the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
7Wannabe5
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:22 am

@theanimal: I will try to find you a young girl who will live in your cabin with you, if you will try to find me an old man who will live in my camper with me ;) There are a lot of cute, rugged girls in my urban gardening group, or maybe a quiet, romantic artist type who would appreciate the light and intimate circle of companionship? Since I have met you in person, I would not hesitate to make arrangements for direct shipment to your nearest bus or sleigh-stop. Just give me a vague hint regarding your standards and preferences, and I will get started.

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:51 am

I would think The Animal could just rip a pair of antlers off the side of his house, trudge on down to the local Eskimo village and trade them for someone's daughter. He would just point to himself and say "Me, The Animal" and flip the Eskimo girl upside down by the ankles and bob her into a fishing hole until she came up with a fish in her mouth. Then he'd hoist her over her shoulder, trudge on back to his cabin and have her cook up the fish while he whittled down his toe nails with a bowie knife. After a brutal consummation, they would be considered married, at least by local standards.

RealPerson
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by RealPerson » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:23 am

@Jason. I almost choked on my breakfast reading your posts. They are great. But considering that in pure ERE style I cancelled my term life insurance years ago, my next of kin would be very upset if I really choked. :shock:

@TheAnimal. Your life sounds awesome and incredible at the same time. I sometimes feel that I have to pinch myself when I read about all the stuff you do. All the guys on this forum are drooling just thinking about the fantasy of doing what you actually do. Our testosterone infused brains are dreaming of raw living off the land in the wilderness, but in reality we'd all be looking for the thermostat to turn on the central heating when it gets below 60 degrees outside.

I have been to Alaska. You have a lot of guts to live up there, especially not having grown up in that type of environment. I think you got a degree in Miami. South Beach, bikinis and mojitos come to mind. If that doesn't make you soft like a flan, nothing will. Keep writing please.

BTW The bar where the captain of the Exxon Valdez got drunk before the infamous accident is still operating in Valdez. As an aside, the ship was repaired, changed names and now sails in the Mediterranean. No accident since then as far as I know.

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:52 pm

The Animal soon impregnates his Eskimo wife. According to custom, at the beginning of the eight month she returns to her tribe in order to give birth lying naked in the middle of a frozen lake in front of the entire tribe. After the delivery, the tribe's Shaman utters a spell and her vagina is restored to its original circumference in order that The Animal will remain pleased with her. The elders create crib made out of the antlers originally given to them in exchange for The Animals' wife.

Upon her return with child, The Animal opens the swaddling cloth, takes a look and declares "The Gods have given me a boy. I will name him Half-Breed." Upon his second birthday, the Animal destroys the crib and makes a pair of snow shoes and a club for Half Breed to go out and beat fish and small animals to death. Half-breed befriends a baby grizzly bear he names Human and they become inseparable. On his fifth birthday, The Animal dips into his cherished retirement accounts and buys Half Breed a pair of skis and a semi-automatic shot gun and the young boy goes on to win every biathlon competition he enters.

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C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:07 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:22 am
@theanimal: I will try to find you a young girl who will live in your cabin with you, if you will try to find me an old man who will live in my camper with me ;) There are a lot of cute, rugged girls in my urban gardening group, or maybe a quiet, romantic artist type who would appreciate the light and intimate circle of companionship? Since I have met you in person, I would not hesitate to make arrangements for direct shipment to your nearest bus or sleigh-stop. Just give me a vague hint regarding your standards and preferences, and I will get started.
I need to meet 7wb5 in person. I have met a handful of older men who already like to live in campers, so they may like to live in yours. (guys like these, two of which I'd highly recommend as potential partners.

The RTR ("Rubber Tramps Rendezsous") was full of older single men who like living in campers and who you could surely woo.

biaggio
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by biaggio » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:11 pm

theanimal wrote:
Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:53 am
I've become really interested in developing a strong skill set lately (much more than before) so that my output can get as low as possible whenever I decide to settle down. The major interests right now are hunting, fishing, foraging and small machine repair. And I guess I'm trying to learn more about bikes too. If anyone has any helpful resources in any of those areas, I'd be happy if you sent them my way!
First, sorry for bumping this old post. I've found your journal very interesting and decided to read it from the beginning.

Regarding the helpful resources you're mentioning in the post, I would be glad if you'd share those (assuming you were sent some and/or have accumulated some on your own).

