While Denali Hides…

Since the mountain has been hiding the past couple days, I have no pictures of her to post*. Instead, a tidbit of life in Alaska which most people wouldn’t think about.

I’m a Mac junkie. I admit it. I am writing this blog post on my Macbook, I have an iPod touch, use my iPad daily, and have owned an iPhone since their release (how many years ago has it been?!). Today though, I did something that I’ve never done before. I purchased the new iPhone on its release date. I actually went into the store and everything. *gasp*

One of the amazing things about Fairbanks, Alaska, is that you can get an iPhone the day its released without waiting in line for hours. I drove by the AT&T store this morning and there was a line out the door, presumably because of the new iPhone’s release. An hour later, when I drove by again, the line had hardly moved. However, when I returned to town hours later, the line had dissipated, and although there were ten people in front of me when I entered the store and put my name on the list, I was in and out in 45 minutes, with the exact iPhone I desired in my hand. (Since moving back to Alaska, I’ve been using my old iPhone 4, and it’s so nice to have a fast phone in my hand again.)

Now, while I’m not encouraging purchasing iPhones on the release date, or even purchasing iPhones at all, I find it amusing that hours after the release of the iPhone, there are still plenty to be had in a place like Fairbanks, Alaska. Perhaps it speaks to the nature of Fairbanksians. We are a simple people, for those who focus on having the newest fashions won’t last long in a town that doesn’t even have a Target, or a real mall. (Don’t get me started on the Bentley “Mall.”)

But people who live here either grew up here, or have grown accustomed to the lack of amenities (we boast about having the largest Wal-Mart in the country, for heavens’ sake–and we have only one). Being out of state for the past five years, it’s been an adjustment for me to give up the excess of shopping options the Lower 48 offers. Outside, if one store doesn’t have it, you visit the store ten miles away, or go next door where they’re bound to have it. (The one exception might be iPhones on release days, the subject which spurred this line of thinking.) But up here, it’s a unique existence. Fairbanks is isolated. Although the borough has about 90K inhabitants, once you leave the borough (before you even leave the borough, really), you’re in no-man’s land. The land between where there are a handful of gas stations on the 350 mile road to Anchorage, the state’s largest city (but not capital city).

It’s this isolation which both attracts and repels people. Fairbanks attracts an odd mix of inhabitants. Plenty of military, with both Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright within 20 miles of each other. Military brings in a wide range, and people tend to either love it or hate it here. Those that love it try to stay, while those that hate it complain until the day they leave. It creates an oxymoron: a transient population, and yet a population that is strangely stagnant. Having gone to school here from preschool to graduate school, I can go almost anywhere after five years of being gone and still run into people I recognize.

Some people love that small town feel. To a reserved introvert such as myself, I find it both comforting and suffocating. But, I admit there are pluses. And getting my preferred iPhone in less than an hour on the afternoon of its release is certainly a plus. I even got my husband to watch the baby while I went in. It was like a mini-vacation. Now if I could just get the opportunity to spend more than five minutes playing with my new phone, life would be good. (Just kidding, my parents took the baby for the night, so hubby and I are enjoying a pleasant movie night–the first in many, many months!)

All in all, I am blessed. Even if I have to live in a place where winter dominates (it’s always winter and never Christmas, says my husband), there is a silver lining.

*P.S. I did get a pretty picture of today’s sunrise over the Alaskan Mountain Range, but I’ll have to post that tomorrow, as my camera is upstairs and I’m too lazy to deal with it tonight. Check back tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “While Denali Hides…

  1. Pete

    Seriously now what do you really think about the iPhone? Just kidding I started with an Apple when AOL was the big gun on line and I sit here in my cabin near Livengood typing away on my iMac. I believe that once your exposed to Apple and use the product for a bit it is like a drug that is in your system for life! Enjoy the new phone.


    1. Kelsie Engen Post author

      Ha ha. I’m enjoying it so far! (Of course, trading in my iPhone 4 for the 6 makes it feel like a bigger leap than it really is!) Apple certainly knows how to intrigue with their yearly updates. Quite the racket, I agree. 😉


  2. Pingback: PFD Day in Alaska | Denali In My Backyard

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