Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Constant daylight

I seriously think there’s more open WiFi in Anchorage than there is in New York City. It’s pretty weird. Anyway, morning of day three here, and I’m debating on whether or not to just keep updating as we go, as opposed to writing a giant travelogue when I get back (that noboy will read.)

The sunlight thing is really fucking weird. On our first night, we went to bed at like 10:30, which was like 2:30 our time, and it was broad daylight out. It was seriously like noon. I woke up to take a leak at like 2 AM and it was just barely dusk. The sun was setting and it was turning red on the horizon, but it was still light enough to read a newspaper outside. Last night, I woke up at about 4:30 AM, and the sun was already coming back up.

The night we got here, there was smoke in the air and it made your eyes tear a bit. It reminded me of when I visited my land in Colorado in the summer of 2002, when half the state was a wildfire. I thought maybe it was a preventative burn, but we saw the Sunday morning paper and it was a forest fire that took out 150 acres. You could still smell the burning wood, although it’s about gone now.

We got an early start yesterday, and drove around a lot. We have a Toyota Matrix, which is pretty much the same as the Zipcars we always get in NY. We went to a Denny’s for breakfast, then went to a Fred Meyer. I’ve forgotten how extensive Fred Meyer is – it’s like the nerve center of all grocery stores. We found more forgotten, new, and jumbo-sized products than I’d ever seen. In New York, you can’t even find corn dogs – they had a whole freezer case of them. They had two-liter bottles of gatorade, which I’d never seen. Lots of other weird stuff. They also have Kroger brand stuff, which was a blast. I found a generic package of Kroger sex lube, which was really hilarious for some reason. I didn’t get that, but we did get a cartful of water, drinks, and other crap, which is much better than paying $3 a bottle downstairs for water, and we have a fridge in the room, too.

We walked to a cafe for lunch – I really wish I remembered names or took notes, and I’m too lazy to search. But after that, we checked out a huge museum of Alaskan history. They had a weird bird exhibit, lots of stuffed falcons eating stuffed and viscerated wombats and whatnot. Lots of Alaskan art, ranging from landscape photos to native stuff made from bones and ivory. The ivory carvings were incredible. The general history part wasn’t bad, with a lot about the Aleutians and Russian Orthodox, and some cool stuff about the pipeline. There was also a smaller Russian Orthodox museum across the street, but it was closing right as we got there.

We caught a big mall on the way back, and bummed around more before going on another big drive, checking out more stuff. We found a bunch of houses built in this strange style, with almost flat roofs, a sort of shed-style 80s thing. We also found a lake by the airport that was entirely made of slips for small, one-engine floatplanes. They were all arranged like houseboats on a lake, but the middle part was their virtual runway. The airport itself is a trip too, nothing but huge widebodied jets from the lower 48, or tiny single-props flying to the bush, and nothing in between. We also drove through a huge park that was road going nowhere, maybe a former military base turned public, with a lot of construction but nothing other than this single road. There was a bridge crossing the road at one point, all brand new engineered lumber, but nothing on either side. The road finally emptied out to a big rec area on the shore, with lots of people mountain biking.

Eventually, we ended up eating at a place called Gwennie’s Old Time Alaskan Inn, which was sort of a dive, across the street from a Harley dealer, but it had a lot of charm. They had tons of pretty cool photos on the wall of when Anchorage was nothing more than two general stores and a whorehouse. Their sourdough bread was still being made from a starter they used before the war. And I think my plate of BBQ ribs was pretty much the whole animal with some sauce on it for $12.

I think that was all of yesterday. Today’s Memorial Day, and we’ll see what’s open. It’s my turn in the shower, so that’s all for now.

P.S. I was thinking about this the other day, and realized that Anchorage’s weather is actually better than Elkhart’s in all seasons. Elkhart gets much colder in the winter, and much hotter in the summer. Plus in Elkhart, you pay a lot of tax that goes toward nothing, while here you pay no tax, and the government gives you like a grand a year in oil revenue.