Alaska in the winter! I know most people visit here in the summer, but they are missing out. It’s pretty much a two season state with a long winter, and a summer that is really a southern spring to my bones. I haven’t decided which season I like better because I’m trying to make the most of my time most of the time so it’s a tough call. This winter is no exception.
I don’t really want to say that I have created a bucket list for what I have left to do in Alaska because that would be a really, really long list, but there are some epic must dos that stand out such as seeing the Iditarod in Nome, Alaska, backpacking the entire Resurrection Trail, floating in Glacier Bay National Park, and skiing out to Tolovana Hot Springs. Those are all off the top of my head, and now that I’m actually writing it down, I could go on and on; I’ve lived here awhile and I still have much to do. This weekend though, I was able to check one off the mental wish list: competing in the Wilderness Woman Contest and attending the Bachelor Auction in Talkeetna, Alaska. I’ve been trying to get to this weekend of events for years.
You might wonder what those events are all about and why they exist in the first place, but just think of the silly, crazy things that happen all over the planet to bring out the wild sides of humanity. We need to have those costume events, the weird races, the debauchery for a cause because that kind of fun requires us to get outside of our skin, and for a moment, stop reflecting about all of the things in life that aren’t going well. Or maybe it’s just that they allow us to walk away from our duties and our seriousness. I’ve always been into costumes-they make people come out of their shell, and embrace being a different person for a bit, and when you are trying to raise money, there is nothing wrong with adding costume events for the cause. When people put on a boa, a bright wig, or some unusual hat, they automatically smile and become more fun with very little effort. It just feels good.
So these two events scream costumes, and human debauchery on all sorts of levels, but all of the money raised goes towards women and children in need so you can feel good about throwing your money around the small town of Talkeetna. It is one of my favorite little towns to visit in the winter: good skiing nearby, everything is in walking distance, cool cabins, amazing sightings of Denali and the Aurora, live music, good moods, and a variety of food. You can’t really ask for more when it is dark and cold outside. Or so I thought; it just gained more points with this weekend.
BUCKETS To qualify for the larger portion of the Wilderness Woman contest, you have to run down a street for about 500 yards with two empty buckets, then pick up two buckets full of water, and carry those back. Points are deducted for spilling your water, and of course, you want the best time. Now, I’m not a fast runner to begin with, but once it was my turn, I was terrified of running down the street because it was so slippery, due to all of the water that had been spilled during previous heats. Ask any of my friends, I am clumsy on the snow so water on top does not help me out! So, I decided to trot down the road instead and while that gave me last place in my heat (3 women per heat), I didn’t spill any of my water. Running down the road was way harder than carrying the water. Over 50 girls competed, but they only allow 5 to advance to the next round. One of my friends came darn close, but our group ended up being spectators while the 5 left made sandwiches for a guy, drove a snow machine, pretended to fish using velcro blocks and a fishing pole, put on snow shoes, and shot at a target. This event was full of energized groups of women with lined streets of Alaskan men, costumes, bevis in the middle of the day, dancing in the streets, and a huge bonfire. Enough said. But wait, there is more!
BACHELOR AUCTION–BOYS WITH BALLS You’ve heard this phrase about men and Alaska: The odds are good, but the goods are odd. If you haven’t heard of it, I’ve had yet to meet someone who disagrees with it and I moved up here in 1996. The men here are an acquired taste, but there is nothing like them anywhere else or at least, I haven’t found anywhere where the men compare. They just have this combination of factors that seem to work up here, but up here only and in my experiences, most of them do not see themselves living elsewhere permanently. We do have the city slicker type of guy, the redneck version, the adrenaline junkie, and so forth, but there are extra layers involved that are somehow unique to the men of Alaska. It’s difficult to explain, but like I said, it’s an acquired taste and with a town such as Talkeetna that adds a Bachelor Auction to mix things up as a fundraiser, it brings out quite an eccentric bunch of dudes.
Being a bachelor in the auction requires all of that eccentricity too, not to mention some bold moves and balls. This event comes equipped with a male order catalog, full of pictures and important details about each bachelor. Some are humorous, and some are serious, but regardless, they all have to strut down a runway in a packed house of around 250 women that are screaming, dressed in some unique fashion, and waving their bid plates in the air. Not to mention the fact that most of us are full of some sort of booze. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but there were all types of boys in the event, some of which got naked while others strummed on a guitar. Considering it took place in the middle of frozen Alaska, there was quite a bit of variety: hard hats, fancy suits, grunge, overalls, beards, no beards, beer bellies, and six packs. Some came with additional prizes while others relied on their good looks. While I had a great view and loved all of the entertainment and insane energy, I can’t help but think that the best seat in the house would have been backstage listening to the boys as they were about to go live. What were they thinking and talking about, hearing the screaming, and the bids go higher and higher as the screaming got louder and louder? How nervous were they or were they too drunk to care? Did they have a strategy or was it just about getting it over with? On the other hand, maybe there wasn’t any pressure. I got a chance to meet several of them beforehand because they are asked to help pass out appetizers as the women arrive and they were all in such a fantastic mood. After all, they get to hang out with a room full of women. They came geared up in a costume or with their favorite things about life and it was kind of cool seeing so many guys at ease in their own skin, but as I mentioned before about costumes, maybe that is what made them at ease. Who knows.
While none of my bids were high enough to win a bachelor, my group of girlfriends did end up winning two boys and there are stories that go along with that as well, but I’ll let those stay with the ladies!
If you ever get the chance to visit Alaska in the winter, you should try to check Talkeetna out.
You won’t be disappointed.
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