Welcome to My Alaska
It is not a choice... it is a way of life!
In 1969 the State of Alaska put out an offer to all all United States Military Servicemen; to leave the Service and move to Alaska to serve as an Alaska State Trooper. With one little offer my young life was about to forever change when my dad took that deal and moved his young family to Alaska. By age 5 we hade lived in Anchorage, Kodiak, Chignik, Squaw Harbor and then Sand Point where we lived for many years off and on. None of these places could I explain to you today and they are not today what they were in the 70's. Bush life is not a concept many people understand or can live.... doing it in the Aleution Chain makes it so much more difficult for many reasons. It is there that I found my deep appreciation for Alaska and knew then that it would always be my home no matter where in it I lived.
Here you will find MY ALASKA in my words and views of it. In no way are any of my words meant to insult Alaska or its people, they are infact some of the most independent of mind and hardiest of people I have ever met. No more so than in the Aleution Chain where it today is ranked as the second most inhospitable place to survive and live on earth... but they do, and they thrive. Nowhere have I seen comparable weather where the winds can blow little doggies down the road or children have to walk home backwards from school because it hurts to walk forward... and, it is just easier to remain standing if going backwards. The winds are constant all day every day, because the Aleaution Chain sits on the ocean it rains a great deal, soooo ... rain + hurricane winds makes for bad bad hair days. Read about Alaska's 5 Regions to learn more about the different environmental challenges all Alaskans face everyday.
I have spent a couple decades living and travelling to Alaskas Bush Communities, usually with populations under 1,000 many I have been to have maybe 200 in population. Bush communites are generally Native lands or where Native villages existed in the beginning... through time some have grown with offices and businesses, schools and churches. Some, have not and remain with conditions that rival third world countries I am sad to say. Not all of Alaska's Native people have land that sits on oil nor do they get dividends but they own some serious land on awesome hunting grounds with so much to offer if they opened up their land to tourism.... heck just to Alaska residents would help them thrive because trust you me.... if you put a road there, we will go! We will go and play, hunt, open up more of Alaska ... so many reason yet I understand completely their desire to keep their ancestral lands untouched and prestine for their future generations. Alaska has what is called "Hubs", a bush community with population between 200 - over 1,000. Around these Hub communities exist small Native village communities that have no road access. Populations probably from 1-300 or so....they usually boat, snowmachine, fly or whatever to get to the Hubs but have no airport of their own. Hubs have airports where mail planes can land, this is where surrounding villages come to pick up their mail, get grocieries and visit family as nearly all villages surrounding a Hub is generally connected by blood.
I currently live in Rural Alaska.... not the same as Bush Alaska! Here we have something called the "road net" (road network).... if you cannot drive to where you live via road, path, moose trail then you are in Bush Alaska. If however you can drive to your house or community then you are in Rural Alaska and connected by the road network. You have the ability to drive out and get to a hospital .... mostly or atleast meet lifeguard or ... okay it is hard sometimes because well Alaska is tough that way. Many Alaskans do not live in a community per say but rather out in the forrest somewhere in a cabin, by themselves and they can only drive part way in... usually having to hike, fly, boat, atv or snowmachine the rest of the way (or all the way) in and back out. Crazy as it sounds Alaska probably has the least amount of roads than any state, drives us nuts that we cannot get more highways built and open up our state so we can get to more of it. We have a great deal of coastline that is not being used, lived on, built on.... endless!
Why do we live here? I think it boils down to ... Nature. Whether it be frozen or melting. I have never been anywhere in Alaska where I was not immediately engulfed by nature when outside, it wouldn't be uncommon to walk outside and run into a moose or a bear ... trust me when I say NOT a "how coooool" moment. With summer/winter seasons come the change in daylight, we find ourselves switching gears and therefore schedules. With 24 hours of daylight it is amazing how much one can get done hence, why we spend our summers catching up on everything that did not get done during the 24 hours of darkness. We tend to go into hibernation mode and catch up on all the things we were to busy to do in the summer.... yes, an endless cycle. A great deal of northern dwellers suffer from SAD... Seasonal Affective Disorder or light deficiency. I have family members who suffer with SAD, not to the point of needing the SAD light but it would not hurt them either. On the flip side, as a former EMT we responded to many calls during the midnight sun season sor heat stroke. Granted mostly tourists or Alaska's elderly but they all say they have never felt heat like it before and many were from places such as Texas and Arizona. With 24 hours of sun we are being continuously heated with little cool down time and can be unbearably hot.