I’ve lived in Alaska 20 years (as of July 4) and am regularly asked by friends and colleagues from Outside (that’s anywhere but here) why I live here. Thought maybe it was time to explain some of the reasons why. And, readers should understand there are so many reasons. We’ll consider this the summer edition.

It’s often said we live here for the 4-5 months of summer when the sun shines nearly 24 hours per day and you can literally watch the plants grow.

Claire de Lune blooming at 1:30, 4 and 8 PM on the same day.

I have to admit it’s a fun place to garden. Mine features flowers but there are many who also grow vegetables. The 24 hour sun means veggies are ready fairly quickly after planting. A growing number of farmer’s markets similar to the Lower 48 mean we can enjoy fresh Alaska-grown vegetables.

Blue Ribbon Cabbage

You also can’t beat the scenery that’s within a 15-minute drive of here. Where you might see some Dall sheep or beluga whales along with some GORGEOUS scenery.

If you overlay a map of Alaska on one of the Lower 48, you’ll see there are no roads west of the Mississippi. Yes, it’s true – there are no roads in western Alaska. Many people have small planes to help them see the state, or merely as transportation if you live out West. We don’t have a plane anymore because we have kids. Before kids, we would fly to Talkeetna in our Cessna 182 (5 hour drive) for lunch or an ice cream cone.

Talkeetna, Alaska

And our boys are another reason we live here. It’s a wonderful community in which to raise a family. We’re a pretty tight knit community and have a great school system. Our kids have attended schools where parental involvement is important and key to their education. Last week we attended the wedding of Thomas’ German teacher and spent time talking with his first grade teacher while we were there.

The boys have grown up camping in pretty remote locations, but are just as happy going to a show the next weekend.

They play soccer on teams that compete well with teams Outside. But our kids play on soccer fields so close to the woods the game might have to stop because there’s a moose nearby.

I spent my early career in food public relations so when Alan and I were dating, he took me to the grocery store here before we were married. He wanted to assure me the stores were pretty good. And, they were better than many places around the county. Over the past many years, the restaurant scene has really gotten better too.

And we regularly enjoy the restaurants before attending one of the many events at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. As a city of more than 300,000 people, we have the best of both worlds — the cultural attractions and activities of a “big city” with the adventures and wonderful scenery or a remote location.

So…while I love to visit Outside cities and always have a wonderful time, it’s really great to come home…to the calm, peace and wonderful, loving community we’ve enjoyed the past 20 years.

Oh, and the daylight at 11 PM last night wasn’t too bad either! This is my back yard: