"You know what they say, the mosquito is the state bird of Alaska." –old-timer after our second surge of mosquitoes this summer (thanks to two months of rain)
"I'm just wearing Chacos to the wedding, I hope that's okay with you." --Josh on our way to Alex's wedding (dress code for Alaska weddings is pretty relaxed)
"I've shot squirrels with just about every firearm." --Jake
Ester Tape and Tarp Ball (dresses made out of tarps and duct tape). We went to a nice restaurant before the ball to show off our hand-made dresses. "I'm worried about the rash that's developing on my thigh." "Sitting in this chair I've lost two grommets already."
"Does anybody have a bear gun?" Hank as we start a hike in the 40 Mile. (Hank is obsessed with weight reduction). "I got my glock, so it's an Alaska weight pack."
"They're the world's largest mouse." –trapper re: beavers
"You mix white trash and money and all you'll get is drugs and trucks and trailers." –re: Valdez
"I bushwhacked for 3 hours on the way to my wedding. On Friday, we went up the hill to see the glacier. And on Saturday and Sunday we chopped wood." –Claudine re: her true Alaska wedding
Josh re: fishing in Chitina as I complain about not catching 30 fish in 2 hours like our friends: "Anytime you're hunting or fishing, it's like, 'Well Fred over there got a 16-inch bull two valleys over.' Well, I guess Fred got the bull." Thanks for the very helpful analogy, Josh!
"We saw y'all in the U-Haul. We thought you were running away from your boyfriends." –tourists on the ferry talking to me, Sarah and Val about our U-Haul rental truck (after my car died on the way to Valdez)
"This whole bay is like a candy shop. This one's a jolly rancher. This one's a starburst. This one's a jelly bean." –Sarah seeing the world through Molly's eyes on the ferry from Valdez to Whittier
"Feel free to use our facili-trees." –kayaking guide directing us to the "restrooms" on an island in Columbia Bay
Val: What should I wear on the kayak? Guide: It depends, how do you feel? Val: Who cares how I feel? I want you to tell me whether I'm gonna freeze to death on a freakin glacier!
"I'd trade three sea lions for a whale." –Sarah re: sightseeing on the boat in Prince William Sound
Sarah is swearing at the midnight sun because she can't get to sleep Molly: I don't swear at the ocean, do I? Sarah: Maybe if it never left you alone you would!
"I just want to go outside and smell everything." –Sarah on her first day in Alaska (coming from Miami)
"Aww, a Tonka Truck! It's the crane one!" –Josh gets nostalgic at the dump
"Sally is like the U.N. She hopelessly promotes harmony."
"Do what you need to do: shake it, dance, to make sure everyone in the car gets to see a beaver." –tour guide on the train to Seward
"Tanning, coffee & taxidermy." –shop sign in Wasilla, home of the classy Sarah Palin
"Wisconsin is Alaska's Mexico." –regarding all the Midwesterners that work for the forest service in AK
"I've knee boarded the Yukon on a Thermarest pad and Duct Tape." –Jake, a true Alaskan
"Watch out–I don't want to get your tarp dirty." –during a photo opp by the river all wearing blue tarp dresses for the Tape & Tarp ball
"What happens if the bear guard gets eaten?" –one of my group members during the safety briefing at the Sea Ice Field Course in Barrow. It's good to know all contingencies!
"I don't really believe in this whole global warming idea." –says my taxi driver in Anchorage (originally from Venezuela) after picking me up from the Climate Research Center where I was interviewing a climatologist about climate change modeling :)
"I have 6 chips in my windshield just from driving up to Alaska." –ahh, the Al-Can
"A bird sanctuary that allows hunting. Only in Alaska."
