Alaskan Bush Adventure With Tirelesstraveler

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Alaska is one of the most fascinating places in the world. There are more misconceptions about this state than any other state. What do you know about Alaska? Do the words freezing,snow covered, constant night come to mind? Perhaps C.S. Lewis' "Always winter but never Christmas"?

If you have cruised the Alaskan coast you might think of Glaciers and mountains like Denali, also called Mt. McKinley. Do you think of, beautiful blue sky, Prince William Sound, historic towns like Haines and Skagway?

Do you think of Eskimos? Oil fields? Moose? Fishing? Freedom? Dog sledding? Many of these things are history.

Like sled teams. Not so many of those these days with planes snowmobiles and four-wheelers to do the work without so much care. Many parts of the state, while indeed remote, are not isolated from the outside world. The biggest misunderstanding is with the people of Alaska. Not all Alaskan Natives are Eskimos. There are also Athabaskan Indians, and various Yupik Native groups.

One of the biggest surprises about Alaska is how complicated it is to be a Native.

Tireless Traveler In Alaska

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Alaska Trivia

Alaska boasts some curious statistics.

There are approximately 570,641 square miles of land in Alaska vs. 3,531,905 square miles in the lower forty eight. The population in Alaska actually averages out to be 1.3 persons per square mile in Alaska and 87 people square mile in the lower forty eight.

Alaska also has the highest peaks in the northern hemisphere. Sixteen of the highest peaks in North America are in Alaska.

Rhode Island would fit into Alaska more than 400 times, Texas would fit two times into the land mass called Alaska.

There are mountain ranges and deserts. Thousands of rivers and lakes dot the state. Alaska boasts the most western point (Cape Wrangle) and the most northern point (Point Barrow) of the United states.

Rocks are hard to find along the Western Yukon River, so are trees. What look like trees are actually large shrubs.

The only battle fought on U.S. soil since the Civil War was fought in Alaska. Alaska was invaded by the Japanese in 1943. The aleutian Islands of Attu, Agattu and Kiska were captured for a short period of time.

Alaska is indeed a neighbor of Russia.

Northern Lights

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The history of Alaska is littered with colorful personalities like Jefferson C. Davis who was the first head of the Department of Alaska . He set up the first U.S. fort in Sitka in 1867 and remained there until 1870. The first head of Alaska had a reputation similar to many who have lived in Alaska. His name sounded like that of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. The Alaskan Davis murdered his superior officer, William "Bull" Nelson in 1862. Because the Army was desperate for experienced field officers he was returned to his Civil War Command.

Jefferson Randolph"Soapy"Smith was a colorful character in Alaska's history. He ran a gang of thieves. They were so smooth many didn't realize they had been fleeced until the deed was done. The Smith gang would meet new arrivals pretending to be ministers. They would befriend the new arrivals, then show them the safest place to keep their nest eggs. Would a man of the cloth be a cheat? Yes.

Family legend has Tirelesstraveler's grandfather dealing cards in Soapy's saloon in the late 1800's.

Alaska is adorned with beautiful colors as well as colorful people. Blue Glaciers and The Northern Lights shatter the gloom of winter and bring fairy tale wonder to the people of Alaska.


Mountain Range From Jetliner

Despite the weather Alaska was beautiful from so many angeles.
Despite the weather Alaska was beautiful from so many angeles. | Source

Hi My Name Is Judy!

Hi everyone. I would like to introduce myself. I am Judy. I have known Tirelesstraveler all her life. Today she took a quiz on Face Book called "How Weird Are You"? She got 56 percent weird and this only surprised me because I would have thought she was weirder. Tirelesstraveler was in Alaska last summer. She has been having a hard time getting this adventure into words. Frankly it has been driving us both crazy. She talked about going to Alaska for six months before she went last year. She would have talked about it the rest of the year if she hadn't had other trips to keep her occupied. TT has asked me to help her. I think it is past time; she just made the decision to return to Alaska next summer.

Many have asked what she was thinking going into the Alaskan Bush alone?

I knew exactly what she was thinking. "Adventure! Here is my chance to see why friends Ed and Shannon have poured so many years into Camp. She would have been thinking - girl, you are so qualified to work with kids in the middle of nowhere."

I believe she inherited her adventurous spirit from her grandfather. Her Grandfather was a German immigrant, who saw most of the world before he died in 1945, nearly ten years before Tireless was born.

Here comes Tireless, lets see if she is ready to tell you about her trip.

Yukon Delta From Nine Passenger Plane

Alaska Yukon Delta from bush plane.
Alaska Yukon Delta from bush plane. | Source

TT: "Hey, Judy! Thanks you so much for helping with this interview. There is so much I want people to know about this trip, but my thoughts are all over the place."

