Make Your Case For Home (Group Writing: Hot)

 

If you’ve ever flown into Alaska, the first thing you notice as you peer out the airplane windows are the mountains, row upon endless row of snow-peaked ruggedness. The best word to describe them is a word often overused to describe lesser things: majestic.

Majestic should be reserved for the sort of rare and surpassing beauty that generates awe, like those mountains, especially around 3:00pm in the winter when the set sun casts a purple blanket across the snow. The moon rises behind them, a glorious, massive pale-yellow celestial that captivates, and causes you to stare regardless of how cold it is.

This was the view I saw out my front window my first night in Alaska after spending a day walking around my new college campus in sub-zero temperatures, a view I re-experienced every night for months, and then years after.

I had finally found my place in the world.

I moved to Alaska in 1996 in an attempt to flee as far away from Los Angeles as I could. That’s not hyperbole, I literally wanted to move as far away geographically as possible within the United States. I settled on choosing between Maine or Alaska. I’d been to Maine once and loved it, but Alaska was sexier so it won the contest. Alaska also held another huge advantage for me: it’s never hot.

I hate being hot. Growing up in southern California, I was often hot. I used to sleep sweating with my window open every night of the summer, a fan on my desk trying its best to make a difference.

There comes a point where you simply run out of layers to remove when even the pool water is as warm as a bath and you have to make tough choices regarding your electric bill. When it’s that hot, the sand on the beach burns your feet. You find yourself going to the grocery store to buy things just to be under air conditioning for a few hours. Or, if overseas, you may end up violating your sacred principle of only eating local fare as you duck into the nearest McDonald’s, grateful that at least there you can be sure of getting ice in your drink.

There were far more reasons to leave California than the heat, but moving reinforced my long-held theory, which has since been confirmed after more than twenty years in Alaska:

It is far easier to get warm when you are cold than it is to get cool when you are hot.

So I propose we play a game. Make your case for home, the place you’d choose to live above all others. Give us some reasons why we should consider it.

Here is my case for Alaska:

Cheating death

It may be over before you know it, but summer in Alaska holds the potential for the most thrill-seeking four months on Earth. World class hunting, fishing, rafting, hiking, climbing, flight tours, day cruises, river cruises, float trips, train trips, are all available within a short drive or chartered flight from my front porch. But don’t worry, we also have some of the world’s best first responders on land or sea. Live here long enough and you too may get a free ride in an Air National Guard Blackhawk.

Predators that outweigh you

Bald eagles and whales are great and all, and it’s kinda cool to see a moose giving birth in your front yard (this happened to my buddy last week), but the best thing about the animals in Alaska are the deadly ones. Why? Because the creatures that can kill you here are big and you can shoot them. No snakes hiding in your tent, no scorpions, or tornado fish, or creepy crawlies infecting your bloodstream. Just keep a loaded shotgun handy and you’ll make a good fight out of it.

Snowstorms

Hear me out. In the Lower 48, a winter storm shuts down cities. Not here; winter doesn’t stop us. Our airport never closes, snow doesn’t cancel our plans, the roads are always driveable, stores are always open, and people manage their daily routines regardless of the weather. I was late to work by thirty minutes once after driving fifty miles in a ten-inch blizzard. I learned to just leave earlier next time.

Natural disasters

Most wildfires in Alaska are beneficial but the ones that aren’t are quickly contained. The 8o mph winds that rock the third floor of my house every February and March are not called hurricanes, they’re just windy, wear a beanie, use the other door when entering a store, kind of days. Last year our 7.0 earthquake yielded zero deaths, and roads were rebuilt in a couple of days.

This one took a little longer to reopen (a whole week):

There are plenty of other reasons I choose Alaska but I’ll simply end it with this:

Our meme game is wicked strong.

 

 

 

 

 

Send your kids to Alaska; we’ll send them back hardy.

Of course, they may just decide to stay.

Published in Group Writing
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There are 15 comments.

  1. JoelB Member

    I was in Fairbanks years ago because of my yearly Air National Guard two-week training (summer). We even had a little time to take the railroad to Mt McKinley (or is it Denali?) National Park and take the bus tour. There is much beauty in the Great Land.

    • #1
    • June 10, 2019, at 5:13 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    What a great post, Vince!! I’ve only been briefly in Alaska (on an excursion off a cruise ship), but I watch every show on TV about Alaska–the tougher, more dangerous, more isolated, the better! It’s a vicarious experience for me–and close enough! But truly I admire those folks. Yes, they have camera men following them around, but it’s still a demanding life.

