Fairbanks is a destination after the fall of the Iron Curtain
Since the iron curtain fell in the late 80s, Fairbanks is a destination, and no longer a place to come thru. Back in the 80s , Reagan and the Pope met on a red carpet at the Fairbanks airport! That carpet is now in Fox, a small settlement 20 miles (32 km) outside of Fairbanks close to the goldmine, in the Howling Dog, a saloon that is open in summer only. It’s not a tourists’ place, but Fox is too small to keep it open when the Fairbanks crowd stays away because of the cold weather. It is hard to start an unplugged car at 40 below (-40oC).
Fairbanks is a metropolitan area some where in the middle of nowhere
Fairbanks is an island in a sea of trees – somewhere in the middle of nowhere – in a taiga landscape with wildfires every summer. The next big city, population wise, is Anchorage 423 miles (681 km) bee line away. Not to mention that a bee probably does never in a live time fly so far ;). Driving to Anchorage means more than half a day on the road and crossing the Alaska Range, icy roads in winter. The so-called Parks Highway to Anchorage becomes a lonely one lane road in each direction with normal intersections once in a while after you pass the university’s campus. The Alcan is a dirt road once you get into Canada. The Dalton is a haul-way to the oilfields and becomes a dirt road about 35 miles (56 km) north of Fairbanks. Thus, most Fairbanksans leave town by plane when they go out of town.
Seattle is the connection to the world
Under these aspects it is not an odd thing anymore that most Fairbanksans consider the Seattle Tacoma airport as their backyard door. It is there where you get the connection to the world and the Alaskans’ most favorite destinations Mexico and Hawaii. Fairbanksans use the plane like New Yorkers use the subway. Like people in a small town know the bus schedule by heart, Fairbanksans now the Alaska Airline flight schedules Fairbanks-Anchorage, Anchorage-Fairbanks, Fairbanks-Seattle, Seattle-Fairbanks by heart <3.
My first time seeing an Alaska Airline plan
When I saw an Alaska Airline plane at the Sacramento (California) airport for the first time in my life, I wondered “who on Earth is living in Alaska?” Tweet this.
70% of the population moved to Alaska
Well, in Fairbanks only about 30% of the inhabitants are born in Alaska. This means 70% moved there. Where do these other people come from? This question reminds me of the little toddler with his father at the Fairbanks airport in the crowd of people who were waiting to pick up their folks. The little boy asked his dad “where do new Alaskans come from?” The dad answered “From the airport.” 🙂 I am one of those. I came to Fairbanks in 2001 and since then made Fairbanks to my personal runway ;).
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Photos: G. Kramm (2014)
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