It was 5 above in the village when I left. I risked a lighter jacket and jeans because it didn’t
feel that cold and it would not be that cold in Anchorage. In Kotzebue it was -5 but it felt significantly colder than the village. It always seems colder. I am not quite sure why but I suspect it has something to do with more humidity at on the coast. Most of my colleagues including the friends I was go with, flew out Friday right after school. That has always felt
too stressful to me so I flew out of the village Saturday morning and on to Anchorage Saturday night. I ended up flying alongside a few fellow teachers. After the unlisted ‘scheduled’ stop in Nome, I was moved to an exit row because there was no one there in the event of an emergency and so I got some extra legroom and a whole row to myself.
Once in Anchorage I got the rental car, a full size, and met up with the teacher friends I was planning on staying with, Kelly and Kevin. Kelly went on to Washington the next day to kiss babies. Kevin and I went to the movies and the mall where I learned that suits were far too expensive.
After that it was all kind of a blur. I got fairly sick, I blame Kelly who was down with something similar earlier in the week. One full day was spent resting and trying desperately to get better. Other than that we had a few days of snow. It didn’t last long but it was a little funny to think that in the week we were there we got more snow than we have gotten in a whole month in the village.
We also did some much needed grocery shopping and I loaded up on ammo for my .270 not to mention a large skinning bowie knife. Now I just need to do some more shooting. Anchorage has a great many fur shops where you can buy cloths and hats and gloves andboots. I was looking for some hides to try my hand at making some of these.
Unfortunately they are quite costly. A large beaver (less than a yard of material) is over $160. I decided to pick up some of the $15 scrap bags and try piecing some of those together first before sinking too much into an expensive project.
In some ways Anchorage is like another village. It is quite small, only about 15-20 minutes drive time end to end. There aren’t that many people as big cities go, 300,000 people. I ran into several people I knew just walking around town. It does have things like roads and office buildings and a mall not to mention a much higher Caucasian population, but it also has the small feeling. For people who have never left Anchorage I would say that the rest of Alaska is very different, but for those who are visiting, it also holds many similarities.
On Thursday I was feeling a little better and we took the hour drive out to Eagle River which is the city the Polaris dealer I got my snowgo was in. I had some questions for how to winterize or rather summerize my machine and was interested in some basic maintenance info.
From Eagle River we continued on to Palmer where we stopped at a musk ox farm. I had hoped to get my mom some musk ox yarn as it is very light and warm and has none of the itch factor that sheep wool does. She may have to wait a little while though because a small spool was $80 and up.
The musk ox themselves were pretty lazy animals, which does make sense since they are evolved to conserve energy and stay warm. A few did stand up and some were quite close which gave us a nice look at them. They are shorter than I expected, only about 4 feet tall. I had seen stuffed musk ox but I think they are usually on some kind of stand or platform which gives a misleading idea of height.
After the musk ox we went on to Wasilla were I had found a couple of chain saws on Craig’s List. Got the saws both for $40. One was missing the pull cord but the other ran fine and both were roughly 20″ though I did not measure. I did run into some shipping problems since they a) didn’t fit in the tubs they way I thought they would without removing the bars which I had no tools for and b) the airlines wouldn’t take them as checked luggage even drained of fluids. I will end up having to send them as hazmat through an Alaska shipping company which will cost about $80 just to Kotzebue then probably another $50 to the village meaning my $40 chainsaws will cost closer to $170-200 before all is done. But if I can replace the pull cord and the other runs, I can probably get near $100 for one of them which brings down the cost of the other.
The original plan Friday was; pick up the perishable foods from walmart/costco/assorted grocery stores, meet up with one of our Anchorage friends for brunch, ship the chainsaws, go to the pet store, fill the car with gas and leave. We had done the perishable shopping the day before and left it in the hotel freezer which worked out well because by the time we were checked out and stopped for the last few odds and ends it was brunch time. And by the time that was done there was not enough time to ship the saws so they ended up staying with our friend until I next stop in Anchorage to sort out shipping. Our last stop Friday was the fish store. Both Kevin and I were looking to restock and a fellow teacher had asked me to pick up a few for her as well.
We had made this the last stop so that they would have the shortest possible travel time but that also meant that we were a little pressed for time when we were done and I forgot to fill up the rental car. The tank was only half empty, or full depending on your life philosophy, but the charge was $8 per gallon which I don’t think is quite on level when it is only $2 down the street. But as our flight was leaving soon what choice did I have? I guess that is how they stay in business but it is still annoying.
After an uneventful flight back and a nights visit with some Kotzebue friends I was back to the village in one piece and for the most part, healthy again.