Happy December, folks! Can you believe it’s already December? I honestly can’t. Some days it feels like it should already be February, and some days it feels like we never got past August (minus the weather, of course). Nevertheless, here we are. It’s December, and as the days grow shorter and shorter, I find myself thinking a lot about life in Interior Alaska. Parts of it are so beyond beautiful. Other parts are super challenging. I wish it was feasible to get more first-hand accounts of different duty stations so, yet again, I’m sharing it all – the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between.
10 Fun Facts About Life in Interior Alaska
1 // You start losing daylight quickly in the fall
We’re down to about 5ish hours of daylight per day, and we’ll continue losing 7 minutes per day until the winter solstice. Right now, sunrise is at 10:18 AM, and our sunsets are at 3 PM. We still play outside past dark, and the post and sled hills are pretty well-lit, which helps! And, a silver lining is that the sunrises and sunsets are pretty dang spectacular.
2 // Speaking of dry…you’ll need all the humidifiers
I remember when we first moved into our house, a maintenance worker mentioned simmer pots and how locals use them in the winter. I kind of laughed it off, and then I found myself with a simmer pot on the stove this past Monday. We now have a humidifier in each bedroom and a simmer pot on the stove. Without adding humidity to our house, we wake up with dry, painful coughs, cracked lips, and bloody noses.
3 // The Northern Lights are spectacular
I shared about where we saw the best Northern Lights in Fairbanks the other day, and I can honestly say that the lights really are all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re moving to Fort Wainwright, don’t sleep on the lights (literally). GO somewhere to see them. You can see them on post, but it’s nothing like you’ll see outside of town. So, yes, it’s worth the drive.
4 // Takeout isn’t a really big thing here
Yes, you can use Doordash on post, and yes, Uber Eats works, too. But honestly, the options kind of suck. There are some really good restaurants in Fairbanks, but the takeout options leave something to be desired. And yes, we were absolutely spoiled by the endless choices for dining and takeout in South Korea. So, there’s that.
5 // There is so much open space
Perhaps this one hits even more so because we moved from one of the most populated places on the planet to one of the least populated places, but it consistently blows my mind just how muhc open space there is. Like, so much. You can drive for hours and see a handful of cars…or no cars. It’s honestly really wild – in the best possible way.
6 // Fashion is much more about function than style
I’ve never been a fashionista per se, but I will say that I stepped up my style game while we lived in South Korea. Everyone worked really hard there to be put together. “Put together” means something different here though. Boots are meant to be warm, above all else. Jeans are pretty much a no-go because even fleece-lined gets cold. It’s all about warmth and staying insulated to enjoy the great outdoors, which is the best playground here.
7 // Fairbanks is Alaska’s second-largest city and only has around 33,000 people
Alaska is the biggest state in the entirety of the United States and only has about 732,000 people. Fairbanks, arguably the center of all Interior Alaska, has only about 33,000 people. It’s a vast state with few people relative to the size of the state, so it’s absolutely the perfect place to truly get away from it all.
8 // Outdoor adventures continue all year long
Hiking is huge in the summer, as is fishing, camping, and just about any other summer sport you can think of. But, despite the fact that it gets brutally cold here, people continue to get out there! Ice fishing is a big thing, as is ice skating – both wild and indoor – hockey, snow shoeing, sledding, skiing, and so much more. The yearly dog sled races are also a huge winter happening that get people out there to see the beauty of what the interior has to offer.
9 // It actually gets too cold to snow
You know how most places need to get cold enough to snow? The opposite is true here. It actually has to get warm enough to snow. We know that if we see a temperature lift, we’re likely to get some snow. Also, our snow is totally different than many places in that it’s bone dry. After those first few snowfalls, you won’t be able to make a snowman because it literally doesn’t pack.
10 // Things are far (like really far) away
Remember how the boys had a jiujitsu competition last month? It was in Anchorage, and it was a solid 7-hour drive. Yesterday, Ryan had a doctor’s appointment in Anchorage and actually had to fly to make it happen. There is so much open space that a day trip means something totally different here. It’s definitely taking some getting used to!