the animal's journal

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Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:14 pm

Awesome as always!
I have subscribed to your blog, allow me a suggestion: MORE PICS!
Your pics are astounding, you should have as many of them as possible.

Jake9870
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:04 am

Where to start..

@Animal, your journal is a work of art, really.. I'm sure you're getting quite the big head with all these compliments :), but they are very deserved. Your accomplishments are inspiring. I
I'd like to mention your 53 hour run (seriously??) and becoming one with the Alaskan bush people ;) ..

But what stands out the most to me is how dynamic you and your journal have been. The lightyears you've grown in A short time.. The maturity your writing shows now. Just,
Thank you for the great read!

Some slight connections:

You attended Miami of Oxford in Ohio? I grew up in/around Cincinnati and have family in Oxford as well as many, many friends who have gone/are attending uni there.

I moved to Bozeman, Montana three years ago and while not nearly as rural as where you are I feel the culture shock of both living here, visiting the VERY rural parts of MT, and going back to a city. I have so much to say about this place and the contrast of life.

I am also (from what I can tell) one of the younger members of the forum at 21.

@Jacob

The more meaningful posessions I've come across in life have always been second hand with an attached story. Usually coming from a close friend, or loved one. Glad to see this thought is universal.

....

I was apprehensive to post for a few reasons. First and foremost this is my first forum that I've come back to for more than just a few laughs i.e. Reddit.. This group of people, this concept of an alternative, more fulfilling, and grounding lifestyle has been toying with my thoughts since I stumbled upon the site in early January. I haven't read Jacob's book so I'm unprepared, but I thought this would be a good time to jump in.

Well, it's 4 AM for me now after reading the latest bits of Animal's journal and finishing my rant. Sorry for anyone who actually reads all this!

I'll be posting a journal at some point I think, but next time not on a smart phone! Apologies to Animal for hijackng your space :)

Cheers everyone,

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:15 am

You can find it at arcticessays.wordpress.com
The link to your blog in your earlier post is broken. You have to put the "http://www." in the link or it won't work. http://www.arcticessays.wordpress.com

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:35 am

@WI- No trapping on my end. I've gone with neighbors out to individual traps including one instance a few weeks ago where they caught a wolverine. Upon being trapped, a wolverine will tear up the surrounding brush and even chew at its leg to get free. With this in mind, we raced to get out there, not knowing whether or not it would still be there. It was and was killed. After that, we discovered that it had only had one toe caught in the trap. I have mixed feelings about the whole experience and trapping in general. I've only seen one other wolverine otherwise, a quick glimpse while on a hike this past October. Many consider themselves lucky to see one in a lifetime.

@Seppia- Thank you! I'll certainly make an effort to add more pictures.

@Jake- Welcome! And thanks for your kind words. ERE and this forum certainly deserve a lot of the credit in helping shape who I am today. It's great to see another younger person on the forums..I'll keep an eye out for your journal.

@GdP- Fixed. Thanks.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:20 am

Days are getting brighter and brighter. I've hinted to it elsewhere or mentioned it indirectly, but light takes on a greater significance here than I've found everywhere else. Due to the extremes no doubt and the always changing nature. Winter lacks the sun but has beautiful twilight and auroral displays. Summer has the endless light. Right now is a blend of both. 13 hours of light/day and bright auroral displays at night. We are still in our winter season here. This past week saw 3 nights drop below -40 degrees F. The days would warm up to a balmy (I say this somewhat seriously) -10 F. As the singer Johnny Horton once said, "When it's springtime in Alaska it's 40 below..." Warmer days are ahead.

Image
Skiing on the river

My days have been blending into a routine of exercising, skiing, learning and reading. I have lots and lots of free time. I was somewhat dissatisfied with the last update I wrote where I portrayed myself as being very busy and full of activity. People who say they are always busy often annoy me, as they either aren't and are doing it for status purposes and/or are mismanaging their priorities. My sin is likely that of the former. Forgive me brethren!

Image
Winter version of my cabin.

I'm still working on trying to get a tourism based business started up here for the summer. It has proven to be pretty difficult to do without easy access to reliable, fast internet so i'm likely going to have to make a trip into town over the next couple weeks. Other income opportunities keep popping up. I was offered a job working at a small local mine over the summer, and can make it permanent if I want. $20-25/hr work as many or little days as I choose. As of now, I'm thinking of pursuing it a couple of days each week. I don't have any interest in the permanent position as I don't have any desire to do any underground work. A neighbor is wondering if I'm interested in cutting a couple cords of wood for them, with more work available down the line. One of the local bed and breakfast's has guests in the summer that are looking for a private guided tour of the area. They referred them to me. Income opportunities keep sprouting up. I'm still not sure which I'll pursue, but this money thing is seemingly becoming more and more like Jacob's tap water analogy.

