citizens.

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