One More Alaska Week: The gas station that promises so much more

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Somehow, someway, this gas station near Anchorage was endorsed by Miss Congeniality Asia USA 2007, Nga Huyuh Garrett. Amazing job getting her to hawk your gas station, although if the gas station is owned by a Garrett, chances are, its his wife and/or sister.

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Alaska Week, continues: Brad H. on where he grew up

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I grew up in a small town about 49 miles north of Anchorage. My friends and I spent our time hiking, biking, and riding snow-machines (you lower 48 types call them snowmobiles, but this is Alaska week, so get with the times.) In many ways I am grateful for the outdoor life I was given. But times change and so do towns I guess. My once humble town of Wasilla was given a small, harmless gift that grew into a monster. It started with a McDonald’s some time ago. Now this burgeoning town is jam packed (along one, single road) with every box store in America. Wasilla lake is now sandwiched on either shore with a Pizza Hut and a Fred Meyer Super Center.  With the claim of highest grossing Wal-Mart in the country, who could resist? The solution? Build a bigger Wal-Mart. Though many residents of this town work in Anchorage, Wasilla is not without it’s own industry; for the most part those being gravel pits, churches, and drive through coffee stands. I was a little let down when I saw a church built IN a gravel pit, but lacked a drive up window for some salvation and caffeine. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. Wasilla has seen its ups and downs, but there has always been one constant rock. Ever since I was a little boy, to just this summer during a visit, I could always count on the Mug Shot Saloon. Wetting palettes and inspiring…stuff. —Brad H.

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Alaska Week: Brad Howell on “The Point System,” a new game in Alaska

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So one day I hopped into my friend’s ride and discovered a notepad with some guidelines and point values written out, I asked him what this was all about. He informed me that during his morning commute (a 40 mile affair that is common between Wasilla and Anchorage) he had become enthralled in observing ridiculous trends in Alaskan automobiles. I loved the idea and a legend was born. The game works a little like “slug bug” but instead of looking for VWs, one searches out certain vehicles and assigns a point for each of the items listed below. The winner is the one who gets the most points. Problem is, a monster like this can get out of hand the next thing you know you are taking spy shots of random people’s cars in the name of ultimate glory (see attached photo)

1) Dodge truck or neon
2) Custom exhaust
3) Wal-Mart rims (easier to spot that one may think)
4) Randomly tinted windows (for example, JUST the driver’s side)
5) A point for each shitty sticker (die cut stickers are so damn popular that there are multiple businesses who’s dedication is producing cut outs of strippers, various “AK Pride” slogans, snow-machine silhouettes, and middle fingers. You can’t make this stuff up.)
6) Spoilers
7) If the driver is rolling hard or deep in said shitty car
8) General jackassery behind the wheel.
After I sniped this shot, the game was called to a pause, nobody wanted to come to my level. Sadly, much like shots of Bigfoot, UFOs, and Hellboy, the quality is low but he image is unmistakable. Enjoy. —B howell

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Alaska Week: Brad Howell on The Great Alaskan Bush Company

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“You know, while you are highlighting major businesses in Alaska, I can’t help but bring up one of the most notorious: The Great Alaskan Bush Company. A classy name for a classy joint, filled with classy women, and super tasteful t-shirts. Again, another birthday tale (I have a few.) My friends and I decided to class this place up with our presence one fine June evening. Lucky for us the Hells Angels run security and a member of our entourage was a motorcycle mechanic at the time (see also: connected.) Mind you, we are your typical nerds in t-shirts simply looking for an excuse to act like morons…and we did. Nobody seemed to mind when I karate kicked the glasses off our table in a fit of joy when AC/DC came on, or when my pal decided the stripper was doing it all wrong and gave her the lap dance. No, our real crime was letting our mechanic friend leave early…we were shown the door shortly after. Life lesson children, it’s not what you know, its who you know. The Bush Co. Keepin’ shit classy.” —Brad Howell

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Alaska Week: Nature’s Last Stand

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Global Climate Change. Global Warming. “We are destroying our environment.” We hear this all the time. Regardless of what you believe, something is going on on the Planet Earth. Over 6 billion people doesn’t help. The overuse and abuse of fossil fuels in the greater part of the 20th Century, but we haven’t even begun the 21st Century yet, where over 2 billion people in the hyper-developing countries of India and China don’t seem to be all that concerned with proper “environmental practice.” And why should they? The United States has never been one to set the best of examples, and our own dependencies and use of oil and creation of waste has set the planet on a crash course with destruction.

The US owns a piece of land in the extreme northern hemisphere called Alaska which borders the North Pole, is rich and richer in oil, and to this day, still resides as a postcard of the last unscathed portion of Planet Earth. Bought from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867 for a cool $7.2 million, Alaska was made a state (and the largest state at that) on January 3, 1959. Only 698,473 people live there, nearly half in the Anchorage area. And it is the home of a vast amount of energy resources. Oil. Lots of it. It is only a matter of time that the virgin wilderness (well, some areas are already drilled like a Persian desert), is drilled by the likes of Shell, BP, or Chevron to a bloody drought. It is going to happen. It is happening, and one of the last natural beauties, a relic of what the world should and used to look like in the Northern Pole, will soon lose its unspoiled landscape. Glaciers are melting, drills are plunging, animals are becoming extinct. Its too late, and some are trying to treasure what they can before the destruction hits full steam.

Of course, some would say we are being dramatic. We are not experts, but there does seem to be a wave of real experts who are predicting a very warm century, a very greedy century, and perhaps a violent, destructive century. Hopefully, we are all wrong.

We received these pictures from someone who was in Alaska last week, so you are looking at the current state of the Alaskan wilderness, or at least the wilderness that the tour guides will take you. This is the way we want it to look. Natural. Untouched. Not ruined. Enjoy.

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