The Last Frontier

I grew up in the suburbs of Portland Oregon. While I spent a good deal of my spare time on Mt. Hood, I always dreamed of big mountain skiing in Alaska. If someone had told me at my high school graduation that in a year I would be traveling up the Al-Can, destined for the mountains I dreamed of I would never have believed them.  
But, at 19, I found myself hugging my friends and family goodbye, crossing the Canadian border, and beginning my journey to Alaska. Little did I know, home awaited me again on the other side of Canada.
My first permanent stop in Alaska was Girdwood, a small community about 40 miles outside of Anchorage. Girdwood is home to Alyeska Ski Resort, Alaska’s largest ski lift area. I had heard stories and I had seen pictures of the mountains in this state, but nothing compares to what it is like to be in the midst of it: the northern lights, the stars, and the mountains that seemed to just shoot up out of the sea.  Every day was picture perfect (Alyeska is a great spot to visit on spring or winter break FYI).
I spent a few years getting to know Alaska in Girdwood. I learned the solution to cabin fever is simply good socks, a snug hat, and long underwear, to be paired with a good pair of snow pants and a down jacket. Alaskans don’t let the cold weather stop them in their adventurous ways, they simply add more clothes. I learned to love salmon and moose-loaf. I learned how to get by with no running water and how to shoo bears off the porch. I met some of the kindest people on earth, who seemed happy to simply be alive in such a beautiful place. I found more in Alaska than just big mountain skiing, I had found a new home.
In the process of finding a new home, there were struggles. The first year it was hard to adjust to being so far away from everything I had known growing up. But, you either adapt, or you leave. And if you leave you just might come back (I tried to leave and had a ticket back to Alaska in a week).  At some point in my first few years of discovering Alaska, I also discovered that I wanted to go to college. After spending two years in Girdwood, I decided it was time to move to Fairbanks, and enroll at UAF.
I’ve been in Fairbanks a little over three years now. The people are still kind, good socks are still almost as valuable as gold, and moose and salmon are still part of the diet. I never have to search far to fulfill my desire for new adventures and challenges.  I’ve spent a few years living in a dry cabin, I learned how to fish, and survived a winter on a bicycle.  I love my University; nowhere else in the world can you live the Alaskan dream, and get a degree while you do it.

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