“I don’t have any artifacts of my profession in my house; the Oscar is in storage.” -William Hurt
For the most part your geographical location doesn’t play a huge role in the rules of storage. There are general things that you cannot put in a storage unit, and there are some good guidelines on how best to store certain items. Again, these hold true from Massachusetts to Texas to California. The rules are the rules. As far as the ‘you cannot store these items’ goes, the list looks something like this;
Flammable items. Gas, propane etc. Also, if you’re storing your lawn mower, snow blower or scale model Cessna, you have to drain them of gas before you store them. It just makes sense, you don’t want your unit, or the units surrounding yours, catching fire. Common sense.
Firearms, live animals, stolen goods, illegal drugs, dead bodies. These all make the list of nope, you cannot keep those in a storage unit. They should be self explanatory but, for the neophyte, here’s a quick answer to the “but why not?” question. Firearms because someone could steal them, shoot someone and blame you. And, even if you’re not blamed, someone has been shot. Live animals because, well, they don’t like that kind of thing and there would be the stink and the animal by products to clean up. Stolen goods. Well, if you stole them then they’re hot and that’s illegal and that causes problems for the people who own the storage center and, for you as well. The owner won’t be doing a nickel in Chino but you will. Drugs, again, illegal and you’re going to get caught with them and then you’re going to spend 10-20 with your back to the wall. Don’t do it. As for dead bodies, there is a time and a place, you know what I mean.
A Butter Sculpture of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Sad, but true, you cannot keep your butter sculpture in a storage unit. It attracts bugs, animals and the United Historical Butter Society, which has a tendency to hold wine and cheese parties at odd times and often, they get rowdy.
Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait for You” doesn’t mean they want to wait in a storage unit. You cannot kidnap a band and keep them in your storage unit.
Pretty obvious and, as I said, the rules for storage do’s and don’ts are pretty universal. Except …
There is an exception to every rule and Alaska is the exception when it comes to storage. All the usual no you cannot and sure you can, storage rules apply when storing things in Alaska with one major exception. When putting anything into a storage unit in Alaska you have to ask the question; “Would a Kodiak bear like this?”
The Kodiak bear is a subspecies of brown bear and one of the two largest bears alive today. The other being the polar bear. Although the Kodiak bear resembles its brother browns in many ways, there is a variant about them that you need to keep in mind when storing things in their geographic area. The Kodiak bear is widely known as an epicurean. While keeping perishable goods in a storage unit is a no-no it goes double for Alaska. Bears, especially the Kodiak, have an incredibly keen sense of smell. They can smell your honey, Vienna sausages or case of pineapples from at least 7 miles away. Once they get that smell in their noses, they will stop at nothing to get their paws on it. A Kodiak bear will scale the fence, rip the door open and consume all your precious charcuterie collection in a matter of minutes.
This is true for most bears but the Kodiak goes even further. This species of bear has a taste for fine antiques, particularly items from the Northern Song Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, and from the reign of the Louis the XIV, The Sun King. Although these Dynasties are the bear’s main focus they have been known to collect fine porcelain figures, Hummels, Depression Glass and old movie posters. Trackers of the bears have told stories of coming upon their dens and discovering that they are decked out like a parlour in Versailles. Once the bear has acquired an item they’re fond of, they will guard that item jealousy. Tracker/hunter and sometimes contributor to Stuck in the Woods Magazine, Simpson Grimmwelt, tells the story of confronting a Kodiak bear who had stolen a framed Sergeant painting from a storage unit. Simpson, hired by the unit owners to retrieve their painting, held one of the bear’s cubs hostage and proposed a trade, the cub for the painting. Bypassing all it’s natural, maternal instincts, the bear didn’t just rush Simpson, kill him and get her cub back, rather, the bear sat down to a very long negotiation. In the end, Simpsons as able to recover the painting by trading the cub, a shoe box full of 1936 campaign buttons and tickets to the Antique Roadshow. Legend has it that some clear, moonlit nights, you can hear the bear howling about the loss of the painting. It’s a mournful and spine tingling sound which serves as a warning to anyone who keeps fine art or valuable antiques in a storage unit in Kodiak country.
So, good rule of thumb, when storing in Alaska, ask yourself, would this appeal to a Kodiak bear? If you think, even for a second, perhaps it would, don’t store it, keep it locked in your home. It’s not just for the preservation of your valuables but, it’s also important for the natural balance of the world. Often times, Kodiak bears are heinously mocked by other bears for their expensive tastes and taunted with cries of “You think you’re better than us?” This leads to aggressive behavior, fights, bloodshed and embarrassment. Alaska is one of the last great frontiers and the delicate balance can be easily upended by careless storing so, be aware, think ahead and help preserve this vital and exciting land.