Mark's Alaskan Adventures Episode 2

More adventures!! Saturday, October 30, 1999 4 days down, 210 more to go...

Hello Sports Fans, Winter has arrived in urban Alaska. Six inches blew into town Monday night and probably won't leave until April. Alaskans don't miss a beat, putting on studded tires and wearing long johns on a daily basis, they all realize summer is a fleeting gift. Most days are in the 20's, not very windy, so it's not too cold. I have to pretend it's not cool so my Eskimo clients don't make fun of me for being a lower 48er.

Alaska's really been growing on me. I tried muktuk last week, that's whale blubber and skin. Amazing, chewed like a rubber band and tasted like bacon grease. Normally the whale blubber is buried in the ground for a few weeks to ferment, then it's dipped in seal oil. I opted against the interesting condiments. Eskimo ice cream was pretty neat too. You'd think people living in the far north would really have the best tasting ice cream ever. Not so. Eskimo ice cream is berries, sugar and Crisco, it wasn't so bad. What a wonder how much fat is in the Eskimo diet, that's how they fight the cold.

The moose flock to the city when the snow flies. I think they prefer landscaped shrubs and plowed streets. We probably won't see asphalt again until April. Plows here make no effort to clear all the snow, only to pack it down. We get a lot of glare ice, but most people have 4 wheel drive and studded tires. There's a flock of mallard ducks that like to hang out in the parking lot here at Bean's Cafe. We feed them too, we don't discriminate. Plus, if donations drop off, hmmmm roast duck.

Life at the soup kitchen has been interesting of course. It's been great to spend time with my clients, hearing their stories and jokes, learning about where they come from. It has been a rough week though. A lot of first hand experience with mental illness. One guy told me to go to hell the other day, that's pretty usual. Then he told me he'd be "the Pontius Pilate to my Jesus Christ", that's creative.

As we say here in Alaska, Stay Warm!