"I was in the hummus business. Then there was a big raid. The city came and confiscated my garbanzo beans." –friend Sam who sold home-made hummus without a license
"Oh my God. This is terrible. This needs to be photographed!" –friend who is an Aurora photographer watching an awesome Aurora, without access to his camera
"I love those funny skinny Christmas trees." –Swiss friend who is new to Fairbanks commenting on black spruce
"What model of Leatherman do you have?" "The Wave Juice." –discussion between two Alaskan men
"I don't mind working all weekend, but look at the powder! Come on..." –boss ditching work on Friday morning to go skiing
[Visit to Pennsylvania] After going to the Pennsylvania Farmers' Market, conversation about what type of technologies Amish can use. "Are they allowed to operate microwaves?" -me "They're getting pretty loose." -Mikey
Debate about having babies: "That's kind of our purpose in life, isn't it?" -Jeannie
"Thank goodness they have 3,000 potatoes." -Jeannie re: Peruvian women carrying heavy loads on their backs
"I feel like such a dork wearing all the stuff Mom gave me, but I gotta give credit where credit is due." -Jeannie in Peru regarding the loaner zip-off pants and safari shirt
"It's a cream-based Irish gay drink." -owner of Hippo's restaurant in Mexico describing Bailey's
"Close your eyes and take her for a float." -dancing teacher
"I love Boulder." -me "I always had a good time in Boulder." –coworker "I went after a guy with an ice ax in Boulder." -boss
"It was like the time I tried to sit on a turtle. I saw a picture of someone doing it." –Greta re: riding animals
"Part of me really wants to be badass and head out there. The other part says, "I really like fondue." –friend debating whether to go on a backcountry hut trip at -35 or staying home and having a party instead.
"You can't eat scenery." –Eskimo explaining why he doesn't live upriver.
"Just put in shit-tons and then smush it down right away." –friend giving us directions on caulking the lid on his thermal storage tank
"He came up for a visit and just stayed. (whisper) He's a registered sex offender, and he's my neighbor." –woman in the village talking about our server
"When I'm pregnant I know what it is because if it's a boy, lots of wolves follow me around in my dreams. If it's a girl, lots of salmon berries around me." –80-year old woman in Koyuk giving some advice to my pregnant friend
"It's our fault the belugas got smart. We taught them how to be. Aluminum boats and outboard motors. Now they're sneaky." –elder in the village of Koyuk explains why whaling is harder these days
"We had one tribal coordinator in Stebbins but her drug dealing and bootlegging got in the way." –contact in Unalakleet talking about the challenge of hiring in villages
"Margine may not be able to meet you because she may be incarcerated." –same contact as above, referring to our scheduled guide in one village
"We only get five days of subsistence leave, and if you get a beluga that can take awhile." –conversation with a woman from Unalakleet, an Alaska Native village on Norton Sound
"I'm not a druggie but I'd say a good mushroom is right at the top of the list."
"I'm becoming an Alaskan blonde where you don't get enough sun to keep it blond, so I had to dye it back to my natural color." –blond friend
Friend commenting on a the booth at the state fair: "Instead of 'Stuff your own animal' it should be 'Sarah Palin Field Dress Your Own Animal. Shoot it, stick it in a trash bag and haul it away.'"
"You're like an Athabaskan leprechaun." –friend Anna to Josh re: his Native accent imitation
"Cliffy without his spoonboard tie is like a cop without a mustache. It just ain't right." –at a concert at the Blue Loon. Cliffy is a well-known local drummer who wears a spoonboard tie (instrument in bluegrass music).
"Don't stand on the tracks when the train's comin through." –one of the more physical soccer players on our team
"I may have to get an oatmeal cookie just to cool my mouth off." –Josh after eating a sausage egg and cheese sandwich at LuLus Bagels. Technically not that Alaskan but still quotable, I thought.
"He does have a desire to go out and handle women." –wording of our (Danish) friend about another friend's...ways
"If it were really easy it'd be called catching." –a good one to remember in Alaska
"I'm gonna go see what these guys are doing, and then truth be told I think I'm gonna go poop." –overhead from the tent next to ours in Haines
"That was fun-comfortable." –friend on the ferry re: another friend's hilarious but inappropriate reading from a romance novel on the top deck
"I'd rather have a wet willy than a dry one." –one of many colorful quotes from our Southeast Alaska brewery crawl
"For a big-ass state it's pretty small town." –well-said by a bear hunter from Arizona we ran into on the Denali Highway
"I might just drink whiskey if I can't take a shower." –my friend Bama who was visiting from Mississippi and was still getting used to 'Alaska hygiene'
"We don't need sunshine, we have soul shine." –my friend Annette comforting me in Denali, when we realized the forecast was rain for the whole state while they were visiting
"Whales are great but if I don't show you guys a glacier and a puffin, you're gonna turn on me in no time." –captain of our tour ship in Seward, explaining why we need to leave the humpbacks
"You're going, quite literally, 10,000 years back in time." –tour guide again describing the Aialik Glacier
"No matter how good friends they become, once a snipper always a snipper; once a stabber always a stabber." –captain on the cruise of Resurrection Bay regaling us about black oyster catchers
"They call me Mama, Mama Kitty. I'm queen of the table, lemme just tell you that." –recorded this in my phone but can't remember the context.
