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Thread: Alaska Goal (Cabin/Hunting/Trapline/Dogs, etc.) When should one take action?

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    Default Alaska Goal (Cabin/Hunting/Trapline/Dogs, etc.) When should one take action?

    Hello, I'm new to the forum and i'm very happy I discovered this wonderful source of information. I was looking for opinions from some knowledgeable and experienced folk in my search for a path to Alaska. I am a 17 year old Ohioan, but Alaska fills my dreams. The question I pose is this: Should a young man/woman pursue a dream of living a primitive Alaskan lifestyle(sustinence hunting, no electricty, etc.), immediately after college/ high school, while one is still young, with no money and very little security? Or should one pursue a successful business career, horde money in the bank, and work towards early retirement with the goal of buying land in AK/The Yukon/BC and then living the dream? Might one find they are too old and soft to begin such a rugged lifestyle, or that other circumstances (children, etc.) would prevent going to the bush?

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    Default Hey Alex,

    Come on up! All you really need is a bag of rice and a dream. You'll be fine either way.

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    Default Hey, Buckeye....

    Alexaib....

    Your question isn't unique. Many of the folks who emigrated to Alaska went thru the same dilemma. I waited until I was 37 to break free and migrate...from S.W. Ohio...a good place to be from - away from. I've been here 28 years and the only regret I have is that I didn't make the move sooner, when I was fresh out of college. There's no reason that you can't establish yourself here, rather than spend years in rust belt Ohio, waiting to pursue your life goals. College is readily available here, if you so desire. I would suggest getting your skills together before you take the plunge into the Bush. Remember, land isn't free for the taking, anymore. So, if you want to live in Alaska, come on up...take some time learning about life up here, and then choose how you want to live.

    By the way, maintaining a dog team isn't inexpensive, and requires a good deal of experience.

    Good Luck, and Happy Trails........Rick

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    "Go West young man."

    In my opnion, either go right after high school or right after college. If you stick around you just might get married to a wonderful woman who will, during courtship, tell you that she'll move anywhere with you. However, after the ring's on her finger and you have a mortgage and kids, you're dream is mostly likely screwed. You and her and your kids will have a thing called "friends and family". This phenomenon has lead to many a man flushing his dreams down the toilet and becoming a couch plant.

    My wife's no such woman, but I've never had the drive to move to AK either. Life's good in Montana, too. Please take all of my remarks from the perspective of a person who feels that he has lived most of his dreams by the grace of God, but not all of them.

    You can always move back to the lower 48, but you can almost never find the right time to move up to AK. Three of the happiest people I know moved up to AK right after college, bright young college students, engineers no less. People told them they were stupid, they gave them the Christian version of the middle finger and packed their bags. All married, all happy with wives that "get it" regarding winters, darkness and men who like to live. Everytime I see them its a blessing because they did what was important to them and live in the satisfaction of knowing that they followed their dreams.

    Other happy people I know did their time in AK, got tired of it for whatever reason (expensive to hunt, expensive to live, cold, whatever) and moved back. At least they tried!!! They didn't listen to reason or try to build up a 401K or home equity, thank God.

    I can assure you that if this is a strong desire and you don't do something about it you'll regret it and when you're young is the perfect time. I worked on Kodiak one summer during college when I was 19 (20+ years ago), drove up the AlCan Highway with 10 knuckleheads (many of whom I still know) and had a ball working 18 hours a day gutting fish and stacking cans, hitch hiking from Homer to Seward, watching crusty bush pilots fly in and out of the docks. Do it!!

    (cautious middle aged man writing now) I think the power free life in the bush with a loin cloth (from a beaver so you're warm when it gets chilly during the brief winter), eating quill pig carcass, pine needles and ptarmigan stew might be pushing it. However, who cares? If you're in AK you can see what its really like and give it a whirl if the itch will not go away.

