About a year ago now, WC admitted to his patient readers that he was was leaving Alaska, moving to Boise, Idaho. WC offered some reasons for the move. A year, more or less, along, and after 10 months in Boise, let’s see how those reasons have played out.
- As a bird photographer, WC just needs two things to be happy: birds to photograph and light with which to photograph them. Six months of the year, you don’t find very much of either one in interior Alaska.
This has been fairly successful, as posts here on the blog have shown. Even through the winter, there were about 3-4 times as many species in the area as in Fairbanks in the winter. Spring birding started about 8 weeks earlier. And there are pockets of habitat that serve as refugia over the winter; Swan Falls, for example, had Double-crested Cormorants all winter. Hagerman Springs had American White Pelicans. In about 10 months, WC has seen about 155 species of birds in Idaho. So this reason has played out pretty well.
- Alaska’s economic future is pretty grim. Our politicians aren’t being sensible. And while WC has done a lot of bankruptcy work, it’s not his favorite area of practice and it’s not very much fun when it involves your friends and neighbors.
WC is sorry to report he was exactly right about this one. Idaho’s economy is reasonably strong, although wages here are low even by stateside standards. Alaska’s economy contunes to tank, and the Alaska Legislature continues to do nothing substantive about the crisis.
- WC really does care about climate change. He drives a Prius. He has an energy-efficient home. But when you are keeping a house warm against outdoor temperatures of -40° F, you are going to burn a lot of fossil fuel. That’s a lot of CO2 launched into the atmosphere. As well, all that dark means a lot of electrical demand, and almost all our electricity is generated with fossil fuels.
The low temperature in Boise this winter was about 10° F, and lasted only a couple of days. Certainly, the thermal wall here is a lot lower. WC’s heat is from natural gas, a considerable improvement over stove oil, and electricity. In Boise, electricity is 91% hydroelectric, 6% wind power and just 3% coal-fired. So, less heat required and much cleaner heat sources. True, summers require air conditioning. But that’s electric and 97% renewable energy. So, in terms of environmental responsibility, it’s been a win.
- Forty years as a lawyer takes a lot out of you. It’s time to try something different.
WC might be the least successfully retired lawyer around. WC still works a little more than half time, although he gets to do so in shorts and a t-shirt from the comfort of his home. There are occasional ten hour days. But, subject to court hearings and deadlines, the schedule is incredibly flexible. WC hopes to educate clients and colleagues about time zones soon. In terms of workload, it’s only a qualified success.
- Mrs. WC has done 25 years or more in Alaska; it’s time for WC to spend some time in her home state, the Gem State, Idaho.
Oddly, we don’t miss Alaska, but we do miss our friends. The summer heat is a challenge, but we can take refuge in the mountains, where it’s 15-20 degrees cooler. Boise bring challenges – the traffic is pretty bad – but city living allows you to walk to the grocery, the coffee shop, the vet and for haircuts. The bicycling is fabulous. Automobile drivers yield to pedestrians. And there are sidewalks. WC has never before lived where there were sidewalks. At least not since law school in Chicago. So, yeah, except for missing friends, this has worked out pretty well.
Some stuff is nearly new to WC. Warm air when it is pitch dark; liquid water when it is dark; stars on a summer evening. That sure didn’t happen in Fairbanks.
Four out of five. Not bad.