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  1. #1
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    What is Fairbanks like?

    I have a potential job opportunity in Fairbanks and am considering whether I want to pursue this and put effort into trying to actually make it happen (in addition to formalizing the application process that would involve obtaining a work visa and whatever other complications non-citizens deal with. I would have employer support for this).

    I have never been to Alaska and am looking for any kind of input on what the town and surroundings are like. It would be for 1 year with vague possibilities to extend. Job sounds fine and it would probably be a good "career decision", although that isn't my main concern. I have no real reasons not to go, other than that I quite like the situation I have in Austria currently. The main draw of that being the immediate proximity to a lot of great skiing and mountains in general (as well as the proximity to my aging parents who would be fine without me for a bit but I worry). Google shows me a couple of ski hills in Fairbanks, which look like you can at least do flat-ish groomer laps. How far away is backcountry skiing and is there some kind of ski touring community that a newcomer could latch on to? On google earth it seems like Isabel Pass(?) is probably the closest, more or less easy access option? What is summer like? What is the town like?

    I would like to be talked into this.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  2. #2
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    The misquitos are the size of small birds, and quite ravenous, I hear.

    Let's do some livin'
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  3. #3
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    I haven't been that far into AK but my impression of Fairbanks is long, cold, windy winters in a pretty flat city. The mountains and backcountry are close, radically wild and beautiful and easily accessible but there seems to be a fairly large population of bears and wolves so situational awareness is key. It wouldn't surprise me if that's not really as bad as I think though. For a year I'd jump on the opportunity just because... Oh and yeah Benny is right, the mosquito is actually the AK state bird

  4. #4
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    I have quite a few friends that do and have lived there. Nobody loves Fairbanks in the winter. Cold, dark & overcast. I girl I know is in a similar line of work, I think (glaciers, hydrology, science). She just returned from Fairbanks having gotten some advanced degree, grant, work situation at the University. Let me know if you want me to pass on her email.

  5. #5
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    I lived in FBK though the 80s into the 90s. First off, the downhill skiing is lame there. The ski hills lack vertical and pitch. There aren't any real mountains close by. The Alaska Range and the Chugach are a few hours drive away, and then you have to tour (or snow machine) a fair distance to get to the goods. Thompson Pass down towards Valdez has some good roadside touring, but it's a ways off. Isabel Pass is pretty good, but it's about 200 miles (320 km) from FBK. The Anchorage area has a lot of great touring but that's a minimum 6 hour drive. If you have a small plane, maybe with skis, or a helicopter that will solve a lot of those issues.

    I'm pretty sure there is a backcountry skiing community there (it's been a while since I lived there) so you'll be able to find kindred souls. Probably through the Alaska Mountaineering Club and University.

    The cross-country skiing around FBK is pretty awesome. There are trails all over town and nearby and a lot of them are lit, which is good because of how much it is dark November to February. Both skate style and classic.

    It's a small town - around 35,000 I believe - and it's kind of isolated. But there's a fair amount of stuff going on due to the University and the nature of the populace. The people are...kind of unusual. There are a few gun-nut radical hate-the-government/libertarian types but there are a fair number of gun-nut liberals too. I guess I'd say it's a bit of a frontier atmosphere there and the people are fond of having a fair bit of freedom.

    Summers are pretty nice - it doesn't really get dark from May into August and the temps are 70s - 80s Fahrenheit so people get outside a lot. The Chena and Tanana rivers provide a lot of boating type of recreation and people travel to other rivers and areas. There are a lot of afternoon rain storms starting around mid-July. Autumn is usually in full swing by mid-August and the snow comes to stay by the end of October. The darkness starts to get dominant by mid-November.

    The one thing I miss are the northern lights - very spectacular and awe-inducing during the winter.

    IMO you can tolerate anything for a year, so I'd say go for it. It's an adventure - just driving in the winter requires care and preparation, and in the summer there is the hugest amount of wilderness you're likely ever to encounter.

    I could probably put you in touch with some FBK locals if you're interested, but I don't think they are backcountry skiers. They could help with some current info and orientation.
    Last edited by Meadow Skipper; 07-29-2017 at 10:34 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    The misquitos are the size of small birds, and quite ravenous, I hear.
    Just stfu Bunny. Your acting like a local shtick is just so fucking lame. FYI the ravenous mOsquitos are the small ones that come in swarms starting in early summer. The huge ones are the ones that come in the spring and are slow and few. And FBK isn't where you get the swarms - those are out away from town and in the bush.

  7. #7
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    Nonono... he meant "Miskitos." They are remarkably tiny in Alaska for some reason, often mistaken for insects.

