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This is a list of all of the things Alaska has that we didn’t have, in previous places I’ve lived. It’s a sister post to things I miss from places I’ve lived before. I’m leaving off obvious things like “my job,” for which I moved here, or “my friends,” who are awesome. And Dale’s list might differ from mine.

  • Beautiful mountains in 3 directions (though the mountains I grew up with were beautiful, and I love them, they didn’t demand attention in the same way)
  • Affordable housing within walking distance of work
  • Nearly 24 hours of light during the summer
  • Arguably the world’s best mead
  • A whole city of beer and coffee lovers–and enough microbreweries and coffee shops to suit them. The little coffee stands continue to make me happy.
  • No state taxes, no sales tax, and, starting in 2011, getting a PFD (flip side of that: things do cost more … for example, the value menu at fast food places is $1.50 instead of $1, and it’s a $6 footlong, not $5, at Subway–but state taxes were always more painful than federal, for some reason, especially with all the moving we did)
  • Moose (which are ridiculous!), magpies, ravens, and bald eagles
  • The Bird Treatment and Learning Center
  • Anchorage Market & Festival, Alaska Mill & Feed, Summit Spice & Tea
  • Tap Root Cafe (it’s a MySpace page with auto-playing music :/), Middle Way Cafe, Lucky Wishbone (not a website kinda place)
  • (it’s hardly fair, since VA had the same thing, with a similarly awful website, but we never once went there) Bear Tooth Theater Pub
  • (it’s not universal, but is a bit more common here) Space for gardening in my yard
  • Exciting enough fish that I actually want to learn to catch them!
  • A whole network of trails through the city (sort of a down side: you have to watch for wildlife, because they’re kind of dangerous)

I haven’t been to the Seward, Fairbanks, Homer, or any of the other drivable parts of the state (unless you count Tok … but what’s in Tok?), so more things will end up on this list. The Sealife Center seems like an obvious one. Possibly the AK Railroad. As soon as I see it, I’m sure the Aurora Borealis will be on the list. Along with puffins and otters! The zoo, reindeer farm, musk ox farm, and other touristy places I haven’t yet visited are also real possibilities. Maybe I’ll revisit this list after summer. :)

I guess my point, in making these dual lists, is to point out that I definitely do miss some things, but there are a lot of things I’d miss if I left here, too. And I want to give readers from the Lower 48 some idea of some of the stuff here (and vice versa, if I have any readers from AK). Different places are, you know, different.

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This is a list of things I miss about places I’ve lived in the past, now that I’m in Alaska. (Seems appropriate to post it on this snowy day in April.) It’s a sister post to things AK has that those places didn’t. I’m leaving out obvious things like friends and family that I knew I’d miss. Also, Dale’s list might differ from mine.

  • Cherry blossoms; crocuses; general spring flowers, or even grass, in April (it flurries, sometimes, during graduation here, for real)
  • Being able to use free night-time calling on my mobile (everyone lives east of me, now)
  • Being able to drive to the next state over (in less than a day!)
  • Being able to order online without worrying that 1) they won’t ship to me (I’m looking at you, Amazon’s Home & Garden section) or 2) it’ll cost $50 for them to ship it to me.
  • Lizards, possibly robins (I’m still hoping we get robins, but somehow I don’t think we do)
  • (Pittsburgh) The National Aviary
  • Gas under $3
  • Red Lobster (specifically, their cheddar biscuits and crab alfredo – my dad once sent me a recipe book that had the cheese biscuit recipe in it, and it’s not a bad approximation; no luck on the crab alfredo, though I might look for clones online)
  • (Pittsburgh) Alexander’s gorgonzola basil sauce (again, I have a recipe to work with, though it’s basil-free), The Square Cafe, Quiet Storm Coffee, Rita’s water ice, Mad Mex … Even Kiva Han, despite their poor climate control.
  • Chipotle (we have Qdoba, and I’ve more or less forgotten that I like Chipotle better, but still)
  • (Pittsburgh) Phantom of the Attic (comic and game shop–felt friendlier than Bosco’s)
  • (VA) Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s (Pittsburgh had 2/3, but we never really went to them–always too busy or too broke) … oh, and (DC) Eastern Market!
  • (VA) The Skyline Drive – weird thing to miss, given how little time I spent on it in my adulthood, but it was nice that it was there, you know? … not that we lack for beautiful drives, here, but the speed limits are higher, on crappier road surface (not necessarily AK’s fault–frost heaves are hard to fix)
  • (DC) The National Zoo, the Smithsonian, and the Baltimore Aquarium

This list is going to seem longer than the other, and, to be fair, it is. There’s a lot to miss. I spent [well] over 20 years on the east coast, and despite its climate [miserable winters AND summers] and air quality, I especially loved Pittsburgh. And, yeah, I missed some of the VA things while I lived in PA and vice versa. It’s different, being a full day’s flight away from it rather than a 4.5-hour drive, though, hence my listing it all together.

And that day of flying really is more frustrating than I had anticipated. Just the flights to and from the east coast eat up two full vacation days, each trip. Even a flight to or from California is a large portion of a day. And I just didn’t have any concept of that, really, before I got up here. I mean, my interview flights took for freaking ever, but it didn’t occur to me that we’re still pretty far from much of the west coast, too. It’s hard to get across just how remote it is, despite being a city and shipping hub. (It seems like every Mac purchased in America comes through here.) One rock slide could make ground transportation from the Lower 48 impossible, at least temporarily, and that’s sort of freaky.

On the bright side, nearly every dollar Dale and I spend counts toward air miles, so, although it’s still expensive to get anywhere out of state, we do get some breaks.

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