An Alaska Valentine’s


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I always wanted to come to Alaska. I will admit to pushing my husband to put Alaska high on his wish list. I didn’t know much about the frontier state. But I did know that almost everyone I talked to who was stationed in Alaska loved it. The one exception was my father, who isn’t a big fan of snow. Driving to Alaska, on my way to live here for at least three years, I was quite ignorant to what life here would be like.

We spent our first night in Alaska at a small family-run motel in Tok. We enjoyed hours in the meeting room of the Golden Bear talking with the lady who worked there about life in the tundra. She was wonderful, friendly, and had a wealth of knowledge. As the conversation went on, I realized I wasn’t in Kansas (or any other Lower 48 state) anymore. Stories of chicken selling for $6 a pound and houses being sold without indoor plumbing made me realize that life here was going to be different from life anywhere else. There was one story in particular that made me wonder if I would ever make it in Alaska. We were told that for Valentine’s Day, the best gift a woman could receive from her husband was a moose liver. Jewelry was unnecessary, and flowers were too expensive and would soon die. Practicality was in order, and a moose liver was a practical luxury. I am not a practical girl though. I want an extravagant dinner for Valentine’s Day, and I want those red roses my husband promised to me.

I nearly cried tears of joy the following night as we drove into Palmer and saw Fred Meyer. I didn’t know what Fred Meyer was at the time, but it looked like familiar shopping. My husband was in dire need of caffeine and headache medicine after driving for 700 miles and only seeing one winter color. While inside, he checked out the prices and, sigh of relief, they weren’t much different than what we were used to paying in Maryland. We were moving to the Anchorage area, not the Tok area. I would not have to completely change the way I lived life.

However, the past two Valentine’s Days haven’t quite been up to standard.

Two years ago, we were still in temporary lodging. It was at the beginning of our two-month stint, so we weren’t quite bouncing off the walls yet. But it was difficult to plan a special evening from there. My husband was still getting things set up at work, so his hours were unpredictable. This left making reservations out of the question. Normally, not a problem, I would cook. This time, with only a mini fridge and a microwave, cooking was also not an option.

We managed to find a restaurant that had a reasonable wait time. Afterward we drove up Mt. Baldy to try to see the northern lights. They weren’t out, but the view was still amazing. So the day turned out well after all.

Last year my husband was deployed. He lovingly sent flowers from Afghanistan, but due to a misunderstanding by the delivery person, they did not reach me on Valentine’s Day. However, the wonderful people at Oopsie Daisy did their best to make it up to me, sending me extra balloons and chocolates the day after, along with the most beautiful bouquet my husband has ever sent to me.

So while not normal, both years turned out well with yummy dinner and my roses. This year I have a house and a husband at home. I think we will be able to pull off a normal Valentine’s Day.

With no moose livers.

 

Lori Spears is the wife of a U.S. Army captain and lives in Eagle River. Write to her at editor@alaskastar.com

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