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Positive Futures 04 A documentary photography book made in 2017 about living off-grid. This book leads on from the original Positive Futures books made in 2005 (01), 2011 (02) & 2016 (03)

Ed Gold


1st Edition First published in this edition 2017 - ‘Positive Futures 04'

Copyright © 2017 by Ed Gold & Ed Gold Fotografía

The book author, Ed Gold, retains sole copyright to all the material used throughout this publication. No portion of this book may be reproduced by digital or mechanical means and may not be used in any way for profit or otherwise without the express written permission from Ed Gold. All views and opinions expressed in this book are not the responsibility or those of the author

Website: www.edgold.co.uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/EdGold.co.uk E-mail: info@edgold.co.uk https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Gold



Emails prior to visit .............................................4

Table of Contents ...............................................52

Typed Family interviews ...................................56

Audio Family interview ....................................154

Personal Journal ..............................................177

End ..................................................................282


Emails prior to visit 29 December 2016 - 24 February 2017 26 Emails - from David & Romey Atchley

01 29/12/16

Dear Ed We are the family who live up the Nowitna River (Novi) and just received an email from Tim Bodony telling us you were interested in getting a hold of us about a photo essay. We have no idea what this means but thought to shoot you a line in hopes you could clarify. Sincerely, David Atchley

02 03/01/2017

Hi Ed, this is Romey Atchley. I have just read your email and wanted to throw some thoughts back at you. We are interested in your project as we have often thought about the documentation of our life, and have kept journals, written books and taken many photos ourselves. We published a children’s book a few years ago called the The Adventures of Barefoot and Boofoot. If you want to see some photos or writings from us, you can look up our business page on Facebook at Barefoot and Boofoot or we have a website:


barefootandboofoot.com. I don’t know if we are exactly what you are looking for, but I only have an inside perspective on my own life and don’t really know what others would be interested in or inspired by. Over the years of living out here we have incorporated many new technologies into our life, that help as we age. We run a generator, have a small washing machine, and even bought our first freezer this year to keep our frozen garden vegetables and moose meat through the summer. We don’t trap as much as we used to, tanning our own hides and making fur products, and are trying to go the route of making money from our writings. Like you, we try to be efficient and live on as little a year, money wise, as we can in order to have more time for ourselves and the things we enjoy doing. I do want to mention that we don’t have the internet out here, but only a satellite phone that we can send and receive text messages; nop hotos. We are very reluctant to open that can of worms. It was hard for us to even open a Facebook page for our book. We do have a neighbor about 75 miles from us (Sam), who lives on the Yukon, and he has the internet in order to communicate with his wife who works on the North Slope, two weeks on, two weeks off. So probably sometime in February David will make a snow machine trip to his place and be able to check out your articles on the internet. My primary concern for setting something like this up is simple logistics. Getting out to our place is not always easy. In our 18 years out here, only two people have made it out here by snow machine. One of them (George Albert, a native snowshoe maker and trapper from Ruby who has an old cabin near us) showed up out here with a broken snow machine and ended up contracting pneumonia; and our neighbor, Sam, on the Yukon who tried to make it out for a visit with Roger Huntington from Galena who owns the bible camp 20 miles up the Yukon from the mouth of the Novi. Sam made it only to tell us that Roger had broken down and that he needed to go back and help him. Not many have tried, but one person ended up breaking down and walking 40 miles. The other thing about logistics is that April is a little late for travel and things can start to get iffy on the riverwith melting and overflow. David thinks if you don’t have the money to fly in and want to make it out by snow machine you would probably need help from either him or Sam to get out here. You may find someone else willing to ride out with you, but we are a long way from Galena, and there are some local people, say from Ruby, that we would not necessarily want to show up at our place with you. The plane is the simplest, but costly to hire one out of Fairbanks (maybe $2400 one way), unless you can find a local pilot to fly you out. I wasn’t sure how long you were thinking about staying, either. Really, the end of March would be the best time. Break-up makes April too warm and lasts through until the middle to end of May when the rivers become navigable by boat. There is the option of coming out when we get back from buying supplies at the end of September, beginning of October during hunting season. We usually buy about 4000 pounds of supplies which we need to pack in our backs about 1/2 mile to the lake where our cabin sits. We are not actually on the river, but have to walk back into a lake and then take another boat down the lake about a mile. We can always use an extra back during those times, but things can be awful hectic that time of year for us trying to get supplies in, the garden harvested, and boat pulled before freeze-up. You would get a totally different view of our lives then, and far less time to chat for all the work there is to do. We leave here every year from about August 12 to September 19 to buy our year of supplies in Fairbanks, visit family and friends and go to doctor appointments and such. You could also have someone fly you in after


the lake freezes in November/early December if you can find someone in Galena with skis on there plane who can drop you off for the price of gas. Let me know what you think and what questions you have. If you do need to stop off at Ruby or fly into Ruby instead of Galena, Ed Sarten could be a good person to stay with. He’s a different sort of cat, but he has people from all over the world stay with him through the Work Away program to help him take care of his goats chickens, and garden. I did think to tell you that we had a huge forest fire (over 660,000 acres) near us last year, that jumped the river and burned almost to our cabin. We had many irefighters out here getting flown in by helicopter and they were really interested to get to meet us and inspired by how we are living. That is all I can think of now. Let me know what kind of thoughts you may have about all that when you get a chance Also thought to tell you that if you reply to one of our emails, it helps if you delete the one we sent you and don't send it back with the new email. It just helps get the emails through in a timely fashion when I download them through the phone. Romey

03 07/01/2017

Hello Ed I can certainly appreciate your choice in life, and while our way of life is different, it sounds as if our philosophies have a certain similarity that rings friendly in our ears. I will be brief and deal with each of your ponderings individually. First off, Brad Scotton may be a good choice for you to consider in giving you a ride. And while I could never speak for him, he has been known to help out in such a way for the price of gas. (Tim Bodony’s wife works at Fish and Wildlife, 1-907-656-1231, and may be able to help put you in contact with him.) Otherwise, I would think it best if either Sam or I figured out a way to get you out here. As far as any other suggestions, no one knows the Novi better than I do or is more capable than Sam. Though obviously with the unsure weather conditions in April we would not be able to guarantee you a ride out here as the snow could be too soft, overflow too extensive, or a million other things that can go wrong with such extensive travel in such a remote location. As the old saying goes out here, "There ain't no help coming." I would better be able to address this if I knew when in April you were considering. The difference in April first and April fifteenth can be all the difference in the world. As far as your summer suggestion, there is no way a land vehicle can make it out here in the summer. However, if this summer was the case, I would just pick you up and drop you off with our boat. As for this winter, I'll have to chat with Sam and see what he has to say. I am planning on forwarding him your emails to see what he thinks here in the near future. I may be meeting him on the river half way between him and us sometime in the coming weeks. I also need to


make my winter run to town sometime in that next month or two and will gladly check out your websites and give you a call to coordinate any future meeting. Until then I guess we're stuck with this format (email). As far as George Albert, or Ed Sarten goes, due to the human aging process and mechanical reliability, it would be entirely too difficult for them to make such a journey. (I'm not sure how you've tried to contact Ed, but he has no way of making long distance calls generally.) If you still find it necessary, his phone number is 1-907-468-4499. As Romey informed you, several people have tried to make it out here over the years and have failed. Many fear the Novi as it is famous for overflow, and getting stuck and wet this far from civilization has caused enough deaths that their fear is justified. As to the length of stay, that would greatly depend on what type of travel you arrange and when. In April, if snow machine is your only way, you could easily get stuck out here through break up before you could get out (say May 25th or so.) If, say, Brad were to either drop you off, or more importantly, pick you up, then your options may have more flexibility as far as a winter/spring trip is concerned, though there would still be no guarantee during that time of year, which with this way of life you'll quickly learn is the norm. As it sounds from your email, you're used to a life of adventure rather than plan and execute, and in this way you are suited for the part. That's my long way of saying, I don't know how long you might end up staying, but as for us, I'm not sure it matters. I'll also add, that March would certainly be better and give you a better chance of completing a planned approached to your visit. Summer time usually is a more sure approach as the boat isn't so contingent on weather as a spring snow machine ride is (though break down is always a consideration.) As far as which time you'd prefer to come, spring, early summer, or next fall, I don't think it makes that big of a difference to us. It depends on if you want the winter wonderland, or bug infested deep wilderness experience. :o) I would say we'll just have to leave that up in the air for now until yo are more clear with your prior plans. As far as any monetary compensation, don't worry about it. The only thing I'd suggest is if I end up picking you up and dropping you off, be it snow machine or boat, I wouldn't mind a little help with the cost of gas. Other than that, I can't think of anything that we'd need or want. We have a tendency to keep one to two years of food around so I doubt one more mouth to feed for a bit will be a problem I'll let this go for now, though I will say, I would have to give some consideration as to what I would say as far as what it is that our way of life reflects. I can say, while many people have lived in the woods out here over the years, we often hear how no one does it the way we do. Our journey is very different from what most people think when they hear where we live. Let's suffice it to say, I don't see our way oflife as a thing of the past but rather one of the future.Thank you for yo ur interest in our life and we certainly appreciate the opportunity you offer. It is something I'm not sure I ever would have considered before. Sincerely, david P.S. I should also mention, in case it's a consideration for you, the only way anyone would be able to get a hold of you, or you them, while you're out here would be to write through our extremely limited email address (text messages only). There is no other access. We do have a


satellite phone that emergency calls can be made from at a dollar a minute if need be. Otherwise, we're all alone. :o)

04 07/01/2017

Hey Ed Quickly here. Ed Sarten could be a good place for you to stay as I'm sure you’re used to rustic situations, however, please do not heed his advice in how to come to my place. He has never traveled in such a manner and is not a reliable source in these situations. Why he may be right about finding someone willing to rent you their snow machine, I would have to be the one to arrange such a thing. While it would be infinitely easier to get you out here if you had your own machine, renting an unreliable machine could leave us in a worse situation. While it is not a trip someone would necessarily like to ride on the back of a machine for, or have to drive with someone on the back of the machine, it would be much better than risking a machine that is not ours breaking down on the trail. Such a situation could easily end up eating much of your time that you might have to spend out here, not to mention, the renter could then expect you to pay for the repairs even though he knowingly rented you an at risk machine. Plus, you will not be renting a machine for just the trip, you'll also be having to rent it for the duration of your stay, which if weather turns warm could prove difficult for your return. In regards to your trip, I have just sent an email to Sam to feel him out and will let you know what he has to say. He does have an extra machine, as do I, so we may be able to arrange something for you. I doubt Sam would be willing to give up one of his machines for weeks, as a back up machine is extremely important out here, but perhaps we could give you a ride out here and then I could let you use one of my machines, whereby I will escort you out of here, then I can just boat the extra machine home in the summer. If Sam and I bring you out, Sam can haul all the gear on his sled and I can haul you. Under the best of conditions the ride takes about four hours, though its taken me eight and twelve hours sometimes. Each ride is unique to all conditions, be it twenty five below zero, extensive overflow, break down or choping your way through jumble ice. However, I will have already broken trail several times in visiting Sam, making my winter trip, and in coming to get you, so I will be intimately abreast of the river situation. I also want to impress upon you, if the snow conditions do not allow for us to make it back out of here, or me to make it back home after dropping you off, I will not be able to take you out of here until after break up. So, once again, the earlier ithe year the better, or have Brad fly you out later and ride out break up.As far as tagging along when I return from my winter trip, while this sounds convenient, it would cause more difficulty as I will be heavily loaded already with yearly supplies and would have no room for anything extra. (Not only do I have supplies, but am also ladened with clothes for my stay in town, survival gear for the trail, and extra gas. Therefore, I would much prefer


making a special trip with only one concern, getting you out here. The timing of my winter trip is usually late February (depending on weather and river conditions) as I like to be home for March as it's one of my favorite times of year out here. As far as I see it, the easiest for all involved, except maybe Brad, :o) would be to have him drop you off and pick you up. If the very least, one or the other, preferably the latter as that's when the conditions will be the most suspect, especially with the warm winter we're having this year. However, if its the former, then we can arrange for you to ride your own machine out of here, an experience I'm sure you would like to have from the sounds of your emails. If Brad's not an option, I'd suggest Sam and I give you a ride, then I can have you use one of my machines to get you back out, depending on conditions once again. You did hint in your email that you could be ready to come out by late March. This would give you better assurance of making it here, plus allow you to stay longer if you'd like, where we could just watch the weather and you could stay as long as the weather holds. I hope this and my last email help you in your endeavors. david P.S. Please do not give another thought to the length of your emails. They are certainly not too long, especially considering what two strangers are trying to arrange here. :o)

05 08/01/2017

Hello Ed I heard from Sam and he said pretty much the same thing I did. First off, he’s willing to help out, but commented on flying out being the best for you with such extreme conditions. He also said the same thing about trying to find a machine for you to use, unreliable, which no one wants on this. So before I go on, I'll let you find out if Brad is in or not. If not, then at least see if he's willing to help in an emergency, such as you possibly being stranded here due to snow or river conditions. Otherwise, Sam and I are talking of dragging one of my machines out of here with me, or riding you on the back with me while he hauls gear. f you were to leave here by mid March, you could use one of my machines and we could pretty much be assured of getting you out and me back if Brad can only fly you one way. So, we got options now that your dates aren't so contingent on other plans. I would suggest that if Brad agrees that you come the first week of Feb and stay through the third week. (This could easily be pushed back a week if that works better for you.) Then I'd head out when you do to make my winter run, last week of Feb., or first week of March, and then I'd be back in time for March. That would give you two to three weeks, which hopefully will be long enough for you to at least get the feel of it. To truly capture life in the woods it requires much more time, if for anything, just to slow one's mind to its pace. The


effects of living so remotely is accumulative, so there's very few people that understand our mentality, especially since we moved here before cell phones, extreme internet access, and the like Shoot, our clocks are set two hours different from the rest of Alaska because we prefer the light in the afternoon. We have the ability to redefine our outlook and understanding from its very foundational levels, and we exercise that right constantly. In short, we have the time andontological training to examine every aspect of this cosmic existence, for the wilderness is the portal to the entire cosmos. Outside of my winter trip, we spend eleven months alone a year. Sky, who's thirteen now, has only been in town one month a year for his entire life sans one fall road trip we took for a few months a few years back. We have been extremely careful not to fill his head full of propaganda, marketing, or even massive amounts of irrelevant knowledge. And in allowing one to awaken slowly to life, knowing his own thoughts before it begins to be filled with everyone else's has been a blessing that has bared much fruit. His unique outlook is immeasurable. It's funny you mention looking for Andrew. I drove right by that hole about a week after you, heading down river to meet with a friend, Andy Gribbon. He lives down river from the hole on the north bank, you may have heard of him while you were out here. Always weird driving past an open hole on the river. Who the heck puts the trail next to a hole in the first place? :o) I can appreciate the experience you had on the search, I've had some very similar ones in my twenty years out here, except I'm always making the trip alone with no trail. I've had some close calls and very long days making the journey to town, but thankfully have always made it. But I'll save those stories for your visit. As far as power goes, we have both 110 and 12v, so you're good there. We run with a generator and solar, and invertor and 12v. Can't have too much back up when it comes to lights in Alaska. As far as prior approval of what you put together of us, thank you, though I doubt we'd be doing this if we didn't. :o) We just hope that you enjoy the experience, and we both recognize that we certainly have things we could learn from you as well. Keep in mind, Romey and I have noticed with prior visitors (as few as they've been) that we are not ourselves out here as we are when no one's around. We are also blind to ourselves in knowing what aspects of our life are interesting to others, though we seem to get many positive and inspirational comments from people about our life. I think all th firefighters being out here gave us the largest glimpse of this. I wouldn't worry about a satellite phone. We have one and you're welcome to us it. You would be required to cover the costs of your calls but otherwise . . .fine by us. Signal's not always the best, but it works. As far as when you choose to come out, let's hear from Brad first. And while I can always tell you when to fly to Ruby if I need to pick you up, I don't know if it'll be forty below or not, in which case I would wait for the weather to pass. The joy of having this life is that we don't have to push plans. If things aren't conducive, pick another day. It seriously can mean the difference in life and death. But Ed would be a place to stay if you needed to ride out a few days in Ruby waiting on me, or I could hook you up with another, such as Buster Brown. He's where I stay when I'm in Ruby. He checks are mail and is an excellent friend and base of operations for us. If it were the case you had to ride out a few days, you could photograph George Albert making the best snowshoes in the world, or since Sam is only about fifteen miles from Ruby perhaps you guys could endure the cold long enough for you to get there to wait. He has a very nice home on the Yukon, which you will get a chance


to see if we end up doing the snow machine thing. My other consideration with your arrival is that I would still need to make my winter run at some point, either before you get here, while you're here, (in which case you could journey with me if you wanted) or when you leave. It'll probably take me a week. If you fly out, I'd probably time my trip toward the middle of Feb. and have you show up a week later, having me arrive home a day or two before you show up. Let's just keep playing this by ear and see how things fall together and go withit. It feels like “things" want this to happen, which is how we operate: Things fall together, go with it, things don't, walk the other way. We're not force it type of people, causes too much resistance. :o) As I told Romey when considering your proposal, "Gotta lick a frog to know if it tastes like chicken." :o) Hopefully I addressed all your concerns. As for being a "stranger bearing gifts," I'm not sure what we would need or want, but I will give it some consideration. Might be more Romey's department. Thank you for the offer. Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile. david

06 08/01/2017

Hey Ed Romey and I got to talking about dates and perhaps we should just shoot for March, say the fifth through the twentieth, give or take a few days on either side depending on . . . things. Weather providing, you could always choose to stay a little longer depending on what flexibility you have in your life. I can offer more assurance of picking you up and dropping you off if Brad can't help, and I'll just work with the unsure weather of Feb., to make my winter run before you arrive. We just feel like March would be a better time for you to be out here as it's a busy month for us, giving you more to see, plus the weather is usually wonderful during that time, making it easier for us to get out more than Feb., allows. Hate to have you come out here and be completely housebound due to blizzard or cold, plus there's so much more light in March.

david


07 11/01/2017

Dear EdThank you for your kind words about my writing and that which it is attempting to express. We also greatly appreciate the reverence in which you approach our life. The original email that arrived from Tim about your interest was like a stone being tossed into a still pond. Now we are to feel the ripples in every aspect of our lives until your arrival washes ashore. Where you will communicate with and see countless people, enduring countless situations in your journey through the reed fields of humanity to our door, for us, you will be our next, and quite possibly, sole encounter. So you might imagine that not a single thing will be done around here without you in mind. This makes you a catalyst of sorts in which thoughts crystalize. Romey adds, "Just so you know." :o) I can understand one's distaste for urban sprawl and have had to reach deep within myself to come to some understanding in its regard. On a human scale, we have come to judge that to act in direct opposition to one's own survival is the mark of insanity. Therefore to continue to not only support, but to propagate, a disposable wanton consumer market in a world of finite resources, is insane. If we were to simply do the math, we would quickly realize that to consume at an astronomical rate with limited resources comes to a certain end. This also means for us to rely on an insane world for our direction and understanding would also be insane. Therefore we must rely on ourselves, in which case, the less we draw from this Merchant Empire system of insanity, the less power it has. Now if we are to look at humanity from a cosmic perspective, we might find our species to be simply a flower that has grown, bloomed, and gone to seed, decaying in the process just as all other forms. Why sweat the details? From this perspective life is more liquid than solid, more malleable than static. In essence, we are a physiological flow rather than a body, as is all life, as it flows into and out of infinite form expressing the infinite, timeless conditions that bring each thing about. The truth of things can be easy to see, it's just that we cloud it because we don't like the personal responsibility there encumbered. Most have clouded it to such a point they actually believe they're not capable of discerning the truth of their nature, or even that it's an knowable thing, when instead we just don't want to do what is necessary to discern. In reference to some of what I mention, I created a game format in which to express a certain philosophical technique that was conceived in order to allow each individual an better ability to explore being and existence. I call it Mindscope. In short, let's for a moment think of our mind as one might a microscope or telescope. When we look through each of these things a different realm of existence is exposed to us. The same applies for the mind. How we adjust the different lenses of our perception also exposes different realms of existence. These lenses are created


with not only our ability to define things into being, but more importantly, in how we are able to un-define things. For example, if we first un-define our conceptualization of the universe as a "big bang" physical existence, then we are able to redefine it in some other way. And just as thoughts arise from the prior defining, so too will thoughts arise from the latter. The ability to change outlook is the first step in the exploration of the universe. In today's times, people are looking at the world through countless lenses, one of reward/punishment, or fault/blame, or with a dualistic view, perhaps atheistic and cynical, etc., etc., etc‌ However, in creating lenses for ourselves we are better able to see the lenses we are already using, and so question them; or worse, we begin to see the lenses planted by others. Eventually we find that we are all looking at the world through a kaleidoscope of views thinking it's actually the world we're seeing. Instead, we are all looking at our ideas of the world thinking it's the world. Once this is realized, all we have left to do is learn to focus our lens (be it of broad focus, or narrow) and allow the light of awareness to illuminate a yet undiscovered corner of existence. Let's say we were to un-define the "big bang" and instead empty our mind, slow ourselves down, and try to envision a time before time, before form, before the "big bang." Envision the universe in a formless state of, just being, forever. Then in one inexplicable moment, BLAM! it realizes, "I Am!" And this single, complete, thought of being explodes out in an all consuming synaptic flash of existence, of being, of the consciousness, "I Am!" and fills the emptiness of space with this synaptic light, particles of which we call suns, atoms and bodies in motion. Would we not then be living within a space mind, a mental universe of imagery and awareness, instead of arising from a physical form? Would not the brain be the fruit of consciousness rather than the creator of? Well, let's not argue whether one is right or another wrong, but rather explore the view, peer into the world with its eyes just for the fun of it and see what arises. This is but one simple change in perceptive understanding, yet how profound are the consequences of such a change? Now what if we were to change our linear understanding of the world to a paradoxical understanding? One in which apparently opposable things can both be right, a place where the unknowing mind is the knowing mind. Or perhaps we can view the world without a relativeperspective, freeing ourselves from the relative point of view of the self. What if one were to even question his own defining as a human being, instead considering that he might conceivably be ALL things being? Could we not each be the same thing, just in a different time and space to ourselves so we don’t recognize ourselves as such? We so often see sameness where there is difference and difference where there is sameness. And of course there are many, many other perspectives, not too mention the many things learned from their use. Such pondering might lead one to question why they would want to, not only stick with, but defend, a single outlook of an infinite thing? I can guarantee with our limitations in understanding we're wrong about everything, not just in the "what" we know (all of which has accumulated from an extremely limited understanding) but more importantly, in "how" we know. Ontological answers do not lie in a knowledge based structure, as life (being) is infinite. How could one ever bring all things to bare in a single moment of existence in such a format of bits and pieces so as to properly understand the moment? What of the missing bits, the incorrect pieces? There most certainly will be some if we are to attempt to compartmentalize infinity into


isolated packets of knowledge in a feeble attempt at understanding. Instead, perhaps it is better to, "see" the answer. We do this by finding a place of understanding in which one views the world that reveals the majestic vista of the truth of things. This view arises from the conditions of things, internally and externally, throughout all time and space of being. This view arises from the wilderness as it is the expression of existence. Each form a door to everything. It's only for us to learn the language, to become what we truly are (all things being) and see the world through its eyes as our own. This can not be had on the space stations (cities), or the mentality that arises therein. To see a world of wonder one must see with the eyes of wonder. As in the immortal words of Robert Hunter, "Sometimes we get shown the light in the strangest of places if we look at it right." There, I'd say that's my bio. :o) And where this is an extremely microscopic version of a way of life Romey and I have been studying and working with for decades in an isolated environment, hopefully it'll give you some idea of our approach to wilderness living. Thought arises from the conditions of things; change the conditions, change the thoughts. Or as Romey calls it, "strategic body placement." I'm sure you might imagine that this way of life, this way of thinking (there is no separation between the two) has led us down a very different road than most of humanity. Over the years we have made astounding discoveries and logged over twenty thousand hours of conversation on the subject. I have even had the extreme pleasure of standing upon the edge of the great abyss of existence, with my mind caught in awe, asking in response to the view there encumbered, "Could life really be this amazing?" Or as Sky once said, "If life's not a bug out, you're not looking at it right." Sincerely, david P.S. I will address and respond to your previous email in a different writing as the subject matter of this one seems best presented in its own right.

08 01/14/2017

Ed I apologize for the delay, we just don't generally check emails on a daily basis. We were only checking them every few weeks until we heard from Tim about you, then we started checking a little more often in order to make arrangements with you, but I'm afraid we're falling back a bit into our old pattern. One of the nice things about living out here is that we can just turn man off and he goes away. It would be a shame not to exercise that right. :0) It's good to hear that Brad is willing to fly you. That takes a lot off the mind.


I will shoot for leaving here around mid February for my winter run and then you can come out any time after I return. I will let you know when I am leaving and call you while I'm out to clear up any arrangements. I was surprised to hear that you needed a permit to visit us. I'd be curious as to what this permit is for exactly. Years ago, when this was first made a refuge an employee of Fish and Wildlife went out to visit a man who owns a cabin up river from us. Fish and Wildlife claimed the employee did not have a right to visit him and he took them to court over it. He won a out of court settlement of $40,000 in damages avoiding a legal precedence whereby the court was to claim he had all the rights to home ownership that anyone else has, including the allowance of visitors. Please don't mistake me, I'm certain the permit shouldn't be questioned, I'm just sorry that with your frugal means you are having to pay for such a ridiculous thing. We actually have a book that has the story published in it. Once again, I'd like to thank you for your comments on my writing. It has been developed in response to the type of mental functioning in which I work. To use an overused metaphor, I rely heavily on reasoning, logic, and rationality in my treks into the mental wilderness, which become the trail of bread crumbs which allow me not only to avoid becoming lost, but to also retain and express that which I discover. I have certainly had my difficulties in writing as verbal thinking is an extremely linear form in which to convey cosmic happenings. I would also like to thank you for your comment about my understanding of life and my place in it. And as I'd like to take credit for some aspect of it, I must admit that the wilderness has been an ample teacher in this regard. I'm sure your experiences has brought you ample understanding, too. Before I continue on, I'd like to also say, I appreciate your open and intimate exposure of your thoughts. And while we are all forced to derive some part of our living from this ill-conceived idea of order we call society, I will not allow it to hang its veil before my eyes, blinding me to all that lay beyond. (One need not wonder why "they" want their screens permanently before our eyes.) It seems we each have to come to terms with humanity ourselves, as an individual and as a whole, and apparently we each do so in as many different ways as there are people, even if it's accepting it without question. I can certainly empathize with you, as I'm acutely aware how difficult it can be to see the reflection of our mentality with such amplification as our society illuminates, but there is no escaping it, for our society IS a direct reflection of our state of mind; so the only thing any of us can do is fix ourselves. If we each bring peace and contentment to ourselves then the world will reflect that instead. As for myself, I will not dive into the mind of humanity for reasons I stated in my previous email, (insanity) however, I can offer the rest of the universe in which to focus the mind. Humanity is a pin prick compared to the great all, and have found the more I submerge myself in the awe of existence the more humanity as a whole pales in comparison, nothing more than mosquitoes buzzing. The more Iam able to fill my mind with the beauty of life and the miraculousness of being the less concern I have for the stage setting in which I do it. Yes, I can always see the beauty and then turn around and see humanity stomping on my newly discovered flower, but if I'm not careful, this process will turn into a psychosis and I will never be able to see beauty without seeing man's dis-concern for it. My life span is entirely too limited to waste it focusing on the insanity and confusion of humanity's understanding, and I have become entirely too protective of my outlook to allow such incorrect understanding to pervade my being, even if to chastise it. As I like to say, "Never trust a species that uses less than 10% of their brain." (If you remind me of


this I have a funny story that happened when the joke originally came about.) While I understand that many look for and need purpose and meaning in their lives, I personally find this need only arises when one is not living in harmony with themselves and the universe. When one engages in full connectivity with existence thoughts of meaninglessness and purpose never arise, seems quite silly really. So as it goes with your last email, I believe I already offered what insight I havein my email prior to it -- Within the cosmic perspective humanity is merely dust on one's sleeve. Dive into the miraculousness of your existence, and the ocean of humanity fades, for it truly is a ridiculous state of affairs not worthy of concern. Yet, perhaps a fun place to start might be in seeing if one can understand humanity without a fault/blame perspective and see what arises. As for now, I think it best we reserve the rest of this conversation for when wemeet, and then perhaps we'll both discover why the universe has brought us together. For the universe has been swirling things into and out of form long before I got here, and will continue to do so long after I am gone, I'm sure it knows what it's doing despite how aspects of it may appear to my puny little perspective. Besides, if I understand you correctly, you've already drawn your conclusion, "I think it'll take a massive life event for people to wake up." All that's left to do is figure out how to accept this. Until then, you can continue to do your work in knowing that you're doing it for those, who like yourself, need to see that there are other like minded people out there so we can continue to endure Perhaps you can trust me when I say, how things appear as, "all things being" is quite different than how they appear from a human perspective. It's merely a matter of defining, yet the outlook is worlds apart. Can any of us say how we are NOT all things being? We each have only to realize. Romey and I have many writings on these types of things which you are welcome to peruse during your visit if you care to do so, but the true joy is in conversational discovery. "Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men. There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone. Faring thee well now, let your life proceed by its own design. Nothing to tell now, let the words be yours, I'm done with mine. Tell me all that you know . . . I'll show you snow and rain." Grateful Dead David P.S. I will add that what these last two emails express requires a dedicated life, a dedication which is precisely what led us to this place. Apparently, your dedication now has so too. :0)


09 19/01/2017

Ed-

"Monetizing one's efforts." Now that's funny! No need to fear here, Ed, we’ve never even heard that expression, but I will say it gave us the giggles when we did. :o) I understand your fear of such thoughts, and commend you for it. I became acquainted with Brad's type of mentality early in life through my mother and became her greatest disappointment when choosing philosophy in college, which was made clear by her response, "A philosophy degree won't buy you a cup of coffee," stated with derision oozing off her tongue at every syllable. I will add, while I never did get a cup of coffee, I did get a free beer once. Offered the bartender the secret of life for a draft, she declined, but the customer next to me took me up on the offer. In all fairness, I should also add, it wasn't the degree that got me the beer, it was the thought. :o) To paraphrase Nietzsche, "There's no greater damage to the advancement of thought than the practice of keeping bad philosophers in our learning institutions." Meaning, I was highly disappointed in my college education, as I did not want to learn about philosophers, I wanted to become one, whereby there were no classes available. No one was teaching one how to think; only the downloading of thought was available. So, I had to go it alone, and no one's getting paid for that, but I knew there was more going on with this just popping into cosmic existence than white picket fences and job opportunity. So my trek began. Our remote location became necessary, not only because of the need of a true teacher (the wilderness) but also due to the need to step out of humanity's structure of thought. However, this is not only done by removing one's self from the human understanding, but also, and much more difficultly so, by removing the human understanding from one's self; a process by which my understanding comes about. The conscious beginning of this journey occurred with a thesis I wrote entitled, "Agnosticism: As Method Not Belief," by which I attempted to point out the need for a true unknowing mind when it came to properly understanding the cosmos. It must have been ahead of its time, as it was a difficult pitch convincing a bunch of scholastics that to not know was the method in which to know. :o) Anyway, please don't worry about my wanting to save our conversation for when you arrive. It's not that our email system is incompatible to communication, though somewhat archaic. Personally, I'm enjoying our exchange greatly. Your proposal has stirred much thought and by offering a voice to our life you have also offered a perspective for thought to form. However, the subject is too whole-listic and the vision far too reaching for a format such as email. This type of conceptual technique is more something one would do better to experience and then they could see it for themselves, which would be infinitely more enlightening than


taking my word for it. I could explain conditional understanding to someone, or thought manifestation, or pattern recognition, or even consciousness, but they would never have a true feel for it without realizing these things for their self. You could liken it to the difference in me telling you what it's like using the outhouse at fifty below, and you using the outhouse at fifty below. I couldn't describe my seventy-two below experience, other than to say it was fast. :o) Speaking of which, as of today, it's a 58 below zero experience, cold enough that our propane doesn't work Otherwise, our satellite email system works by hooking up our satellite phone to an ancient laptop. We type our emails into the laptop where they wait until weog in with the satellite phone. The emails that people have written to us sit with the satellite people until we log on. When we log on, our emails go out and the one's waiting for us download onto our laptop, then we cut transmission and read our emails. Actually with my last few emails it's not that it's hard to type, it's that it takes a lot of concentrated energy in which to express some of what I'm saying. Plus, the primary reason for my writing these type of thoughts to you was an attempt to relay something to you before you arrive, which according to your last email, I achieved. "I will have to be much more understanding of what you discovered from life, as well as interviewing and photographing your practical day to day survival." Now, hopefully once you get here you'll see how there is no separation between the two, though it can easily appear so to the untrained eye. Take subsistence for example. It's not only that we believe there's no greater knowledge needing preservation than man's ability to live off the land, but also with each of these activities, which is preserved through tanning hides with brains and alder bark, or preserving meat without means of refrigeration, or making syrup from the sap of birch trees, or even harvesting herbal teas and berries to growing our own plants for sustenance, and of course the obvious hunting and trapping, all of which are not just means to an end, but a way of life that brings about a certain understanding, one of connectivity and engagement. Each of these activities can be a doorway, a doorway that exposes the entire universe if we are merely to look. How can one not be in awe with the simple act of dropping a pattern (seed) onto the ground and watching the dirt manifest into differing forms right before your eyes? How is not everything dirt? Did the plant ever stop being dirt? And what is it these plants have to teach us? Perhaps the fact that while we may never reach the sun, we bloom in trying. Or that form is transitory and elusive in this realm of letting go. And in the spirit of this writing, I'd also like to offer something I personally find miraculous within our family, which is how well we get along. How many children grow up having both parents around all the time? How many would want that in today's times? I can't imagine a thirteen year old reading a photo essay about a kid his age "stuck" out in the woods with his parents all the time and thinking that would be a good thing. But with us, we all greatly enjoy it and feel no missing pieces. We give much of the credit to raising not only our child, but ourselves, outside an authoritative rule structure. No boss man here. No reward/punishment system: "Do as I say, get a treat, don't, be punished." We are all equals, just free floating particles out here learning together about life, how to get along with others, and how to care for another, simply put, how to be happy and have joy in living. And if there's such a thing as art, this would be ours, the art of living. We each have the power to create realities, and through understanding this art, we flourish. So where is the separation between one’s understanding and the life that manifest from this understanding? Try to understand that the what of, and how


we choose to express our understanding of our life is as a reflection. We simply want to offer the wilderness, the cosmos to people, and perhaps in realizing the miraculousness of existence we each can forget the petty tedium of everyday living, maybe even transform our understanding of everyday-ness into the miracle itself. And while the rest of the world may need to borrow our eyes for this, it's not about us. Romey and I were just saying this morning. "We want people to get a glimpse of not only the wilderness but the entire cosmos through our life, and it will take the three of us to properly provide this," as you, Ed, are not just the instigator but an equal part of the necessary conditions to bring this about. What is it we all want to say to the world, together? What is it the wilderness has to say to humanity? Perhaps we'll all be fortunate enough to know by the time you leave here. Can’t quite give you a date on when to come. With this extreme cold, we're more hunkered down these days, playing some dungeons and dragons and hanging out. It's kind of akin to sitting in a submarine on the bottom of the ocean. I do have some things I need to finish around here before I can leave for my winter run, plus I'm waiting for more light and a chance at warmer temperatures. I'm thinking if I'm out of here by mid February, back in five to six days, leaving the possibility of you coming out around the 21st of February, unless Feb., is forty below, or dumps a bunch of snow and fills the river with overflow. :o) So I would say we can both lean toward five weeks from now, give or take. And since you'll be flying back out of our place as well, we can be flexible on when you choose to leave if we're all enjoying each other's company and you aren't quite ready to rush back into the world. :o) I did have a couple of practical things to discuss. First off, Romey has come to the conclusion that if you felt a need to bring us something, you could bring her a bottle of Windex, though it's not necessary. Secondly, as far as food goes, Romey wanted to mention that we make fruit smoothies every morning, and while she makes her own yogurt, and has plenty of that to share, she doesn't have enough frozen berries to make an extra smoothie every morning. So, if you'd like to bring some frozen fruit and partake with us, you are welcome, otherwise she didn't want to feel rude making smoothies every morning in front of you and not be able to share. I will also add that if you are a tea drinker, Romey said that she wouldn't have enough black or regular green tea, but does have extra herbal teas and decaf green tea, and if you like milk in your tea you might need to bring that as well. We also have a strange cycle out here when it comes to eating and such. Not always so organized outside of dinner. We stay up late, sleep until whenever not having a huge time factor in our life. We often lose track of days out here and are always surprised to find out what time it is. Not sure how this might affect you, or how your visit might alter this, but as Romey said before, "Just so you know." Now, if you're interested and want to play along, Romey and I offer you our current project. Stillness. We have just begun working on it, wondering what it is, and thus far have merely raised the questions: What's not in motion? What is still? Or simply, how is it that I am not? If you have anything to offer, we'd be glad to hear it. I'm sure we'll still be on the subject when you arrive. Also, we're still looking for more vegetarian cannibal jokes. Thus far we have created, "Did you hear about the vegetarian cannibal that only ate fruits, nuts, and vegetables? Get it? I know, not politically correct. How about, what do you feed a vegetarian cannibal? Face plant. I know, that was just bad, but I'm sorry to disappoint we're no longer accepting jokes about Uranus. :o) "Ladyfinger, dipped in


moonlight, writing, "What for?" across the morning sky. "Sunlight splatters the dawn with answers.'" Sincerely, david

10 01/24/2017

hope you got my long email, having trouble sending it. instead you could have three copies. :o) Weather broke, heading out to get all the backed up projects done.

david

11 01/24/2017

Hello Ed

Once again your email inspires much thought. First I'd like to reassure you. You will most certainly get plenty of sleep and enough to eat. While we may not always be organized with these activities they are done in a contented fashion. Sky says, "I'm hungry." Romey says, "Well, we got this and this." And I'm sure you'll be happy to know you'll be sleeping five feet from the wood stove. (I think I just felt your body shiver with the excitement of such a thought.) I'll also add that we have a sauna, so we can warm you through and through. Out here the sleeping person takes priority, so the one's who awaken try to be as quiet as possible for those who haven't. You may find that we might make a good weigh station for you in your travels in life, and hopefully between us and the wilderness you can recharge your body as well as your mind. I appreciate that you like our sense of humor. We were just saying the other day that we weren't sure we'd be able to be this silly with someone else here. But Romey promised to try. :o)


Actually, just a couple of days ago we did kind of start to freak out about somebody being in our house. It looks by your email you could feel us doing so. Thanks for recognizing this. And while it did appear to us weird for a moment or two here and there, we certainly understand that that doesn't mean it will be. It's just as Romey pointed out to me the other day, "Someone else is going to have to become part of our organism, and by having another part, we're going to become a completely different organism." Otherwise we'd just end up being hosts to a guest, and I'm not sure that'll give you the material you're looking for. But what type of organism will the four of us, plus a dog, become? I guess we'll see. It's a rather strange state of being sometimes when you realize that we're all living on the same planet but each on our own world, yet forming a single organism. Add digesting lunch to that and we're damn busy people. Leaving us to wonder, with all the cosmic activities of being going on, who has time for a job. :o) It's funny you mention stillness. Last night, in our conversation, Romey and I arrived at "the moment" as that which is being still. Sure everything comes and goes within it, so we think it's moving, or that it's going somewhere, but instead we saw it as empty space (or more specifically, empty time) as a place where each thing within all things, coming from somewhere and going somewhere, meet. And while the movement of things works in synchronicity, the place of meeting never moves. Just a wondering. Personally, I found that in looking for stillness so as to understand it, I would have to be still. A little paradoxical, wanting to see stillness to understand it so I could be it, yet have to be it so I can understand it so I can see it. But it appears now that if we step outside of the conditions of the moment and just reside in the moment we'll see beyond the conditions of things and find the stillness in which they reside. Anyway, I apologize for the lack of articulation here, we're still in the digging process. :o) We like to joke about being big game hunters out here, except our game is conceptual. In hunting stillness one has to be very quiet. :o) Or when we spent months tracking consciousness, or our journey for the source of thinking, or the simple statement by a Buddha, "See each thing as a moment of time." That was a good one. It taught us much about all the things one gets to learn, notice, and do to see such things. Another thing we're finding rather funny is you, for obvious and acceptable reasons, trying to determine dates and lengths of stay. If any of our friends knew of your attempts to do so with us, they'd be laughing. I can imagine the saying, "We can't even get the Atchley's to agree to meet us for lunch in a couple of days at a set time. All we'd get from David is how could he possibly know. He'd just go off on how when surfing the universal wave one never knows where the ride will lead, and here you want me to manipulate and control the wave just so we can meet in some arbitrary moment of nowness that you've crammed into some understanding you call a Thursday. :o) Let's suffice it to say, I have no idea how long you'll be here. Romey thinks it's just something that the moment of happening will determine for us. As she says, "Most people's clock is based on time, ours is based on conditions." If things fall together within a certain moment, it's time, if not, it's not. I'm sure you can understand how our clock and the clock of our friends can conflict. :o) Strangely though, we seem to run into who we need to, when we need to, even in a town the size of Fairbanks, so there must be something to it. We call it the cosmic day. For example, say I run into an old friend out of the blue, maybe in an odd place.


