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18 Commandments for Living in Alaska

by Jennifer Gracey Nov 8, 2016

1. Thou shalt fish.

Especially when free or discounted tickets for a halibut charter are on the line. Always say yes to those. And definitely say yes if your friend is the boat owner. Never mind that you get sea sick, the opportunity to return home with a three hundred pounder and photographic proof of the conquest is well worth the landlubbers agony.

2. Thou shalt celebrate the ice worms.

Possibly one of the quirkiest worms ever — ice worms are real and they spend their lives burrowing around in glaciers. Cordova’s annual Ice Worm Festival the first weekend of February makes a major shindig out of celebrating these little guys. It’s hard to find a cuter, more comical means of fending off the winter doldrums.

3. Thou shalt not touch the wild animals.

Really, don’t. Much trouble is avoided when animal touching is reserved for petting zoos, family pets, and cute fuzzy plush toys.

4. Thou shalt not snack on the yellow snow.

The snow does not become yellow on account of lemonade. It never ceases to amaze us how many don’t grasp the intimate workings of exactly how yellow snow gets made.

5. Thou shalt not snack on the moose nuggets either.

Moose nuggets are for many things if not good old-fashioned 100% organic Alaskan amusement. Under no circumstances whatsoever should they be consumed as food. But, they do make fantastic gifts for family and friends, so buy away.

6. Thou shalt not leave the doors (or windows) open.

Among the numerous reasons for this decadent morsel of folk wisdom, the chief two are: black clouds of mosquitos do not belong in the house, the vehicle, or the store and neither do curious wildlife.

7. Thou shalt stay home on the first snow of the season.

That is, unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out. In that case, be prepared to see vehicles in the ditch left and right. Also, be prepared for the possibility you’ll end up there too. Consider yourself warned.

8. Thou shalt drink glacier water directly from the glacier…

…and prepare yourself for the best “from the source” hydration experience of your life. Drinking water will never be the same again.

9. Thou shalt not walk on the mud.

Particularly not on areas where there are mud flats. The mud in Alaska is thick, silty sludge from glacial runoff and is the northern equivalent of quicksand. Pair the mud flats with Alaska’s legendary bore tides and loosing ones boots in the mud is the least of things to be concerned about.

10. Thou shalt always bring ALL the gear.

This can never be overstated. When in doubt, bring the extra jacket, hat, pair of gloves, tire, wrench, bungee cord, etc. The day when the ‘extras’ are needed will come and you’ll be glad to have them.

11. Thou shalt always have WD-40, duct tape, zip ties, rope, a multi-tool/pocket knife, a tarp, head lamp and jumper cables on hand.

These are the Alaskan’s survival kit if there ever was one. Spend a summer or winter in Alaska and it won’t be long till you understand why. Also, duct tape really will save the world one day. Trust us — we’ve been doing field tests on the stuff for decades.

12. Thou shalt listen to the most senior sourdough in the room.

He or she is about to tell some glorious tall tales about how things were “back in the day.” Mixed in between will be heaps of juicy Alaska style survival hacks every ‘young’un’ ought know about.

13. Thou shalt go berry picking as often as possible.

Be sure to bring a can of bear spray and a couple of extra five-gallon buckets you’ll need both. Yes, the berries are that good.

14. Thou shalt be a friendly person.

Alaskan people are some of the kindest, most helpful people on the planet. They love their state and they love helping people fall in love with Alaska. Be friendly and it’s likely they’ll let you in on their best kept “things only the locals know” secrets.

15. Thou shalt keep to thy self.

As friendly as Alaskans are, they hold a equally staunch appreciation for privacy and personal space. The rule of thumb is, “if it ain’t yours, hands off.” It could be because there’s so much space to work with in general — or it could be because the great AK is full of crusty old hermits and homesteaders (some more so than others.) Either way, respect the person by respecting the person’s stuff. Do that and things will work out great for everyone.

16. Thou shalt see as much of Alaska as possible.

Okay, this may be an unnecessary expression of the obvious but, it still needs to be said. It’s way too easy to get stuck on one favorite spot and visit it repeatedly while forgetting about the rest. Be intentional about branching out and leaving no corner of the Last Frontier unexplored. Beauty awaits!

17. Thou shalt appreciate the scenic views. Especially the mountains.

You’ll kick yourself the day you leave Alaska and every day thereafter. The scrolling Marquee in your brain will become, “I should have taken more time to enjoy the views when I had the chance.” The spirit of every Alaskan will respond, “Yup, you should have.” This will drive you mad with regret and longing.

18. Thou shalt visit Denali at least once.

Visit Denali and have your mind utterly blown with awe and speechless wonder. Don’t miss it for the world! Sign up for the bus tour immediately, don’t forget to pack a lunch for the ride and learn how to use your camera before you go. You’re welcome.

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