The airport in Bethel, Alaska, population 6,080, consists of one room with a concrete floor and a single baggage carousel. Rather than suitcases and duffles, though, it spins forth cardboard boxes scribbled with names and large plastic containers held together with duct-tape. I watched as one sturdy woman wrestled a Rubbermaid bin filled with tampons onto her luggage cart.

Alaska may have an overabundance of wildlife, natural beauty, and stick-to-itiveness, but it sorely lacks basic infrastructure. In small towns like Bethel, gasoline costs $6 to $8 a gallon, and there are few roads available to get consumer goods out of urban centers and into the shops that dot the grassy steppe. At the Swanson’s grocery store in town, a can of Folger’s coffee runs $18.55, a gallon of apple cider goes for over $20, and a box of Bisquick for $12. Locals have few options other than to make the occasional journey to Anchorage, where they grab up basics and check their stockpiles as luggage. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog