One of My Least Favorite Things of Living in Remote Arctic Alaska

It is that time of year again. The sun is shining (longer and longer), the birds are signing (more and more come back each day), and we are down to our last two weeks of school!

You heard me!TEN DAYS LEFT of the school year!

As I’ve been on and off the phone planning my trip to the lower 48, the same question always comes up:

“What do you want to do the day you get home?” – Mom

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?” – All of my coworkers.

It’s a lot of fun listening to the things that everyone misses the most about life off of the island (all of us from the lower 48). Some of us are looking forward to sitting down at one of our favorite restaurants and having people make food for us. While we joke about Applebee’s frequently, it seems that Texas Roadhouse or Sonic are big contenders!

Most of us talk about sleep. To get home it’ll take me over 24 hours of travel time…door to door. It’ll probably be closer to 26 or 27 when all is said and done (at least the commute to the airport and the wait time at check-in is only about 5 minutes here).

Most of us have a favorite meal and favorite people we can’t wait to see. I think we’re all headed straight home to family.

Talking about things I miss and things I can’t wait to get back to, has been a part of my life from the first time I moved away from home. Living in Brazil and Venezuela, my food options were incredibly different. Living in DC, my dreams of walking on gravel roads weren’t as accessible. Living in the arctic, gardening isn’t a possibility…at least outdoors as we still have a significant amount of snow on the ground and more in the forecast.

All in all, I really like Alaska. I will miss the unique little slice of adventure it brings…but I REALLY REALLY MISS MILK.

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Past Me = Future Me

Growing up in “dairy land”, I didn’t particularly like milk. Of course, I had it twice a day at my rural small-town school. Once for “milk break” (which I learned 8 years later wasn’t a real thing because other kids across the country just called it “snack break”), and once for lunch. There were no juice options, we didn’t drink water or pop at lunch, we lived for milk. I loved milk at school or my neighbor’s house…just not at home.

Then, I moved to Brazil. Milk there is not quite the same. It is “shelf-stable” and even when I tried milk that was claimed to be “from the cow”, it wasn’t the same as the delicious whole milk that I am treated to when eating dinner at my friend’s family’s dairy farm. My obsession started after that.

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Past Me = Future Me x2

Milk goes perfect with mac-and-cheese (thank you Dad), chili, pizza, homegrown chicken and homemade mashed potatoes, BBQ wings, carrots and celery with ranch, or just about anything that I can dream up. Meals aren’t the same without it!

I was told that milk would cost me about $10 a gallon here…so I put it into my budget. I didn’t need gas money because I wouldn’t have a car, therefore I could spend my gas money on milk…and even save a few bucks.

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That was my plan anyway…I even bought the whole milk from the fridge in our borough’s hub town. Then I tried it. It was practically shelf-stable, chalky and not creamy at all. I only used it for baking. When I poured it out, three months later, there still were no chunks in it.

One of the first things I bought while on spring break in Anchorage was some good ole milk. It had been too long. I was giddy and forgot that it probably existed in other parts of the state. Last week, I bought shelf-stable milk from our local store to use for cooking and baking. It breaks my heart just a little bit.

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with shelf-stable milk, it just doesn’t meet my needs. I give mad props to my coworkers and everyone else who drinks it…I just figure if I can go one-year without it, then I can live without it in between school breaks.

My first purchase in the Anchorage airport will probably be a bottle of milk. We all know I’ve already phoned home to request a gallon in the fridge and a clean glass at the ready!

“What do you want to do the day you get home?” – Mom

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?” – All of my coworkers.

Milk. I will drink a big glass of cold milk.

^^Then I’m down for a real haircut, some gardening, and some lawn mowing…but first…MILK.

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