Living in Alaska presents this Floridian with many new experiences and indeed some challenges. I’m sure it’s hard for many of you to imagine how small my town really is. I imagine you think Skagway is similar to other small towns you’ve been to, multiple streets, houses spread out, Wal-Mart 30 minutes away. But Skagway is really nothing like most other small towns.
Allow me to elaborate.
Our nearest Wally World is 2.5 hours away in Whitehorse. And that’s with good weather conditions. If the windy roads are icy, make it 3 hours or more.
For our groceries, we shop at the Fairway Market, which is open until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and only until 4 p.m. on Sundays. So if you realize you don’t have milk at 6:05, well, you’re outta luck.
We have an eclectic hardware store with goodies ranging from paints, hammers and nails, and extending as far as Christmas decor, board games and dog shampoo.
In the winter, we have three restaurants to choose from, one of which is only open until 2 p.m.
We have two gas stations, both of which are usually unmanned.
We have a few clothing stores, a Radioshack, which also serves as a video rental (you know, like Blockbuster), a library, a few bakeries/coffee shops, and a couple other little stores.
The sun rises after 8 a.m. and it’s dark by 4 p.m.
So, for this Floridian, who is used to the sun and Wal-Mart, there have been quite a few adjustments.
But with those adjustments have come new adventures and experiences.
On the first snow of the year, Sam and I ventured out to find ourselves a Christmas tree. Not in a Lowe’s parking lot. Not amidst crowds and Christmas music. But out in nature, surrounded by trees of all different shapes and sizes.
We drove to the Dyea flats and searched for the perfect one.
Sam had to bring me back down to earth just a bit, as I kept picking out trees that were much too big. Too tall. Too fat. “No way that’s going to fit in the house!” or “How will we get it on top of the car??”
But once he got my expectations under control, we found the perfect one.
No crowds, no lines, no price tags, just us, the trees and the mountains.
We cut it down,tied it up, threw it on top of the car and praised ourselves for successfully cutting down our first Christmas tree.
Once we got it inside, I went to that eclectic hardware store, where I know the employees by name, and picked out some garland and a tree stand.
We ordered a pizza from one of our two restaurants, heated up cider on our wood-burning stove and proceeded to decorate our home and enjoy the beauty that is Skagway.
Because while there may have been quite a few adjustments, that is the beauty of living in Alaska.
Its beauty is incomparable. Its people are exceptional. And its challenges are welcome.
Because without challenges, adventures, experiences and exploration, life would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?