10 Things Alaskans Don't Blink an Eye At

by Kaitlin Armstrong Nov 28, 2017

1. Wildlife crossings.

Alaskan drivers are accustomed to sharing the road with the occasional caribou, bison, wolf, or pair of sandhill cranes… and of course, there are the moose. They always have the right of way, so anywhere they’re particularly prone to meandering across the highway, we’ll be sure to post appropriate signage. (And you thought those “moose crossing” signs you can buy at tourist traps were a joke.)

2. Cracked windshields.

Alaska’s roads kick up all manner of gravel and debris, and no vehicle is spared. That’s why in Alaska, beater trucks and recent model SUVs alike shamelessly sport windshield chips. There’s no point in fixing them — the roads are a minefield, and they’ll inevitably be cracked again within a couple months. So instead we wear them like a badge of honor and insist they give our vehicles just a little extra character.

3. Skirts paired with XtraTufs.

While there’s a survey that claims Alaskans are the worst dressed of any Americans, we believe our fashion sense is just misunderstood. Our style may be offbeat, but it reflects our northern lifestyle and our working-class pride. Casual attire reigns and even our beloved XtraTufs can function as day or night-wear. We spend the afternoon fishing in them, then pair them with a skirt, leggings, and puffy vest for a cozy-yet-chic look while we hit the bars. Throw on some Smart Wools for extra insulation.

4. Buildings on the road.

In the summer, the highway is crowded with RVs, boats, and massive trailers hauling off-road vehicles. Alongside all these, it’s not uncommon to see the occasional small house or building fragment being towed down the road. They’re most commonly seen fixed up with some oversized tape or split in half between two vehicles for efficiency’s sake.

5. All the jaw-dropping views.

We’re so flush with incredible views that at times, we fail to appreciate them. Whether we’re at home or traveling, every corner of the state feels plucked from an outdoor catalog — lush forests, calving glaciers, volcanic mountain ranges, and wildflower fields abound. We become desensitized, and the full splendor of it all barely registers until we leave and come back, or are confronted with a scene too breathtaking to ignore.

6. Driving in blizzard conditions.

Every Alaskan has been caught off guard by a snowstorm at some point in their winter driving career. We may have been deceived by the weather report or just decided to chance it, but we’ve all had to power through freezing winds and blinding flurries to reach our destination. Rather than panic, we slow way down, blast our windshield wipers, and pray to the road gods for extra protection.

7. Small plane rides.

Commercial jets get us in and out of Anchorage, but once flying within the state, our aircrafts get quite a bit smaller. Whether the ride is a fixed-wheel or float plane, we’re used being crammed alongside four to nineteen other passengers, and we rarely tense us when the ride gets bumpy. Instead, we sit back, enjoy the views, and have fun identifying our favorite landmarks.

8. Taxidermy decor.

The signs of our hunting and fishing obsession become evident upon landing at Ted Steven’s International. Visitors are welcomed with stuffed polar bears, grizzlies, Dall sheep, and another assorted Alaskan taxidermy. It won’t stop as your travels continue — plastering our walls with dead animals is considered a fashionable way to decorate restaurants, tourist depots, medical offices, and of course, our garages and living rooms. Our favorite variations include moose antlers (with or without the head attached), trophy salmon, whale’s tails, king crab, and grizzly or black bear pelts.

9. Bald eagle gatherings.

While they can be a rare sight in the rest of America, Alaska has more bald eagles per capita than any other state. Here they fish, they congregate, they build nests just off of highways, they soar majestically across the open sky… and just like in The Proposal, they occasionally make off with a small critter. At least one Fish and Wildlife employee has reported finding a cat collar in a bald eagle’s nest, and small dog owners keep an extra-close eye on their furry friends when they let them outside to do their business.

10. Sharing our fishing grounds.

We can get territorial about our favorite summer fishing spots, but we’re often forced to share, and not just with other outdoorsmen. We don’t get surprised to see a bear or two fishing across the river from us. We know we’re not the only species that subsists off of the salmon run, and as long as we keep our distance, we know we’ll be just fine.

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