For many Alaskans a trip out of state whether for work or vacation means a shopping trip. Thus, when you where out of state and come back, you are in the center of interest at the coffee pot. Everyone wants to know what you brought home. Read this funny true Alaskan real life story that sheds a glimpse on the lifestyle at the Last Frontier.


  1. Chit Chat at the Office about an Out-of-state Shoe-shopping Trip
  2. There Are More Dogs in Alaska than Humans
  3. Shoe Shopping in the Interior
  4. A Red-eye Flight Is an Alaskan Normal
  5. Why Is Bringing A Dog To Alaska News?

Chit chat at the office about an out-of-state shoe-shopping trip

The Sun shines into the room with full length glass windows. Inside, light varies putting up shadows from steam that passes the sunbeams outside. The clock on the wall reads 8:00. Two women are standing at the coffee pot in line while a third fills her cup. The room smells like a mix of cookies, coffee, perfume, dust and dogs. “Long time, no see” says the woman when she turns around and looks at the two women next in line. “Yep, what have you been up to lately?” answers one of them. “Oh, nothing. I just came back with the red eye from the Lower 48 with two baggage tonight.” “What did you buy?” the third woman asked in excitement. “13 pairs of shoes for me and four for my hubby” the first woman replies. “And you?” “Oh I brought a dog from Africa into the country and she did not even have to go into quarantine” says the second woman while purring coffee into her mug.


fashionable dogs wearing pink booties
Iditarod sled-dogs wearing all pink booties matching their mushers pink traditional Kuspak parka. These parkas are hand-made and feature various different furs inside, wolf fur along the hood and velvet with embroidery on the outside

There Are More Dogs in Alaska than Humans

She now has the full attention of everyone nearby. “How did you do that?” “Oh, I didn’t do anything. There was a woman with seven hams in front of me with a bunch of kids.” she replies. “They were just interested in the hams and annoyed by the kids. They even let me use their outside area for my dog. You know the sniffer dogs’ restroom.” “Hmm, I have never thought about that they need that from a logistic point of view. But why were they so interested in the ham?” “Because it is raw meat and you are not supposed to bring raw meat or food from overseas” the third woman says. “Where did you go thru customs?” “SEATAC.” “Of course, SEATAC is Alaska’s front door. The custom officers know there are more dogs in Alaska than Alaskans. It’s not suspicious when an Alaskan travels with a dog!” another woman says. Everyone laughs. Then she asks “What kind of dog is it?” “A big one, something out of everything, at least, it looks like that. Here is a photo” she says when pulling her cell phone out of the back pocket of her jeans.

Shoe shopping in the Interior

This conversation at an office coffee place is a typical one in Interior Alaska. What you don’t get at the biggest local grocery store, you won’t get anywhere in town. Therefore, nobody is irritated or surprised when someone has two baggage full of shoes. When you want something of good quality, fashionable or beyond the Alaska classic shoes (e.g. Double H, Xtra Tuff, bunny boots, Sorel, lobben boots) there are no other ways than either flying to Anchorage, out-of-state or ordering online.

People living in rural Alaska regularly fly into one of the three “big” Alaskan cities (Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau) for getting their next two months supplies of groceries and other necessities. In the Bush, grocery shopping differs from what you know.


mature fashion blogger in leather trousers, pumps and cardigan business casual office outfit

style blogger in faux twinset trousers winter business casual outfit

mature woman in Casual Friday work outfit with leather pants, knit jacket and heels

fashion blogger over 50 watching a sled dog race
Outfit details: Moda International cardigan (dyed), Hermes collier de chien bangle, smoky quartz necklace, I.N.C. leather pants, GNW Luxe sweater, Salvatore Ferragamo pumps, statement necklace (all own) and wooden watch

A Red-Eye Flight Is an Alaskan Normal

Also nobody says something about a red-eye flight. A red-eye flight is an Alaskan normal that fails to be a normal in other states. Alaskans have to take red-eye flights whenever they want to get anywhere on the East Coast within 24 hours. It is faster and easier for a Fairbanksan to fly to Frankfurt, Germany in summer than to Washington, DC. The former trip is 9 hours, the latter takes about 17 hours.

Why Is Bringing a Dog to Alaska News?

However, bringing in a dog from abroad without having it to go into quarantine is a big thing even in a state with on average more than two dogs per household. And Alaskans do weird things with their dogs…….
……bringing a dog to Alaska is like bringing owls to Athena.

What have you been up to lately? Would you asked about what kind of shoes the woman bought? Or would you have asked about the ham or the dog? Would you be irritated when nobody feels pity for your being at work after a red eye flight? Would you buy 13 pairs of shoes for you on one shopping trip? Let me know, I am curious.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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