By August 11, 2017

Respect for the Land: My Alaska Vacation

Editor’s Note: You may have missed Chris Prickett lately. Or not. He went to Alaska and brought back some fresh perspective.

By Chris Prickett — If I had to describe Alaska and its people with one word, which would be woefully inadequate, I’d probably go with “subsistence.” The sterile dictionary definition for the word would be something like “making enough to stay alive.” That description is not only inadequate, but a bit insulting. The spirit of subsistence I’ve observed would be more like “take care of the important things, like food, shelter, and family.” The rest is gravy. And there’s a pretty good chance the gravy will be made of the marrow of a reindeer or caribou.

Don’t believe what you see in the reality shows that depict life here. Like most shows of this genre, they take tidbits of reality and distort it into anything but.

Life is tough in this most wild of wildernesses, but not everyone is a fur trapper or deep-sea fisherman. The vast majority are just like you and me. They just have a deeper appreciation and respect for the land and the bounty it provides. And most of them are pretty stinkin’ awesome.

One of the most prolific pieces of misinformation about the great state of Alaska is that men outnumber women 2–1, or 5–1, or whatever. The truth is, it’s actually just about even. The locals, especially the women, have fun with this misinformation and have coined one of the greatest quotes of all time: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

This one statement sums up the spirit of this land perfectly. Rather than complain about a misconception (or myriad other hurdles faced up here), Alaskans handle it with good humor and make it work.

Many Alaskans, even the “city folk,” are at least partially dependent on the fruits of the land. They can catch salmon, make preserves, cut firewood and yes, some even travel via dogsled. A hearty lot, indeed.

Another great local saying is, “There’s a thousand ways to live in Alaska, and a million ways to die.” With a population of only about 740,000, that means more than one way to be unique here.


Over the Prickett Fence is a column in In&Out Magazine.

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