Recollections of a Tundra Dancer

Have you ever wondered what Alaska is like?

When I was a teenager and Dad was talking about transferring to Alaska I thought it was one endless snowfield dotted with igloos and infested with swarms of mosquitos the size of small dogs.

Imagine my surprise, years later, to find myself living there. No endless snowfield. No igloos, unless you count the Igloo City near Cantrell that never quite got finished. Still for sale, if you’re interested in buying it. In fact, here’s a link to it for any potential motel buyers. 200 miles from anywhere, but it has a great location on the Parks Highway.

There are swarms of mosquitos that will surround you and carry you back to the mother nest where they will suck you dry, even if you’re doused in bug dope. I remember being on the job and meeting up with a state trooper by Paxon Lake off Richardson Highway. No such thing as cell phones then and I didn’t have a police radio in my car.

We made the mistake of getting out during prime Tin Cup and White Socks Mosquito weather. It took seconds for the mosquitoes to home in and we were waving our hands, swatting, and spitting out bugs. It took about a minute for both of us to dive back inside our cars. I felt like one solid welt, and I bet she did too. If you’re visiting, try before midsummer and after August when the slavering hoards are reduced. Seriously. They are more than just an annoyance. Don’t believe me? Here: Look.



2 thoughts on “Recollections of a Tundra Dancer

  1. Thanks for the smile in reliving my time in Alaska with your reference to the mosquitoes. I lived in a fairly remote cabin near Livengood and when I ventured to my nearest neighbors home I never went without donning my head-net and DEET. Though as you know Alaskan mosquitoes have a higher education and just simply waited until I lifted the net to blow my nose or light a cigarette to attack.


    1. Hola Pete,

      Livengood is prime mosquito territory. 🙂

      My Dad helped map Alaska during the 1930’s using a barrel sled during the winter, on old cars where the could use them, and on foot during the summer. He told a ton of stories about needing to be covered head to toe plus his head-net. They didn’t have DEET back then so I can only imagine the size of the welts those guys!

      – MJ


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