1. The view out the airplane window is mountains in every direction.
This reminds you of your smallness and Alaska’s bigness.
2. You walk through the airport casually taking inventory and scanning the concourse to see where they’ve moved the airport animals since you were last in town.
A subtle nod of acknowledgement as you pass by the taxidermied bears makes it official — “I’m home.”
3. Upon exiting the airport the thought, “It’d be so cool to see some moose on the drive home,” comes to mind.
Disappointment and a strange lack of solidarity arise when there are none to be found.
4. At first step outside the airport, you take a moment.
There’s nothing like relishing a deep gulp of crisp, clean Alaskan air. “Ah! The good stuff.”
5. You thank your parents for remembering to bring you a proper jacket.
They don’t even sell coats like that where you’ve just come from. Especially when arriving in the dregs of winter because, “Baby, it’s cold outside!,” and your Alaskan blood doesn’t run as thick as it used to.
6. You do a full-on costume change and go from “city slick” to “northern explorer” within minutes of touchdown on the tarmac.
7. Ogling trees out the window the entire scenic drive home is a sacred rite of homecoming.
Whether covered in snow or dressed in spring green, the birch, spruce, and willow are some of Alaska’s best eye-candy.
8. You stop off at the nearest depot to get your fishing license.
Take Me to the River is the theme song in this scenario.
9. You then agonize over whether or not to get the three, seven, or fourteen day license.
“I’m scheduled for one camping trip and in town for fifteen days total. What if we go out at the last minute more than that one weekend? How much were they again?”
10. Friends and family put the broken record on repeat, “Don’t you miss it? So when are you planning on moving back?”
You fume on the inside and smile on the outside while replying, “Yes. I don’t know. Some day, maybe.”
11. The overwhelming urge to get in a vehicle and drive hits you like an avalanche.
Where is irrelevant so long as it’s several hours away and fastest route to the middle of nowhere. The primal need to commune with nature in solitude outweighs all else. “Get me out’a town now!,” is your driving force.
12. Alaskan ingenuity delights you more than ever.
The daily parade of gimpy vehicles held together by duct tape and zip ties is the perfect case in point. “Did that truck just go by with both its doors taped shut? Woah! They must get in and out through the windows….”
13. Your Alaskan tastebuds bust out demands for things like moose burgers, reindeer sausage, salmon quesadillas and beer battered halibut.
14. Stopping by a roadside espresso stand for a steamy cuppa moves to the top of your to-do list.
In fact, this takes precedent and gets red-flagged and listed under “all things important and urgent.”
15. Comments about things such as, “The river’s pretty high for this time of year.”, “The reds in yet?”, and “When did the plows come through? The bottom of the driveway’s pretty bad” roll off your tongue involuntarily.
16. The weekend newspaper sale advertisements include lawnmowers, baby diapers, back-to-school supplies and an impressive selection of guns on the front page.