There’s something mysterious about Alaska that makes people want to come here. For a lot of travelers it is a once in a lifetime trip. They save up for years to do land and sea cruises or to drive up the Alcan Highway in an RV bound for adventure. I get it. That’s why we chose to come here too. When you’re a military family you have a “wish list” of duty stations. They usually include a few stateside locations and one overseas dream assignment. I’m 99% certain the military pays zero attention to these wish lists. But, Alaska was on our list. We actually had a choice between here or Texas and chose here. We wanted to be able to really experience Alaska. To see as much of it as possible. To understand the cultural differences between this place and the, “outside” which is how Alaskans refer to the lower 48.
Our time in the final frontier is rapidly drawing to a close. We have accepted an offer on our home, which makes it feel a little less ours even thought the closing is still weeks away. I’m cleaning out closets and trying (unsuccessfully) to meet up with civilian friends one last time before we hit the road. I know it seems like I hate Alaska, I don’t. Not completely. I just hate the weather. See, there’s a myth about Alaska that the winters are hard, but the amazing summers make it all worth it. They’re not.
We’re heading into what should be our fourth summer here, but so far there aren’t many signs of spring. This is the weather forecast for this weekend.
This statement goes on for several pages. It really only needed one line, “Anchorage: This weekend is going to suuuck!” Seriously, when it snows in the middle of May there is only one option: move. Move far, far away.
My Alaskan friends make excuses for the weather. They say things like, “you haven’t really had a good summer since you’ve been here” or “you should have been here in 2001, that was a great summer.” I have to remind them that 2001 was 12 years ago. If that’s your memory of summer, you are living in fantasy land. I have one friend who insists that last summer was awesome, that she has pictures of her family camping in the sunshine. Again, I have to remind her that there were maybe 6 good days all summer. July was one of the coldest on record – which made sense considering it followed the coldest and snowiest winter on record. I understand the problem. Last year my friend Jen visited and I insisted that even though the temperatures weren’t high, she’d be comfortable in shorts and short-sleeved shirts. She spent her whole visit in a raincoat, hoodie sweatshirt, and jeans – also a slightly angry attitude because of my lies about the weather.
Let me be clear though, that one day in July when it was 73, it was completely awesome. Not too hot, not too cool, 22 hours of daylight, amazing flowers blooming everywhere. When the weather is good, it’s really good. The problem is it’s not that good often enough. No matter what kind of selective, recreationist, fantasy memories Alaskans share with the rest of the world.
Last week Dallas had the idea that our family could all be flown into a cool camping spot as a last adventure before we leave. My answer was unequivocally, no. I told him we’d too many bad experiences because of crappy weather. I wasn’t going to spend all that money to get dropped off (stranded) in the middle of nowhere with four kids to have it be rainy and cold the whole time. The bad days just outnumber the good days too often. He agreed. The next day we sat across from each other at breakfast and I read him the forecast above that predicts snow…on May 18.
He listened calmly. Then he gently took my hand, looked deeply into my eyes for a moment and said, “babe…we just need to get the F*** out of here.”