Only in Alaska. Only in Alaska.

Only in Alaska. Only in Alaska. Words I find myself saying more and more often, the longer that I am here. It has been 1 year, 6 months and 22 days since we have left “the lower 48.”

I am sure some of the unique qualities of this beautiful island can be found other places, but this is the first I have been exposed to such a different lifestyle.

Remote Island + Alaska wilderness = Adventure

When my husband told me that we were getting transferred he broke the news to me in a… unique way.

DH: “So we got our orders…..we are going to a Pacific Island.”

Silly Me: “WE ARE GOING TO HAWAII!!!”

DH: “Well, not quite…we are going to Kodiak, Alaska.”

He was ecstatic…I was not quite jumping for joy, as my visions of surfing some of the best waves in the world (because I can do that….hah!) and drinking umbrella drinks (more like it) quickly vanished from my head. I soon came to terms with the amazing adventure that was in store for us (and wouldn’t change this for the world).

That was when our 6,000 mile road trip and 4 year adventure began 🙂

 

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I understand when people ask stereotypical “Alaskan” questions. Especially since Alaska is always an afterthought on a U.S. map. Usually scaled incorrectly and squished in the lefthand corner. No wonder there are so many MISconceptions. Alaska is NOT an island, but it does have 2,670 islands that help make up the state! Kodiak Island is about the same size of the state of Connecticut. I just think the lower 48 is jealous of Alaska’s massive size.

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Some other misconceptions:

  • “Oh my gosh, how do you deal with no light half the year?” (I dont…)
  • “Have you met an Eskimo.”  (you mean an Alaska Native?)
  • “Do Eskimos really live in igloos?” (…really?…)
  • “Have you seen a polar bear?” (Seen, yes. Currently share the island with them, NO.)
  •  “I could never go there – IT’S SO COLD!” (Kodiak actually has warmer winters then most of new england and the mid-west…)
  •  “Can you really see Russia from your house?” (….again, really?….)
  • “Do you have to use an out-house to go to the bathroom?”  (It is 2016 and yes I guess I will spoil myself with the convenience and luxury of modern day plumbing.)

YES some of the most intelligent people I know (college graduates with six figure incomes), have asked me some of these questions!

Yes, residents of Alaska get PAID to live here, it is called a PFD. It took months to really sink in. This state wants ME? In Massachusetts you had to pay the state for everything!  A license for your town beaches, your dump (and you had to bring it!), your DOG! When we got here we weren’t use to all this freedom that it felt awkward. I can drive my 4-wheeler around the woods? Wait, I can carry a gun on me?

My next door neighbor is a Kodiak Bear – so yes, that is kind of the State of Alaska 🙂

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Alaska Aviation System “Nearly 82% of Alaska communities are not accessible by road, making aviation more than a convenience or a luxury – aviation is essential in the Alaskan way of life (http://www.alaskaasp.com).”Just here on Kodiak Island there are seven villages located remotely.

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Kodiak Island a Rainforest – YES and Rainforest.  In order to be considered a rainforest it has to receive between 98 and 180 inches of precipitation, including snow. Kodiak’s rainforest is a temperate rainforest, as opposed to a tropical rainforest. I sure didn’t think that I would find a rainforest in ALASKA – or be living in one. They said pack rain gear….sure ok…umbrella √, hunters √, raincoat √. WRONG. It rains SIDEWAYS here! For a WHOLE season! Rain gear is what you put OVER your clothes, and if your use an umbrella, you are a tourist 😉

There is also a different philosophy here. In the lower 48, when it rained – everything STOPPED. If you changed your plans, or stayed in because it was raining. My gosh! you wouldn’t get anything done! Here in Kodiak we do just about everything in the rain. Go for hikes, fish, errands etc. We aren’t made of sugar after all 🙂 

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XtraTuf boots, a fashion necessity. What started out as the essential fisherman footwear has turned into “the must have” for many Alaskans. These boots are worn every which way. With shorts, jeans, skirts – you name it.

