Don’t Pet the Polar Bears

polar-bearsI don’t know much about Alaska.  Ok, that’s an understatement.  I know people go there to hunt, fish and take cruises where you see whales and shit.  I know the Aurora Borealis happens there, that I want to see it, but have no idea what time of year it happens (FYI, winter). The “reality show” Alaska State Troopers is freaking hilarious and Ice Road Truckers was really interesting the first season. If you are a resident in Alaska, you get a yearly check, though I’m not exactly sure why except it has something to do with oil.

And that’s basically how Alaska came into my life: I’m not sure why, but it has something to do with oil.

My ignorance of Alaska has really become quite comical.  Every time Hubby mentions a town, I say “can you drive there?” because apparently there are many parts of this vast Wilderness you can only get to by plane.  I stupidly told Hubby “Hey, the bugs in Prudhoe Bay can’t be THAT bad, the weather site says it still gets below freezing at night.”  Cue a chorus of laughter from the sparrow-sized bloodthirsty mosquitoes.   He was talking to me on the phone and a loud noise interrupted us.  “Sorry,” he said “Just some motorcycles”.   “They have motorcycles up there?” I asked.    I could actually hear him roll his eyes.  He’s still in Anchorage for training.  Apparently Anchorage is basically still civilization.  My bad.

I’ve been fascinated by the things he’s learning in his first training class.  Like, apparently you don’t drive or walk on the Tundra because it doesn’t grow back and there are still tire tracks and footprints visible from the 70’s.  Me: But I thought it was ALL tundra?  Where the hell are you supposed to walk?  I’m still confused about this.

And then there’s the wildlife.  He had to learn a whole chapter’s worth of rules concerning the native critters. Most of whom can kill you in one way or another.  The rules go something like this:

  1. Don’t pet the polar bears.    Not only do they find Slopers particularly tasty, but petting them might annoy them. Don’t irritate the polar bears.  Don’t honk at them, don’t rev your engine at them, and don’t take pictures of them. Basically, if you encounter a polar bear you are to avoid eye contact, don’t breathe and quietly shit yourself.  But make sure you are down wind so as not to offend their delicate sensibilities with your smell.

  2. Actually, the “pretend you don’t exist” rule applies to any and all animals you might encounter.  If you were to wave hello at a caribou and it caused them to slip and fall and break their neck, you would be guilty of murder and fired immediately.

  3. You know those cute little white foxes?  They all have rabies.  Or at least the ones who chew on wires do.  The cautionary tale was one of an Electrician who was repairing some wires that a rabid fox had chewed on and the electrician stuck something in his mouth to hold it for a second and he contracted rabies. Did you know rabies is transmitted through saliva of cute little cuddly critters?

 Moral of the story:  Pretty much everything up there can kill you.

In all seriousness, the companies up there take safety and conservation of land and wildlife quite seriously and they don’t have time or patience to tell you twice, which I personally think is very fair. The place sounds amazing and I’m a little jealous…..or at least I will be jealous until winter rolls around, I’m sure.   I wish he was allowed to take pictures, I’d love to see what he’s seeing!

About rheanna

Rheanna is a stay-at-home mom to two children. She is a lifetime resident of New Mexico and her Oilfield Man works on the North Slope of Alaska, averaging 4 weeks on and 2 off. In her previous life she was a bookkeeper and boiler technician for her father’s plumbing company. She enjoys hiking, horseback riding, motorsports and pretending not to kill her garden. Cooking is a favorite past time, but unfortunately a lifelong allergy to crafting supplies and a debilitating ineptitude with a glue gun prevent her from spending too much time on Pinterest.

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