    My list of dreams was an is long and I've been blessed to acheive most of them but certainly not all and not the big hairy arse dreams. I started in Montana and can guarantee you that I would not have had the balls to move to MT or AK if I was in OH. I would have stuck it out, tried to get rich and fly out every now and again to hunt or fish.

    I admire you guts to post your question, knowing that people are going to slam your youthful exuberance.

    Here's a quote from a guy who posts on a different forum. Food for thought:

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools & fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubt" Bertran Russell

  5. #5

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    Avoid debt. It's the biggest obstacle to living a self-sufficient/subsistence life. Don't bother with college right now if it means debt. You can always go later if you want. Having a "normal" 9 to 5 job doesn't work well in the bush anyways...find other ways of making money, and avoid reliance on money. Get property without property taxes too BTW. You seem to have similar goals as me, I'll be in AK this summer to hopefully get a cabin built, but I won't get to stay on the land permanently till it's paid for...have your land paid for before moving to it full time...debt enslaves and makes you rely on money and "jobs" you could otherwise do without...

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    Default Education

    The one mistake that many make and its hard to get started again. Why not make the decision to enroll in one of the colleges in alaska and learn while you learn. The debt for a college education is one that you can aford to pay now. It takes money to do the things that you are talking about and one of the best ways to do so is from a higher education but like I said go to college there and discover now if thats what you really want. I'm going with my Family soon but I had to wait until middle age and wish I would have done it sooner.

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    Default Me again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Coaldust View Post
    Come on up! All you really need is a bag of rice and a dream. You'll be fine either way.
    I was just being a smart *** in my first post. Now I feel bad. These guys have given you some good advice. I have been giving this issue serious thought for some time because I have a son who is your age. He will be making some similar decisions soon. Well, the first part is easy since he's already in Alaska. Iím mostly referring to post-secondary education, lifestyle and career choices.

    I think Alaska is a great place for a young person to get started. Good paying summer jobs are plentiful. The best way to immerse yourself in the Alaska lifestyle would be to land a summer job immediately after high school graduation with one of the many fishing lodges in S.E Alaska. Why southeast? No particular reason except that I have witnessed many young people start successful lives that way. If you perform good work and have a acceptable work ethic, they will ask you to come back for another season. Then you can pursue higher ed in the lower 48 or enroll in Alaska depending upon what you want to study.

    You will make many contacts while working at the lodge, plus you will learn about the region and decide if itís a place for you. Letís say you enjoy your first summer so well, you wish to spend the winter working. Then, you could go to work on a processor slime line; either on-shore or vessel based. By Christmas you will be burnt out and tired, but will have a pocket full of sick cash. Then go back to Ohio and spent a couple months visiting the family, resting and getting ready for next summer. Perhaps, then you will want to venture further north and check out some other regions of the state.

    I suppose Mom and Dad would have reservations about you moving so far away.

    Instead of a slime line during the winter, you could go to work for a ski resort such as Girdwood or find one outside to spend the winter. The cruise ship companies offer great summer employment on the inside passage. The common benefit with these options is free room and board, which will allow you to save money.

    In the meantime, this will give you an idea of where you want to make a home base. Maybe even buy some land. If you work out of town all the time, you can live wherever you want. For example, if you went to work for the Alaska Marine Highway System on a ferry, they work a 2-week on and 2- week off schedule. You could live in remote S.E somewhere on you own little island. Itís not like you have to commute daily. If thatís not your gig, you could do the same thing on the slope and live in South Central or the Interior.

    Now, a couple thoughts on post-secondary education in the traditional sense. Get some skills that will pay the bills. Unless you have a large college fund or some serious scholarship money available, you may want to think twice before you go $50K or even a $100k in debt for an education. I donít see the value in that, anymore. You may find yourself all dressed up and nowhere to go. Especially if you graduate 4 years later with a B.A in sociology or something. What are you going to do with that in Talkeetna or Chicken, Alaska?

    Think about skill groups that you can apply in Alaska such as allied health care, teaching, engineering, the trades, etcÖ The quality of the whole college experience has declined greatly in the last 10 years and the costs have gone sky-high.

