First week living in Alaska

Now that I’ve finally got Internet 🙂

For the uniniated, I buggered off to Alaska last Thursday morning, surprising Kat who wasn’t expecting me until the 27th. Didn’t have any problems with the weather out of Newcastle like the London airports were experiencing, though thanks to the wonderful restrictions on hand luggage, I had to check my messenger bag and only carry on my laptop bag. That said, my laptop backpack is a monster as was packed with loads of electronics (fun at the security checks!), and I managed to avoid excess baggage charges right through – ended up with one 22kg bag and the other 25kg.

So, flew out of Newcastle at 6a.m into Amsterdam, then had about a 4 hour layover before the flight to Seattle. No problems through the security checks before boarding, though ended up being a longer flight than I expected. Was sat on the plane for an hour before take-off, then was about an 11 hour flight itself. But, was a fairly new Airbus A330, so had the in-seat media players – watched about 4 movies in between all the food they crammed into you!

Burger KingSeattle wasn’t what I was expecting – not that large, fairly old, and very mild weather too. Got through immigration in about 15 minutes which is very good considering I was running through the full fiancee visa process and all my luggage had arrived safely. As Newcastle had checked my baggage right through to Anchorage, took it to on-ward flights, then jumped on the light transit rail to the Alaska Air terminal. Figured since I was now officially in the US and through immigration, my first meal should be something stereotypical – a Burger King! Hadn’t had fast food for years, but this wasn’t too bad! After that, went into a sports bar, had a couple of Budweisers, hot dog + chips, and watched the first half of the Green Bay vs Minnesota football match!

Anchorage airportThe flight up to Anchorage was okay, though it was an older Boeing 737-300 and not very comfortable. Hordes of screaming kids didn’t help either! Just put a sleep mask on, stuck my headphones on, and rested. Overnight in Anchorage airport was quite okay, slept more than last year, then after checking in or the Bethel flight on Friday morning I grabbed a Starbucks (keeping up the stereoptypes!) and abused their free wi-fi. Funny flight attendants on the flight to Bethel (“Captain, we have 43 passengers, 3 unaccompanied minors, 2 cabin crew, a partrich and a pear tree” amongst other things in their pre-flight safety checks…) and then only sat around at Yute Air for a couple of hours before flying out of Bethel into Tunt.

Yute AirThe little plane into Tunt was cool, sitting up front with the pilot again. The sun was only just about starting to rise as I got into Tunt which made the lighting very pretty. Also a lot more snow than last year – it hadn’t snowed for a while last year, so most of the area was compacted down and frozen over. This year there’s a lot of deep powder snow which looks beautiful in places, such as this landscape around lunchtime yesterday:

Tunt landscape

Deep snowAs there’s wooden boardwalks raised off the ground right around the village to walk on, it’s fun when they’re covered in half a foot of snow and you can’t tell the difference between where the boardwalk is and isn’t. So, when Kat decides to tip the sledge over carrying dishes and laundry and you go to pick it up, you loose your foot as I did here. Note to self – jeans ain’t much good up here! Snow pants will be worn today 🙂

New house

Xmas treeThis is the house where we’re living – it’s a duplex which I don’t think anything exists similar in England, but imagine a semi-detached bungalow kinda thing. Once inside, is just like living anywhere else with gas central heating, large fridge-freezers, electric ovens, cable TV, etc.

I would say I helped with the Christmas tree, but I didn’t! All Kat’s work, and looks really cool with some proper decorations on it too. The dog seemed to enjoy trying to chew the decorations as well, so it kept him entertained for a while.

We got about 4/5 inches of snow a night for a couple of days around Christmas which does make it feel more like the Alaska you expect and see on TV and in movies – last year I got the biting cold and frozen landscapes, this year it’s added on deep snow which makes going up + down the stairs outside the house a challenge! Spent 10-15 minutes clearing it a couple of days ago and think we’ll pick up a snow shovel when we’re in Anchorage rather than borrowing from the school each time.

Rocky on guard

We’re also dog-sitting Rocky whilst Marie is spending the holidays with her family in Minnesota – he’s a handful, but fun to play with as he’s just so full of energy! There’s also a fun cable run he gets tied to outside which you can just about see here. It’s about 100 feet long, and has about 10 foot on the leader too, so he gets a decent sized area to play around in just outside the housing units. He’s quite happy out there and has a lot more freedom than some of the other dogs in the village.

Snowy branchesThe weather just after Christmas was pretty cold – strong winds and a decent amount of snow too, so we got weathered in Tunt for a couple of days as the planes simply couldn’t fly in + out. A bit boring being sat around incase they did fly, but Alaska Air are used to it in Bethel so had no surcharge for adjusting the flight to fly out a day late, and although we had the first night in the hotel we couldn’t use, we saved by not spending the night in a B&B in Bethel so pretty much evened out. We’ve spent most of today shopping – Kat got her hair cut, new glassed ordered, some basic kitchen + house stuff shipped out from Walmart, and a couple of new toys to play with when we get back there (more on those later!) 😉 Clothes shopping tomorrow to get me some proper winter clothes, and we’re in Anchorage until January 2nd so plenty of time to relax too!


Senior Content Development for Microsoft writing about Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Model train nerd. Occasionally I play video games.

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