  8. #8
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    I think Meadow Skipper summed it up well, esp. the skiing. The only thing I'd add is that the city itself is nothing to write home about and quite sprawly, but there's a tiny degree of momentum to change that (I think a small brewery just opened up downtown). There is a tight group of folks who love living in the Arctic desert in cabins with no running water and love Fairbanks for that reason.

    I have some friends who live there (modern style) and can connect you if you want more information. They're more into road-biking, hunting, and skate skiing since there isn't much downhill, though a Juneau friend visited her boyfriend there and said they had fun on the local hill (b/c no one skis there so it was untracked), doing laps with a school bus operating as the chair lift. Um, need I say more?

    Oh, and Alaska's economy right now is teetering on the shitter because our fair state's politicians prefer to take it in the arse from the oil industry and are quite content to dissolve educational and social services to accommodate them.
    Last edited by dschane; 07-29-2017 at 12:18 PM.

  9. #9
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    What is Fairbanks like?

    Funny. Went there for work maybe 6 times 15 years ago and it sounds like nothing has really changed. Would you like using a snowmobile on a frozen river as your main road? Move to Fairbanks.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
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  10. #10
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    Well, some things changed while I was there. When I first got there in the 80s you couldn't get fancy/decent bread or beer and the network television shows were shown two weeks later than the lower 48 because I guess they had to ship tapes up. Phone calls to the l48 were a nightmare of delays and echoes.

    I guess they got the internet now.

  11. #11
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    How about the horseless carriage?

    Sent from my SM-G900V using TGR Forums mobile app

    Let's do some livin'
    After, we die

  12. #12
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    Great. I am envisioning myself on XC skis shooting a machine gun at eagle sized mosquitos while being pulled over a frozen river by a bearded man who rejects modern amenities for ideological reasons on a snowmobile in complete darkness.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post
    Great. I am envisioning myself on XC skis shooting a machine gun at eagle sized mosquitos while being pulled over a frozen river by a bearded man who rejects modern amenities for ideological reasons on a snowmobile in complete darkness.
    That's about right. But don't forget, you'll have a great job.

  14. #14
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    OP: Is this a grad student gig, or something in the substance abuse fields?

    Lapping a 220' hill kinda sucks at -38 below, even in the 1.5 hours of daylight you'll pick up in February. Old facets from a 4" shot 3 weeks ago are like sandpaper at those temps, so it's a bit of a waxing challenge.

    Keeping an automobile running at -46 below in the dark for 3 weeks at a time also kinda sucks. Make sure both your employer and landlord provide bullrails. Don't know what a bullrail is? Then look for a place near a bus stop. Srsly.

    Get your water at Fox. Best water around. "Dry cabins" abound in the Fairbanks area, so be prepared to wait in line at the spring behind a few crusty Taliban-looking people with insulated 300gal tanks in their oversized idling pickup trucks. No one really drinks Fairbanks water if they have alternatives. R&R is the preferred local winter beverage, but don't leave it in your trunk or outhouse at -52 below and try to take a nip on the sly - that's real hard your teeth and goozlepipe.

    And if you do go out partying, make sure you make it back in the house and close all your doors before you pass out. You'll probably read about at least one or two that only made it to the front steps or flowerbed before they passed out hammered at -54 below...

  15. #15
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    Ignore Benny and you've gotten a fairly good summary of Squarebanks.
    I have a euro friend who was a world cup downhiller, she got her PhD in Environmental Engineering at UAF, she enjoyed her "adventure" there; removing her car battery everynight (many people ride bikes all winter instead), heating up her dry cabin with a woodstove after 10+ hours on campus (spent many nights in her office instead) She's still working all over rural Alaska and Canada.
    Years ago, I did some of my research at UAF (during summer) There are many good adventurous people in the University community, As for the rest of town, there are lots of "skids" about. But that's seems to be the case almost everywhere these days.
    Scientists now have decisive molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees once had a common momma and that this lineage had previously split from monkeys.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Svengali View Post
    Ignore Benny and you've gotten a fairly good summary of Squarebanks.
    I have a euro friend who was a world cup downhiller, she got her PhD in Environmental Engineering at UAF, she enjoyed her "adventure" there; removing her car battery everynight (many people ride bikes all winter instead), heating up her dry cabin with a woodstove after 10+ hours on campus (spent many nights in her office instead) She's still working all over rural Alaska and Canada.
    Years ago, I did some of my research at UAF (during summer) There are many good adventerous people in the University community, As for the rest of town, there are lots of "skids" about. But that's seems to be the case almost everywhere these days.
    Heh, I had a plate battery heater as well as a block heater so I just plugged the rig in at -20 F and lower. That worked. The thing about FBK, yeah, there are a lot of skids, but pretty much everyone looks like a skid - lawyers, professors, high mucky-mucks, etc. - even the ones with furnace heat and running water. If you don't have those you could always take showers at UAF with the other wood-burners, at least back in my day. Some folks get by with a sauna and a bucket. It's a rather informal town.