Otherwise not much is new. In early April, I'm participating in the winter version of the race I did this past summer. I'll be travelling on skis and over a longer route. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the chance to meet more people with similar interests. After that I have one last winter trip planned to climb a remote mountain with some friends in the area. April should be nice.

Image
Neighbor's guest cabin in evening twilight

Over the past 8-9 months I've been wrestling with the question of location. I love the area I live in. The environment I live in is near pristine and the views are remarkable just outside the front door of my cabin. I know the history well and have developed a relationship with the area and its inhabitants. Yet, there seems to be something missing. I don't think I'm currently able to live the life I desire to live. My best experiences over the past few years have been the wilderness trips I've done. That's the stuff I live for and wish to do frequently. But I have found that, at least in the winter months, I do not have the motivation to do these trips by myself and do not enjoy them. With such a small population in the area, there isn't anyone who is interested in doing what I wish to do. One of the things I find sad and perplexing about Alaska is that often the people living in the most beautiful places (rural and remote areas) are the least likely to explore them, and if they do it is often solely by motor.

I don't think trips are the only thing though. A girlfriend would be nice and the selection is non existent up here. I sometimes also wonder if I'm limiting myself by living secluded in my early 20s, I think this is a time when many my age don't have the commitments and are more willing to make friends then later on with a spouse, kids and/or increased focus on career. Dick Proenneke told those in their early 20s that wrote him about wanting to pursue his lifestyle that they were crazy and should wait until 50. That may be a bit extreme but I think the point stands.

Its with all this in mind that I've been bouncing back and forth where to live. An urban area isn't particularly appealing for many reasons, but I don't think I can develop the community that I am seeking up here. Of course, it isn't a dichotomy. I have thought of doing both (there ya go Dragline ;) ). Maybe something like the bright 6-8 months in the wilderness and the dark/cold 4-6 in the city. I'm not entirely sure. But this has been causing me some mental anguish and a feeling that I need to do something. Otherwise, it just seems like time keeps passing me by without me accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:24 pm

Your life right now looks really interesting, thanks for sharing the pics.

It's great you got to see a wolverine though it sounds like the circumstances sucked. Trapping is disgusting and unsportsmanlike.

Subscribed to your blog.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AussieGirl » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:17 am

Hi animal,
I've read your journal from the start with some interest. I'm a bit older and would like to offer some perspective, which you can take or leave as you like. I'm married and have two kids. For me all three are an amazing source of joy and meaning. A family is not easier but for me the challenge, opportunity and delight is worth it. Just as you may find a relationship is. Although it would be something that you would need to give time to finding the right thing for you. Working out the right level of give and take. I still haven't got it worked out, but open communication keeps the discovery going. The 20s are an amazing time for discovery and I think setting yourself up for that and more social mixing is great. Bigger cities and towns offer it, but it can take a while to find a group that suits you and make the connections that work for you. A balance between what you know and love and new discovery seems a great idea. Just don't expect it to be amazing on day one. It can take some time. Let me know if you have any specific questions further to my more general thoughts above.
Good luck!

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:28 pm

@GdP- Thanks for reading.
I had the same stance you do with regards to trapping, still do with regards to a lot of it. My view softened a bit after gaining exposure to people who trapped and learning more about the history. I find it makes much more sense historically then it does today. Now people mainly just do it for recreation, which is kind of sick if you think about it. The same people who denounce sport hunting are going out trapping essentially for sport. In the past, trapping was really the only source of income up here. There were essentially no other options. That is nowhere near the case today. There is significant skill involved in catching a wolf, but for other animals not so much. I've contemplated doing it before, but can't find anyway to really justify it. I can find other sources of income, I don't think I'd like killing the animals for fur and I don't like the waste. Lynx can be eaten (rarely done anymore in this area), but wolf, wolverine, marten and fox are just used for fur or as bait in other traps. So ya, i guess I'm not much of a fan. Especially adding the fact that all use snowmachines to travel, which I despise.

@Aussiegirl- I appreciate your input. I figure it's going to take time to build relationships wherever I am. Certainly much longer in my current area though than in an urban environment (in terms of people outside the community). Experimenting with something like this isn't permanent, I could always go back to what I'm doing now if I desired. The social mixing and discovery you mention is something that's been on my mind recently. Still pondering my options.

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Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:46 pm

theanimal wrote: I don't think trips are the only thing though. A girlfriend would be nice and the selection is non existent up here. I sometimes also wonder if I'm limiting myself by living secluded in my early 20s, I think this is a time when many my age don't have the commitments and are more willing to make friends then later on with a spouse, kids and/or increased focus on career. Dick Proenneke told those in their early 20s that wrote him about wanting to pursue his lifestyle that they were crazy and should wait until 50. That may be a bit extreme but I think the point stands.