J: "It is my pleasure to help you. Are you ready to begin? Take a seat and get comfortable. Ready?"

TT: "Yes, I am very comfortable. I will never take a comfortable chair for granted. Any chair is comfortable after three weeks standing, sitting on wooden chairs,or in aluminum boats or on the cold wet ground"

J: " What were you doing sitting on cold wet ground?"

TT: "I was hammering tent stakes. Actually, I was kneeling, not sitting."

J: "OK, why did you go to Alaska? What were you thinking?"

TT: " I think it has something to do with my infatuation with MacGuyver".

J: " 'Hold It - is there a point here? What does MacGuyver on T.V. and Tireless going to Alaska have to do with anything? "


TT: "Yes. I explained what I would be doing to just about everyone I knew. I talked to groups and individuals. Telling them that I would be working with Native kids between the ages of 9 and 18 at a summer camp. There was also the possibility I would be helping my friend in the kitchen. I have experience working in both areas"

Western Yukon River Basin From The Air

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TT: "Come on Judy give me a minute, you know I am a story teller. Rewind back to MacGuyver infatuation. The dogs and I were at the park. There is a maze of locked gates. The ball went over the fence into the maze. Trying to get it back I tried all sorts of things. I tried using the end of the Chuck-It, tried to snag the ball with the end of the leash. Finally Joe P. Dog went under the fence and retrieved it. Anyway I like to pretend I am MacGuyver. Alaska seemed like a MacGuyver adventure."

J: "Well...Did you say Joe P. finally went under the fence and got the ball?"

TT: "Yes".

J: "You were outsmarted by a dog?"

TT: " No Joe P. was my assistant. Everyone needs assistance when attempting to do something out of the ordinary."

J: " Did you enlist others to help you on this adventure?"

TT: "Yes. I explained what I would be doing to almost everyone I knew. I talked to groups and individuals telling them that I would be working with Native kids between the ages of 9 and 18 at a summer camp. There was also the possibility I would be helping my friend in the kitchen. I have experience working in both areas"

Foxy Local Inhabitants

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How Did You Get The Idea To Go...

TT: "Fourteen years ago friends told me they were going to Alaska. When they returned home we heard nothing until the following spring when they were preparing to return. They were amazed with the camp. Camp AN is a summer camp that Yupik native kids attend. They went back the next year and then the next, I became intrigued with the stories they told about the kids and the hardships of Natives. As the years went by I could hardly wait to get their annual spring letter.

I always thought going to Alaska would be interesting. Apparently my grandfather went to Alaska and we know a family from Alaska. Their eldest son has lived with us .

Just about the time I was ready to go to camp five years ago cancer detoured me. A year ago, November, my health was good, 'I decided now was the time be the year.' I wanted to see this place that caused perfectly sane people, my friends, to leave a nice home, and go live in a tent in the Alaska bush every summer. You weren't required to stay for two camps, but if it takes you two days to get there you ought to stay awhile".

More Wildlife

This guy was the closest I got to wild life.  Thank goodness for telephoto lens.  This was taken at about 3 am.
This guy was the closest I got to wild life. Thank goodness for telephoto lens. This was taken at about 3 am. | Source

J: " I thought you said you were in Alaska for three weeks? Did it rain every day you were there?

TT: "Well... Yes it did."

J: " O.K. what was so extraordinary?"

TT: " It was cool, wet, overcast, and the sun set for a couple of hours each day. I loved it."

J: " Are you kidding?"

TT: " Not at all. The weather wasn't very good. Most of my luggage didn't get there until a week after I did. The facilities were primitive, but the showers were hot. We didn't have the usual mosquitoes because of the constant wind. I saw pictures from the summer before and you could see people covered with mosquitoes."

J: " This trip doesn't sound extraordinary, it sounds awful. Did you enjoy yourself at all."

TT: "I loved it,"

J; "What there to love?"

TT: "People. Complicated wonderful people. Walking around at midnight taking pictures of flowers,foxes and the bright sun. Watching how the sun moves around in a circle as it rises and sets during the summer. The way people worked together as a team was interesting. How the kids responded to adults was fascinating.

Wind Rain And Sun

A typical afternoon
A typical afternoon | Source

Turbulence

Wind through the rushes
Wind through the rushes | Source

What Was So Special About Your Trip To Alaska Beside The Location?

J: "So, friend, what was so extraordinary about your trip that you told groups and everyone you knew?"