"You never have to mourn the end of winter because it's never more than 4 months away." --Your Blogess
Me: Are you guys going dipnetting this year? Drew: Are you kidding? That's like asking if I took a sh** today. Of course we are.
Kristin describing women's soccer in Fairbanks: "Everyone just cheers for you and if you miss it they say 'Good shot!' That's a nice environment to not be very good at sports in."
"She has singles for a couple years in a row, you eat 'er," –goat farmer in North Pole explaining his breeding system (singles refers to a single child)
"For a meat goat, you want the butt cheeks to squeak," –same goat farmer describing his muscular goats
"Healy-miner offers gold for info about dead moose left to rot." –an Alaska headline if ever there was one (article here)
"It must be broken..." –after the 7th day of our thermostat reading -31, sadly it was working just fine
"It's like walking, but less convenient." --my friend Corey cross country skiing for the first time (We happened to be on an unfortunate long hill.)
"You can't expect to catch a halibut using minnows for bait!" --Fairbanks male explains that you can't catch a good man in Alaska simply by wearing a low-cut top!
"People understand that America needs the minerals and energy of the arctic to meet its growing appetite." --display inside Gates of the Arctic National Park Visitors Center. Not sure I agree wholeheartedly with this, especially its placement inside the visitors center in a park!
"Half-crazed llama. Spits. Not for dog food." –classified ad in Salcha, outside Fairbanks
"Let's shoot some panties. Is there any more gun powder?" –guy at the bar in Chicken, where they shoot ladies' underwear out of an old canon
"If you booze you lose, but the dope gives you hope." –guy at the Land Shark bar in Valdez
"I could walk outta here with a half million or I could walk outta here with enough to buy a bus ticket south. Or I could just start walking." --conversation with a gold miner in Ester, from Arkansas with quite the southern accent
"Men my age are either dead, married, or they're in Arizona." –63-year-old female friend who moved to Fairbanks to find a man
"The first apartment I looked at in Fairbanks said you get a free gun with the first month's rent." –coworker who moved to Fairbanks from Detroit
"Can you explain to me why you can sell guns at a garage sale?" –garage sale or gun shows are a loophole around the 10-day waiting period to get a gun
"The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado." –a piece of trivia I just heard on the radio that sums up why I moved west
"I don't believe in the borough endorsing something that I would call theft." --guy testifying at the assembly meeting about accepting a federal grant
"My heritage is agriculture. I do not want to have a permit from the borough, planning commission or any other source to tell me how to grow my business. If I want to grow hay, have horses, butcher meat, build cabins, I will conform to the legal responsibilities but I will not stand for a commission telling me what I can and cannot do!" --borough resident explaining why he opposes zoning in any way, shape or form (screaming the entire time btw)
"I'm sure there's someone who wants to have that as a great big borough park. The last thing I want is a borough park." --those last couple words were dripping in disgust. Fairbanks resident explaining why he thinks the borough should sell public land to a commercial developer
"Hi Ryan, it's Marty. Do you have a list of deaths for me this week?" (our obits writer)
Top Gun Taxidermy --just one of many great signs in Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin)
Local militia leader Schaeffer Cox, recently arrested for conspiracy to murder Alaska State Troopers, talking to his followers about why a militia is needed to stand up to government: “Unless we are abiding in the firm conviction of that knowledge, we will be scared people that will have shit in our boots anytime the man addresses us. And that does not bring God glory. That brings glory to Satan. It brings glory to him and says wow this guy is so powerful that he makes the saints tremble.