Its with all this in mind that I've been bouncing back and forth where to live. An urban area isn't particularly appealing for many reasons, but I don't think I can develop the community that I am seeking up here. Of course, it isn't a dichotomy. I have thought of doing both (there ya go Dragline ;) ). Maybe something like the bright 6-8 months in the wilderness and the dark/cold 4-6 in the city. I'm not entirely sure. But this has been causing me some mental anguish and a feeling that I need to do something. Otherwise, it just seems like time keeps passing me by without me accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
Well, my brother wanted to move to Alaska at your age, but settled for Western Montana and has been pretty happy living there. He works in Missoula, which is a college town, but frequently runs off into the mountains whenever he wants to be alone.

It's certainly not as wild and remote, but there are a lot of places to go in the wilderness around there if you want, including areas near Glacier in the north and Yellowstone in the south, and the Lolo National Forest and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness just across the Idaho border in the panhandle.

I also have a niece in Juneau. She is about your age and most recently was leading tours to the Mendenhall Glacier, or what is left of it. But I think she has a boyfriend . . . ;)

Jake9870
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:35 pm

@Dragline
Missoula Is a fantastic mix of a small city and the nature around it. I frequently go up there for weekend trips. Western Montana is a great place for the mixing of both environments. Iive in Bozeman which is the other college town. If you're looking for a blend of both people/ social aspects and outdoor recreation/ independence Western college towns have always looked to me as great places to live.

I've been going around Lolo once every year. Lots of clothing optional natural hot springs ;)

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:18 pm

Are those antlers on the side of your cabin? And if so, is it merely decorative or does it serve as some type of security system against bears or strung out methheads? Also, is there a reason you don't shovel your roof? I have no idea about these things. I mean your friend's cabin looks like some giant snow creature landed on top of it and is dry humping the poor thing.

As far as getting a girl to live up there with you, that's a tough one. I'm sure there are some Thelma and Louise types on the lamb but that could get dicey. I'm not even sure a mail order bride trying to extricate herself from an abusive family life in a dictatorship would be willing to live like that. I mean, they'd probably want to be in walking distance to a Starbucks let alone live in conditions even more primitive from where they came and they'd probably be worried you're some type of unibomber. And if you do find a girl, I mean, what excuse do you have to leave the house when she wants to talk? I mean, if she really starts to bother you, can you have her airlifted out?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:46 pm

@ Dragline- Thanks. I've thought if I leave Alaska, Montana would be the place to check out. The similarities make it appealing, but for now I don't really have an interest in leaving the state.

@Jason- Haha, funny post. No meth heads up this far, they all get trapped in Fairbanks. The antlers are purely decorative. Sometimes people will have them to show off the size of the animals they shot to assert their manliness. It's the equivalent of driving a big pick up truck. Though that attitude isn't common among the residents. As long as the structure is sound, it's best not to shovel off snow. The added snow provides for more insulation. Over the past couple weeks, roofs that are south facing have soaked up all the sunlight and will crash down without warning. Hearing one of those things slide is like thunder or an earthquake.

Finding a woman that is sane that wants to remain in the area seems to have similar odds to winning the lottery. The Air National Guard will fly up in Blackhawks for emergency rescue. I wonder if the situations you describe fall under that category.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This post is kind of random and will bounce all over the place.

I competed in the ski race I mentioned previously, but it didn't go as well as I would've liked. I had to bail at the checkpoint halfway through the race with bad foot blisters. After getting back home, I also found out that I got superficial frostbite on most of my fingertips. The race was a lot of fun, but disappointing to back out. Its also quite embarrassing to get frostbitten, especially as the only local in the race. Needless to say, I learned a lot. I put up a post on one of my blogs that has more info and photos if anyone is interested.

I spent the week and a half after the race kind of in a funk. My feet were still recovering, I didn't work out very much and I mainly lounged around reading. Then this past weekend I went on a snowshoe trip with a couple friends in the area. The snow is really wet right now so it was a slog at times but overall pretty enjoyable and seemed to be just what I needed.

Early this week, I left to do a little Alaskan road trip, where I'm checking out some other towns and visiting friends elsewhere. I'm in Valdez now and the area is absolutely stunning. On the drive in, every new view seemed to elicit me saying "wow" out loud.

Since my last post, I've Gary Taubes books ( Good Calories, Bad Calories; Why we Get Fat;The Case Against Sugar) and reviewed much of the writings of Peter Attia and Dom d'Agostino. The research seems convincing, at least enough for me to give it a shot. So I've been following the ketogenic diet for a few days now and will for a month at a minimum. I was consuming pretty low amounts of sugar before but did have carbohydrates in the form of beans, brown rice and whole wheat flour. The major thing I notice so far is the level of satiety. I've been less hungry and stay full for much longer then how I was when eating normally before.

