Looking for Alaska
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More than twenty years ago, a disillusioned college graduate named Peter Jenkins set out with his dog Cooper to look for himself and his nation. His memoir of what he found, A Walk Across America, captured the hearts of millions of Americans.
Now, Peter is a bit older, married with a family, and his journeys are different than they were. Perhaps he is looking for adventure, perhaps inspiration, perhaps new communities, perhaps unspoiled land. Certainly, he found all of this and more in Alaska, America's last wilderness.
Looking for Alaska is Peter's account of eighteen months spent traveling over twenty thousand miles in tiny bush planes, on snow machines and snowshoes, in fishing boats and kayaks, on the Alaska Marine Highway and the Haul Road, searching for what defines Alaska. Hearing the amazing stories of many real Alaskans--from Barrow to Craig, Seward to Deering, and everywhere in between--Peter gets to know this place in the way that only he can. His resulting portrait is a rare and unforgettable depiction of a dangerous and beautiful land and all the people that call it home.
He also took his wife and eight-year-old daughter with him, settling into a "home base" in Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, coming and going from there, and hosting the rest of their family for extended visits. The way his family lived, how they made Alaska their home and even participated in Peter's explorations, is as much a part of this story as Peter's own travels.
All in all, Jenkins delivers a warm, funny, awe-inspiring, and memorable diary of discovery-both of this place that captures all of our imaginations, and of himself, all over again.
checks the temperature at two thousand feet, where it is warmer than it is on the ground. One day at two thousand feet it was twenty below over Coldfoot and forty below over the basin where these men who dared frozen death lived. Envision living in their fourteen-by-fourteen-foot spruce-log cabin, built near the river. The lower down in the basin the colder it was. Windows are covered with layers of plastic and so provide only a little escape, diversion, and if there’s nothing moving outside,
forty pounds. That night at the lodge this white-haired man, shining with pride, had a few drinks, Tanqueray on the rocks. Then he had a few more. He began to brag about his king salmon, a mighty wild fish indeed. He was getting borderline obnoxious, Oliver said; his son tried to get his dad to quiet down, kick back. But he wouldn’t. Then he started to focus his arrogance on Oliver and Jake. Jake’s a restrained, sensitive, yet powerful man. The old man wanted to show somebody up, and he got in
to the Arctic Circle. So tonight, when I heard your interview on APRN [the Alaska Public Radio Network], I knew I had to write to you. I’m at the school where I work. This place is amazing. Like yourself, I enjoy a place more for the people I meet and the relationships I discover than for the awe-inspiring natural beauty it holds. We have more than our share of both! Good traveling while you are in Alaska. If there is any way I can help you while you’re here, let me know, and I look forward to
mother and Gene started having tea together, partly because they shared a Fruit of the Month club membership, and because, although he was odd, Gene and Per’s mother were both very intelligent. Gene would often disappear into the wilderness for long periods and live off the land. Around Cordova even the locals don’t venture into its extremities very often. Mountain-goat hunters, some of the most extreme outdoorsmen in Alaska as they have to hike up to the frigid mountain peaks, traveled as far
about his favorite Jack London story, “To Build a Fire.” In it a man traveling alone along the Yukon gets about half as wet as Jeff was that night, gets a fire going, but snow from the trees above blows down on top of it. The fire goes out, and his dog, with a warm body mass, watches the man freeze to death. “After a trauma like that you never know what your dogs will do, how they will be affected. I gave them the forward command, they took off like a bolt, like if a moose jumped out in front of