Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where Men Are Men and Women Are Too

My latest fascination seems to be Alaska. Apparently all those grizzlies are currently getting elbowed aside by the hordes of film crews descending upon the state’s forests.
Cable networks have discovered that not only is Alaska the last frontier for adventurers, it’s also a new frontier of television. 

Buying Alaska on HGTV covers prospective homeowners as they discuss compost toilets and admire bear-proofing devices guarding their future house's entry. 
On the Discovery Channel, viewers can watch prospectors with scarred hands and sore knees, clinging like flannel-covered Spidermen onto unstable ledges. These cock-eyed optimists are willing to risk that rock slide with their name on it because they know that next boulder is sure to reveal a vein of semi-precious stones.
This is also one of the last bastions for real cowboys, and we can vicariously ride alongside as they move their herds over pastures bordered by bear-infested woods and court hypothermia across fast-flowing rivers. 

Since the lack of a soap dish at one hotel chain was enough to drive me to write a very snippy review on Travel Advisor, I probably wouldn’t make the most smooth transition to this land of long-johns and outhouses. On the series about a family who live with no conveniences whatsoever, the Browns handle nature’s call with a secluded moment behind an available tree. In fact, last week the menfolk congratulated themselves on their indulgence of the women by digging a hole, slapping some boards on top and adding shaky walls of pine limbs.

It’s easy to spot members of this family. Everyone is missing at least one tooth, dentists being in short supply 30 miles from the Arctic Circle. Still, the Browns all seem to be in peak physical condition – chopping down trees and dragging them two miles through the forest will tend to do that for you. Plus, none of the kids are frittering away their day on video games or whining about going to the mall. Instead, the oldest daughter – and the best shot in the family – is bringing down a deer for dinner while her brothers are busy wrestling those logs into position for the house they’ll all need before winter hits in a month.

Still, the sweeping vistas of mountains and rivers and forests are breathtaking. They can almost make us believe that we could all enjoy a life of ATVs and living off the grid. One likely reason for this is the shows’ tendency to skim over details like the infrequency of baths, the 23 hour nights, and the assortment of animals waiting outside your cabin to kill you.
On reflection, I guess I can skip the experience of wrestling a 60-pound halibut into my boat so that we’ll have food in the winter or the challenge of raising and canning my body weight in vegetables to avoid scurvy.
And that’s the allure of these shows – these are actually people who have chosen this as their way of life. Or was their real plan all along to become TV stars and move to some palm tree-covered island and live off the residuals?


  1. I imagine their little adventure will get old when winter hits.

  2. I wouldn't mind watching it on TV (if I have to) but I certainly wouldn't want to live it.

  3. I like the Alaska to watch:)

  4. I wonder how any of this can be true. They must live in motels or RV's between takes.

  5. Very well written.

    The things they have to do to survive is similar to what our ancestors did.

    I am grateful for indoor plumbing and electricity.

  6. I do watch Alaska, the Last Frontier mainly out of the novelty of how people can make a life in such severe conditions. They do have a ton of grit but I am content to enjoy from the comfort of my living room.

  7. I always wonder too if it is real. Are camera people living there too, doing all the time filming? On your last post. Hair! My hair always looks perfect the day of my appointment...always! :)

  8. There is no shortage of odd balls. These guys have slim chance of surviving a winter. They are intending to build a log home but not letting the logs dry for a year so that they don't shrink and leave all kinds of spaces for the wind to blow through.

  9. Chopping down trees and dragging them two miles to hand build a cabin, living off the land; it sounds idyllic, but reading about it is as far as I'm prepared to go. I like my ready made, electric and gas supplied home, complete with computer, flushing toilet and hot shower. With a soap dish!

  10. Will have to add thes shows to my winter binge watching. Will let you know how I make out.

  11. Call me a skeptic, but I'm thinking that real life in Alaska is probably a lot less interesting than those TV shows would have us suspect. I bet most people dust their shelves and take out the trash like the rest of us!

  12. Sorry for leaving my response here but I had no email. Thanks for your kind thoughts and I do believe the letter helped. I am working on forgiveness now...that's a difficult one.

    I notice you have G+ and your blog. Do you mind telling how to do that? I don't want to mess up anything. Thanks.

    Have a great weekend.


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