So I’ve been here about a month now and I’m settling into life in what is becoming an ever darker and increasingly colder spot. I woke up one recent morning in complete darkness at 8:15 AM and the temperature was -9 degrees Fahrenheit in October! Someone used the expression the other day WTF, which stands for something entirely different here than it does anywhere else “Welcome to Fairbanks”. Given the extremes of the place, very appropriate and highly amusing
On the surface, Fairbanks is not an attractive city by any means. It’s a hodgepodge of strip malls, super stores and gas stations. There’s very little that’s aesthetically pleasing about it. It also leaves visitors of the tourist variety feeling a little unfulfilled in terms of things to see and do. So why then would I pick this desolate, ridiculously cold and unattractive place to spend my first Alaskan winter? A few reasons actually: First of all I never do anything that’s obvious. Secondly, if you dig just below the surface there are lots of interesting things to do here and oh the characters I’ve met and its only October!! I’ve also met some incredibly cool people (pun intended). It takes a special sort to live up here, especially the ones who choose to come up here from the lower 48. They are adventurous of spirit, resourceful, appreciative and aware of their surroundings and more times than not, slightly odd, but in an endearing way. I would say that describes me as well. I’ve taken to referring to Fairbanks as ” The Island of Misfit Toys”
Some of my favorite things so far:
Domes a plenty-Wickersham, Murphy and Ester–fantastic places to hike
Creamer’s Field and Wedgewood Resort (where I live) has an extensive trail system right outside my front door. I have a lake to wander around, miles of open trails through the fields and I even have my own boreal forest!
A huge selection of amazingly delicious Thai restaurants. It makes no sense but I’m just going with it.
The Blue Loon out on the Parks Hwy. They have a terrific environment and lots of delicious beer. They show films (or presidential debates) and you can drink and eat while watching the evening’s entertainment
The Marlin-The hippie, indie, music bar, conveniently located less than three miles from where I live
Giant super store after giant super store! Walmart, Fred Meyer’s, Sam’s Club, Safeway, Sports Authority, not to mention all of the awesome clothes outfitters like, Big Rays, Prospectors and Beaver Sports. Coming from NYC having this much space and selection is very entertaining.
The Regal movie theater, life at -40 would be impossible without a good movie theater
Quirky people and random conversations–its one of the things that makes Alaska, Alaska.
My blizzaks–OK I know I’m being a big nerd about this, but it’s kind of exciting preparing my car for winter. Blizzaks are special tires that people use up here to drive on the ice, they are soft and super-grippy. You also have to “winterize” your car
Time for some photos in no particular order
And for the finale, please put your hands together and give a huge round of applause to the Aurora Borealis (photos by Ben Christian)
*Featured Image also by Ben Christian