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If you want fresh food, look in your backyard. Considering your food comes in on a barge, your best bet is to be as self sufficient as possible. Currently we have an extra freezer just for the salmon we caught, King Crab legs, Buffalo, Grass-fed beef (from a local rancher, where you buy 1/2 the cow), Chicken we raised, ptarmigan (state bird), and deer. We have yet to get a mountain goat!

This year we are excited to put up a greenhouse so we can have all our own fresh produce. Locals also barter their items or sell them at local farmers markets. Who knew that EVERY part of a chicken was worth something? From the egg, to the chicken, down to its poop (fertilizer)!?

 

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I thought I knew coffee, and then I moved to Alaska. The coffee at the locally owned coffee bars here in Kodiak will put any corporate owned coffee chain to shame. Between the quality of the beverage, food and atmosphere you can’t go wrong. The good news is I know what good coffee is, the bad news is my caffeine intake has significantly increased!

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Java Flats in Kodiak, AK.

Its no wonder Alaskans like their coffee! With a whole season of rain and the summer where the sun doesn’t set till midnight, everyone needs a little extra pep in their step. There sure is beauty to both seasons. There is magic in the night sky during clear winter nights. On these nights you can catch Aurora (Aurora Borealis) dancing through the sky – also known as the Northern Lights. 

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The American Bald Eagle. One of the most majestic animals. Our national bird. When I first moved here and saw an Eagle, I was in awe. Jaw dropping beauty. These enormous birds, only feet away, stretching their almost 7ft wingspan right in front of your eyes!

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Until you have to live each day worrying that same beautiful bird might fly right in front of you and nab one of your precious puppies (or chickens). Here in AK even a rabbit is bigger then my dogs! From foxes, to birds to bears everything is out to eat them!

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Apologizes for the graphic nature of this picture

No one ships to Alaska! your new best friend is AMAZON PRIME. If you weren’t an internet shopper before – you are now. Now when I dare to venture to a new online store, before I even get my hopes up I look at its shipping policy. Lesson learned quick – No one ships to ALASKA!

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Small town with a  sense of community. I live in a town with 1, yes 1 stoplight. There is one, two-lane road from the “town” of Kodiak to where we live – “outside the city limits.”

With a simple road system comes different kinds of traffic problems, flooding, mudslides, and horses….

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Coming from cities with endless selections of restaurants and bars it sure is eye-opening when you have a handful to choose from. Even though there is a lack of restaurant/bar selection there sure isn’t a lack of flare. There is a bar for everyone. You have your dive bar, dance bar, after-work vise bar.

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You know your in the “Frozen North” when you need these signs!
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It sure was a culture shock when I walked into my first bar here and saw babies and dogs welcomed inside!

 

♥Anchored in Alaska

 

 

 

 

Image credits: Any photos not listed below are photos ©by: Anchored in Alaska

Baby at bar

Alaska map

Playing in the rain

Float Plane

XtraTuf Boots

Online Shopping

 

 

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64 thoughts on “Only in Alaska. Only in Alaska.

    1. Cindy,
      Loved reading this! Trust me Alaska is so much better than Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great place to visit, but living there isn’t so pleasant. Hubby is retiring in a few months from the Navy and we chose Alaska as our permanent home! Selling the house in Hawaii to stay here!
      Keep having adventures!
      Jerri Rouse

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We certainly miss Kodiak. Judy and Iived there years ago when I was the pastor at Community Baptist Church…”the White Church on the Hill. Thanks for the great article. Made me miss my Kodiak friends even more…not to mention the Buskin where all those salmon hung out with me every morning early….AND tHE “GARBAGE TRUCKS” (the bears).
      Garry Oliver

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was so excited to goto Alaska, and now I am so excited to go back 🙂 My husband got Stationed in Sitka, beautiful, most beautiful place I have ever lived, camping, hunting, fishing, crabing, shrimping, hiking, community, I can’t wait to go back 🙂 now we get to move to Cordova, hoping for the same experiences. I hope you enjoy your stay there,

