Hello again! Welcome to the second post of my Journey to Alaska. The first entry can be found here: http://www.ericchandler.me/blog/aboutmeandwhyalaska. Just to make one thing clear, I believe that timing is everything. Our entire futures are already mapped out. We must not rush things, but go along with the flow of it. Life will workout just the way it's supposed to. I've had many people come to me and say that you can't just pick a month and go. They are 100% correct, however, April is the set goal in the financial department. Who know's what will happen in the 145 days until April first. I could land an amazing job somewhere else, have a baby, decide to travel the world first, get sick, and so on. Who knows, maybe I won't be able to accept the breakup of my relationship with Wawa and I'll have to stay home. When the timing is right, it will happen. In the mean time, I'm prepping for April!!
Now that I have decided to move 4,000 miles away to one of the most difficult places to live in the country, I created a pretty basic list of questions. As I said in my opening blog post, I'm doing this entire adventure openly to you. I really encourage you to drop a comment below and help me out, don't just text me!
Do I know anyone in Alaska?
I do. Through this person and this person and this persons cousin- comes Ray Bulson. Ray moved out to Eagle River, Alaska 8 years ago after he visited 15 years ago. Ray is a freelance photographer that captures some really really amazing wildlife and landscapes. He warned me prior to going to Alaska that Alaska will get in your blood. Well hell, it sure did. I've kept in contact Ray pretty often. He is really willing to help me as much as he can and get me out there. Check out his work- www.raybulson.com I'm really looking forward to taking one of his seminars, as well as shooting with him one day. We have debated shooting the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in March, however, this sudden urge to move to Alaska has postponed that trip. Hopefully when I get out there, it will still be dark and cold enough to view it. I also know Zach Stevenson, a cousin of a coworker of mine. Zach is an environmentalist that's currently working on a 8 month project in Kotzebue (see above map.) I briefly spoke with Zach on the phone a month ago regarding job searching out there. He advised me that settling in in Anchorage and looking for a union or 9-5 job for the first year would be best. That is also has Zach started off in Alaska. He was very fortunate to have his first employer pay for his flight out, and his first and last months rent in Anchorage. Kotzebue is the largest city in the Northwest Artcic Borough. This “city” is home of just 3,000 and extremely remote. As this journey continues, I will keep in contact with both these awesome people.
What kind of work do I want to do?
Well let's see what I enjoy doing. I guess you can say I really enjoy taking photographs. I worked as a waiter for 13 years and enjoyed working with people. I'm also pretty good at fixing cars and I do have college education backing that up. I do also like fishing a lot and I will absolutely NOT work in an office! Being that everyone pretty much thinks they are a photographer and I am moving to a different state, I think it would be smartest to land a solid job for the first year or two and get settled into the drastic weather changes of Alaska. Photography will have to stay as a free time/weekend thing. I would really love to work at a lodge somewhere pretty remote: start Alaska off right! If I can find a lodge that is busy year round (snowboarding/skiing and summer tourists) that would be perfect. I can see myself working at the restaurant, serving guests, kitchen help, BEAR TOUR ASSISTING! Yes! My first job searching will be for lodges! As you can tell, I just got pretty excited. If the lodges don't work out, I will look into jobs in Anchorage. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska with over 300,000 residents. I'm sure there are plenty of jobs available out there. I'm at a point where I don't really mind what I will be doing for work. I JUST WANT TO LIVE IN ALASKA!! I say this now, but I'm sure I'll think differently about it later.
What part of Alaska do I want to move to?
I'm not really interested in moving to the most outdoorsy state in the country to live in a city. Even though Anchorage (first photo above) is surrounded by the beautiful Chugach Mountain range, you still hear road construction and see bright yellow taxi's all over. If I land a job in Anchorage, I would love to live within 20-30 minutes from the city, and north of course (closet to Denali.) Eagle River, Palmer, and Wasilla would be my first choices. These small towns are just a 30 minute drive from Anchorage, however, still three hours South of Denali. I would love to live closer to Denali, but I didn't really care for Fairbanks, which is two hours North of Denali. Things aren't exactly right around the block in Alaska. The beautiful landscapes and wildlife sightings make the long drives pretty exciting. The bad part about living outside of Anchorage is that finding a small apartment will be pretty difficult.
Do I want a house or apartment?
I've lived at home with my family for 26 years, purchasing a house is something way out of the question....or is it? We'll have to see when I begin my shelter searching. A studio or one bedroom apartment would be just fine with me. I did a quick search earlier and in Anchorage, 1 bed room apartments are going for $700 including utilities, even some studios for $500. That's not bad at all! If I get in with a lodge, I wouldn't have to worry about shelter so we'll have to see what type work I get involved with first. I would really love to find a small apartment located in the basement or upstairs level of someones house, that's located away from Anchorage. I think that would fulfill my urge for the outdoors, for now.
Do I want to live alone?
I'm going on this crazy adventure and only know two people in Alaska. Would I mind a roommate? Absolutely not! It will just add to the entire experience!
Will I need a car right away?
- If I work at a lodge- no
- If I work & live in Anchorage- no
- If I work in Anchorage but live outside of Anchorage- yes
I toyed around with the idea of shipping my SUV out there. A few months ago, I picked up one of my favorite cars: 1998 Toyota 4Runner Limited Edition. It has low miles, black, leather interior, tow hitch, powerful, great condition, all around badass truck. I briefly checked out a car shipping service and they quoted me at two thousand dollars! I thought that was outrageous, however, my mom likes the idea of it. We'll see if we can incorporate that within the budget later next week.
Is there a backup plan? Hotels?
As much as I want to be daring and adventurous, yes there will be a backup plan. There are plenty of hotels in Anchorage, but I found something better! Many hostels in Alaska offer weekly and sometimes monthly stays. I stumbled upon one that only charges $150 a week. That definitely will be noted.
Please drop me a comment about how you feel about this post. Am I making some wrong decisions? Am I missing something valuable? What would you like to recommend for me?
Next Blog Post: Job searching will begin in the next post!