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Alaska Life

These are some of the ‘most Alaska’ stories of 2017

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: December 30, 2017
  • Published December 29, 2017

When you think of Alaska, what comes to mind? Remote cabins and subsistence living? Bears showing up in weird places? Near-death experiences in the backcountry? The fact that it's 2017 and we still don't have a Whole Foods and maybe we just never will?

Many aspects of life define this place of unique extremes to different people. We wanted to look back on some of this year's stories that show what life is like in the Last Frontier.

Here's a subjective list of what we thought were some of our "most Alaska" stories of 2017:

An 11-year-old Anchorage boy was in his room when a bear crashed in through the window. "He was so close, I could reach out and touch him."

An ADN reporter and multimedia journalist spent a week on Alaska's St. Lawrence Island and came back with striking stories about subsistence meals of whale and walrus, foraging from the Bering Sea shore, and disappearing ice.

One October day in Utqiagvik, America's northernmost city, a 450-pound bearded seal was just chillin' on the airport runway. The state's transportation department filed it under "#alaskaproblems."

A seal hauled out and was found resting on the Utqiagvik (Barrow) airport runway Oct. 23. (Scott Babcock / ADOT&PF)

Someone trolled Anchorage with a fake sign indicating the grocery chain was finally coming here. Hopes were dashed when the company said no, it has no plans right now for a store in Alaska.

A sign claiming that the grocery chain Whole Foods Market is coming to Anchorage appeared on a Third Avenue fence this summer. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Tourists and locals alike are drawn to an unregulated water pipe jutting from a rock wall at Mile 109 on the Seward Highway, often dashing across the busy road to fill up their jugs and bottles.

Willie Thomas carefully steps across ice spots in the ditch along the Seward Highway as he fills four large jugs on March 24, 2017. He said he doesn’t have a problem with tap water, but prefers the taste of water from the highway pipe. (Marc Lester / ADN)

A moose was caught on video charging skiers and snowboarders who were waiting in line for a lift at Alyeska Resort. The next day, it was shot to death.

The story of how two brothers got to Fairbanks from the Lower 48 decades ago via plane, ferry, train, rubber raft and hitchhiking. One of them went on to work at Prudhoe Bay and also became a pilot. Peak Alaska.

Jim Dore paddles with a makeshift oar after he and his brother found half of a moose rack during their Yukon River rafting trip from Bennett Lake in Canada to Circle, Alaska, in summer 1973. The plastic paddles that came with their raft broke toward the start of their three-month adventure, so Dore had to fashion one from a board they found on the shore. (Courtesy Jim Dore)

A dead whale spent some time floating near the Port of Anchorage before washing up at Kincaid Beach and then rotting there. It smelled horrifying, but that didn't keep people and their smartphones away.

Members of the UAA cross country ski team examine the humpback whale during their training run on Sept. 25. The dead whale was previously spotted floating in Knik Arm. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Alaska Airlines retired its Boeing 737-400 Combi planes this year. Those planes, which primarily operated in Alaska, had passenger seating in the back and all kinds of freight up front.

Ramp service agent Shane Spearman, center, guides an Alaska Airlines 737-400 Combi plane toward a gate at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. (Marc Lester / ADN)

"Feral rabbits are as common in downtown Valdez as squirrels in other parts of the United States," according to this story. Pro-bunny and anti-bunny sentiments across town abound. Apparently some people think this is a "problem."

A tourist photographs feral baby bunnies on the Valdez waterfront. (Allison Sayer)

This writer tells the story of how frustrating it can be not to understand the language of her own family, and the painful historical reasons why.

Laureil Ivanoff, left, with her young friend Niv. After spending four days with Niv, Ivanoff says she learned more Inupiaq than she had from any other teacher. (Courtesy of Laureil Ivanoff)

An ADN hunting columnist explains how to go about hunting for shed moose antlers in the Alaska wilderness. Maybe the secret is not to look so hard.

Christine Cunningham holds a moose antler that has been chewed on by a porcupine after finding it in the mountains in early May. (Steve Meyer)

Matanuska Thunder F— is a marijuana strain shrouded in myth, and the real thing is thought to be hard to come by. This story explains its history as "an Alaskan classic."

Ron Bass, of Big Lake, shows buds from his marijuana plant, at left, which he believes is the legendary Matanuska Thunder F— strain. At right are buds from a plant of Evan Schlosberg, who thinks his is the MTF strain, on July 22, 2016. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Some people in the Lower 48 might long for the years of spending Friday night at Blockbuster. But here, the brand lives on. This story explains just how video stores in Alaska manage to continue in the age of Netflix — and even attract people who just come in for the novelty.

The Blockbuster Video on DeBarr Road is one of two Blockbuster stores remaining in Anchorage, and one of six stores in Alaska. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Pods of killer whales chasing down halibut and black cod are becoming a real problem for fishermen, in some cases leaving just halibut "lips" still attached to hooks. "It's gotten completely out of control," one fisherman said.

A climber on Denali fell deep into a crevasse. After an extraordinary 14-hour rescue mission to free him from snow and ice, he survived.

Martin Takac stands at the summit of Denali before his ordeal in a crevasse on the lower level of the mountain early in June 2017. (Courtesy of Martin Takac)

This writer tells the story of an Indonesian exchange student who came to live with him and his wife, who are mushers, in Kasilof. Some catches, though: The student had never even known anyone who owned a dog, and it was against her religion for dog saliva to come into contact with her skin. Eye-opening adventures ensue.

Sled dogs round a corner in downtown Anchorage during the Fur Rondy Open World Championship sled dog races on Feb. 25. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

This story is a look at the moose subsistence lifestyle in rural Alaska where, in hunting season, airports see meat-filled coolers as checked bags. "It's part of me," said one hunter. "I can't separate that from myself, really."

Thomas Bergman, Tyler Bergman (No. 23) and their uncle Walter Bergman pose on Sept. 22, 2017, with a big bull moose that Tyler and uncle P.J. Simon shot in an area near the Brooks Range. (Photo by P.J. Simon)

Did you know that part of the history of the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks involves the frigid Interior city embarrassing itself decades ago by importing ice from Seattle? This is the story of what happened.

“True Colors” details of the single-block competition at the World Ice Art Championships on March 10 in Fairbanks. (Rugile Kaladyte / ADN)

In Sand Point, a fisherman was untangling a net off the back of a boat when a huge sea lion jumped onto the vessel, bit his calf and tried to drag him into the water.

A Steller sea lion (not necessarily the one that bit a Sand Point fisherman this year).

A look at some Alaska women who are making animals come alive again. Fun fact: Sometimes they use flesh-eating beetles to do it.

Samantha Huckstep takes a look at a Kodiak brown bear project she’s working on Nov. 17. (Marc Lester / ADN)

In the annual Nenana Ice Classic contest, people guess the exact moment a tripod on the icy Tanana River will travel 100 feet downstream and stop a clock onshore, marking the time of spring breakup. This story looks at the mechanics behind how it all works.

The Nenana Ice Classic tripod on its last legs. (Dermot Cole / ADN)

Fourteen writers across Alaska weave beautiful vignettes of why they live where they live. Their stories include a log cabin post office in Slana, emerald tundra in Dutch Harbor, and "smelling north."

What were some of your favorite Alaska stories of the year? Share them with us in the comments section.

Sunset over Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, located near McCarthy in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve on May 15, 2011. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

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