How to Survive the Alaskan Winter

I’m constantly asked how I deal with the darkness and cold in Alaska. My response is always the same. I grew up in Minnesota. It actually gets colder there than in Anchorage. We have the mountains and the ocean that help control the temperature here. It rarely gets below zero. As far as darkness goes, well…you have to distract yourself. The shortest day of the year in Anchorage is around 5 and a half hours. In Minnesota it is around 8 and a half hours. Everyone handles it differently. Some go outside. Outside is a term we often time use in Alaska for the residents that head south to the lower 48. (As in the rest of the US). Some take on a second part-time job, some go tanning, most take vitamin D, some use Happy Lights. I even have one friend that selects a different room in his house each year to remodel. It’s all about distracting yourself so that it’s harder for you to notice the darkness.

I make sure I always have something to do, I make sure I get out and stay out of bed until I’m done with the day, and I make sure I get out of my apartment every day even if it’s just to take out the garbage. Here are a few of the adventures I took in this winter and spring. Our spring doesn’t look much different then our winter. Spring only lasts a few days. If you blink you miss it.

Have you ever been to a Melodrama? Better yet, have you been to an Alaskan Melodrama where you can throw popcorn at your least favorite characters. I’ve never been to such an interactive show…nor one you could throw popcorn at the cast. Honestly, I ate most of mine as I definitely would not want to be the person that has to sweep the mess afterwards. It was interesting. I love theatre. How those actors and actresses were able to stay in character with people throwing popcorn at them is beyond me. Apparently it’s a theme as there is a melodrama performance during the renaissance festival in the summer where patrons can throw tomatoes at the cast.

Most everyone has heard of Paint Nite or Paint and Sip. I’ve attended a few of these events and though I love the arts…my painting skills are not all that great. I’m better with a paint by numbers. How many have heard of Paint a Scarf? Well, in Alaska you can. I found a Groupon. (If you are unfamiliar with Groupon, I highly recommend you check it out). A friend and I went and had a blast. The great thing about painting a scarf is that we aren’t trying to paint an object. Instead we are painting a design of our own making. Which means that my design and the person next to me will be totally and completely different from everyone else’s. Check it out. In the summertime you can go out to their cabin in Chugiak and in the winter you can paint a scarf at a pub. It started in Alaska and now has a branch in Arizona. While the scarfs drying you can enjoy a drink or a meal at the pub.

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” There are many small towns and villages in Alaska. However, Hope, Alaska is a community I talk about it on every single Alaska tour I have led. It has great history dealing with the Gold Rush and the school system in Alaska. However, I had never been there. Over Easter weekend a friend asked me if I would want to go on a road trip. In Alaska you have to drive everywhere to get anywhere. So off we headed. It was a gorgeous day to head down the Seward Highway to Hope. We roamed the small town of less than 200 people, we took pictures, and went into a gift shop. I love supporting the local community. We made our purchases and headed back home. The road trip itself took about 5 hours. Four and a half of those hours were spent driving. So yes this was more about the journey then the destination. I now can paint a picture in my mind of what life was like for people in Hope back in the Gold Rush Days.

I make plans every day in the winter to do something. Even if it means putting together some furniture for my apartment. Items like end tables, a desk, a tv stand, etc… Once I bought these items I realized that I didn’t have tools to put all the furniture together. I had two options: go buy the tools at a store or go to a Home Improvement event where the first 100 women to attend got a free tool kit. So I went to the Home event. Not really something I needed to go to as I’m not making any home improvements. However, I did get the free tool kit and have used it multiple times. Sometimes it pays to go to an event that you may not typically be interested in attending.

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