Wednesday, December 20, 2017

13 Common Alaska FAQs and How to Answer Them

1. How dark does it get in winter? 

So dark that you won’t even know what time it is. So dark that you will go to bed for the night at 4:30 p.m. So dark that your kids won’t wake up for school because they think it’s still midnight. So dark that you are convinced you are living in a cold, windy, God-forsaken sensory deprivation chamber, and only a few hundred thousand intrepid souls such as yourself have the fortitude to do it year after year.

2. How light does it get in summer? 

So light that you won’t even know what time it is. So light that you’ll be standing around a campfire and go to take a picture with your phone and realize it’s tomorrow. So light that your kids won’t go to sleep at midnight because they think it’s still noon. So light that you’re convinced you’re living on the set of Insomnia starring Al Pacino, and only a few hundred thousand intrepid souls such as yourself have the fortitude to do it year after year.

3. Do you know Sarah Palin?

Nope. Never heard of her. Is she on reality TV? Or related to Kim Kardashian, maybe?

4. Do you live in an igloo?

Yes, everyone in Alaska has at least one igloo in addition to their regular house or cabin. We build igloos by driving to glaciers and hacking off chunks of ice and loading them into our pick-up trucks. No one will tell you this, but that’s the real reason all the glaciers are disappearing.

5. Why are the glaciers disappearing?

Because igloos. I just told you. GAH!

6. Do you have electricity and computers? 

No, we light our homes by rubbing two alder branches together and reading the Bible by candle light, just like Ma and Pa used to do in Little House on the Prairie. Everything we need to know is in scripture anyway. There is no interwebs here, so Net Neutrality is actually a big whatevs. Our level of isolation is Skookum. (Look it up).

7. Have you felt an earthquake?

I’m sorry, I need to stop typing. I’m trying to figure out if that was an earthquake or just my kids running around upstairs.

8. Do you use U.S. currency?

No, we have our own money minted from Visqueen and the tears of environmentalists. This is the only currency accepted in Alaska, and we use it mostly to buy weed and Amazon Prime subscriptions.

9. Is climate change real?

No, it’s a total hoax. The fact that December looks like August and villages are crumbling into the sea is a Chinese plot to make everyone quit eating whale blubber and start growing the renewable lo mein-based economy.

10. Is Alaska actually just a glorified resource colony functioning under an illusion of independence from an unsustainable, greed-driven corporatocracy? 

I’ll punt that question to Lisa Murkowski's twitter feed and my PFD check.

11. What time do the Northern lights come out?

Every time a polar bear roars, a moose turns into a caribou, or you stare into the reflection of a frozen pond and say “Todd Palin Won the Iron Dog Which is Not the Same as the Iditarod” three times really fast.

12. Why do you call them snowmachines?

To confuse and disorient you on purpose.

13. Was there a colonialist cultural genocide in Alaska that continues to perpetuate epi-genetic trauma and seemingly insurmountable levels of socioeconomic injustice for indigenous populations and their complex cultures and ways of life? 

Yes, seriously there was, although for some reason no one wants to say so out loud because it’s easier to just come here and buy jewelry and not think about any of that unpleasant colonialist rape and pillaging of peoples and lands and stuff as that is a huge bummer on vacay, know what I mean?


  1. I lived in Seward for a little over a year back in the day and worked for one of the hotels there.

    I got asked a lot of these questions. But the most popular one was "how much is that in American money?"

  2. My favorite from my days driving tour boats was asked almost every day. "How deep is it here?
    We decided Prince William Sound was 700 feet deep everywhere. And then there was "What's the altitude here?" It's zero at sea level. Do you mean latitude?

  3. I briefly dated a guy who worked at a counter selling glacier tours on the Juneau docks. He had great stories that I've sadly mostly forgotten, but some of the best questions he heard were "when do they bring out the bears?" (at the Glacier viewpoint) and also "why don't they clean the glacier? It looks dirty."

  4. My favorite from working at downtown Heritage was "how high up a mountain does a deer have to climb before it turns into a reindeer?" Obviously the answer was; 7,000 feet but only on a full moon and only if it was a firstborn buck


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