Alaska myths make reader in Florida sympathize

Posted: Monday, June 05, 2006

In response to your May 28th article, “Incorrect information about Alaska is about as well traveled as its tourists.” I found this article exceptionally amusing because I was born and raised in Soldotna and moved to Gainesville, Florida when I was 19 to attend the University of Florida. Shortly after settling in Florida I was shocked by the number of extremely ignorant questions I would receive from the locals once they learned I was from Alaska.

The fact that my vehicle had an Alaskan tag was usually the cause for the unpleasant conversations. First, they always commented that I didn’t look like I was from Alaska, I guess I needed to be wearing fur boots and a parka, and they didn’t know it was even possible to drive from Alaska (because you know that Alaska is an island located right above Hawaii and both of these states are located directly to the southwest of California, on most maps anyways). I have even been asked if I needed a passport to enter the United States.

Of course the “dark/light all the time” question would immediately ensue as well as the “living in igloos” and “riding on dog sleds” inquiry. The funniest question to date, and perhaps the hardest one to react to politely without laughing in their face was when someone asked me if I spoke French. At first this question confused me because I could not understand why they would assume I spoke French just because I was from Alaska. Their reasoning was that since I lived so close to Canada I undoubtedly spoke French.

I have lived in Gainesville nearly eight years now and I am still met by most of my new acquaintances with the charming fact that they indeed would love to visit Alaska, or that they too know someone who lives in Alaska and perhaps I know them as well. They must believe that everyone knows everyone in Alaska despite the fact that their friend lives in Sitka and I lived in Soldotna. After reading your “Incorrect information” article I was pleased to find that I am not the only one tormented by the stupid and occasionally offensive questions of lower 48’ers.

Mindy Montgomery-Hawley

Jonesville, Fla.

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