Gates, Nancy, editor. Alaska Almanac. Alaska Northwest Books. Softbound. 232 pages plus index. $12.95.

Good grief, it can't possibly be 30 years since the first issue of the almanac was published. Apparently the U.S. appetite for facts and figures is still unsatisfied. Or perhaps this is a staple of Saturday afternoon bar bets during the Alaska winter. Whatever, once again all manner of useful and friendly facts are lined up for our delectation. Think of it as a smorgasbord; all sorts of small dishes ranging from tart - "Hikers in Alaska must plan for cold, wet and rapidly changing weather. Take rain gear." To sweet - a recipe for Indian Fried Bread; served hot with powdered sugar or honey there's nothing tastier. There's the exotic - "Mukluks that have been exposed to water or dampness should be hung in a cool place to dry slowly". The comfort food - all sorts of lists of national and state parks and their main attractions as well as how to contact them; annual community events, info on towns including a pronunciation guide for unusual names; national historic places and what makes them famous; a discussion of the native peoples and their cultures; government officials; a list-maker's dream.

Meat? Of course. The large and small land and marine mammals of Alaska are listed along with their characteristics and habitats.

Certainly there's something for everyone. The almanac is the perfect gift for the friends or family planning a trip to the Far North. It will save you from lots of explanations, but keep your own copy on hand to take a quick peek if someone wants to know why there are no counties in Alaska.

Mr. Whitekeys has various comments for dessert. A nice one: "A report from a park ranger leading a hike to the top of a small mountain in an area where there were no trails. An apprehensive tourist asked, 'If there are no trails, how will we know when we get to the top?'"

So, bon appetit.

D. L.