Why I live in Alaska

After watching several disaster movies, and reading some disaster books, you tend to find a repetition of location: down south, usually in California area or New York area with big buildings and lots of people. No one ever thinks about Alaska. For anyone that has taken the Facebook quiz, ‘how long could you survive a zombie invasion?’, one of the options is to move to Alaska where the zombies couldn’t get you. What about the people that already live here? When reading Parable of the Sower, the main character Lauren suggests that everyone learn survival skills and assemble survival packs in the event that they had to leave quickly. Looking about my room, I have to wonder of all the stuff I own, if it came down to it, could I survive? Maybe.

Growing up in Alaska we also tend to acquire things along the way: backpacks, wool cloths, hiking boots, maybe even a camping stove or water purifier. Looking in my closet I have snowshoes, crampons, camping stove and fuel, head lamp, 4 backpacks of varying sizes, Nalgene water bottles, a rain jacket, a fleece jacket, Smart Wool tops and socks, Under Armour bottoms, hats, gloves and some other random gear. If it came down to it and there was some horrible economic disaster, or some strike against the US (most people think AK is still part of Russia or part of Canada, some even think it’s down chilling with Hawaii) and it eventually affected us way up here, could we get along just fine? I would like to think so. Living in Alaska we have special opportunities to go out into nature and therefore have the gear necessary to do so by. [Here at University of Alaska Southeast we even have a program that teaches you how to survive and make your way in nature, the Outdoors Studies program (ODS)].

Because we are not as connected to the lower 48, it gives us some advantages; we tend to live in smaller towns, there is a much smaller overall populations, and especially in Southeast – there are no connecting roads. So, I would like to see people trek all the way from CA to come to Juneau to my house to steal my stuff! Because we are smaller towns, we are closer-nit. In places like Petersburg, everyone knows everyone else and all their business. Should something disastrous happen that left them to their own devises, I doubt anyone in that town would be without help from the rest of the community. For even smaller towns such as Angoon, they live very close to the land. Even if the rest of the world basically went to shit, Angoon would get along just fine. Juneau is a little larger, around 32,000 people. Even though we are much larger than Angoon, most people here still live with the land, even if that just means gathering berries in the summer, fishing when the salmon run, or hunting for game in the winter. People in small AK towns, even if they don’t know it, have some knowledge about how to live off the land.

In Ketchikan, for the Junior and Senior classes, they have a survival trip where they are left on a beach for the weekend, and could only bring a coffee can full of supplies. Here in Juneau, in Elementary school, we have Sea Week where we all trot down to the beach and gather things from the tide line in buckets and learn what we can and cannot eat (plus do amazing coloring sheets of all the itsy-bitsy’s we find). And don’t forget the Girl and Boy Scouts. If you ever were one here, hopefully you learned to make a fire in the woods, make a shelter, and use maps or just your knowledge of the area to find your way home.

But now for the cons. South East Alaska is a temperate rain forest. That means, lots of rain. Because of all the rain, that also means not a lot of sun. In the Parable of the Sower, they have orange trees in their yard and have gardens with veggies. Not so much here. Without water proof shoes, people would run the risk of having foot problems from constant wet feet. Without a water proof jacket, hypothermia would set in quicker because water robs body heat faster than air does. Because of all the cloud cover, it is really had to get veggies to grow here. Most people have flowering plants, but aside from the occasional green beans or shade loving herbs, not a whole lot of edible plants. No one has an orange tree.

In the book, they are afraid of dogs. Dogs would not, and are not, our biggest problems. Bears are. Alaska has three types of bears: black, brown (has two different types: costal are less than 25 miles from shoreline and grizzly are greater than 25 miles from shoreline) and polar. Depending on where you live, you could have all three. In Juneau, we only have the black and brown because of our proximity to the arctic circle (we are too far south). The Juneau area has a second large predator, the wolves. Now, technically Moos are herbivores, but they have been known to attack hunters, so, I am going to put them on the list of things to look out for. I don’t think that CA has bears…. or moos…. CA has skunks though!

So I guess to wrap this up, I think that living here in AK we have more knowledge about how to live off the land if we had to because of the past times we enjoy, but Alaska doesn’t always make it easy.

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2 Responses to “Why I live in Alaska”

  1. ajtriplett Says:

    Like you said, a good number of Alaskan’s are savvy in the outdoors and could probably last a while out in the wilderness. However, I think if there was a similar situation as in Parable of the Sower, our food sources would be little to none. Like in the book, there was plenty of water down south– Louisianan, Alabama– but it was all contaminated. Our waters would be the same, killing our salmon–our red gold. The cycle would continue– no salmon means lack of food for bears making humans a tasty treat. Our beautiful temperate rainforest would probably dry up and be nothing more that firewood waiting for the perfect spark to catch fire.

    Although we are more connected to nature than most who live down south, I don’t think we could escape a collapse. We might be the last to go, but nonetheless, we would still go. People know that Alaska is the “last frontier,” and they would come running to us, just like in the Simpsons movie. Eventually people would rob our houses and steal the little food we have.

    Like Lauren, I think our best bet is to read about the edible vegetation in our area and hope for the best. Always be prepared.

  2. CJ Reeves II Says:

    Courtney,

    I like your reply and fierce devotion to living in AK. However, if a tragedy did strike the world, it would be on a massive scale and therefore AK would have its own share of apocalyptic drama to deal with in conjunction to the rest of the world. Also, I just wanted to make a couple of comments, and rise a couple of questions to your over all general argument. You talk about the ODS program and how that helps young Alaskans survive. My only question is what happens to those of us who are not even remotely interested in taking a class like that? Am I still as prepared to conquer the harsh elements just because I live here? I don’t believe I would be; in fact as you know, I’m not. I believe it takes a certain type of person- no matter where their location- to be able to brave any disastrous situation.

    One last comment, I do love the sun and it would be nice to have “orange trees in their yard and have gardens with veggies.” All in all, nice response to the text and really good work with intertwining your own writing style with the text.

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