Monday, December 10, 2007

The Price of Gas

This might have the flavor of a rant. Be warned.

This morning when I went to to check my email, I was interested to notice one of their front page feature articles: the top 10 most expensive places in the U.S. to buy gas. Feeling a bit curious, I clicked on it and read the article. Number one on the list was San Francisco at something like $3.54 per gallon for regular unleaded. The next five places were also in California. The article quoted Forbes magazine as the info source.

In Bethel we are paying nearly $5 per gallon for gas, and in the villages it is $7 per gallon. I suspect that Hawaii’s gas is a bit more than San Francisco’s also. Herein lies my beef: the article did not say “most expensive gas in the continental U.S.” (which, come to think of it, should still include Alaska, as we are on the same continent), it simply said “in the U.S. Well, hello Forbes and Yahoo!, Alaska and Hawaii ARE in the U.S., and have been for nearly 50 years. If you are going to exclude us, then say you are excluding us; don’t claim something for the entire country and then just leave us out. We are Americans too, and proud to be so.

Someone in the lower 48 actually asked me once what we use for money up here. I smiled and said, “polished walrus teeth, mostly, though bear claws and whale or walrus penis bones can be used in a pinch.”

The woman’s eyes opened wider and she said “oh!” Pause. “Whales have a bone in their penis?”

Yeah, they do. The Yupiks call it an oosik.



Anonymous Ellen said...

Once again you have succinctly stated an obvious truth. Bravo Tundra PA, keep on blogging!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 8:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Alaska Pete said...

Hey, nice post. I too have shared that frustration many times when news stories talk about the highest gas prices "in the nation." Even websites like give the highest and lowest gas prices in the state, but you have to select where you are reporting from, and it only lists the major towns. Someone from Bethel actually posts regularly (and Bethel currently holds down several of the spots on the most expensive list), but villagers can't enter the cost of gas in their communities. Why not? Some of them would blow Bethel's prices out of the water.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 1:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Sky said...

sssh, if you tell we are part of the US.. I jokes.

Having worked for a brief time at a local tourist oriented place this summer, (ya I'm in AnchoRage and Imma Native) it was so very interesting the comments and questions from the tourists who by the most part were very interested in AK and very astute and Amazed by this State. That was the benefits of that job alright. The question that kept coming up, however, was where's the Igloos? To which a gentle explaination of the use of them and the meaning of them ensued.

When I was younger I used to reply that yes, I live in an igloo and yes, we built a two story one and the stairs Can be slippery and, yes, you need to place the TV sort of away from the walls because the heat from the back of it could melt them.

heheheh, you said 'penis bones can be used in a pinch.' GOOD ONE !

I've enjoyed reading your thoughtful and intelligent blog and have only gained respect for your views as time has gone by. And it is so good to see someone who understands some of the misinformation that we have to 'set straight' sometimes about AK...

I was actually asked this summer 'but how do you all have the babies?' to which I simply said 'Midwifery is a long time practice everywhere'. Needless to say you could see the wheels start to turn and the realization that 'hey, these are people too'.

Oh, I could go on and on and some of the stories are quite hilarious.. but that's the way it goes in the Land of the Midnight Sun and there's stories, many stories that are told and untold...

Quyana there Tundra PA

keep em coming

(damnation I wish the fuel prices would come down)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 2:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Tundra PA said...


alaska pete--never heard of that website, will have to check it out. I, too, would wonder why villagers can't post their prices. My experience, in traveling to a few villages, is that they run $1-2 per gallon more than Bethel.

sky--thanks so much for your kind words and thoughtful comment. I get the igloo questions too--love the "two-story" story! Your answer to the baby question was far more civilized than mine probably would have been. Not being the most patient person in the world, it is probably a good thing that I don't get exposed to too many *dumb* questions about Alaska and Alaska Natives. I'd have likely said something like "well, it starts with sexual intercourse, and then there is nine months' gestation, and then usually a vaginal delivery; whaddaya think, we hatch 'em from eggs?" OK, that would be rude, and maybe it would depend on who asked the question; I'm never rude to elders.

and I'd love to hear more of your stories!

Quyana cak nak for commenting, sky!

Thursday, December 13, 2007 10:59:00 AM  

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