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A Soul in the Tundra

An Ode to Ugly Alaska

By C.Z.Published 3 years ago 3 min read
A Soul in the Tundra
Photo by Joris Beugels on Unsplash

Interior Alaska.

An idyllic wasteland of rotting tundra and moose droppings. The mountains are too far away, the ocean is nowhere in sight. Instead the lazy Chena river churns brown with dirt and debris.

Interior Alaska may have it's charms but when you live here for 24 years you start to see through them. Acres upon acres of fire-roasted hilltops from one of hundreds of forest fires last year. The smoke hanging thick in the valley, drowning the mosquitoes and staining the tourists lungs. When the rain finally does come, it brings lightning, just another fire-starter. It'll give us a pathetic drizzle, then roll away giggling at the adorable show. The good storms stay far away from us.

Our roads wave at you through layers of permafrost, laughing as you catch air in your little Subaru Outback. The back roads actively hunt down your shocks, hills challenging your brakes to hold on just a little bit longer. It's precious, the way an automobile pretends to battle an ever-changing landscape of potholes and puddles that are 2 feet deep.

The winters in the valley bring an inhospitable cold, fifty degrees below zero even in the hills. You go outside and the cold doesn't just nip at your face, it takes a animalistic bite at your nose, leaving it rose-red and sniffley. Eyelashes freeze together, you aren't allowed to see, you might make it back into the warm. That's not what winter wants. It wants you to keep shivering even you've insulated yourself with bunny boots and Carhartts.

Everyone loses their mind at the snow covering the roads. There were lanes here?! Why didn't anyone tell us? Oh my god, where am I?! Well, if I'm about to die from veering off a two-lane road, I might as well take as many with me as possible.

Spring? I've never heard of it. Oh, you mean breakup. All the holes in the road that got fixed last year are back with a vengeance. Pothole 2; Revenge of the Permafrost. The blankets of snow that once soaked everything in white melt away to reveal 7 months worth of littering. The leaves haven't started yet, everything is brown and dead and the trash clouds what little grass there might be in the median.

Finally, the glimmer of hope. Those fresh, impossibly green buds on the ends of the birch branches! What a relief!

Then come the mosquitoes. The dreaded state bird. The first of year are lazy giants, sleepy and pervasive, easy to squish. Next come the little ones, the spawn of the devil, agile and thirsty. They'll leave welts the size of quarters if you're one of the unlucky bastards like myself. The second you step outside, they swarm, dozens of little vampires who secretly want to carry you away to some Mosquito King but they just aren't quite strong enough.

The moose will eat your flowers, your vegetables, your delicious homegrown strawberries. Vacuums. At least the babies are cute, even if moose do tend to kidnap random moose children at will. The bears tend to stay out of town but every once in a while one will pop up in a neighborhood, just making sure you know they are still around. To stay away from the blueberries in the fall. Scrumptious blueberries, ripe for the picking, as long as you have bear spray and a 30-06.

Is this a dramatic exaggeration of a perfectly nice part of North America? Maybe. It is my lens, who are you to say I am wrong? Come visit, see for yourself.

No, really, we love tourists.


About the Creator


A slightly inspired, barely motivated, lover of fact and fiction

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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