It’s the Little Things, Really

Flights to Alaska require you to open the window shade.

Flights to Alaska require you to open the window shade.

 

I can’t express the glee I felt in not having to make a full day’s pilgrimage from the east coast to south central Alaska for this year’s round of collecting. In addition, the half-full plane ride which allowed me to have an entire row to myself is a treat well understood by anyone who has ever flown… well, anywhere. And then at the rental car counter I was asked the question I had been waiting for:

Avis agent: “Would you like a map of Anchorage?”
Me: “Hohoho—Oh, no. No, that won’t be necessary.”

I don’t think that this quite makes me a Local—although I do pretend. All you have to do is give a nod and a wave to other drivers when you’re on dirt roads going less than 30 mph. Above 30 mph and you’re some strange out-of-towner, but with the right speed and timing this move elicits a quick, knowing smile of recognition between locals. Don’t tell them that I know their secret; I like pretending.

The drive from the airport across town to the University of Alaska-Anchorage completed the welcoming ceremony. Anchorage is a city in shape and structure—there’s a downtown, residential neighborhoods, and shopping districts—but it’s small enough that one can take pride in the whole of the quaint little town nestled up against the Cook Inlet with the Chugiak Mountains as a backdrop of watchful guardians.

An interesting sign in Anchorage. Holes for sale?

An interesting sign in Anchorage. Holes for sale?

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