Remember that Simpsons episode where the family takes a trip to Australia? Bart and the rest of the gang are so fascinated by all the differences that the other hemisphere promotes.
I have been having a similar experience here in Alaska. There are some things that are just...different. I have been making an effort lately to really notice these things in order to share them all with my friends and family and whoever else may be passing through.
1. Rather than having a 7-11 on every corner like in Manassas, or an LDS church in Utah, there are bars everywhere.
You cannot walk more than 2 blocks without seeing one or usually two bars beckoning your presence. They all have such clever names like the Midnite Mine or Kodiak Jacks. There is also a great small little bar by the smelly Chena River, which is actually named "Boatel Sleazy Waterfront Bar". We walked in once looking for pizza, hearing rumors of a pizza oven there. There was no oven, but the bartender had just ordered pizza for the 5 resident drunks and we were invited to partake. We politely declined, but looking back it could've been a real growing experience.
2. Everything is the "Farthest North _____".
There is the Farthest North Bowling League (which is absolutely comparable to any other bowling league in the lower 48. Why is it that anywhere you go the bowling alleys are all filled with the same people? Is there some spiky mullet or baby-toting-beer-guzzling-mother prerequiste?)
There is also the Farthest North Masonic Temple. They open on Tuesdays to visitors. I have yet to put my circle to the square, but it will happen before I leave.
The Farthest North Square Dance Center, Farthest North Glow-in-the-dark mini golf course, and I'm assuming(according to #1) the Farthest North Highest Per Capita Number Of Drunks Roaming The Streets.
3. The toilets all contain extremely cold water.
Upon sitting on the abode, there is a rush of arctic air felt from the frigid water beneath. It's strangely uncomforting, but also refreshing.
4. You've heard of Mormon Standard Time(MST)? Well here in Fairbanks, we have NST, or Native Standard Time.
Apparently there is a 15-30 minute late gene in the native alaskans, probably a symptom of weather and/or overconsumption of alcohol*.
5. Recycling does not exist.
And neither does keeping a tidy fron yard. Homeowners throw everything into the front yard and I suppose it gets frozen there every winter in the -50 degree weather, never to be moved. My friends and I were driving around one Saturday looking for a yard sale that we ended up never finding. But the joke was that everybodys house looked like they were maybe having a yard sale. "Is that a yard sale or just your yard?" became the question of the day.
6. Fairbanks= not a home for animal lovers.
Unless by animal lover I mean they like to shoot 'em, stuff 'em, and grill 'em. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Fairbanks-ians really do love animals, just not in the "I want to protect them from harm" kind of way.
It's whale blubber. It's disgusting. It gives me that "urge to purge" feeling. The Fairbanks people love their muck tuck. I see it as a definitive alternate fuel source.
8. The tundra ground.
You're out trail hiking, just walking around on the ground. All of the sudden it becomes painfully obvious that the ground 8 inches deeper than you thought. The tundra is a spongey-water-filled haven of mud, mosquitos, and an overall boreal quicksand.
There is an abundance of finger lickin good bluesy rock (think Allman Brothers Band) being played in the local bars and venues here. It gets the feet tappin and all the inebriated movin and shaking. I may or may not have tried to grab the scarf off the harmonica player everytime he starts jamming.
*This phenomena is clearly not limited to Natives. In fact, I'd venture to say that its an overall sensation thats sweeping the Fairbanks nation.