All the potential summer income opportunities I mentioned earlier have dried up. Client for market gardening has extremely poor communication so I decided to abandon that. If I worked in mining, I'd have to work with a big asshole violating my adopted no asshole policy. People who have expressed interest in having me as a backpacking guide didn't respond to further communications. And finally, the tour business I was trying to start was stalled by not having a phone. I applied for a phone application almost a couple months ago but still haven't received one yet. Such is life in the Arctic. Anyways, my summer schedule is essentially blank in terms of work right now. I think I can still make the tour business work so I'm going to pursue that but I have low expectations.

It doesn't really bother me not having work, I can and will find things to do. As I mentioned previously though, I do feel like I may be stagnating or at least not growing to my full potential by remaining in the Arctic. Something that bothers me is the feeling that I have very limited skills. I've been thinking that I want to apprentice as an electrician and am sending in my application in the coming days. I often feel plagued by deciding among so many alternatives. But I don't want to become like the donkey, who couldn't decide whether he wanted hay or water and ended up dying. The best thing to do seems to select an option and move full speed ahead.

Image
Atop a high pass on the race

Image
Camp

Image
Valdez

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:22 pm

As in Exxon-Valdez?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:36 pm

Precisely. The pipeline terminal is on the opposite shore from the town, not too far distant from that photo .

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:38 pm

"In a bull market, one must avoid the error of the preening duck that quacks boastfully after a torrential rainstorm, thinking that its paddling skills have caused it to rise in the world. A right-thinking duck would instead compare its position after the downpour to that of the other ducks on the pond." - Buffet

I started investing a year ago. I checked my portfolio this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see I've gained +40% in that time. Now whether that is skill or luck is the question. For now, I'd wager the latter.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:59 pm

theanimal wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:46 pm
It doesn't really bother me not having work, I can and will find things to do. As I mentioned previously though, I do feel like I may be stagnating or at least not growing to my full potential by remaining in the Arctic.
I utterly get this. When you do something remarkably different, inevitably define yourself by that and share it with others who envy/idealize the definition, it's very hard to break out of your own icon. How can anything else compare?

It's okay to change, and it's also okay to change back if you miss your previous choice. Very few choices are irrevocable. Maybe it's time to move back to civilization for awhile? I asked myself this question 10 years after retiring. I became bored with NYT crossword puzzles and began making up my own, which didn't seem like how I wanted to spend the next 10 years.

There's also the possibility of meeting the future Mrs. Animal down in civilization and luring her back to the wild. :D

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:28 pm

Wow! Competing in a ski race in that area is super impressive. Doesn't matter if you didn't make it all the way to the end. Being able to go out there and navigate and not freak out, in that kind of terrain, requires a lot of physical and mental ability.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:52 pm

Man facing the arctic. Man facing himself. This is some fucking compelling bullshit. When you wake up each morning, do you howl like the first fucking man born into the creation, making himself known to all the unknown? And the nights? Do you feel the utter loneliness most normal men go out of their way to avoid? I like existentialism when its a book about some sad sack withering in the unrelenting Moroccon heat seventy years ago. But damn if I'm going to actually confront myself at this level. Plus, I don't ski.

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Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:21 pm

Well, he IS the animal. Damnit.

Damn good journal. Part of the reason we all come back here. And the pictures are fabulous.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:19 pm

Guys, you are NOT helping to reinforce my point that @theanimal can break out of his own idealized image and pursue another phase of life if he has the urge. Geez. :roll:

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jennypenny » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:26 pm

He's only allowed to pursue other interests if we can talk another forumite into going to Alaska to take up the mantle. Living vicariously through people like theanimal is what keeps some of us going. ;)

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:19 pm

This is sleeping in a dead horse bare knuckle polar bear fighting full frontal beast mode. someone should make a documentary on this. Really. Enough of those tiny house bitches and their Jack Johnson Oregonian nonsense. This is the real deal.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:44 pm

@Jason, I'll admit that I don't get the Jack Johnson Oregonian reference (even after googling it). Still: I think this reinforces my argument re dedicating one's life to feeding an icon.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:00 am

+1 to Halfmoon

My rule of thumb.. Is your situation youre in /the people you're around helping you to grow where you want/need the most? If it isn't then change Is necessary.

Define in what aspect do you wish to grow.

PS: Always a couch available for a fellow ERE'er if Montana seems cool for you.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:42 am

I'm just responding to what I see. But I thinks its absurd to think that a guy who calls himself Animal and decides to live alone in the Alaskan tundra is going to take into consideration the comments of some random, stream of bullshit asshole (myself) in the comments sections of an internet site.

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