I fall into the tourist trap no matter how often I travel. I still buy overpriced fudge from Estes. I collect as many unique stickers as I can because I need them on my nalgene. Or I find matchboxes, pens, coasters cool little unidentifiable things….if they’re free I’m sneaking away five just in case. And I have a particular weakness for purses and sweatshirts, the more pockets they have, the better to hide all my other souvineers in so I can wander out looking casually local. I’m also the one stopping to take bad pictures of everything. All while Travis rolls his eyes and tells me to stop because I’m making him feel like a tourist and embarrassing him. Most of all I hear a lot of this type of statement. “Babe, really?” (At this point there is a roll of the eyes or shake of the head or some kind of exasperated noise) “We don’t call it Mt. McKinley here, we call it Denali. Don’t be such a tourist.” So here is my list of vocabulary and lessons on not being a tourist.
Mt. McKinley is called Denali. This one actually makes a lot of sense. Why rename the highest peak in the US after a president from one of the “I” states (I can’t remember if it is Indiana or Illinois or Iowa) when it already has a name its been called by native people for ages? (Travis says it’s Ohio. I was a little off but it does start with a vowel and includes an “I.”)
Fred Meyers is King Soopers.
The lower 48 means the part of the country not separated by ocean and Canada.
PFD doesn’t mean process flow diagram. It means permanent fund dividend. It’s money you get for living in Alaska. But only after a couple years.
Break up is when all the ice and snow breaks up and goes away. There is a contest to see when a tripod falls into the river in Fairbanks. Its second place in the record books as far as I can tell. A few more days and it will beat the longest record.
When it is only 25 degrees out and someone mentions what a nice day it is, they aren’t kidding, they are being serious.
Qiviut is yarn made from a musk ox. It is amazing but also 80 dollars for a tiny little skein. Or like 200 for a hat. I’m way too cheap for that.
An arctic entry is like a mudroom with the added purpose of not letting excessively cold air in your house.
Snowmobiles are snowmachines.
Bunny boots are the warmest boots in existence.
Mukluks are the native version of boot moccasins.
The inversion everyone talks about is a real weather phenomena. Its so still that the air settles. This means you don’t want to go down into town when it’s cold because it’s full of car exhaust and nasty unhealthy air.
If you see a baby moose it should not look cute, you should be terrified. Mama moose is like mama bear.
You can go exploring in places that would have off limits or danger signs in the rest of the states. But it’s probably fun and you are probably in some danger but it makes for a good story.
The mosquitoes mean business and they are twice the size of normal bugs. When they hit your windshield they leave blood splatter patterns.
The people are very unique. Very unique.