For the past 104 years Fairbanks has hosted the Midnight Sun Baseball Game on June 21. Alaska receives more than nineteen hours of daylight in the summer, and on the longest day of the year the Fairbanks baseball field has no need for artificial lights.
I landed in Anchorage on Monday afternoon, June 22, the day after the summer solstice. After gulping an espresso and browsing through the airport’s information center, I hauled my three bags with two hands to the taxi stand and arrived at Enterprise downtown. Within a few hours’ wait, my economy-size reservation upgraded to standard due to a car shortage— Enterprise is completely sold out until July 2.
My most anticipated part of the entire summer was this very afternoon— taking the rental car on its first drive. I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I zoomed in upon the layout of Anchorage on Google Maps from my dorm room in California. I memorized all its major streets— such as Northern Lights Boulevard and 4th Ave— which definitely helped me acclimate to the city immediately.
Fortunately, I was thrilled to find myself comfortable behind the wheel, in a driver’s seat with one large cigarette hole. I easily navigated through Anchorage, which reminds me a lot of Saginaw, and discovered Boston’s restaurant for a cheap pizza topped with defrosted Alaskan lobster. That night, I made my final phone calls to friends and family— as there will be no AT&T tower to provide reception in Girdwood.
The next morning I stopped by the post office, printed some graduation pictures at D&M One-Hour Photo on the corner of Arctic and 36th, downed a double espresso at Kaladi Brothers, and toured the largest REI I have ever seen. Most excitingly though, I spent nearly two hours grocery shopping at CARRS-Safeway, and signed up for a maroon discount card with the white state of Alaska on the front. I’m really looking forward to cooking for myself this summer, and thoroughly enjoyed hunting for nutritious, healthy foods on a very tight budget. Choosing olive oil was tricky, I splurged on fresh parmesan cheese, and didn’t even think about the singular $3.69 avocado.
Now it’s off to Girdwood. Armed with Middlemarch, personal finance books, Planet Earth, Photoshop, and plenty of creative writing exercises, I should be able to avoid cabin fever during these long and bright Alaskan nights.