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bryan
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:12 pm

Jason wrote:
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 would also be interested in @theanimal's inner dialogues. If I remember my own accurately (around waking up early and having to go out into the cold), they would be about like "fucking fuuuuuuuckk". Though I imagine once you get skiing it's alright? That other blog @theanimal linked to was really a good read for that (the dude woke up early and skied for like 22 hrs to get to a bed and avoid having to camp?).

@C40, sounds like we should designate 7wb5's streets and vacant lots as an ERE resort?
Last edited by bryan on Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cmonkey
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by cmonkey » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:33 pm

I love how this whole conversation is taking place without the presence of said animal, while said animal is probably out.....being an animal! ;)

All while generating 40% last year I might add.

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:41 pm

Savings rate aside, on testicular fortitude alone (albeit frozen testicular fortitude) he deserves props.

7Wannabe5
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:17 pm

@C40: I am a little bit afraid that maybe you think this guy is my type.

http://defyingnormal.com/wp-content/upl ... 24x682.jpg

@theanimal: Please pardon this unpardonable hijack.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed May 10, 2017 4:38 pm

Looks like I missed the party. Thanks for all the support everyone. You guys sure do a good job of feeding my ego :). As I've stated previously, I'm not leaving Alaska, only considering leaving my current position. After examining my alternatives, I am not planning on relocating anytime in the near future. Instead, I will be taking initiatives to make my current situation more to my liking.

My thoughts are mainly profane, they probably aren't as exciting as anyone envisions. There is plenty of time for contemplation and plenty of time for loneliness. Especially in winter. During the race it's more of repeating some type of mantra to keep myself going, drifting off somewhere else, being completely in the moment, or in the morning cursing as I try to get a blistered foot into a frozen boot.

@Jason- Your posts are hilarious.

I got a job as a backpacking/rafting guide with a reputable company in my area. They do mainly week long trips and I can work as little or as much as I want. Fits well in my desire for opitionality.

I spent the past 12 days walking with packrafts along Alaska's Lost Coast, roughly 175 miles from Yakutak to Elfin Cove. I have more details on my blog.

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bryan
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by bryan » Wed May 10, 2017 5:00 pm

Nice blog post!

Finding an ideal touring buddy that is available for all the tours one wants to do is tough. While on the tour, it's best to be as accommodating and pleasant as possible and focus on enjoying the journey!! I'm sure your buddy learned some lessons on the trip as well.

Hoosier Daddy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Hoosier Daddy » Thu May 11, 2017 4:17 am

Animal - I go through a similar thing every single winter. I think my job sucks, my life sucks, where I live sucks, etc. and then... the sun comes back! And I realize I thought everything was wrong but in fact it was just seasonal depression. Have you tried UV lamps? Maybe that would help? I can't imagine the darkness of the Arctic in the winter!

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Thu May 11, 2017 4:43 pm

I was looking through your pictures. They are compelling. But Is it my imagination, or is the sky closer to land there? It's kind of creepy, like if you looked up, you'd be staring at God's nut sack.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Thu May 11, 2017 10:08 pm

@bryan- Thanks, that's good advice to follow. Well worth it but it can be hard to put into practice.

@hoosierdaddy- Yes, I've used a light box pretty extensively my first winter here but not this past one. I think I'm definitely susceptible to the seasonal depression and need to be more diligent about using that going forward.

@Jason- The sky definitely appears larger. It's the same as with areas like the plains states. There isn't very much vegetation and the vegetation that is present is usually pretty small, so you have a wide view. Add hills and mountains on top of that and you realize that the clouds you see in the sky often aren't much higher than a few thousand feet up. I prefer skies like these now.

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Sat May 13, 2017 2:09 pm

I would have to go through an adjustment period to be used to a sky that close. Its just odd. I mean if your that close to the sky, then you're that much closer to space and who the fuck knows what's going on up there. I have enough problems on earth to worry about that type of shit. That's why I hate science fiction. Its just adding an extra layer of fucked up possibilities. That being said, I don't think there's anything really up there but better safe than sorry. I always had this theory about Stephen Hawkings. He worries about space and time and all that shit because he's all scrunched up in a wheelchair, blinking out bullshit, having most likely completely given up on getting laid. Its either he think about that shit or something else. He's just trying to get as far away from his limitations as possible. Plus all his end of the world predictions kind of seem like sour grapes, like he doesn't want anyone having a good time. I mean unless there's a down on her luck sting physicist out there willing to suck his cock for an academic recommendation, who's going near that guy?

