In less than a week, I will be heading north to the Interior.  This will be new territory for me, as I have never been north of Anchorage.  Even though I’ve lived in Alaska for three years, I haven’t seen the Matanuska Valley, Denali, Fairbanks, or any of the highway system other than the road from Homer to Anchorage.  It’s about time to explore a new part of this country!

I’ll be living in the town of Eagle, on the shore of the Yukon River.  My job will be with the National Park Service, working on the maintenance crew at the headquarters for  Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.  My duties will include mowing the lawn, cleaning the visitor center, collecting trash and recycling, and maybe a bit of painting here and there.  If I’m lucky I’ll get to go along on a couple of trips into the park, which has seven remote public-use cabins.  In a way, I’ll be getting back to my roots — the work is very similar to what I did when I first started out on my land trust career at Essex County Greenbelt, in Massachusetts.  And although the job itself is a bit of a departure from the bird-related field work I’ve been doing the last couple of years, this will be a great opportunity to spend some time in the Interior, soak up some Gold Rush history, and live on a mighty river.

If you’re interested in reading about that neck of the woods and what it was like in the early 1920s, check out the book Tisha by Robert Specht.  Anne Hobbs Purdy was a young woman who came to Chicken, the next town over, to teach in the school there.  She fell in love and stayed the rest of her life.  Her story is filled with vivid descriptions of the harsh winters, dog sled journeys, and both the conflicts and joys of living in a tiny community.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was “wild with eagerness” to reach Eagle in 1905.  He’d just completed the Northwest Passage and needed to get to a telegraph station so he could let the rest of the world know about his accomplishment.  Amundsen stayed in Eagle for two months, and now there’s even a street named after him.  In 2010, I walked the decks of the Fram (now in a museum in Oslo, Norway), the ship used by Amundsen for his expedition to Antarctica and the South Pole.

Fram means “go ahead” or “forward” in Norwegian, and when used with enthusiastic and courageous tone of voice (perhaps accompanied by a joyfully raised fist) it’s a good way to shout out your intentions for a new journey.  When Megan and I were traveling together in 2012-2013 we would do just that, whenever we started out in a new direction.  This week, as I head north, she sails west, on a Pacific crossing from Chile to Tonga.  To which I say:


This entry was posted in Alaska, Books, Canada, History, Travel, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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