I am a lover of history! So it seemed like the right move dedicate some of my time to the local history here in Fairbanks Alaska. I want to share my story of my involvement with the SS Nenana, local museums, and learning to live the Alaskan way. So sit back, and enjoy my stories of what it means to become a historian in Alaska.
What I knew about Alaska could fit into a shoe box of a two year old. Yet a year ago, I packed up my family and camper and made the long journey from Northern New York, across the United States to Seattle, up the Canadian west coast, and headed deep into the interior of Alaska. It was late June, the sun was high in the sky and it was a lovely 72 degrees when I first glimpsed my new home. I am not going to lie- it was not what I imaged. In the distance I could see some lovely snow covered mountains, there were puffy clouds in the sky, the sun was beaming into our eyes, a every few moments a weird darkness would fly past us blocking out the view of the highway and the sun. I later realized when I got out of the car to stretch my legs that this darkness was called the Alaskan Mosquito.
Lets pause here for a second- as I truly believe that to understand the true nature of a interior Alaskan- their tough skin, rugged appearance, and give no shit attitude- you must understand their living arrangements with species. These magnificent dinosaurs appear every year like clock work sometime in March, during the break up season. They have hibernated all winter surviving the -50 degree weather for 9 months and the bastards survived in their cave of warmth. The mother mosquito is a smart cookie, as the winter sets in around August (just joking-its September), she deposits the last of her eggs in water holdings that has at least 1/2 inch and she flutters off to enjoy that last of her freedom. Those babies are unlike anything else in the world- they chill and patiently wait for summer to come around again. They are like a dog waiting by the dinning room table for your two year old to drop their food. As soon as that sun hits and starts melting the ice- they make a break for it.
Now- the first wave of these natural born killers are these pesky fat, eagle size mosquitos that are slow but have broken plenty of windshields while driving the highway. You can get away from them with minor ninja moves, a quick spray of 75% DEET covering your whole body, car, home, dog- just about anything that stands still, moves, or breaths. I have seen with my own eyes a mosquito fly off with a small cat still attached to it. These are not the ones to worry about- oh no- this is just the first wave of battle. They are a distraction, a prelude to what is about to come. Then comes the major Division of flying Soldiers- they are quick, nimble, resembling a weird combination of Dead Pool and Thor in their ability to out maneuver anything in their way. They pack a punch for being the size of a black bean. Here's the deal- its a all female unit! Yes, I am not surprise to hear that there is a female population of something in this world that just does not give a damn. And people say that they Honey badger doesn't give a f**k. They obviously have not encounter the female mosquito population- those are the ones to worry about! Don't go outside, it is a war zone. They are everywhere. No matter what you put on, what plants claim to repeal them, what efforts you take to remove all water from around your home- know this- it is all a lie. They will win the war!
They will surround you while walking, they follow you into Fred Meyers and Walmart, they attack without end when ever you go fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, shopping, BBQing...the list goes on. They yell a mighty battle cry before they find their way into your ears and open mouth when you are screaming 'RETREAT'. I have seen grown men weep as they run for their lives from their fishing spot because they were discovered by a mass of these pesky killers. I have seen mothers stare longingly outside at their vegetable gardens as they mentally decide if those tomatoes and strawberries are really worth the trouble. I mean- do they kids really need fruits and vegetables during the winter months?
And yet- the battle unfolds every year! The true Alaskan's don't let this thousand year war stop them. They move out, they keep trying to push back the enemy a little more each year. They are patient and resilient. Everywhere they go, they move with a purpose. The true Alaskan that have been here their whole lives have skin that makes the elephant jealous. It is tough, unbreakable, a natural barrier to the pointy mouthpart of the female mosquito. Alaskan's are also very smart. They don't tell the newbies or tourist about the flying death traps! No, they keep that a secret, so when all tourist show up for the 60 day summer they are the tributes. It is so smart! Mosquitos only live up to 60 days, there is only 60 days of summer, tourist only come during those 60 days with their cute short shorts, flip flops, and exposed skin for the taking.
This is why I love Alaskans! They know how to work the system.