Alaska Licensed

I always find it mildly frustrating the differences between state laws. While I understand that states can give its inhabitants more freedom than Federal laws, certain differences in laws, such as traffic laws or laws governing drivers license renewals, for instance, always strike me as odd.

This was me at DMV, reading Charles Dickens. Because what else do you do at DMV?

Case in point: when I moved to Washington State almost five years ago, getting my Alaskan driver’s license turned into a Washington driver’s license involved simply sitting at DMV and bringing in a piece of paper (a letter or bill addressed to me) proving that I had an address in Washington State. I was immediately issued the license. Here in Alaska, if you haven’t had an Alaskan driver’s license issued within the past year (e.g. it was expired for at least a year), you must retake the written driver’s test of 20 questions that come randomly out of the DMV driver’s manual. Now I have a temporary license and will get my permanent one in two weeks via mail.

Either way doesn’t really bother me. Having to retake a test, although annoying, is reasonable, as road laws can vary slightly state to state. But it’s interesting to me that one state doesn’t require a written test, just a valid license from another state, while this state requires the written test.

Regardless, on this wintry day, where I woke up to both a screaming baby and a light dusting of snow, I am now officially licensed to drive in Alaska.

I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t have to take a road test, although the snow hasn’t stuck and was gone by mid-morning. The first snow in Fairbanks (and probably any another Alaskan town) brings its share of traffic accidents and foolish drivers.

I’ve been trying hard to live in denial about the approaching snow though, ignoring the forecasts of snow (I mean, how often are the weathermen wrong?) and instead getting out of doors and soaking up the feeble rays of winter sun.

I spent this weekend enjoying fantastic times with amazing friends. I taught a beautiful woman who has lived in Alaska for ten years what lingonberries are and how to pick them (not that it’s hard!). But we had a great time in the woods, trying to ignore the late-season bugs that fell in our hair and down our backs, and trying to pretend we both aren’t in our thirties with bad knees as we trekked around squatting in the woods. (Let me assure you, my knee was swollen the next day.)

These friends of ours are moving to Outside in two short weeks. They have lived in Anchorage for the last eight or so years, and, of course, they leave for the outside world as we return to this small town of Alaska. It was bittersweet to see them this weekend, knowing that it would be our last in-person visit for who knows how long. But it’s always harder to be the one left than the one leaving. For the one leaving, everything changes. You start fresh and have something to look forward to–many new people and new experiences. For those left behind, nothing changes except a gaping hole where your friend used to be. I know we are the kind of friend that will see each other again, but it is certainly sad to see them go, especially so soon after our return to Alaska.

A delectable dessert our friends introduced us to: espresso poured over coffee. Um, YUM!!


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