My friend Eddie in Colorado: So they are predicting a high of -7 tomorrow and I just got a email from my boss telling me that it's ok if I work from home tomorrow! CO is full of mamby pambies. Although if it's gonna be -7 here, are you gonna be alright in fairbanks??
Anna (friend/teammate): He didn't make it to soccer last week because he got a moose Me: Oh he went hunting? Anna: No, we're on the list Me: What list? Anna: The roadkill list (The state troopers call you when your name is up. I had no idea people ate these guys but it seems like a win-win)
Me: "So how many homes do you have in your town?" City Council member of Hughes (rural village off the road system): "Oh LOTS. Probably 30, 35."
"They put cheese in their guacamole. Fortunately I had an avocado in my purse. It was already sliced." --roommate (vegan) going to a taco place for dinner. It's BYO fresh fruits and veggies in Fairbanks!
"I only go to bars where I can walk home. I haven't fallen in the river yet." --reporter and long-time patron of Fairbanks bars
"You're just now calling 2 months after the fact to tell us that it ruined your life? I'll tell ya what, when you haven't been drinking you come in and bring your dismissal. Because it's pretty obvious you have been now." -our secretary tells a guy who calls to complain about his charges being printed in the newspaper
Regarding a borough program to improve air quality through mandating that people in bad-air neighborhoods get more efficient wood stoves (and providing rebates for new wood stoves): "The air quality program is just a racket. All government programs are a racket. The whole country is a racket."
It's supposed to drop to 45-below tomorrow night. My housemate tells me I should spend the night downtown (where you get the lowest of the lows) to experience it: "When it gets below 40-below magical things happen like square tires. Also, you take boiling water outside and toss it in the air and it goes BOOOOOSH and disappears."
"You can never be too drunk or too fat in Alaska."
"When it first gets cold, people don't commit crimes. They just stay home and don't do anything for about a week. Then they get stir-crazy and start doing stupid stuff again." –cops reporter
First day of 20-below temps: "This isn't that bad. How much worse can 40-below be?" "You just get cold faster. It's kinda like alcohol. A shot of 80 proof is gonna hit you faster than 40 proof."
"If you want something done, tell an Alaskan they can't do it. Because by god they'll go out and do it." --Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator from Alaska, in reference to winning re-election as a write-in candidate for just the second time in history.
"Republicans kill animals. Democrats kill babies." –sign at a Baptist church on election day
"I thought June-teenth is something you did in June." –a co-worker to somebody on the phone about Freedom Day.
"I'm just calling to let you know that we have a cow moose bedded down in the yard, so be careful." –first message from roommate "There's a calf in the yard too, and I just tried to go outside and the mom charged me. You should use caution if you're getting home soon." –second message
"I just unplugged the outdoor freezer. It's not supposed to get above 30 til April."
"For Alaskans, an Alaskan McDonalds breakfast isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. How else would we wrestle with bears, outrun moose and scale Denali, the Great One, in our flip flops!"
At the weekly GOP luncheon, two candidates for state representative field questions... member of the audience: "If you're elected, will you do everything in your power to stop the evil of abortion?" both candidates: "Yes" guy behind me: "PRAISE Jesus!"
Just bought 11 gallons of gas for $40, factoring in my 10 cents a gallon discount. What a deal.
On covering local elections: "It's not much fun. It's not a very corrupt city council. It's not like people are hiding anything, it's just like, 'Why don't you have anything better to do?'"
On why Lisa Murkowski will win the US senatorial seat: "Joe Miller scares the shit out of all rational people, who make up just enough of the state to vote for Murkowski."
"Yes, I know how to make a cosmo. But that's the first time anyone ordered one in here." our bartender at the Cantwell Bar and Grill, which is more of a hunter/trucker/miner scene than a "ladies night" scene
Conversation about bull moose courting female moose. Apparently the males herd the females into a harem. "And then he baps them all." "What! Why wouldn't they run away?" "They wanna get bapped."