TT: " Many people take cruises to Alaska. Mostly they cruise the southern part of Alaska. When they go inland it is up to Denali and toward Fairbanks. Fishing and camping is popular during the summer. Many go to the top of the world, Barrow. It's the top of the world. A lot of people work on the northern slope. They see glaciers and mountains and it is just beautiful,"

I heard a lot about Alaska from my adopted kid B.J. He was driving me to his house the night I came in from the bush. He was describing the beauty of the The Sisters, Flat Top and Prince William sound. The fog and rain were so thick I didn't see much of anything but fog and rain. Anchorage was overcast when I arrived and it was overcast when left. Apparently the summer of 2014 was the rainiest summer in recent memory."

TT:" From the time I decided to go and began the process everything fell apart. I began a new chemo-therapy. Supposedly the side effects would be minimal. No hair loss and I would be feeling good. It was going to be wonderful. I charged on with plans for Alaska. I filled out the application for Camp and permission for a background check. My background check came back clear. When I didn't feel well in February, our friend, Younde, booked my flights. I was concerned about the timing of my treatments and my trip; the doctor assured me we could work around the trip.

By March I was no longer hiking. I wasn't anemic, but the medicine was effecting my liver. I felt crummy.

June 19th I was getting ready to leave for treatments when my nurse called. "I am so glad you haven't left yet. Your platelets are too low for treatments this week. We will reschedule for next week."

"Wow what a day. I just got a whole afternoon back. Farmers Market here I come! Then it occurred to me I couldn't eat my way out of a failing liver. Most of my cancer journey has been successful because of my healthy eating habits."

Luggage Transfer St. Mary's

Tireless's worst nightmare was being stuck in St. Mary's because of weather.
Tireless's worst nightmare was being stuck in St. Mary's because of weather. | Source

The next week the same thing happened. I was beginning to feel stronger. Still the thought of what the cancer was doing without treatment kept me wondering. Delays went on until the the end of June.

I couldn't delay any longer. I had to call my friend whom I was meeting in Alaska, and tell her there was a chance my trip would be cancelled. Platelets help blood clot. Being a long way from medical treatment without healthy platelets to clot bleeding is not a good idea.

The Medic at camp was a doctor instead of the usual nurse was the main information calling my friend revealed.

My husband said 'If the doctors says O.K. you should go'. The doctor finally said your platelets aren't too bad. You should go."

Typical Transportation Traveling Throughout The Yukon Basin

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Tireless This Just Gets Worse

T: "...So go I did. In San Francisco, I posted on Face Book; "Boarding my flight to Anchorage", then turned off my phone. In Seattle when I turned on my phone there were 49 likes and 15 comments on my Face Book post. I didn't know I had that many friends on FB!

I got to Anchorage. I spent the night on the floor of a church in Anchorage. We flew out to the bush the next day. I was really looking forward to receiving the box I had mailed myself a month before. I was a little worried when the airline agent weighed my suitcase and said,'Twenty five pounds isn't much for a trip to Emmonak.' We had a lay over in Saint Mary's and it was a sight watching luggage transferred from the big jet (39 passengers) to the bush plane(9 passengers) via a backhoe. Extreme mud calls for extreme measures.

We landed in Emmonak and my ride was in a trailer attached to a four wheeler. I was with a gal who had been to camp AN many times. It was when we got to the village I discovered the luggage I had sent ahead wasn't there.

It was partly cloudy when I pulled on my rain boots, rain jacket and hat and climbed aboard the boat that would take us to camp. It started to rain and I discovered I had two fleece hats and no gloves. We went up the river to Camp loaded with building supplies. I met my friend Shannon on the river bank as she promised, and we had a joyous reunion."

Here Is Camp From The Air

It was next to the boat Shannon and Tireless had their joyous reunion.
It was next to the boat Shannon and Tireless had their joyous reunion. | Source

J: "Wait! Where do you think you're going? I have all sorts of questions left to ask you. Why is being a native so complicated. What....do you think you are doing?

Tireless just left the room. I am so sorry. She is a little hyper sometimes. Thank you so much for joining me for this interview. Be sure to watch for the next part of this adventure."

Judy

"Tireless come back here!"



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Comments 28 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

A very fun read. What a great way to tell us about your Alaska. You make it sound like a must see adventure. Thank you. And I still need to know more about the complicated natives.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

Eric, Hub got way too long. I hope there is only one more to go, but who knows, I never thought this one would go so long.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

It sounds like an incredible adventure, especially with the daylight hours. Even though you had bad weather and the challenge of chemo effects it does sound like you enjoyed yourself.


