I Want a Piece of The Last Frontier!
Just a few of the reasons that a dream of mine is to move to Alaska!
For well over the greater part of my life, I have lived in St. Louis. My parents and their parents come from here. When I had the chance to break that tradition and move to Texas when I was 17, I jumped on the opportunity. It only took 2 years for me to figure that I am just not a Texas kind of girl. It was just all hot, dry, and had a very boring landscape. Upon my return, I knew I’d only be back in Missouri long enough to get my bearings, gather some research, and save some money. Now, I have done my research and cleared my head. All I have to do is save up some money, pack my bags, and say goodbye to Missouri forever… Hello Alaska!
The history of Alaska is rich with interesting tidbits. It is, of course, the largest state of the United States (Alaska Office of Economic Development). Yes, it’s even bigger than Texas. It is a rather new state, as far as states go. According to Wikipedia, it became the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959. Before that it was considered a ‘territory,’ which means that the United States governed it, but it really wasn’t considered a state. In the 1890’s, there were masses of miners and their families moving to Alaska with hopes of getting in on the great gold rush. Sadly, it isn’t all good news as far as the history of Alaska goes. In 1964 there was a gigantic earthquake that was dubbed the ‘Good Friday Earthquake.’ It killed 131 people and caused devastating destruction of several towns. And in 1989, the famous Exxon Valdez oil spill of over 11 million gallons damaged over 1,100 miles of Alaskan coastline.
It is a pretty well known fact that Alaskan temperatures are quite a bit cooler than they are in ‘the lower 48.’ This detail has been a diversion for many in making the choice to move to a place like Alaska. Although in some regions of the state it definitely is bitterly cold, in a few places, the average temperature during the summer months range from the 60s to the 90s. The panhandle of Alaska is by far the wettest and warmest part of Alaska; it is also the only part of Alaska where the average daytime temperature is above freezing through the winter months. Of course, there are places to the far north in Alaska where the winters are the proverbial long and cold, the summers are the expected short and cool. In these places July’s average low is 34 degrees F.
Alaska’s nickname is ‘The Last Frontier’, and it can be discerned that this may have a great deal to do with the fact that the population is considerably lower there than in other states of our country. Even though the state is the largest, over 87 million acres are owned by the federal government for wildlife preserves, and the state of Alaska owns about 101 acres. Actual private investments in land only comprise about one percent of the state. As of 2008 it was projected that Alaska’s population was 686,293. That is considered a small population as far as states go. White Americans make up roughly 69% of the population. African Americans make up about 3%. American Indians and Alaskan Natives are the largest minority group clocking in about 15% of the population. English is the dominate language spoken by the citizens at home.
Even though the state has a small population there are people that have come from Alaska to pack a powerful punch on society’s radar. Probably the most recent to hit the scene was Sarah Palin. She was discovered as the governor of Alaska and asked to be the running mate for Senator John McCain on the Republican ticket for the presidential election of 2008. Jewel, a singer/songwriter who became immensely popular during the early 2000’s also hails from Alaska.
The economy of Alaska is made up of industries that are very useful to the American people. The most dominate products in Alaska are oil and gas. More than 80% of the state’s income is derived from extraction of them. Coming in second place would be the seafood exports. Agriculture is understandably not very high on the generation of income, but there is a little dairy farming and vegetable growth that is mostly used for consumption within the state. For unknown reasons, the cost of living is generally higher in Alaska than in many parts of the United States, but it is lowering. The introduction of Walmart in 2004 helped a lot. But, the cost of products in the rural areas is still higher than in some of the cities. Often the rural residents travel to the cities to purchase their groceries and dry goods. Many things, like hamburgers, hotels, and campsites are much more comparative to prices elsewhere in the country.
In conclusion, living in Alaska is definitely not for the faint at heart. There are many things about living there that would seem a challenge to the casual observer, but the right person with grit, personality, and an unnatural penchant for exploring the unknown might feel right at home there. I personally feel that I was destined to live in Alaska. I love the crisp and cooler weather, rich cultural history, and fewer neighbors. In some ways, I feel that Alaska would be considered my ‘land of opportunity.’ Because the population is lower there, it would hopefully be easier for me to land my dream job as a nurse. I am exited to see what my future might hold in ‘The Last Frontier.’