1. It’s a surprise: People don’t trust banks or the government but they are there for each other here in Fairbanks – I was so surprised to hear that people literally bury their money in the backyard rather than take it to a bank! I was wondering what happens if they need some cash flow during the winter? There assets would literally be frozen in the ground! Also many Alaskans we have spoken with and hung out with speak about being Alaskan primarily – the American government is so far removed from their everyday lives so any laws that impact seems like an imposition on your personal way of life.
2. Moose have ninja like moves – I don’t want to see these ‘moves’ but I do hear that moose can kick by straightening out their legs which is amazing to me! (This also could be an urban myth – I can’t tell you for sure!) Having spent many days,nights and early morning driving around looking for moose (my moose eyes must not be up to scratch) we have seen three during our visit.
3. The pub in Ester – great beer and cook your own burgers! The establishment doesn’t have (want) a health regulation requirements to cook food so turn up and grab a meat/Vegie patty and cook/assemble your own burger, just watch the countless dogs milling around the bar socializing just like their owners!
4. Chena Hot Springs – any hot springs is gold in my book but these ones are so awesome. Quite a drive from Fairbanks (an hour) when we arrived we got the low down on why there were so many Japanese tourists – supposedly conceiving under the northern lights is a great omen for the child being born awesome! So be mindful of any couples in corners!
5. The legend of Shorty Zucchini – on our first night in Fairbanks we went to the pub in Ester for beer and burgers and met a bloke who told us about this awesome guy ‘Shorty Zucchini’. One of the many Alaskans who lives a fairly modest lifestyle semi subsistence without any trappings of contemporary life. He collected useful junk and stored in across his property off the Parks highway (still visible today) What we heard about Shorty was his ability to turn his hand at most things, his generosity, he would walk from Ester into Fairbanks mid winter (40 below) to attend the soup kitchen. He passed away in 1998/9 a paper millionaire.
6. Every weekend there is a different expo at the Carlson Centre – last weekend it was the get into winter expo, before that the ‘preparedness’ festival, this weekend is international friendship day! We just love that this town of 32,000+ people have so many eclectic things going on! It’s exciting here and you get to see so many things you wouldn’t in Australia like a room full of weapons!
7. The carrot man – I guess in each small community there is a great vendor you must buy from. The carrot man at the local farmers market is legendary here! He arrives in his big u-haul type truck and sells out of his huge haul of carrots in under two hours. Is there anything special about the carrots – having tried them I don’t think so – but people swear by the carrot mans carrots in these parts – trust them!
8. Roller Derby – I have lost my heart to these tough rolling women who train a couple of times a week and skate fast and tackle hard! It’s a religion. One of our new best friends here is the top ‘jammer’ in these parts – completely unassuming and humble she’s my sports hero having been a part of the national junior women’s archery team and just all round awesome. I love the Ravens and the Gold Diggers and now will have to become an Australian based roller derby fan!
9. Cars in Fairbanks – cars here are smashed up, taped together with gaffer tape, missing pieces and yet they are still on the road moving people about. Cars have remote starters to get going on cold mornings and electrical cords to plug in during cold months to keep the liquids from freezing! People drive above the speed limit here a lot and talking on mobile phones must not be against the law! It’s really everyone for themselves!! We have been blessed to have had a car on loan so driving around Alaska has been such a great eye opener!
10. Quasi celebrity status due to our accent! – Being Australian has real cache in these parts – people love the accent! We are often asked to say certain phrases or words for fun, or asked to mimic an American accent. One friend of ours mimics our accent and it sounds British to me but that’s half the fun. Some people have blushed at the sound of our accent! The only downside is the countless discussions about crocodiles and spiders/snakes – guess we are nearly as tough as Alaskans.