As amazing as it is to be actually living here with all our dogs, the pace with which this first year has gone by has been truly astounding.
Sometimes it seems like only a few weeks ago since we first touched down at Anchorage airport, en route to our new home – which wasn’t quite finished,a new dog lot, which we weren’t sure was going to be ready, and possessing a list as long as the proverbial arm of things we needed. We had our own dogs somewhere in transit in the care of Continental Airways and a gaggle of new dogs we had bought scattered across the US, still with their original owners. My dog truck was sitting in New Hampshire – still unfinished and we had no car here.
However, as you can tell, we survived, we got all our own dogs safely and one by one, the new dogs flew in from various airports or were collected by me on my epic drive from New Hampshire to Alaska. We lived in our alleged “handler’s apartment” for 6 months, before the guys were finished with the house – well, finished enough for us to live in without them traipsing in and out all the time. The dogyard was built exactly as we had discussed and looked fantastic. We only had one minor escape because the boys didn’t believe that a dog could possibly get through a gap that small. 3 of our oldest dogs showed them just how possible it was…… fortunately they didn’t go anywhere, just ran into the house through one of the door openings still waiting on a door.
Those first few months were a blur of shopping, lists, shopping, more lists, driving and even some dog training. It got cold, it snowed, it got colder, very cold and then it snowed some more, got a bit warmer, snowed, colder, more snow and then by March it started to turn to Spring. Break up, Spring thaw, call it what you will, truly is a yucky, messy not very nice time of year. May and June were amazing, warm, sunny – in fact we saw 80 F on a couple of days. The bug wars started, everyone talks about the size of the Alaskan mosquito, those big early season bugs are actually great – they’re so big and slow you can squish them easy. It’s the little, fast, mean ones that appear later that are the real trouble. And there are the flying ants, the vicious biting horse flies, the no see-ums, it seems like the list could go on for a while. But the counter-measures taken against all of these flying biting horrors have proved to be reasonably effective. We have 4 Skeeter Vacs running at each corner of the dogyard and they are doing a wonderful job. So much so, that you no longer need to remember to put bug spray on every day – that’s fine if you stay within the fences………….. big mistake if you take a dog for a walk down the trail.
We have lots and lots of dragonflies around and after reading up on them, I considered doing more to attract them to stay. However, as the very habitat that is their preference is exactly the same one that attracts mosquitoes, I decided that we’ll just settle for the ones that happen to pass through. Efforts will be made to get the swallows to nest around here though. An adult swallow eats its own weight in bugs EVERY DAY.
Other signs of wildlife have been distinctly lacking. So far, the only moose we have seen have been at the roadside or on our dinner plates. Although, I’m probably happy enough for it to stay that way. We haven’t seen any bears, but it seems like everyone else has and I still am not in a position to answer the perennial question about bears and woods, although I can confirm that the Pope is indeed Catholic.
I’ll probably never get a job with the Alaska Tourist Board, so here’s a quick recap of my impressions so far.
Don’t come to Alaska in April or August. Someone once told me that if it wasn’t for the snowmelt in the Spring, Alaska would be a desert. He lied !
Everything is expensive, some of it outrageously so. Anything you buy “Outside” that seems like a bargain will immediately cease to be so, as soon as you realise just how much the additional shipping costs are going to be.
There is one State Trooper, Highway Patrol officer or city policeman for every head of population in the State, and all of them are on traffic duty.
When you hire a rental car, ignore the bit in the small print about not driving on dirt/gravel roads. If you stay on the paved roads, you will not be able to visit anybody who lives outside Anchorage or 5 minutes off the main highway.
There are many, many places of jaw dropping awesomeness. Nature is wonderful and the work she has done in Alaska is definitely worth seeing. The towns and cities, pah, not so much.
I do like Alaska, I feel very settled here but Scotland will always be home.