On another note, I'm being terrorized by a wild turkey. It sits out on my fence all day staring at me. When it raises its feather, its fucking frightening. Turkeys are like the Hells Angels of the fucking bird community and I got the turkey version of 1950's Marlon Brando staring me down all day. I'm afraid to go outside. I'd like to feed Stephen Hawkings to the fuckin thing for the sheer irony alone. That would be great. Big brain scientist get's eaten by a fucking farm animal. Wonder what theory he'd come up with to explain that occurrence. But that's just a bunch of nonsense to make me feel better because, to be quite honest, I thinks that fuckin wild Turkey is a portent of my doom.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue May 30, 2017 2:37 pm

Well, there was a misunderstanding on my end with regards to the job. No job it is. I went to the training this past weekend in town, but it was more of a get to know you type of thing. They may call me if there are openings, but I'm not holding my breath. I think I've come to terms with the fact that I don't like taking other people around in the backcountry anyway. I'd much rather go out and do my own thing.

Back to square one, the issue that's been plaguing me for the past however many months. On the outside everything seems fine, I'm still working out and am in decent shape, I'm meeting new people and making new friends and doing cool things somewhat frequently. But on the inside I feel incredibly lost. It almost seems inevitable now that I'll move to town at some point. I'm not sure when and I'm not sure what I'll do. But in the Arctic, I find myself with an abundance of time, plenty of things worth doing, but nobody to share it with. That often ends up leading to boredom and/or loneliness. My main outlets are walking and reading. Luckily I don't really have any vices. I've found that I enjoy my time alone, but socializing frequently is just as important. Christopher McCandless of Into the Wild fame has the notable quote (of a quote), "Happiness only real when shared." A couple years ago I would have said that wasn't true for me, that I was tough enough to go it alone without issue. Not anymore.

I'll probably go on another long walk in June. And I have a wilderness race in July that I'm looking forward to. Those trips bring temporary feelings of purpose and peace through their simplicity. I'm glad I have that.

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Tue May 30, 2017 3:05 pm

Sorry about the job.

Studies of people in solitary confinement back up your experience. And these are hardened, sociopathic motherfuckers who end up whimpering like rain soaked puppies for human attention. Very few people can withstand sustained periods of being alone. It sucks but it's how we are wired. That's why finding one person on this planet you can stand to be around on an on-going basis is essential. It's not just companionship it's good companionship. It reminds me of what Charlie Sheen said of all those whores he paid for "I don't pay them to come over, I pay them to leave." Well, it doesn't remind me of that. I just love quoting that sentence.

Just remember it's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of your humanity.

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 31, 2017 8:30 am

@the animal, I hope you don't mind that I went back to early in your thread (2014) to find this:
theanimal wrote:
Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:56 pm
This is a tough post for me to write.

In a few hours, I will be leaving Alaska heading back towards home. In short, I failed and I failed quickly. I had been anxious and unsure of my plans ever since I got to Alaska. I made it up to the Brooks Range and my starting point after a failed hitch-hiking/walking attempt that left me with a low level of confidence.

As I arrived at my starting point, the immensity of the task I had to accomplish and the true remoteness/wilderness left me feeling incapable and very unsure of my abilities. In short, I did not feel mentally prepared at all. I spent the night there and, after much thought and discussion with my parents, I realized my heart wasn't in it anymore and caught a ride back to Fairbanks.

I had spoken a lot before with others about completing the task alone and how I thought it wouldn't be a problem. Well that ended up not being true. At this point in my life, the vast remoteness of that area is something that I feel I can not endure on my own.

This was a very tough and disappointing decision for me to make after committing four months to planning. While short, this trip will have a lasting effect and has taught me a lot about my personal limits and trip planning among other things. Hopefully, I can get back into a solid state mentally and figure out what to do from here once I get home.
Look at how far you've come in 3 years, the incredible personal growth and confidence you've gained. It sounds as though you know internally that it's time for another direction, but something inside you sees leaving the wilderness as failure. It wouldn't be failure or "giving in"; it would be change. Change is tough, but it's how you keep growing.

Best wishes for the next chapter of your life, wherever it may take you. Keep in mind that you can always come back to the wilderness, maybe with a new perspective or a partner.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:05 pm

Summer always seems to go by fast. In the Arctic, that perception usually matches reality. Here at the close of July, I find myself at the tail end of summer. Within the next couple weeks, we’ll have our first frost, the night sky and stars will return, and vegetation will reach peak color by month’s end. The past couple months weren’t what I would have expected them to be half a year ago, but for the most part, life has been good.

