16 Alaskanisms To Use On Your Vacation Up North
When you're out and about on your vacation, nothing's more annoying than having to explain that you're a tourist again and again. So to help you blend in on your trip to Alaska, here are 15 Alaskanisms to help you develop verbal camouflage.
If you're in ski country, make sure to get up early and catch the "alpenglow." That's what locals call the orangey/purplish color that appears on Alaska's snow-capped mountains at sunrise and sunset.
Spring doesn't officially start in Alaska until breakup. That's when icy rivers finally start flowing again. Meaning there's mud, puddles and dirt everywhere. So you might want to avoid hiking unless you want an Alaskan mud bath.
3. Bunny Boots
You'll want to pick up a pair of these if you visit Alaska in the winter. Bunny Boots are oversized, insulated rubbers made to withstand Alaska's bitterest cold -- even when thermometers plunge below -50 Degrees Fahrenheit.
If you hear locals muttering this word, you might want to ask them what you're doing wrong. "Cheechako" is an insulting word for outsiders -- especially those who are inept in the northern wilderness.
5. Fish Stories
These are Alaska's brand of tall tales. The lingo refers to fishermen, who are notorious for exaggerating stories of their catches when they gather together to shoot the breeze.
6. Freeze Up
The opposite of breakup. When rivers begin freezing for the winter, restricting marina travel all over the state.
7. Ice Road
These roads pretty much always close in the summer because they melt away. In winter, Alaskans construct detours over frozen lakes and rivers so that freighters can reach remote villages.
8. Land Yacht
This northern slang is used to complain about huge, lumbering RV's crowding the roads.
9. Lower 48
If someone asks where you're from, and you don't feel like going over your whole life story, just say you're from the "lower 48" -- meaning the contiguous U.S. states.
You'll run into this terrain a lot if you go hiking around Alaska. "Muskeg" means "mossy bog."
When looking for hotels and travel agents, avoid any companies that have won the notorious Golden Oosik Award. This dishonor is given annually to the company that makes the biggest advertising gaffe. (An "oosik" is the penis bone of a walrus.)
When leaving your hotel, say you're heading outdoors instead of outside. Up north, "outside" means leaving Alaska's state boundaries.
13. One Week Wonders
If you've only hiked in the Alaskan wilderness once, don't start giving people points about bushwhacking in the north. Otherwise the locals will start calling you a one week wonder (a.k.a. a know-it-all).
14. Termination Dust
There's no need to be scared of this term -- unless you're sleeping outdoors in Alaska. Termination dust is the term used for the first visible snowfall on the mountains in fall. The event signals the end of summer because the snowline will begin creeping down soon after.
We bet you've heard this word before, but you should double-check the meaning so that you don't misuse it like a one week wonder. "Tundra" describes treeless ground with only low-lying plants and shrubs growing -- the sort of terrain that becomes more and more common the further north you travel in Alaska.
The Inupiaq word for musk ox is generally used in reference to garments knit from the animal's thick coat. But if people start calling you an umingmak, you might want to cut back on the cologne. The animal is also known for its pungent odor during mating season.