Bear on porch

Overhead view of a partially frozen river in Alaska

I’ve spent plenty of time camping and fishing in Alaska, but by no means was I any sort of diehard outdoorsman. In fact, I was and still am far from it. It was mostly in my late teens and early twenties that I spent any time camping and fishing. For sure it was fun and yes I enjoyed it, but the older I got the more I realized that the Alaskan dream simply wasn’t me. Looking back, it’s easy to see that it never was me at all.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I finally figured something out. I’m happier spending my time in pursuit of different hobbies such as music, and working with computers. I guess I realized that I kind of enjoy the more technical things in life.

In a way, I think I feel a little out of place here in Alaska. Other members of my family can’t wait to jump in the truck and head out on the road for a weekend of camping fun and adventure. To me it’s simply more work that needs to be done. I certainly don’t come home after a couple nights of camping and say, “Well, wasn’t that just refreshing!” No, I come home smelling like campfire and than have to unload the cooler and do the laundry.

Then, when it’s finely time to sit down and relax, it’s the end of the weekend and I know I have to work the next day. How is that any kind of fun? Am I downer or a pessimist?

I’d like to say I’m not, but then again, who knows.

Random Alaska mountain

One thing that gets me about Alaska is driving by particular places on the side of the highway that are littered with dozens of broken down vehicles scattered haphazardly around an unfinished home. This is classic, so be prepared to see this if you visit Alaska and do any kind of driving around.

And further more, the spectacle wouldn’t be complete unless there was at least one broken down backhoe and a couple old freezers speckled across the lawn as an added bonus.

It’s ugly and I don’t like it, but you know what? My opinion doesn’t matter in the least. I guess it’s just one of those things that gives Alaska its character. Don’t get me wrong, I think Alaska’s great and I think it’s a beautiful place, but I will never understand that mentality or frame of mine. I suppose to go with all those junked out cars, you’d need a pretty big shop so you can at least pretend that you’re going to fix them all up one day.

Eye soar. That’s the word I’m looking for.

But back to the great outdoors. I’m not a hunter. I’m not particularly good at shooting guns. In fact, I don’t even know how the caliber of a gun is measured nor do I understand what the “grain” of a bullet means. I think it might be kind of cool to learn to do archery one day, but what practical use would I have for that?

I’m definitely not planning on heading out to the woods with some crazy idea of hunting a bear with nothing but a bow and some arrows to prove my manhood. First off, I have a hunch that bear meat would not taste very good. I know some would argue with me on this point, but come on, I mean they eat dead whales…

Bear on porch

Don’t be fooled. This bear looks like it’s peacefully sleeping on that porch. Well, maybe it is. But nonetheless, it’s still probably dreaming about rolling around in some bloated humpback whale carcass. Just look at that smug brown bear.

And second, that brings me to another point. I know I’m going to ruffle a lot of feathers with this one, but I’m going to say it anyway. I’m just not into sport hunting. It doesn’t make me feel tough or manly or anything like that to see animal heads mounted on the wall. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to make the interior of the house feel warmer and more inviting or what. But that just isn’t for me.

While I’m thinking about it, I have a few more things to say about doing macho things outdoors. Particularly about fishing in the Russian River.

Let me begin by saying in all sincerity that I truly wish I had the desire like many others to be out there in the middle of nature soaking in all the sunshine (or rain whatever) and enjoying the majesty of it all.

Here’s how I imagine one scenario going down. It’s mid may, about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the sun is shining and it’s a sweltering 62° F (16.66° C) out and I’ve just thrown my line back in the water when a feisty bear gets too close to my stash of salmon and Jack Link’s original angry sasquatch big steak beef sticks, 2.4 oz variety.

Bad news…

For the bear.

I whip out my .45 Magnum Chrome triple barrel quasi-automatic Remington Outdoor Special with optional 5 safety squeeze grip at that bear and shout, “Hey bear! That’s my salmon. And I don’t even like salmon! But I’ve got 18 bullets here that got your name on’em!”

Cause it’s America right? That’s what we do here.

And that bear would turn around, tuck its silly little tail between its legs and hightail it out of there. That’s right, let it try its luck with someone less macho than me. Then I’d turn around and put my hands on my hips and have a good chuckle.

But seriously, I’ve heard all kinds of stories about brown bears and the Russian River. So I have this crazy idea. If I stay at home doing my web coding, I stand a very good chance of not getting mauled by a brown bear. Did you know brown bears are really big and strong?

Now let’s talk about moose. Believe it or not, they’re even more dangerous than the brown bears. Can you believe that? Yeah, it’s true.

They got this kicking and trampling thing that you want to avoid. And they can have a bad attitude at times. Also a couple of people I know have been charged by upset moose. So that’s just another thing I worry about. At least Alaska doesn’t have any poisonous snakes. That’s like a thing for me. There are however earthquakes in Alaska, and I’m not too keen on earthquakes.

Kachemak Bay

So how come all of this crazy stuff hasn’t made me leave earlier you ask? The simple answer is…I would have liked to.

The not so simple answer is…we quite frankly weren’t able to until very recently, due to a few different factors that would be best left unsaid. But now that things are moving forward, it’s refreshing to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with some mixed feelings that things didn’t work out at all like I had hoped. I’m a bit resentful sometimes that it took so long before I got the chance to travel. Especially overseas. Sometimes things get handed to people, sometimes they don’t.

Apart from being able to show Nathan a bunch of neat places throughout the United States such as the Mall of America, Valley Fair, the Denver Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, and Niagara Falls, I am really looking forward to one day visiting a bunch of different places in Europe, as well as some others in Scandinavia. That is what I look forward to.

It’s not having a huge house, not having two fancy cars, not having a high paying career. None of those things are important to our family. We want to do what we enjoy doing together and traveling as a family. Nathan has an AffloVest now which has freed up so much time for everyone to get on with their day and not let CF take so much of our time. We can all drive and he can sit in the back seat with his vest doing what he needs to do. It’s so cool.

Before I wrap this all up though, a want to say a few words on how I feel about the length of winters in Alaska. It is after all, one of the driving forces behind us wanting to visit other places outside of Alaska. I live in Anchorage, and it’s considerably milder here than in the interior of the state. But, I’ve lived almost my whole life in Alaska and I’m getting kind of tired of the long winters. The heating bills are so much higher in the winter. When it gets really cold, all I think about is how much figurative cash is getting burned in the figurative stove to keep all four units of the fourplex warm.

Surprisingly, I’m not even getting tired of snow shoveling. But that’s easy to do when you don’t have to snow shovel because your wife and son do it for you . So we’ve made a judgement call since we’re so tired of the snow and the long winters. We’re moving to Maine. Good thing I don’t like to eat lobster.

Seward small boat harbor

Alaska really has a lot to offer those who love being outdoors in addition to having some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the world. But I feel that it’s time for us to move on and see what else is out there. I’ll always remember views like this of the Seward boat harbor. I’ve spent plenty of time out on the waters here fishing for halibut. But there will be plenty of places along the road to make new memories.

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