  17. #17
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    Meadow Skipper, it's changed a bit up here since those "good ole' days"
    By "skids" I meant these folks:
    older article but relevant {http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_...c8b4b0320.html
    Alaska's Legislature has "handcuffed" the cops and courts thru SB-91, in attempt to slash the costs of enforcement/courts/incarceration. So unless you murder someone, if your caught committing a crime you'll walk whether the charges get dropped or if the cops even show up. The "crooks" know this and are taking full advantage of it...Thievery is the current growth industry!

    This show got a lot of local shit from travel agents, real estate people, and politicians who thought it put their communities in a bad light, it would be far worse now if they made current episodes!
    Scientists now have decisive molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees once had a common momma and that this lineage had previously split from monkeys.

  18. #18
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    Well damn... It was hookers and blow back in my day - just post-pipeline, but pretty much pre-meth. I don't remember hearing much about heroin or *codone, but alcohol was always a factor. The bars could stay open until 5 AM back then.

    I was thinking 'skids' in the Jackson sense.

  19. #19
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    My old hippie boyfriend lives there now and visited me in Bellingham last winter. he's a million times nuttier than he was and absolutely loves fairbanks.

  20. #20
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    I loved Fairbanks and would move back there in a heartbeat. The one thing I noticed personally was people were very friendly. It has been 10 yrs since I lived there so no idea if the crime has gotten any worse. There is plenty of ski touring right off the road in the AK range which as has been said is a few hours away on either road. The local hills are kind of lame but way bigger than 220 ft. There is about 4 hrs of sunlight during the winter but the darkness gives you plenty of time to see the northern lights which I miss a lot. There are lighted cross country ski trails so as long as it isn't too cold the darkness isn't an issue. You won't regret spending the year there if not more. I have known a few foreign students who came for school and never left.

  21. #21
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    Thanks everyone. I appreciate the offers of putting me in touch with people there and may reach out about that at a later point.

    It's a post doc type job at the university. I have heard a lot of good things about the university and the department relevant for me has a strong track record in terms of research and the people it seems to attract. The university seems surprisingly large for the size of the town.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  22. #22
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    Klar, probably nothing new, but the most important bit of advice I can offer you is to make sure that your dept has adequate funding and secured grants.
    In the current climate of Ak legislative fiscal stupidity/misguided priorities, U of A budget cuts, and of course the current state of affairs in DC anything is possible. This can/has led to many scientific/academic pursuits being mothballed and students and irreplaceable staff hung out to dry! UAF has in the past has weathered this better than the other U of Ak campuses, but they are by no means immune. Best of luck in your decision
    Scientists now have decisive molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees once had a common momma and that this lineage had previously split from monkeys.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Svengali View Post
    Klar, probably nothing new, but the most important bit of advice I can offer you is to make sure that your dept has adequate funding and secured grants.
    In the current climate of Ak legislative fiscal stupidity/misguided priorities, U of A budget cuts, and of course the current state of affairs in DC anything is possible. This can/has led to many scientific/academic pursuits being mothballed and students and irreplaceable staff hung out to dry! UAF has in the past has weathered this better than the other U of Ak campuses, but they are by no means immune. Best of luck in your decision
    thanks. and yes, I am at least superficially aware of these issues. I am thinking about it because it would be something new and a bit of an adventure, not because it seems likely to lead to a longterm academic career in the US. The particular position actually sounds like it would be one of the first to be cut considering the "current state of affairs", but I wouldn't be risking much with a 1 year commitment. Do you work at U of A?
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  24. #24
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    If the work's The Thing, then it's not that hard of a decision at all.
    Chances are, you'll find a stimulating environment full the kind of memorable people who are attracted to Alaska. This will make -57 below a lot more interesting.

    Of course, there's also the risk of walking into a snakepit of personality disorder, but that goes with your rarefied territory ... You'll definitely have some stories. We're not like everyone else.

  25. #25
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    What Highangle says, plus there is the likelihood of just being imported as cheap foreign labor...
    I'm not affiliated with the U of A, just a former student, friend of several current and former faculty, concerned citizen, and long time observer of their shenanigans.
    Scientists now have decisive molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees once had a common momma and that this lineage had previously split from monkeys.

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