Alaska: A Way to Escape from the Lower 48

Alaska is the lone conservative state in the United States that is on the west coast. Its neighbors to the south, Washington, Oregon, and California, have become states that support government programs, assistance and regulations. This transformation in recent decades has created an increase in Alaska’s population. People wanting to migrate away from various issues in the Lower 48, have chosen Alaska as their new home.

So, what have been some of these issues? One person told me he moved his family to Alaska, because the land he wanted to buy in his home state in the Rocky Mountains had become too expensive. So, he built his family’s log cabin a little further north than planned. He avoided the taxes, building codes, zoning ordinances, etc…. of the lower 48. He built a log cabin made from his own lumber; and, it still stands today.

Another person told me his family took a job in “The Last Frontier” because of the fishing and hunting. Regulations created in his area made it difficult to enjoy these hobbies. His family hunts for moose in the fall and fishes the rivers and lakes during the salmon runs in the summer. His family enjoys salmon throughout the year, along with frozen moose meat that has virtually no fat on it. Although the regulations can be confusing in the state, with some patience the fishing and hunting can be successful.

Another person I met up here was from the Michigan area. His family was already adjusted to cold weather and snow. However, he took a job in Alaska that would get his family closer to the ocean. After a few years of living here, they began a commercial fishing operation with their family. Commercial salmon fishing on the west coast has nearly disappeared due to salmon farms.

The list gets longer and longer for all of the people who migrated from the Lower 48 to the Last Frontier to continue enjoying some of the activities they had performed in the past. A past that saw less regulations, laws and restrictions on human inter-action with wildlife.

In the lower 48, the wildlife…..more and more….are being micro-managed in parks. In Alaska, everyone shares the land with the wildlife, just like we did decades ago across the entire country.

That’s what keeps many here in the Last Frontier. People can walk outside their home, and look up in the sky as an eagle flies. Near the coast, those fortunate enough to be near the sea, get to hear migrating whales as they make another journey to the north. Then, there is the annual migration of birds of all kinds. They live here every summer and leave just before the fall.

For many visitors, Alaska seems to be the state that’s frozen in time. The Wi-Fi sometimes can be slow. There aren’t as many roads. And moose, bear and caribou get to cross the road first.

One Item Usually Found Only in Alaska

Each of the fifty states in the USA has its own identity that sets it apart from the other forty-nine. Alaska, the Last Frontier, is no different. For everyone who has lived in this state, nothing comes as a surprise. We have seen many odd things happen in the nation’s largest state. But, what is really fun to see is the newcomer being introduced to Alaska like the rest of us were many years ago, especially to the world of tires.

Studded tires to some Alaska drivers are a necessity. To those who don’t drive and get tired of seeing so many tires around this state, studded tires are a nuisance. They are only used in the winter months.

In the lower 48, people use chains on their tires, or they use snow tires, or all-season tires. What do a lot of Alaskans get for the winter monthes? They are called studded tires. Yes, tires with metal studs to better grip the hard ice on the road to improve traction. These are not cheap tires. You have to pay for those pieces of metal in those tires, and you get ticketed for keeping them on into the summer months. That’s because, just like chains, the studs damage the pavement.

So, what do drivers do at the end of winter? When studs first came out, motorists were expected to have eight tires. Four studded tires would be for the winter. The other four tires would be for the summer. But, almost all Alaskans are penny pinchers. “What…buy new tires without studs? Nope.” Alaskans started taking the studs out for the summer months. Then, when winter would come, it would be time to buy four more studded tires. You can’t put studs back in the old tires.

Years have now passed. So, all of the people in Alaska now have old tires in their backyards being used for planters in gardens, as tree swings, and stairs. Others are still trying to come up with more things to do with all of their old tires. Then, there are those who will sell almost anything for any price, including that very popular price of “$1….just come pick it up.”

So, what do people do who buy these worn out studded tires? These are the drivers with the 20-year-old cars, that have 200,000 miles on them, and worn out tires that were bought for $1 apiece. These cars can usually be found abandoned on the side of the highway in the winter after having a couple of flat tires. Welcome to wintertime in Alaska!

Ways to De-Winterize

For some of us in this world, the winter season after the holidays can be a long period. Where I live everyday, I have to bring in some extra light to help with short days. That is also true for most of the people around me.

Another big negative to winter is staying inside on the couch too much. During winter, just like the summer, everyone must get out and about. One of my greatest exercises is shoveling a little snow every day. Another option is to take a walk with a friend or your dog. Just get up and get out there! Your bones and muscles will thank you.

Then there is the d-word…….depression. I am not an expert on this one. I just know what others say. People need to talk about their feelings to other people. Find a friend, find religion that is comfortable for you, find a companion, find a pet, find a hobby, and then start finding positives to replace the negatives. Remember….you are in control of you……..

Another way to “de-winterize” is to leave the cold by taking a winter vacation. If you go to a warm spot for a week, or two, winter just got shorter. But this usually only works for people who don’t have school-age kids.

Whatever you do to make the next few monthes shorter, have fun doing it. April isn’t far away. And, soon, it will be May.