It is the land of the Alaska Gold Rush, where nuggets were said to be the size of goose eggs, where men froze to death in search of the elusive yellow metal, and dancehall girls lured overnight millionaire sourdoughs into marriage. Honky-tonk pianos punctuated the howl of the north wind in towns that were half-tent and half-ramshackle collections of driftwood, whalebone, and packing cases. It was a time of whiskey and gold and long, lonely trails behind a dogsled.
It was, in a word, ALASKA. In cities, rugged men and women walked on planks set across streets so deep with spring mud horses could be swallowed. On the tundra, life was a living hell with mosquitoes, gnats, white socks, and biting flies descending in clouds on warm-blooded creatures. On the flip side of the season, temperature could drop to 50 or 60 degrees below zero, cold enough to freeze a can of oil so solid it could be cut in half with a saw. With wind blasting at 100 miles an hour, the chill factor could go down to 100 degrees below zero, cold enough to freeze a person to death in a matter of minutes if he could not find proper shelter. In whiteout conditions, visibility could diminish to a foot in a matter of minutes.
It was, in a word, ALASKA.