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Thread: Alaska- How do you do it?

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    Senior Member Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Default Alaska- How do you do it?

    Okay, for those of you actually living in Alaska, how do you do it? Now this is mostly just for curiosity sake- I have no intention of running off to AK and building a lean to! Were you born and raised in Alaska? If so I can see why you'd stay. Are any of you transplants?

    I guess I wonder what the primary occupations are. For instance, I'm a chef. Presumably there are restaurants in AK! Certainly in the larger towns. But it would probably be tough to earn a living by cooking. I imagine a mechanic can make a good living anywhere & everywhere. We all need to keep our cars and trucks running, and I suppose a guy who could work on sleds and gennies would do pretty well.

    I imagine there must some money to be made off of tourism, at least in the summer.

    Again, I am just wondering. Please feel free to chime in with any info or good stories about life in Alaska!


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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Just like any location, there are things you must learn to survive, or at least to live a bit more comfortably. Here it is a matter of life and death but so is learning the skills needed to live in a big city, a swamp, tornado alley, etc.

    First off, one must have a head bolt heater to heat the block of your car. This means, you plug in your car. Most of us also have a battery blanket, transmission fluid heater etc. We have plugs in at out jobs and at our homes. There aren't any for customers in such places as restaurants or movie theaters. This means you either leave your car running, have auto start, or don't spend too long away from your car depending on the temp. At -25 or colder, I wont go to the movies.

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    I just took this through my kitchen window for this post. So it's not quite -40, yet.

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    The draft coming from my front door was just too much so I hung a cover over the door and put a big floor pillow in front of it. We normally have a rolled up towel that we push up to the bottom of the door, but it wasn't cutting it. This is frost built up on it just from tonight.

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    Since we live in a dry cabin, we haul our water in 5 gallon jugs and transfer them to the 55 gallon barrel right inside the door. This is run to the kitchen sink and the shower by a small pump. I currently have 35 gallons which is pretty good. I don't want to have to go get water when it is this cold. We have a bulk water station but you still have to stand outside of your car to fill the jugs, all the while holding onto the cold metal water dispenser, think gas station handle. It's just my 14 year old son, my 11 year old daughter, and myself. We use about 7 gallons of water a day on average.

    Also, at this temperature, we do not use the outhouse. We have a porta potty that we use, sits in the shower room, and then I empty it into the outhouse. Not a real pleasant job but much more pleasant then going out to the outhouse and dropping trou!


    Here's some pictures of my cabin and how we do it.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...985#post368985
    Last edited by 1stimestar; 12-03-2012 at 04:02 AM.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    Super-duper Moderator Sarge47's Avatar
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    Cool Wow!

    Now I know why Crash lives in Florida!
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    My experience in Alaska was that most of my co-workers were transplants from the lower 48: Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, New Jersey, Minnesota, Wyoming, Maine, South Dakota & Texas. Additionally, there are a lot of foreign-born workers that moved to Alaska to work in the seafood industry. I was based out of Anchorage and it is similar to many other US cities with many well-known franchise businesses and big box retailers. The biggest difference being a resident moose and bear population within the Anchorage Bowl. Anchorage is Alaska's largest city, but just a tiny footprint in a very big landscape. Life in the bush will have different demographics depending upon the specific location.

    Major employers are tourism, seafood, energy, and government. Some of these jobs are seasonal and many of those folks have other sources of income during the off-season.

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    Senior Member BENESSE's Avatar
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    I've been watching a bunch of episodes of "Selling Alaska" where people look to buy homes and are shown 3 properties from which they select one. Their budgets and requirements vary--places featured range anywhere from $150 thousand up to $1.2mil, with water views, beach frontage, lots of land, green houses, sheds, etc.
    But here's the thing: They all look poorly insulated with thin, flimsy windows and none were built of stone even tho there were plenty of "rocks" all around. I know timber's plentiful, but it seems, so is stone. Even the really expensive houses were frame but not the heavy duty, solid type that I've seen say, in Utah and Colorado. Why is that?