Now most people are in the situation of saying, "Wow, great to see you, but I have to run, I have other plans. Perhaps we can meet later." Where instead, I've been known to toss away my list for the day, even though it's very important that I get all our supplies for the next year, and follow the happening instead, which always leads to more happenings. Without fail it has led me to amazing situations of synchronicity, enough so that all our friends are believers in the "cosmic day." My 10% of the brain story is one of these scenarios. I actually had a friend in Fairbanks for ten years that I never knew where he lived or his phone number, because I didn't need it. We always ran into each other when needed. One time I was telling another friend the story of how we always run into each other, but it was weir that I hadn't seen him yet, though I had been in town for several weeks. Just as I'm saying this, he and his girlfriend pulled up right in front of us. Me and the guy I was telling the story to just looked at each other, and I smiled. So as for your arrival date, I have no idea where we'll be in our chain of things. This cold seems to be holding us up, but perhaps it's stalling us so our timing will be perfect for some unknown event yet to happen. But I'm sure we can accommodate any date of arrival. So we'll let it be up to Brad, as to what is the most convenient for him. I'd give him the dates of Feb., 23rd through Feb., 26th and let him decide. This leaves him the option of flying you after work, or on the weekend depending on his plans and preferences, and gives me a few extra days to make my return from my winter run. If your arrival ends up happening a little before I'm back, that's fine, it's not like Romey and Sky won't be here and I won't be on my way. I hope this does not cause you difficulty with a place to stay between the time you arrive in Anchorage and the time you head out here. And I won't let go your consideration for our health. One of the great benefits of living in the woods is never getting sick. We had a pilot land one afternoon a few years ago, whereby we all shook hands in greeting and spent the next several weeks watching his sickness spread from person to person. That kind of sucked as one of the things with remote living is you only have yourself to rely on, and when someone goes down due to illness or injury it can cause quite the trouble. One year when I left for my winter run, Romey crushed her finger making it impossible to chop wood for herself. It was a long haul for her, and to this day when I leave we make sure there is a large supply of chopped wood incase. Most of the time, it's plain and simple, despite what shape you're in you have to do what's necessary. Obviously, we pick up the weight for one another in such situations, but this never gets someone completely off the hook or is always possible. As far as a sleeping bag, can't say. I figure you're still bringing a bag, just wondering if you should bring the 50 below bag. We'll probably snow machine around a little while you're here, but would have two machines, so I doubt we'dget stuck out, at least not so far we couldn't walk. Romey offered, "We never needed ours," though I always bring mine on my winter trip to town. Which reminds me, our seventy-two below weather came during the winter of '12/'13. It was fifty to seventy below for five weeks. I remember it warming up to -35 for about eight hours one day before plunging back down and I ran out and did a bunch of stuff that had been on hold as if it were twenty degrees. We've actually spent the last two days trying to determine why our propane won't work. It stopped when it was super cold, which is common, then as it warmed up it started working again like usual, but then quit. It seemed our tank had gone through a lot more propane than it should have, but I couldn't seem to find a leak. I then found the regulator all full


of liquid propane, being so cold, which isn't usual. I dug out a couple of other regulators I had around, one only working weakly, another not at all. Finally I had the stove all pulled out, tools and parts all over the place, with me freezing due to the cold and not being able to do the outside work with gloves, when we found a swollen place in the line coming into the kitchen. There was a slight hole where propane was leaking causing the liquid propane in the line to freeze, clogging the flow as well as leaking out into the air. I had a back up hose (thankfully) which we put on, attached the original regulator minus the liquid propane . . . and presto, we're back in action. When you buy supplies for the coming year, a lot of guess work is involved as to back up items. Generally when something goes out, we just buy two, then we'll not only have the new part, but also a back up In response to tea, Romey orders a year stock of gunpowder green tea for her every year, so she's fine, but if you like it, I'd suggest you bring some. We also aren't drinkers per say. Romey brings two bottles of wine out here a year, and I bring two cases of good bottled beer, which I usually have some left when the year is over. I am a coffee drinker. Just can't help myself, all warm and cozy next to the fire on a cold fall day, yummy And for the sake of commiseration, I add an excerpt from an email I wrote a friend just last year in reference to your comment about being young again without th burden of knowledge. "I have spent my life trying to recapture the wonder I had as a child. With the way I was raised, with the mother I had, and the all-pervading system crushing down on me right out of the womb, I only had wonder for a short time. And now that I've been regaining it, to the point of developing a true love of existence, it's hard not to share, especially when I see so many others wandering about without the wonder and awe of existence. Unfortunately, I came to learn more about how people protect their misery than their desire to escape it." How can one have joy without wonder? I came to find no happiness in thought, only happy thoughts. One must have true joy in living to know happiness, which in complete honesty, though I've had my moments, I have not yet achieved, but I have found that I "bloom in trying." I can't tell you all I've had to learn, see and do in this quest, though I can say that in the process I've been fortunate enoug to learn that if to take a breath is not enough, then nothing ever will be?

David


12 01/28/2017

Wow Ed-

That's a lot to process. :o) I was just trying to figure out how to reply to one. No worries, just teasing you. Actually, I would like to once again thank you for your reverence to our lives. We treat this cabin with the same reverence - As if it were the sitting buddha and we the thoughts of its mind. Forgive me for my forgetfulness if not commenting on any one thing, but don’t despair as I'm sure it's been discussed at length within our home. I'll start with my older son and dog. His name is Zach and he is 24 and living down in Homer, playing guitar, working odd jobs. When we moved out here he was almost six and stayed until he was seventeen. We are extremely close and he longs for this place constantly. As for our dog, she is an older female named Charley. She's Sky's dog and a wonderful being. She's part lab, part blue healer, part akita. I'd also like to say that I've become a little involved elsewhere so if I'm not responding as often please forgive me. Our friend Buster, who I mentioned to you earlier, just had a stroke. Plus, we have become quite busy with the lifting of this cold so our minds are occupied elsewhere, add in our morning philosophical discussions, that can sometimes eat up entire days if we get onto something, not to mention that we were left mid encounter in our D&D campaign we got involved in while it was cold and have still yet to find the time to at least finish so we can wrap it up for now. Thank you for sending your photo essay on Galena. I'm sure it was tough for you to do minus the photographs. We also appreciate the time and effort you had to put in to it to offer it to us. It's fun seeing people we know in there like Jake and Tim. Ben and Joey are wonderful people, not to negate the others. And while Brad is a good man, and it's wonderful that he is being so helpful, I couldn’t help but laugh at his comment on ripping skins off animals for money because it's, "an exportable commodity on the world market." We understand that your Galena piece is a hard comparison to what intentions you might have toward revealing our life and understanding to the world. And we'll need you greatly for this as I'm not sure we know what people find interesting about our life. Hoping to sound honest rather than arrogant, but by comparing the material I studied during my education I believe that we are doing some of the most advanced philosophical work on the planet right now, leaving us as probably not the best expression of what most people think of when they think of woods living. And as I told Romey, if there was anything I wanted to tell the world, it would be that it's real! The euphoria you experienced is a real thing if we are just to look. (No need to almost die to glimpse it's magnificence.) :o) The amazement, the awe, the wonder, the splendor are all real. Life is a


knowable thing, its phenomenal-ness beyond imagining, almost beyond belief. If we were to each take just a simple thing such as the expression, "Life's not perfect," and question it, look into it, and decide to change our perspective of life continuously until we understand life as perfect, in that single path, all else will follow, for it's not that life's not perfect, it's that our understanding of it isn't. It's in these types of ways that life guides us and reveals the path. Your sending of your essay reminded me that I've been wanting to ask if you ever looked at the Facebook page we did for Romey's kids' book? I guess we wonder this as we don't know if you know what we look like, or seen the pictures that we've taken around our place. I've also referred to when the firemen were here and haveno idea if you know of the forest fire that happened out here in '15 where some pictures and a couple of my writings about it appear on the book's Facebook page. Speaking of which, we greatly appreciate your offer to mention Romey's book in the essay. Obviously we too are not money oriented, and we proved this to great length when after publishing a book we just left and came home. We had no desire to leave the woods to become book salesmen, nor were we going to bring the entire world into our home (internet) to do so. We also didn't want to become the people we would have to become, with the thinking we'd have to do in order to sell ourselves, which goes against every fiber of our being. However, the books are now costing us a bunch of money having to pay for storage and such that it wouldbe nice to get rid of them. When we first got into the publishing of our book we really felt as if we were tossed into the piranha pool of capitalism as our meager little selves were ruthlessly attacked for the sake of money as the printer, editor, publisher, distributor and book stores all wanted their share, leaving us, who did all the work and paid for everything, receiving nothing by the time they were done. It certainly left a bad taste in our mouths and sucked all life out of our desire to write ever since. Speaking of writing and your love of books, I will mention that we've written several books, each in different states of completion. Mine are what I call mental sci-fi, a format that offered a good structure in which to hang my philosophies, and one of Romey's is about our journey out here, another she's working on now about a young girl who lost her mother and is floating the Yukon with her father. We appreciate your efforts to not change the normal execution of our lives though we all know this is not possible. We got the giggles with your being a fly on the wall reference, joking about how out here we notice flies on the wall, especially one that's not buzzing. :o) "Hey honey, quick, look at this, a fly that doesn't buzz." But so you know, we are working on how to be ourselves while you're here and hope to at least be with you as we are with our friends if not with just ourselves as we are in our solitude. I think the intimacy in which we live would be too much for us to expose to our friends even. I'll mention here that I don't think we have any objections to being recorded. We've often lamented not having had recorded our thousands of hours of conversations, but couldn't imagine going back through all that, though I'm sure it would be a treasure trove. I truly hope you'll get a chance to experience Romey's and my methods of conversational discovery. It's truly a wonderful thing when it happens just right and takes you to such beautiful understandings of the world. We've cried, had our minds blown, been struck still in absolute awe, even touched on enlightened understandings, and so much more. Many of our friends are


world travelers, and they often ask if we desire to travel being in the woods all the time. Our answer is as I'm sure you've guessed, "Oh, we travel." We even have our own space ship. ;o) Thank you for sharing your motorcycle experience. Romey and I wondered if it could be considered a point in your life where you realized there was more to the world and began your journey. It should prove interesting when we get together to see what stories arise as we each obviously have many, and have both piqued the interest of the other. And I suppose in this manner is how the moment of happening will determine what gets said, done, and photographed while you're out here. And while Romey and I have thought of many things that are worthy of saying, we would hate to try and bring all of it into the moment that it truly comes together, thereby disrupting it. It's an understanding from a funny game I started playing with my friends while in town, mostly just being playful. I call it "crossmomenting," as they always give me grief about not turning my phone on. I say, "Hey, quit cross-momenting, I'm having a moment with someone or something and here you want to pierce your little self into it and burst the bubble. You sure don't seem to complain when I don't have my phone on while with you." :o) Of course they call me on it when I call them. Or when leaving a moment, never bring it into the next or you contaminate the new one and never get to see what would have arisen. That's the worst. Moments are interesting things as they can happen in milli-seconds or over decades, several can overlay each other because of this, but they don't impinge on another in their natural states, only through us does the desecration of a moment happen. Of course there are other such cosmic things, each a toy in the world of mental understanding, such as a universe made up of particles of knowing, or conditional understanding where each thing is infinite conditions arising in a different time and space to itself, or how the entire universe could be made from a single particle in a different time and space to itself; how that could be exactly what we are to each other. Take the plunge and see for yourself. Are we all just you looking back at yourself from a different time and space to yourself. Are we each just the face on our conditions being, claiming it as I? And on and on goes the wonder of it all, and with so much wonder, who has time to worry about all that people stuff? Crossmomenting, cosmic days are just a few such playful catch phrases I have circulating amongst friends in my attempts to point out the cosmic playground, to show each how outer space is right here and we're walking in it. I guess that's my, "writing for the sake of it," run. Apologies for my diatribe, you've just opened old closets of thought with Romey and I, stirring many memories of discovery over our 23 years together. Speaking of our friends, I do want to mention that I would hate to see an essay go out that doesn't address what a community effort our life is. We couldn't do this without the support of so many people, each with their own special reasons and in their own intimate ways. Along with friends and family are the many businesses in Fairbanks, whom always smile when we come in each year, who go out of their way to help us in our unique situation. Or the people that just like to know we're out here and tell us how they tell all their friends about us. It's truly an honor for us to represent a life whose survival is so important to so many people. The three of us, plus our dog, stay at a friend's house (which includes two adults, two children, plus a dog) for a month when we go to town. Our year's


supply dominate their garage every year, as I'm sure the chaos of our being there disrupts their life, but we all love it in all it's intimate revealings. They keep our cars for us and pick us up at the airport. He is one of the many pillars that support our life. I can honestly link the majority of the blessed journey I've had in life to this man. Or Buster, who's home I winter in during my yearly visits, and keeps an eye on our mail and other items we have to leave in Ruby. Or Sam, who happily rides out to meet me when coming in by snow machine, making sure I make it okay, or allowing me to make our barge drop at his house, putting us up in his home in our river travels. Or Barry Clay, who allows us to use his trailer home in Ruby to stay in and park vehicles, or hired us to work on his gold mine when we needed it. I have keys to all these people's homes and vehicles in support of our life. And I could go on and on, as our path to and through the wilderness has been laid by the bricks of good people. To get back to more common talk, I did think you might want to bring a multi-vitamin for yourself as we don't have any fresh food out here right now. And considering what you mentioned about your health, it might help in recharging yourself. You also might want to bring a few handwarmers if you aren't already. Never know when you might need those things. And, I too, like my coffee as you mentioned. I have my little one cup expresso maker that serves me good. But as Romey teased, "Don't tempt him, David." :o And to finish this email off with another Grateful Dead quote, it's the one I used to conclude my novel, “Wildflowers."

"Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes. Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis. Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion. Shall we go, you and I, while we can, through the transitive nightfall of diamonds? Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter. Glass hand dissolving to ice-petal flowers revolving. Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of good-bye. Shall we go, you and I, while we can, through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?" "And when you hear that song come crying like the wind it seems like all this life was just a dream."


david

13 02/02/2017

Hello Ed Good to hear from you. I found myself looking for your email. :o) Please don't worry, we have no problems with you focusing on the day to day survival of our life. It reflects our philosophy as well as instigates it. Once again there is no separation between the two, and I think the philosophies of living that support and are derived from this life will be self evident to any who look without them having to be directly stated. When one understands how thoughts arise, one cannot separate their thoughts from the thoughts of the wilderness. (Such as an ordinary thought of everyday living, which I offer from your comment about the tools of our life, which is how much trouble cheap quality goods cause out here.) :o) Of course people will be more interested in our day to day living, for if we were more interested in understanding existence we'd be living in a much different world. :o) Not a problem, Ed, we certainly have much to see and discuss in our everyday life. Gotta save something for your visit. :o) We feel no need to share our understanding with the world, I only share our philosophy of living with you as we believe it will help your outlook in photographing our lives by first understanding that from which it arises. How you choose to look at and express what you witness, both Romey and I are keen to see, as it will be as illuminating to us as anyone else. As for more background, Romey is 44 and I am 52. And yes, I was one of those guys following the Dead from 1984 through 1988, but not in a bus, a pick-up, which has a lot to do with why it took me five years to finish college. (Romey also caught a few shows before Jerry died or meeting me.) My life was a strange combination at the time, as I was also studying philosophy and politics in college, with governmental theory being my primary focus. (I tend to quote the Dead since I got more from their philosophy than any other. I find that it's usually more pertinent.) Since then my studies have been metaphysical, holding with a foundation in theoretical physics while exploring Ontology. Basically dealing in method, technique, mechanisms, and tools of the trade. I was also Bob Dole's Minnesota State Youth Coordinator for his presidential bid during 1988, while working full time as an I.T. tech in charge of hardware in establishing IBM's first satellite communications system for First Bank Mortgage Corporation.Quite a long way to travel from there to here. Romey is also college educated, environmental engineering, and comes from a comfortable, stable, middle class background. I come from a wealthy one, (Oil) though now ostracized from tha background. Yeah, Facebook. I'm not one for that kind of thing, nor do I do the picture thing. When Romey met me I had not a single picture. :o) When we first had to do Facebook for the book, our friend who taught us commented, "This is like trying to stick a cat in


a bathtub." We made a point of having the eyes pointed out from our home rather than toward it, though as time went on a few were added that pointed more at us. Do we miss people? Now that's kind of funny having that question come from you these days, Ed. :o) Sky answered, "Not really. I don't know any of them, so what's the point." Romey says, "I wish I could talk to my parents more often, not much more, but a little." Romey adds, "We're enough people for each other." And I say, "No. In the glimmer of the cosmos, people fade. As I'm sure you've imagined, there's quite the mentality gap between me and most. However, this does not mean that we don't enjoy our friends immensely when that time comes." It's not like we don't have neighbors: the squirrels, beavers, bears, moose, birds, marten, wolves, wolverines, foxes, lynx, rabbits, otter, muskrat, even bugs. You should see the excitement we feel when all the birds come back, the beaver pops above the ice, and the bears begin to roam. You wouldn't believe how noisy it is around here during that time. And yes, you get to know some personally and they become your friends. Actually, we're much closer to our people friends since moving out here. While we may not talk to them or see them as much, our involvement in each other's lives creates a much more intimate environment. As our one friend said, "We have our other friends over for dinner and such, but it's usually small talk and their gone in a few hours, but with you guys, it's an entrenchment into each other's lives and thoughts that cements the friendship." I will mention that the three questions we're asked the most is, #1 How do you make money? This being an extremely rude question in the way I was raised, yet I do understand that many people might consider our way of life more if they had this answer, which is quite simple, we don't spend any. Owning everything outright and having the resources at our disposal makes this possible. One of the balances we work with out here is that it costs money to do stuff. In this sense, sometimes it pays to sit. #2 Doctors. People are very afraid of being hurt, and this far away . . . There most certainly is an intensity to living out here, just knowing if you have a heart attack, you're most likely dead, or have to watch a family member die. This intensity fades in the background, sometimes to a point that you could forget, but the least thing comes up, and BAM! you feel it, right now! We've certainly had some close calls in this manner, from crashing into a downed tree, whose tip jabbed me in the shoulder tearing the muscles in my shoulder blade. I found this to be much better than hitting me in the throat, which it was just four inches away from doing. Or the time Romey was screaming at the top of her lungs as a tree was falling on me, but I couldn't hear her as I was running a chain saw. It brushed my shoulder on the way down. Staring at each other with wide eyes of recognition, we stopped all work. Or the time I stood in the middle of a large pack of wolves, they deciding to run instead of pounce. Or the scariest, when Romey's kidneys shut down. We even had the pleasure of giving a cat we had an enema to save it's life. And no, we did not have a cat enema bag to do it with. Had to make that. Talking about entertainment in the woods, huh. We've learned much about the workings and caring of our bodies in regards to staying strong and healthy, once again, influencing our understanding of life. #3 Bears. Just last summer we had bear prints on all our windows. Or there was the shoot out I had with three black bears, a momma and two full size cubs, while outhere alone. You'll see the hole one tore in my wall tent shop, not to mention the three times bears have tore up our greenhouse, or the time some cubs got in our boat. They usually cost us a few bucks every year, and where most people' solution is to kill them, ours is


not . . .anymore. :o) I have more bear stories than I remember. As for us, we're usually entrenched in mechanical questions, as our lives depend much on machines and mechanical things, and our ability to fix them without stores. As of right now I think our battery charger is going out, something I have no back up for and cannot fix or survive well without. I'm trying to arrange for one along with our food order we're placing. I guess making me think people might be interested in how we get supplies Please do not worry about overstaying your welcome. We are always happy to open our doors to anyone who wants to experience the wilderness. We feel this is our obligation as well as our pleasure in being able to offer such to others. However, if you need some sort of ballpark figure, I'm certain we can at least accommodate three weeks, especially if this eliminates any kind of rushed feeling. Two weeks can really fly by out here. A longer time frame will leave us right at the line of changing seasons, not only in weather, but in our activities, whereby giving you a glimpse of what's to come. I would hate for you to travel all this way and not feel complete in your visit, not only for the story, but much moreimportantly, for you. It could easily take a week for us to settle into each other, then the next week you'd feel as if you're leaving already, and I don’t think that would be long enough for this place to settle into your bones. And we wouldn't mind if when the three week mark approaches and we were all still enjoying ourselves, that you not feel hurried out of here. We appreciate your worry about disturbing our lives, but also keep in mind, we get so few visitorsout here that it's an oddity we may enjoy. (Especially a fly that doesn't buzz.) :o) Obviously we're getting to know one another through these emails, and as things sit, we like you and are looking forward to your visit. We've yet to havea visitor that wanted to leave when the time came. :o) Hard to go back to the world sometimes. I find it interesting that we're both in the midst of wrapping things up where we are, and preparing for a journey, one that will eventually bring us all together. I'm in the midst of setting Romey up with everything I usually take care of before I leave, oil changes, fuel supply, wood supply, etc. I'm also repairing my sled, and making a run through on the snow machine, checking for any problems, making sure I have all the tools and gear and she's running good. We have arranged for our supplies to be dropped off at the air service in Frbks on the 15th. I am going to attempt to get to Sam's on the 14th. Hopefully our goods will arrive in Ruby on the 17th or soon thereafter, whereby I'm hoping to return home on th 21st. If this goes as planned, (ha ha) then your landing on the 23rd or 24th will be perfect. Romey mentioned if need be, she wouldn't mind some black currant tea from England. She got to have some years ago when she was visiting a friend who had a friend over from England who had brought some. She thought it tasted so good, or perhaps some Kettle brand BAKED potato chips if you can find them and it doesn't put yo out. But to be honest, we can't really think of anything. I did think a copy of your Wales book might be nice to have. I was just thinking of you the other day while I was in the burn zone gathering some logs we had cut and stacked before the snow fell. I imagined you with me as I pulled a log off the top of a yet uncovered stack, toppling the snow now covering the pile, revealing what Romey and I call a "Puniverse," (pronounced puny verse). We use this term a lot in the little micro worlds we seek out and find in this land of infinite form. (I sometimes reference people as puniverses.) How could I not think of a photographer when discovering such magical ice crystals growing like moss, illuminating how moss comes to form. Then I suddenly got the urge to lay in the snow.


Still imaging you with me, I lay back, my shoulders and head resting remarkably comfortable on the logs that were loaded on my sled, thinking of what it would be like with you here, reclining next to me. I propped my feet against the remaining snow mound of the covered logs and watched a giant ball of sun set behind this same little snow hill, its light sparkling the snow like stars on the night sky. The clouds, whispy and moving crisply across the sky, offered images of scorpions, mountains, fish and wolves, even a giant smiling face floated past, waving hi, once again so elegantly illuminating how things come to form. I was enticed to take several deep, gulping breaths of ever sweet colored air and relaxed into the contentment of being. In this moment, wit you still next to me, I hear within the confines of my mind, "Not only do conditions happen within the still, emptiness of the moment, but so too does the empty moment exist within conditions." And for that moment, I was just such a moment. As with the journey to understand life as perfect so is our journey to and throughout the wilderness. Not only the journey we take, but how we take it, is who we have become and the understanding we now enjoy. This journey, in method and technique, mentally and physically has been the true gift of illumination. Way back from our dreaming of here and just thinking the wilderness was a bunch of trees and animals, to what it has become, or better said, "what we have become," is the real story, one of healing, growing, redemption and joy; every discovery learned from an ever developing relationship with our infinite surroundings, life With each step, angle, and understanding Romey and I developed in striving to relate with the earth, and ourselves, as the manifestation of life, the more we saw not only how mistaken we were about our existence, but how wondrous and grandiose life truly is, one unfathomable to most, and it goes on forever, becoming ever more wondrous in doing so. Yes, Ed, I'm afraid you're right, thi has no place on the BBC. :o) Now there is no more need to wonder why humanity is as it is. So, let's move on That one's just for you, Ed, person to person, no identities of photographer and man in the woods, just two beings lying still in the snow, pointing at the clouds and listening to its thoughts. For as Sky once said, "You guys see those thing as trees. I see them as the collection of thoughts I have when I walk by. Welcome to the undefined world,

David P.S. Maybe I do take pictures. I just do it with words instead of a camera. I guess that parts up to you. :o) Can you capture the true wilderness, the walk in the cosmos as the cosmos, in our everyday lives with your camera? We'll try our best to show it to you so that at least YOU see it. It's pretty much what we d so we can see it. Now I'm off to eat a bowl of brown rice, beans and moose meat. Yum. Add a slice of Romey's whole wheat bread, and smiles all around.


14 02/06/2017

Hi Ed,

This is Romey. I have been trying to get to this email for awhile now, but I’ve had so many little details every day to have to get through, especially with David’s winter trip coming up. He goes every year at this time to fill out PFDividend forms and pick up fresh food like onions, eggs, apples, bananas, carrots, frozen fruit, bacon and sausage and any odd items that we run out of, or if something has broken and we need parts or replacements. So your trip isn’t changing our usual patterns in any way, but it will be nice to have a resupply of food before you get here. Mostly I wanted to write to address our food situation so you know what to expect. We have plenty of basic dry goods: brown rice, wheat flour, beans, peanut butter, oats, potatoes from our garden, and such. We try to have more than a year’s worth on hand. We have some things that we ration for ourselves like cans of evaporated milk and “fresh” milk in a box. There are quite a few things we have too much of, usually because our tastes or desires change after we buy something in bulk and this we will be happy for you to help us eat. There is a lot of food left by the firemen, too, even MRE’s if you can stand that sort of thing. Unfortunately, or fortunately for you, we have no sardines. It may be easy for me to make a list of things that you can eat from freely, that you can help yourself to any time. Like for snacks, there is popcorn, raisins, there is always bread and peanut butter and grape jelly from the firemen. Fresh food is the one thing we have a hard time with, but we will have the fruit David brings home, some frozen veggies from the garden, and I can grow some sprouts to go with carrots. I also have jars of homemade soup from the garden, and the yogurt I make, as well as kefir. We have plenty of vitamins for ourselves, but David was thinking you might want to bring some for yourself. Vitamin C, or D, or something. I would like to know if you have any food allergies or medical conditions I should be aware of, as they have been issues out here before. I, myself, have low blood sugar problems, so I have to be careful about my sugar consumption, but that being said, I do like to bake a lot, and have to make everything from scratch, so if there is something you are craving and haven’t had in awhile, just mention it and I may be able to make you some. Something like homemade donuts, bagels, cookies, cakes, pizza. We have plenty of meat, too, which I can fix any way you can think of. So don’t be shy to ask about anything, and I’ll see what I can do. David doesn’t eat any vegetables, by the way, so there may be some things that I can make with you here that I don’t often make because of him. Another thing I thought to mention, just so you know, was about Zach. When I was 21 I met David in Talkeetna, Alaska when I was up here working for the summer. He was 29 and had a one-year-old baby. So Zach is my step-son but I have raised him and he


considers me to be “mom”, though he still sees his biological mother who lives in Talkeetna. I guess David has covered a lot of things, but I just wanted to mention about the food, since that is my area. All the other background and such I figure we can learn about each other while you are here. I look forward to talking and learning from you, just as you learn about us. I am only an amateur photographer myself, and always trying to take pictures of my own life, so I am curious to see your photography and what strikes you to photograph, and how. I am also curious about your travels and what other places in the world are like. Well, that’s aboutall the time I can spare for now. So, good luck on your journey I am looking forward to your visit.

Romey

15 02/08/2017

Hey Ed-

That's great that you got a chance to see the "Festival Express." I think it’s required reading and viewing by all Deadheads, not to mention the countless other books and videos . :o) We have the Grateful Dead movie if you care to watch it while you're here. And as I'm sure you gathered from the video, deadheads are not fans and they the band, we're a family. I can't tell you all the ways having a "steal your face" sticker has served me over the years. As the line goes, "Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand." We're a community that transcends borders, caste, and era. You might notice its marks around our home here and there. I do have several shows from England: The Wembley and Lyceum shows from 1972, and Alexandra show from 1974 if you care for copies. The Wembley and Alexandra shows are rather good, not to negate the Lyceum. It seems many congratulations are in order for your life right now, oh exalted, "Brand Ambassador." The irony alone of such a title entering into our home is worthy a guffaw or two. :o) Romey chuckles, "What's even funnier is that he's Brand Ambassador and we don't even know of what. Not a very good ambassador." Seriously, it sounds as if your dedication and tenacity to your convictions is baring fruit. Your exhibition must hold some excitement for you. I'll be curious to hear how all you've viewed it, as I'm sure it will be on your mind while you are here. And with no distractions out here, we've seen a few people wig out. "Hmm, Romey, you think he's starting to look funny?" I couldn't imagine having to go through 730 pictures, much less the thousands you must have endured to narrow it down to what you may think of as so few. So many decisions and thoughts, oh the drain: "By what category, what is it I'm really trying to say, what about this one as opposed to that one, and on and on it must


have gone." Add in plans, details, (oh the details, zillions) and the don't forgets, (boy they go on forever) in readying yourself for not only your trip out here, but the one after, the one now, the one that might be, and to top it off, the obligations of Brand Ambassador. Ahh, the different houses of thought we each are in right now. Yet the question lingers, "Will Ed put his picture, 'Sardines in a Bowl,' in his exhibition?" My apologies, we're being a little silly around here today. As far as my trip, everything is looking great thus far. Weather and conditions are awesome. Sam's looking forward to my visit so he's already gone up the Yukon checking out the river down that way, cutting some trail. I've taken a little spin on the Novi and she's looking great. Unless a storm sweeps in, travel should be good. I love getting out like this on these long journeys. I usually just cruise along at a modest speed so I can look around and soak it in. I never know the animals I'll see, or what might happen, it's just nice cruising. Motorcycle-esk I'm sure. I'll night over at Sam's for a couple, then night over in Ruby, then night over at Sam's again before heading back. He usually rides out to meet me just to get out so the ride in is fun in that regard. He hasn't been around the last three years so it'll be good to meet a friend on the river again. He moved out here eight years before that and the very first time we met wetalked for four hours on the beach of the river. Been good friends ever since. We both enjoy our all night winter conversations we have every winter, and not having one for the last three years makes this year seem special. I can certainly understand people not getting your work. I have this same problem with my writing, and even in the things I say. Sometimes it's a depressing insight into people's lack of ability to think, grasp, extrapolate, associate, induce, or even wonder. Romey and I were once talking about thinking with some friends when I had to leave for a moment. While I was gone one of our friends told Romey, "I'd love to join in on the conversation, but I just don't know what to say." We were talking about thinking! How can one spend their entire lives entrenched and controlled by the process of thinking and have nothing to say on the matter? This is the simplest case I can think of at the moment to illuminate the extent of the problems I've had in relating with others. Other than that, not much to say. I guess the time is getting close. I hope you don't have any trouble getting across our borders. Not that Romey and I are involved in the political destruction of our country, but things do seem a bit scary around here these days on that scale of things, appearing as if the Merchant Empire knows no bounds. Space station living has certainly caused a bit of "space madness" in humanity, which can be quite frightening sometimes. What could be more frightening than billions of people thinking they know, doing stuff? There's nothing more dangerous than people thinking they know. But we'll leave all that on the space stations. Wouldn't want to bring all "that" out here, might miss the view, besides, that would be a gross implementation of "cross-momenting. Not sure once I leave here how we'll keep in touch. I'll probably just pass the baton to Romey and let her play coordinator. As things sit, the 23rd or 24th is still good for us. So whatever suits you and Brad the best. I'm out of here on Tuesday.

david


16 02/09/2017

Hi Ed,

As far as what food you bring with you, our needs are covered. When it comes to oats, or dried pasta, we have more than enough of that type of food. In fact, because we bring such large quantities of food out here at one time, we can have certain things way over estimated and need some help now and then to consume it all, so that we can get the older food out and fresher food in. I can appreciate that you treat food mostly as fuel. We are much the same way, with the exception of the occasional baked goods. Our meals are very simple, usually a one-dish meal. Nearly everything is made from scratch, and we like food that still looks like what it came from. We are pretty happy with very basic meals, our favorite ingredients are meat, pinto beans, brown rice, wheat bread, potatoes, and cheese, cooked in a variety of delicious ways and combinations. I think the one thing Zach misses most about living out here, is the cooking. I think, because we depend so much on our own bodies for everything out here, the type of fuel we put into our bodies is extra important. I have had issues in the winter time with getting ill due to lack of fresh foods, combined with a diet too high in sugar. I’ve had to learn to keep a balance between the beneficial microorganisms in my body, and the harmful yeast that can cause all kind of problems if its growth is unchecked. I rely heavily on yogurt and seem to have fewer problems these days, I also try to drink liquid chlorophyll. So, to bring all that back around, I really don’t think you need to bring anything. I need your help to eat up some of this food out here. :) I think it is more important to have more room in your bag, and less weight when you travel. I travel in and out of here once a year, and live from a backpack traveling from Ruby to Fairbanks, to Alabama and back for the five weeks I am gone, and I don’t ever want anything extra tagging along. You don’t even have to bring your own soap or toilet paper as we try to have years of things like that around, they are small, light, and easy for us to carry in. You may like to always travel with them anyway, so bring them if you want, but it is not necessary for you to do so. I think you should bring your own tea bags. (I bring my own tea wherever I go because I am particular. :)) I have tons of extra decaffeinated green tea, since I went back to caffeine. But I don’t have any extra of the gunpowder green tea that I drink. I am hoping that I have enough that I won’t run out. For breakfast we have plenty of oats. We ate a lot of oatmeal, but then kind of quit. Do you know how big a 50 pound bag of oats is? My god. I have a 25 pound box of raisins, which no one, but me eats, so you can put some in oats if you want. We also have steel cut oats, and 7-grain which no one has been eating much of lately. We’ll have plenty of eggs for breakfast, apples and yogurt. David told you about the smoothies which we ration frozen fruit for, so if you want something like that, you would have to bring some frozen fruit for yourself. I put protein powder in mine because of my blood sugar problems, but David doesn’t. We also


have canned fruit if you want peaches in oatmeal or yogurt or canned pineapples or oranges. I know all these choices must seem staggering next to dry cereal and sardines. :) I guess, seriously, food is not an issue to us. It seems like every year we bring someone out to visit, and we do buy more than enough food to be able to do so, and are always happy to feed everyone. Sometimes I start putting weight on because I’m just trying to eat up all our meat and frozen veggies before they thaw. We consider you to be a guest, and you will be treated just as we treat all our guests. :) Plus, once we leave here we are essentially homeless ourselves and often guests in other people’s homes, so we like to return the favor to others. We are glad to put other people up out here, and feed them as other people do for us. We like to share our lives with others and feel that it is important to do. One thing I have noticed in bringing people out is that David and I have a hard time asking others for help with chores, because we are so used to doing it all ourselves, and even feel a certain guilt at asking others to do our jobs for us. But I have also learned that when people are out here, they need something to do, so I have tried to get better at asking people for help. There are chores like pumping water, chopping wood, washing dishes, emptying the slop bucket, or bigger jobs to help with like getting firewood. I did think to mention to you some of the “projects” or activities which are seasonal to the time of the year you will be here for. There is firewood collecting and lumber making which is a lot of chainsawing in the trees and snow machining wood home. I want to work on fixing my snow machine once David gets home. There is a beaver coat that David has and the fur needs to be re-tanned, so I will probably be making some alder bark tea and tanning those pieces of hide. We may get out on snowshoes and collect some cottonwood buds. I also go cross-country skiing in the mornings when I can. I may also need to build an outdoor freezer of sorts, which is a big snow hill covered in sawdust with some coolers in the middle. Then toward the end of your visit, March 21 we start planting the early seeds for our garden. I thought to tell you this to give you some idea of what you may want to photograph while you are here. Now, some other answers or comments to your email:To answer your questions about the potato chips. We only like plain salted, or sometimes salt and vinegar. There are different brands of kettle cooked chips but the ones we like the best are Kettle Brand Baked, baked so they aren’t as greasy as normal kettle chips. But if you can’t find the baked, any plain kettle chip would do. David used to bring a couple bags home with him on his winter trips, but they weren’t carrying them at the grocery store in town this year. Chips are the one thing I can’t make well out here. Mostly I have no way to slice the potatoes well. If it seems like too much of a pain to travel with something as fragile as chips then don’t worry about it. We are easily able to do without things out here. I do have a simple fold-up tripod out here, if you would rather use that, than have to bring one, but I figure, as a photographer you might rather travel with your own. I am looking forward to a slideshow of your photos. My dad was interested in photography and took some classes. He learned how to develop his own black and white photos. When i was a kid, he used to let me borrow his camera and take my own pictures, which is what got me interested in photography. I was wondering if you mostly take images of people, or if you photograph much scenery or wildlife, as well. In March, we get a lot of marten in the yard, or you may get an opportunity for a moose or a wolf. Some wolves came through this fall and I took some pictures, but I think my problem is not


having a big enough zoom to get close, clear shot. I am really sad for you that you had to go to boarding school. :( I feel very passionate about parents raising and teaching their own children and not having our kids taken from us at such a young age and put in school all day. We are so fortunate as to have our kid with us, to not miss the fleeting moments of his childhood. It is an issue I have spent many hours studying and thinking about. I could go on and on about it, but usually don’t. :) Well, I’ve got to go get dinner on. It seems that lately I am late with dinner. So, unless I forgot something that’s all for now. Romey

17 02/10/2017

Hey Ed

Well, we'll see if we have a convert to the Dead scene by the time you leave here. I can certainly hook you up with some really good versions of some really good songs if you'd like. We have quite a few bootlegs and would be happy to transfer some over to you, because as I'm sure you know, you can't just wear the sticker, you have to live the life. Oh, you already are. . . Well, you have to listen to their music, too. :o) We like their music for countless reasons, but two of the main reasons are it's complexity, which you just don't find in other music, and the beauty, which you definitely don't find in other music. "Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world." Bruce Hornsby played with the Dead for a bit, but didn't seem to know that we weren't there to see him. As for Jethro Tull, I can only read your words with a touch of envy. I do have them doing a song on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus video. I'm very aware of Zeiss optics. I know how it feels to let something go and wonder later, "What was I thinking." My good friend, Dave, let go an ancient Marshal tube amp that you just can't buy or produce the same sound from anywhere else. Years later he's still kicking himself. It's funny you mention the term, "wig out." Sky and I have been joking lately about, "Far-Out Man," and, "Cool Dude," as Super Heros.Leaving the cabin. Hmm. Yes, there is some trepidation. Not like there was in the old days with less experience and less quality due to our recent arrival and poor standing monetarily speaking. At the same time there is a sense that I'm not leaving, as the wilderness is the wilderness. Sometimes we think of Ruby or Sam's as just another room in our house. With millions of acres for a yard, one's house can seem this way. Though I must say, every time I leave here I have no idea if I'll make it home or what will happen, but I'm not one that worries much about things until they're happening. Romey finds it's one of thethings about me that has actually allowed me to do all the things I'vedone. I j ust don't think about it, I'm kind of like, "If


somethinghappens, you deal with it, then something happens and you deal with it. So far I've been fortunate enough to have been able to deal with everything tha's come up. Yes, it's taken me twelve hours to make the roughly hundred mile ride from Ruby, and yes, it was because I had to deal with something, but I made it. One summer our boat motor blew up and I ended up spending several months out while Romey was home with both boys before I was able to make it home. One winter my snow machineengine seized up ten miles out of here. I was able to rock th e motor back and fo rth and free it up again and chose to ride on though it could have left me with a fifty mile walk. Who knows why I do this stuff.Parts for fixing were toward town not toward home, I guess. The motor seized up again about half way, but I was able to free it up again and ride on. By the time I rode up to Sam's the motor was nothing but metallic sand, but I made it. As far as cruising speed, that varies with every trip and every corner of the river. Heading out I'm pretty much empty but there's no trail so the travel is somewhat a mystery. One stretch of river may be full of wind blown waves of snow, up and down, slow going, another stretch might be full of overflow and one could spend hours dealing with such a thing, or maybe the overflow has already happened and is refrozen, making for a smooth hard trail and faster I go. The jumble ice under the snow can be extremely dangerous, hard to discern and fatal in some cases if hit at high speed. Mostly, I average 50 kilometers an hour. Coming home is more difficult with the heavy load I usually have, some of it fragile, so it's usually slower but I can have a trail of sorts from my departure depending on how long I'm gone and the weather. I've had broken suspensions, blown one of two cylinders, limping home on the second. I've chopped a mile of jumble ice just to get through, ended up soaking wet from sweat in doing so at 22 below zero Fahrenheit and had to change clothes out on the Yukon. And while the new clothes were dry, they were 22 below, not to mention my exposed skin in the change over. That can make you feel small. Galena is another 55 miles downriver from Ruby. If you'd like to see where you'll be, our GPS coordinates are: 64.86924 North by 155.11751 West. I'm sure we're on Google Earth. The Novi (Nowitna River) is about 45 miles east of Ruby and we're listed as 47 miles up the Novi on the east side of the river. We're not right on the river. We're tucked back in on a lake. This area is called Novi Crossing and is on the no longer existent Historic Athabaskan trail from Kokrines, where summer fish camp was a century ago, to upriver of here, where their winter trapping grounds were. They would cross over here to get upriver faster than following its winding corridor. We sit next to a small hill known by the old timers as Bucket Hill, and known on the river as first rock because it's the first you'll see any rocks going up the Novi. We just call it, Our Lake, and Our Hill. :o) You certainly don't sound pretentious on your "Ambassadorship," just can't pass up an opportunity at humor around here, especially when it's just right out there, which of course it just got better with a name like, Snugpak. I'm sure you'll have some good opportunities to take pictures of your self for them while you're here. :o)And just so you don't feel so alone, I too have duct tape on my coat, I'm bald, and Romey and I have often fondly thought of ourselves as bums. An old farmer friend of ours coined the term, "Lifestylers," for people like you, Romey and I, and our son, Zach, who we're quite proud of. What would one expect a hippie raised boy from the woods playing guitar to be? When he had just turned 17 we recorded an album at some friends' recording studio in Frbks. It's called Celestial Child, a play on words as Celeste Child


was a girl Zach fell in love with who lived in Australia. She actually helped on one of the songs and did the graphic design for the album cover. We sent had sent Zach to spend five weeks there a couple of summers before that. We all have songs in it, some written by just one, some by two, some by all of us. Zach wrote all the music. Our friend, Dave, plays his guitar on a few of the songs. We'll give it to you so you can listen to it at your leisure. Personally, I think it's a good album, and perhaps somewhat revealing of our artistic side as well as our philosophical side. I wrote one song within minutes of finishing my, Out of My Mind novel, taking just minutes to write. Just popped out of me and is one of my favorite songs. (I'll drop the lyrics at the end of this email.) Zach has a line in it, Romey has a couple lines in it, both of which brought all the other lines together. A couple other songs are poems Romey had written that Zach turned into a song. Some we spent weeks on out here together. Romey and I can’t listen to Zach play without crying. We've each had to dive into him to great depth sometimes to help him put words to his emotions, thoughts, or understandings, and one cannot get to know another in a more meaningful and deeper way. So, boo hoo, goes the proud parents when the words arrive from such an experience and come out in song. Now Sky and I are learning guitar. Our email exchanges have been intriguing to Romey and I in many different ways. I had only written four emails since August upon hearing from you, and three of those were short ones to Sam checking in on him to see how his first winter back was, the other to my sister for her birthday, which was short also and two days late. We were checking emails once every two or three weeks. I appreciated the timing of your call (I was drifting in some pretty formless thought when you rang the bell) and appreciate a bunch of other timings that allow me to see life knocking here; she has a signature to her work that is unmistakable. We recognize this in not only the manner in which she knocks, but also in how and in whom. We can't negate the open stream that it is being done in either. To what purpose, we may never know. We also see throughthese emails how people are relating out in the world these days by how we are taken in our words and how people present theirs to us, as we’ve been out here long enough to not know otherwise. Zach mentioned something to me a few years ago that might illuminate what I'm trying to say. He said that he always wondered of people's reaction to us when we came to town, why they always behaved the way they did toward us, say the things they say. What was so special about us? We were just his parents. But then, he said, after spending his first year in town by himself without us around, he really saw what it was. He said everyone began to seem like a dim lightbulb, barely any life glow, all withdrawn and pulled in. And when we came to town, we just radiated next to everyone. He said one couldn't help notice it when we just walk into a cafe or coffee shop before ever saying a word to anyone. As Romey and I are incapable of seeing things like this about ourselves, we can only judge by the comments we have received over the years; to a point of causing us to question it. Our friend Josh said, "It was weird when you came into the restaurant. When I came out to say hi, you guys were glowing so comparatively to everyone else that it appeared as if you were colored characters in a black and white movie." The most common comment we hear is about our openness, or calmness about things. The little girl, Ella, who is 11, where we stay in town, said to me this year, "It's weird, when you guys come to town, you are doing everything, but it looks like you're doing nothing." One friend told me, "When you come to town you talk about all this life stuff as if we all see it, but we only see it


when you come to town. You bring it with you. And when you leave, it's like BAM! Back to work, life just died again. It can be really hard to go back to the world after you leave." We've heard variations of this from quite a few people. I say this only in regards to how it must be for you to be so used to relating with others in the outside world, one can hear it in your phraseology. I don't offer this in conceit, but rather in a look at what man in the wild can become as opposed to what man in captivity becomes. I don't necessarily believe we receive these comments because it's us as much as people in general being lackluster, gun shy, and defensive in contrast. For example, our laughing and having fun in our every day doings of things while in town throws people off. That's only for parties and special events, not everyday living. Strange, a world that thinks something is wrong if you're happy. "Call the cops, they're just too happy to be right." Romey generally equates it to the fact that we see so few people each year that we don't have the dragged down feeling of swimming in humanity all the time. So instead, when we see "our people," each year at the car insurance place, or in the health food store, where we arrive genuinely happy to see them. Apparently this beams out in a way where they can't help but feel nice in the midst of their lives. Romey and I had a wonderful conversation this morning. It's amazing how like it is to walking a trail through the woods, glimpsing waterfalls and shiny stones along the way. You begin with talking of thought, seeing it as if each were alive, or how a tree showed you how resistance is the catalyst for conditions to form, and come around a corner and see the cloud of understanding that shrouds man when he looks out into the world, dull and bored with his own view like an animal in a zoo, barred in its own definings. And the next thing you know, through understanding this, we were able to pierce that cloud and seeing that the universe isn't only as deep as we see and understand, but rather infinitely more so, as blue sky and sunny skies reveal themselves. Can't remember nor say all the other pebbles and stones that forged the path we walked, but those were some of the sights along the way. Anyway, time to get back to family time. :o) Sled is done and ready to go. Giving the snow machine a once over, which by the way is a SkiDoo Skandic 550, super long, super wide track. I got it specifically for it's floatation ability as getting stuck in overflow is no fun. It also hauls a ton of weight. Not so great on gas, but gets me where I'm going with what I'm going with. All snow machines out here have to be customized a little to your needs as no snow machine is perfect for individual particulars, but this one was close. I'll have it packed and ready this weekend with tools and emergency gear, most of which stays with the machine all winter anyway. It doesn't seem to need any fixing other than my hotgrips going out, but I have no replacement so I'll go the old fashion way, with my otter mittens. Next is packing my pack, making lists and heading out. Sam has already sent me the weather report, which is excellent if it holds true, and is willing to meet me for an excuse to get out and ride, plus I think he's anxious for our get together, as am I. And just for an update, our friend, Buster, died yesterday. We are very sad and can't help but see his image in our minds constantly these days. I was one of his closest friends. And as Romey says, "You just don't know that the last time you hug someone, it'll be the last time." He's the second of our friends to die this winter. Also, don't worry about a little nudity around us. I did mention we were Deadheads, right? Our sauna is, and has always been clothin optional, as has been our friends' saunas and hot tubs over the years. When the firemen were out here they dropped an inflatable boat from an airplane that was packed in a crate. They missed the sand


bar and it went in the river. Some firemen and I took our boat up river to retrieve it, whereby one of the firemen had to get into the river. He chose to go naked so as not to drench his clothes on the cold, rainy day. Later, he said with a smile, "With all the Dead stickers on your boat I didn't figure you minded a little nudity." Off to chow time. Tonight, we're eating moose meatloaf with mash potatoes and canned corn. There, now we're playing social media report your food people. Hate to do so in front of a starving Ambassador, but we're trying to blend in. :o)

david

Effervescent Bubbles

Every time a child is born the whole wide universe is torn. A new star pops out of infinity, effervescent bubbles of reality. Tiny hands, little feet, happy faces smiling so sweet. Time, space, extension, then me, spinning motions of galaxies. Burning in this tiny fire, lust and passion the fuel desire. Learning words, learning things, learning the love that life can bring. The sun rises in our lives cutting open the dark inside. Rainbow light beams in our eyes, taking our souls into disguise. Bursting thought into shape and form; existence, life, and dreams we'll mourn. Blooming reflections of light and seed; an idea is born along with need. Birth of a star to bare a son, a sacrifice for life is everyone. A sacrifice for life is everyone. Learning words, learning things, learning the love that life can bring. The sun rises in our lives cutting open the dark inside. Rainbow light beams in our eyes, taking our souls into disguise, Taking our souls into disguise.


