Man, I was just reading through several of the past few blog posts here, and it reminded me why I don’t have any tattoos. I’m apparently unable to produce a single thought that isn’t embarrassingly cringe-worthy when I look back on it later. Thank goodness I haven’t ever inscribed anything permanently on my body. No doubt by now I’d be a glorious canvas of 90s rock, video game references, and insipid poetry, if I headed to the ink shop as soon as I was able.
I suppose I should apologize for not writing any updates on our life till now. To be honest, it’s weird and annoying to feel obligated to give anyone (and in this format, everyone) this window into our lives. It made sense when we were hiking. Our family got the news they cared about, our friends got some vicarious knowledge or thrill of what it was like to be profligates, and we had something to ease the boredom while hiking.
But then we finished hiking, and I kept writing. Jotted down a blog on our changing surname, another one about moving to Alaska, and now here I am with some kind of ultra-pretentious Facebook update replacement. It made more sense when we had an experience that was unusual. It’s getting difficult to justify, with no extraordinary circumstances to report, no expertise with which to teach anyone, no words of wisdom that aren’t just a mishmash of things smarter people said. It feels like an exercise in vanity.
But, luckily, I predicted that it would be exactly that, in my very first introductory post. So, since I like to write, and I know at least 2 people who want to read what I write (because they’re genetically predispositioned to endure all my crap), I guess I’ll write.
Life has been wonderful here in Alaska. I think it’s my favorite state in America so far. There are some things to get used to, of course, but it has been excellent, and right now it seems like our biggest problem is that we can’t seem to experience every good thing as fast as we would like.
For one thing, there are tons of moose. And bears. Of course, we saw a couple dozen bears while hiking in Virginia, but it’s one thing to feel as if you’re passing through bear country, another thing to feel as if you’ve settled down in it.
And the moose are adorable. They’re basically roaming, fearless, giant cows. We see them strolling across our yard, walking into the road, standing in bushes and nibbling on trees, walking into the hospital where Connie works. It seemed crazy when I read before moving here that an average of 2 people per year are trampled to death by moose in the Anchorage city limits, but at this point we’ve seen so many enormous moose that I could believe 2 people get casually sat on every time one backs up.
The daylight here is every bit as crazy as everyone knows. Nothing too extraodinary that I can comment on, because it’s really impossible to understand what it’s like to be out walking along the ocean, passing children on scooters and old couples holding hands, watching the sun set, and then to realize that it’s after midnight. The word midnight is meaningless to an extent. It seems especially bizarre given that Connie and I have mostly kept to a night shift schedule. And winter wasn’t too bad. I constantly felt like I was waking up bright and early, before the sun came up. The day and night cycles here are just facts of science, but they’re constantly startling when you live them.
Our outdoor activity hasn’t been as extensive as Connie would like. I think that after hiking so much last year, I have a certain reluctance to go outdoors and do things as much as I used to. Truthfully, I enjoy it more when we do, but it’s hard to break the inertia. Life comes in seasons, and I think that right now is supposed to be a season of Jacob not hiking every weekend. That isn’t to say that we haven’t gone out and seen things, though. We have taken several hours- and days-long roadtrips, and they have all been fantastic. Driving in any direction longer than 20 minutes always yields scenery that reminds me of the times I’ve driven through the Rocky Mountains. The mountains are dramatic, with steep slopes and sharp edges. It always seems mythical to glimpse some of the valleys beyond the first lines of mountains, where everything remains frozen and unreachable.
We have done some hikes, don’t worry. We’ve seen a wildlife conservation center, eaten at the lodge in the shadow of Denali, drunk whisky at the top of one of the Chugach mountains, etc. As Connie likes to say, we’re not in a rush to be tourists. We live here, so we can take our time. Soon we’ll be showing my parents-in-law around, and a lot of the things we’ll be doing will be firsts for us as well, like seeing the Exxon Aquatic Center, taking an Alaskan cruise, walking along the Matanuska Glacier (maybe).
Speaking of living here, we’ve settled in very happily to our apartment here in Anchorage. A lot of people warned us about how expensive housing and the cost of living in general would be in Alaska, but the funny thing is, housing can be had for all sorts of prices, and when you’ve lived six months in a tent, you don’t need to spend a lot to feel luxurious. Much has been said about our generation, and how we millenials need to give up our avocado toast if we ever want to own houses. I won’t participate in a discussion made up of exaggeration and epigrams, so I’ll just stick with saying that Connie and I have no problems spending less than we make, and learning to talk together about money and how to use it to live the life we both want has been one of the most rewarding things we’ve done together. Plus, we know tons of different ways to make ramen noodles now!
And now it’s getting to be time to board our plane. We’re flying to Boston tonight, and then we’ll take a bus to New Hampshire and take on the remaining 306 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We have about 19 days to do it, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to knock it out this year. If not, I suppose it isn’t going anywhere, so we’ll just keep chipping away at it. I’m sure that hiking will catalyze me into updating this blog again, so I hope you all are looking forward to some more of Connie’s photos.