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      1. I love everything you wrote here. Kodiak is where my heart belongs. Even if I wasn’t born and raised here, I feel like I belong here more than any other place on earth. I hope everyone can visit our little paradise and enjoy a welcoming community 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I too call Kodiak home, and you described every part of Kodiak perfectly. However some of the beaches in the summer do remind me of Hawaii. It’s called Emerald Isle for a reason, and you described it it perfectly. Thank you and I am glad that you are experiencing what life and community are really about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree! I went to Kauai with a couple girlfriends last spring and told them the same thing. They looked at me with 2 heads. Since one has now seen Kodiak in the summer she knows what I am talking about 🙂 You have to see it to believe it. Kodiak is such a hidden gem! I appreciate your kind words Debra!

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  3. Your blog on our beautiful Kodiak Is. was so refreshing and inspiring to read from an outsider that moved there. I no longer live there but go back for the summers n other times of the year…Learned not to take our Island n state for granted…Definetely God’s country…

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  4. great blog! ~ I spent over 40 years there, moved to Oregon a few years ago, but miss our beloved Kodiak daily. I’m looking forward to reading more from your perspective.

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  5. Great write-up! I lived on Kodiak for 9 years and it is the only place that ever really felt like home, other than North Pole, where I grew up. I always tell people the difference with Alaska is the feeling that you belong to something far greater than yourself. Enjoy your time there and give the rock a big hello for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I agree, it is that sense of community. I had never had it in any place before. I couldn’t understand why every family I know that has been stationed here has such a longing for it….until now. 🙂 Thank you for your feedback!

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  6. I grew up in Kodiak and my parents still live there. Your blog post was a fun little taste of home. Head out the road to Surfer’s Beach or Fossil Beach if you want to get your surfing feet wet. I’m not a surfer but have seen some brave souls surfing some incredible waves out there. Thanks again for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My husband and I spent 2 summers in Kodiak with daughter and her 3 kids. They have since moved to the lower 48. BEAUTIFUL island, the people are so friendly. Hope we can go back for a visit some day.

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  8. Kodiak is my home I lived there for 10 years (moved a year and a half ago). I miss it everyday! My kids (well my son) insists that he will love back when he is an adult (he is 11) lol you hit it all on the head. Especially all those STUPID questions we get! Lol I usually just laugh and tell them to think!

    Enjoy every moment of your time there and do everything you can. It will go fast and leave a place in your heart when you leave!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jere. SO true. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone all ready! When I have gone home, I feel like its a shock to my system LOL. (I don’t want to give away my next blog 😉 My husband talks about retiring here, we “could” have only a couple more years. Such a tough choice! In due time…. Thank you so much for your comments I appreciate it! I hope you find yourself visiting Kodiak sometime soon. 🙂

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  9. Growing up in my ancestral home of Kodiak I and my Sister walked with bears in the same fields and were never molested by them. We climbed shale cliffs trees and i knew the patterns of the tides at 7.
    I ate foods that people down state side think I make up. I miss my home and if my large family would move there I would ho back in a heart beat.
    Thank you for your kind rememberances. My maiden name was Heitman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing these memories. It has been so wonderful to be exposed to a new culture here. The Native Alaskans recipes and traditions have been so interesting to me. The beauty of the Russian Orthodox church and its community here is wonderful to see. I was amazed when I saw how calm fishermen were here…when a bear approached the stream where they were. The bears want the fish! Not us 😉

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  10. Thanks for sharing an outside look with a positive perspective. Kodiak – like most of Alaska–is not for everyone, but for those of us who choose to call it “home,” it’s disadvantages pale in comparison to its beauty and it’s sense of community. I’m glad you found it to be so for you and your family as well. It would be wonderful if your description could be shared with people who are transferring in; it might help people avoid the culture shock!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Sandi. Yes, I agree. It is your mindset. Any place you love can be awful if you let it be. If you look around beauty can be found 🙂 If you have some of those connections to those transferring in, I would truly appreciate you sharing the post! Thank you for your kind words 🙂

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  11. I loved it there! The one thing I didn’t love about being there, though, was not being able to fly out when you wanted to. My family is here in the lower 48, and I remember so many times, flights getting grounded because of weather conditions. So hard being away from my family. Still, I would go back to Kodiak in a heartbeat. Mostly to visit though. Made great friends in Kodiak.