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Earthquakes. We have a lot of them. http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/

    I'm not familiar with that show but since you mention beach frontage I know they are not homes from the Interior. Down on the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage, they have the benefit of warm Japanese ocean currents. Their temps are much more mild then ours.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Now, let's talk about out light and dark cycle. Right now sunrise is at 10:26 AM and sunset is 2:54 PM. In the summer, it is reversed with 24 hours of daylight.

    Here's a picture I took this morning at 9:30 am. You can see it is light out but I do have my porch light on to illuminate the temperature gauge.
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    Here's one I took this summer at midnight.
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    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    I have watched that show too Nessie, and you would think that people that build houses in Alaska would build them with 10" walls that are double insulated, and with 2 or 3 kinds of alternate heating systems, but they all just look like substandard type houses to me!

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Ok I looked it up. That show, Buying Alaska, was based out of Seldovia. That's over 600 miles south of me though other Alaskan members here live closer. I must say, our construction is much more arctic based lol. Alaska is a huge state with several different climates. As I said before, the climate down there has the advantage of being near the ocean, which ALWAYS means warmer in any state.

    Seldovia.jpg
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Their weather is more like Seattle's.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

    "Building Codes, Alaskans don't need no stinking Building Codes." Sourdough

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    Cool Hmmmm...

    I noticed that the topic of "permafrost" has not come up yet!
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    This is what happens when you build on permafrost and do not insulate your floor.

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    Here in the interior we have what is called discontinuous permafrost, meaning 50-90% of our land is permafrost. We build on it because there is no other alternative. But there are ways to do it such as my cabin which is built over a thick gravel pad and up off the ground so as not to thaw the permafrost it is built upon. If it stays frozen, it's ok. It's just when it is thawed, there are problems.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Seldovia = no permafrost.
    http://permafrost.gi.alaska.edu/sites_map
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    @1stimestar - We were about 110 degrees warmer than your low today.
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Lol yep. Isn't it amazing to think of the temperature differences?

    And on top of everything, they just had a pretty good shaker in the southern part of the state. My facebook page is afire with earthquake stories.

    Officials say the quake's preliminary magnitude was 5.7, and its epicenter was 55 miles southwest of Palmer and 25 miles west of Anchorage at a depth of 33.5 miles. Since the first report, the magnitude has climbed to 5.9.
    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...ral-rides-wave
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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    Senior Member Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Thanks, 1stimestar! Some very good info there! Funny, my folks lived in North Dakota for a long time and the people there did most of the same kind of stuff. Everyone's vehicles have block heaters and when they have to park somewhere that they can't plug in they leave the vehicle running, for hours sometimes. One winter they had three vehicle batteries freeze solid and break in the same week. Temps there would hit right around the -40 F mark with some frequency.

    I don't know if I could live in AK or not! I know it's beautiful country but it would be a challenge in the winter. Even the Great Plains sucks in the winter, getting real tired of snow and cold after 43 winters here. The coast may be warmer but I don't think I could handle tsunami warnings and six feet of snow at a time. Seems like it would rock in the late spring, summer and early fall though! Main thing is I don't know what I would do to earn a living. In addition to being a chef I do have a degree in IT, but I don't think there's a lot of jobs programming Cisco routers up there. I worked for my dad doing construction many years ago but I suppose the construction and remodeling season would have to be pretty short there, too!

    Pretty cool info, though.

  17. #17
    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Chefs and construction workers can always find work in the summer. Of course, those construction guys have to dang near kill themselves working very long hours, a lot of times 7 days a week. But they bring home some major paychecks. They have to bank it though due to having to live off of unemployment all winter!
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

    "Building Codes, Alaskans don't need no stinking Building Codes." Sourdough

    Yes, I have wifi in my outhouse!

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    My niece just moved to Nikiski. So far she is loving it. Her boyfriend is a helicopter pilot.

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Nikiski is a beautiful area.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

    Alaska, the Madness! Bloggity Stories of the North Country

    "Building Codes, Alaskans don't need no stinking Building Codes." Sourdough

    Yes, I have wifi in my outhouse!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    My Alaska is vastly different.

    I do construction all year round. I am a transplant, moved here in 1989.

    The 200" of rain makes good job security for construction guys willing to fix rotten wood in old homes.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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