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!


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