Monthly Archives: January 2018

Life in Alaska

We’ve been here in Alaska for 4 months now and it’s snowing.. surprise surprise. It’s Alaska duh. It’s better than I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cold but I’m never outdoors for so long. A few times I’ve been outside for too long and it’s painful on the extremities i.e. fingers and toes. One interesting fact about Anchorage is that it’s almost always warmer than most of the Midwest and Northern states. It’s currently 27F/-3C here while it’s -5F/-20C in Fargo, North Dakota..See 🤗🤗..It’s said it’s going to be one of the warmest winters in history. Global warming at work.

Winter can be depressing at times due to the short days and darkness. At the height of winter the sun rises at 10am and it’s dark at 3.30pm. We start gaining 5 minutes of light everyday after Dec 21 until Spring in March or April. Some places up north are in total darkness for upto 60 days. That would be depressing. Suicides go up too during this time. There is a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder aka SAD that is characterized by depression during this time. We take Vitamin D3 daily to help with effects of not getting the sun. There are also special lights you can buy called happy lights that produce a special UV light that triggers Vitamin D production in the skin. Who knew?

Alaska is different. You learn to live with what you get here. If not, Amazon Prime becomes your good friend and you can get nearly everything shipped up here. Well, almost everything. Some sellers won’t ship to Alaska. So it sucks sometimes. We have the Walmart, Target and a few brands I’d never heard of before I got here like Carr’s and Fred Meyers. Some people prefer to shop for toiletries and basic commodities in bulk from Amazon. Who knew? So random.

We live in Anchorage which is the largest city in the state. It’s bigger than my last city in North Carolina. It has 300,000 people. Not too big but it has everything we need, well nearly everything.

Crime in this city is out of control. It’s bad. It’s out of control. Car theft, burglary, breaking into cars. What drives all the crime up here is drugs. Weed is legal here, drugs are readily available. There are so many homeless people on the streets. It’s crazy. So we avoid downtown areas as much as we can. It’s up there in most dangerous cities in America. In the top 10 or 20. Who knew that?

Alaska is beautiful, half an hour outside of Anchorage and you could be in the wilderness. Bears and moose are a common occurrence here in Anchorage and even on base. Wildlife briefings are a thing and we got one when we got here. We’ve seen moose outside our house. It was surreal, they are cute but can be dangerous if you get too close to their calves.

Alaska is 2 and a half times the size Texas and the road network is very small. Most places in the state are accessed by air. It’s a pilots paradise out here. We’ve driven to different towns and most are rural by any standards. Fishing and hunting is big but very controlled. The native Alaskans live off their land and outs frustrating that you can’t get places that sell fish or game meat. It’s for personal use only.

Guns are readily available, I’m not in a hurry to get one though. People need the guns and rifles to hunt and scare wildlife if need be. Although of late people need them more to protect themselves from the two legged creatures called humans than the four legged wild ones. It’s wild wild west in this town.

Winter tires is a thing here. Starting from October we are allowed to change from regular tires to winter tires which have more grip in the snow and occasional ice. We went with studded tires, they have metal studs on which helps when the roads are icy. Before May comes around we are required by law to revert to regular tires or you are fined by the cops. It’s an extra expense which we didn’t have to think of in North Carolina or Houston.

There is a Kenyan community of runners who are part of the University of Alaska Anchorage Athletics team. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting of hosting them for Thanksgiving and they are a bunch of cool guys. It’s always a good thing when you can can sit down, have a meal, drink and just communicate in Swahili and reminisce far away from home. It’s always good knowing there is community near you far away from home. Kenyans are everywhere, best believe it.

Winter is not something that you just get used to overnight especially for us Africans. It’s painful being outside in -20C without the right cold weather gear. It hasn’t gotten that bad since we’ve been here though. The coldest its been was 0F/-18C.I’ve tried tubing in the snow recently and it’s fun but it doesn’t come naturally to be outdoors in those temperatures. I’ll try ice skating next and see how it goes.

I’d never fished before but the other day I ice fished and caught 2 pieces of fish. It was a great experience. You have this tent on a frozen lake. They drill a hole in the thick ice, in this case it was 11 inches of ice them throw a line into the water beneath and try catch some fish. It was great.

Hunting is also big here. Most of my colleagues hunt. And every so often some get to kill bears. Moose, Caribou hunting is normal. The rules are very strict though. All hunting can only be for personal consumption. So you won’t find game meat for sale here, same with fishing.

There is a large population of native Americans here, same with people from the islands (Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, Polynesia), Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese and even Russians. Russia sold Alaska to the US in 1867 for $7.2 million at a crazy rate of 2 cents per acre. Crazy huh? Another interesting thing is that at the western most point in Alaska you can see Russia (on a clear day) two and a half miles across the small Diomede island and you can see ‘tomorrow’s on Big Diomede island which is on the Russian side. The international date line is right there between the US and Russia on the Bering Sea. There are no direct flights from here but if you connect through Nome there are flights from there. So technically we slightly over 2 hours away from Russia. During winter the sea is frozen and you can technically walk over to Russia, although I hear it’s forbidden and highly frowned upon by the two neighbors. Little Diomede is also known as yesterday island and big Diomede is tomorrow island. 🤔🤔

We’ll be here for the next 4 years so there is time to explore and see more of beautiful Alaska. It’s a great outdoor state with tonnes of stuff to do.

Below are some pictures since we’ve been here.