Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Alaska is Kind of a Clusterfuck in Summer

I mean, I won't argue the point so let me head this one off at the pass. Tourism is the lifeblood of Alaska's economy, especially now, and we should all genuflect before Princess Cruise Lines and the tourism industry that lines our pockets with the proceeds of tanzanite necklaces, chocolate moose droppings, and Ulu knives. After all, without all of that, we'd probably be a blighted resource colony; raped, pillaged, and culturally genocided into obsolescence by Big Oil, Big Mining, and Big Dicks who are long gone back to Texas or Arizona.

Fine. FINE FINE FINE FINE FINE. We can be upfront and honest about all of that.

But we can also admit--can we not--that Alaska is an unmitigated clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks from May to September?

Because it is.

When the tundra sets ablaze with color, and termination dust settles quietly over the mountain ranges, when we get our skis out of storage and begin to take stock of our wood supply, it's easy to forget. 

It's easy to forget that not two short weeks ago, every glacier on the road system was melting even faster than usual from human body heat, the sound of helicopters and float planes made the Last Frontier sound more like the Viet Cong, and you couldn't get a seat in a brew pub--even a shitty one--after 5:00 p.m. to save your goddamned fucking life.  

When you're on your way to Seattle for medical care, you'd better build in extra time for a practice mammogram delivered by TSA first, because there are fishing poles and walking sticks and brand-spanking new trail shoes that have to get re-run through that belt. And when you come back home, whatever you do, don't make eye contact with anyone holding a laminated placard. 

You're not looking for them, and they're not looking for you. 

But Alaska is amazing, and usually worth the hype. You wouldn't live here if it weren't. And you can acknowledge that, while also acknowledging that you need to take a deep breath and mentally and logistically prepare for reality. 

The sometimes harsh reality that Alaska is kind of a huge clusterfuck in summer.


  1. I lived in a New England town that was a top tourist stop for American history buffs and people who came to ooh and aah at the beautiful autumn leaves. I always had to factor a lot of extra time for driving into town and finding a parking spot but I thought it was the price I had to pay for living in such a great place.

  2. Heh, ,,,we don't have that problem on the north slope, but then again, I usually get out during the summer. Still, I imagine you must get real tired of tourists in the summer.


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