Polar Bear Rodeo– it’s “totally” real

So over the past month, I’ve been having fun with people down here who are very foreign to the idea of snow.  Being from Minnesota, I’m pretty immune to most extreme northern jokes, but down here, I’ve found people are fairly clueless.  In turn though, if someone went up to me and told me they were an alligator rodeo clown, I’d probably believe them because I’m so clueless about life in the south.

Anyway, I had a young couple talking to me at my work last week, and they were a very friendly couple.  To the point where I almost wanted to buy them a beer because they were so friendly.  What I couldn’t resist was that they asked me where I was from, and they started to ask me questions about Alaska, but stuff about Alaska that I figured was the common knowledge about Alaska that isn’t really common knowledge.

“Can you see Russia from where you lived?  Or is that just in certain parts of Alaska?” she had asked me.  I was a little dumbfounded, considering only one island in Alaska can actually see Russia, and it’s only on very clear days that Russia is visible.  

“Does it get cold?  Like, twenty degrees there?” the girl continued to ask, which caused me to laugh.  For me, twenty degrees is balmy to say the least.

“Twenty degrees is warm in the winter.  There was one year where it didn’t get above forty below for three and a half weeks,” I told her, remembering my first winter in Fairbanks.

She and her husband grew wide eyed at this, to which I felt I needed to continue.  “Yeah, one of the ways the Airmen could get their community service hours was to do polar bear rodeo.  My husband was one of the rising rodeo stars there.  You’d be surprised how popular that is.”

I can’t even exaggerate, this couple looked at me with awe and concern.  “Is it dangerous?” the woman asked me.  

“Oh yeah, you can die from it, but they usually get the more tame polar bears for it.  Sometimes you can pay to ride polar bears, just like they do with the sled dogs.”

They were in awe, and getting ahead of myself, I continued to talk about Alaskan life.  “Yeah, it’s weird how people take indoor plumbing for granted.  It sucks living in a cabin in the woods with no running water and having to go outside to the outhouse in negative forty.”

This is when they accused me of pulling their leg.  It’s funny, because indoor plumbing is a luxury in central Alaska.  

“You realize that I was pulling your leg about the polar bear rodeo?  Polar bears have a tendancy to rip you to shreds if you go near them,” I informed them, to which they said they were just playing along.  “However, the indoor plumbing thing is true.  Renting a dry cabin is 400-500 a month, whereas somewhere with running water is well over 1000 a month.”

They left the snack bar and continued to bowl, probably thinking I was crazy.

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