Currently living/working: Summer work (guiding, Airbnbs) will wrap up next month, but August was still bananas!
Current mood: I’m still in fired-up summer mode, but I can definitely feel myself physically and mentally slowing down.
Currently excited for: Ready to trade chaos for calm and to take a break from fulfilling the needs of tourists!
Currently not excited for: Even though I love hibernation, the downward climb toward winter and darkness will always be saddening to me. Watching the sun’s arc flattening daily, the ground squirrels prepping to go narcoleptic and the sandhill cranes making their way south … they are all reminders that winter mode could dominate any day now. For the record, our first big snowfall in 2021 was 9/17, and we didn’t see ground again until May. We had snow on Aug. 9, but thankfully it didn’t last. But our days are numbered!
Currently regretting: Remarkably, we’ve checked off many of our summer projects, one of which was to take brush/dead trees from our property to our transfer station for chipping. We took one load, but we wanted to take another, and now they are maxed out and are no longer accepting brush!
Current confession: My seesaw mood saying goodbye to summer also conjures up the love-hate relationship I have with seasonals and the hordes of tourists. ATVers and Mopeders ZOOOOOOM down Hilltop (our road), often between the hours of 12am-3am. And the post office is ALWAYS crowded (we have a PO Box, so go at least once a week to pick up mail and packages). I realize it’s an ungrateful complaint because they are simultaneously boosting our economy!!!! Can’t live in paradise without that tradeoff!!!!
Currently proud of: Many of you probably heard by now that Outside & Backpacker magazines merged, and just recently, the umbrella company announced Backpacker in print would be no more. The writing has been on the wall for awhile, but it is still so very bittersweet. I can remember reading Backpacker when I first got into hiking. Justin & I scoured the pages of Backpacker’s Gear Guide to choose what tent we wanted to buy for our Appalachian Trail thru hike, and went with the Big Agnes Copper Spur, which had won Editor’s Choice. In any case, Justin & I both took on assignments for the last issue (“Most Influential Gear of the Last 50 Years”), but I took the end of the print issues as an opportunity to close my chapter as category manager for trekking poles. We both were given the opportunity to move to category managers for Outside print, but I politely declined. It’s hard to walk away from a steady gig, but I feel like I thrive more in features on people and places! In fact, I just had another article with Adventure.com come out, this time about the legendary Ken Yager and the colorful history of climbing in Yosemite. I’m getting back in pitching mode for the fall/winter, and excited about the possibilities. For the record, Justin is sticking with gear reviews for his writing endeavors, with Outside, GearJunkie and OutdoorLife; it is definitely more his jam!
Current guilty pleasure: Justin finally convinced me that we should install a Toyo oil heater in the yurt. We previously had an electric fireplace, more for the ambience than actual heat. As much as I’d like to boycott oil and more drilling of our precious lands in Alaska, Toyos are extremely efficient heaters for Interior Alaska, and if we ever want to use or rent the yurt in the winter, we needed efficient heating. I call it a guilty pleasure because it was basically a $5000 investment!
Currently thankful for: Subsistence is a huge deal in Alaska, especially because the state is so rich in edible plants. I appreciate this tiny independence the wild land allows us to enjoy, depending less on modern conveniences and prepackaged groceries. I’d love to do more foraging beyond these tasty wild berries. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go fishing this year and we probably will never hunt, but we have good friends who share their bounty and/or make trades. When I depend on the land, I feel closer to the land!
Currently amazed by: I am in love with how the tundra plants paint the ground with a mosaic of the rainbow. Yellow-green-gold willows, aspen & basalm poplar. Orange birch. Scarlet berry bushels. Lime green moss. Bright orange mushrooms. Nature is so mesmerizing! Fall is our fleeting season, so I appreciate that I’ve been able to soak it in.
Currently worried about: I would be shocked if my tomatoes ripen. Gardening is always an experiment for me, and short of building a greenhouse, I’m mostly always going to fail. This year, I started the tomatoes in our Aerogarden (an indoor hydroponic grow system using LED lights). It could have worked, but I did everything too early. I started the seed pods in January, then transplanted them to pots in late March. They obviously had to live inside until late May because of our delayed spring, so I think that was the mistake. We had a warm summer, but they just bloomed too little, too late. And I can’t really bring them inside because … 300 square foot cabin. I’ll try AGAIN next year …
Currently reading: Three books complete this month!
I read This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace, and I loved it!! Kristin used to live in Healy (she still lives in Alaska), so a good portion of her story had extra special meaning since that’s my home now. But beyond that, I love the metamorphosis she experienced. She married and divorced young, and came to Alaska on a whim thereafter. She survived winter in a dry cabin (which is a story in itself), then went on to fall in love with dog mushing (and another man, whom she married). Her writing is honest and soul-warming, so if you are looking for a descriptive memoir about a brave woman, you’ll find that and more in these pages.
Erin McKittrick is another amazing, brave woman in Alaska. I read her other book about trekking across Alaska via boat, raft and ski with her husband, but their adventures continue with their 2 kids in Small Feet, Big Land: Adventure, Home and Family on the Edge of Alaska. All her stories describe homesteading and conservations efforts on steroids!!! I seriously don’t know how some of these Alaskans live like they do … so hardcore!
I’ve been wanting to read a book about perimenopause, and the only one my library had available was Suzanne Somers’ I’m Too Young For This! There are certainly nuggets of good information and explanations in this book, but I definitely did not like the writing style at all.
Currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/HBO Max/Starz/AMC: We watched the final episodes of Better Call Saul (Season 6 on AMC), and I like how they started introducing the Breaking Bad characters, but the ending made me sad! We needed another show to watch, so started Westworld on HBO Max. The verdict is still out. Oh, I also started watching Maid (Netflix) on my own, and I am pretty obsessed with it already, but I only watch it when Justin isn’t home at night.