18 02/10/2017

Some things I thought to mention: The tripod is collapsable, with 3 heights, the tallest is just above my waist. (I am not short.) It has a piece that bolts onto the camera which you then hook into the top of the tripod. It is a Davis and Stanford Traveler Tripod if you want to look it up. It has a little level on it. I drink chlorophyll because of the lack of green fresh foods, not for any specific problem. I usually bring home a piece of fresh ginger root, but they didn't have any this year. I do have powdered ginger. The 50 pound bag of oats comes up to my waist. My zoom lens says 75mm to 300mm. Then I have a 18mm to 55mm. Maybe while you are here you can remind me about what that means. We asked Sky earlier if there was anything he wanted, when you first asked. He couldn't think of anything. I think David is goign to try and pick up a couple cans of soda for him in Ruby. So he is covered. Charley likes squeaky toys and little stuffed animals, as well as your basic raw hide chewies. She has a struggle with her weight so we stay away from carbs on the dog treats. She did get a few new toys and some Beggin' Strips for Winter Solstice so she is doing good in that department, but, if you want to bring her something she will get very excited and probably not forget you. I don't really have any photos I took when I was younger, but my dad might have some at his house. I don't think any of them were good, but they got me interested. I never take pictures of people because I am too shy to point my camera at them. David and I were laughing about having a blind for you in the living room like the ones photographers make to take pictures of exotic birds and wild animals. I'm sure 80 tea bags will be enough. Thank you. We have a lot of animals in our yard that come to eat out of our compost pile, and I like to put some peanut butter in the window in the spring for squirrels, marten, gray jays, and chickadees. I am very tuned into the animas in the yard, and spend most of the day looking out windows. As for wolves, I may go years without a sighting, but every year there are tracks on the lake at some point. Just wanted to be sure that you are aware that while you are out here you will not be able to access the internet, and that if you have anyone who may need to contact you, you can give them our email address, or use our address to write to someone. And we do have the phone for emergencies. My parents put minutes on it for me to call them once a month. And we put minutes on it to send emails, and for business type calls. We do have a radio that picks up various stations throughout the state. DAvid doesn't listen to it, but I like to get the half-hour of FAirbanks news a day. Plus, while you are here, the Iditarod will be going on, and I will be tuned in every day for standings. We can't listen to radio while we run our generator or invertor because our large antenna picks up anything electrical. I know my answers are rather blunt. With David going to town and Buster dying, it seems lilke I have a lot of emails to fit in these days. I think DAvid has four days left, counting this one which is half over. So I am trying to get those jobs done; washing clothes and organizing lists, making food for him to take, making sure I have plenty of wood and gas and propane at the cabin. The days are goin by fast. I realized today that it is less than two weeks until you are expected here. Good luck in your travels.


Romey

Oh, and Sam said that some lice was going around Ruby (again) so you may want to be careful in Galena as well. We do have lice shampoo our here, but boy, does it suck to deal with.

19 02/11/2017

Hey Ed

First off, please do not worry about writing too much or revealing yourself with us. We have been thoroughly enjoying our exchanges and look forward to your words when they arrive. I usually print them out and read them aloud. Then we spend the the day discussing different aspects of it at different times, deriving things for further discussion. One of the true rewards of this life is the time we have to consider others, though I must say, many times this type of consideration can make people self conscious or uncomfortable. I think people are used to looking only so deeply into others and being seen with the same shallow auto response type comprehension. We apologize if we are causing any such feelings in you with our scrutiny. Honestly, we're not looking at you like a bug . . . Well, humorously maybe, oh Fly Who Does Not Buzz. I'm sure any incomplete understandings we have of our exchanges will be a joy to complete upon your arrival. And yes, while we are busy, we have a kind of laid back way of doing things that seems to work out here. Most of the time we end up so busy because Romey and I can't stop talking in the morning and don't get started until late. And while every day living does keep us busy, we are also busy with things of choice that can change on a whim. And while I'm in the process of leaving, I've done this trip enough that it's not too mentally consuming. Most of the "worry" comes in the fact that I have to talk to, and weed through people to get my stuff done. It usually turns out fun, but for some reason I always go into it with a certain trepidation. I think it's the energy required in relations with most that drains me, especially because the common subject matter holds little interest for me. But rarely have things ever been as I think, if ever. So I try to disregard the thoughts and let the moment of discovery speak for itself without the hindrance of any preconceived notions. We truly strive to remain undefined by good/bad, fault/blame reward/punishment, right/wrong, etc., type of limited thinking. In this way we provide a space for a new understanding of the world to arise. Happens almost like a vacuum, sucking something new into the vacated space. This is something that


has to be practiced within every moment, while maintaining a certain level of conscious understanding of the functions and mechanisms of HOW we process information and experience. For example, when we choose not to blame a last or trigger happening of an infinite set of conditions behind a happening then some of the understanding of its happening can reveal itself. Might have to read that sentence a few times. :o) Suffice it to say, Romey and I have done massive amounts of work on developing different methods of mental processing, different trees (channels) of thought so to speak. You'll note, if you do not choose a perspective in which to view things, thought does not form, no resistance, but the moment you pick a view, frost flowers bloom. Thoughts form just as ice crystals do on a speck of debris on a frozen lake, or crystals within a geode. In the fractured light (focused perspective) colors abound. Anyway, these days it is 40 below zero, so we're not THAT busy. Today Romey did laundry, Sky and I played on his video game. Romey and I organized my list of what to take and what to do once there. I dug out my pack, bed rolls, camping gear, etc. We talked of what foods to make for my journey, as well as to have while, "Out-There." I'm sitting in the living room now writing you while Romey is in the kitchen making dinner. Corn pone pie, basically moose chili put in the over with corn bread batter on top. The corn bread cooks on top, pull it out and eat away. Oops! I gave you the coordinates for Sam's house. Ours is N 64.40.819 by W 154.26.227. That must have been a bit of a tweak. :o) Sky did say he wouldn't mind a couple of sodas. We can't take the aftertaste or general idea of artificial sweeteners, so you might want to keep that in mind in your choosing. :o) Also, Romey and Sky have a coin collection of sorts and mentioned perhaps if you could bring some small change from Britain to add, it would be fun and appreciated. As far as Charley goes, she has an excellent memory, knows hundreds more words than we know she knows I'm sure. Making points with her would greatly endear her to you. Raw hide chews and squeaky toys are her favorite. In the end, I think the less trouble you go through and the less money you spend on us the more comfortable we'll feel. In truth, you have us out here just trying to make up stuff to want, which isn't easy. We're not used to it. :o) Don't worry about the hot grips. I greatly appreciate your consideration, but I could have arranged for them to be in my order if I felt they were that necessary. Plus, I have been keeping a certain standard with factory parts on this snow machine as it is my "dependable" machine. Thank you very much for the offer. Oh, my machine is a 2 cycle, 4 cycle are heavier, no pull chord, and don't start as well in the extreme cold of Alaska. Kind of expensive for us, too. People who have them seem to like them though. Better on gas. Quieter. I will mention here too that I was once into motorcycles. I used to race dirt bikes with my step father and his brother. I raced a Yamaha 125 YZ, my father a Maco 400, why my uncle raced a Bultaco 250. I owned a Triumph 400 roadster for a bit, but got rid of it before going on tour with the Dead. Thought of getting back into it but found cycling in Alaska to have too many gravel roads and be too short a season for the expense, then moved to the woods and found no need. I definitely understand a desire for extreme quality of expression in one's art. For me, in some ways, this feeling can equate to fear, as if I won't do the idea justice in my own limitations, especially in trying to express a philosophical understanding to a bunch of critical scholastics that are too busy arguing to listen. Descartes chose not to publish his work while alive for this very reason, stating he wouldn't have his work criticized by a bunch of people who hadn't done it for themselves. Anyway, back to the subject, I can see where our


life could appear a great challenge to you, especially a subject that has such a personal interest for you. The subject could seem quite overwhelming and extensive, perhaps even complex from my emailing of the branches, leaves and flowers of our world, and could easily seem too much material to properly cover, or find it difficult to choose a perspective from which to hang it. However, one thought I had was that the art would be to expose the seeds of said branches, leaves and flowers, and let the plants grow of their own accord depending on the soil in which it is sown (the individuals). These seeds may arise from deep within the ethereal world of existence but sprout and bloom in every day living. I'm glad you have a curiosity toward the Dead. I would be extremely happy to turn you on to some of what I believe to be amazing pieces of music. I understand how one could be confused by people talking of their trade, such as amps, or recorders. Fortunately for Romey and I, almost all of our friends are musicians, so we have had to listen to much shop talk over the years. The friends we stay with in town own a music store in Frbks called, Grassroots Guitar. One's experience in life is greatly enhanced by having a band in their group of friends. We do have a bootleg with Hornsby playing with the Dead. It was Romey's first show to go to. I don't like it as the guy has the audacity to play right over the top of Jerry. :o) Just banging' away there, loud as fuck, but you're welcome to a copy. :o) Thank you for your comments on our humor. This means a lot as we actually study humor out here. One of our books is called, Comedy Writing Secrets, which lays out all different sorts of formats, why people laugh and exercises in their execution. We also have many joke books, stand up comedy. One of the nice things about home schooling is that we can tailor make our education to our kids aptitudes and enjoyments. With Zach it was primarily poetry and music, with Sky, it has been humor and Dungeons and Dragons. I'm sure he'll show you his Dingo the dog comic strip he's been making for years. We've played around with Sky doing his own stand up comedy routine from a “kid's" perspective (though Sky's mentality is certainly not that of a kid), or the wilderness perspective; outside looking in on humanity kind of thing. We keep track by writing down our jokes and try to develop lines of humor like our vegetarian cannibal jokes. We've spent three years on Uranus jokes, yet new ones continue to arise. You should see the movie. :o) "Great Scott, Captain. Something's wrong with Uranus." "Is it serious." "I'm sorry, Captain, but it could blow any second. It seems we'll have to probe Uranus." I know, kind of silly, but really, a methane gas planet called Uranus. It even has rings. Rings around Uranus? Our one friend, Kate, thought of a documentary called, “The Winds of Uranus." Or the scientific documentary, "Uranus as a Whole.” Dare I say, it's hard to put your finger on it, but as one of Dave'semployees once said of mine and Dave's giggles, "Yea, it was funny when I was in 3rd grade." This line of humor started with scientists trying to change the pronunciation to, "you're an ass," as compared to, "your anus," and we believed we had to fight such changes or the world could fall to ruins. Of course we won't discuss the idea of penal colonies on Uranus, but an expedition sponsored by Snugpak might work. Also thank you for offering your appreciation to my description of us, though after that last paragraph you may have your doubts. Describing one's self is a very difficult thing to discuss with others, especially a not-so-stranger-anymore person. I actually deleted much of the paragraph because it sounded to weird to write such things about one’s self, plus I didn't want to accidentally sway you with any preconceived ideas of us. It's better that your mind approach us open and empty so we can


all see what you see. It's not for us to try and plant understandings of how we want you to view us. Plus it seemed somewhat meandering in its expression. We just hear so many comments about it every year that it is hard for us to ignore and has been the source of many discussions. I also wanted to mention that I can definitely relate to the description you gave us of your family. I could have written the same words about myself. It's also funny you mentioned the time thing again, as now that we have gained more light, Romey is changing our clocks again. So when you get here, our clocks will be an hour off the rest of Alaska. Yup, Nowitna Standard Time changes all the time. I'm going to run now so I can send this. I feel bad about sending the wrong "address" for our home and want to rectify this quickly.

david

20 02/16/2017

HI Ed,

So glad to hear you made it to Anchorage and got into the country OK. I do have a small dilemma, so I will let you in on it, since you asked if there was anything we needed. Last night when I went to make Sky’s favorite meal of spaghetti, I found that I have only 21 cans of tomato paste left. Slap! (sound of hand hitting forehead). That would mean only having spaghetti 10 more times, and that doesn’t even begin to address pizza. If I had noticed this days earlier I could have ordered some with the rest of our food. I sent an email to David last night hoping to catch him before he leaves Sam’s and goes to Ruby so he can try to buy somethere, but I have not heard back from him, so don’t think he has checked his email yet. There is still time and he may get the message. So I thought to mention to you since you asked. I hate to ask you to bring anything in a can because of the weight, though the cans are small (6 oz.) Even if you grabbed like 6 of them and stuffed them in your pockets that might help. What I was thinking was that if David does not get any, then maybe I can have you buy some in Galena and pay you back when you get here, so you would not have to trouble yourself now about it. Only time will tell the right course of action, so I wait. It started snowing here the day David left, and we have gotten about four inches of fluff. I am hoping we don’t get too much more before he is to return so that he can find his trail out for easier travel home, and the weight of the extra snow doesn’t trigger overflow. We usually get some overflow every winter when the snow gets heavy enough to push the ice down, but so far we have seen none this year which makes me a little nervous. The machine he’s got rides over it well (though he will have a heavy sled), and if there is a trail to


follow, the overflow will usually freeze hard where the packed snow is. I don’t know how his journey out was, as I have not heard from him yet. Sometimes it is hard to find time to get onto email when one is visiting with a friend. I’m sure he made it to Sam’s alright though, because Sam was going to ride out to meet him somewhere on the Yukon, so no news is good news. Well, I have much to do today with David gone, so I best get a start on things. I can’t believe you are in Alaska and will be here in a week. Sheesh, I better start cleaning this place up a little. :) Good luck on the rest of your journey and we look forward to meeting you.

Romey

21 02/16/2017

Talked with David and he is going to try and grab tomato paste tomorrow in Ruby. Sam's wife, Tamara is home from the North Slope (she works 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off in Prudhoe Bay) and gave him 8 cans already. So we'll probably be good with that. He said the ride in was great and he picked up half our boxes already and the rest are coming in tomorrow. We can't seem to get any of our mail with the Post Office closed, though. Plus Buster had been picking it up earlier this fall. Just wanted to let you know so you didn't worry about the paste.

Romey


22 02/18/2017

Ed, all of that sounds great. It really sounds like too much already. :) DAvid did mention once maybe asking you for a newspaper. But don't make any special trips for one. Sometimes people have them laying around. Unless you are bored and need an excuse to get out. He doesn't really read the paper (but I probably would) he was thinking about it for his worm farm, which uses newspaper as a moist covering. If not he has been using paper towels. I just got an email saying DAvid is going to try and come home today, which I was not expecting at all. I thought tomorrow, or even the next day. So I am freaking out and trying to modify my plans to possibly include him if he makes it. I have learned over the years never to expect him to make it. Many times he doesn't and it leads to disappointment. One time it took him 5 extra weeks to get home. He said that the Ruby store did not have tomato paste, but they had tomato sauce, so he bought some of that, plus the 8 cans Tamara sent, so the 6 you are bringing will be really helpful. Thanks. I have a way that you can also have smoothies, but I will explain it to you when you get here. It has to do with us buying a freezer this past fall, getting more bags of frozen fruit than usual and yet having the canned fruit we used to use in the summer time. Plus we will have apples, bananas and canned oranges for fruit and yogurt. David is bringing home plenty of frozen fruit. Charley will be so excited. I'm sure the coke will be fine for Sky. DAvid did say he was able to get mail yesterday, which has our permits for our cabin use which Fish and Wildlife have been slow to renew for us. Well, I have much to do today so I am going to get started. Have a good flight to GAlena tomorrow. I don't know if you can email us from there. If not, we'll see you when we see you.

Romey


23 02/20/2017

Hi ED, I haven't checked emails in a couple of days, since David got home. (I cut my knuckle opening one of the boxes of food, so typing is difficult.) David had a rough ride home. He left a day early due to the cold temps that were coming, but ended up in white-out conditions on the Yukon, kept loosing the trail, went off a five-foot drop off once, and drove a couple feet from an open sink hole, even accidently went into a sink hole that had frozen over. He also went through a bit of overflow, but never got stuck. He was so cold and beat when he got home and still recovering. By the way, he forgot the tomato paste that Tamara gave him and found none at the Ruby Store. I think we have enough to make it until summer if we ration it at spaghetti once every two weeks, so we are fine. But DAvid did think I should ask you, if you got a chance, to check at the Galena store. If you could buy like 20 - 6 oz cans that would help, and I would really want to pay you back. If you can't get around because of the cold or any other reason, then don't worry about it. The 6 cans you already got will cover pizza nights. I don't know how long this cold is supposed to last or what temperatures Brad would fly in. So contingent on the weather, I guess we will see you Friday. If Friday weather is supposed to be bad-- cold or snowstorms, then you can always fly in early if the weather is better. We are thinking of you in GAlena, and how weird that you are that close. I'll write again if I think of anything else, but typing is hard. Good luck with the rest of your trip and see you soon.

Romey

24 02/23/2017

Getting ready for your arrival tomorrow. David put an airstrip in and marked it, so you guys can look for it. Don't know about the weather. Hope it is good for you.

Romey


25 02/24/2017

The weather seems good here today so far, so I was checking emails to see if you're going to try and make it today.

Romey

26 02/24/2017

Ok. We'll just keep looking for you when the weather is good. So excited about the tomato paste. Now Sky can have plenty of spaghetti.


Table of Contents Typed interviews on iPod Touch DAVID ATCHLEY, 52 YEARS OLD 1. SHORT QUOTES 2. ATCHLEY FAMILY HISTORY 3. FIRST INTERVIEW 27 FEBRUARY 4. GETTING AROUND IN THE ALASK BUSH 5. HISTORY OF LOG CABIN 6. ABOUT BUILDING ON TO THE ORIGINAL CABIN 7. HISTORY OF HOW THE ATCHLEY'S BOUGHT THIS CABIN ORIGINALLY 8. IN THE BEGINNING - first time moving to cabin in 1999 & QUALITY OF GOODS AND EFFICIENCY 9. ABOUT THE TWO FRONT DOORS 10. EMERGENCIES & WAYS IN/OUT 11. AREA NAMES & GETTING IN AND OUT 12. DAVID'S 1st SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is) 13. DAVID'S 2nd SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is) 14. EFFECTS OF ISOLATION 15. LOCATION OF LOG CABIN IN RELATION TO STATE, GETTING AROUND 16. HUMAN NATURE IN CAPTIVITY 17. WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU? 18. DANGERS OF SNOW MACHINING, WAYS TO GET TO/FROM HERE & CONDITION DESCRIPTIONS 19. THE WALK BACK COULD KILL YOU & MASS PRODUCED MEDIOCRE PEOPLE 20. OVERFLOW (dangerous condition on river) 21. PHILOSOPHY 01 22. PHILOSOPHY 02 23. PHILOSOPHY 03 24. WHO AM I? THE INFINITE STRUCTURE OF THE MIND 25. THE WAY WE LIVE IS THE ANSWER


26. IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE 27. LIVING TOGETHER 24/7 28. DAVID TALKING ABOUT SKY USING VIDEO GAMES 29. ON ISOLATION & SELF RELIANCE 30. WORM FARM, COMPOSTING & MAKING DIRT 31. GREENHOUSE, SEEDS & COMPOST 32. SUBSISTENCE, SELF RELIANCE 33. WHY DO WE LIKE IT HERE? 34. POWER 35. CLEANING STOVE CHIMNEY & SOLAR PANEL & GENERATOR 36. GENERATOR POWER & FINITE RESOURCES 37. SELF SUFFICIENCY & MECHANICING 38. THE WAY WE LIVE IS THE FUTURE 39. WHY THERE IS NO INTERNET IN OUR HOME 40. RODE INTO A TREE IN DEEP SNOW AND BENT HIS SNOW MACHINE STEERING - thoughts on keeping a clear perspective 41. TRASH 42. BOOKS IN OUTHOUSE 43. LIVING AT DIFFERENT TIMES TO EACH OTHER AND ‘WE' 44. SNOW SHOES 45. COST OF LIVING 46. FIRE BREAK ON BUCKET HILL 47. JOBS DAVID DOES TO MAKE INCOME 48. WRITING IN BEDROOM FROM MIDNIGHT TO 1AM EVERY MORNING 49. THE BEAUTY OF BEING ALIVE 50. MARIO KART Wii VIDEO GAME 51. EXPENDITURE 52. A BROAD VIEW OF OUR LIVES WHICH SHOWS THE ISOLATION AND TOGETHERNESS 53. DAY TO DAY & MOTIVATION 54. THINKING AS ONE MIND IN ISOLATION 55. CAN’T RELATE TO OTHER PEOPLE 56. MICHAEL MLECZKO SIGN ON TREE 57. BREAKING TRAIL (making a new trail for snow machines to pass along) and ANNUALLY MAINTAINING EXISTING TRAILS (pictured) 58. ATCHLEY FAMILY TRAVELLING THROUGH STUNTED BLACK SPRUCE IN TAIGA FOREST 59. JOURNEYING BY SNOW MACHINE 60. CHAINSAW MILLING 61. LEARN FROM ANIMALS


62. QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK US & OUR FAMILY ALWAYS TOGETHER

SKY ATCHLEY, 13 YEARS OLD 63. SKY'S FIRST INTERVIEW 64. SKY QUOTE 65. SKY’S SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is) 66. SKY’S DOG 67. SKY IS ALWAYS IN HIS PYJAMA PANTS (BOTTOMS) PLAYING OUTSIDE 68. PHOTO OF SKY WITH MAP 69. SKY TALKING ABOUT HIS COMIC BOOK SERIES 70. A SERIOUS SONG SKY WROTE 71. A FUNNY SONG SKY WROTE

ROMEY ATCHLEY, 44 YEARS OLD 72. SHORT QUOTES 73. HOME SCHOOLING 74. LIVING OFF GRID (Long explanation) & HOME SCHOOLING & OWN CLOCK TIME 75. ROMEY'S SELF WORDED BIO76. ROOT CELLAR 77. PHILOSOPHY 78. MAKING YOGHURT AND KEIFER 79. PLAYING MUSIC FROM 1:30AM TO 1:50AM (ROMEY) every morning 80. PLAYING MUSIC FROM 1:30AM TO 1:50AM (DAVID) every morning 81. ROMEY ON PUBLISHING HER CHILDREN’S BOOK 82. PUMPING DRINKING WATER INTO HOUSE USING MECHANICAL HAND PUMP 83. WRITING AT NIGHT IN BEDROOM 84. MISSING OTHER PEOPLE? 85. WANTING TO BE FREE 86. LISTENING TO RADIO & WRITING DOWN POSITIONS OF DOG MUSHERS IN THE ANNUAL DOG SLED 'IDITAROD' RACE 87. RADIO 88. SATELLITE PHONE & SENDING EMAILS VIA SATELLITE PHONE & BUSH RADIO 89. MEDICINE 90. LOVE 91. WANT 92. HOME SCHOOLING 93. WHO WE ARE OUT HERE & FEMINISM & A MOTHER'S / WOMAN’S ROLE IN ISOLATION


Typed Family interviews 25 February 2017 - 17 March 2017 DAVID ATCHLEY, 52 YEARS OLD SHORT QUOTES David:

"You caught the family just coming out of the slow winter period into the busy plant growing and milling period in spring. Just starting to go outside in better weather."

"We're strong individual people taking care of ourselves. We take that responsibility seriously. "

"I'm ready for the next stage of my life and it doesn't involve man at all. Otherwise I'm not going to be able to do it.” (“to do it” means to carry on living)

"People become a soldier to the motherfuckers. It's written in to the job description. You become a slave to debt so that you have to keep on paying into the system. Mortgages ruin marriages..."

"I call the days of the week the 'hamster wheel' as it's got us running around."

"I will not associate my mind with the making or losing of money."

"I don't base my intellect on money. Money does not lead to happiness but our society is telling us that it does."


"I don't think about the value of money at all. We don't spend any at all for 11 months a year. It's not even a thought to us. Every decision in town involves money but here we have everything we need."

"Man has this view on life that it's not perfect and wants to make it better. Man views nature the same way but fails to recognize it's perfect already."

"We don't usually talk about ourselves and people don't ask us about ourselves so to fall back into humanity is weird that we have to look at ourselves."

"In the future it's not going to be wealth but efficiency."

"30 years of intellectual endeavour just puts you in another place so that nobody understands me."

"We're kind of an indefinable, malleable flowing thing out here. We're a bunch of open doors leading to everything."

"Most people are 2 questions deep. If you ask anyone more than 2 questions other than they their job they don't know what they are talking about. This is what frustrates me - because I can't find anyone who understands what I am taking about, about contemplative philosophical understandings."

"I wish everybody felt this blessed. If they did we wouldn't be living in this mess right now. The entire universe is here for you - take a breath and if that isn't enough nothing ever will be."

"This lifestyle is sustainable and humble."

"Whatever seed you drop in the soil is the plant that grows. It's the world I'm walking in. Don't look for more than what's in front of you as it's all there."

"If you play the game you get screwed in this country."


"Everything is man, people think they are 98% of the universe. That's why we are here, to let the wind blow through me. To see the stars and the sky and the plants and nature. I deal with humanity as the empty fence. Resistance creates conditions that creates form."

"Servitude in solitude."

(When we first arrived here we...) "...couldn't see the cabin for grass, when I first smelt it I knew I'd been waiting to come here all of my life."

"Sometimes I feel like I'm at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. We're the only heat source here, in Ruby if you get locked out of your house you can go to the neighbour's but here it's only us. Sometimes when it starts getting too remote I have to turn the lights on to push the darkness back. Especially when you're living under a philosophical understanding things can start seeming a little large. The overwhelming awe of existence."

"Do we miss people? Not for what you get, they're just too much work."

"It's a very intimate life out here for sure."

"Never trust a species that only uses 10% of its brain." [i.e. humans]

"What people think is wrong. All of it."

"I think we are elemental creatures. When we go beyond our comprehension of our understanding when using technology we get lost. I like not knowing, it's so relaxing for my brain, I don't have to remember it, or write it down or look it up. Talk about a stress free life, I highly recommend it, especially when you realize you don't know anything."

"Life lead us here, we just followed the arrows. The cabin brought us here. Romey and I don't fit into human form anymore. Understanding ourselves as human isn't definable anymore."


"Confetti is the name I give to things like making books because there are so many out there it's like confetti. There's so much of it. Buried in a confetti of crap. Everyone can write, everyone can take a photo, it's hard to get ahead if you're creative these days."

"I believe in my abilities, the confidence in not having a pension plan or a mortgage is because I know I can handle it if anything happens like my house burns down. We believe in our abilities to be able to handle anything that life throws at us. We're self reliant. What scares people is that they're not secure in their abilities. That's why they cling to their job and their mortgage."

"Our lifestyle has really challenged people. They think we're off grid living like animals in a cave and then they see us and how comfortable we are they have a problem with it. They think we should be in a basic log cabin being uncomfortable.”

"What you have to really understand is that we haven't seen anybody at all since September so it's hard to instantly understand what you want to do with us here.”

"Visitors pop off gun shots to tell us that they're here at the river as there is no way to walk here.”

"It's important to understand your own body. I don't want my intestines cut out or heart stopped so out here we have to learn to look after ourselves."

—————————————————————————————————————— ATCHLEY FAMILY HISTORY David:

“The Atchleys came about in the 1200's in England. James Atchley was the Lord Mayor of London in Sir Walter Raleigh's time just before King James. He also worked on the original version of the King James Bible and then he came to America in the mid 1600's and landed in Virginia. He had three sons and I'm a direct descendant. I was the first Atchley to come to Alaska in 1989.”

——————————————————————————————————————


FIRST INTERVIEW 27 FEBRUARY

David Atchley 52 "Born Houston, Texas but grew up in Minnesota. Living outside of Talkeetna was my practice zone. I'd never built a house or shot a moose or run a chainsaw so I needed access to get that experience from doing it and learning from other people. I was a city boy, I came out of the entrenchment of the city. Everything was new to me, it was a pretty big mountain to conquer. I was setting up computers in office cubicles, you know those 50 story buildings downtown. I was installing IBM computers in those. I was in charge of hardware, I was the one they'd call to install and repair them. I was also one of the first to be involved in satellite communications. My degree was governmental theory, I liked running campaigns. I worked on the Bob Dole presidential campaign. I did an independent study degree. I was the Bob Dole State youth coordinator. My job was to organize all the college campuses. My 2nd degree was in philosophy, ontology, basically the study of the nature of being...which obviously I still do.


The Grateful Dead was one of the moments that changed me which I can't define. When I went back to work it seemed shallow and silly. Escaping hypocracy was the start of this journey. It was a huge driving force. Also knowledge was what I seeked. The city is the land of convenience so I wanted to become self reliant to get real security so I didn't have to rely on anyone else. Total reliance on others to total reliance on myself was the journey that led us to end up here.

I knew there were other options that people could live in other ways from the 9 to 5. When you see people living another way then you begin to realise that you can do it too. Another thing with the Grateful Dead is acceptance. Acceptance for being who you are. Remember that I came from a very wealthy family where you have a self consciousness going because you have to behave properly. But at a Grateful Dead concert nobody cares. There was a freedom with it that people are just people. We accept each other for what we are. So when I went back to wearing a suit to make money for some banking organization I couldn't do it and went back to another grateful dead concert. I kept on going back to the trough. The Grateful Dead was the flour in the cake but there were many ingredients in the cake. It was the combination of the ingredients that woke me but I do give Jerry Garcia credit for making me open to thinking alternatively. Work was ridiculous, just making money off of people. I saw when I was setting up computer programs what we are seeing now, the total intrusion into our lives with technology and I am not willing to be a part of it. Total mind control. It's what I saw at the time. I was seeking freedom which is what this country used to be about but which is now illegal. I wanted to be free to have my own ideas so I could see them. I chose Canada, I was so disgusted with our country, I was leaving , I'm still embarrassed to be American. I'd be embarrassed to say in any country in the world I'm American.

I realized that what I accepted as normal is actually insane. For me Jerry Garcia was the reason I wanted to leave my past life. His music allowed me to go places philosophically. True beauty, the depth. The answer I came up with years ago is a state of awe. He channelled the universe, he said you can't own the music. I can link it all back to him. Philosophy was the main reason and exploration of the universe is why I ended up here in Alaska but to define it is to lose it, you have to experience it for yourself. Jerry knows and now it's all ok.

Canada didn't want me, I wasn't allowed to work there and I wasn't going back to the Lower 48 so I pulled out a map and went northwards. When I went to Alaska it was like going to my first Grateful Dead concert. I knew I was home the minute I got here. I had been travelling a bit before getting here, I'd driven down to Central America, to the narrowest point, that was 1987. I turned around at Santiago, Panama, I never quite made it down to the canal.

I was going to the woods, there was that spectrum. I was seeking self sufficiency. It came from being 6 years old, being upset and wanting to run away to the woods. Isn't the woods all of our homes? Romey and I are the last of the wild people. People say we've been here too long but I say people have


been living in the city too long as everyone is going crazy there. After all don't we all come from the wilderness? But I don't want everyone coming from the city, I have 2 million acres all to myself, I don’t want everyone moving here. I came into Fairbanks first and did my first winter here. The newness of the life I was going broke, I just wasn't used to it so I applied for a job in computers. I was probably the most advanced person in hardware development in the United States but I needed 6 years experience and I only had 5 and a half. So I got a job with the Department of Labour doing data entry. It was enough money to get me back on my feet and then I quit and went to Talkeetna to live in a wall tent. I had a baby in that tent with my first wife. I used what money I had to build a house and own my own property. I wasn't going to pay a mortgage as I didn't want to work and go into debt and I wanted to be self sufficient. My land with trees, think about it, you stack 'em up and you've got a house and you don't have to pay a mortgage for 30 years. Talkeetna where I lived was 12 miles off road. In the winter it was only accessible by snow machine. Great view of Mount McKinley. Talkeetna was far enough to be inconvenient but not far enough to live a different way. You have options if you live near a village or town.

It's close enough to town that you're still spending money but far enough away that you can't work a daily job. Here if my chainsaw breaks I have to wait up to a year to get the replacing part to repair it. It was a great place to learn but still too many people. Your average off grid people would love it. Henry David Thoreau was famous for writing about how you can live cheaply and doing it yourself. He priced it down to every cent he spent. Efficiency. He established that civil disobedience was the duty of the citizen. It's what kept your government in check.

I have to live by another way otherwise I'm a hypocrite. If I believe this society is wrong then I cannot support it. It's not entirely possible to live outside of society as I do wear eye glasses and I'm not making them myself out of sand. But I'm not shopping at Walmart. Romey and I are more about discovery. We 'realize and follow' - we don't 'plan and execute'.

We did one year in the wall tent but my wife wanted to move to town as the bears were scaring here so now I had to get a job in order to rent somewhere and pay for my property. I was working 60 hours a week and my wife wanted me to look after the baby too. She walked. Just split. I bought food and fuel for the winter and I just sat there with the baby in that cabin all winter. I then started to mill speciality timber with a friend and Romey was working as a waitress in a local restaurant. I'd heard there was a new girl in town and wanted to check her out. As soon as I saw her I knew right away she was the one even though I wasn't even divorced yet. But that time I had a cabin built, my friends called it 'The Fort' and Romey came to live with me. The dog water on the floor was frozen and 'bunny boots'* were our slippers. We lived there together for a year and a half and then the next spring we moved to Fairbanks after selling the fort."


(*Bunny boots are the nickname for US Army VPB Boots - white rubber cold weather Vapour Barrier boots for the arctic)

—————————————————————————————————————— GETTING AROUND IN THE ALASK BUSH

David: "In the summer you can't travel anywhere at all other than by river. Even if you could cut a trail to get anywhere and take all the trees out by four wheeler the ground is just too rough and the trees all grow back completely a year later, especially cottonwood and alder. You can't walk anywhere either as the ground is too rough, there's a foot and a half deep of soft moss which is like walking through sand, the alder gets really thick, the Alaska wild rose bushes, they're very thorny, they get 8 feet tall. You can fly out here in the summer with a float plane on the lake and with skis in the winter on the lake but there's no airstrip. When 'freeze up' comes and the lakes aren't yet frozen we can't go anywhere because you can't land on the lake with floats as there is thin ice and slush and you can't land with skis either. We're pretty much house bound at 'break up' too when the melt happens as you can't even walk. It's pretty cool when you go somewhere where nobody else have ever set foot before. It's even cooler when you see an animal that has never seen a human before. You can tell by the look on their face, they kinda look at you Huh!?”


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HISTORY OF LOG CABIN David: "A clan of The Kokrines tribe, the Novi tribe, had a camp at the end of the lake which is why it's called Novi Crossing. Novi is short for Nowitna but it should be Novi which is the Athabascan tongue, the 'Novi Kaket' - the Novi River. Nobody calls it Nowitna even though it's named that on the map. At the time the land couldn't sustain a tribe of more than 20 people. The people here were descended from Mongols who crossed over 10,000 years ago. When you're hunting with a stick it's very difficult to feed more people. This area is claimed as one of the harshest places to survive. The extreme cold of it limits your hunting capabilities. Some animals like caribou are inconsistent here, the moose came in rather late, in the 1930's and 1940's. It's 80 miles from the arctic circle. There are also no Musk Ox here, they're further west. There were so few people here their history isn't well known.

Mark Freshwaters came here with a native guide originally and must have chosen this area because George Albert was 8 miles away and in those days people were very territorial about their trap line area. This exact site (of the cabin on the edge of the lake) is about 6 inches higher than any place in the lake and you notice that when the lake floods. Mark Freshwaters now spends 6 months in Sitka and 6 months in the Philippines. He must be 64 or 65 now. He had a bad 4 wheeler crash and couldn't live out here anymore which is why he sold up.” ——————————————————————————————————————

ABOUT BUILDING ON TO THE ORIGINAL CABIN David: "Originally it took 6 weeks to mill the lumber and then we waited 6 weeks for spring to arrive and then ripped the original roof off the cabin to enlarge it to a 4 room cabin instead of one. It went from 10 1/2 feet by 13 feet to 21 feet by 26 feet now. Instead of leaving it an open cabin we sectioned it into rooms which allows you to be alone if you want to be and in different environments.”


—————————————————————————————————————— HISTORY OF HOW THE ATCHLEY'S BOUGHT THIS CABIN ORIGINALLY David:

"Jim James was a conman from St.Louis and I knew him from Talkeetna as he'd teach me about engines. He ran into a guy on the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage who told him about these cabins here and he was thinking about buying the cabins here and he had put down 500 bucks to hold them. After a year Jim James told us about here.

I was walking through Fairbanks and he came up to me and told me he'd found these cabins. He told me he wanted to buy them, there were 4 and a half cabins, 4 families were going to buy one each and move out here. The other families dropped out as they didn't have money.


Mark Freshwater owned the cabins and Jim had given him the money to hold the cabins for him but he had spent too long on it. I contacted Mark direct as Jim had lost his deposit. Christmas 1995 I went to see Mark and talked about the cabin. Mark had been trying to sell this place advertising it in Trapper magazine. It was $11,000 for 4 cabins. They were mostly collapsed so we were buying the rights.

By now I knew I could build a cabin so I didn't mind I was buying site unseen. I was buying them but I was flat broke. I bought this house on a handshake. I asked Mark if he could wait while I sold everything I had like 'The Fort' and a generator and Romey's Subaru. Mark Freshwater had built this between 1974 and 1982 before it was the wildlife refuge.

The 1970's was a 'back to nature time' with a bunch of hippies going into the woods. Mark went down river from Fairbanks to Ruby and wanted to go trapping, Jack London you know. Mark walked around the entire outline of this lake to choose his spot to build it. An old Athabascan trail goes over the hill here and a Native cabin used to exist at the end of the lake. A Native Trapper had brought Mark out here.

We tried to get out here 3 times before to see the cabins but never made it. I even paid a pilot to fly me out but he wouldn't land. At least I could see that the roof was still on. So the first time we arrived was when we moved here. We arrived with all our possessions in June. The moment the smell of the cabin hit me I really saw I had been waiting my whole life to get here. I was no longer working to get somewhere else. It was like being home. It was a musty smell, earthy, half the floor was still dirt. It was buried in grass, it was in a alder patch. We could barely see it, only the front door and some logs. The roof was its own eco systems. You could feel the nostalgia and we were part of it. It had 3 and a half foot tall front door. The first night a bear went into the cabin. Knocked a thing of dried hash browns off the shelf and just wandered off. The first thing we did was dig a root cellar.

We've completely redefined our own universe here and who we are living out here. Everyone is walking on a planet and we're walking in mind. Basic existence has been redefined. When we go go into town once a year we temper ourselves. Each thing we say has thousands of hours of thought behind it.

(Ed Gold) being here is Sky's chance to see if he is likeable. (Ed Gold is his mirror so he can see what kind of person he is, if he is likeable - it's his one chance to see if he interesting. He wants to show me his stuff. He waited patiently for a couple of days and finally it got to him. Romey has had to stand alone against the current, against all of culture to raise Sky, without pressure or being told what to do


is an amazing sacrifice. He is a being and has equal rights The same as everybody else. Romey and I talk a lot in the winter time so Sky plays the games a lot by himself when it's cold and dark outside. But when it gets warmer those games slowly get left behind and he'll go fire wooding with me on snow machines. He's a really great shot, he could probably shoot a daisy stem in half with a 22.”

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IN THE BEGINNING - first time moving to cabin in 1999 & QUALITY OF GOODS AND EFFICIENCY David:

"We lived in a tent for the first month because we were hauling our supplies from the Yukon River and that was a 100 mile round trip. We did 5 trips in 6 days. One of those trips was fuel alone to make those trips. We showed up with 600 gallons of fuel. 6 crates of 4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet.

