Adam has had a surprise arranged for me for several months. I had no idea until we got here. I just couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. What does he know about Anchorage? And what could we be doing that the girls (8 and 2) couldn't join in on? I needed to be dressed for the outdoors but we weren't doing something outdoorsy. Wah?
So yesterday, the Future Gov and her husband Jake come over, brother in law is getting ready, I'm dressed for the cold, and Adam tells me to bring my earplugs. I immediately know what it is: "I GET TO SHOOT THINGS!!!" I yell and start jumping up and down.
Adam had arranged for brother in law to borrow a gun (in Alaska one does not need a license to be in possesion of or to use a fire arm- I think). We were going to a shooting range so I could shoot a gun.
I have always wanted to learn how to shoot. Growing up, my dad kept 6 guns in a case - 5 rifles and a shotgun, I think. He would go hunting from time to time. Deer, moose, subsistence. He promised to teach me to shoot when I was 12. One winter when I was about 14 and my family was up the Chilkat River in Haines, staying in a cabin my dad built, he finally agreed to teach me. He gave me his smallest rifle, had me lay down flat in the snow, gun rested on a snow berm, paper plates for targets stapled to trees. I had lousy aim and we never did it again.
I'm not a fan of guns and I'm pretty pro-gun control. I mean, who needs semi-automatics? But, I do want to learn to shoot, both rifles and hand guns. I think it's a good skill and some day I'd like to go hunting. I'm intimidated by the idea, of course, but if I'm going to eat meat I think I should be prepared to hunt. Anyway.
We had to drive up to Chugiak, about 20 miles north of Anchorage to get to a shooting range open in December. It was a nice place, outdoors with a beautiful view of a large mountain range. Cold. We shared a.... I don't know the proper term, a stable? with a very nice dad and his two boys. Thankfully, they were too nice to mock our lousy shooting. It had to do with the gun we had. It was HUGE. I have no idea what purpose this gun serves, or whose hand is large enough to comfortably carry this thing. It was a Smith and Wesson .44. Really, really large, with tremendous kick. I could see the blast of orange out the tip of the gun as it fired.
The gun scared me. As well it should. After my first two bullets I put the gun down and said "I don't like this." It felt unweildy, and honestly it was a lot of power - scary stuff. I tried again with another round and a half. I realized it wasn't shooting that was problematic, but it wasn't the right gun for me.
All four of us liberals, shooting guns, looking completely out of place with the camo and pick up trucks and manliness. Yet, no one mocked us for our noviceness and the Future Gov and I got nothing but support despite being two of three women. I totally want to learn to shoot.
And today, Adam, brother in law, nieces and I went ice skating outside on a lagoon the city maintains for iceskating. They zamboni it and everything. It is truly awesome. And cold.
Tomorrow is our last day here. I feel as though I've spent enough time to get my fill of fam and Alaska, so I don't feel cut short before heading back to Oakland. I look forward to being warmer, my own place, my cats, my own routine - it's hard having a two year old hang on my every motion ("Nini, wha you do?" every three minutes).
Bay Area? Alaska? Bay Area? Alaska? I wish I didn't feel compelled to choose.