Sunday, October 27, 2013


I was watching something on TV today about Alaska. It was about families living off the land in northern Alaska. In the winter they can use their ATV's (4 wheeler 4wd vehicle or snowmobiles for transportation because there aren't really roads much that far north just trails and places to land boats and small airports.

They were trying to cross a river after the ice broke up on rivers near them and one family got their ATV's and dragged 1 to 2 foot 50 foot long logs across a river using chains and ATVs with pulleys. (A father and his sons likely 23 to 35 year old sons) with 3 ATVs. Then they put two in place and locked them in by notching 1 foot log anchors on either side of the river so they wouldn't roll sideways in the wind or from the terrain as the rain and snow came down and changed things there. Then they put a 3rd 50 foot long in place in between the other two by using the Egyptian method of taking smaller logs and using them as log wheels across the other two in place. But then, they had to eventually cut the rolling logs into the river so one of them had to climb out on the 3 logs and cut the underside of the last rolling log in the center under the river. In the lower 48 in the spring or summer this might not have been as dangerous as this situation but even in spring and summer often that far north the temperatures are not above the 40s during the daytime and the waters of rivers usually doesn't go above 34 degrees at most. So doing this was very dangerous for the man with the chain saw on many levels. But he succeeded and didn't cut himself or have his hands or feet cut and didn't fall off or get crushed.

Another family had less people to work on the problem so instead they using large fishing floats tied to the air vents on the ATV's wheels where the hubs are. This worked (unbelievably) but for safety they put a float not only on each of the 4 hubs but also one in front and one in back for safety in case one of the wheel floats came off mid stream. The man didn't want to be caught under his ATV at the bottom of the stream.

These sort of things remind me a lot of my life from the mid 1970s to about 1985 when I first helped friends build their houses in the Mt. Shasta Area and then had them help me build my own in the wilderness 10 miles from the nearest gas station and three miles from the nearest paved road.

I can remember one day (we were so remote) that everyone wanted to go on my motorcycle ( a 1974 Honda 250 XL and we all got on it including our dog and drove it up dirt roads up to 10,000 feet up Widow Springs Rd I believe  then until we reached the snow (I can't keep straight Widow Springs Drive from Widow Springs road now. One parallels around the mountain and one goes up the mountain and both then were dirt roads and likely still are or are crushed rock roads now. It was about late June or early July likely of 1981 or 1982 when we were there all summer. My wife and I were about 32 or 33, our kids were 5,6,8 and our dog Muffin a large ( Australian Terrier) beige terrier long hair the color of a muffin road on the handle bars when she got tired running alongside us. We never saw one person or car or truck the whole journey because we were so remote. I drove mostly under 10 miles per hour for safety but it was great fun back then to be young and alive and experimental and living in the wilderness far from everyone.  (I think the old pioneers settling the west experienced a lot of amazing things too if they weren't dying from one adversity or another.)

We also home schooled our 3 children from 1980 to 1985 when the oldest was 12. He informed us he wanted to go back to school at that point. So, we moved to the San Francisco Bay area and bought a business there where he graduated from High School there and became a fireman and now is a Fire Captain. All three kids have at least one college degree now too. This time living remotely made them all self starters and very resourceful and polite. We constantly got comments at how well behaved and nice they were to adults while they were being home schooled. It was a really good idea for all of them to do this and to have this kind of experience. It was amazing for all of us.

I felt more at home living that lifestyle from the 1970s to about 1985 then any lifestyle I have lived since. But, it is a lot of work living in the wilds and staying alive and having fun doing it. So, it is better if you are young and strong and extremely adaptable when you are doing this.

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