We came up in May. We came to Ruby from Fairbanks by plane. My boat was already here from the year before, I'd brought it up the year before and it had sat in Ruby all winter. We waited for the ice to break and took our boat up the Yukon River going east to the mouth of the Novi. That's short for the Nowitna River. We set up camp there waiting for the barge with our stuff from Fairbanks to arrive. The barge has to have a certain depth of water to get up to the bank so the barge captain who knows the river chose 'Ham Island' in the middle of the Yukon river on its east side called 'Mouse Point'. They pull up on the barge about 8 feet off the shore and use a big metal grating that goes to the bank and use a fork lift truck to leave our belongings on the island. It's a weird feeling to leave everything you own in the world on a river back. At the last moment the barge captain changed his mind because the river was low so he dropped our stuff on the north bank of the river. There was still big chunks of ice along the banks. The mouth of the Novi river was 5 miles away to the south west across the Yukon river on the south shore. The Novi river is actually a north flowing river which flows into the Yukon river. The Novi river is 225 miles long.

We had crates of our belongings so we'd take the crate apart, lay the crate wood on the deck of our boat and put our belongings on top of it. What we do is we'd stop at a place called 'First Rock' that Mark told us about. It took us quite a few miles to first find that place where we had to stop in order to get to our cabin which is a mile and a half from the cabin. There was a half mile trail from the edge of the river to the lake which was totally overgrown so we had to recut that trail. Mark also said he had stashed a lake boat on the other side of the lake 14 years previously so we had to walk around the lake to go find it but first had to cut a trail in order to find it. So I had to carry a chainsaw with me as I was walking through the bush cutting my way forwards. When we did discover it a tree was laying


over the top of it. There was no notice so we had to paddle across to the trail we had cut from the river. We then had to carry our belongings up a steep river bank 30 feet and then reassemble the crates. We had to set up camp, crate all the gear up, haul the crate up, reassemble it, put the belongings in and seal them up and then go back up to the Yukon and do the same thing again. A black bear came up and shredded a canvas tarp we had up over our kitchen and a Grizzly bear tore up our crates. It jumped up and down on one crate and just squashed it. He got into the motor oil jugs and drank those. Dog food was all over the place, cereal was everywhere and he ate 25 pounds of 'Cream of Wheat'. It's a crushed wheat berry so that would have made him very dry and when you drink water it swells up twice the size so he would have been miserable. We didn't see him again for 5 days.

We'd boat 55 miles one way to where our stuff was. We'd be dodging a lot of massive logs coming along the river which I had to dodge. It was me, my first son Zack who was 5, Romey, 3 dogs and a cat, the poor thing. One day it fell in the water, he was not happy about that at all, tough little booger. When we finally had all our crates on the river bank at our camp we took a day off to find the cabin. So we'd moved all of our stuff here without ever having seen the cabin. We had to paddle a mile to get here which is a long paddle if you don't know where you're going.

Zack was the first to see it. It was very sealed up with trap line wire and nails. It was like Christmas seeing all the old stuff that Mark had left behind. There was a generator, 6 gallon buckets of dried food, old dog collars from dog mushing, a washtub. We felt like we had stepped into a Jack London novel. There was writing on the walls, something by a young girl who had stayed here, a dirt floor and a spruce tree growing out of the roof. Trapping supplies, trapping wax, an old fuel drum that had been converted into a pot to boil up traps. I had asked Mark if there was stove pipe out here and he said yes but there wasn't any so I was glad I had brought some as stove pipe is kinda important. When we went back to the river to get our stuff we closed the door but didn't secure it and while we were gone a bear got in, it got some old food that it knocked from a shelf. Some old hash browns. It didn't eat them though, bears are inquisitive creatures, I call them giant raccoons."

"We lived at the river for a month whilst we moved all of our belongings down the lake to the cabin. So instead of running up the Yukon to get our stuff we're now going up the lake to get our stuff. We burnt half our fuel getting all our stuff here. My thinking was that I can build in the winter if the foundation is put in the summer.

The first day we ended up killing that bear. I was shovelling dirt out of the cabin floor, we were taking a coffee break. It walked past the window so I grabbed my '30 aught 6' and shot it 15 feet away. So now we had a whole bear to do. I had a 5 year old son playing outside so I was very determined to keep our area safe. The meat was very useful as we'd only just arrived but it meant a lot more work as we'd only just arrived.


Mark had already had approved an 'add on' to the house by Fish and Wildlife when he lived here so I was keen to get the permit to do that right away. The original cabin is 10 1/2 feet by 13 feet and the walls were 4 feet tall with the highest point 6 1/2 feet at the peak. We were all in that little cabin together the first winter. I built the sauna and outhouse right away and we had a tarp shower set up outside. With all the work we were doing we were really sweaty and dirty. Having the lake nearby was also handy for that. Root cellar first, outhouse second and sauna third. When we first got here you can't describe the bugs. We used the wood first of all to defecate in and had to put bug dope on our ass. We could only spend so much time in the bugs before going in our cabin to get away from them. It was like being in static. You'd eat bugs with your food. There's very few people on the planet that could endure that. We'd have smudge fires we'd sit around to keep them at bay. We'd have a game 'slap and count'. If you slapped your hand down on your leg you'd kill 25 of them. Mosquitoes and black fly. If you stopped walking suddenly they'd hit you in the back of your head. Now we're more practiced with dealing with the bugs. Wear gloves and nets and tuck your pant legs into your socks. Bed nets too over our beds at night in the summer. We got the root cellar dug and built and put the foundations in from trees nearby. I was milling logs using a chainsaw mill.

The intensity of being so remote was overwhelming. We just had to do what we knew how to do. We found comfort in that and didn't feel so overwhelming. Knowing that if we cut ourselves with a chainsaw that we'd bleed to death because no help would be coming meant the intensity was overpowering. We had no communications at all. There's something about that saying "No help coming". We don't use bug dope as it's so toxic. You have to trust your protection to turn your mind away because they're attacking you. As long as you feel you are safe you can feel normal otherwise you'd go crazy.

It took me 6 weeks to mill the wood for the cabin, that was a continuous job all day every day. I'd cut a tree down and Romey would pull it home behind a snow machine. I was very selective about the tree I chose. The bark would be covered in ice so I stacked the logs up until the following spring. Extreme cold meant I couldn't mill at 50 below. We couldn't trap our first winter because we were trying to build our cabin. We shot a wolf. We tried to eat it, but it had a very strong aftertaste.

We used 6 volt batteries that Mark had left which we were able to run radio off. We had solar panels that powered a 12 volt fluorescent light and also used propane for light and Coleman lanterns with unleaded fuel that use a mantle which were so loud. The one propane light wasn't enough as the cabin was so dark. After the propane ran out we dug into what Mark had left. The Colemans and old oil lanterns and a round metal thing that went on the back of a candle that reflected the heat and light out. We were so broke that everybody told us that we'd never make it out here without killing each other because of living in such a small cabin all together. At the time the UnaBomber had his insanity proven by the small cabin he lived in which was 20 feet by 20 feet by there was 7 of us in a 13 feet by 10 feet cabin.


It was all propane when we first built this place. Then we used a gas (petrol) powered lantern but realized we could run a generator on the same amount of gas. We got the generator one year, then the batteries to charge from it which power computers, light and even a vacuum and Sky's games. We also had to buy an inverter. The thing about living out here is you have to have back up everything. Especially back up lighting. 6 volt and 12 volt. I went from a 1000 watt generator to a 2000 watt generator which has a chrome cylinder instead of an aluminium cylinder. I was getting through a 1000kw generator every two years. We went through 4 1000w generators before we bought the 2000w generator.

Two things I get back to a lot out here is quality of goods and efficiency. You cannot afford cheap products out in the woods. Cheap stuff drives me crazy. We'd have a wish list every year of things we'd want to buy like a washing machine then you'd think you were done because you had it but then you'd need to find the money to replace it two years later because it had broken. It's known as a Pay as you Go system, that comes from a Cary Grant film, getting everybody on the monthly payment system.

Everybody talks about how great batteries are but they're toxic waste which you have to dispose of every Fire years. Lead and hydrochloride batteries. I have a windmill and set it up on a tripod but didn't get the power I wanted off it and needed to get it above the tree line. I need a minimum of a 100 foot tower to get efficient power from it but the cost of the copper lead is prohibitive to set it up.

Working within our minimalistic means was the biggest challenge. Everything that you considered went back to a monetary situation. It's more challenging that there is no way to make money out here. Self reliance. You couldn't have someone else sort your problems for you. It was the end of the line, I couldn't hand it to anyone else. If something got stuck or there was a bear you have to handle it. Our book shelf is about living in Alaska and how to live in the cold. We have pieces of information like if you get attacked by a bear and nothing else to sew the skin up with you can use human hair as it won't cause an infection.

A store is no longer an answer. You can't just go to the store and buy a new one so you have to think what you can do to fix it using the items you have out here. We've had to do this about 500 times out here. You have to come up with something to make a part work, make your own parts. It's kinda neat the creativity involved in order to make stuff, there's a lot of fun in it unless it gets really serious. Most things we make sure we have two of. If your chainsaw goes down you're in trouble so I have 4 chainsaws and 3 crosscut handsaws. Generally I have a manual tool as backup for every powered tool I have. If a part goes out I just buy 2. Once I had to use propane to heat up my boat engine prop to bend it back enough to make the boat move forwards. It had hit a tree underwater. I had to travel 20


miles at idle to move. I've also had to use a bit of wood to hold my suspension in place on my snow machine after a bolt came out on my 100 mile journey from Ruby to home. It was 65 miles from here. Once a snow machine chaincase was overheating so I had to stop every 5 miles to pack it with snow to cool it down. The previous owner who I had just bought it from had over tightened it.”

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ABOUT THE TWO FRONT DOORS (r.e. Photo of Sky wearing black bear vest at front door. This was one of first things Romey made out here). David: "I have two front doors as it's so damn cold here, I didn't have room to build an arctic entrance so I built a Minnesota storm door. Two doors have made a huge difference as it's extra insulation. There's rigid insulation between those boards and an emergency silver blanket. I milled all the wood myself from nearby spruce using a chainsaw. It took me weeks from felling the tree, to milling it, to milling the door. It took so long because we still have to do our daily jobs to maintain our lives so time is always restricted for extra jobs like this. Here you have to take care of your life so it takes alot more time to get stuff done. If we have too much to do the house gets neglected. When I'm doing firewood and milling I'm gone all day.” —————————————————————————————————————— EMERGENCIES & WAYS IN/OUT David: "Even if the plane takes off the second you call if you're hurt by the time they get here, load you in the plane and get you to a hospital it's a minimum of 5 hours. Because we are out here without a hospital you get to practice a lot and get good at it. We once had to give our cat an enema as it was so constipated it was dying. That worked. We tend to think realistically speaking on good weather time it would take 6 hours to get you to hospital. If it was a bad toothache you'd snow machine to Ruby and fly yourself to Fairbanks. But if it was a broken bone or you're bleeding out you'd call for help. If it was during break up when the ice is melting and you can't land you'd have to call the coast guard who'd lower a basket to you by helicopter. But if it's 50 below and night it would make it alot harder. We'd have to put snow machines out there for light.”

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AREA NAMES & GETTING IN AND OUT (number of people that have come out here) David: "We have 'Mirror lake' split by a nearby hill to us. Our lake at 'Novi Crossing' is an oxbow lake and 'Mirror lake' is the exact opposite on the other side of the hill. 'Wolf lake' is named so because a wolf pack have a figure of 8 pattern, right at the cross of the 8 that goes over the lake, in their hunting ground. They once caught a moose on the lake which is why I called it that. Before tracks just went over the lake but that day they had a killing zone where they'd flattened down 3 feet of snow down to ground the size of a football field. It was mind boggling that animals could stomp down that much ground in a kill. You could feel the power of the wolves and also of the moose which just did not want to go down. These animals out here are big, those wolves weigh as much as I do.

We have an area called the 'Slough' (slew) which you drop off a hill onto an old ox bow lake with a left that sloughs off to another ox bow lake where otter play. 'Portage' is the trail from Novi river to our lake at 'Novi Crossing'. We have the 'Creek' which is a Slough that connects 'Novi Crossing Lake' to the 'Horseshoe Lake' which you can also get to via 'Back Lake'. You have to have names so we all know where you're going. There is also 'Smiths Slough', a long skinny one, 'Back Lake' and 'Far Back Lake'. There's more than 10,000 lakes in this Nowitna Wildlife refuge which is 2.2 million acres. We also have 'Duck Corner' which is a corner on the river which has a lake behind it where the duck mate heavily. One group of hunters, Murphy, go back there every year. We also have 'Hour Long Curve' on the river which takes an hour to float it. 'Rock Beach' is a little island in the middle of the river, 5 or 7 miles up river. We go there to collect rocks and there is a small natural pool in the centre of the island that fills up with water when the river gets high where we swim as the water gets real warm in it. We also have 'First Rock' which is the first bend in the river from our cabin. I've named an island at the mouth of the Novi 'Honea Island' after Coney Island, the famous island in New York. It used to be Don Honeas native allotment of land which was 160 acres in size given to him from the native settlement act but the river washed it away and it became a silt island. There's now a bunch of willow growing on it. The river changes a lot. The river was twice as far away when we first got here. Because it's all sand and so winding it just keeps on cutting in. If it cuts too much further the river will change course and cut off our trail from our lake to where the river is now. I think of the Novi as a snake as it isn't just winding but it's also moving as well. We've had whole sand bars show up and then they disappear again. One river bank is full of trees that have been rammed into the earth like big javelins by ice when break up happens. Break up is the river ice going out in May when it thaws. It jams up usually and is very loud. Crumbling giant ice chunks bashing each other going down the river. Some of those chunks going down the Yukon are the size of whole cabins 6 feet thick. 'Break Up' is that time when you can't go anywhere as the snow and ice is melting. You're really isolated at that point as you can't even walk outside as you just punch holes into the wet ground with your feet everywhere."

"Only two people ever made it trying to get here on their own in 18 years. Both our parents have been out here once and six others in all this time. People have no way to get here so I have to bring them out in the summer on my boat. I've never bought anyone on a snow machine out here as it's just too hard. Out of all the people that ever said they want to come out here only 10% make it. It's possible to charter a plane from Fairbanks to here but it costs $1400 one way. We've started to get to the point


getting people out here is just a pain so we're shutting ourselves down to any visitors. It expensive for us also to transport them out. We're complete out here so we don't need anyone else.”

—————————————————————————————————————— DAVID'S 1st SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is)


David:

"I am all things and all things in between. A dreamer, as without dreamers we have no direction. Unfortunately all our dreamers are into science fiction right now. I thinks it's important that dreamers find a way to get from here to there.” ——————————————————————————————————————

DAVID'S 2nd SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is)

David:

"I'm an experienced woodsman and I can make it in any situation. I like to grow things and I like playing with dirt as it takes me into everything and who I am. I spend winters milling lumber and chopping firewood. I'm a concept hunter, a mental astronaut, a thought explorer. I'm definitely a Dead Head because Jerry Garcia is the propulsion system to my spaceship. I'm 52 and I've been here for 18 years full time. I'm a cabin builder and a scholar of life. I'm a writer of mental sci-fi or fictional philosophy, I'm not sure there's really a genre that fits my style. 90% of my thoughts are about life, that's what makes me so different from my friends and obviously wilderness 'is life'. I'm a hunter out of necessity, I can trap anything and anybody. I'm out here because this is about life and life is out here. My passion is existence itself in all its forms and where better to do it here than here in the wilderness. Ultimately I'm not a philosopher until I get out there onto the stage.” —————————————————————————————————————— EFFECTS OF ISOLATION

David:

"We're all safe in our own little caves out there. We look at the cave paintings and like to believe that represents what is going on in the world. We're all scared and timid, people have a fear that's why they hide within words and drive around in their cars distracting themselves listening to radio stations. The true effects of isolation is recognizing these things. We are not hiding from the world out here but embracing it. We walk around in the wholeness of ourselves. It's how you can be complete so you have no needs or wants. We're very unique to other people that live in the woods, they don't do this, to strive for a complete understanding of our existence. That's what this life is, a complete understanding of this life. There is no part of life we haven't explored. We believe this is the only way, this is the future, the path out of where we are, living this way. True joy in living, it's an honourable goal. Really, what other path is there? Is there another path instead of seeking true joy in


living?! I'm not there yet, I still have much to do, that's why the path is so nice. When I just got out here I didn't realize I was so sick, the illness of being human. It took 5-7 years to recognize I was ill, then another 5-7 years of recovery and now I am in the 5-7 years where I will bloom. Soon I will cut the tether to all mankind so I can fully bloom, I will completely walk away and let go. You have to recognize what you are attached to, it's recognizing letting go of your own being. Can you really set yourself free, clinging to everything, self and possessions, want and desires? Can you really be free of it? Unfettered you will fly. People cling in desperation.” —————————————————————————————————————— LOCATION OF LOG CABIN IN RELATION TO STATE, GETTING AROUND David:

"We have a big yard. This refuge is 2.2 million acres. Other than some dots of civilization like Ruby and Galena there's nothing out there until you get to the sea. We're 200 miles from the road system which is in Fairbanks which is also the further most northern point of the road system in Alaska. You can only get to 4% of Alaska by road. Ruby is 35 miles away in a straight line but there's countless lakes and sloughs in between so you can't walk that. We're on the old Athabascan trail which went from the Kokrines fish camp in the summer to the hunting grounds in the winter. They'd set up camp here at Novi Crossing on their journey. That's why this area has a name as very few places have a name here as it's so remote. The trail was being used in about 1890 to 1900 and a tribe of about 20 Athabascans did have a camp at the mouth of the Novi. They were known as the Kokrines.

It's roughly a 100 miles by snow machine to Ruby. We use the rivers to travel on in the winter and can shave a couple of miles off the journey in winter by cutting corners as opposed to travelling by boat on the river in the summer. The fastest I've ever snow machined to Ruby is 3 and a half hours and the longest is 12 hours. Flat light for the bumps and jumble ice is the problem which wears you out. It's the tedium of the journey when you can't see because my glasses get iced up and blizzard white out conditions, being hit in the face with snow. It just wears on you as you can't see.

I have to stop every 5 miles to break ice off my skis on the snow machine with a hammer so that I can turn. I usually bring a spare 5 gallons of gas with me, you bring everything you need to live. An axe, a fold up wood saw, fire starters (drip flares), I put a strip of cardboard in a used can of Tuna and fill it up with wax and you can light a corner of the cardboard to use as a fire starter and just put branches on the top of that to make a fire. I carry tools and spare parts, a spare pull chord to start the engine via the clutch in case the regular stater breaks, spare spark plugs, spare suspension bolts. I use gorilla glue to lock bolts in place rather than using inferior thread locker as that never works. The tundra just beats your machine up. Bedroll, camping gear and a tarp rather than a tent so I can have a fire at the front of it. You can't have any kind of fire in a tent. A shovel, a high lift jack, rope, MRE's - the heater element to heat up your food can heat you up to. Hand warmers, I throw 4 of those into my sleeping bag to keep me warm. I go camping outside once a year just to keep practiced with outdoor survival. Knowing how to winter camp is really important. You have to feel constantly at home


everywhere you travel so that you aren't in a rush to get anywhere. You need to feel, if you do have to camp on your journey because of an emergency, that you're doing it on purpose. The biggest challenges are open holes and overflow and extreme cold. It takes about the same time to get to Ruby by boat. The wind is the factor when going by boat. The waves on the Yukon River can be like out at sea. It's over a mile wide in places. The great thing about a boat is if you break down you can float. If you break down travelling by snow machine you have to walk.” ——————————————————————————————————————

HUMAN NATURE IN CAPTIVITY David:

"I've lost all hope in man, strangely I don't find it a bad thing, it's a ghost hope, not even a real thing, it was like a tether so that I didn't have to worry about it anymore, all the emotional attachments left. It was like a realisation of truth that there'd never been any hope for man. Instead now I just watch. It's amazing what God awful creatures we really are. Romey has often wondered if we've always been insane or when we went insane. Or it it's to do with alcohol? Farley Mowat - he travelled around following different cultures. He was with the Caribou people in Canada. He witnessed how a broken rifle led to the demise of the tribe. The man owning the rifle felt he was in charge of the tribe because he owned the rifle. Ownership. I wouldn't have any problem living in this planet all alone. It would be glorious. We think we are so smart and wonderful but where does this come from? It's amazing to watch people think how great we are but know how God awful we are. I think we are about as useless and destructive as we can be. I don't know what to do with it as I live out here. It's not as though you go anywhere to escape it. Me and my little family are well aware that we're pretending it doesn't exist because we're removed from it. That's why we don't have internet because we don't want all of the world coming into my house. My biggest problem in my life has been my compassion, it's been my moral enemy. To have compassion for humanity is kind of a dead end street and it causes great sadness. I've only been able to overcome it through Romey as it was a burden for me before I met her. We think we're the 'cats meow' but we're just ridiculous. It's not because I'm smarter, I'm just more awake. We think we're superior but it's a delusion. One of the biggest tools I use in philosophy is the power to define and undefine. You can take the defining of man as the hero of the story, the hierarchy of all life on this planet, so being able to look into each defining and undefine it, it frees you from the bars of your own defining. We cage ourselves into a defining view of ourselves. We study human nature in captivity rather than human nature in the wild. For me I had to ask ourselves what we are. We are not human, that's what we are in physiological form but anything that comes from our understanding of ourselves is false ideology. Instead we are beings. We are water being, sun being, conditions of the moment being, consciousness being. Being human comes with kinds of definitions. It's the ability of truth and delusion to exist at the same time. It's the paradox of two things being the same thing at the same time. That's why we argue all the time. Our understanding of what we are is extremely limited. When you become aware of synchronicity and coincidence you become aware of who you are. Is it natural to go to war and kill hundreds of thousands of people? We're insane . There's no joy in existence anymore. If we can see the creature that we are beyond our humanity then we wouldn't be as we are now.”


—————————————————————————————————————— WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU? David: "The activities we do are different in each of the seasons but there is a certain pattern to them. It depends on the mood. Surprise dictates our lives, if a black bear just shows up in the yard I have to chase it off. I get up first and usually mediate until Romey comes down and then we have a conversation about life and that dictates how the day goes so there is always something fresh to talk about. Usually it's around 11am. Romey wakes up at noon but doesn't come down until 1am. She likes to listen to the radio, she's 'part cat'. Then we talk anywhere between 2 to 5 hours. Generally Sky wakes up at 3pm or 3.30pm then Romey goes up to be with him. They spend an hour together either laying in bed or talk or reading or he wants to show her something new on his game. I then get the fires going in the house, get wood in and sweep the floor. It works really well as we each have our own time. Most things don't get planned out, they just fall into that. We go to sleep late but still get 8 hours of sleep so who cares what time we go to bed. I think Sky likes to listen to us talk before he gets out of bed, he learns alot in that capacity. Then we all eat, we eat twice a day and also snack instead of a third meal, it gives Romey a break. Romey will make Sky popcorn at night. In fact Roney doesn't usually make breakfast, which is at 4:30pm, and normally only makes an evening meal at 10pm. Because of the small amount of light in winter it's easy to just stay in the house. We aim to do 4 hours of work a day as we're not going go give up our conversations for anything. But during certain times, like we're planting in Spring we let the house get messy, which we tolerate as we know we'll get to it. We like hanging out together and think family time is really important. When Romey is coping or doing the dishes Sky and I hang out, playing video games or playing music. In summer we play catch a lot. Romey tries to eat by 9pm as she doesn't want to do dishes late. But she usually finishes by 10. That gives her an hour before she goes up to spend an hour reading to Sky at 11pm to midnight while I do the generator and 'dump bucket' chores, then I'll mediate or write my journal or write an email. Then Romey comes up at midnight and we spend an hour in our bedroom both writing. Then we come back downstairs and Sky usually gets a sandwich or a bowl of cereal, that's his snack meal and we'll play guitar and then go to bed at 1:45am. Romey and I will stay up taking until usually 3:30am and Sky stays up until until 5am. He watches the '3 Stooges' most of the time. He likes 'Friends' and 'Roseanne', those are the two sitcoms he likes and he watches all The Garfields. The 3 Stooges he'll watch more than anything. Everyday is different - in those 4 hours when we're working, we're either fixing snow machines in the workshop, carpentry, building projects or building a smokehouse for smoking moose meat for making jerky and fish. Mechanizing and carpentry are the main ones and we still tan hides occasionally.” ——————————————————————————————————————

DANGERS OF SNOW MACHINING, WAYS TO GET TO/FROM HERE & CONDITION DESCRIPTIONS


David: "Over 18 years I've flown 3 times to the cabin and once out of it. Those are the only times planes have ever landed here. (and now 2 more times with Ed Gold's visit) All the other times I leave by snow machine in winter or boat in summer. I can say I overtly feel nervous when I leave here by snow machine, it's a long journey by yourself so I have a touch of a nervous stomach. Living here with self reliance is nothing compared to what can happen out there. People die every year. There's a constant reminder that things can go wrong badly and I don't have any communication out there. We have a satellite phone at home but not on the trip. We don't have a second satellite phone because of high cost. We do have email via satellite phone but it's only on when the phone is so we check it every 3 weeks. I only rely on myself because I've got good at dealing with stuff. I can't rely on anyone else. As far as living in the woods goes I've done it all. In 1999, on my first trip out of here, was my scariest trip. There were open holes everywhere on the river, it was a warm year. I could hear the ice cracking under my snow machine as I rode and I was a little heavier then as I'd overpacked. I travel a lot lighter now. I wasn't sure what I'd encounter so I was over prepared.


The true scariest journey was in 2002 when I hit 'overflow'. The whole river was 'overflow'. Usually what happens is the ice plate breaks and drops and the river water comes up over the ice plate. The snow insulates the water so it doesn't freeze and also you can't see it so you just rIde straight into it. That time I rode into two and a half feet of water. Which just buried The snow machine completely. I put my snowshoes on and then got off the machine to push the snow down around the machine to freeze the water to give you a deck, you're building a frozen island, you have to be very patient in order to lift up the snow machine out of the water with a jack. I'd use my snow shoes to pack snow to give me a place to stand. That time I was standing and needed to pack a trail out of there too for the snow machine to ride out on. I broke through the frozen crust I'd just made and didn't know it was so deep. I fell forward and went spread eagle to prevent myself from going through the snow into water. The longer I laid there my imprint filled with water. It was so deep I couldn't put my hands down to push up with as there was nothing underneath, only water and my snowshoe got hooked under the surface crust. Eventually I managed to wriggle free and roll over on my back which slowly filled up with water which got my back all wet but allowed me to get my snowshoes off. I put them next to me and I was able to push my hands down on them to get myself upright. By that point I was very cold and got back onto the snow machine which is now in a big old hole of water. I had to think of myself first rather than the snow machine and warmed my hands up with a fire by using an emergency candle I had made from a used tin of ham with cardboard and candle wax. Then I needed a fire so I got on each snow shoe on my knees and got to the woods to start a fire. I brought my axe with me and a shovel. Collecting firewood got me warm and I shovelled snow down to the ground and made a deck using alder branches and rotten wood to insulate the fire from the ground. I used the same can to start the fire with, piled all the wood I had collected on top. Knowing you have a fire going brings enough comfort to keep you going and I pretty much went back to the machine where I had dry clothes. I changed socks and shirt. Now I knew how deep the overflow was I was better prepared for it. I used the shovel to push down snow into the water to freeze it and it takes a long time. It's a lot of water and there's a touch of a flow to it as it's on the river so it's a slow tedious process. When I got my deck stable enough I used the high lift jack to get the snow machine up and I was at the very maximum height of the jack. You have to be patient in those moments. You mustn't be hurried or worried or scared. You have to stay entrenched in the moment. The whole back track of the machine is full of slush so you have to use your hand to get all of that out of there. If it freezes, which it will do fast, your track will freeze and you won't be going anywhere. You also have to get your jack out as it will freeze in place. Then ride out back to the fire to warm up again by walking around the fire and doing jumping jacks before heading on your way. Standing still isn't enough. If you systematically go through every stage you'll be ok but so many people die because they don't follow the right procedure. If you sit down to rest you might not wake up again. That one trip this happened again 3 times. An air boat would be the best solution to travel with so it wouldn't matter about open water or overflow. With white PTX plastic as your runners so there is less friction.”

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THE WALK BACK COULD KILL YOU & MASS PRODUCED MEDIOCRE PEOPLE

David: "I don't ever say what I'm going to do. Out here if you stick to what you plan to do it will kill you. If I say I'm going to Ruby I usually say I'm just going to check on the river to see if things are OK and if it is I just keep on going. If I said I'm going to Ruby and set out to go and the conditions aren't right and you keep going then you will die. Walking is a very real thing out here. You can't just call a tow truck if you break down, if you break down 30 miles from home the walk back could kill you.

I don't have a mind for humanity only for the wilderness. Humanity has too much crap to worry about. The earth is becoming monogamous so people don't recognize how common and mediocre they are. We're mass producing people. People are like mass produced products which have been made cheaply and have no quality. It's best that my mind focuses on the beauties. We say life's not fair. It's man that isn't fair not life. That's why I have to focus on nature because mankind is a mess, it hurts but because everybody is doing it, it is normal. It's easy to get out of humanity but not get humanity out of you.”

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OVERFLOW (dangerous condition on river) David:

"You've got to remember that you're 'always home' so that your'e never in a hurry. Everything is mental here, you have to stay calm and take your time. So if you run into overflow on your snow machine, which is water that comes up above the ice and which lies beneath the snow which you can't see, you have to accept you're going to be there for a few hours until you can get your snow machine out. Feeling no pressure to get home at a certain time means that you are at home in your environment and there's no need to rush to get back. If you rush to get back then accidents can happen. If you rush you sweat and when you cool down you get cold and can get ill.” ——————————————————————————————————————


PHILOSOPHY 01 David: "Part of my talent lies in making the invisible, visible. It's a weird thing when you meet people who think they know because they just know the words because if they really did know what you're saying they wouldn't be standing there like that. People are so used to just reading the words but don't actually understand what your'e talking about. They're not being 'all one' because if they were they wouldn't be behaving that way. I've backed off on poking people trying to make them wake up, but I've still got the stinker in me (laughs). "C'mon man, come into the cosmic playground. I need someone to play with", but these days it's getting me down, I just have to walk away. Is it the ego? I don't know, or is it a message I have to get across?. I've certainly had more comments on it than negativity from people so it's hard to walk away from so I'm not sure it's just ego. I do have people who are waiting for you as they don't have anyone else to talk to when I come into town and it's hard to tell them to fuck off so it's hard to extricate myself from them, but it's coming.

—————————————————————————————————————— PHILOSOPHY 02

David: "I've got to the point where I can be the universe and a universe inside the entire universe so with that extensive knowledge it's hard to be a part of humanity. I think that you're (Ed) visit is what will finally cut the tether from us to the rest of humanity. You try to think with an infinite mind, it's not easy. It all has this wonderful peaceful calm when I'm in the universe but it all gets messed up when I'm in the mind of man. I'm done trying to articulate my understanding into human terms. There's no way I can continue on and do such. Romey's worried about that a few times, me leaving her behind. But she's definitely recognized her place as a definite intrical part of what goes on out here. It's really important to remember when you're thinking in formless abstractions to bring it to some kind of cohesion so that it can be understood in human terms. The best analogy is to look at my mind as the Hubble telescope which can look at the entire universe of human understanding. It allows you to see things so that you can work with them more. I see the entire universe in a twig - it's outward entirety and inward entirety at the same time. It's like seeing both at once. People always misunderstand me always and I get so tired of having to explain myself to people. It's so tiresome when people don't comprehend where I am. It's a tether. Romey is a really good guiding light for me as she brings me back when I start to get away. If I can't use my thoughts to better our relationship then that's groundless thinking. I can't tell you how often I've thought about leaving everyone and going to live in a cave but I'm not sure that's healthy. It would turn in on itself. The type of expansiveness I work on will fuck you up. You can't bring any dirt into it, you have to be pure. Life wants to be understood, it helps me along. I try to derive the lessons from my understanding to comprehend even more. I spend months reorganizing my brain and reorganizing the lenses I use to see the world with. Romey is actually more radical than I am and smart enough to keep quiet about it. I don't know if there is a wife more appreciative than her. When I was lost in Infinity it was her with me and to come back from that together. If it wasn't for her I don't know if I'd have come back from infinity. Infinity is a


pretty big place. Everything I look at is infinity. It's in everything. Now point me at Trump. This is the tether that has to be cut. Humans just sound like birds squawking in the wind. 'Humans are infinite conditions being'. If I bring in some human level of understanding to explain it on a human level it all falls apart. You cannot explain a 3 dimensional understanding in a 2 dimensional world, that was a friends way of describing the problem I have. He was trying to help me cut the tether. I'm trying to bring in a multi dimensional understanding into a single dimension. That's why it all gets skewed. I'm not actually going through anything yet that I'm going through whilst you're here. All that will come after you leave. And trust me when I'm done with you you won't be Ed the Photographer anymore. You will be something completely different. Not everyone is comfortable with bringing the entire universe into their living room. It's really hard to keep this shape, I've found its been leaking out the last few days. I told you I'm a 'spacial anomaly'. That's why I like to go out into the woods alone too. Visually speaking I remember running into depth for the first time and realizing we live in a two dimensional world. Boy that was long ago, I've run into a lot of dimensions since then, you wouldn't believe the creatures I've met out there. I want to be really clear that I believe in Bhudda not Bhuddism. It brings a sense of realism to it, knowing that others have seen it and encountered it, like Romey. It is weird when you're out there all alone and encounter. Romey was a flower floating past in the void of nothingness. And I remember asking what are you doing here. The only people I encounter anymore are just a few of the Bhuddas, not all of them, just a few. Dropping away the self is no easy self. It takes a life time of deduction. It's not an easy thing to do. Myself now is a thin veneer of old recordings, doesn't mean I can't fall back into it. Gets really uncomfortable to be a self. That's why it's been so difficult to do this project with you. That's who I usually am out here. If we could all see the universe in this way all of our problems would fall away. I see this hair, this particle coming from somewhere going some place, just flailing around in space. There is no up or down.” —————————————————————————————————————— PHILOSOPHY 03 David: "There are people that aren't stuffing their minds with information nowadays but most people are just getting all of their information from their phones or laptops and nobody has epiphanies anymore. We have different thoughts out here that nobody else is having, instead of sucking in information to our minds we're trying to get rid of it, everything we have ever learnt, and instead being one with the universe. We here are one being with everything around. Our understanding of the world is unconditional to understand the conditions of the world. I've been working on this for 32 years and 18 years in isolation. The capitalist system works in perfect opposition of an enlightened system. Because we've left this world behind humanity doesn't care about us at all. Life is doing what it does, if Buddha and Ghandi couldn't get everybody to understand then what is my story going to do?! They did things for individuals but we don't believe in our own abilities to understand our being. We don't think we can know. If everybody's a reflection of the same thing which one am I? We're so far away from what we really are so then we do become what we are it's incomprehensible. If you do realize what you are it is glorious. If you do get to that point you ask yourself what is war, what is death. You just see the Buddha sitting out there in the universe. When we go to Fairbanks last time we took our realizations with us and held it for a whole month. Our friends commentted that we looked like colour in a black and white movie. We were realizing how the self wants and needs. We


weren't seeing people, we were seeing the conditions of everyone on their faces. Friends see our contentment and peace on our faces when we come into town.” —————————————————————————————————————— WHO AM I? THE INFINITE STRUCTURE OF THE MIND David:

"I am a doorway of what I am, a realization of what I have yet to become. I am here because things led me. How do I say that? When you asked me "Who I am" my mind became more interested in the process of thinking who I am, and my mind came up with nothing and now I don't even know if I'm capable. It's recognizing the infinite structure of the mind. When you make the subconscious 'conscious' it's alot to think about. I'm a concept hunter. I'll keep trying to focus in on it. I have to give the catalyst for thoughts to form around. I don't have any understanding of my physical form which is why I think in pictures. I always live at a mechanistic level not in a physical plane.” ——————————————————————————————————————

THE WAY WE LIVE IS THE ANSWER David: "Somehow we illuminate a yearning in everybody by living out here. People recognize there is alot wrong with the world and that the way we live is the answer to mankind's problems. People recognize the freedom of it. We're very nostalgic about being free of the burdens of humanity. People living as they do are excusing themselves from understanding their own being but recognize by being out here they would understand themselves, their sense and feeling of the world even if they're not exactly sure what that is. People recognize our growth and happiness. Strangers recognize it immediately.” —————————————————————————————————————— IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE

David: "It's not possible to live like this anymore in Alaska. There's not the opportunities. The land is owned by the federal, state or native corporations. There is no open land anymore which means all land is owned so you have to buy the land. In this area you can buy allotments of land from the TCC (Tanana Chiefs Conference) - they make sure natives don't get ripped off. The cabins were here before the land became a wildlife refuge which means the Fish and Wildlife service allowed the owners to keep the cabins they had built before 1982. After that date all the lands became the FWS (Fish & Wildlife Service) and they took ownership of any cabins built after 1982. We were given ownership of the cabin, because it was built before 1982, but not ownership of the land so if a hunter walks past my


cabin I can't tell him to leave. Department of the Interior owns the land in trust for the public use. The number one reason to make this a wildlife refuge was preservation of migratory wild fowl. The number two reason is preservation of native subsistence lifestyle but hardly anyone is living this way now apart from us, that's why they like us. Number three is Eco tours. Also there is also a lot of oil and gold which is why the government has an interest in it.”

—————————————————————————————————————— LIVING TOGETHER 24/7

David: "We have to have a specialness to be able to live together in such an intimate manner 24 hours a day for 11 months a year here. If we didn't have to we'd never travel anywhere and we'd never leave here. For all 3 of us to be here all together all of the time the simplistic answer is love. It's recognizing the blessing of life and enjoying living. I appreciate the joy of living in our being and in our home. I don't think many people recognize our joy of living as we do. It's the alignment of our bodies with each other. It's really hard to break us up. I have to tear myself apart from them in order to just go outside everyday. What 13 year old son wouldn't want internet or be with his parents 24 hours a day? That's why we have a very special relationship here.” ——————————————————————————————————————


DAVID TALKING ABOUT SKY USING VIDEO GAMES David: "Allowing Sky to use video games - 'Grand Theft Auto' is a part of homeschooling. It gives him confidence, a light heartedness in play, to not take things seriously, and teaches about drugs (laughs). Why do we have a world we want to hide from our kids? We should have a world we can show to our children. Romey chose to show Sky the world by allowing him to use Grand Theft Auto. It has strippers and drugs but we need to prepare our son for it so he isn't naive when he finally comes into the world. We know that Sky will make the right choice when he's older. It's new to us and definitely changed some things. It was a winter solstice gift to Sky. It's affected Sky's relationship with Charley his dog as when he's babbling away, swearing and shouting while playing it, Charley thinks he's shouting at her so she doesn't want to be in his room any longer. Sky thinks she doesn't like him any longer and can't understand that she thinks he's getting angry with her. Sky has a pretty silly humour when he kills people in Grand Theft Auto, you have to recognize that. Also Alaska is a bad language state so the swearing is preparing him for that. Life is just fun so we're teaching our child not to get uptight about things. It bothers people that we take these things in such stride. We don't do the 'punish thing' with Sky. We explain. Because we don't punish him he always tells us the truth because his own curiosity wants to know. So far Sky is just a fabulous person. We'll see where these zombie killing games goes. It hard for a parent and we also recognize the planet is different than the ones we


grew up on, it's a world we don't even know. In our day we grew up the same as our grandparents but now it's totally different, we don't recognize it and our education became completely different so we chose to utilize everything with his growing up. He does choose to play music more than his PlayStation.”

—————————————————————————————————————— ON ISOLATION & SELF RELIANCE David:

"I'm going to cut my tether to humanity itself. I've gone as far as I can with relations to humanity. My and Romey's understanding of people goes much farther than most people. Last year I got rid of alot of my friends, 10 of them so far. It wasn't in a negative way, we met face to face with it. It was in recognition we had grown apart. Our understanding 'of being' had become different to the point that we can't communicate anymore. Small talk isn't a problem but I don't have any small talk. The reality we're experiencing here they don't know about, think about or care about. There's no longer a common thread in which to relate. For me to put my understanding of the world in human terms continually drags me back down. They don't understand what I'm seeing. I just can't do that anymore. I mean, I can, but it means I can't go any farther so it needs to be let go off. Your visit (Ed Gold's visit) has made me see that I have to break all tethers. It's torturous to explain about humanity and not be understood. We agreed to show you our life and it's been a great experience. It's not explaining about humanity but humans have a completely different understanding of life than we do. Our dedicated work in an isolated situation has allowed us to explore to a more greater depth so that most people don't understand. And me needing to share is dragging me down and I just can't do it anymore. Why do I need to share my understanding? Compassion. My friends struggle and I wish to help but I can't. It's hard to see your friends sadness. But maybe that's my ego and I should accept that everything is as it is supposed to be. Maybe I'm not fully engaged in my understanding of life so maybe I shouldn't put it onto others. I do end up apologizing for forcing my view onto others, it's rude of me. I do fall back into character and habit, it's very hard after 52 years. It's like gravity. It's important for me for people to understand what I have learnt. Is it delusion? Am I an egotistical asshole or do I have something important to share? Right now you've caught me at a crossroads of deciding whether to keep on trying to share with others or not. I know we've touched people's lives deeply. Maybe I just don't handle the drain well. You haven't seen what it is like when 20 people contact me as soon as I get to town. It's really quite something. It's like trying to save the drowning man, there's a desperate need that people have to get a glimpse of (my) understanding. It just shows the desperation to get a glimpse outside the hell we are living in. Our culture and society is destroying the human spirit. That's why people are gunning each other down in the road. I don't have all the answers but I have some pretty profound starting points. People must accept personal responsibility within themselves. They don't like the answers, people aren't ready to give up 'want' and 'the self'. People don't understand giving up the concept of control. Everyone understands the fucking truth but they just don't like it. Romey and I have dedicated our lives to understanding this and want to


share it but people don't understand it. Everyone could love and the world could be a better place but you've caught me at a hard place in my life right now where I'm struggling with it. "Sometimes I get shown the light and other times I can barely see" - Grateful Dead (laughs). It's amazing how pertinent their lyrics are. I haven't let go of my friends because I don't love them, I really do. We try to lead by example not by word. Romey says words are black magic, they can be manipulated. But I do come from a long line of talkers (laughs). You wouldn't believe how formless I was when I first got your email (Ed Gold's email). That's why I wrote so much to you, I was writing myself back into form. But I'm an 'unfinished work', normally in this house this is all accepted word without being discussed. The thoughts of mine are within and without at the same time, there's no separation. We pounce on every thought so that we look at every line of thought in our pool. You (Ed Gold) visiting us has forced us to look at ourselves and consider all that we do. You visiting us was proper timing so that after you have left we will continue to enjoy the fruits of your visit which we have enjoyed. That's why I want to cut ties, whether that is negative or positive I am not sure. I believe this trip for you is more important for you than just some article. If anything it has to reach you personally so that you are able to choose the photos and words you do for the story. Your personal experience will affect other people when they read the article. I mean I must be doing something right when I still have a woman who is all googly for me after 23 years. We will leave our understanding of the 'ideas need' to share in writing for others. This is all going to click for you one day which is why it is so important."

