Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rondy Time!

Late Feb/Early March in AK where the additional sun, the slightly warmer weather, and the snow all combine to make people just a little bit lightheaded and ready to have a little fun.

Of course it's the perfect time for the Fur Rondy! It's a lot of fun, with lots of strange events, like the outhouse races, the first ever running of the reindeer, snow sculptures, world championship dog sled races, a foot race and a parade. It's just a lot of fun, and a good excuse to get outside and do something wacky.

Look, there's even funny ads this year.

Of course, it's also time for the Iditarod to start. Despite being pregnant, I am still itching to get out on March 1 to see the ceremonial start. It's such an event, and just in general impressive.

Now of course, there is a downside to Fur Rondy, and that is that during or soon after these festivals are over, we all hold our breath for breakup, and then the drying up of the icky post-breakup mud and trash left over from months under snow. This is when people get cranky and irritable. It doesn't especially subside until the last traces of ice and snow fade. Suddenly, usually in June, the town goes into tourist mode -- the pickup crews, the sand people, the empty princess buses that slowly turn into full princess buses.

Oh and the joy of the tourist season. We enjoy watching giddy people in oversized colorful parkas with ALASKA written on it wandering around downtown looking for moose and bear. They will fill the local tourist restaurants we enjoy in the off season and now will avoid during the summer. They will walk into our grocery stores shouting "MARGE, LOOK AT HOW EXPENSIVE THESE TOMATOES ARE!". Some of them, I'm sure, will be out late basking in the midnight sun. And sometimes, they will watch us, trying to determine if we are "Real Alaskans".

But I'm happy that these people come -- they are here because it's a once in a lifetime adventure. Seeing AK through other people's eyes makes you realize how incredibly lucky you are to be living in someone's vacation.