Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alaska Fact or Fiction Revealed

And now the moment I know everyone has been waiting for...the answers revealed!

Fact or Fiction #1: Everyone owns husky dogs

While a lot of people do own husky dogs (especially the people who race them), not everyone does. Although in general I would say that it seems more people own dogs in Alaska then in other places. This is at least partly for hiking. If you take a dog along for the hike (which a large number of people do) the dog will scare away a bear if you happen to run into one. Overall, we have to label that statement Fiction.

Fact or Fiction #2: The Iditarod is the only sled race

I am going to start out by labeling this as Fiction. The Iditarod is the most famous sled dog race, especially in the United States but it is not the only one. Another famous race, and arguably the more difficult race is the Yukon Quest which runs from Fairbanks to the Yukon. The operators of that race also hold the Yukon Quest 300 and the Junior Yukon. There are many races of differing length and type throughout the world.

Fact or Fiction #3: You can see Russia from the coast of Alaska

Fact. You can see Russia (barely and only sometimes) from certain remote parts of Alaska. However, the viewing is somewhat unspectacular because the part of Russia you are just barely making out on the horizon is even more remote and desolate than the part of Alaska you are standing on. That part of Russia occupies 285,000 square miles (around the size of Texas) and only has 55,000 inhabitants.

Fact or Fiction #4: Eskimos rub noses

Yes, but it's not really an Eskimo kiss. It is usually done between mother and child and is more a show of affection in which you sniff the face of the other person. A little strange, which is why I guess it never really caught on in the mainstream US. Fact.

Fact or Fiction #5: What do Alaskans really think about drilling and the pipeline?

This is a little bit of a loaded question. Most Alaskans would probably say they don't like the drilling and the pipeline ruining the wilderness of their state. However, some of the highest paying jobs in Alaska are working the pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. And because of the oil revenue there is no state income tax, no sales tax in Anchorage, and each and every resident gets a tax refund yearly (usually ranging from $300-$1800). The state makes sure the residents don't have too much to complain about when it comes to the pipeline.

Fact or Fiction #6: It's cold all the time.

While it definitely is during the winter and are summers are short, it definitely gets warm in Alaska and in some places even hot. Anchorage routinely gets into the 70s and can get even warmer. If you go farther inland to Fairbanks (which gets even colder than Anchorage during the winter) the temperature routinely gets into the 80s and can get even warmer. The fact that the sun is out for 18-21 hours a day during the summer helps warm the air and the ground. Fiction.

Fact or Fiction #7: Only Eskimos live there.

In 2000 Alaska natives made up only 15.6% of the population with Caucasians coming in at 69.3% of the population. While on the subject, most natives don't like the term Eskimo (although that dislike of the word is stronger in Canada). "Eskimos" are made up of several groups of native people, each with their own culture, and each called something other than Eskimos. Fiction.

Fact or Fiction #8: Alaska is a wilderness.

Definitely Fact. It is one of the most remote places in the world and has very few inhabitants for the area with a population density of 1 per mile. The capital city of Juneau has no roads in or out of the city (but there are roads within the city). Alaska has more than 3 million lakes, nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline, lots of islands, has rainforest, tundra, glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes (there was a 5.6 earlier this week), the tallest mountain in North America (which is the tallest mountain rising from its own base in the world), rivers, wildlife, mountain ranges, bore tides, 8 national parks, and just about everything else you could think of except for a desert.

Fact or Fiction #9: Polar bears and igloos

Polar bears do live in Alaska, but only in the northern most remote areas and are very rarely seen. Natives used to live in igloos but now all live in houses like the rest of the country. As far as I know, nobody lives in permanent igloos anymore. The igloos that did exist were mostly not like we think about. Most had wooden frames with sod draped over top and snow or ice packed on top of that layer for insulation.

The snow can get to be very deep in Alaska, but in Anchorage it usually gets about 6 feet deep and it does all melt during "break up" which is the time each year when water and pebbles dominate the road. It leaves our cars very dirty and our windshields very cracked.

As of July 1, 2008 the Alaskan population was 686,293. And yes we miss Mrs. Connors

Thank you to everyone who participated. We hope you enjoyed!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Menu Monday!

Sorry for the delay in posting! Steven and I have both been very busy at work lately. I am really enjoying working with my girls this summer. We have a great group although it is tough to keep their behavior in check. However, I am sooooo glad that my kids have not had any major blow-outs (read: violent tantrums where you think that the devil has gotten a hold of the child). I did have to help with a 6 year old who was kicking and screaming and throwing a trashcan at another staff member. EEEEKKKK!

Steven has been selling, selling and selling phones. Very busy guy! He also has time for fun too. He was at his co-workers' house on Friday jumping on the trampoline with his kids. So silly!

So here is our menu for the week. I will start with Sunday because I made something yummy yesterday.

Sunday- Chicken Fettuccine
Monday- Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Tuesday- Taco Bake
Wednesday- Yummy leftovers!
Thursday- Steaks and oriental salad (thanks Mrs. Connors...such a tasty recipe)
Friday- Grilled cheese and veggie soup

Now only if I could manage to cook for just 2 instead of about 6!

A few weekends ago Steven and I visited the Anchorage Museum (# 4). It is in its new building at a new location. There were some very interesting exhibits. First was one called "Art of the North". All of the paintings, prints and drawings were from explorers and artists creating art about Alaska. It was so interesting. The next exhibit was about all of the different groups of Natives that live in Alaska. They had different houses for each of the groups. It was good to see the differences in how the groups live and what they hunt for based on where they live (ex. Aleuts live near the water so they use all of the parts of the fish). The last and best part of the museum was titled "Gold". Obviously it was about gold. There was a movie, information and pictures about mining for gold, the difference between 14 kt. and 24 kt. gold and then objects made of gold. Some were from the ancient Incas and Aztecs, some were from India and some were from Tiffany's and Cartier. They also had some very nice activities for kids to do including science feel-and-touch experiments and paper crown decorating using gold stickers. Of course we made a stop in the gift shop, but we didn't find anything within our price range to buy. Everything was from local Anchorage artists.

Tomorrow I have to ride on the bus to Kenai (about 2 hours away) to pick up the kids from camp. They went there on Sunday. Apparently they will be a little smelly because there are no showers available for kids to use while there except in an emergency pee-the-bed situation. I figured that they could wash off in the lake, but apparently that is glacial water, oh my! I am on crowd control all the way back on the bus. So exciting! The girls in my group do not know that I will be there to get them, so they will be excited.

We are going out to eat with a girl that I know from college and her husband on Sunday. She was in my sorority. He just got transferred here with FedEx. I am super excited to add one more person to our football game watching group!

In other news, Jon and Kate of TLC fame have filed for a divorce. I am completely devastated for their children. I hate to see this family being broken up. Now if those Duggers and their 18 kids can just manage to stay together I will be happy. Who has seen Secret Life of the American Teenager? I know it comes on ABC Family, but its themes do not strike me as family oriented. I would be embarrassed to watch this program with my father at age 22, yet alone at age 15. EEEEKK!

On that note, have a great rest of the week! Hope y'all Georgia folk are enjoying the 127 degree weather! ;)


Monday, June 1, 2009

Alaska Fact or Fiction

We are going to play a little game and we need EVERYBODY'S participation in this. Please write a comment with some of the stereotypes, rumors, tall tales, etc. that you have heard about Alaska or that you think about Alaska. Please try and come up with different ones than your fellow commentors.

Then, for our next post we will go through them all and dispel the myths once and for all.

Have fun and be creative.