Romanian profile image

Romanian 22 months ago from Oradea, Romania

Alaska it's a beautiful place with a lot of magic natural landscapes. And it's not as crowded as the rest of USA or Europe.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

FlourishAnyway, Alaska is amazing. Some really interesting things happened with the chemo. I really need to get writing:)


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Alaska has a lot to offer and great variety. I love it in the springtime and summer when the flowers are amazing and so many tiny wild creatures are about. I think it has about five different kinds of bears, beluga whales, I even saw beavers and a beaver den. It's a different story in winter when there are so few hours of daylight, but it can still be very beautiful. Did you know that lemmings mate under the snow? Thanks for the interesting write.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

Lemmings mating under the snow is certainly news to me. I have always been intrigued by nature


MsDora profile image

MsDora 22 months ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for the interesting facts about Alaska at the start, and for sharing this Alaskan adventure. I'd love to visiting this fascinating state.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

MsDora, Greetings! It isn't easy to get to Alaska, but very much worth the visit. I feel somewhat privileged to have been pruning my lemon bush today while reading this post from my Alaskan friend on face book, "It has finally gotten warm enough for the kids to go outside." That means it's about 20 or above. The Yukon looked like it was frozen. Burr!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 22 months ago from Maui and Arizona

What a brave spirit you are! Alaska on your own would be amazing enough, but with cancer.....it's just unbelievable. Great attitude, Judy. Today I've also read your hub about your hair loss. I enjoy your humor and I admire your strength.

Alaska?? I've been thinking of Alaska the past couple of months for several reasons, one being a show my husband liked on Netflix so he wanted me to watch all 16 or 18 episodes with him. It's called Railroad Alaska. A month ago I could have told you all the names of the towns on 300 miles of railroad. It's the first reality show I've ever watched (because we don't watch tv per say) and it was really interesting to hear these very independent folks' philosophy on living in Alaska off-grid (not near any roadways.) They get around by skidoo and railway. You've got to be hardy to live there and adventurous to go there. Best wishes to you always.

Voting up and away, Pinning and Sharing.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

Pamela, I live with cancer, and love with cancer and laugh with cancer so why not travel. Thanks so much for stopping for a visit and pinning and sharing.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 22 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Alaska is one state I have always wanted to visit, but have not yet been fortunate to have had the pleasure. I want to see this extraordinary land, now, more than ever. Thank you for sharing this journey. Voted up +++.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

Genna East, it's so worth it. Thanks for visiting.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 22 months ago from California

I have visited only once and never on the inland at all and not during winter! It is on my list of places to return to though! This was so fun and interesting!


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 22 months ago from Minnesota

This is exactly the adventure vacation that I would love to experience in Alaska someday. What a great article to read. Very interesting!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 22 months ago from New York

My trip to Alaska pales in comparison to yours. We did the usual but not on a cruise, we rented an RV, with two of my kids and their better halves. Yes, we did Denali, viewed Mt. McKinley, etc. but you, you did Alaska like a native! How amazing. Can't wait for part 2.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

tillsontitan, Thanks for visiting. You have made my day. part 2 is almost finished.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

Audrey, I am not sure how I would do during the winter. I really like dressing for winter, but I watch my family shovel snow for several months a year and I think, "It might be fun for awhile, but not permanently".


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 22 months ago from California Author

colorfulone, thanks for your enthusiasm. I have none at the moment and I need to look for tickets to go back this summer.


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 22 months ago from Indonesia

What a special trekking to Alaska !. I love your story not to mention the photos and the picture of that fox is very cool.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 21 months ago from California Author

agusfanani, thanks very much for visiting. There is are a couple of funny stories about that fox that will show up in my next hub.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

What a great adventure. I'm so glad to hear you are feeling better. I totally understand why you took this trip. I spent a year teaching in the interior of Alaska in a small native village. It was the most fascinating experience of my life.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 20 months ago from Dubai

Wow! What a place to go to!! Amazing Alaska. Enjoyed reading and glad you are feeling better.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 20 months ago from California Author

Vellur, thanks for visiting. I am hoping to have the next installment of this adventure finished soon.


ReviewsfromSandy profile image

ReviewsfromSandy 20 months ago from Wisconsin

Alaska is on my husband's bucket list. Very interesting adventure.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 20 months ago from California Author

ReviewsfromSandy, Thanks for visiting. You will love it. Most people never get to the West Coast and though it isn't as pretty as the mountains it is lovely.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

You are certainly adventurous with your traveling. I am happy for you that you were able to go and I'll definitely look forward to reading part 2. Interesting how you related this story via the interview. Most of the people I know who have visited Alaska have done so via cruising however I do know 2 people who lived and worked there for a while. Beautiful state! Up votes and happy to share.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 19 months ago from California Author

Peggy, Thanks for visiting. I am working on part II right now, just needed to take a break.

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