    Iím not totally discounting the degree. First get some real skills and a craft, and then get the degree. For example become a fireman, and then get your fire science degree. Many companies and organizations will help pay for college as an employee. Become an electrician and then become an electrical engineer. You can always fall back upon a craft. That plan doesnít work with every career, but itís still sound advice for success in Alaska.

    We have some great unions in Alaska that offer great careers. For example, you could join the IBEW and start as an apprentice electrician. The Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship Training Trust offers a world class training program. The IBEW is one of the last places you will find a defined benefits program of retirement. I know that doesnít mean much to you as a 17 year old, but it will in about 15 years when you are in your mid 30's and then realize you will be able to retire with a great pension in your 50ís. The other person with the sociology degree will still be selling used cars for Fast Eddy.

    In todayís economy, I believe a journeyman fitness card and/or industry based certifications are just as valuable, if not more, than a ďdegreeĒ. (By the way, the fitness card is the license you need to apply your craft.)

    Good luck to you and let us know if we can help. I can hook you up with some good contacts if you are serious about a summer job.

    Sincerely,

    Coaldust

  8. #8

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    Coaldust...very good post.

    You gave some good advice for any young person. Especially an Alaskan one. I have 4 young people from 13-21 and I think I'll print out your post for them.
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    Default

    I would suggest the education vs. trade vs. what kind of job he should get vs. when to go to school is best left the guy's assessment of his personality style, gifts and one of those handy "job evaluation" tests. While not perfectly accurate, when someone's in doubt those types of assessments do a great job helping people to map their future.

    Alexaib; if there are other people living their dreams in Alaska, you can do it too. There will be a lot of people trying to "pull up the bridge" behind them and make it sound impossible for others to do it and that they somehow possess the toughness, skills, etc. to make it where others can't. It's true, some can and some can't. Its true even in mild Montana (our neighbor just put up his For Sale sign and is moving back East). Who cares? My recommendation is to chase your dreams but do it smartly.

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    Default Go to Kenai Peninsula Community College

    http://www.kpc.alaska.edu/

    It's in the nice little town of Soldotna, on the Kenai river, and they have a couple of 2 year programs there that are really great. One is in Process Technology and the other's in Instrumentation. No calculus or differtial equations mathematics required. With just 2 years of college, and without a mountain of debt, graduates can expect to get paid, at a minimum, about $100K / year. Now that's if they get hired by British Petroleum or Conoco Phillips. If they get hired by a subcontractor like Udelhoven they'll make less but it will still be a great living. These guys typically work a 2 week on / 2 week off schedule which fits well with the outdoor interests that we all love up here. Just another option to think about.

    They don't charge extra for out of state tuiton either.

    Dave

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    Default Thanks Folks!

    Wow! I can't believe my question generated this many results in the period of a couple days. I really appreciate the advice. I also appreciate the sincerity and lack of the " you're too young and stupid, rethink it" attitude. Please feel free to keep it coming. As it looks right now, I will most likely be attending Miami University(Ohio) for a four year degree in Business Management. However, I am looking into KPCC. I have not told my parents of any intention of pursuing an Alaskan dream. I think a long road trip over spring break will probably be a good time to do it. Thanks again for all the help. I'll keep posting as things develop. Two questions. One, might a degree in Business Management be useful somewhere in Alaska, oil companies possibly? And Two, any recommendations for books that I should read, anything(Alaska, Wildlife, Hunting, Fishing, Dogs, Survival, Cabins, etc.)?

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    Default books

    Into the Wild (1996) by Jon Krakauer

    The Trail Led North by Martha Ferguson McKewon

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    Default Business Management

    I may be wrong but I don't see that basic degree as being real popular with the big oil companies in Alaska. I'm a working engineer (oxymoron?) for BP and it seems like most of the managers for BP are engineers who maybe went on to get their MBA. A BA in Bus. Admin. probably won't get you too far, but I could be way off base on this.