"There are no guys in this bar without facial hair, or a ponytail!" –Dad, who made a charming attempt to grow a beard during his Alaska vacation, but maxed out at peach fuzz
"You are so naive." –my neighbor tells me in the bar when I'm complaining about 30 degrees in September
"The oldtimers are saying it's gonna be a cold winter, 50 below, like the old days. That's when your booze freezes."
"Cold and dark. That's what people talk about alllll winter. It brings us together as a community."
"I can pretty much guarantee you you're going to slide into a ditch this winter. It happens every year." –on why you should keep a sleeping bag and shovel in your car
"It's not that hard to use a computer. My ex-husband was older than that and he took a computer course. There's lots of places in town where you can go learn how to use a computer for free. Or find some teenager in your neighborhood and pay them a couple bucks and he can teach you how to use it in 20 minutes. And then you can contact all of these reporters." –overheard secretary lecturing someone on the phone. do i really want this person to get in touch with me?
"Sarah Palin opposes burning Korans. That surprises me."
me: "Shoot, I forgot my book for my flight." coworker: "I can loan you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies if you want." me: "Oooh, you own Pride and Prejudice??" coworker: "and Zombies. All one book."
"I love wingnuts. I absolutely love 'em." –coworker
"Not all roads have lots of civilization on them." –response from an Alaskan when I comment on how desolate the drive is
On picking a campsite in Denali that's a no-burn area and that you have to access by the bus, but it's supposed to be very pretty: "It better be f%&*ing magical if you can't drive there and you can't start a fire."
"This rain is getting old." "I know, tomorrow morning I'm going to use my Happy Light." Happy Lights are full-spectrum lamps that many people (especially women) in Fairbanks use to combat seasonal affective disorder. Not a conversation you should be having in July
"If they're ahead of me, just tell them I'll meet them at the glacier." –roommate on meeting up with friends in Seward
Conversation about why people in Fairbanks stay in super long-term relationships rather than moving on. "I think it's partly because the next person isn't knocking down your door...unless you're a girl."
"Do you know what happens when corpses freeze?" –rhetorical question by a crime reporter in Fairbanks. No, and I don't want to!
"You can't catch fish if your net ain't in the water." –dip netting wisdom from a fisherman in Chitina
"The good thing about this campsite is there won't be bears, because we're surrounded by 11,000 rednecks with guns." –roommate re: our campsite in Chitina on a fish trip
"I got six free video games from EA sports. I had to get a EA tattoo on my back, but still. Now I just need to find a girl with the initials EA." –coworker
"This is the golden heart city but I've never seen it in an ad that this is the city with a goose that laid a golden egg." –some golden quotes during public comment at city council meetings
"Five stories a day keeps the bullshit away" –journalist who doesn't like "feature-y" stories
"If you have a guy who's sane and doesn't have a criminal record, hold onto 'em." – advice from the security guard at the courthouse. He also said don't date on Craigslist...
"irregardlessly..." – one of my favorite commonly used non-words in any context but especially coming from the school board and the borough assembly
"Now, just a reminder gentlemen. That's the beginning of moose season and duck season." –a superior state judge to a bunch of lawyers when scheduling a trial date
"It's not worth it to go to the doctor in Fairbanks. I usually just figure out how to do surgery on myself, or let a friend do it." "What kind of surgery?" "I chewed a wart off my thumb." "Eww, did it work?" "Do you see a wart on my thumb now?" conversation about the quality and cost of health care up north
"When people think of Alaska, they don't usually think of coffee. Usually they think of fish, energy and crazy people." coworker on why the coffee at work isn't that good
"Don't trust the little old ladies here. One of them stole my laptop at the laundromat this weekend. I saw it on the surveillance camera." –friend (his laptop was later returned)
"Planting a garden is much more exciting than having a baby." my roommate planting tomatoes
"Those are Ester bananas." my super-ripe bananas I bought green at Fred Myers two days ago
"So you plant the actual pea?" who knew snap peas were the offspring of snap peas?
"The thing that gets me are the sunsets..." re: Alaskan regarding the long sunsets in the fall
"Gardens in Colorado are already blooming in May." "Not here. We have one flower." re: roommate and I surveying the botanicals