There have been researchers in the area studying snowshoe hares and lynx. The snowshoe hare population cycles every 17 years in this area and we are about 1 year away from the peak. As such, there are hundreds of hares within the surrounding vicinity. With the increased prey, lynx move in from other areas further south and east. I began working/helping out the researchers starting in May. Most of it is on a volunteer basis but I have been paid for some activities. The people are great and the daily work often involves roaming about the mountains trying to retrieve radio/gps collars, checking live traps and looking for lynx among other things. The highlight of this experience so far was at the beginning of this month, when we used gps data to try and find a possible den site (for lynx)*. It ended up being much easier than we thought and we found the den with 6 kittens inside. That was beyond cool. This upcoming month we’ll be trying to catch more lynx to add more radio collars.

Image
Lynx Kittens

Just over a couple weeks ago, I left the Arctic and went to southern Alaska to fish for salmon (reds to be specific aka sockeyes) with a friend. Alaska has certain areas that serve as dip net fisheries, solely for Alaskan Residents. A dip net is essentially what it sounds like. A net attached to the end of a 6-10 ft pole that you dip into eddies along a river and try to catch salmon. There are plenty of videos on Youtube for the curious. It is more difficult than it sounds. Most of the time is waiting on shore, holding the net and hoping that the fish are running strong. My friend and I hadn’t done anything like it before, so we had a steep learning curve early on. The first 24 hours, we only caught 6 fish between the two of us, with our nets being in the water for about 21 of those hours. That’s some slow fishing. The Copper River (where this dip net fishery is) has a canyon further down and we eventually decided to check it out, since we weren’t having much luck. We found stronger eddies and I was able to catch 17 fish within 3 hours, eventually hitting the limit of 25 not long after that. We left shortly thereafter, processed them at his house and I now have a freezer full of salmon filets, whole fish and roe. I calculated out the costs and each filet comes out to be about ~$3 for 1.5-2 lbs a pop. It beats the store by a large margin but still on the higher end. As I’ve mentioned previously, there is very little fishing where I live. Most of my expense was gas for driving there and back. There is an area that is closer that I’ll likely pursue next year.

Image
Fish #25 and me

I didn’t participate in the summer race that I mentioned above. The excitement wasn’t there for me this year and I didn’t want to endure ~2 weeks of recovery post race for something that I didn’t really want to do. I’ve still been able to go hiking on a regular basis in the area, but haven’t been doing long trips or anything.

I wrote an essay about my experience living here this past winter and the major AK newspaper is publishing it! It’s going to be my first article where I’m receiving compensation. Exciting!

I’ve decided to pursue getting a pilot’s license. There is a major shortage in the US due to the large cohort of old pilots that are retiring in droves. In AK, this holds true and demand is very high because of the importance of aviation in the state. I did self study for ground school and just passed the FAA’s Private Pilot Knowledge Test this past Friday. I’m planning on beginning the flying portion in the fall. I found a location in the Midwest that has cheap rates, and will be completing it down there. The upfront cost is on the larger end, though I think it will be worthwhile (as of now).

Image
Flowers blowing in the alpine

The same problems persist as I have mentioned before. There’s loneliness and boredom but I am getting better at mitigating those issues. I’ve made more good friends in the city and have made more frequent trips there and also to the other town nearby my cabin. It comes at an increased expense, yet it preserves my sanity. I’m OK with the tradeoff for now. The plan is to move from this area to the nearby city next spring.

Image
A nearby mountain in the late evening light of midsummer

Fall offers plenty of things to do. Berries are becoming ripe and waiting to be picked, hunting season begins and final preparations are made for winter. Berry prospects appear promising this year so I’m hoping to get about 15 gallons of blueberries and 5-10 of low bush cranberries. I like my berries. I’ll also be going for bigger mammals this fall (i.e. moose, sheep, caribou). I’m plenty nervous just thinking about it, but I have a plethora of knowledge and wisdom at my disposal from my experienced neighbors that should prove valuable.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer.

*Mom’s wearing a GPS collar.

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Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:39 am

Wow, nice pics!

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C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:35 am

wow! Seeing Lynx kittens, 25 salmon, 20 gallons of berries, moose/sheep/caribou, and flying airplanes?! Your life is dope.

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FBeyer
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by FBeyer » Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:03 pm

Dude. I am a fan. Like fo' real I think you are an amazing person!

Jake9870
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jake9870 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:19 am

Where in the Midwest? Maybe you can make a road Trip out of it? Keep writing man. Glad you sent your story in for publication.

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