"People want to know what 18 years of isolation does to you. It changes you. You have time to have more than two thoughts on any one subject. We spend months talking about just one subject because we have time to. The real delight of it is working on yourself, you have that time to see how you function. It's the growth of being. You learn where your motivations come from and your desires come from. You can learn about 'cause and effect. We work on the cause instead of chasing the symptoms. Living out here allows us to dive into the symptoms so we can allow the cause to fall away. You wonder what the problems are when you send your kids off to day care at one and a half years old. We deal with the source and it allows us to direct things much better. People don't want to deal with the cause because they know they are the cause which means they'd lose power. I'm not going to give my mind to the culture of the times."

"Self reliance and efficiency and learning to get along is the practical side to isolation. There's depth in everything, if you're in a city and you don't get along with someone you don't have to speak to them ever again but here you can't do that. This is very basic understanding. We don't read books or watch TV as there's too much life out here in the sense that there's so much else to explore - like infinity."

"My work is much more advanced than all of other philosophers apart from Descartes who established 'the unknowing mind'. He did it for real. Buddha directly, not Buddhism. Schopenhauer put a good shot out there but he just studied Zen. Socrates. Also Dogen says that very few people get this. If I was on a desert island his book 'Moon in a dewdrop' is the only book I'd take with me. It is the greatest thing that mankind has ever produced. It is so impressive and is still way beyond me. You have to get the understanding first before you realize what the words mean."


"Another thing about isolation is that change is good. We try to do one more thing to the house every year.” ——————————————————————————————————————

WORM FARM, COMPOSTING & MAKING DIRT

David:

"I love making dirt. We didn't realize how necessary it is if you need to feed your garden. Composting is a big part of our life out here. The plant comes to form and then we put it back in again. Romey collects moose poop which helps enrich the soil and fish guts too. We compost all the packaging that we bring out here. I have a worm farm in the house that breaks down all our domestic waste. We buy peat moss for our greenhouse and last years moss goes into our garden. Everything gets used out here. It's a neat thing being part of everything. We're giving back, being part of that process giving as


well as taking. The understanding of the process of what making dirt means is what I like. Making dirt - you're right there making your own food for next year. Making dirt is great. It takes me two years to make dirt.

Composting is where it starts. It's basic recycling. Chicken eggs made my dirt, coffee beans and apples. Bugs and worms are my workforce. Now I feel like I'm giving back to the planet as I'm putting back into it. One thing I've learnt out here is that nothing is wasted. I could lay a dead animal out there and nothing would go to waste. You should see how excited surrounding animals get when we kill a moose and put it outside after we've used what we need. Everything gets used. We use the meat and the brains to tan hides, sinew for sewing, fat for making candles, the tallow, organ meat, liver, kidney, heart but we're not keen on tongue, Charley gets that. The hide and then after that we feed the animals. We crush the bones and the phosphorous feeds the garden. It's having a complete life, that's one of the things I really enjoy. Keeping things simple.” ——————————————————————————————————————


GREENHOUSE, SEEDS & COMPOST David: "It all starts from seed. We've actually got into making our own seeds. When the lettuce goes to flower out there we let it. The broccoli, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, peas we make our own seeds from. We plant by 24 March and like to have them sprouting by the 01 April. Sometimes we time it by the moon. Bell peppers and celery take a long time so we start with those. We try to be able to have vegetables ready by 01 June so we're not waiting all summer to start eating. The greenhouse dominates our lives. We have to stagger our planning because we only going shopping once in the fall. I keep it heated. It's got an insulated floor and it's double walled. We have a 12v ceiling fan and a barrel wood stove. I have to feed it every 3 hours, 24 hours a day for a month and a half to keep the plants warm enough since we start planting when there is still snow on the ground on the 24 March. We thaw out a bale of compost next to the stove in our cabin and then start potting. We have 6 pack tests and big trays and we utilize a fluorescent light as there isn't enough natural light which makes the plants all stringy. We have to continually move plants around the house from window to window as the sun revolves. Late March is still not enough light to grow plants very well. So we start the

plants in the house and get the greenhouse going at the beginning of April. We get about 350 plants growing. The snow goes middle of May. The earliest I've ever been able to boat out of here was 22 May and the latest was 07 June. Lettuce and cucumbers are started early for an early harvest. We plant every two weeks, for 6 weeks - staggering the harvest. That greenhouse dominates our lives. We


call ourselves 'plant slaves'. The garden is a big factor, it's like a full-time hobby. We're not just growing plants but also making dirt. Primarily compost, we break down the household compost and garden compost, leaves and grass clippings and I also break down cardboard packaging and paper flour sacks. We utilize micro organisms and worms. I have worked with flies and maggots too - that's kind of weird but they do a really good job. I used to use fish guts but it attracted bears. Compost smells, it's a sweet smell so quite often I'll find a bears dug in my compost pile.” ——————————————————————————————————————

SUBSISTENCE, SELF RELIANCE David:

"We're very big on not celebrating holidays or days because it has a connection to being on the 'hamster wheel' and not liking Sundays because Monday you have to go to work and liking Friday because you have the weekend off, jumping from holiday to holiday. We're here just a moment in time, things come into and go out of it. Conditions happen within stillness. We do a lot of changing our perception of things here. It's not just arbitrary because we derive it from isolation. We had to figure out another way to understand the world outside of knowledge. You're looking at paintings on the cave wall thinking that represents the world. You can't conceive the world through knowledge.

Self reliance has always been important to us. People need to eat so it makes sense go grow your own food so you can eat. The less we had to work to earn money meant we had more time go grow food for ourselves.

I think as far as it goes the most important thing going on here is subsistence. We knowt that knowledge is going to be important in the future. The mathematics of it all, I cannot see how this planet will survive in the future. We need to live off this planet when the oil runs out. You're sure going to need to know how to preserve meat. That guy that died on the bus in Alaska that they made that film about. He died because he didn't know about preserving meat, he starved to death. Subsistence Is a two fold thing, it's about if society crashes and also a connection with the earth. The thing is with subsistence is that it isn't only taking but it's giving too. It offers the chance to give


something back. I'm very afraid that I'm going to witness the collapse of our society while I'm still alive. But I'll probably be 80 when I'm in a wheel chair and can't do anything about it.

We stayed off snaring rabbits to start off with for food. Practicing before we came out here so when we first came here we knew what we were doing. In order to trap the animals you had to learn the animals. It was part of the preservation of subsistence lifestyle but it's wrong when you get look at it as you can wipe them out. We were trying to cover every aspect of our lives and use every little thing. I read old books and collected every little bit of information to learn how to do it. There's a certain type of freedom when you know you can go out there and fend for yourself. We'd catch martins, tan them, stuff them and sew them up and give them as toys to Sky. Stuffed animal toys. We've tasted all the animals, black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, squirrel, rabbit, swan, duck, ptarmigan, porcupine, goose, moose, caribou, owl, beaver, of course all the different fish. I like goose but we don't get much chance to shoot them as they're always coupled up having babies so we don't as Romey likes moose and beaver.

Black Bear fat makes for really good cookies and flaky pie crust, as long as they're not eating out of a dump, although there's no dumps here. Moose is right off the land, there is nothing artificial in it. We always make sure that we get one moose a year, that's plenty for a family of three. We used to get a bear every year because they usually came into the yard. A smoked bear hindquarter is delicious and you can use the hide as well. We've tried it all. Every single plant we've learnt about and use. Rose hip wine, lingon berry jam, medicinal tinctures, making teas out of the different plants. Eat nettles and they enrich the soil.” —————————————————————————————————————— WHY DO WE LIKE IT HERE? David:

"White man has only been here in this area for 120 years so there's still a feeling of ancientness. I like it here for the remoteness, for sitting at the top of the planet and the feeling of new and old at the same time. Here it is a young forest but old history, like Jack Londons time. It's an area where different times meet. We see a dualistic aspect here a lot, when we live off the land we think of the past, preservation of the knowledge of living off the land. Now we're trying to keep the knowledge going forward over the gap of modern humanity and into the future.”

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POWER David: "I have a 4 x 6 volt Trojan Golf Cart battery bank which are charged by a 45 amp charger from the generator. We run the generator at night when we are using light. I run a 1000W inverter. I also run a charge controller which controls the solar panels and the charger off the generator. It controls the input of the charge so you don't overcharge your batteries. We used 13W LED lights which put out 100W which are too bright so I will go to 8W bulbs in future.”

—————————————————————————————————————— CLEANING STOVE CHIMNEY & SOLAR PANEL & GENERATOR David:

"Generally in the summer the solar panels cover everything. The generator runs for six months over the winter as there isn't enough light. We burn about a quart (a litre) of gas a day for 24 hours of electricity. The generator runs for 4 hours a day. In the summer I run it every third day.”


—————————————————————————————————————— GENERATOR POWER & FINITE RESOURCES

David: "I'm very proud that I can bring up my family on 400 gallons of fuel a year. My friend in Fairbanks burns that a month. I think this type of efficiency will be very important in the future. I'm teaching Sky about this right now as it will effect him more than us now. The fuel runs the boat, the chainsaws, the snow machines and the generator. The chainsaws and snow machines provide the heat for the house i.e. Firewood. Our fuel efficiency makes this life possible. If I had $5000 I'd put up a tower for wind power, it would be a minimum of 100 get high. You have to get 25 feet above the trees for consistent power. I need to do this as I believe society will collapse so sustainable power is the only way forward. The funny thing is that by the time the solar panels are working because the sun is out we don't need the power for lighting because in the summer we have 24 hour natural light."

"There's the two fold design here. The philosophical efficiency of using less energy and also the survival aspect of society going down in the future. Everybody knows we can't keep consuming as we do. It's basic math. Finite resources will run out.”


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SELF SUFFICIENCY & MECHANICING David:

"We are our own doctors and our own dieticians. That's the most important thing about being out here. We are a direct reflection of ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves as there's nobody out here to help us. Without your body you're not doing anything. We've had times when one of us has been hurt and it really puts a strain on us because it means one of us has to do everything. Life itself dictates these things that you learn. There's no separation between life and lessons. Living life dictates the lessons. Living a life that offers lessons. What led us here was becoming a certain type of person we would become by living it. I had no idea how much of a mechanic I would become, boy I've turned some wrenches.”

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THE WAY WE LIVE IS THE FUTURE David: "I'm amazed that everyone is in such a hurry. Don't they realize that death is at the end of it? Hurrying towards death. That's why I like weeding, it's a slow meticulous thing you get to see each form. Suddenly every blade of grass deserves your attention. To slow time down. That's why I like to sit under a tree, to take time to see the world. To slow time down. It's a paradox because life is going so fast you have to slow down to catch it. It means alot to people that this way of life is kept alive. Whether it's to do with Native American Indians and how they lived and that nostalgia or that it's in everybody's heart. It's not really about us but about what the wilderness says to humanity. I feel and hear the Earth crying out to us as she knows we've gone astray and she's calling us back. There's no more building blocks that we can go out to rebuild this planet. We've gone too far, we have to repair it. The warning has happened and I think she gonna take us out. The earth is trying to warn us and call us back, you think she doesn't have an immune system?! I'm seeing the temperature rise. Anything that doesn't live in harmony with the body attacks the body, that’s why you're seeing an increase in cancer. She's wiping us out as we're the cancer to the earth but for some reason we don't heed those thoughts. I feel as though the way we live is the future not the past. Living in harmony, think of the truth as a light that pierces the darkness. It all stems from the realization that 'I am'. The line of truth. If you step from that line you'll meet resistance. Resistance creates form and it dies. The line of truth is a single line. As soon as you deviate from the truth you meet resistance. I cannot say if we kill the earth but mankind will die. We have nowhere else to go. There's no progression at all. The people are never going to do it but they need to do it. I'd love to see America not vote. They think that


the politicians are supposed to solve our problems but they're the ones milking us. If we keep on asking them to fix it, it's never going anywhere. We plant what we know and we get to watch it grow.” —————————————————————————————————————— WHY THERE IS NO INTERNET IN OUR HOME

David: "We don't have Internet as we don't want the world in our home. Humanities thoughts are ugly. It also has no purpose. Oh God, the idea of all those people's thoughts in our home, bloarrrrrrrr! We have no use for it so no interest in it. To allow the common mentality in our home is like allowing a disease into our home. We're quarantining ourselves from the mentality of mankind. The answer we're seeking is not on the internet. People want instant gratification. Now it's information 24/7 with people all running around reacting to stuff that doesn't affect them. People don't know what to do with the information. Our country is a goalless nation, everybody just runs around in circles lost in information. It's hard to find the person inside now, where is the person in the midst of all this information. It took us two years to figure out what an iPod is. We'd hear a reference to it on the radio. Radio always tell you what happened but not why it happened. The news is like that a lot they're always telling it to you but not about why it happened. We've got very separated from everyone else in the technological world as we're in the wilderness world. Do we think we're isolated? Or is it people out there in the western world that are isolating themselves from what is real? I think it's a valid point. Look at how lonely people are in towns. I have a tendency to point this out to people when I go into town. We don't want the negativity in our home, it's like a festering wound. I see people drowning in it. The knowledge and information has no meaning to it all people can see is the world coming to an end. Why does society want to burden their children with this? It's not as though aliens are doing this to us. Rather than the world manifesting war and domination they should just be happy. We think of our home as a monastery and we are on top of the mountain and there's a reason why monasteries are on mountains, to be away from humanity and the common mentality.” —————————————————————————————————————— RODE INTO A TREE IN DEEP SNOW AND BENT HIS SNOW MACHINE STEERING - thoughts on keeping a clear perspective

David: "Out here things break and people do the wrong stuff so you have to learn to keep things in your stride. Once again it goes back to the joy of living. You have to appreciate the hell of the situation. You have to remind yourself that you chose this life for the adventure. A bear in your yard, whiteout conditions, overflow. If you lose sight of that it can get to you. Day to day living we work everything out together. There's nothing that the other doesn't know. If you keep part of yourself back from the other person it's mentally unhealthy, you can't have that in isolation. The beauty of being out here is working on ourselves and our relationship. You get to enjoy the fruits of that. We all get married but most of us don't get to benefit from working directly on this. It's an everyday activity. It's how you


handle the situation. What's better than sitting back and seeing your wife happy. People recognize that and want it. Those are the true rewards of living out here. Those are the ways that you live in this little submarine at the bottom of the ocean. You get into the art of creating your own reality, when you are submerged in humanity so many people can disrupt your lives but out here you can create your own reality.” —————————————————————————————————————— TRASH

David:

"That is a big part. You think about all the supplies we bring out here what are you going to do with the trash? It is a refuge so there are requirements and we can't bury our trash which was the way before the refuge. It's another one of those personal responsibility things rather than rely on a recycling centre. I still haven't worked out how to dispose of plastics. I've heard you can convert it back into oil. We do different stuff with our trash - any cardboard and paper packaging we're turning back into dirt through composting with worms and microorganisms and grass and leaves. You've got to put some nutritional value into the cardboard. I'm into dirt man, the philosophy of dirt. Unfortunately we have to burn our garbage. We burn it predominately so bears don't spread it around the woods. It also condenses our rubbishy quite a bit. But most of our rubbish is cans so we're really just cleaning the cans with fire by burning the paper on the outside, which I should compost,


and the food inside so there is no smell that attracts bears. We also burn plastic. We burn the garbage in the burn barrel, anything that smells like food. We burn oil jugs because anything with oil bears will tear it up and eat it. If you spill oil on the ground they dig the ground up and eat the oil. A friend had a case of oil that a bear drank. I feel a lot of guilt in burning those oil jugs, it really bothers me. The larger plastic items like plastic tarpaulins we take to the landfill in Ruby. But I'd really like to convert plastic to fuel. I've got to something as the guilts killing me.”

—————————————————————————————————————— BOOKS IN OUTHOUSE

1. "The Pre History of The Far Side" by Gary Larson. 2. "It's a Magical World" A Calvin and Hobbes collection by Bill Watterson 3. "Tundra out on a limb" by Chad Carpenter 4. "CANDIDE" by Voltaire David's rock collection began at high school and he has been carrying the same rocks with him his entire life, and adding to them, since then.


—————————————————————————————————————— LIVING AT DIFFERENT TIMES TO EACH OTHER AND 'WE'

David: "We all have our own time out here. We're (Romey, Sky and I) are all about 3 hours from each other. When you have these types of freedom it's important to exercise them. When you've got the freedom to do it, do it. Instead of sleeping 8 hours a day you can sleep 4 hours two times during the day so you can actually double your day. You're more productive, rather than work 8 hours and then sit around tired you can rest and then start work again if you like. We live by our own time for sure, we don't have a perception of mankind's time out here. We don't put our understanding to the clock but of the clock to our own time."

"We've had to escape language to escape the understanding of everything. Language is what programs us to think what we think. We always identify ourselves as 'we', as though us as individuals are responsible for other people's actions. Like look what we did to the Native American Indians. Instead we say 'those' people that did it instead.” ——————————————————————————————————————


SNOW SHOES (up Bucket Hill)

David: "Snow shoes are a lost art. If it snows and its deeper than the knee you need to use them, otherwise you can't get around anywhere. You also need to cut a trail through the forest to walk anywhere as it's hard walking. There are trees and bushes everywhere. You can't go straight through the woods, either cut a trail or find an animal trail to follow but it's not what a human would call a trail. Take the path of least resistance out here. You can get into wild rose bushes that stand 7 feet tall. We use the traditional Athabascan style birch snow shoes. They are 5 or 6 feet long, very light and for dry snow without a crust. This far north the snow is so dry. Hardly anybody makes them anymore. Store bought snowshoes will not work out here. We need to learn how to make them as hardly anybody is making them anymore. You can die without snowshoes out here as you can't walk anywhere without them so you will freeze to death. Most 'accidents happen in the home' is kind of an analogy for us here. Most accidents happen 'near' the home because if you're going far you're always fully prepared but if you're only a mile or two away you might not have as much equipment with you. That's when things can go wrong. Getting wet at forty below will kill you. Whether it's sweat, overflow or falling through the ice. It gives a better sense of importance out here.” ——————————————————————————————————————

COST OF LIVING David: "With subsistence all our sustainability is all our own. We try not to support society as best we can but you can't fully escape it. We certainly don't vote, who would want to empower these people more than they already are? We try not to visit the large stores. We call them 'communist distribution centres', because it's all the same products, cheap goods. It's all the same just a different store front. You've got every choice in shampoo but not in canned fruit.

The only way to stop this self destructive society is to stop supporting society. Crime is rising, cancer is rising, education is dropping, killing animals is rising and pollution.

We can only grow so much here so we have to go to Fred Meyer once a year. We'd rather not go shopping there but where else can we go? We try to keep it simple and only shop once a year. We


can't exactly grow a barley field here as we're on a refuge avd we're limited to what we can grow. We're not near the ocean so we can't fish. It's a tough way of life here, that's why 200 years ago the Athabascans in this area had no art because they were too busy surviving.

It's probably about $2500 just to go out and get our yearly supplies and bring them back. That's excluding buying our supplies, that's just our cost of freight. Our grocery bill runs to $5000 a year and that's living comfortably but we could do it on $3500. It's roughly $100 a week for a family of 3 and that's living comfortably. The cost of cheese and butter is really spendy but we don't have to buy meat so that saves us a lot. I did try to grow wild rice on the edge of the lake but the wild ducks ate it all. I might try that again.” —————————————————————————————————————— FIRE BREAK ON BUCKET HILL

David:

"Fire break trail put in by the Federal Forest Service in June 2015. (I'm) Standing on 'Bucket Hill', the old Athabascans named it in their language. The lake below is what we call 'Novi Crossing' and our cabin is on the right of the lake, in the east. The far mountains in the north are called the Kokrine


Hills which are just north of the Yukon River which runs east to west at its base. Ruby is 35 miles away to the left of the photo as the crow flies which makes you think you're kinda close but I don't think you'd make it walking because of then animals, all the lakes you'd have to walk around and the muskeg would wear you out. You're going to encounter too many obstacles like thickets and alder to walk in a direct line. Walking the river where there are no obstacles and cutting corners are the way I'd do it in the winter. Or in the summer I'd build a raft if I didn't have a boat.

The fire was burning down the hill which is why they put that fire break in as they didn't want the fire to reach us. The fire started by 50 lightning streaks that day and 57 fires started from it in 2015. The original message was that nobody was coming out to help us as there wasn't enough manpower or equipment to dedicate to a single family dwelling. But it's written into our permit that allows us to live here that we have to maintain a certain fire protection of the property because they claim ownership of the properties which were built after 1982 and also because the Federal government owns the land. The open land on the left side of the photo, at middle ground, is a burn zone just half a mile from our cabin. 100,000 acres (200 square miles) burned in one day. It was the second largest fire ever in Alaska. We had 30 firefighters and 2 helicopters based here for two weeks.” —————————————————————————————————————— JOBS DAVID DOES TO MAKE INCOME David:

"Tanning hides, making fur products and from animal parts which is conducive to using all of the animal, craft products, working at the gold mine which is 30 miles south of Ruby. Mostly back hoe and washing dirt and running heavy machinery and mechaniching. Build log cabins, I've built two of them at Two Rivers outside of Fairbanks. I've built several houses at Talkeetna too. Log work. Fire wooding. I did the Salmon thing for a while. We make money anyway we can, I'm a jack of all trades in making money. A moose hunting guide but I didn't like getting paid to help people kill animals. Assisted guiding. Romey's books, we started a little publishing company.”

—————————————————————————————————————— WRITING IN BEDROOM FROM MIDNIGHT TO 1AM EVERY MORNING

David: "Modern appliances gave us so much free time that everything is entertainment based nowadays. And so many people don't know what to do with their free time. Instead we write as a form of entertainment and which is biographical too.”


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THE BEAUTY OF BEING ALIVE David: "Most people say that it must be so great being out here without people. It's like the dream of a desert island. It's being snowbound with a gorgeous wife. The world has become so overpopulated that many people don't want to talk to other people. Generally I find people extremely overrated. People spend most of their time complaining about each other. It's the majority of their conversation. We don't miss having to have a view or an opinion about stuff. The freedom of that is wonderful. People's serious opinions we find everything is fodder for comedy. It's really weird listening in a coffee shop to people's one lines, the 'nasty tone' we call it, so that when you come out here you realize how wore out you were when it's gone. When you get back you just want to sit, it's like a jet lag...a lag. Conversations echo in our heads for three weeks after we get back from town until we settle back into our way of life out here. In town everything is moving too fast and you never get a chance to process


what you're seeing and what you're hearing so out here we have the time to understand things. A lot of stuff ends up not mattering. You learn over time out here to live without friends and other people but we're here because we don't need friends all of the time near us. When I first came out here I really just wanted to know my own mind, I was tired of always reacting to my thoughts without understanding what they meant. Everybody has reactionary thoughts and were trying to interfere with what I was doing. I needed the time away from people. In our dreams we hope we can continue to live out here. If Sky wants to stay out here we hope he can look after us. He does want to stay out here but we're very nervous about this as we don't think there's anywhere we can spend our last years together. We think that a monastery somewhere will be the right place where we sit in meditation. We don't think we can live near people ever again. We'd want to move somewhere where we could sit in our house for a month at a time and only go out to buy food. We're able to create a peaceful atmosphere in our own home. Some days we're busy more days than others. There's stuff that needs to be done everyday, which is water, heat and food. There's day to day survival and yearly survival. We need to kill a moose once a year to feed us over the winter and need to get the firewood in for the winter and making birch syrup. We have to decide what is most important. Big projects means that the day to day stuff gets in the way. In the slower times we have hobbies like Dungeons and Dragons or making tie dye T shirts. We have a problem with the mediocrity of man, we find mankind very unstimulating. We need to find the beauty of being alive.” ——————————————————————————————————————


MARIO KART Wii VIDEO GAME David: "The Wii game I guess is keeping some kind of bridge to the world of humanity - we do understand that there is some aclimatization to go from our world to the world of humanity. So we try to create a technological link to what mankind is experiencing right now. It means that it satisfies Sky's curiosity about the world and what is out there. One of the big things that people have encountered living this way is that people have a hard time acclimatizing from 'woods living' to city life which is a lot harder than the other way around. But you can never go back once you've been out here, once you get out of the delusion of humanity how do you go back. We play Mario Kart which we call 'Cars', it's also a chance for Sky to play sports he wouldn't otherwise be able to do. There's tennis, golf and bowling. Sky got pretty good at playing tennis. I'm sure I was getting hit by something playing cars, I like playing with my kid and I love the banter so I let myself go a bit more than I usually would. It's not something I'd do if Sky wasn't here, I didn't even play video games when I was a kid. It illuminates why we have certain values, we don't impose them on Sky. If I did so I wouldn't allow video games in this house. But we allow Sky to have his own values in this house so while I don't agree with video games I won't impose my personal views on him, even to the extent that I will actually play it with him. It's important we be Sky's friends too, it's a big part of it so we have to learn how to play sword fight and be kids. If we played the traditional parent role out here he would get lonely for sure. We hear the most about Sky when people go for the kid - what about socialization?! They don't say it so much now as they see how his relationship is with us, they sense the completeness and contentment that he exudes so it's hard to question a thing about his upbringing because of his obvious happiness, he's not a moody teenager. That catches people off guard. I don't hear anything so much about people's concerns about socialization now. People are very quiet about it now as they don't want the focus go come back on them because most people have unhappy teenagers. Sky is quite remarkable, I'll be curious to watch him, he's definitely a social experiment.” —————————————————————————————————————— EXPENDITURE

David: "When we go into town we make a list for a month beforehand. We normally go by 10 printed pages for what we need for a years supply. We have various suppliers we have to visit for different items which either get flown out or barged out. We buy all the fresh produce a day before we come back out to the bush. It isn't just food we buy but boat and snow machine parts, satellite phone minutes,


insurance, hiring a safety deposit box, ammunition, prescriptions, checkups at the doctor, clothing, games, movies, dog and human toys, hardware, house, oven, stove and vegetable garden supplies, rubber hose, books, music, fabric, Internet orders as nothing can be delivered to us. And stuff for our worm farm. It amounts to roughly 5000 pounds in weight. The minimum we can do a years supply on is $12,000 but to be comfortable, living like kings, is $16,000. 18 years ago when we first came out here we could do it on $6000. It's $1000 a month to live out here, that's pretty much as efficient as we can get it. We're listed as poverty, we don't even make enough money to pay taxes. Not having monthly bills makes it possible. We're uninsured, if it goes down we pretty much just have to deal with it. Insurance is a racket, they pray on our fears to make money which gives security when none is needed. Something bad happening is not a game we play."

"The number one way we make money is not spending it. That makes it all possible. Each thing we do can accumulate. If your money isn't going to insurance payments, or car payments, or a mortgage, or credit cards we have no monthly debt. Everything we pay is for the future not for the past. People enslave themselves with their debt which means they have to work non-stop to pay for it. The state dividends used to pay for all our food but the governor has cut back that money. The state divided is known as the PFD Permanent Fund Dividend. All the earnings from the States natural resources go into the fund. The public in Alaska cannot receive earnings from sub surface rights on their own land so everyone gets a communal share of earnings. We have subsidized fuel from the native corporation, we're included as native even though we are white as they can't discriminate against us. We also have some inheritance and book sales. We've traded craft products in the past and hide tanning. Occasionally summer employment and once worked at a friends gold mine. When things get tight we go that route and we also utilize firewood sales. On the way to town we might pull driftwood into our boat, saw it and buck it up on the shore so we can sell that. We're looking into snow shoe making


next. We got back home with just $3 once. We try to have a little left over for emergencies. Outside of family help we're broke. The support of Romey's family is invaluable. We had a little bit of support while my step-dad was still alive.” ——————————————————————————————————————

A BROAD VIEW OF OUR LIVES WHICH SHOWS THE ISOLATION AND TOGETHERNESS

David: "As far as our isolation from humanity goes I revel in it. It's a freeing aspect because I dont have humanity in my mind. You have to have a confidence in your own abilities otherwise you wouldn't go anywhere. If you can't spend a night outside at forty below then you can't venture outside. You never look for more than what's in front of you. You can get swamped with fear and it's a very real situation for bush living. There's no help coming. If you're soaking wet standing in overflow when you're 25 miles from home and it's forty below the buck stops with you. Medical is the biggest one. We do have some serious medical supplies like staples to staple someone up in a traumatic situation. Basically you have to understand that if you have a heart attack you're going to die and that also means watching your loved ones die too. Wild animals too, I have to be aware that it's up to me to jump in front of my family to defend them from a charging animal. You have to be true to yourself and realize you have to face yourself and know how to handle dangerous situations. Will you turn and run and leave your family to a bear or step in front of them to protect them? There's nobody else to blame so you have to keep friends all of the time. Getting to grips wit the expanse is hard also, you have to open yourself up to the remoteness and make friends with it. You open yourself up to its miraculous ways, it's beauty, you have to become comfortable with that. Quit being scared of the monster and treat it as a soft pillow on which to rest. It is strange when you're out here because everything is trying to eat you and that your body is just food. And also your own mentality - that is trying to eat you, your own weakness, not just the animals. This is no place to be mentality or physically weak.

As far as ourselves, we cope with the isolation, we really love each other. We each try to become better people for the other so we can cohabitate with each other. If I care for my wife and son more than myself where is the problem of argument? If we all give where is the conflict?

People are too hard, the issues, the drama, the self involvement. People are more work than they're worth, they're more trouble than they're worth. When I say people I mean the mass of humanity.

We're enough people for each other. In an over populated world it's really nice, we don't have to listen to noisy cars, it's wonderful to be apart from swimming in people. I don't have a need for people, they don't offer much, apart from going to a store to buy stuff once a year. Most people need to socialize to be distracted from their own minds but I love the peace and tranquility out here. I have


no external needs, I am complete with my own being. I don't miss my friends at all, all 3 of us dread going into town, our minds aren't used to processing so much information in town. Also time is annoying to me because I have to meet people at certain times and do things on time but out here we don't live by clock time, we live at our own pace as things need doing. We do things out here when they have to be done, not when somebody else dictates that or getting through everybody to get your stuff done. Also what is hard when we go to town is meeting people who aren't very happy. We have to meet people's problems head on. Problems are an open wound in town, people generally aren't happy, there's a lot of negativity so why would I want to live in that? For us it's are own ability to create our own reality out here. It never occurs to me that I am lonely. Why don't I have a need for other people? My own mind provides so much entertainment. I recognize everything as alive, I have a relationship with everything around me, the plants and the animals. Being isolated and being apart from humanity are two separate things.

Because we are complete we are whole people here and are enough for each other. We don't feel the need for anyone else. This is not a simple question and which I cannot give a spontaneous answer to. I've been comfortable by myself my whole life. I have no desire to be around people, I enjoy being around people but I can do without them. I don't need any distraction because I'm happy here. People are more work than they're worth. 3 people in our family is enough. We're a complete molecule. We grow out here, we - the people that came out here originally are not the same people as now. There's a lot of growth out here. We do gardening, play music and philosophize. We have all the different jobs we need to do to make up our lives. We have so many different things to do here in our lives that there is always a feeling of newness. To answer your question simply how we cope with isolation here is that we're complete. We don't seek distraction from ourselves like most people because of incompleteness. In the beginning the isolation illuminated things that I had to work on. In the beginning I was still stuck in the mindset of fault and blame. I was mentally weak and had to face that and not dump my burdens on the ones I loved. The isolation illuminates your weaknesses so you can fix them. It’s made us better people so we can work on ourselves for one another. You'd be surprised at how many people move out to the bush and watch 8 hours of television everyday. Its projected onto us that we're isolated so others don't have to face their own isolations. Most people in cities don't even know their neighbours but I know everyone in a 100 mile radius. How many people can say that?!

We work on everything as one mind out here, it really bonds a great marriage.”

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DAY TO DAY & MOTIVATION David:


"Some days are harder than others. One day there might be the surprise "Oh my God there is a grizzly bear in my yard!" and the wall tent has been ripped up by a bear. There is always the aspect that nobody is there to do the job for you. That's what motivates you, that you have to get your stuff done. When you see it, you do it. Your life is your job, survival is your job out here. Firewood has to be done everyday. All food has to be made from scratch apart from noodles, we don't make our own noodles and we don't get to go out and eat. Cleaning is a big job and that doesn't sound like a survival thing but our cabin is an organic thing, things are trying to grow and the wood is trying to take your cabin back. Beating nature back is a big aspect of surviving out here. Mold is a big one because of the frost from the winter. Our house is where we work, we are always here. Our bodies too, we need to stay fit, it's not just to look good. If you can't make it you can't do it. You need to be able to walk forty miles by snowshoes because you might have to. Keeping your equipment running as you can't buy it new. I learnt alot from aircraft mechanics, make sure it's fixed before it breaks. You have to work on your perception and have the right attitude. You have to be able to work with yourself and your family. You can really get introverted so you have to keep your mind healthy. It's important to get out, that's why Romey goes skiing. Society doesn't normally recognize that as most people blame others but we can't blame anyone else out here. Keeping a good perspective, the angle that you view things. It's how you write your own story in your mind. Is this going to be an adventure or is this going to suck.”

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THINKING AS ONE MIND IN ISOLATION David: "Romey and I think and work as one mind. This is a fact of our isolation out here that we don't work individually but as a team together, as one. The effects of living out here means that we dig deeper with everything, we don't have flippant answers, we have to know where it all stems from. It means we have a much richer and fuller life. With isolation we are so busy with our existence that we have to look at the seeds of where everything stems from. We made sure by coming here that we weren't leaving society but that we were joining the universe. Mankind thinks that everything relates to itself but it doesn't. We have the time in isolation to explore the meaning of everything, if everybody had that time to look at the truth of everything then the world wouldn't be in such a mess.

We don't live by the effects of things out here but by the causes. Our priorities are different from everyone else's out here. They are different from making money which is a man creation. I'm here to experience life not man. How can you put value on happiness. These are the lessons that man can learn from isolation. ——————————————————————————————————————

CAN'T RELATE TO OTHER PEOPLE


David: "When we go to Fairbanks nobody asks us about this life. So we don't have any way to relate to our friends in Fairbanks. About the best we get is "how was your winter?" You're the only person that has shown an interest (Ed Gold). I was quite surprised by that. I don't really know what interests people about our lives. People are so self involved that they don't have any space in their minds to ask questions. They just don't care, so instead we care for them. They don't how to relate to us and we don't know how to relate to them.”

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MICHAEL MLECZKO SIGN ON TREE David: "That sign was out here when we got here. It came with the place. He came out here, he'd heard about Mark and wanted to see the wilderness for himself. Mark used to advertise for women because he liked the female company out here and a lot of guys advertised for women in magazines back then. So guys also knew that Mark was out here as he'd seen the advertisers in magazines so Michael Mleczko just wanted to experience the wild here. Michael came out here for a visit for two weeks and Mark dog mushed him out in 1980/81. Those two weeks changed his life and after that it was all he ever


talked about. He'd come up from Wisconsin after reading 'Trapper magazine'. Mark took him trapping and then Michael flew home. Michael died ten years later in his thirties. His mother and sister came up and asked Mark if they could hang up the sign in remembrance of him.” —————————————————————————————————————— BREAKING TRAIL (making a new trail for snow machines to pass along) and ANNUALLY MAINTAINING EXISTING TRAILS (pictured)

David:

"It all links to the fact we have 4 cabins out here and we need to maintain a connection to them. Bringing your family is three fold. Bringing them means it's faster, it's fun and it's also really important to get outside because you have so little light. It's important for mood as you can stew on things so getting out is good for that. In winter we have 3 hours and 45 minutes of light. We go trapping occasionally, for when I need more fur for gloves or a hat. We don't trap near the house so go "up and over the hill trail" as we call it. It's sacrilegious to kill around our own home so we go away


some distance to do that. It's also good for Sky as well to do and can be considered part of his homeschooling. We take chainsaws, tools for chainsaws, a little food if you get far away, how to get out of overflow stuff, snowshoes and shovels. Every time you leave here you have to think you're not going to make it back home so you have to always be prepared for that. Always bring a gun, in case you have to walk, wolves would be your most dangerous animal. Before I would bring a rifle so I could shoot an animal instead of trapping it for food but now we try not to shoot or trap anything. At last count I have 120 miles of trail out here which I broke myself and that's a lot of maintenance to keep them open. I'd be exhausted laying traps down too, I'd do a line a day as a minimum, that's about twenty traps a day. If it snows and covers your trap you have to go out and uncover them otherwise they won't work. If you want to do any kind of traveling, trapping or exploring out here you have to break your own trail unless you travel solely by frozen river or lake because you don't have to cut your own trail as it's frozen water. Generally what I do is find the shortest route between lakes to travel by. Also occasionally you'll find grass fields but if you don't have enough snow it's hard to travel over the tussocks which can stand at 2 feet high. I'm travelling through places out here that no man has ever seen so it's for the fun and the beauty of it that sometimes I break trail. I call them 'Puniverses' (puny universes) instead of Universes. Black spruce you can sometimes ride through freely, especially if there is an animal trail to follow.


A big part of breaking trail is packing it with your snow shoes. Especially up hill as there are places a snow machine just won't go. There's also 'whipper snappers' you have to look out for which is branches at face level which can be painful so you're not just clearing a trail at ground level. You snow shoe to pack the trail and also to simply walk because some snow is up to your waist in places. It takes a minimum of a foot of snow to get around by snow machine. Romey and Sky's main job is to clear branches that I have cut and sometimes one of them will go back to get the snow machine to bring it up. That day we were clearing the trail to our southern cabin, we call it the 'line cabin', it's a trap line cabin. It has a barrel stove so you can spend a night there. There's traps there and camping supplies there, an axe, Coleman lantern and fuel and MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). The cabin is 18 trail miles away but can also be reached by 25 river miles. One year we had a really big ice storm and on the entire trail all the trees were bent over broken as though the trail wasn't even there. Generally it will take a couple of long hard days to open the trail up again.”

—————————————————————————————————————— ATCHLEY FAMILY TRAVELLING THROUGH STUNTED BLACK SPRUCE IN TAIGA FOREST

David: "Black spruce. The ground stays frozen year round in alot of areas under the muskeg. It makes walking so hard. When you're putting trails in it's some hard scrub to go through. All of this taiga forest is unreachable unless you put a trail in first. There's thousands of square miles of this so you have to realize you're not going anywhere. One mile through here is judged as walking 10 miles through a city. We call it an ocean of trees. It's like being in an ocean if you can imagine that without being able to see the shore. Bears are sleeping during winter, it's warmer up in the hills so they get up there as it doesn't flood out and they tend to dig as there aren't many caves around here. There's wolverine, lynx, wolves, moose, martin, fox, rabbit, muskrat, beavers and otters.” ——————————————————————————————————————

JOURNEYING BY SNOW MACHINE

David:

"Journeying by snow machine. Cutting your own trail, you usually start by looking at a map to work out where you want to go then you ride to where you can't go any further. Then you get off wearing snow shoes and use a chainsaw to cut a new trail into the bush. Then you return to your snow machine, take your snow shoes off and ride a bit further then repeat. Or we use frozen rivers to travel on for the obvious reason that it's a trail that already exists. Also if you're trapping, animals always use your trails as it's easy travel, especially wolves and fox. So you can follow their tracks easily.”


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CHAINSAW MILLING David:

"Chainsaw milling we chose as opposed to 'round log scribe building' because we found it just quicker and more efficient. It also produces lumber for other building projects. Some of the original investments to build the cabin was a large chainsaw which is expensive, with a 28 inch bar. The Alaskan Chainsaw Mill. They're a couple of hundred bucks. They mount to your chainsaw and you can adjust your cuts from half inch cuts to 12 inch cuts. You're making boards or slats for bulk lumber from tree lengths. It's a 100 year old spruce in the photo. I do my bulk milling to bring slats home out on location as it's easier to haul home rather than pull a whole tree home behind my snow machine. Then I'll do all the finish milling in my yard. For example I can bring one 8 inch thick slat home behind the snow machine on a sled and from that I can turn the slat on its side and set the mill to two inches and get five 2 by 8's. In this case it will be used to replace the roof on our bedroom. I wore a chainsaw out I've milled so much. I'll go out into the woods to find a good sized tree from various select places. I'll choose a tree that I can get the most amount of wood from. If I can I'll find a standing dead tree or in this case I'm using a tree that got burnt in the fire in 2015. I also feel that the forest has enough useable trees I can use so that it's just not necessary to use a live tree. I feel like it's humanities role to salvage and allow more light into the forest to allow new trees to grow, it feels like my role to live off the land and clean the woods up, to live off the fallen and the dead and not live off


the living. Wind blown, standing dead and burn zone trees is what I prefer to use. A standing dead it falls into the snow and you have to do a lot of snow shovelling to get it out. In the summer I can't get it home because snow machine is the only way to travel through the woods and the only machine that can haul that kind of weight. I'm not allowed to have any other vehicle out here as the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) has its laws because this land is classed as a refuge so I'm not allowed to have a four wheeler or tractor. Logs don't slide on dirt but they do on snow and imagine the trails I'd have to cut through the forest to go and get random logs with a four wheeler. Even if you cut all the trees out of the way the ground is not flat out here and it's also very soft as it's never been walked on. You sink 8 inches into the ground every step you take, it's very uneven. Milling is definitely a winter activity. The primary thing is you become your own lumber yard in the winter so you can do all your building in the summer. Every time you want to build anything, from a window frame to a bookshelf to a whole cabin you need to go out and get lumber. I'm only allowed basically two out-buildings here which is my food cache and sauna. I am allowed other temporary buildings like my workshop which


is a canvas wall tent. One of our primary goals out here is to preserve the knowledge of subsistence living through experience. We believe the world's going to need this knowledge soon as we don't want it to be lost. Nobody else is living like this right now. It has to be subsistence as we live all year round here. You can't live 'subsistence' for half of the year. Our lives here are the complete picture of

subsistence living. I built my own cabin here with a chain saw with a lot of mental and physical power. I had to build my own crane with one 4 by 6 and a 'Come Along' with ramps that went up the wall for leverage. A Come Along is a steel cabled hand winch. Both ends are fastened to a 4x6, one end goes from the 4x6 to the log and the other went from the 4x6 to the peak of the house. It takes a little bit of strength and it's double pulley, it's block and tackle. That wasn't anything I got out of a book so I had to overcome it with my brain. How do you get a 28 foot long, 1000 pound tree by yourself onto a 12 foot high wall when you weigh 160 pounds. It took me a day to figure it out and another day to set it up.” ——————————————————————————————————————

LEARN FROM ANIMALS David:

"We can learn so much from animals. They only use what they need. Animals understand what it takes to survive but humans take too much and don't fully understand what they need to just be. They take too much and don't realize that they already have enough in order to survive. They're always looking for something more."

Charley is wearing an old leather dog sled mushing harness collar that was left behind by Mark Freshwater in the cabin and which the Atchleys found when they first moved here in 1999. Leather straps would be attached to this collar, which each dog would wear and run back to the sled to pull it. It's beautiful the way there is a coloured type of feather at the front of the collar. ——————————————————————————————————————

QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK US & OUR FAMILY ALWAYS TOGETHER

David: "Bears are pretty much our number three question we're asked about. Number one is how do we make money. Rudely said and bluntly stated. Two and three is doctors and bears, we're asked those


two questions. Number four question is the isolation, people wonder how we get along but when they meet us it's usually self evident.

