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September 26, 2007 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Braving Alaska is a fantastic 1992 National Geographic special that may make you want to move to Alaska. Focusing on a handful of U.S. families who have moved from the cities in the lower 48 to handmade homes above the arctic circle and now receive their mail by bush pilot maybe 3 times a year, living hundreds of miles from their nearest neighbor, and exist entirely of their own capability, the documentary is a fascinating view of life WAY off the grid. Presented here in a YT playlist of six segments, there are more great moments (from sawing through the frozen fish to the enumeration of meals made from Moose) than I can list.
posted by jonson (22 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Yet another reason to eventually move to Alaska. Don't they pay you a stipend just for living there? I don't doubt that it is a tough place to live, and its probably maddening in the winter, but I would put good money down that it would be an amazing adventure.
posted by gandledorf at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2007


Moose is good. Very very good indeed. Do not poo-poo the moose.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:35 PM on September 26, 2007


I saw that, and it completely convinced me to never leave the city. The woman sawing off frozen salmon steaks in the yard for supper, and then talking about how she hoped to get a video game for the next winter to keep her sons happy in the cabin--shudder.
posted by No Robots at 2:04 PM on September 26, 2007


One of my best buddies is up there having himself a great time.
Lotso salmon and you get paid just for living up there, thanks to BIG OIL PIPELINE.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2007


Thanks Jonson, looks good.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2007


Yeah, go to Alaska before you die. Immediately before. Of hypothermia.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2007


Bush pilots are amazing.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:16 PM on September 26, 2007


I love how when the mail and the teacher come, they have to make room in their one room cabin for them for a few days.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:21 PM on September 26, 2007


Jebus, have these people not heard of two-way shortwave radio? All that hanging around waiting for the plane which might not come, or having to eat your dogs because your feet have frozen off... Marconi fought a war for youze peeps.

It's not like they hate technology. They've got TV cameramen out there. And where did they sleep when a floor the size of a ping-pong table had to cope with two extra Rogers? The Making Of... now, that's what we want to see.
posted by Devonian at 2:47 PM on September 26, 2007


My dad lived in Anchorage during the '64 quake. My brother currently lives in Fairbanks. I hope to at least visit someday, although I expect the accommodations to be a bit less spartan than those hardy souls above the AC.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2007


This is amazing so far. I'll watch the rest when I get home. No one's mentioned the 'fish wheel'? It's an automatic fish gathering machine made of wood. Seriously.
posted by ninjew at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2007


may make you want to move to Alaska

Quite the opposite, actually.
posted by kjs3 at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2007


. . . and you get paid just for living up there, thanks to BIG OIL PIPELINE.

Yes, but the PFD check is less than the increased cost of living in Alaska. Food is more expensive, most other retail items are more expensive (sometimes much more expensive, and you don't have as many options), plus higher utility bills, gas, etc. If you order something online for a reasonable price, then you often get shafted on shipping. It all adds up.
posted by D.C. at 4:10 PM on September 26, 2007


Yeah I remember this it's pretty good. I guess the catalog version is no longer selling.
posted by stbalbach at 4:12 PM on September 26, 2007


Bush pilots are amazing.

Apparently the pilot died in a crash in 1993. There's a comment on the 4th video, and a quick Google search came up with a few tributes.
posted by letitrain at 5:01 PM on September 26, 2007


Latest stats from the ASARate, Number, and Ranking of Suicide for Each U.S.A. State, 2004 [PDF]:

#1 ... Alaska (up from #4 in 2003).
posted by cenoxo at 5:31 PM on September 26, 2007


Alaska sounds awesome. I've had three friends go to Alaska and each returned completely raving, statements like:
"You know how we studied what a healthy river floodplain looks like? That's how the rivers actually ARE there!"
"I never realized how huge wilderness could be."

One saw two bear cubs sliding down a snowy hill on their rears. The other couple saw bears catching fish out of a stream.
posted by salvia at 5:43 PM on September 26, 2007


A stirring portrayal of families just getting by in the Great White North:

Alaskan Villages Suffer with Postage Rate Increase

All Things Considered, June 25, 2007 · A discounted mail program in Alaska ensures that basic supplies arrive regularly in villages that can't be reached by road. But a recent 13 percent increase in postage rates is having a substantial effect on life in Alaska's remote villages.
posted by The Straightener at 5:54 PM on September 26, 2007


Thanks for that, jonson

"Jebus, have these people not heard of two-way shortwave radio? All that hanging around waiting for the plane which might not come, or having to eat your dogs because your feet have frozen off... Marconi fought a war for youze peeps.

It's not like they hate technology. They've got TV cameramen out there. And where did they sleep when a floor the size of a ping-pong table had to cope with two extra Rogers? The Making Of... now, that's what we want to see".
— by Devonian, but
they may not be aware of the available technology ]yo, Rogers 'aint there the other 362 days — and at least 4 Rogers, where's the fucking kraft service¿[ and how many furs izzat worth anyways¿

salvia, I saw bears squeezing into a 2" crack of an open car window on You Tube. ]j/k[
I'd have WiFi satellite up there... is it even available there¿ Must be.

That guy living alone for 6 years before he got married... Wow. That's a workhorse.

here I think I'm the shit for canoeing/tenting for 2 weeks in the bush or a weekend in winter in -40°C...
I could eat moose and salmon year round, though. Smoked, jerky...Ouch. Some rice.. some wild...
It's a lot of work, just survival in those conditions. Go ahead, talk to yourself. It's only you out there.

'If you don't get along, you're 'gonna have fights. You're 'gonna get bushy and someone's gonna end up out the door and it's pretty darn cold out there for a few days'.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:34 PM on September 26, 2007


It's been mentioned here before, but this makes me think of Dick Proenneke (YouTube), who built his own log cabin in Twin Lakes, Alaska, and lived there for 30 years.
posted by avoision at 6:46 AM on September 27, 2007


I was a little surprised that the little girl in part three was able to identify a banana. Talk about strange choice for learning material.
posted by peeedro at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2007


Half way through the segments, two things strike me most: powdery snow is good for drying beaver fur; the bush pilot has to make his own runway in the snow before landing.
posted by of strange foe at 1:54 PM on September 29, 2007


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