    Those KPCC grads that I talked about will probably all be making $125k - $150k after they get a few years of experience under their belts. Good benefits too. I forgot to mention that the Kenai River has some incredible fishing in it. Alaska is a special place. Good luck.

    Dave

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    Default Immediate Plans

    After some consideration, I have decided to pursue my four year degree at Miami University. The summers over the next four years, with the exception of this upcoming one, I am going to hopefully find a job in AK, to make some connections and just to have the experience. After graduation, I'll probably pursue one of the two year degrees from KPCC in hopes of snagging a job with an oil company. With good grades and a four year degree under my belt, I might be able to secure a scholarship. Then its off to being an oilman/outdoorsman. If anything goes wrong, I have a business degree to fall back on. Sound like a good plan? Critiques welcome.

    P.S. Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but is there any real presence of Falconry/Hawking in AK?

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    Default Education Degree

    I think you might do better going through the Bush Teacher experience.

    Find a good location and whatever debt you have you can work off and yet have your Alaskan bush experience at the same time.

    Many of the teachers who head to the bush aren't ready for it.

    If you are gung ho you might try signing up on a firefighting crew during your summers and then get a feel for live in the bush.

    Many Aspire to life in the bush but its a constant battle and you find many
    bush teachers move to the road system after several years.

    Light Light Breaking by Nick Jans-He used to be a hunter and is presently
    a posie sniffer but his books are good.

    Sincerely,

    Thomas

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    Cool Alaska Bound

    I think Coldust hit it right.Just get a bag of rice and head on up...oh, bring a school bus also,who knows, you may make the movies.GR

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    Default I did it

    I moved here about 10 years ago. I bought a one way ticket from Oregon. When I arived in Fairbanks I had about $300 and 2 duffel bags of clothes and misc. I had purchased a old pickup sight unseen prior to moveing. I knew no one and had no job prospects. I spent about $200 of my money on gas and food so I could fish for all of my first 2 weeks. I then picked up a pager and hit the yellow pages calling for work. It took me two days to find a construction job.
    I now make a very good liveing have a great wife, 3 kids, a yard full of toys and spend a lot of time hunting and fishing. I am sure glad I moved here before I grew up.
    I think if college is what you want great. But if a good job for a oil company is your goal mabey you should call a few and see what they say. It might be that 4-6 years of school is not nessary for the job you are seeking.
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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    Default Alexaib

    These are my thoughts about the business management degree.

    First, the main purpose of this basic degree is to provide a way for the college to front load their MBA program. That's not a bad thing. The problem is that this degree is too basic and won't help you very much starting out. You still need some industry specific skills to get your foot in the door.

    You need some skills that will pay the bills.

    The value of the business management degree is how it compliments a technical skill later on in your career.

    I would place more focus on your studies within the business discipline on what you enjoy most. Think about what area of business management interests you the most such as Human Resources, Finance, Administration, Law, Safety and Health, Purchasing or whatever. Then go after that and you will be more employable. Next step is to seek industry certification in your specialty.

    Take advantage of the rest of your senior year by doing career research such as job shadows, co-ops or internships.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that many of these options lead to the same place.......a stuffy cubicle and a soul crushing existence.

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    Default

    There is an old saying that goes like this.


    "No guts, No Glory"



    But then again the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. I started my progression to Alaska while still in High School in the late 60's. Finally made it here in 1974 when I met a young women from Sitka while I was stationed at Bremerton Naval Shipyard in 1973. Have not regretted one minute of being here. My 4 children were born and raised here and now I have 4 Grandchildren that were born and will be raised here. In another 7 years I will really start enjoying my life too the fullest extent. Debt free and nothing to do. :-)

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    Default

    If you are going to do the college thing first, get an engineering degree. Civil, Petro, Electrical it doesn't matter you will have tons of work once you get your P.E. stamp. My father did most of his work from home and made a good living. If you aren't going college, The Operating Engineers have a great apprentice program like the IBEW. As a journeyman you can make great money with winters off. Good luck
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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