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  12. I’m glad you love it. I lived in Kodiak for several years and loved it. The setting is spectacular, but it is the strong sense of community that makes it work. Just be prepared for coy answers if you ask anyone where to pick blueberries.

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  13. We are finishing up a 3 year tour in Sitka, AK and I can relate to everything you’ve said! Except maybe the one double lane road and the buffalo! We have really grown to love this little Alaskan island! We actually just got word that we are penciled in for our first pick…you guessed it…Kodiak! I’m really excited to hear some of the similarities between the two islands!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thats so exciting! Thank you so much. Congrats on your getting your first pick! 🙂 I wish you the best in your moving adventure 😉 Sitka is on our list to check out for sure! One of our friends got stationed there at the same time we came here. Thank you for your feedback 🙂

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  14. I’m from Kansas and been there three times for a mission trip to Woody Island. Your blog made me smile and want to go back. I brought the working in the rain back with me, we only stop for lightning. It truely is a beautiful part of this country. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  15. I am retired Coast Guard. In the 70’s when I re-enlisted I also asked for a Pacific Island with thoughts of year round swimming etc…. I was given Kodiak. I have never regretted going to Kodiak. In fact I went back again in the 80’s and retired out of there in the 90’s. Our last home when we were there in the 90’s was out in Bells Flats, on Noch drive. (Read Bear trail through our yard). We have many many fond memories of Kodiak Island. It always felt like home when we were there. I was told when we left that a piece of me will always remain a part of the Island and the Island will always remain a part of me. I will go back someday. Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your memories. Yes, I have been told the same. I now understand why. It is such a special place! I hope you make it out here again soon. We are a “Flats Rat” as well! haha -Best to you.

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  16. Your blog made me chuckle. I was born and raised there but have not lived there in many years. The stupid questions people ask still amaze me!! What really made me chuckle was the eagle bit! People in the lower 48 don’t realize that they just want to eat anything and there are hundreds of them clustered around anywhere they think there is food. A side note, coming from Kodiak I still don’t eat fish from anywhere but there!

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  17. Wow really well done ! We’ve Never been to Alaska but you sure make it sound inviting ! Its so special (and rare) in these times to feel “welcome” in a new town or community. Especially in small towns where friends and family are deeply rooted. You’re so lucky to find yourself in a place so resplendent with natural beauty, great adventures, piping hot coffee on rainy days, and open arms that welcomed you “home.” Enjoy every moment, sounds like you’re living a wonderful dream !

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    1. Anoush, thank you. It truly is a hidden gem. The sense of community is wonderful. As a military family it is so hard to keep opening your heart to new experiences, knowing you will just have to say good-bye. With such a welcoming community it has made it easier when being so far from my family. There are days I do look out the window and say to my husband – “wow…we live here.” Beauty like no other 🙂 Thank you for your kind thoughts! -best to you:)

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  18. Wow, I loved and needed to read a positive post about Kodiak! My husband just received orders to Kodiak. I was pretty upset when I saw we were moving to Alaska but your post makes me excited for this new adventure! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your blog made me homesick for Alaska. My family and I lived for 5 years on an island in Prince William Sound and so much of what you stated was the same. It’s been nearly 11 years since we left. I would move back in a heart beat but I would settle for a visit. I have also lived in Homer and Anchorage however there was not the remote aspect. I miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks so much for writing this post! As a Floridian, I know what it is like to have people constantly assume weird things about your state. I always enjoy hearing about things from people who know, for real! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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