I needed to get out of my funk so I booked a brewery tour in the afternoon. I met the group at the log cabin visitor’s center in downtown Anchorage. I was surprised by how small and short the buildings were in the downtown area.
Our tour guide, Roberta, appeared to be in her 30s, had shoulder-length, red hair, and was spunky in her jeans and tennis shoes. She asked me and a couple to hop inside the van so we could head to our first brewery. Roberta told us that there was a family of five who also signed up, but their flight was delayed and they were going to meet us at the first brewery.
Once we boarded the van, Roberta told us how she grew up in a small town just north of Anchorage, and when she was 16 years old, she couldn’t wait to move away. During college, she lived in Wisconsin and then Washington. She noticed she kept moving her school schedule around so she could spend more time in Alaska, so she ended up moving back 15 years ago. She said, “Alaska is a hard life and you need to choose it. It’s different living here when you choose it.”
The couple sitting across from me in the van looked to be in their mid to late 30s. They were gorgeous, fit, and looked like they were heading to an expensive ski resort with their scarves and nice boots. Richard had a reddish beard, and his girlfriend had long, beautifully curled blonde hair. It turns out he grew up in Canon City, Colorado, where I lived for three years growing up. He was a year younger than me so we didn’t remember each other, but we must have seen each other (it’s a small town). After living on the east coast for 15 years, he now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
On the drive to the brewery, Roberta told us about the relationship Alaska has with alcohol. Many small towns have limits or ban alcohol because people were too drunk all the time. She explained that bartenders often ask to see your driver’s license because they are looking for the “red stripe,” which means you are only allowed to buy alcohol at bars, not at a store, where it is limited. Drunk drivers usually get the red stripe on their license.
Roberta told us that Alaskans drink more beer per capita than anywhere else in North America. I wanted to see if this was true, so I Googled it afterward. According to this Thrillist article, Alaska is the third booziest state in the United States. However, this article from Anchorage Daily News shows that Alaska is the number one state for the cost of alcohol abuse. I mean, it’s ridiculously cold up there, so what else are people supposed to do?
Roberta also explained that most of the breweries there are local beer and are only sold in Alaska because it’s too expensive to ship it outside of the state. But they don’t have a problem consuming all of it in Alaska.
We arrived at the first brewery and met the family of five who just flew in from Denver, Colorado. The three children appeared to be in their 20s. We were all taken to the back, where they brew the beer. We stood there listening to the brewing process for what seemed like an eternity, only getting small samplings of four different beers. Maybe it’s because I have done brewery tours before, but I was getting bored with all of the information and just wanted to drink some beer.
We all boarded the van and headed to the next brewery. When we first arrived, a woman who worked there gave a five-minute, behind-the-scenes tour and let us pour beer from a plastic fish on the wall. She quickly led us upstairs for the tastings. We sat around a table with some cheese and meat appetizers while we tried large samples of beers. These beers were very strong, and we were all starting to feel it.
The brewery had a system where people could buy a beer for someone, write their name on a piece of paper, and hang it on a metal board. If you had the name on a piece of paper (and could show ID), the beer is yours. I perused the board and saw various names: a realtor who bought a beer for his clients; if your name is Ben and graduated from MIT; if you have passed level 1 and level 2 of TOGAF certification. I thought it was a really cool concept. Some were specific people; others were generic, and just paying it forward. Sadly, I didn’t find one waiting for me.
We boarded the van again to head to our third and final brewery. This time we were able to sit at a table, try different beers, and chat. The owner sat at the end of the table near me and told us a little bit about how she and her husband started the brewery two years ago. She appeared to be in her 50s and had a stern look about her. She was a former lawyer, and her husband was a scientist/engineer. He was always brewing beer, so they decided to try out the brewery business. She said this is a lot more fun than practicing law, but not as lucrative.
Across the table from me was the mother in the family of five. It turns out she’s a lawyer and sues the government for discrimination. Her family was taking an Alaskan cruise out of Seward, but they wanted to check out Anchorage for a day first. After the cruise, they were going to spend a couple of days in Vancouver, so I gave her many tips. We had a delightful conversation, and she was incredibly sweet. She offered me a place to stay if I’m in Denver, and I appreciated her hospitality.
I was mad at myself for originally not thinking so highly of the family of five. My first impression was unflattering and judgmental. When I first saw that family, I think they reminded me of parts of myself that I’ve tried so hard to change. I’m always working out trying to lose weight and I’m still self-conscience about my uncool clothes at times. We’re often the most critical of those that resemble the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. I think we all stereotype people and it’s up to us to check ourselves and change the mindset.
The brewery tour finished and I drove to Moose’s Tooth, a famous pizza place. There was a 65-minute wait for a table, but one seat available at the bar. The pizza was really good and I took some home for the next day. I went back to my Airbnb and watched a movie on my Ipad mini.
Cody, the guy who had told me about a local volleyball game the day before but hadn’t actually asked me to go to it, messaged and asked if I wanted to meet him at a bar. They had a reggae band playing, and it was a Saturday night.
I wasn’t tired so I figured, why not? I didn’t arrive at the bar until close to 1:00 am and he was sitting at the bar with a bright red t-shirt. Cody was 29, had a semi-long, brown/reddish beard, was thin, and his long hair was pulled back underneath his ski hat.
I wasn’t really nervous meeting him because I wasn’t that interested in him but figured it would be fun to see some nightlife in Anchorage. Cody was pleasant and talked a lot. He told me about five jobs he works, concerts he’s been to, and hiking. He’s from Anchorage and has traveled a little bit in the United States.
Cody told me that he spent a month in Toronto with a girlfriend but got sick of her, so he made up an excuse that he needed to see a concert. He drove from Toronto to Alaska in a few days and left her in Toronto. Great, another liar. I found myself being less and less interested.
The bar closed at 2:00 am, and he asked if I wanted to get another drink at a bar down the street that was open until 3:00 am. We just started walking and ended up going inside the small dive bar. He had no problem with me paying for my drinks. In fact, he never even offered to pay. I don’t mind paying for myself, especially if I don’t like the guy. I never like to feel like I owe someone something. However, it is a nice gesture when a guy pays, or at the very least offers.
The bar closed at 3:00 am and we walked down the street towards our cars. Standing at the corner, I pointed towards my car and stopped walking. After talking for another few minutes, Cody said, “It’s really cold outside. Maybe you could drive me to my car so we can still talk for a bit without freezing?” We didn’t have jackets and it was pretty cold. I didn’t want Cody inside my car because I was afraid he’d try to kiss me. I replied, “I have a lot of stuff in my car.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, that happens to me too. I just move it all to the back seat.” I didn’t really respond to that and shortly after said I needed to get going.
Once I got back to my Airbnb, Cody continued to message me, saying we were only two miles away from each other (Tinder shows distance). Surprised he didn’t get the hint that I wasn’t interested, I tried to politely not respond too much.
I reflected on Cody as I laid in bed. The good thing about meeting different guys is that it helps me determine what I want and what I don’t want in a relationship. Cody was immature, scrambled to get by, and wasn’t very smart. All of those were turn-offs to me, and it was a good lesson. I was also proud that I didn’t force myself to like him as I probably would have done in the past. I was happy that I seemed to have learned that being alone is better than being with the wrong person.
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