    • #2
    • June 10, 2019, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. EODmom Coolidge

    My sister feels the same way about San Antonio – the “you can’t move here, it’s too hot” sister. She heads to Alaska, or Montana or Seacoast NH whenever she can. She’s presently in Nome for another photo group outing. She said there’s a little left over snow from winter. She loves Alaska – it’s just a little harder to get to than her other cool weather options. Her husband won’t move.

     

    • #3
    • June 10, 2019, at 7:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Doug Watt Member

    Great essay, thanks. Reminds me of living in a rural area of Arizona. What doesn’t bite you will stab, or sting you. Cats running loose in the neighborhood mean this:

    or this:

    • #4
    • June 10, 2019, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. Pony Convertible Member

    I worked on the Slope for 4 years (If you live in Alaska, you know what this means). On one trip home to Anchorage, the pilot decided to circle Mt. McKinley. He flew surprisingly close. It was are really weird feeling to be flying at 25,000 feet in a Boeing 727, and be looking up at the mountain. Not only was is majestic, it was awesome.

    • #5
    • June 10, 2019, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  6. Mister Dog Coolidge

    Alaska summer… I’m in Fairbanks right now, it’s 9:30 pm and sunset is still 3 hours away.

    • #6
    • June 10, 2019, at 10:39 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra Post author

    JoelB (View Comment):
    We even had a little time to take the railroad to Mt McKinley (or is it Denali?) National Park and take the bus tour.

    The park has always been called Denali. The mountain has always been called Denali by the Natives and many non-Natives, but it was officially Mt. McKinley until just a few years ago. I still call it Mt. McKinley out of habit. 

     

    • #7
    • June 10, 2019, at 11:12 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    It makes sense that Alaska residents would be in the cold over hot camp. 

    This is an entry in June’s theme series: Hot Stuff!” We have a lot of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

    • #8
    • June 10, 2019, at 11:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Bethany Mandel Editor

    I could not possibly disagree with you more on hot vs. cold…. but gosh darnint did you make me want to visit Alaska…

    • #9
    • June 11, 2019, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra Post author

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):
    gosh darnint did you make me want to visit Alaska…

    May through August is for you, but bring a raincoat in August.

    • #10
    • June 11, 2019, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Caryn Member

    *Sigh* homesick. 

    Juneau, breathtakingly gorgeous every single day.

    • #11
    • June 11, 2019, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Suspira Member

    You had me at “it’s never hot.” 

    • #12
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. ChrisShearer Coolidge

    I just want to experience the midnight sun. I live in AZ and I so much appreciate not having daylight saving time, so that I can enjoy a pleasant morning in June. Being a morning person means my mind and body want to wake up and enjoy the sunlight.

    But sad to say, while I grew up in cold and snowy (snow belt of central New York) my blood has thinned and I don’t do so well with the cold anymore.

    PS If insects will outlive mankind, then the long term future is for those who thrive in the heat.

    • #13
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. The Great Adventure! Member

    Alaska is one of the 3 remaining states I’ve yet to visit (Hawaii and Vermont being the other 2). I definitely want to get there at some point, but not on business (probably 40 of the 47 states I’ve visited were for business).

    I complain vociferously about Oregon, but it’s the people, not the land itself. I’ve flown into Portland somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 times. If you’re coming in from the east you invariably go right by Mt Hood on the approach – I never tire of gazing upon it. On clear days you can also see Mt Jefferson, the The Three Sisters, sometimes even down to Mt Shasta in California out the left side of the plane. Out the right side you can see St Helens, Adams, Rainier and Baker. It’s quite fun to point out to first time visitors that all of them are volcanoes.

    There’s the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, the high desert areas of Central and Eastern Oregon – the state itself is gorgeous.

    I’ve said for years – it’s a great place to live if you can put up with the people

     

     

    • #14
    • June 12, 2019, at 7:45 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Al French, sad sack Member

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Alaska is one of the 3 remaining states I’ve yet to visit (Hawaii and Vermont being the other 2). I definitely want to get there at some point, but not on business (probably 40 of the 47 states I’ve visited were for business).

    I complain vociferously about Oregon, but it’s the people, not the land itself. I’ve flown into Portland somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 times. If you’re coming in from the east you invariably go right by Mt Hood on the approach – I never tire of gazing upon it. On clear days you can also see Mt Jefferson, the The Three Sisters, sometimes even down to Mt Shasta in California out the left side of the plane. Out the right side you can see St Helens, Adams, Rainier and Baker. It’s quite fun to point out to first time visitors that all of them are volcanoes.

    There’s the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, the high desert areas of Central and Eastern Oregon – the state itself is gorgeous.

    I’ve said for years – it’s a great place to live if you can put up with the people

     

     

    The democrat super majority in the legislature is making it harder to put up with the people.

    • #15
    • June 12, 2019, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like