I bet if you added up all the hours Romey and Sky have ever been apart in his 13 years it would be 2 weeks. How many mothers and children can say that?! It wasn't two weeks apart in one go. Maybe when we're in town and I go shopping with Romey or out on a date Sky stays at home with a friend in Fairbanks. Sky says he's attached to us like a rubber band so that we're always joined. Sky finds kids too immature to hang around with and adults have better toys, like four wheelers and snow machines.” ——————————————————————————————————————

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SKY ATCHLEY, 13 YEARS OLD


SKY'S FIRST INTERVIEW (August Sky Atchley, 13) Sky: "I was born in Fairbanks. In the hospital because I wanted to be near my mother. That's a 3 Stooges joke. I don't know, I was there two weeks I guess. I think my earliest memory was waking up in the dark and not knowing which way was I facing. There was no pillow so I had to wake my Mom up to get me the right way round. I think that's my first memory but I can't remember when I was 12. That was a joke.

I remember a mental picture of a silver overhanging tree near the greenhouse. I told myself I had to make a mental picture of things. I still remember it. Since I started young I listened to my parents talk and to talk like them. They are my kid friends. I find kids weird because they argue about stuff, they just seem so little and can't talk about stuff other than they want to eat or what they saw. Adults talk about more important stuff like life. Me, I grew up here talking and looking at life.

My Mom is my best friend. I started out bad with my Dad as he had a son from another marriage and that messed him up. I was scared of him for the first half of my life but then he changed himself to suit me. I do crazy stuff like do a handstand on the couch or have to swim cross the lake, I'm constantly trying to find a joke in everything as I like fun and like to make people laugh. I like to laugh. It makes people's life's better. But a string of bad jokes isn't funny.

I have one friend in Fairbanks who I look forward to seeing when we go to town once a year. Her name is Ella but she's really a stranger as I don't see her much.

Kids can be really adult. Adults are hidden in there but they're kids because that's what their parents want them to be. Adults don't let them talk. Because I talk like an adult they kinda talk to me like an adult. Kids really are adults it's just that adults just don't let them be. I just made friends with adults, the ones that can see me for who I truly am.

I've got my dog, I talk to her all the times me, sometimes I go on walks with her, she's a really good listener. I've got an extreme need to explore things which you can't do elsewhere. Like if I was in New York I'd explore down an alley, I'd meet a guy with a gun and some stray cats. Where's the fun in that? I like to find cool spots, like kind of open or cool trees. I have my own mushroom garden and a 'puniverse' (puny universe). It's a fallen over tree with moss on it with a whole bunch of tiny plants growing up from it. Each year on this one log a new mushroom would appear which is kinda fun. I'm a picky eater so I don't think I'd like mushrooms. But I like how they look because first off they're really cute, I like their caps and some are really big. I don't think about living remotely, it's a little bubble. I don't think about what's outside.


People don't come here very often. There is you (Ed Gold) and my brother. I get really bored when someone else is here as my Dad talks to them non-stop and that means I can't talk to my Dad. And my Mom talks to you so I can't talk to her. Charley gets kinda bored too, she sleeps a lot.

It's not really different having your parents as your friends as that's what it's supposed to be like. You have so much love for them so it's like a little treat. Kids aren't normally friends with their parents as they get told what to do so you learn not to really like them that much so kids can't really be friends with their parents. I like hanging out with my parents, they don't treat me like a kid. They don't order me around, they treat me like a person. I wake up and do what I feel like. It varies a lot, the average is 3pm. Maybe 4pm. I go to bed at 3am. I go to bed when I want, I play games. I have my own time from about 1am when my parents go to bed. 12 is when they go to bed and then they come down at 1am, they might watch a bit of a movie or Romey will spend an hour writing and at one (1am) they come down to brush their teeth.

I've never been to a real school. I got to see one once but I probably wouldn't like it. Calvin and Hobbs gave me all the big words. Sometimes if I need to express myself I'll just say a big word which I don't even know what it means and it always seems to be the right word. Maybe I've heard it used before. Playing games, like Professor Layton helps me figure stuff out. You get different kinds of puzzles. Some are really hard. There's this one like you gotta get these little chicks across the lake and there are these wolves. You have planks to use to get the chicks across. You have to think about it. There's another game where you have to work out who lied, who ate the last piece of cake. There's always a great grand finale. There are great cut scenes.

I have work books where I do a subject on every page. They teach me how to do it. Then I do it and then I can do whatever I want. There's no teacher telling me to shut up or what to do. I've still got stuff to learn, I don't like math, it's so complicated. Spelling seems interesting, my favourite subject is sharks, I've got a shark book with facts and world history and I've got a book about disgusting history about stuff the regular history books don't tell you. Rotten food and broken bones. I don't know if I have a favourite. Attila the Hun was always fun. There's this shark I wanna show you, there's a goblin shark, the scariest shark you'll ever see. Most fun is some snow machine rides, playing my PlayStation, my guitar and swimming. I'm half fish. I don't do crawl, I don't like water up my nose. I do breast stroke or lie on my back. I love diving. We have our own dock which floats on steel drums at the end of our lake. Sometimes I do back dives. I love the feel of water and being under it. I've got a big lung capacity. I like to go down deep. It has a slimy mud down there. There's Pike man! Big fish are there. An otter tried to swim up to me, I saw the whiskers out there. Maybe it thought I was cute. You can't really go fishing with a pole here, we use a net. There's only two kind of fish here. Pike and whitefish. I like Pike. We eat it with tempura batter, that's how my Mom cooks it. It's tasty with ketchup. Getting stuck on the snow machine, I don't like it. It's something I can't get out of my head. One time I was driving Dad's snow machine as it's big and I wanted to ride it. I slipped off the trail


and there was water overflow. I was worried about my Dad yelling at me. I'm very sensitive, it would break my heart if my parents yelled at me.

My favourite animal is Ermine. They're like a Martin but smaller and whiter. They're so 'friggin cute. I like squirrels and Grey Jays, they're cute too. The babies eat a lot and get all fluffed up and look like a softball up in the tree. The babies don't know to be scared of you as they're babies so I feed them from my hand. Swans as well, Trumpeter I believe. They're huge and can kill big animals. They honk, honking's fun, they go around the lake in a train. The lakes fun in summer. I don't have a very good capacity to worry about things but you never get sick out here. You never get a common cold unless you bring it back from town. It's great spending your life without the common cold. You never get a cold out here, there's no sickness unless you ate something that's gone bad. The air's clean out here in the woods. That's the great thing about being out here. Anything could happen but if I have it my way I'd like to live out here all my life. I could grow up and move into town but right now I'd like to spend my whole life out here in this cabin. I'd probably be content just living day to day as I am now, you'd have to ask me then. Probably, maybe. I'd like to be a helicopter pilot also. They get months off so I could be back here at the cabin. They are so cool, they can go anywhere and land anywhere. Some pick up cars and stuff. They have these big blades that spin around. Just seeing helicopters flying around here when the bush caught fire. They looked so cool. I like flying jets on Grand Theft Auto. You can do barrel rolls and go fast.

I like to watch people play games. Video games. To find out the secrets of how they play games. I like to watch Felix PewDiePie on Google when I go to Fairbanks but he just got in trouble with some Jewish thing. I hope his stuff hasn't gone off YouTube.

Adventures are great, going on snow machines. Go over the hill to check out some lakes and hit speed bumps going really fast and going in the air. I like throwing ball to my Dad when it spirals. I had a lot of fun rebuilding my snow machine, it's a Ski-Doo Tundra. A 277cc two cycle. I like to shoot old cans with a .22 rifle. I think I shot a squirrel once but I don't like to kill animals. Sometimes they get really noisy so I'd like to grab them and throw them in the water. I also shoot a '30 aught 6'. I shot it twice and got the shakes. The kick had something to do with it, it's a real gun. I like to do Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. I think it should be a definition in the dictionary. Schwarzza. Big and very powerful. A great new word."

Sky’s Favourite films/food/music


"My favourite film? As in movie? I like 'Wanted'. It's about people that can bend bullets around things. It's kinda cool, it's action. My favourite thing to watch is the 3 Stooges. I can watch the entire set all the way through, 19 discs. That's a few days, maybe a week.

My favourite food is spaghetti. I like tomato sauce but not tomatoes. I'm a noodle person. I first had spaghetti in my mother's stomach I think. I was called 'noodle boy' for a while, I call noodles 'Noody's'. Noodles and tomato sauce is the best but if you add moose meat or chicken it's even better. It's just all that I love all together. I worship the Italians for inventing spaghetti, I think I'd like it in Italy.

I have to say Cat Stevens is my favourite music. Grateful Dead is cool but they're a band so that's cheating. Cat Stevens is just one guy, he can do all that cool stuff just him and his guitar, which gives me hope that one day I can play as well as him.

I'd like to go to Saskatchewan, it sounds like a fun place, it's got a cool name. Prairies and stuff.

Charley is my dog but more of a family dog. I taught her to play the guitar, I'd pick up her paw and put it on the strings and tell her to strum and she'd do that but we didn't keep that up. She also howls - pack mentality. The more people howl, she howls. Sometimes she'll howl a little more somber than others.” —————————————————————————————————————— Sky quote: "People don't understand night, instead we're just in a very dark shadow as the sun goes round.” ——————————————————————————————————————

SKY’S SELF WORDED BIO (I ask him to tell me who he thinks he is) Sky: "Hey, how ya doing?! I'm an observer of things that happen around me. The Universe! As far as a metaphor goes I would probably be the wind. It can be calm, cool and relaxed. Sometimes it's a hurricane and rips things apart. I'm an accumulation of my parent's love. I'm a curious type of person, I'm as awesome as you can get, have you seen my parallel parking? People look to me when they need help. I'm a kid that lives out in the woods man. I'm on the pursuit of finding fun in the world, if you can't find fun what's the point.”


—————————————————————————————————————— SKY’S DOG Charley, 10 is part Labrador, Akita (in the tail) and Blue Healer. She was originally called Harley (after the motorbike) until she was adopted by the Atchley's aged 2. Originally Sky thought her name was Charley so it stuck and Charley is considered Sky's dog and she sleeps next to his bed. ——————————————————————————————————————


SKY IS ALWAYS IN HIS PYJAMA PANTS (BOTTOMS) PLAYING OUTSIDE Sky:

"I probably prefer to play outside in the snow as there are bugs in the summer. Mosquitoes are pretty rough, they get very itchy in the summer. In the winter you bundle up. I usually do sledding and ride snow machines. I like to 'poof' on the snow - like jump off a tree and land in the snow. I also like to play with the dog, you know, 'cos she's my dog. Snow machining is most exciting, the speed mostly and the fun things I get to do with my Dad. There was that one time we went over to 'Wolf Lake' to joy ride. I don't like to get too far from home by myself so I usually do things in my yard like build a tunnel in the snow. I can't do that every year as there has to be a crust on top of the snow so it doesn't cave in. You see moose across the lake sometimes and only once I've seen a lynx, just once in my life. You mostly see wolves every year, martins and squirrels. Martin are my favourite, they're so cute. I like the feeling of falling into the snow from high up, like you're skydiving." ——————————————————————————————————————


PHOTO OF SKY WITH MAP Photo of Sky with a map he drew of the best hiding places in and around the family log cabin. The numbers show the order of his favourite locations.

——————————————————————————————————————

SKY TALKING ABOUT HIS COMIC BOOK SERIES Sky:

"Dad was in town and Mom and I were in the cabin listening to the 'Iditarod' (annual dog mushing competition) on the radio in the middle of the night. I was hearing about the dogs and started to draw pictures of them. There was a story on the radio about Jeff King's dogs getting hung up in the bushes so I began to draw the action. I drew the first one about a dog that dreamt he was a dog musher dog and then he woke up and actually found he was one. That's how l started my comic strip called 'Dingo the Dog'. My Mom read Gary Paulsen's book out aloud to me called 'Winterdance' which inspired me,


it was fun about mushing with funny stories about skunks and stuff. I drew 83 cartoon strips about 'Dingo the Dog'. I've drawn random cartoons which are littered all over books about how forest fires are started and of drunk helicopter pilots and trees smoking cigars. I drew another strip called 'Moron Man' and 'The Two Fighting Stick Men' and 'The Random Thing I Made Because I Thought It Was Funny'. It's something to make me laugh, something funny. I was inspired by the forest fire we had here two years ago and watching movies like Godzilla.

My favourite books are by Garth Nix called Lirael, Sabriel and Abhorsen. The creativity is amazing, making up whole kingdoms, Charters and controlled magic and piecing symbols together to make a spell. It's powerful, out of control free magic too. They come up with fun characters too. Every once in a while I hear ice crack out there when it's dark in fall. You get some really weird noises and I imagine there's cool stuff out there.” —————————————————————————————————————— A SERIOUS SONG SKY WROTE

"In Alaska" Verse 1 ”In Alaska the snow falls and the flowers bloom in the spring,

Birds fly through the trees with an effortless beat of wings,

Squirrels eat the spruce cones; martens play in the snow.

In Alaska there's fun to be had if you know where to go."

Verse 2 "In the spring beavers poke their heads above the ice.

And the breeze on your cheeks feels so nice.


The sap starts to to flow and the leaves start to grow.

In Alaska there's fun to be had if you know where to go."

Verse 3 "In the summer the Bears roam and the rivers lap the shore.

No matter what the weather is we always play outdoors.

Plants grow from the seeds we sow; mosquitoes hide when warm winds blow.

In Alaska there's fun to be had if you know where to go."

Verse 4 "A strong fall breeze blows leaves off the trees.

The sun begins to dip and the lakes start to freeze.

Time slows down and the clouds drop their snow.

In Alaska there's fun to be had if you know where to go.” ——————————————————————————————————————


A FUNNY SONG SKY WROTE

"Yeti spaghetti

When there's a hair in my

Yeti spaghetti

Don't make me eat mediocre food

I might grow up then you'd have to clean it up

Don't make me eat mediocre food

It doesn't taste so good

I don't want it

And you're going to have to deal with my misery

It could come in the form of toast or in cereal or broccoli

Or in the form of spaghetti

I won't eat it

Don't you get the clue


Please don't make me eat mediocre food

It could come in the form of meatloaf or casserole or in the form of asparagus that sat out too long

It's better than bed but not as good as good and I'm not going to eat it

It could come in the form of a biscuit

And don't scone on my biscuit

Don't make me eat spotted dick

Don't make me eat mediocre food." —————————————————————————————————————— END OF SKY ATCHLEY’S INTERVIEWS END OF SKY ATCHLEY’S INTERVIEWS END OF SKY ATCHLEY’S INTERVIEWS ——————————————————————————————————————

——————————————————————————————————————


ROMEY ATCHLEY, 44 YEARS OLD SHORT QUOTES Romey:

"I make 30 pizzas a year. It's limited by how much cheese we have."

"I'm as young as I'm ever going to be again."

(Quote on home schooling) "This is illegal in this country but with our form of homeschooling we'd rather have a happy child than a college educated child.” ——————————————————————————————————————

LIVING OFF GRID (Long explanation) & HOME SCHOOLING & OWN CLOCK TIME [this is really worth reading in its entirety]

Romey:

"I think it started with a desire for self sufficiency. I think because of the freedom. It's been an under riding current throughout my whole life. Everyday I was told to go to school or told do something by individuals that takes away from the life experience. I was very excited about being alive, as far back as I can remember. It started when I was really young but was beaten out of me by all the hours I had to go to school or being told what to do so I was never really able to explore what it was that I wanted to do. But there was enough left in me to reawaken that feeling so when I left school and got out into the woods to explore I realized there were so many things to explore. When I was in the woods near my parents house in Pennsylvania I was left alone to climb trees, look for interesting rocks, find animals and crayfish under rocks in the stream. I'd like to look at things and all the designs of nature. I used to ride my bicycle in the woods down a trail I called 'The mud puddle road'. I'd walk through the puddles barefoot with the mud squishing between my toes. I was twenty one when I met David. I'd left my parents for college dorms and then had my own apartment a year before I met him. I liked to go hiking and camping. I'd spend days out in the wood in a tent, sometimes by myself or with boyfriends. But I did like to be by myself. I was going to school at Penn State and had met these people who were going to take over a commune, an apple orchard and they did a lot of things from scratch. I was always interested in doing things for myself and therefore not needing money for the


things I wanted. I was making pottery and thought how neat it was that I could make a plate to eat off without having to go to the store and buy one. The way I was raised my Dad did all the home maintenance himself so I learnt a lot from him about doing stuff without having to pay somebody to do it for you.

I'd never heard the term 'living off grid' until a few years ago. I guess 'self sufficiency' would be the term for it I had in my mind. I suppose I figured that the less I needed to work to earn money meant that I had more time to explore life and have fun. I only have one life so didn't want to spend it tied down. I really find the freedom out here gives me mental independence because my thoughts aren't tied so much like living in town I'm free to explore the world with my own mind. Having a 9-5 job would be a type of enslavement to me. I work just as hard here, if not harder out here, than I would at a job but out here I'm not selling myself out to someone both physically and mentally. In a way I guess my life becomes my art because every aspect of it I've built myself. Building my own home is part of it, even from the way I raise my child and what I do with my time.

I think it's very important for children to stay with their parents and for their parents to act as a guide instead of sending them off to be raised within public education. I think that love is very important, if they're not being raised by people who love them it causes problems with self esteem. They need the security. People get their self worth from knowing that people love them, from knowing that people are there for them.

I already had the dream of living like this and then met someone who was already living like this so I had the chance to jump right in, it was definitely very appealing to me. You can have a dream but you never know if the dream would come to fruition so David suddenly opened up that dream to my own and it was his dream too so we connected right away.

As far as education we don't do formal school in the classic sense and sit at a desk and have worksheets and questions to answer. Doing is part of learning. So develop an interest in Sky first to want to learn instead of sitting him down and forcing him. Our learning is very skill based, he might learn math through cooking or mechaniching or carpentry. Dungeons and Dragons, he's very interested in it, there a lot of studying involved, there's a lot of characters and stories which helps with a lot of basic skills, for looking things up in a book, reading skills, studying, being creative. I find what Sky is interested in and then I build around that. He likes comics and being funny so I study comedy and expressions of faces in cartoons. I study the things he's interested in and then help him learn about the things he's interested in. He's got interested in music lately so he's developed that as an interest. He's gotten interested in helicopters recently from the pilots he met out here when we had a forest fire so I got him books about flying helicopters and weather as it applies to aviation. He got to sit in a helicopter and he really liked it. Boys seem to have some sort of attraction to mechanical vehicles I think, that's part of it. Ever since he was born I tried to make music interesting,


I played my mandolin to him, his elder brother plays guitar, because we play it's something he can do with us and it's fun.

A lot of people worry about whether he's getting a good education out here, whether he'll fit into the world because he's being educated differently and whether he'll have the correct opportunities. What if he decided he wanted to be a doctor and my education I've provided fell short? If he'll know how to get on with other people, if he'll have the social skills, the socialization? Part of our education is a lot reading. Teach children to read and then give them good books. I mostly blow people off because I don't want to have to try to convince them of how I'm trying to do things. I mostly tell them what they want to hear as there is no way I can convey what we do out here. I basically just reassure them that it's ok. I certainly don't want to get in a debate with people about it, I don't think my words are going to change anybody's mind. I think only their own experiences can do that. I've gotten less questions about it as Sky's gotten older because he appears intelligent to them. Now that we have gotten results it is unarguable compared to when he was young. People worry he might not have every opportunity to him out here or that us as his parents didn't have any teaching qualifications. Sky is learning some languages, mostly French and a little bit of Spanish. I speak French with him and teach him what I say but we don't sit down and do worksheets about what I say so it's interactive because we're just speaking it just like I taught him English. I have subjects in my own mind that I want him to learn and I try to work those in. Math for one, English in the sense of learning vocabulary words but it's more fun like a game. They come up in reading a lot so we have fun looking up words we don't know and using words in games and comedy and making puns. And being a writer myself I've tried to teach him the things I've learnt in writing, by being a mentor. I never stop learning myself, I'm very interested in learning new things so as I learn we learn together. People have a belief in how to get a proper education and if you don't do it a certain way it's not proper and I like to prove them wrong. Sky will be the ultimate proof of that. When I left school I felt I had a lot of knowledge but I didn't know how to do anything and I've spent all these years how to do things, how to have actual skills. I had this one class where we studied what happens within a motor to do with temperatures and pressures and learnt all this theoretical stuff but I'd never seen an engine so I had a hard time relating what I'd learnt to anything practical. I try to teach Sky a lot of practical things like how to grow his own food and how to mend things when they break, problem solving. Sometimes I have to learn when to back off as I try to teach too much all the time. Soon I will have to get the GED book since he won't be getting a high school diploma so he'll be taking an equivalency test. I think a lot of jobs require high school diploma. You have to realize that I raised a boy before Sky, in raising him I tried to keep him on a standard curriculum so over the years I've learned what worked and adapted. Sometimes with Zack it was a fight to get him to do his lessons so with Sky I didn't want to cram it down his throat so I've developed a different approach with Sky. I'm proud that he's a happy person. I think that's infinitely more important than trying to get him to memorize a bunch of facts. I've given it a lot of thought over the years as it's hard to stand alone.

I do feel the remoteness most of the time. I feel the space around me. When I first moved out here I would start thinking about things that could go wrong and get really worked up out here with the fears. What if somebody got appendicitis or what if our chainsaw broke and we had no firewood. But what that's taught me is to stay in the moment. It's taught me that that isn't reality and they were just


thoughts in my mind. I had to recognize they were just thoughts and prevent myself from going there. I think that I realized that those concerns weren't real and to stop myself from making them up. Things can get intense in a hurry out here. Once I was working on a moose hide and I was here all by myself and I had pricked myself with a needle and it got infected by bacteria that feeds off dead things. It spread down my finger to my hand but I had no way of contacting anyone and I took some antibiotics so I took them and waited to see if they would work. Phones don't work out here, there is no internet, we had no satellite phone, we were poor. David was in town in Ruby which is 90 miles away by river. It has a population of just over 100 people. It's a bush village which means there are no roads in or out of it. The antibiotics did work which I was really happy about but I didn't know what else I could do about it. I lay in bed and closed my eyes and imagined the battle going on inside my body to make me better. I thought about the antibodies being sent like 'back up troops' to fight the infection and I think mentally that put me on a level where I was better able to get well again. I had already learned what to do in case of infection to do with hides but because the hole made by the needle was so small it closed up and trapped everything. David had gone through the same thing before and had cut his hand when skinning a moose hide and it had got all swollen. A nurse had told him to soak his hand in Epsom salts which draws the bacteria out of the wound as far as I know. The point is that I deal with the fear with knowledge so know how I'll deal with it ahead of time. I have a good library of reference books.

I learned how to do the test for appendicitis. I used to fear that it would happen but now I know I could catch it in time to get the help I would need. I have a knowledge base that I have developed over the years. If that happened I would call for an airplane. If it was during 'breakup' I'd call for a helicopter, I have a bunch of telephone numbers next to the satellite phone we have now. The Air Force Rescue Centre, I have my GPS coordinates on this paper so I can give it to them. I have a whole list of emergency numbers like state troopers and the Alaskan rescue coordination centre. Galena ambulance which I think is also a helicopter. Since I've never had to call any of the numbers I'm not sure what would give me the best results. I figure I'd try the Air Force one first. I've been able to deal with everything that's happened. We try to be careful but accidents happen, like last year a tree fell on David. There was a log on the ground at his feet and when the tree he was felling fell over the root of it flipped the log up and he was pinned down by the log on his legs. The most dangerous thing we do out here is chainsawing. He managed to wiggle his way out, by digging and using a lot of energy. He was bruised and sore. There was the time I crushed my hand with a rope. We were pulling the boat up the bank from the river and the rope broke. The rope was wrapped round my hand and came taught then slid off my hand. It pulled some tendons and the 'bursa' around the knuckles burst. For two months I couldn't use it at all and then I got limited use of it back but it took a full year to get right again. I also broke my finger as I was pulling a log off the stack and a higher log slid down and it got crushed. David was gone and I was just out here with Sky aged 5. I was worried that my pain would upset him so I was rolling around on the ground but saying in a calm voice that I was in pain and everything would be ok. I think Sky was concerned but I downplayed it a lot. I do suffer from back problems too, I have scoliosis. The doctor said it was because one leg grew shorter than the other so my spine curved. The curvature, because I'm out of alignment, I have certain muscles that are over stretched so I get a lot of muscle spasms from my hips to my neck. I try to counter it by exercising a lot and doing yoga so I can pull my skeletal structure and my muscles with it more into alignment. The curvature makes it hard to bear heavy weights so


that becomes an issue and when Davids not here there are certain things I have to do that are hard on me. But I'm glad that Sky is at an age that now he can look after me when I can't look after him. I've gone to schools and answered questions that kids ask me and they always ask me if I have a dog, what kind it is and what's it's name.

There's quite a few things that come to mind. At top of my list is that I get to spend all my time with the people that I love and a couple of hours by myself at the end of the day. I feel very rich in time, for all the time that I have. I think we've grown together over time like two trees planted side by side. They're intertwined but still have space together. We feel the responsibilities we have towards each other and know how our moods affect each other. When it's really cold like 40 below and colder for several weeks at a time we do try to get outside for a short amount of time like go for a walk, that does help. If you stayed inside all of the time you might get this feeling like you're living at the bottom of the ocean. That being said we do spend most of the time indoors together. We do have a routine that allows for each person to have a little time for themselves which I think is important. Sometimes there's activities I can't do unless I can concentrate on them. Writing would be an example. Having some time for independent thought. Say if I wanted to sit down with a book. So we work around each other. David might get up early while the rest of us are asleep and find his time. Or Sky will stay up late at night by himself which will give David and I time to ourselves and David and I will have separate one on one time with Sky. And also activities we might do as a group so we are not on top of each other all the time. Having different rooms to retreat to helps. There's no doors on any of the rooms, I guess we've never found them necessary for any reason. It keeps us all connected with what we're doing. It helps create a sense of space.

Without any people out here they don't get in the way of the natural world so you get to have this relationship with nature in its rawest form and to see what the earth is like in all its splendour not having been changed or manipulated by people. The Martin I like because they're so cute. Each one is different and their personalities shine through. I like to capture them taking photographs. And taking pictures of the bears. I'm always excited to see them because of growing up because of how rare they were in the world I came from, just middle class America. Most states don't have any bears still left in them so the chances of seeing them are just about nil. There was always a desire there to see them. I see a minimum of one a year and a lot of times two or three. I freak out when I see them in the yard as I have a natural fear of them, it's their strength, the power contained within their being. I love to see the wolves but they're more of a rare sighting but I don't really have the fear I have with wolves that I do with bears. It's a totally different feeling when a grizzly comes into the yard as opposed to a black bear. I feel that I could take down a black bear if it came into the yard but a Grizzly is so big that the force of a bullet might not stop it. They don't frighten me so much anymore as I've gotten to understand their characters and they seem more like curious people in their behaviour. I first ate bear all the way back when we lived In Talkeetna. I don't like it as much as moose meat, it doesn't have much flavour on its own, it's kind of bland. I've tanned a lot of bear skins over the years. I've made furniture with hides that were not good enough for clothing. I've made boots, mittens, a bear vest. We use the bear hides sometimes as a sleeping pad on the snow. Sometimes when we went snow machining when Sky was little we'd cover him up in a bear hide. There was the one time I had to shoot a bear when David was gone. It wasn't threatening me directly but we had a pen of ducks where


we were raising baby ducks and it was eating its way through them. I yelled at it to go away like a dog, 'shooh shooh'. A lot of the time shooting a bear means you've got a lot of work to do now. So being by myself I had to skin it, tan the hide and deal with the meat which took a whole day. Before we got a freezer we'd have to jar or smoke it for jerky. I cut it up into pieces that fit into a quart jar and I'll fill 25 jars as an average with water and salt. And then I pressure cook them. It's important to have them air tight, that's what preserves them. I enjoy cooking anything out of moose meat, there's a lot of variety of meals I can make out of it, meat balls, meat loafs, hamburgers, chilli, stroganoff, Thai food, roasts or steak. Mexican food, enchiladas, Mexican pizza, with Barley and beans and fried potatoes. If we don't get a moose we're kind of limited. Our lives are so simple but there's so much behind it all. We're involved with every aspect of life. There's no place to go out and eat and nobody else to make us happy. We do have one internal door in the cabin which used to be the front door so that's why it's here but we keep it open so that the heat from the wood stove goes around the cabin. Also not having doors makes the interior lighter. When Sky was growing up he wanted to learn guitar because he wanted to have something he could share with his brother as well as sharing the same parents. I feel very connected to Fairbanks. Even though it's over 200 miles away I feel like we are 'Fairbanksian' as a lot of our friends are there and we do all our yearly shopping there. We just fly from Ruby. I never wanted to have children as I had my hands full raising my stepson and I wasn't ready to give up being an individual. It's a big commitment. But I realized that I was learning so much out here that I wanted to be able to have a child to share it with and pass it on to. Later in life I was in a better position to be able to have a child. With 7 billion people in the world why not raise one person differently and take a chance. I see it as giving him all sorts of other opportunities rather than take anything away from him. Who would want to take away the opportunity of raising someone uniquely? I've never thought it was the wrong decision. Especially when I see how much he loves it out here. I've tried to teach him about geography and other places in the world but he says 'what do I want to learn that for, I'm happy right here'. He's a lot different in that respect as I always wanted to get out there and see places. But he's just so content being right where he is. I leave here once a year for 5 weeks. We buy a years supply of stuff in Fairbanks for a week and I visit family in Alabama for 3 weeks then 1 more week in Fairbanks then back out here. When I'm back out here I see no other people at all for the entire year apart from David and Sky. A lot of people in society need to go out and buy stuff as they feel it brings them happiness but if we need anything new out here we have to make it. Sky is very happy not having anything new, he's very content with what he has. We celebrate winter solstice when the light's coming back so it has a lot of meaning in our lives. Winter can get really dark and cold so when the light comes back it's a celebration. Usually I'll hold over a few things from town and give them to Sky at solstice. I think a little bit of newness helps get you through those cold months. Getting outside during the hours you do have light is very important. The cold is not such a big deal when you know how to dress for it. There was a couple of years I decided that the weather wasn't going to stop me from going skiing. There were times when it was 60 below zero when I'd still go out


skiing. It was about developing a mental toughness, and there's times when you're just not going to get any good weather to go skiing so I had to take weather as a factor 'not to go' out of the equation. It made it more of an adventure also. Our own clock time here started when it came time for changing the clock. We couldn't see any reason to change our clock to lose that hour of light in the evening time. Especially with what little light we got here losing that hour of light in the day. The only difference is the radio as everything would be an hour later. We set our clocks forward an hour. We found that sometimes we're slow to get going so having that extra hour of light was more beneficial in the morning than losing an hour.” —————————————————————————————————————— ROMEY'S SELF WORDED BIO Romey: "When I was alone out here I had the urge to look at myself in the mirror. But I realized I looked at myself with the eyes of how other people view me. I'm either a mother or wife but by myself that's not how I see myself. I don't even see myself as a woman. The closest thing I can give you would be a metaphor. It's like being a drop of water. If you put it in a container it takes the shape of a container. It's the formlessness of water but also having form. It's taking the shape of the conditions you're in at the time. I see the water as being pure and reflective. So you can see images in the water but the water itself remains pure and I have seen inside of myself that we are all like that at the core. That's another thing, when you realize you are reflective you think about what situations you put yourself in.” ——————————————————————————————————————

ROOT CELLAR (stays at 8C year round as it's built into permafrost under kitchen floor)

Romey:


"We generally buy two years worth of supplies every year and resupply those by using the older food up. Bulk flour, rice, sugar, beans is what keeps well and you can pretty much make everything else from. We buy wheat berry flour because it stores better and we grind it ourselves."

"In the root cellar we have over 1000 cans of produce. For example we started with 220 cans of evaporated milk for the year starting from September to the following August. Our year starts in September when we get produce. The least amount of canned produce is a couple of cans of Artichokes. Tomato paste is the second most amount of cans, 80 in stock.”

—————————————————————————————————————— PHILOSOPHY

Romey:

"After I've been to town for a month I get back to here and I feel quite scared because of the isolation and it takes 3 weeks to get used to being out here again. To get over that I have to be a part of the environment here. I have to open myself up to it, a feeling of love, a part of myself, I feel it in myself. I


hate to use the word spiritual, I have a physical body and then I have a mind body that expands outside my physical form. 'Spirit' to me denotes an individual self and because we don't have that kind of understanding we don't use that term. People attach their own interpretation to that term sothey don't listen to what you mean. We create an idea of ourselves of who we are, I decided that I was very serious and that was reinforced by the people around me but I learnt that we adopt what people say, it becomes a part of us. Different parts make up a patchwork quilt of who we think we are. But I came to realize that none of those were who I truly was. I understand why people are as they are as they're a reflection of their situation. To me the earth is a whole organism, I feel like my mind is part of the earth thinking. It takes away your individual wants or desires. My connectivity out here is that I don't see myself in the way that I'm an individual anymore.” —————————————————————————————————————— MAKING YOGHURT AND KEIFER Romey: "I think it's very important since I don't have fresh fruits and vegetables through the winter. I need foods with certain energies in them. Yoghurt and Keifer are really high in certain micro organisms that our bodies need to fight the harmful bacteria like molds and yeasts. Originally I bought grains, little nogules that have the dry form of the micro organisms and then I put those in sterilized milk, powdered milk mixed with boiled water which is cooled off. Then it sits in a glass jar and it's pretty much done in a day. Once I do that I reuse the same organism, I take the grains out. I reuse them for years, they will keep producing new grains so sometimes I feel an over abundance of grains and I dry them out and keep some as back up. That was to get it started so they would make more, I do run into problems sometimes when I go into town and it goes moldy.

The yoghurt - I buy packs of freeze dried cultures, then once I make a batch from the freeze dried cultures I will then use yoghurt from one of those jars to inoculate the next batch I make. Once you have the yoghurt you can use it to make more yogurt, but only up to a point. I make it every two weeks and usually I add a little bit of the freeze dried organisms to each batch but I don't have to use as many as when I start. I mix powdered milk with water, I heat it to 180F degrees and cool it to 119F (at 120F it will start killing the organisms) then I let it sit in a hot water bath from 115F to 119F degrees for about 4 hours and then I have yoghurt. I keep the wood stove on low and set a pot of water on a rack on the wood stove on low. I could take probiotics to substitute but then I'd have to buy a bunch of pills and I don't know how good they'll be.”

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PLAYING MUSIC FROM 1:30AM TO 1:50AM Romey:


"At night after writing we all come down stairs and we have a routine where we brush our teeth, David puts wood on the fire for the night and he has a little time when he's waiting for the wood to catch so he started using that time to pick up the guitar as he is busy for the rest of the day and then we all sort of followed playing together. David and Sky like to make up their own music whereas I tend to learn more songs out of books. We play for probably about twenty minutes. I think it's one time we're consistently all together and hanging out. When there is work to be done I don't necessarily feel comfortable sitting down and playing music when I have things to do. So when I am freed up from the work of the day I feel comfortable to hang out. I was learning to play the guitar and David decided he wanted to learn how to play the mandolin but he gave it up after a while and the mandolin was just siting around so I decided to pick it up and liked it right away. If we're all three going to be playing at the same time then if helps if we try to play together and I think it's important to learn how to play with other people. We do like to write funny sings, especially Sky. Some titles of funny songs by Sky are:

1. �There's a hair in my Yeti spaghetti!"

2. �There's too many monkeys in the zoo"

3. �Caught in a toe jam"


4. ”There's a moose licking salt off my car"

5. ”Don't make me eat mediocre food"

6. ”Work sucks” (I made an audio recording of this song and of David & Sky playing video games, it’s very funny as they joke alot)

(Our older son Zack, 24 who now lives in Homer, Alaska plays a lot of guitar music and we wrote a lot of songs with him over the years) [Zack is David's eldest son by his first wife, not Romey]

A song by Romey:

"Too many monkeys in the zoo

What ya gonna do”

—————————————————————————————————————— PLAYING MUSIC FROM 1:30AM TO 1:50AM David: "This is fun just bopping around not having to go to bed to get up early in the morning”. "We sit under this one tiny 12 volt lightbulb at 1 in the morning in our little bubble in the middle of nowhere playing our music just floating on through the universe".

A song by David:


"Floating on a river of time A particle in the stream Flotsam and debris

A dream was in there too Humanity in the moment of this realization is what it is." —————————————————————————————————————— ROMEY ON PUBLISHING HER CHILDREN’S BOOK Romey: "I was coming out here to leave people but I have realized that people aren't individuals but instead people are one whole organism. Knowledge spreads through each person. What gives other people the right to make us live by their rules. I don't believe in that separation. It's a mob mentality, because of that single organistic mentality. Our entire world is in a state of that mentality."


"This is what I try to do through my books, by seeing the world as one organism. I wrote the Barefoot and Boofoot book because I enjoy being creative. It was fun and something to work on. I never expected it to be a real book. I wrote it as a kids book but I definitely had adults in mind when I wrote it because adults are reading it to children. I have written books about what it was like to move out here. It was documentation. 'Swimming Upstream' is my autobiography. That's about finding my place in the world. At the time because I was having a unique experience I wanted to share it with other people. I was learning a lot of practical knowledge so I wanted to share it. Barefoot and Boofoot was an idea David had in Talkeetna and we all had a part in the book."

www.barefootandboofoot.com ——————————————————————————————————————

PUMPING DRINKING WATER INTO HOUSE USING MECHANICAL HAND PUMP (this is the only access point to clean fresh drinking water in the entire cabin and surrounding land which is drawn up a pipe from 27 feet underground which David put in place. The water is neither filtered nor purified in any way. It comes up through clay and sand) Romey: "The failure of communism leads to shoddy goods but capitalism appears to be going to the same place." David: "If you produce cheap goods you produce cheap people, they are a direct reflection of the degradation of humanity. Many people go to the woods to get away from people but we also came out here to go into nature. What kind of culture have we made if many people want to escape it? Also the more people we have the weaker the life force. Especially with processed foods.”

—————————————————————————————————————— WRITING AT NIGHT IN BEDROOM Romey: "When I wanted to write I realized I needed the time to not be distracted and really concentrate. When Sky was little I put him to bed and then that hour after I put him to sleep I had an hour to work on my writing. And then David joined in as he had books he wanted to write also and it was a good time for him too to write. Currently I'm working on a fictional story for young adults. The story itself is fiction but it's based on my own personal experiences but put together to tell another story. It's a story about a girl who is just turning 15 and her mother has died. Her father decides to live out a dream that he has always had to come to Alaska and float the Yukon river on a raft.


I address the healing that takes place by being out in nature, also I use music as a tool for the healing process and the discovery of how the natives out here deal with death as contrasted to our regular American culture which allows her to heal and understand her mother's death. Part of it is that her mother played music so that becomes a connection she had with her mother but also the process of music allows you to get in touch with what you are feeling and to express it. Lately I have taken a little bit of a break from writing. I don't do it as consistently right now, I'm going on to a new part of her story and I need a little time to think before I dive into it. When I was working on my autobiography of moving to the woods I worked on it every single night for 5 years without fail, kinda like the tortoise and the hare story. I also wrote a book for children called Barefoot and Boofoot.

www.barefootandboofoot.com

That project I did for fun. There's a few things that are motivating me right now, I like being motivated and having a project. This particular book right now is to express my own experiences and


the things I have learned living out here. I wrote the book about myself and my own personal experience already so with this one I like the freedom to write about myself but also include things I have learned in other ways. There's a big difference between writing fiction and non fiction and you have a lot more room to be creative in fiction.

We do like to discuss our projects that we're working on with each other. There's alot of my ideas in what David writes and a lot of his ideas of what I add to what I write. We bounce our ideas off of each other to express our ideas and to get feedback. I really like the bedroom. Above the wood roof there is dirt and I really like feeling it above me, as though I am an animal in my hole, comfortable and protected. Maybe there's some natural instinct to that, feeling safe. I only use my bedroom at night and the rest of the cabin is my domain during the day. Sky's room is bigger because that's his domain all day so he can do the things he wants to do. My journal is kept up in my bedroom, I wrote one daily for years and years. Not so much anymore, in some ways I think I've already written as much as I can about our day to day life out here and because I have David to tell all my thoughts to. I tend to write more to my journal when he's in town and I'm by myself here. He fulfills my need to share my thoughts with someone when he is here. I have a radio next to the bed, it's 970 KFBX out of Fairbanks. I listen to their half hour news show at noon, I do like to catch the weather even though it's not for our area as it still gives me an idea of what to expect and I like to stay in touch with what is going on in Fairbanks even though it is over 200 miles away. We have a lot of friends there and do all our shopping there once a year. There are often times I will hear the name of somebody I know since Fairbanks really has that small town feel to it even though it's one of the bigger towns in Alaska. Theres no weather forecast for our particular area but I can look to the east of us or west of us and try to guess. A lot of the time if a big cold front is coming in or snow storm it will blanket the whole state. The photo next to my bed is a small photo of my grandmother, my Dads' mother. I found it in the garage at my Dad's house last year so I just brought it home and put it by my bed to remember her. She was my first grandparent to die first in 1994 when I first came up to Alaska and before I met David. I think she is 17 or 18 in the photo so it was taken in 1934. Normally I don't like keeping photos of people that I know because when I look at a picture I see someone as they were at one point in time and I don't want to fool myself into thinking that is still who they are. I don't see myself as a static image but that they grow and change all the time."

"Being writers for us everything here is material for writing so even if you are going through a really tough experience you know you will have something to write about from it and that it's an opportunity to learn from.” —————————————————————————————————————— MISSING OTHER PEOPLE? Romey:


"Do we miss other people? (Lots of laughter). I take refuge in my journal because I don't have my friends to share it with. We recognize that we have a desire and a need to share. Now that we dove into what the need to share is then that need dissolves. We, David and I don't miss other people. I do miss my parents, I come from a close and living family and when we're together I really enjoy them. I talk to them on the satellite phone once a month for half an hour and we email each other every two or three weeks. I feel that it's my responsibility in my life for them, that we might potentially have to leave here to care from there. We've talked about that and it would be hard to go from here to Alabama. But after I've had two or three weeks with then I'm ready to come home. But the space away from there actually helps preserve our relationship.

When I lived in town I avoided people as I didn't want to get involved with people as they got tiresome to me but now when we go to town for one month out of every year I appreciate people more and have more time for them. Part of it is also learning the right time to leave. Drama happens if you stay too long.

We check mail three times a year. Usually David goes into Ruby three times a year, and I go in once to leave for Fairbanks. David does a fuel run to Ruby in June and to get King Salmon by setting up a net in the Yukon River. Romey and David and Sky go in August for Fairbanks and David goes in February to file dividend forms and bring fresh goods home. Eggs, apples, bananas, bacons and sometimes parts like a battery charger the winter usually breaks something, we can't let the cabin freeze. The winter trip is really dangerous, it's really cold, if you have a breakdown you can freeze to death. There's been two people out here in two years that froze to death. It's a long way from anybody and there isn't much light in the winter. I've broken through the ice a couple of times.”

