Enjoying an Alaskan winter

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Well, here you are, at Eielson. You've just recently arrived and you are still trying to figure out just where Eielson AFB is on the map, let alone adjust to the assignment. Fall is in full effect and before you know it, the long cold winter has set in.

Common misconceptions that some have here at Eielson AFB are that due to the extreme winter conditions, activities are limited. If only that were true: the real question is, what are you going to do to keep from going crazy this winter?

This may come as a big surprise but getting involved is a great way to survive the winter.

There are several volunteer opportunities that exist both on and off base. Have you ever thought about helping with the after school programs? The youth center and seasonal sports programs are mostly run and supported by volunteers.

OK, so you've been at work all day, you're tired and the last thing you want to do is be around a bunch of kids. Another great program is Airmen Against Drunk Drivers. The program is available to ensure Airmen have a safe and reliable way to get home if they've had too much to drink.

What about getting involved in the community? Local animal shelters depend on volunteers to help take care of animals waiting to be adopted.

These are just a few examples that come to mind of how we can help others either on base or in the community and keeping busy at the same time.

While helping others is important, taking personal time to do the things you love is just as important.

Even in the winter, Alaska has a lot of recreational activities to offer. Snow machining, ice fishing and cross-country skiing are great ways to get out and enjoy Alaska. If you dress appropriately, these sports can be very exhilarating.

Alaska also has several natural phenomena that are truly amazing. Chena Hot Springs is a tourist attraction that has two totally contrasting exhibits. The first is a naturally heated outdoor pool that is warm year round. Secondly, there is a house made entirely of ice, which is also maintained year round.

One of the most popular phenomena in Alaska is the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights can be easily seen from Eielson AFB during the winter months, however, the best viewing can be seen when you aren't near base lights.

Now that you know about all the things to do in Alaska and are ready to get involved, what about that friend that always stays in their room? You know - the non-adventurous type. They just play video games, read books or even worse, spend most of their down time drinking.

Would you consider asking them to come with you? With some gentle persuasion, just maybe they'll come out of their shells and together, you can begin to enjoy the many winter activities Alaska has to offer.