—————————————————————————————————————— WANTING TO BE FREE

Romey:

"We wanted to do this sort of life but realized that we needed to move on. It wasn't far enough out away from people. It was a certain sense of wanting to be free. In some sense it was with me all my life. I didn't like being told that to do, people getting mad at you for not saying the right thing. I think I needed freedom from the daily grind of having to go to work everyday. We thought about moving


out to a bush village but to fly out to look for property was cost prohibitive. Even to just move to a bush village we didn't have the money for.” —————————————————————————————————————— LISTENING TO RADIO & WRITING DOWN POSITIONS OF DOG MUSHERS IN THE ANNUAL DOG SLED 'IDITAROD' RACE

Romey: "I keep track of where everybody is, the radio says when mushers leave the check stations so everyday I can keep track of the standings to see what position the different racers are in. Standings and times mostly. Where they are and the time they left. This whole notebook is full of lists of racers going back to 2004. My favourite racer is Aliy Zirkle who I knew when we lived back in Two Rivers. She's such a great person. I'm always routing for her to get first place, she's finished second twice and third once. I can't lookup results on the internet so I have to listen to the radio which is mostly staticky but it gets better on clear nights.” ——————————————————————————————————————


RADIO

(Romey trying to listen to Nome radio to get updates about the Iditarod dog mushing race). "Sometimes I can hear for about ten minutes and then the reception gets so bad that I can't understand anything. It gets frustrating."

"Primarily I listen to just the Fairbanks station. During the Iditarod I'll listen to Nome. It's a couple of hundred miles, a little further away than Fairbanks in the opposite direction. The reception is sporadic, it's not great, it's different from winter to summer and night to day. I like to know what's going on around the State of Alaska. It keeps me connected to being an Alaskan. And when I show up in town once a year it gives me a way to relate where people are. Also maybe it's the writer in me and I like studying humanity. I can't get FM, only AM. 970AM. I only listen to the half hour of local Fairbanks news. I don't have it turned on all day, I don't listen to talk radio. I do like to know what's going on with the Earth. So weather news is my favourite. Large events, earthquakes, forest fires, large weather patterns - such as its been a really warm winter in the southern United States. Unusual weather patterns and especially in my area in Alaska. I think it's what makes the everyday interesting and different.�


——————————————————————————————————————

SATELLITE PHONE & SENDING EMAILS VIA SATELLITE PHONE & BUSH RADIO

Romey: "When we first moved out here we had no phone and no way to communicate with people. So if our family wanted to tell us anything then they had to send us a message over the public radio. A lot of stations in Alaska have a certain time of day when they read personal messages for people who are living without phones. When we first came here there were a lot more of those people because it was before cell phones. A lot of poor people too couldn't afford phones. I got a message when my Dad retired and when David's Dad died. I would get messages from David when he would go to town, so when we were split up we could talk to each other via messages over the public radio so I'd know when he'd be leaving and when he'd be getting home. It was one sided communication as I couldn't contact the radio station from here but in town he could before he left in order to send the message. It was the KIYU Galena station. They stopped when they converted to FM and put repeaters in each village so we can't get it as we're too far away. It was one mans idea to convert it but I did hear they're trying to go back to that. Basically we got cut off and had to find another way. We learned that we could download a text email through a satellite phone. We have the satellite phone now so we can communicate that way. We've had two. We traded it for a wolf hide. It became obsolete so we had to


get another one, David's Mom bought it for us. We couldn't do the email thing through the old phone. The signal gets bouncy and we get cut off a lot, it can be kind of a pain. It costs a dollar a minute. We normally send one email a month, to Romey's parents and Sam who is our nearest neighbour 80 miles away by snow machine and that's cutting corners, by boat it'd be further than that . He lives alone in a framed house on the Yukon. It's not logged. Generally when I wake up I don't like to get out of bed right away so I listen to the radio every morning. Being out here it would be very easy to fall back asleep again.”

—————————————————————————————————————— MEDICINE Romey:

"I've tried to use everything that grows in the yard at one time or another. One of my my favourite plants is Bedstraw, it's a good tonic. I've heard that it reduces tumours in the body so I drink it in tea. I don't have any tumours but that's part of the subtlety of it. If you're using it preventatively or as a cleanser you're not necessarily going to feel the results of it but I still thinks it's important to take advantage of all the different plants. I do like the bark on the cranberry bushes, it's called 'cramp bark' sometimes and that I have felt the effects of. Sometimes I get cramps or Charlie horses in my back if I've been working really hard and the tea helps to loosen it up. There also the aspect of getting certain vitamins from the plants around us to stay healthy when we don't have any other choices of fresh foods out here. I can't necessarily say that we've had any injuries out here bad enough to be considered emergencies. If I'm out in the woods and I cut myself and I don't have a bandage then I might take some moss and spruce sap and stick it to the cut as a temporary bandage. I should mention that I've used willow bark tea for headaches, it's not as strong as taking an aspirin but it helps and it's natural so I'd prefer to do that. I don't use homeopathy primarily because I would have to spend money in order to acquire it. You just have to make choices when you're living this kind of life. We only have so much money so I'm going to use what I can get off the land freely if I can get that first. There are a few things I get from doctors in town that I like to keep out here for emergencies. Kinda like backup. I always have antibiotics on hand, I also like to have a little alcohol out here for a painkiller if nothing else, drinkable alcohol which can help take the edge off some real pain but we don't drink it, we save it for emergencies. We have some cheap rum and brandy which I use for cooking and grain alcohol which I use to make tinctures. Soaking plant material in the alcohol to make plant medicine. If you make a tincture it helps preserve the medicine longer than in just the tea. Something you can have on the shelf in winter that isn't available fresh in the summer.” ——————————————————————————————————————


LOVE Romey: "If you're completely connected with someone on all levels then you don't need other people in your life. That one person is enough so being in isolation is not a problem.”

————————————————————————————

WANT Romey: "When we get back from spending a month a year in town we have 3 weeks of 'want'. We sit here and feel like we 'want' because we get used to wanting a coffee and going to get one or wanting a burger because they're just there. So when we get back here we've picked that up but we don't need anything as we have all we need right here. There's nothing to want.” ——————————————————————————————————————


HOME SCHOOLING Romey:

"Home schooling / un schooling is big in Alaska. History is pointless schooling as it doesn't apply to him. Teach a skill base instead because it applies to his survival. We have not filled Sky's mind with shit, he has an empty mind still. Why should we download an entire fucked up humanity into his head? It's just mean. So when he does want to learn something he is interested in he learns it like a son of a bitch.” ——————————————————————————————————————

WHO WE ARE OUT HERE & FEMINISM & A MOTHER'S / WOMAN’S ROLE IN ISOLATION Romey: "I feel like we're the last of the true American spirit of the freedom that people were looking for when they crossed the ocean and came to this continent. The spirit of the Wild West, that we're kind of the last wave washing up on that shore coast to coast. We're kinda the tail end of it. Like the American Dream of freedom and living off the land. I get that sense alot living out here. It's the one place where roads haven't reached yet, it's unspoiled still. It's definitely the lack of other human noise besides the occasional noise of a distant airplane. Once there is a road anybody can travel down it so it opens up the whole country and connects you to everybody. I don't know if roads will ever reach out here unless there is a change in wildlife policy but I do think that there will be a road eventually along the Yukon river connecting all the villages. People can't seem to help it. I do wish there was an alternative for people that want to live another way but I don't think there'll be another alternative. The roads lead people to resources and if they find resources out here whether it's mining or wood or food then eventually roads will be put in to get those resources. It means we'd see more people out here in general. The river is a road way so anyone with a boat can venture out here.

A lot of people were living like this when people travelled by wagon and were setting up homesteads. There were certain products being sold back then that made life easier as there was no electricity and everyone was using lanterns and wash tubs to wash your clothes in and cross-cut saws. These days they don't really make things like that to support this lifestyle as nobody is living this way so there is nobody to buy them. That makes it difficult because we don't have the tools we need to live out here now. Not just the tools


but also the knowledge. There's the basic knowledge just of what things are edible and necessary in your diet, there's the knowledge of how to take care of yourself in an emergency situation, using what you have off the land that's given to you. An example is I heard a man used human hair to sew up his wounds after he was attacked by a bear. There was a knowledge of tanning hides, what parts in nature can be used to preserve skins. You can light methane that is trapped by ice to warm your hands with. It may seem simple but knowing how to start a fire is one of the more important things to know. There's certain things to know like birch bark will light very easily. There's always some dry dead branches at the bottom of a spruce tree underneath all the other branches that are protected from rain. Or just knowing that spruce needle tea has Vitamin C in it which will prevent scurvy from happening.

The one thing I've found being a woman out here, especially that I was raised in such a feminist culture and believing in feminism myself, is I understand the necessity for the traditional women


type roles, the importance of creating a happy healthy atmosphere for your family and the benefits not only to ourselves as women but to society.

I think a mother's love and caring is very important in the development of children and individuals. I've seen a lot of problems that neglected children lead to. I think our ability to have relationships with other people stems from our original relationship with our mother. There's so much to teach that's being neglected because people don't have time for their children. I think that maybe women don't understand how truly important their role is in creating in children good heathy individuals mentally and physically. I can still be a women and look after my family but I can also do any of David's jobs out here like working on snow machines that I have to do when he is gone. There's one thing I had to learn along my journey, I was a 21 year old woman saying 'I'm never going to have dinner ready for my husband when he gets home'. There seemed to be a weakness in women's roles so that I wanted to be tough and do anything a man can do. I saw an image in society of where women are weak where men make fun of women drivers but out here it is important to have roles. Without roles there can be a battle for control in different areas so David and I needed to have separate areas that were under our control so we weren't always debating how everything can be done. I leave certain areas to him and he leaves certain areas to me. If I'm out working with him all day then there's all theses job at home that aren't getting done so dividing up the jobs helps. Especially in the old fashioned way we live. The water needs to be pumped, the wood needs to be chopped, the food needs to be made from scratch. And by meeting the basic needs of my family it keeps everybody in a better shape and we're all happier in general.

("You don't have to burn your bra" I said in support to Romey and she replied "Don't even buy one in the first place!�)


Audio Family interview DA: David Atchley RA: Romey Atchley EG: Ed Gold

DA: [inaudible 00:00:03]one of the reasons Aristotle is so ridiculously hard to read is because every term he uses he has to define it for you, because he’s using it in a certain way and he wants to be clear. So, he’ll give you a sentence, and then he has to tell you what each term in the damned sentence means. You know, and then by the time you get back to what he’s talking about, it’s three pages later. You know what I mean? [laughs] and he says something else and then you’ve got to go into you know. So I really understand the difficulty Aristobulus had and it’s very tedious reading.

It can make it seem like it’s very complex but when you’re trying to write to someone or talk to someone or express something and every time you use a term, whether you had a linear mind with it or you’re talking from a different time perspective and they don’t even know that there are other time perspectives, that you’re just constantly taken wrong in trying to convey something.

For me, after thirty years of it, for [s.l. Romy 1.04] and I, after twenty-three years together and then after eighteen years of isolated endeavour in it, we changed the meaning of everything. It’s one of the things that we do play with a lot out here, is that we are able in our isolation to create [inaudible 1.21], to redefine the word, literally, every aspect of it. So, when we start talking about living in a spacemind, we’re not just saying that. This is a discovery. This is realisation. You know, as we start looking at the world through that, and understanding the space-mind instead of the physical body, you begin to see things, the naked truth. Because you see how it’s truth in the world because you’re taking that perspective out into the world. And we discuss the perspective at length, great length, and then we come back to the perspective and discuss it from a different angle. Then we come at it from a different dimensional understanding. We literally just keep coming back at it and we keep seeing new things, to the point that we actually see that our minds is outside ourselves.

EG:

How do you convey that? [inaudible 00:02:14]

DA: No idea how to think with the mind outside of your brain, they don’t even understand the entire universe is their mind. And how do I, can say that sentence, ‘The entire universe is your mind’, [inaudible 2.29]. I can say it. You can say, “Okay, what does he mean by that?” and then you go spend


months trying to see it and, yes, you’ll probably run into it because it’s going on, that’s how we ran


into it.

We understand that like conditions it’s almost like changing the channel on a radio, that once you start understanding conditions you can create proper conditions for certain understandings to arise. Our society is full of busyness, full of want, desire, full of getting ahead, you’re not going to [inaudible 3.04] what are the conditions right now, what are the conditions necessary for the thoughts which we can achieve? Certain aspects like stillness, [inaudible 00:03:19] which we were working on originally when we started talking. If you want certain understandings you realise you have to be still or you’re not going to see things.

It's almost like using your camera, to use an example. If you want that certain angle, that certain view through your camera lens, with my mental lens, you have to climb a tree, you can catch the sun over here, you have to look at the shadow and catch the light. You have to be looking out with it. But this way, you have to be looking towards it. Same thing, except we’re using a mental lens to capture different pictures of existence.

So, in those mental lens, we have to learn the tools of mental lenses. Just like you have your camera as your tool, well, our mind is our tool. You can change your focus, your setting, your apertures. We change definition, we change conditions, and then we get the truth. So, we’re using a camera in essence too.

EG: So, you’ve seen the conditions change with everything while you’ve been out here, but specifically about humanity and mankind.

DA: Well, when we’re outside of humanity we’re able to get rid of all the conditions of humanity, to a certain degree. Obviously, we’re limited in that regard. But by stepping out of the busyness, out of the obligation, out of the everyday you get actually almost more introverted, more focused because in your mind, all you see is man. You just don’t see anything else. So, by removing ourselves from such overwhelming conditions of humanity we’re able to actually see beyond humanity.

It’s almost like, with me, it’s why I don’t really have a [inaudible 5.08] humanity anymore because my camera lens is more like the Hubble telescope. You don’t want to point the Hubble telescope at humanity, it’s just made for a vast, broad array. So, getting outside of humanity allowed me to see beyond it. Think about how many thoughts you have about man every day when you’re walking. Just bumping into him or just the asshole on the road, who just ripped me off at the coffee shop, “Oh my God, we’re all going to make that money. That guy, my boss is a prick. Oh, my kid’s got to be…” That is your mind.


Those are not the conditions for understanding people. You’re only going to have human thoughts, so are the things that are going to arise. So, for here, it’s extracting our minds from humanity. Like I told you in that e-mail, trying to extract humanity from your mind so we don’t have human thoughts, so our thoughts can focus more on the functions of the universe. I get more into a mechanistic, foundational thought, where I look for patterns in the universe, nature of the universe. That’s where we discover its paradoxical nature. But we found that it wasn’t dualistic, it was actually paradoxical. Once again, it’s a very subtle change.

You know, in those kind of discoveries, we eventually learn that it all lies in subtlety with nature. It’s the little things that lead to the big things and that’s once again paradoxical in its own sense. The tiniest of things can trigger the hugest of events here, especially if it’s placed at just the right time, and that’s all you’ve got to do, whole avalanches can ensue, whole things can happen. So, when we started working, we started getting into the subtleties instead of just the flagrant [inaudible 7.00] then we were able to work with and understand a whole other dimension of existence and of course because we have the time and ability we are able to explore that and it continually [inaudible 00:07:14]. We find it is two children running into a toy store, because each of these things are just really fun to play with. But most people that we encounter go, “Oh my God, I could never do that. Whoa, that’s too much.” I was talking about the other day, one thing generally leads to the next. [Inaudible 7.33] eighteen years thinking about it, it does sound overwhelming, because we’ve learned so much in eighteen years of life.

If you think about anybody that has any kind of job, you think about what they’ve achieved in eighteen or twenty years of doing their job. Well, put two minds together working on this stuff for eighteen years in isolation. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve been through everything, to a certain point. The more we go through too, we realise the more there is. And that’s where it starts to, we’re just now getting to that point. The last six months we had going up to the end of this last fall, that was probably the most phenomenal six months of discovery we’ve had and we started really seeing the fruit of that eighteen years of work where we were just starting to [inaudible 8.24] way by life. Where it was just like, “Holy shit, this place is fucking amazing.”

The more you learn, the more it becomes, and the more it becomes the more you see it just keeps going and you’re just like, “Oh my God, this place is really cool.” You know, and then you get to that point where you finally eradicate the disease of humanity, it’s understanding I mean, when I say that, the human understanding. When you realise that the human understanding of our existence is so completely and absolutely mistaken at every foundation level, what do you do with that information? You know, for us, we know what to do. You jump on the train and take the ride you know? But for everybody else it’s hard because, like I said yesterday, when you see it you can’t believe that you never saw it because it’s so clear and obvious. But when you’re not seeing it, it seems so hard to see. Once again, the paradox arises.


So, you have to learn to work with this nature in that sense. So we had to train ourselves to look at the world paradoxically and that takes years to do. You mentioned astrology, you can’t change these things, but make it different. I think if you don’t work on them you can’t change them, if you don’t understand where they come from you can’t change them. But as you start to understand, how do you train yourself to see the world without a self? How do you train yourself to see the world with an unknowing mind?

With each of these things are the tools of our camera and we have to develop these things. So Romy and I will start working on, how do we not know? How do we think we know? Expectations of thinking something and we bring these expectations into things and then we’re blinded to what’s really going on because we’re trying to see what we think we’re supposed to see so we study that and then we start saying, “Wow, okay.” And then we’ve got to catch ourselves doing it. You’re like, “Oh wow, I had an expectation,” or, “Oh, I took my own want into that situation.”

And for me, at first I was chasing all these things, chasing to stop wants, stop expecting, stop all these little, and then it became so much to stop. It became just ridiculous, you couldn’t do it. So I had to come up with a different technique. And I realised that all these things are assigned to a self, selfwants, my self is viewing it this way. So then I was able to work on just the self and as I slowly understood what a self was, what my idea of a self was, Romy and I discussed this stuff every morning. “What is a self? How do we bring selves in, how do we let go of self? How does the whole universe become ourselves?” We started learning that as we did this and then each time suddenly we had these little enlightened moments, enlightened days, enlightened conversations, and when the self fell away all that other stuff went with it. Like, “Oh,” and we call those a nexus point. We find those little nexus points, you work on those things, and then you can deal with everything as just one thing.

That’s kind of where we’re at now. Working at this, the getting rid of the self, that’s a lot of work. The journey that we’re on is a life-long journey, so we don’t feel that there’s any kind of completion to it. It’s always, it’s a river, it’s flowing all the time and you can change it. Enlightenment, it’s something that you have to maintain. It’s not something that you just become enlightened and then you just are for the rest of your life, it’s just not that way. You can have enlightened moments and not even recognise it.

So, working with enlightenment is something that you have to truly practise in every single moment of every single day. And so, to do so, you could never live the way people do in society these days. It’s not an enlightened way of living. So, you’ll just, if you’re really seeking that kind of thing, you cannot participate in what we’re doing. When you start seeing it, it’s so miraculous and so beautiful that you get to the point where you can’t do that anymore. It doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s just so ridiculous. You know and it becomes really hard when you go into town and suddenly see all your friends as ridiculous, because you saw yourself as ridiculous. You go in and you’re like, “Oh my God,


that’s what I looked like? That’s what I was doing? That’s how I saw the world? Holy shit, I can’t do that anymore.” That’s some of the difficulties we’re having these days.

It’s easy to keep your mouth quiet generally speaking, it’s easy to keep your mouth quiet and just not say how you’re seeing the world, but for me and humanity, oh my God, I get so bored, just so bored, then I start saying stuff. I just can’t sit and listen to it. Most people will just say anything that’s popped into their head, just whatever thought, it’s all just random, just blah blah blah. Going, “Blah. Oh, did you agree with blah? Oh, I heard blah, oh my God, I forgot…” They’re just all over the place. None of it is focused light, illuminating anything. It’s scattering. So I just sit there just bored. So, I start saying stuff. Kind of, directing it towards the…

And it’s what most of our friends do enjoy that because we do point to life, and say, “Hey, you’re alive. Don’t lose sight of the miracle. Don’t lose sight of the gift. And all this stuff that you’re lost in, you’ve got to get your head back above water and see where you are.” I can’t help but do that to people, I don’t know why, it’s kind of a poke. But you know, we discovered such miraculous things.

EG:

Can you give me an example?

DA: Well, when we realised that everything is conscious. That was a big one. That all this stuff is made of conscious particles. We think of them as particles as matter versus particles of consciousness. This gets back to the space-mind, of realising that we’re inside of a mind. You might want to look at it, the way you maybe say it, is a ‘mind-body.’ Just as you can close your eyes and picture a friend in your head, there’s a body. Where’s that light coming from? There’s pictures in your mind that are happening. You close your eyes, where’s the light? There’s no light, but you’re seeing pictures right? So, what is that? That’s what leads Romy and I to a conversation. What is that? We might spend weeks on that.

Well, as we start getting into it there’s a mental light, a semantic light, and then you associate it with, instead of the big bang, it’s an awareness. I use the example of ‘I am.’ The universe realised it was. So, for infinite time, it had just been, it was just being, just being, and then one day it realised it was. ‘I am.’ And a semantic light must have shined across the space-mind, must have been big compared to our little puny selves. And it exploded that semantic light, ‘I am’, and the entire universe is built from that light. Everything is conscious. You can sit and feel it, the consciousness arise from all the parts of your body, all the individual lives that form your body, and you start realising each body has its own consciousness. Your heart has its own thoughts, your mind has its own thoughts, [inaudible 16.33]. Now, thought? What is it? What’s actually thinking here?


And when you look at that semantic ‘I am’, you realise that for example I’m talking still but I already had the thought, the thought happened, I’m sitting here explaining it. “Blah, blah, blah, blah blah”. The thought happens in a millisecond, it takes about twenty minutes to explain it though. Well, life is that way. The thought already happened, we’re walking through the explanation. That’s how you have the pre-determinism and the free will at the same time. That’s why you have déjà vu. Because in the cosmic sense of things, in cosmic time, everything happened at once. And it’s all already happened. Puny time down here, we’re walking through the motions but the thought has already happened.

And so, it can lay pieces ten-thousand years ago for things happening today because to it it’s already happened and it all happens at once all the time. So, you can use time in reference like that, suddenly time becomes a tool of using different perspectives and different perceptions of things. That’s [inaudible 17.46] those tools all the time. So, constantly are we redefining things, defining perceptions and perspectives into being and they’re all what I call lenses to look through. If it’s a true lens, we can step into it and walk in it and that’s when you start having the thoughts of it and you can see that it’s true. If you don’t step into it, walk in it, it’s just words and it has no meaning and it’s just a mirror. But if you learn to step into those mirrors, you will eliminate world all around you that have been there all the time and all you’ve got to do is link another [inaudible 18.22] or let them happen in the right way.

EG: You’ve called yourself a subliminal anomaly. Spatial anomaly. Sorry, a spatial anomaly. What do you mean by that?

DA: Er, originally, the joke came about that I was just an odd combination of things that brought about this understanding and there were just all these combinations, especially at certain points in my life, especially college. But I already had the pieces going. Being alone, from being a child, just the mother I had that, because there was no pleasing her it gave me that ability to just give up trying which freed me of a lot of things. Having a certain intellect that I had I ended up, for some weird way, avoiding all the programming of authoritative rule and all those type of things. So that was a big part of it. When I got into college, the combination of something like The Grateful Dead while studying governmental theory, this is an interesting combination of things to bring things about.

So, there was just an anomaly is just something where you have just this odd combination of things, and because of the odd combination that is the conditions of my being I have different type of thoughts and I think differently. It’s funny when, Romy and my conversations are happening at night now, but I realise that I’ve been that way all along, that I thought totally different to people all along. When you’re a kid you don’t know that, you don’t realise that, and you just think, “Oh, when I was in college my thinking changed,” or something, you know, when I became this way, but it’s not the case. I’ve been this way all along. That all goes the way back to, I remember standing there at six years old thinking, “Nobody understands.” Because I didn’t realise that I was seeing a different world than they were and I couldn’t figure out how everybody could just function like they did seeing the world I was seeing. It just made no sense to me.


And I remember that at six, seven years old, just like, “How can you behave this way? What’s going on?” I just couldn’t accept some of it. I used to, there were points at the time when I just thought everybody knew something I didn’t know. It even got to one point where I was like, “Are they smarter than me? Because I’m just not getting something.” I just couldn’t figure it out. But I didn’t realise they weren’t seeing the world I was seeing because if they were... [inaudible 21.10].

But as a kid you don’t understand that. You just come up with all kinds of wonderances and maybe at a point it’ll go away. Maybe we all think differently like that, but we all end up falling into the programming of it all and we lose sight of that. But because of my unique visions, I never fell into it. In fact, I went the other way. I didn’t have any TV, I didn’t get radio, I didn’t get all this programming. I just missed. And so now, being an adult, all these other people went through all this programming stuff that I didn’t. That was kind of part of the anomaly too.

And then of course my interest in the subject, because I did think differently, I had different thoughts which created the desire to explore them. Which create the philosophical tone. It was easiest for people to accept that I liked philosophy, to explain why I thought differently. “Oh, he’s philosophical,” not that I was totally different. Then I started working with that difference and illuminating things with it. At each step of the way, as people went one way and I went the other way, we just got further and further apart.

I took certain guiding lights as I was growing up. If everybody else was doing it, go the other way, amazing guiding light that’s been and what a weird one because we’re trying to convince that we’re all right all the time, we all know what we’re doing all the time. But I kind of realised as a young age man has never been right so why are we now? The destruction and chaos and mentality that we’re deriving from our understandings is not something I wanted to follow. So, if everybody else was doing it, go the other way.

It’s kind of like you can see me with the Internet, [inaudible 23.09] living. It’s all about go the other way. And the family dynamics that it’s brought proves it to be true, or have truth within it, my family wouldn’t be this happy or getting along or life itself wouldn’t be this nice so there’s some truth in it. How do, how do people see this? You have to see it for yourself. You have to see that your wants are what’s actually destroying you, not getting you anywhere. But I can’t tell somebody that, I mean you have to see that.

That want, the idea, you should see abhorrent people think of the idea, not having want, oh my god. But they can’t see how much want is so destructive to their life, especially when it’s so destructive,


chaotic want, wants conflicting with other wants; “I want this, but I want that. No, I want this in the long-term, but I want this right now.” So, they’re in a state of war with their own want.

EG:

[Inaudible 24.20] the energy that keeps the system moving and flowing.

DA: Yes, that is it. That’s how they lord their power over us. It’s how we become blind to our own world, when you take out the human creation of want. Just watch yourself for a day, how many times do you want? Sometimes it’s so tiny, I just wanted to grab an armload of wood but the axe handle broke and then I’ve got to deal with that. “I just wanted wood, you don’t understand.” Because I brought want into it instead of just going out and discovering what happens with an empty mind.

That’s freedom. I want this, my kid wants that, what do we do? Do I have to dominate my child to get my want? Where’s the sacrifice? How do we get our emotional stability through, “I want, you won’t let me,” and now we’re going to blame somebody for not giving it to us. Oh my God, how low can you go on [inaudible 25.28].

And for each of us, we’re never going anywhere. The personal responsibility involved in changing the world. It’s nice of us all to think that I can recycle cans and I can go judge everybody because they’re not changing the world. Or I can go blame politicians because they’re fucking up the world. No. It all comes back to each one of us individually taking care of ourselves. Nobody can do it for us. No politician is going to fix it, no teacher is going to do it, no job is going to do it, no want is going to stop it. You have to fix yourself and until people are prepared to do that this world will not move on. So, for Romy and I, that’s what we began to do.

So, we have to work with our wants, we have to work with having a self, we have to work with understanding what moves us, where thoughts come from, what thoughts even are. We’re thinking and letting it control our lives, but if we don’t dive into what a thought is, where they come from, how they control their lives, how we attach ourselves to one idea versus another. Why? Why does person say, “I want it this way,” and you say “I want it that way”? You know, do we even have any control at all? Are we just atoms moving just like atoms move? We think our thought that’s moving us, but really it’s the world moving us. So, we’re like, “Oh, I want it that way?” “Do you know why? And why did I pick the ones to like and you pick the ones you like?” So, we explore that stuff, every aspect of it, so then we can start seeing where thoughts come from and that’s when we got to realising that they arise out of conditions of things.

And they’re old thoughts, a lot of the time they’re other people’s thoughts, that we just adopted at some point. Sometimes it’s just auto-response. The brain is just looking for an association or a way to


relate so it just pops this thing, this memory, at you, and you’re like, “No, you’re just a memory from my second-grade teacher.” But you have to know that that’s where that thought came from.

EG: So, living in isolation has allowed you the time to explore these different areas. Have your findings changed the way you behave physically?

DA: Oh God, phenomenally. Wow. Yes, yes. How would you say that? Well, selfishness starts falling away immediately. That is phenomenal in the dynamics of your family. The offering of your being instead of the taking for your being flips things around quite a bit in that regard. We have understanding, there’s lots of frustration, and in less frustration there’s less anger. So, your emotional being, definitely there’s a lot of healing.

I think what I realised, I never knew that I was sick mentally because that was just the state of the world. You didn’t realise the whole world is sick, it’s normal because we’re all thinking this way. So you don’t realise. We came into this isolation and started looking at these things. I realised that I was sick mentally, that we all are. And so, I had to eradicate that illness. So, I had to realise, face myself, and oh my God is it hard to do sometimes, to look at yourself in this way and to realise that my mood or my anger was damaging my family, that it was damaging myself.

Because when you’re angry, anger comes with a certain justification, a certain righteousness, and so when that anger comes you feel right to be angry. But it’s so damaging. So understanding where our anger came from, where our moods in general come from, allowed us to calm our moods and not allow them to storm [inaudible 29.30] where it became a still-pond state. And in the still-pond you can reflect life a lot clearer. If that wind is blowing really hard, this is how we learn from nature, this is why we realise that nature is our mind, because we can use it for these type of lessons.

When I see the lake out here blowing really hard in the wind, I can’t see any kind of reflection at all other than that of the wind storm. But when the wind stops and the lake is flat and calm, I can take a picture and I can turn it upside down, right side up, and you can’t tell me which one is which. It gives me that clear reflection of life, it gives me that clear reflection of myself, of my family. So, by being still I can see where the pebbles are hitting the water. So, I had to still myself to see things. And these trivial things reflect in our family dynamics, how we relate to each other. When we do encounter a stone we can all stop, say, “Where did that stone come from? Are we going to let these ripples affect us?” We can stop on it, instead of just saying, “Do as I say, because I said so.” What goes on in the world, we don’t have that now because we worked with it. So it affects in infinite ways.

EG:

Is this why you’re able to live just the three of you here, with nobody else?


DA: I think so. Like Romy said, when you have a complete relationship you don’t have a need for others because we’re complete. In fixing the sickness, we then began to heal. By fixing each one of these things and facing them. Sometimes it’s very humbling. I’ve had some moments of truth. It was not fun to go through, realising that you’re an arsehole or you’ve been treating the one you love like shit. These are hard things to face sometimes you know, and when you do face them you feel healed from it and then you know how it happened so you can fix it. And then after you heal, you start growing. Then as you start growing, I think we’re just now really getting into the blooming part right now of our lives. That’s eighteen years. That’s a lot of work to get to blooming.

We’re very sick as a people and I can’t fix that for anybody else, I can’t even fix it for Romy. But Romy and I can fix it together because we each work together with it. What marriage is going to be any greater than two people fixing themselves together, two people exploring the nature of being together? Because you get the fruits of all those discoveries within your relationship. It’s like to really capture what we are out here, we were talking about this last night with the camera, we have to capture how we sit together, how we lay on top of each other. You’ve seen some of it with how we’re symmetrical with each other, how we sit together. This couch right here, we three sit on this couch all the time together. How we look at each other, like when I’m sitting where Romy’s sitting right here, like she does every day, and I always have to lean into her. Every time she walks by [inaudible 32.47].

All these little just subtle connections that we do all the time, just to how we look at each other, how we stop for one another. When you realise that you love something, love has no self. It’s completely self-sacrificing. So, to really know love you can’t bring a self into it. Romy is infinitely more important than I am because I have no self to battle that. And to her, I’m infinitely more important than she is. So, we care for each other in that way instead of caring for myself over herself. So, where’s an argument? How do you argue? Because it’s like, “Well, honey, if that’s what’s important to you then yes.” She’s like, “Well, this is what’s important to me.” So we’ll make us both feel the best because we’re not fighting our wants over the other. So, then we start knowing love and what it really is. I think humanity thinks it’s to possess another. “You have to ask my permission? Well, I didn’t say you could do that. Why were you talking to that person?” How is that love? And offer that to a child that gets to grow up in that and be a part of that. Well, he grows in that kind of understanding.

So when our wants do conflict, which we have, one time, one thing [inaudible 34.24] character in Dungeons and Dragons. He wanted to do a barbarian, Ralph was like we’re already [inaudible 34.30]. So, we had these two wants. So, we had the time to sit there. First off, let the want settle, you know. “Okay, you want a barbarian. How do we go about this? Where’s our solution?” The solution is not, “I’m going to get what I want over you,” because we all care about each other. So, can one of us choose to be patient to where we can do both? Let’s finish the encounter, we’ll create the barbarian, we’ll do another one. Okay, that’ll work.


So, we’re not so caught up in the want of the very moment, that this want has to happen right now. Sometimes they’re big wants for somebody, Romy wanting a child or feeling the want come from somewhere. I had to recognise that. I didn’t marry this woman to make her unhappy, so what do I need to do, to offer? And if it’s offering my life to raising a child so that she could feel happy, yes, that’s what you do, and then it makes you happy that you did that.

I think I told you this earlier on but I see marriage as a huge responsibility. Another person is putting their life experience, their life in your hands. I don’t want Romey on her deathbed going, “That sucked.” It’s a huge responsibility man. I mean I don’t want her sitting there thinking, “God, I wish I’d married somebody else. Jeez, I wish I hadn’t wasted my one chance at existence with this arsehole.” In making myself better, for that very thing, to where I want her looking up with a smile and googly eyes saying, “Thanks honey, that was a great ride.” And I change myself for that every day. That one thing is that guiding light for me and I’ve become a person way better than I ever would have become chasing my own wants against all else.

Now, until people are ready to do that we will live in the world we live in today. So, we’re the future, that’s what’s next. That’s what’s really being discovered out here. And you’ve gotten a chance to be here long enough to see us, that’s the work that’s really going on out here. We’re deriving these lessons from our very existence and our existence is so beyond our bodies at this point and our mind and our being, so beyond being a human being. We are all things being, we are all the conditions that we are being right now. It’s a constant, flowing thing. And we’re different whether I have three cups of coffee or not, that’s a condition, your thoughts will be different. Whether we’re in love or not is a major condition, each thing is a condition and those conditions change. Just a shadow crossing the sun can change the conditions and the thoughts you’re having. So, you are all things thinking and connecting with that.

We can bring it into town, it stays with us a while, but eventually the storm of humanity will slowly deteriorate it because you can’t keep that [inaudible 38.03] because nobody else is there. It’s like Romy was saying yesterday, we’re not making the tools for this life anymore while people are taken away. [Inaudible 38.12]. But it’s the only way. You each have that personal responsibility and we’re lost right now in want, chaos, and emotion. We’re a stormy sea, not a still one, so we see nothing but ourselves.

That’s the thing about the self, it can only see itself. That’s why you have to get rid of the self. And your idea of what the self is, is wrong. But you have to realise that before you can let go and most people don’t even take that step. So, yes, there’s nothing we can do but at the same time I still [inaudible 38.59].


Some of my friends really like it. Dave [inaudible 39.05]. Sam loves it. There are certain people that do want this, Josh, but they just don’t know how. But they desperately want it. They know something’s wrong. They know they’re not happy. They’re truthful enough with themselves to admit, even though they can, from the outside in normal understanding they look happy, it’s accepted as happy, you know, but it’s not. And there are certain people that I’m friends with that recognise it, they just don’t know how to walk out of it.

EG:

How do you recommend that they do?

DA: Everything I’ve just said. You have to start looking at what you are and how you function and you need to find somebody else to do it with. Like Romy said when we were, before we met we were walking alone and it’s hard. But when we got together suddenly it was more like a bicycle, she described it, where we pedalled together and suddenly we’d go a lot further. I think it’s what’s the most important part of a relationship, that you decide what is important and the two of you adjust your life to that importance. So, the importance isn’t money and fame, and game, name, all these other ego-centric things, it’s more about a relationship and understanding the gift of existence together. In the exploring of that, you’ll heal.

EG: Apart from the philosophy of living in isolation, are there any other reasons why you live so remotely?

DA: [Inaudible 40.44]. This path led us here, it found us because this is what we wanted. The path opened up for us because it was what was necessary to do what we wanted in that regard. It’s funny to use the word want, forgive us my use of that word here. It was our, it was um, that path and I think life has a way of reaching out to you if you reach out to it. Our desire to understand our existence led us here, because it’s the only place that it could happen. And everything opened up. You wouldn’t believe the path that opened up for us to come here and the path that’s kept us here without a job. Something always comes together. Something always supports it. In times that we’ve actually felt like, “There’s no way we’re going to make another year. How are we going to make it?” and it’s “What happened? And it must have happened right at the last minute too”, but it’s kind of a testing of your faith and your understanding in that regard. We believe in our journey and we continue to reach out.

We have to understand, sometimes in my puny perspective I feel like everything’s going wrong. But that’s just my own understanding getting in my way. I later realise, when it all comes together, that that’s how it had to be for me to move from there to here. So what I thought of as wrong was actually exactly what had to happen or I wouldn’t be where I am. So we had to learn to free ourselves up from those moments of doubt, those moments of loss of faith that you can have sometimes, and just ride those things out and keep going. Every time we have, life has been there to catch us and we have been there to reach out for it.


So it’s a reaching for your own understanding of being that’s led us here and that’s why we look at this place as a monastery in a sense. We’re the thoughts, this house is the city we live in, it sits on the hill and we’re the thoughts of its mind. We see that. And when we harmonise with that is when the proper conditions arise to bring the understanding. We work really hard on it and we have the ability because of that isolation.

EG:

And you’ll continue in your life to keep on learning as you have?

DA:

Oh yes, oh yes.

EG:

Do you see any conclusion in the future?

DA:

Is it something that has a conclusion?

RA:

There’s never a conclusion, you do it every moment of every day.

DA: It’s a way of life, not a conclusion. It’s just a way of life. It’s like floating a river, I don’t know, I guess if you get to the ocean it’s called death. I do have certain beliefs about that. I do believe that in the moment of death that you actually are ‘there’, and you are all things being in that moment, that it’s possible to transcend that. But not as an individual David. David’s because I’m not David, I’d be all things being. When you’re truly all things being there is no death. That’s a belief but I’ve seen some hints of it in my life and it will be something I, that at least in the larger mind, I don’t have quite the fear of death I’ve had in my life.

EG:

You’ve said that you think that society will collapse quite soon?

DA: I believe so, doing the math of it. It’s not a sustainable way of life. You cannot consume resources at an uncontrollable rate in a finite resource place, so yes. So, you’re going to deplete the resources and have nothing to survive on.

EG:

That’s one of the reasons why you’re living out here, because in isolation you’re going

to be so far away from people it would be a lot safer and easier to live?


DA: Yes, I believe that when, if the human collapse happens there’s probably going to be rampant disease. Isolation protects you from that. There’s going to be starvation which means you’re probably going to have a lot of looting, rioting. We’ll be safe from that. The grocery stores, like in Alaska, they have three days of food. That’s going to be gone in one day if shit hits the fan. Where are you going to get food other than taking it from others? Out here, I can pull a fish out of the lake, I can eat a squirrel, I can make crackers out of birch bark. That’s the knowledge that we have done, that we have reserved.

RA: I think it’s important not only for us but for all people to preserve the knowledge of living [inaudible 46.03]. A lot of it is becoming lost.

DA: Do we want to be forced back to the planet without any of that knowledge? We’re going to be sure wishing we had it. You’re going to wish you knew how to make crackers out of birch bark when you can’t find any bread, you’re going to wish you knew how to make seeds so that you could garden, you’re going to wish you knew how to make fertiliser.

RA:

It’s almost like the survival instinct of our species working through us.

DA: We are not the ones instigating or thinking this, the world is thinking this and we’re the instruments of that live body. It’s time the world starts realising you can’t keep doing this. We’re just the first people, or some of the first people, to start realising this. You’re one of the first people, or you wouldn’t be documenting alternative lifestyles. But you can’t just live the life, you have to live the thought, you have to stand here. I mean anybody can go out and chop wood.

[Tape changes].

DA: [Inaudible 47.29] the man at home. Instead of him working a job, he can build a whole house and he can make sure things are running. So, she’s not paying a mechanic or she’s not paying a carpenter or she’s not, you know, paying a mortgage. Sam’s out taking care of this stuff. So, he has a job supporting his life, and that became valuable instead of money.

EG: The crux of most of your findings or a lot of your findings is that humans have to change their behaviour, so how are you just saying that, do they have to stop spending money?


DA: Well, you have to, for us, to have to arrange the time. Time is more valuable than money. And how can you work with your wife or your husband if you have no time to do so? How can you be a part of your children’s life? I mean your children get home from school, they’ve got two hours of homework, and they’ve got to eat dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. What are you getting, an hour and a half with your kid, two hours with your kid a day? Maybe get a weekend.

So, you have to arrange to have time. So, I think one of the first things our society would be really good about doing is arranging more time to be together so we have more time to work on these things. If we all do it together, we can do it in a societal sense. We have to do it in isolation because nobody else is willing to do so. Um, so, but if you want to do it, yes, we all have to do it. We just recently have sent the other half of our workforce into the workplace when women chose to have careers. So, we had to double our workforce. Now, it takes two people to provide for a home instead of one. There’s nobody raising us so we’re all being sent into the system so we’re mass-producing people, mass-production produces cheap goods. So, we’re getting cheap goods.

You have to start dealing out some quality goods as far as humanity goes, and quality goods is the craftsman, yes? The artisan, the craftsman, that’s what produces quality goods. And if you want your family and your relationships to be quality we need more time. And we should be, it’s our system, so why can’t we design a system that provides more time? When they say, ‘time is money’, it’s kind of funny in that regard. Well, if time is money, we’re about as rich as you get on this planet. We have all the time in the world, and that’s way more valuable when you’re on a life type of system which is what we’re on. Your life, your time is limited, so how are you going to utilise that time. Are you going to sell out for money? Now, that’s what people think time is money. Well, I’m not selling my time out for money.

So, that was the biggest one, how can we adjust our system, that we can live cheaply, efficiently, so we can all have more time and then we’ll all be happier people? You know, and we have to learn to govern ourselves. When you’re in an overpopulated world, “I want five kids,” is just something you can’t be doing man. You know, do you really need police and politicians to lower the boom on us to make us realise that your want for five children is disgusting in today’s age? It just is. You don’t even have time for one kid, and you want to go have five and go dump them into the mass-production? And then, you know, what the hell, man.

All of it comes back to personal responsibility. If you want smaller government, quit causing a need for bigger government. Let’s just quit robbing and stealing, we won’t need cops and prisons. It’s so obvious. But people are being controlled by their wants and other things are moving them and, yes, part of it is becoming aware of those things and you start it off, you start with yourself, you move to your relations, you grow into your community. It’s basically Confucianism.


How can you have a strong society if you have a weak individual? You just won’t. We all talk about how we want the world better, we all act like it’s supposed to be politicians and them that are supposed to fix it, but it’s each of us individually that need to do so. I don’t know how you convey that message to the world and how you get people to realise that to do so. I don’t have that answer. I know what we need to do, I don’t know how to get people to do it.

EG:

Potentially individuals are doing it, aren’t they?

DA:

Yes, yes.

EG:

But if everybody did then the world would change.

DA: Yes. We need everybody to do it. World peace is easy, just everybody has to do it and that’s the hard part of it, that’s the paradox in it. But yes, Sam and Tamara are trying. I’ll give Dave credit, he’s wishing for it struggling and wants it and he’s trying for it, he just doesn’t know how and he’s fumbling along. When you don’t have a partner participating, it’s just not going to work. You both have to you know, you both have to give to have. You know, if one is taking, the other will quit giving and then it all collapses. So, really, it’s very important who you choose to work with on something like this. It’s very important. And it has to be a genuine effort. This is not something you can fake.

It’s weird, because you realise you can’t lie to yourself anymore and you’ll realise all the places you’ve been doing so. Those are hard discoveries. They get easier because as you discover them they fall away and then you have less and less of them. They get harder to find as you go along because there’s less and less of it. That’s where [inaudible 53.36] they’re hard to see, just in how you say something, how you talk to each other. We had to work, we still work on our language and how we talk to each other because it’s been so ingrained in us in our life, how we talk. We talk very rude with each other and it’s very hurried. So, to offer that respect for one another, Romy and I still work on that.

The work never stops, but the fruit of the work is so marvellous that the work becomes actually fun and it becomes an art. We call it the ‘art of living.’ It is art. You get to live the art, become the art, and now you have the art of creating your own reality and when you create your own reality and your reality is you’re at peace, every [inaudible 54.30], everything.

EG: Is having to pump your own water and generate your own power part of it, or would you accept mains electricity if you could get it?


DA: Oh, I’ll probably stay self-reliant. Yes, definitely. Yes, that is the crux of it. If you are using or needing things, then you should be responsible for producing it. Yes, absolutely, because then you become reliant on others and if they collapse you start to blame and you go down that road

RA:

[Inaudible 55.09].

DA:

Yes, and you have to enslave yourself. Yes, definitely provide for yourself.

RA:

I’d been collecting rainwater off my roof [inaudible 55.25] water. [laughs]

DA: I understand that, definitely, definitely. I think in providing for yourself like that, you prevent these mass-structures from taking over and the destruction that these mass-structures cause. It requires you to keep it simple in that sense. The least amount of drain you put on the planet itself, the more sustainable the planet could be. When you create these huge mass-structures, their drains just dominate. It’s destructive. People in America average ninety gallons of water consumption a day. Ninety gallons a day of water we’re consuming. Each household. That’s just outrageous.

Where we, the four of us, took a sauna and showers on ten gallons. That’s four people on ten gallons on water. Because you’re pumping your own water, you’re using a bucket. So, you’re, I think it’s really important when you’re providing that you’ll just draw more or less, less from the world. [Inaudible 56.38]. By drawing less, you draw more. I don’t know how that works but it’s kind of the way it is. So yes, I think that it’s very much how we do things. If you’re just plugged in, you can just use all the electric you want, why would you be conservative? But if you’re producing the electric, you tend to be a little more conservative.

EG: It’s interesting, in the western world, capitalists think we’re doing the right thing. In Britain, it’s shameful for me to say I don’t have a regular nine-to-five job and all the capitalists out there are judging me because of that. But, in fact, they’re the problem.

DA: Oh, my God, yes. Capitalism is a failed system, that they can’t. That’s the propaganda, that’s why they have to do that, otherwise we wouldn’t believe that it was right if they didn’t keep using peer pressure and propaganda to support their system. People would choose it. Why do we need propaganda and peer pressure? Why do we need eighteen years to educate someone to it? Because it’s not right, it takes eighteen years to convince somebody it’s right, you know?


How we got to a point of accepting, “Yes, take my child at two years old.” What the hell? Yes, capitalism is a horrible, horrible, horrible system. And I can say that coming from a college educated mind of governmental theory. If you study capitalism in a governmental theory class, it fails on every count. But what is the goal of capitalism? That is the question. What is the goal of humanity? We are a goalless nation and that’s the biggest problem. Is the goal to produce the most shit, to consume the most shit? Then, yes, capitalism is your system.

EG:

It’s a pyramid system.

DA: Oh yes, definitely, definitely. But if the goal is to produce an enlightened understanding then capitalism is an absolute failure.

RA:

Pyramids, as in built by slaves?

DA: Yes. Yes, “Here’s an onion, go carry your rocks.” Yes, the top point is resting on everybody else, most assuredly. But yes, so it depends on how you want to judge capitalism, what’s the goal of it?

EG:

You said that barter won’t necessarily work, so do you have a utopian idea?

DA: Generally speaking, instead of basing a monetary system on gold, which is a want, I would base it on food, a need. That will lead us to be more towards a barter system, to utilise barter. I don’t think we can go to complete barter, because my chicken is not laying eggs when your zucchini’s ready. So, if you want to give me zucchini but in two months when my chicken’s laying I’m going to owe you eggs so you give a promise or a note, “I promise to give you the eggs for that zucchini.” So, I don’t think we can go to a complete barter system, especially with eight billion people.

Erm, and we’re not going to do anything until we start implementing some population control system. It may be too late for that already. We should have done something back in the fifties. But Jimmy Carter tried in the seventies and just got chastised for it. So, population control is certainly going to be a part of things. And whether we choose to or not, the rabbits will get sick when they get overpopulated, the beavers will get sick when they get overpopulated, that’s just part of life, it’s the nature of life.


So, in our overpopulation we better be ready to deal with some serious disease because it’s going to fix us whether we do or not. I’d rather fix us before it does. So, I think you can base a monetary system on food and then the more food you produce, hence the more money you have instead of a want that can fluctuate up and down. “People want gold so money is worth this, people don’t want [inaudible 1.00.36].” You don’t want your monetary system to fluctuate like that, it needs to be more stabilised.

It’s such a great way because everybody can grow money that way, [inaudible 1.00.48]. Because really, you got to deal with the basics. What do we all need? We need to eat. So, why shouldn’t we all be growing food? Why isn’t every tree we plant a fruit bearing tree? Why are we living?

EG: Are there any societies on the planet right now that are close to what you think is a good way of living?

DA:

Ohh. Well, there’s happier ones than others. I’ll answer no, across the board.

RA:

What about the Amish?

DA: But yes, you do have small clans that are trying but because nobody else, the rest of the world is not supporting it it’s very hard on them and they’re losing their youth because of it.

EG:

Can you give me an example?

DA: The Amish is what made me think of that. The youth, they’re like, “Screw this ploughing with a horse thing, you know, when I can just buy a tractor.” If everybody were ploughing with horses they wouldn’t have any problems, but because nobody else is they have all kinds of problems. Like Romy said yesterday, we’re even buying quality goods to live that way because nobody else is living that way.

RA: Actually, some of the Amish, it’s like a catalogue and stuff. I forget the name of it but [inaudible 1.02.04]. A lot of Amish people I think get stuff through them.

EG:

Why is ploughing with a horse the way to go about living?


DA: I don’t know if um. I mean our use of the animals were pretty brutal, in the day that we used animals. We rode horses to death. So, I won’t get totally nostalgic but I think that’s the way to enslave animals for our own uses. But it certainly keeps things simpler and you’re only going to grow as much as you need because it’s all you can. I think some of the better societies right now are certain combinations of the governmental theories we have at the moment. Using communism in keeping wealth redistributed. Using socialism and keeping the resources in the hands of the people. And using capitalism in a small, barter/trade, type of scenario.

So, I think there are bits and pieces of each system that we can use instead of one against the other or one totally and the other completely not. Er, there’s definitely some work we need to do in the democratic system, because when you have 51% to 49% it’s hard to ignore the desires of half your population for the desires of the other half because then basically half of you are always screwed.

So democracy certainly could use some work. You can’t have a democratic system with a propagandised public, because you’re propagandising them, how are they really voting their conscience? Erm, The education of the people, every governmental system starts with education, how you educate your people. And to be allowed to vote you should at least have to as a starting point, this would change as the system grew, but a starting point is you should be able to pass a test before you’re allowed to vote. If you don’t know enough to vote, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

So, you’d have to get rid of propaganda first. You’d have to get rid of political party control. Ideologies, you have to get back to the representing of what the people want. But you can’t represent what the people want and need unless they’re educated and a whole individual. So, to restructure things is a complete overhaul. You have to start at the foundations of your governmental theory. What is the goal? How do we reach the goal? You always start with education.

EG:

Is globalisation going to work in the future?

DA: I’ve never seen once size fits all, so I would have to guess no. I understand the attempt of it. I think to stop war you get everybody in one system. You don’t have anybody to war with. But one size fits all does not work because one size does not fit all. I think it’s u, it’s too large for me to care about what’s happening on the other side of the planet when I don’t really even know the people, I don’t know the conditions, and my interference in the other side of the planet I don’t see. I think it’s best to keep things as homebased as you can, all the way to the individual.

So, like I say, with Confucianism you start with your person, then your family, then your community, then your state. I think it works the other way around when you start dealing with globalisation, you


need to work with your state first to bring it home to your community, to your family, to yourself. Globalisation, I don’t see where that works.

Erm, I understand that people in areas you can’t grow bananas, want bananas. You know, but I don’t know if it’s worth sucking down billions of gallons of fuel every day so we can have ships doing that. I think globalisation it’s, you might want to liken it to do you really want all the bacteria overrunning the petri dish, because they’ll die in their own waste and ultimately this planet is a petri dish and we are the bacteria and globalisation will lead to dying in our own waste. So, I don’t think it’s very…

The tricky part of what you’re talking about is I can come up with governmental theories that work from a blank slate. The question is how do we get from here to there? You know and once again, that’ll start with each of us individually. You certainly need to quit using education to programme people to accept a failed system. It’s just…ridiculous. So, you need to start using education in a different format. How do we fulfil ourselves as individuals and our understanding of what we are? And then all else will follow. Those are the key things, finding these things, and all else can follow.

If I can design an entire system to bring peace and enlightenment to a single individual, all else will follow. If I make every decision in my life to bring peace and contentment to myself, every action, every thought, every relation I have is designed to bring peace and contentment to myself, all else will follow. Those are the things you have to pick.

EG: That’s partly why religion was introduced I suppose, to try and stop people from being materialistic, consuming so much.

DA: Yes, yes. Unfortunately, religion is based on belief. Truth, you don’t need belief, it’s just truth. And truth is something we can all comprehend. Truth is something, we can know our existence. People have accepted, agnostics say we can’t know. Atheists say there’s no God. Religions say God wants us to be like this and God wants us to be like that. It’s all based on belief. But if you deal in just truth, where is there a need for belief? It’s just truth. How will people find the truth? Well, it’ll bring peace and contentment to your being. It’ll be the enlightened understanding itself will illuminate you.

RA:

That’s the guiding light.

DA:

That’s the guiding light, yes.


EG: Isn’t it odd that people don’t seem to want to do that? Mankind wants to war and fight instead of that?

DA: It comes with a lot of personal responsibility. We don’t like the answers so we look for other answers. But there is no other answer to truth. There’s just truth. So, we look everywhere but truth because we don’t like the personal responsibility involved. You have to be self-sacrificing, you have to be polite, you have to not have want. It’s teaching the child to grow up and the child doesn’t want to grow up but the child is being very destructive to himself and all others and he needs to. Yes, it’s a, we’re still very childlike in that regard.

End


Personal Journal 19 February 2017 - 19 March 2017 19 February 2017

I land back in Galena after 13 months since my first visit. The Beechcraft 1900 has fluctuated from feeling droughty cold to way to warm the entire flight but the whole time reeking of burning rubber and diesel. I’ve kept my Snugpak jacket on the entire flight knowing that when the airplane door is opened an icy blast of -20C+ air will rush in so it’s best to be prepared. I’ve been studying the ground below in the latter half of the flight to see where the Nowitna river breaks off from the Yukon river and heads south and know that I recognize it before Ruby comes up. Compared to all the many other broken ox bow lakes that show their crescent moons through the tundra near to the mighty Yukon I can tell the Nowitna river by it’s size and so down this waterway is where the Archly family live and who I will fly to see with Brad Scotton in 5 days. Sandy, Brad’s wife met me at the airport. As I have done before in 2009 and 2015 I walked from the plane to the small airport building and whilst walking up the steps the door opened and Jon Korta, the Mayor walked out. I put my head down and carried on up as Sandy came out behind him. I recognized both of them but didn’t want to talk to Jon Korta after an email exchange a year before. I grabbed a handful of free ear plugs from the check-in desk and stood, looking out of the windows at the just arrived plane I had come on. Soon Sandy comes to find me and said I had walked past her and I apologize. On Christmas Eve 2015 I had been invited to her house before for drinks with Adriana Hevezi and did not remember today how shy she was. She is short with cropped blond hair and puts her head down often as we talk and pauses to think. I join her in silence when she pauses not wanting to flood see thoughts with new arrival jabbering. We walk outside to where the hold luggage from the plane is left on a wooden pallet that a tractor loader has brought just 50 meters from the plane. Passengers grab their bags and bustle past to their family’s cars eager to get out of the cold and home. I apologize to Sandy and explain that I didn’t stop as I entered the building as I didn’t want to talk with ‘someone’, that being the Mayor. A minute later he comes up to me and shakes me by the hand and said he thought he recognized me in that brief moment I walked past him. Welcome back to Galena he says. I find this amusing in my mind because I had sent him a copy of a book I made of my previous Galena work. I had told him it was a gift, that it had cost me $130 to produce, a considerable amount of money for me and he already knew that I had spent 6 weeks in Galena taking photos. I hoped that if I sent him the book as a gift he might endorse it, write me a letter of recommendation supporting it so that I could get a publisher on board and possibly funding to photograph in Galena further. I already had at least 40 interviews and really wanted to photo and interview everybody else from this native village in order to make a really beautiful documentary photography book. Instead Jon simply said I had spelt his name wrong. I asked him for help and he said no. I replied politely that I was sorry to have bothered


him and asked him to return the book. If you’re reading this and only even half intelligent you’ll understand how this feels to someone as passionate and hard working as myself. I won’t even explain here, wasting space, about that. So…people are moving bags around and the Mayor slips away like quicksand as quickly as he showed himself and Sandy and I walk to her car. It’s an ex state trooper vehicle. A Ford Triton V8 engine with raised suspension, looking a Ford Escort that’s been doubly widened and lengthened and raised. I ask Sandy if it’s powerful and she says only just about as much as is necessary she says. It’s mid afternoon and the a bright blue sky with sun and everywhere twinkles and glints in the light. This time I don’t have the anxiety, the excitement, the anticipation of a new visit to a place unseen. I feel alot older, tireder and…not careless but less concerned about what will happen in the future with this project. I remember how everyone made me so wide eyed in comparison 11 years before when I went to Patagonia and how I wrote every detail down. Now I feel as though I have come back to a home where I have been living all of my life. The Mayor when he said welcome back Ed I countered very quickly so be would know that I hadn’t returned, to waste my time, photographing his town. Instead I explained matter of factly that I was here for only a 4 or 5 days before heading off somewhere remoter. Rather than accepting that and moving on he immediately wanted to know who I was going out to see. The Atchley’s he asked? Yes I said. He looked at Sandy and they both laughed. A laugh that they both understood but which they knew I didn’t. And how are you getting out there the Mayor asked? I said right now I am not in a position to be able to say. I could tell this stopped dead his enjoyment of this conversation and that he was judging and snearing inwardly at the fact I was planning on going out to stay with a family who he had an opinion on. Sandy pipes up to Jon that the person who is taking me out to the Atchleys is somebody that both she and the Mayor know, so immediately Jon understands that it is Sandy’s husband who will be flying me despite Brad having told me by email that he didn’t want anyone to know that he was flying me out there. So far all I can gauge is that Brad, Sandy and Jon Korta the Mayor look down on the Athcley’s because they are not proper people living remotely. Obviously I don’t understand. So now, in the car as Sandy drives me back to her house, with her small legs straining to reach the car accelerator pedal and looking like she is a child in charge of driving this car on steroids I ask her why she laughed about the fact I was going out to document the Atchleys. Here I am having just flown from the other side of the world from London to Los Angeles to Anchorage to Fairbanks to remote Galena almost right in the centre of the state of Alaska only to be greeted by a laugh at my plan for this project. Well, Sandy explains, it’s a lifestyle to live like this out in the bush. Normally people who do this do it because they are living off the land. They are trappers and hunters and make their living from the land. The Atchleys aren’t these sort of people as they don’t do any of these things. Sandy breaks her shyness to look at me very briefly with a serious stare…so she says, if they aren’t living off the land and are not here to hunt and trap like everybody else in the bush is doing - then what are they doing here? I mean, what are they doing with their time, all of the time? If they do’t have to work as trappers to make a living and can afford to be out there without having to do any of that then why are they here? Sandy is saying is basically saying to me, not that they don’t have a right to be here, but that really they are not the real deal. I get the impression that both she, her husband Brad and her children, a daughter slightly older than her two brothers all think they are macho and tough. I get the sense that they are hunters for the sake of appearing tough and that it is something of status to them. I remember photographing Brad before on my previous visit and being unimpressed by his appetite for trapping animals and then skinning them to make money. he had emailed me photos of his daughter Sable and son Hawken with moose and deer they had shot and neither of the children were even teenagers yet. I suggest then to Sandy that perhaps the reason why the Atchleys are living out where they do is even more interesting because they are not doing the usual things that people do


when living very remotely out in the bush. For me there is no distinction what they do, it’s enough for me that they are simply out there and admirable that they are not murdering animals in order to be doing so. I don’t know Sandy keeps on saying. I just don’t know as a way to get out of really saying the truth. I should speak to her husband about it she says as he knows more. Already Brad has said in email exchanges to me whilst I have been in the UK making preparations for this project that he does not want to be mentioned in anyway or be included if it has anything to do with the Atchleys. Yes, I know that the remoter you go to smaller and smaller communities throughout the world that peoples minds so too get smaller and smaller also. I wonder why Brad and Sandy and the mayor aren’t able to accept and respect the fact the Atchleys are living remotely and why they seem to frown upon this family. I mean, the Mayor is hardly a tough guy and looks like he would run away if he saw his own shadow coming at him from round a corner. I’ve always wondered what he is hiding. Is he corrupt like most mayors and why did he banish his eldest son from Galena immediately after he found out his eldest son was gay? Brad is not a tough guy either despite being a pilot and going out to the wilds by flying his plane to trap. He’s short, not well built and wiry. He’s the type of guy who beats you in a fight by telling you to look over there whilst he cutting a rope to drop a dead weight on your head. Not the guy that uses his strength but instead guile. I’m expecting to be put in some type of insulated shed for these few days I am in Galena waiting for Brad to fly me out. Instead we drive up to a large log cabin on some of the tallest raised steel legs I have seen in Galena, The town had flooded and since then all houses had been raised in case it happened again. There is one large set of moose antlers on the outside wall of the house way up high and Sandy tunes the engine off but seems hesitant to get out of the car to take me inside. She explains that her and her husband have only just bought the building to do up as a Bed and Breakfast. I put my 50 pound Snugpak monster kit bag on my back along with my 22 pound rucksack and follow her up the steps to the inside of the cabin. The ceiling is low but the rooms are large and spacious. The first room has a complex boiler set up at the end of it, very neatly laid out and she puts down a towel to put our snowy boots on. She also pushes another towel up against the outside door asking me to do the same after she leaves to keep the draught out. She shows me each room and I get the impressionn she would like to leave in a hurry but then come down and stands next to a large stove and begins to talk for quite a while and mentions that she’d love to visit the Isle of Mull because a Scotsman from there had visited Galena 13 years previously and written a book about his visit. He had invited Sandy and her family to visit and I said my Mother lives on that island too. Sandy leaves and I carry my bags upstairs to my bedroom. I gaze at length out of the window and witness snow powder blowing gently off the stunted pine trees that grow in this frigid cold subarctic land. The sun is going down and the light is soothing. I feel as though I belong here but am not surprised by these feelings, i mean, how do I expect to feel, I have been coming to Alaska since 2013 every year so far. It just seems to happen. I realize that what is most important is to write down Sandy’s reaction to me going out to the Athcleys. I had asked her in the car if she knows of anyone else who lives as remotely as the Atchleys but who actually lives the life she thinks should be lived out here. Does she know of any remote trappers? Yes, of course she does she replies but obviously these people live remotely because they don’t want any attention. They are secluded for a reason. She seems to relish that she knows people but that she won;t give me their names and knows that they would;t want to be documented. Sandy doesn’t strike me as being a nasty person to me, after all she is putting me up in her new house to stay in. She is OK to talk with but I feel that everybody out here feels that they are someway better than everybody else back in civilization. I realize I don’t have a notepad and that I had intended on getting one before leaving Anchorage. Then I think back to writing a diary in Patagonia and that not only did it take me a mont to write it, that it took me a month to transcribe it out to a laptop. So instead I begin to type this to


my laptop. I’m slightly concerned that writing is better than typing as I am more creative and careful with the amount and type of words I use. Instead I can type way faster and it feels as though I am writing the first words that come to mind, which I am. But it means I can copy and paste which will be handier in the future if I use this for a book. I remember David Jury saying my Patagonia diary was raw and wonder if this will be the same. I guess so if I can keep this typing up whilst I’m out at the Athletes. Will it be interesting? Well I can’t embelish the truth to make it seem more interesting. But I’ve only just arrived and realize that I am hungry, my blood sugar level is low and I need to eat. Its so dark that the light of the laptop screen illuminates my fingers as I write but I have trouble finding the right keys. There’s an electric fan in the background making the stove burn harder and this is the only other sound apart from my tinnitus which is bothering me again because I was listening with earphones to music today. I walk out of the building and get almost as far as the road. My weather app in Fairbanks said it was about -24C in Galena and I can feel it but it’s a dry cold and much easier to handle than the damp cold in the UK. I look back at the house I’m staying in and it is a beautiful sight. I walk quickly back to the house to get my iPod Touch and my Ventile smock and take a photo of the house to post later online. I turn left onto Antoski road and the 2nd house along is Brad’s and Sandy’s. As I walk up to the front door I hear a noise and see the middle son, Hawken scraping snow off a greenhouse but he doesn’t see me. Sandy is in her boot room kitting her daughter Sable and youngest son Coulter out with cold weather clothing so they can be outside to do chores and be at the creek when their Dad Brad lands his plane when he gets back from trapping. Sandy seems a little more talkative this time and gets a map for me to show where I can find Adriana’s house to walk to. I’m hoping that Sandy can simply offer me a cup of tea and perhaps this is why she seems a little shady, perhaps she is worried that I expect her to feed me. It’s a good point, why should she…but then I’ve just landed and does she know if I have brought food with me or not? She shows me how to get to Adriana’s and says it will take me about 20 minutes. I decide that if Sandy isn’t going to make me a tea or offer any food I’ll go back to the house she has said I can stay in and eat an energy and a packet of beef jerky. I say I will go back to eat a snack and go to bed. Go to bed? Sandy says. She’s seems amused because it is only 7pm. I figure I’d exhaust myself if I go to Adriana’s and there is no telling if she would feed me. I’m still run down from before I left the UK. Maybe Sandy would like to charge me for staying here since she plans to turn it into a B&B? What I do know is that if she isn’t going to invite me for a meal I’ll go back to continue typing, eat a snack and get to bed. Sandy suggests I go and join the kids down at the creek and tells me how I can walk to there. Instead I walk back the way I came and grab some of the few snacks I’ve brought with me. Maybe if I’d hung around I’d have been invited back in when Brad lands but I’m too tired to worry right now. I’ve loaded the stove with more wood and the heat is making me fall asleep. There is an electric stove here so I could have boiled up lentils if I’d brought any but as it is my bag was the maximum weight it could be. Yes, I could have brought food in the cardboard box I have brought supplies in for the Atchley’s but I have spent enough already. The Atchley’s have said they will feed me so only brought energy bars and beef jerky to last a few days until I can fly out.

21 February 2017


So much to write about and so little time over the last two days. Apparently, so Brad has told me, flying east to west always results in much worse jet lag so that is why I am still catching up on sleep and my energy. And in the north Adriana says, in this cold there is less oxygen so another reason why I am tired…apart from the fact that last night, my 2nd night back in Galena I end up spending the night at her house and making love again, the first night since we parted at the hotel in Fairbanks in February 2016, a year ago. She was snoring and I needed use ear plugs and take Melatonin to get off to sleep. I think I slept for about half an hour tops and woke up from an appalling dream which was even to horrible to put into words here. Yesterday…what happened yesterday? Oh yes, I had slept badly my first night here. I am upstairs in the large log cabin that Brad and Sandy have just bought to run as a B&B. I figure I’ll sleep well so don’t bother taking a Melotinin. I have just been round to see Sandy but she does n’t invite me in for food so I go to bed at 8pm. I wake at 3pm and take two Melatonin but don’t sleep until about 5pm. When it is light and quite late, maybe about 9am Brad comes into the house and I hear the outside door close loudly. He calls up and I shout back I’ll be down. He is in a good mood, humorous, happy and pulls my leg about having jet lag. He is elvish in appearance. About my height but I always picture him as being shorter, probably because he is skinny and slight of build but wiry and with a long goatee beard. He’s only about a year younger than me and has icy piercing round eyes and hair that is always flattened down under a hat he wears for the cold. A fur hat with long ear flaps. He chucks what we called a rock cake onto the table in a ziplock bag. It’s a scone with blueberries in and I devour it. Only one I say cheekily and he laughs saying there are probably more. It’s tastes damn good, it’s soft and crumbles easily and I wish upstairs to find my green tea bags so I can eat it with a brew but of course by the time the kettle had boiled on the electric cooker I’ve finished it. Nothing beats drinking a tea with some cake. I immediately hand Brad the 100 bucks he has said he will charge me for plane gas to fly me out to the Atchleys. A man that likes to get straight down to business he says. I splay the 20 dollar notes out as I hand it to him so he can see I am giving him the full 100 and he spend a second visually counting them anyway. I figure that if he is straight up enough to allow me to stay for free in such a nice cabin then the last I can do is show him up front that I am honest and sincere. We chat at length for a bit, we smile and laugh but then I mention John Korta and Brad suggests I try to spend time making friends again with John Korta and not to burn that bridge. I say that I had decided not to bother pursuing making a book about Galena but Brad says what I have done is good and if I correct various inaccuracies (from the BBC story he saw and which he featured in) that it would be a good work. Brad tells me where I can find his plane, and points to a trail through the snow that disappears through some trees down to a creek which is obviously frozen over. I move around the house, tidying up and making sure the fire in the Fisher stove is still going but damped down so it doesn’t burn out too quickly. I dress and leave the cabin, walking down the wooden stairs which are a long ways above the ground since all houses in the village have been raised up on steel legs since the flood in 2013. I had down the trail and turn left out onto the creek and walk along until I see two planes. I’m carrying the Olympus action camera with me and intend to see how I can fit it to the plane’s wing strut. It’s a Piper Super Cub, a proper bush plane, very narrow with one seat at front and second behind in tandem style. I prop up my iPod Touch on a fuel container on sleds to take a selfie just as Brad appears and I tell him I’m taking a selfie. He laughs thinking I’m kidding until he sees the iPod and says, oh you werent joking. I continue to hold the action cam against the wing strut and he tells me in front of the strut is better and asks me to flick the switch off on the fuel hose he is using to re-fuel his plane. He fills two gas tanks in the wings of the plane and each time I flick the electric pump on for the gas bowser and off. I ask Brad to take some photos of me holding the action cam up to the wing strut so I can post the image to Facebook as I know Olympus UK will see it and like what I am doing. Later, for


sure, Olympus comment and say they are looking forward to seeing my photos. Brad and I are both done and it is too cold to stand around for too long. It’s about 40 C below and he starts to walk back to his house on another trail through the trees pulling a sledge behind him which has fuel containers on which he’d brought to top up the gas bowser which sits permanently in the snow, on thick ice on the creek. There is a second older plane there too which is his ‘beater’ - a 1940 Piper Cub plane which was his first he says. I ask him briefly about flying and he took his license when he was 19 and stopped counting how many hours he’s done after 10,000. Brad asks me if I managed to pick up wifi from his house and I say yes. He says he has many gigabytes of date available to use for internet but that I can’t use it for netflix. I tell him I only need it for emails and loading small pics to social media and that I;m not going to watch porn. The sky is blue and the sun is bight like a midsummers day and ice crystals in the snow glint and shine as In walk back to the cabin. I work on the action camera for a bit and adapt a padded jiffy bag to fit over it so that I can pack 2 hand warmers inside it up against the action camera so that I can heat it in flight so that the windchill from the cold doesn’t instantly drain the battery. I go to Sandy and Brad’s house to say hi and Sandy is different today. She is a little more talkative and invites me in. She has been trying to get her youngest son off to sleep, Colter, named after the guy that was caught by Indians and given a 2 minute head start on them to basically save himself by running away. Sandy leads me up the stairs but goes into Coltees bedroom and moments later he starts to cry loudly. He is about 3 years old and has grown alot and is talking, but completely incomprehensibly now since I last saw him when he was just a baby aged 2. I wait at the tip of the stairs and don’t move until Sandy comes out of the room ad she says I could have gone towards the kitchen but I wouldn’t as I hadn’t been invited to do so. She offers me food, lasagne she has already cooked and I eat the first slice quick;y, she makes me a blackberry earl grey tea and gives me a second slice of lasagne. It’s pretty good and I say it is one of my favorites. Adriana tells me she suffers from anxiety which explains her weird behavior. I can’t gauge what is up with her and she moves around alot only occasionally looking me in the eye. Presently the kids come back from school by bus and bring Ida Bodony with them whom I had photographed a year before also. There is Hawken and Sable and Ida. Sable gets Colter up and brings him through and Sandy gently tells her off for disturbing him and Colter for not having slept. We talk all together randomly for a while, just banter, chatting and Sable pipes up that she wants to go olay outside and wants help getting her outdoor gear on so that;’s my queue to leave. I go back to the house for a bit and then walk to Adriana’s. This is where I stayed for 6 weeks a year ago when I made the project in Galena. She isn’t in so I leave my name in broken twigs on the doorstep with a small brach leaning up against her front door. It reads Call Ed. Her keys are there in the snow as she dropped them on her way out. I begin to walk back to the log cabin but a white pickup passes me and she gets dropped off. I walk back and knock om the door, she invited me in thru the 2 door arctic entrance and gives me a hug. We talk, she makes tea, then supper., she makes rice, lentils and heats up some cooked pork and onions. More tea and more talk. She tells me it is too cold to walk back to the log cabin and that I am dressed inappropriately for extreme cold weather. I know she is bluffing and that my clothing is fine. She says I can spend the night there and I say in her bed? She says yes so eventually I go up to her bed and strip naked and wait ages as she finishes watching tv, making sure her stove is fully fueled with wood, brushed her teeth etc. She gets into bed, cuddle , her pyjamas off and the rest is obvious. She sleeps quickly an snores loudly. I don;t have ear plugs nor melatonin so grab abut half an hours sleep during the night. I am up frequently and have a bottle to pee in at the end of the bed. By the morning I’ve pee’d a good 2 liters which is ridiculous. She asks me what I will do if I don’t get own with the Atchelys whom I am going to visit and I say I have to make it work whatever happens and I will have to stick it out no matter what. Adriana suggest I also try to go stay with John Stam who is a trapper


out at his log cabins which are near a mountain and also remote. I want to get back to the cabin as I know the fire will have gone out, it will have gotten colder and that means then boiler will have come on and using the Scottons heating oil. The deal why I am staying here is that if I keep the stove going that it saves on their oil fuel as wood is cheaper to use. I want to get back early this morning so that Brad doesn’t realize I’ve been out all night and that I haven’t let his cabin go cold. Adriana has given me 12 cans off tomato paste for Rimey Atcley as she has asked for them so I walkmback fast ti true cabin wit the cardboard box under my arm. The walk is about half an hour walking fast and I drop the box off at the house and go straight to Brads. It is 8:40am and about 40 below. Sandy answers to say that Brad has already gone to work and I mention since IN know he is abut to fly out to John Stams anyday to take out snow machine parts. I want to ask Brad to ask John if I can go out to photo him after the Atchleys. I leave and spend the day working on a talk I have been asked to give Paul Applebecks photojournalism class. I wrk on that, cook up 2 moose sausages at a time that Sandy gave me. They are from Sable’s first moose kill. I shower and work on the action cams. I also bring in enough firewood to completely res-stock the house supply. I then walk to Brads to say I need to pay the FWS 100 busks o walk on Nowitna Wildlife Refuge land when I go to the Archly and need to to get a note to John Stam. I have also brought water containers with me to get filled up. Linda, introvert, Brad says not running me out, walk to Adrianas, eat food, drink tea, back to cabin by 10pm. have dozed on couch today for an hour ut exhausted. bring in another armful of wood, stove just still going , lasted for 4 hours ok. write this. Brad has left a plate of salmon on the table with potatoes and beans. put in fridge for breakfast. it’s 11:08 been writing for one hour. Need bed now.

22 February 2017

I’m up at 5:50. Slept well after taking 2 Melatonin but have to get up in the night at least 3 times to take a pee. Instead of using a bottle I can walk a short way to the bathroom across a corridor but needless to say it pisses me off lol and disturbs my sleep. I’ve set my alarm for 7am as Brad is coming at 8:15 to take me to his work at the Fish and Wildlife Service so I can pay 100 bucks for a special permit to walk on the Nowitna Wildife Refuge when i go visit the Atchleys. I wake early for a pee and decide to get up. The store downstairs has gone out and I need to catch in this diary, have a shave, eat the salmon he brogue round for me last night which has new potatoes and runner beans with almonds on top of them. Since I ate at Adriana’a again last night, but left because I wanted to keep the fire going in Brands house and because I knew I had an early start. After paying the 100 bucks I’ll hope to be dropped off at the high school so I can prepare for my talk before 10;30am. The talk runs until midday so I’ve written up my speech and will show a slideshow of my work but without the nudes. I’m wishing that I wasn’t so busy but these days before a project always are and time compresses into a tight spring before being let go and every hour, including dark night hours are spent being busy. The first thing I’ve done today is go outside to collect an armful of wood. I’ve looked through the double glazed windows at the outside thermometer on the balcony and it says -25C. I am wearing long johns and jeans and a Snugpak sleek jacket with only a Snugpak t-shrt on underneath and a thin hoodie which is enough to go a short distance outside before the chill bites. I also use the US Army ECW mitts as frost bite to fingers creeps up slowly and then its there very immediately. I liken it to my memories of drinking whisky before I gave up over 12 years ago. You


drink alot quickly and nothing happens. You wait a while and think you’e immune to the stuff and then bammo! It knocks you over. So at -40C before I’ve had bare hands and trying to take a photo with an old film camera outside and for 4 minutes you think you’ve got it sussed and you wonder what all the fuss is about subarctic temperatures. The next minute you’re making faces like someone is hitting your fingers on a hard surface with a hammer. So now it’s 6:47am. The stove has been going almost full bore and the arm full of wood I brought in has filled the stove up perfectly. Now that I have topped up the bright yellow painted wooden shelf in the corner of the room with firewood I don’t want to touch it as it’ll mean filling up before I leave here on Friday and I won’t necessarily have the time. So instead whenever I need to replenish the fire with wood I’ll go outside to grab an armful. It’s good discipline and will keep me fit. In the cold here all your enevery just gets sapped away ad it’s a great way to lose weight and get fit. Yesterday I walked to Adrian’s once and back from hers twice. That’s a half hour walk in sub-zero tempersarures which most definitely gets you burning energy. Yesterday I was adapting an aluminum bracket I made 3 years ago for a Sony action camera to film seals undwewtaer at Valdez. This time I’ve managed to duct tape and cable tie Brads go pro to the bracket to fix to his airplane. There will be his go pro camera pointing forwards and my olympus will be facing the side of the plane. It’s easier to cold proof my camera and it might be a warmer day so I won’t bother with Brads GoPro. 2 is 1 and 1 is none as the saying goes. With 2 cameras I aiming for just one really good shot of Brads plane or not but the land below and maybe even the Atchleys outside waving at us. I’ve eaten the salmon for breakfast and am just munching on another Cliff Bar. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into, at the end of every meal I eat something sweet. It’s the only thing that seems to appease my hunger. I had heard from the Atchleys recently, Romey wrote in a state saying she couldn’t type easily as she’d cut her knuckle opening a box, a metal one I presume containing food. Also, David just rode back from his annual trip to Ruby and almost died on the way back from riding off a 5 foot drop off on a snow machine, going through ice to open water and also forgetting cans of tomato paste. I wonder how you can live remote for so long and cut yourself badly opening food up and also forgetting tomato paste on such an important trip. I start to wonder what the people are really like I am going to see and how capable they are. So far they sound very nice, but hippyish and so with that perhpas a little vague and laid back, undisciplined and, I hate to say it, weak. But far be it for me to judge as I’m not the one living out there. Apparently David is still recovering from his ordeal of his return and no doubt Romey is beside herself worriyng about him and which has probably thrown her routine out of sync. She has already asked me to bring 6 small 6 oz cans of tomato paste she says she needs for making spaghetti for Sky as it’s his favorite and also for pizza nights. Now, since David forgot the tomato paste (did he really?) she is asking for 20 cans. I’m loathe to spend anymore money as I’m on a budget and don’t want to accept any money from them in return as they will be feeding me for however long I’ll be out there with them for. Instead I mention this to Adriana and she gives me a box of 12 cans of organic tomato paste to take to them. So this way I save money but also appease them. I did reply in kind of a tetchy mood as I was stressed and said that my bags are too heavy for Brads plane as it is and I wish I had bought more tomato paste when I had the chance in Anchorage. I mean, at the time, since a can is only 0.59 cents I figured I should buy them 30 so there is no more nagging about tomato paste, tomato paste, tomato paste. It seems like it is the only thing that matters in their entire world. But I guess if Sky is the only child of theirs out there he must get their full attention all the time so if he wants spaghetti and pizza I guess he gets his way and I wonder if there are tantrums if he doesn’t get what he wants like most teenagtes and kids in their twenties nowadays. Romeo already says she has at least 21 cans with her right now so it’s not


even as though they have run out BUT obviously because they only get to the stores properly once a year in Fairbanks they need to make the most of anyone that is coming out to visit. The reason I asked Olympus for an action cam was because GoPros have always let me down in the past with their crap battery life. This time round is no exception and I know I am not wrong. I have had the damn thing plugged into the USB port of my laptop now for the best part of a day and it is still recharging which is a good sign the battery is fucked. I had said to Brad by email from the UK before I got hold of the Olympus that I would buy a new GoPro battery for 20 bucks as I just knew that his would be flat. How do I know? Well when I owned one in 2013 which I took out to Wales village in Alaska and which was brand new, if you charged the battery a couple of days before you needed it, the damn thing would be flat when you went to use it. It would only work for a bit if you charged it up the night before. Now this GoPro is a couple of years old fro being new. Sandy bought it for her husband Brad but he has never used it hence why the battery is not only flat but probably dead. yes GoPro make larger batteries for their crap action cams but that;s not the point. Why sell hardware with a small battery as stock that dies and stays dead. It’s feeling hot in my hand but the LCD display still shows it is charging. The Olympus on the other hand needs to be charged too since I last did that in the UK bit it has a fresh battery and as long as I can cold proof it, it should work fine. I’ve just had a shave with an electric shaver that I do the whole of my head with bald also. I just need another green tea, get more wood in, get my crap together for the photojournalism talk, like notes, laptop and charger and dongle for a VGA monitor, my Wales book to show the kids and also bring all my cameras along. It’s 7:27am. I dress for the outdoors and sit on the edge of a desk by the door to this cabin and wait for Brad to arrive. I imagine what it’s like early in the morning for him to have to turn into this cabin, trudge though the snow and walk up the flights of wooden stairs to the cabin and then have to come in, take his hat and jacket off as instantly it’s too warm to be wearing outdoor clothes inside. I don;t want Brad to have to go through all of that so I decide, since it’s almost 8:15am to leave the building and head out to the snow bound road. It’s good timing and just as I reach the road edge Brad pulls up and I go to open his door and realize I’ve got the wrong side as they drive on the left here. I laugh and go round and get in. He says we drive on the right side here as opposed to you foreigners driving on the wrong side. We laugh. It’s getting light still and I’m aware that the pickup car seat is extvemrly cold underneath me since it was almost minus 40 again last night. Now I realize why it’s cool to have an electric seat in situations like this. Brad drives me down towards the old part of Galena village, to the Yukon River edge where is office is. I ask him how I should answer Bob, the FWS employee how should I reply when he asks me how I am going to get out the Atchleys. Hitchhike Brad says which I laugh alot at. Brad doesn’t want to anything to do with the story I’m doing about the Atchley’s and doesn’t want his name mentioned. By rights also he isn’t really supposed to be flying me out to the Atchleys and landing on the Nowitna Wildlife Rewfuge. Later, when I have bought the special permit for 100 bucks to get me out to the Rewfuge Bob, the Deputy Manager and boss goes to have a talk with Brad upstairs just to check ‘they are on the same page’ about this and that Brad isn’t going to charge me any money for flying me out. Brad has told Bob he is charging me 100 bucks which Brad tells me doesn’t even cover it. I know that I am exceptionally lucky the way I am being treated and that I have been fed recently, given a place to stay, am warm, that people like Adriana are welcoming and that they want to help. It’s certainly a different feeling to the last time when I was here and people are much friendlier because they have seen first hand the BBC news story that was done about here with my work and it has obviously made them happy. Really, as I look out of the window now I


want to write about the view, the nature, the snow on the skinny stunted pine trees, the sun as it goes down in late afternoon and how I’d like to write sentimentally about how Jack London and Jack Kerouac make me feel when I read their words about being out in the wild like this. I realize that I am detracted from reality because life isn’t all coziness in a warm log cabin and that it is tough for many people put there. I realize that I am in a privileged position being able to return to Alaska, to this native village and to get out to the Atchleys. Bob was a really nice guy today and I asked what I needed to do to stick to his rules, what he needed me to do and what advice he had for me, for my upcoming visit to the Athcleys. he gave me some advice about carrying a basic survival kit with me in the plane in case we crash, a metal cup to boil water in for a drink, snares to catch rabbits with, a knife, matches, material to make a fire with, energy bars to keep me going. He also made me aware that if I needed help, like if I broke my leg, that I shouldn’t expect help to arrive quickly and that it might take 12-24 hours just to let somebody know that I need picking up. I already know this but it is good to hear again. he also asks if I have a satellite phone and I explain that I would have liked one but couldn’t afford it. He recommends a cheaper alternative called an ‘In reach’ which has text capability and a GPS to give the people you’re writing to your position. He tells me hoe density let his people out onto the land without an In Reach and/or a satellite phone. Bib tells me to consider getting one for any next time and I say I most certainly will. I do wish I had known about them before coming out here as I would certainly have bought one…and I will when I get back to Anchorage. I pay the 100 bucks and am given a receipt and some disclaimer paperwork that I’m advised to read by Bob, and to get back to him if I have any questions. Brad asks me if I’m done and walks out of the building. I follow quickly and he drops me off at the high school. I enter and introduce myself to the office secretary and am introduced to Paul Apfelbeck. His South African wife makes me a tradiotnal cup of tea with milk and I go to Paul’s classroom. We try for quite a while to get wifi access for my laptop so I can show a slideshow of my work to his class and he even phones Anchorage to ask for access but there are too many firewalls and it doesn’t work. Paul is very excited I’m there and as his pupils enter the class he asks them to shake my hand one at a time and introduce themselves with their names. Right now I have to walk out again. Adriana has asked me to walk to the Cafe where she works and I said I will so I have to get changed and go fetch more firewood for the fire to keep it loaded before I head out. I’m making sure I am keeping the floor swept of bits of wood and being as respectful as I can to Brad and Sadby’s place. I’m sure that Adriana would like me to spend these nights with her at her house but I just cannot. She said in emails before she couldn’t have me to stay so I must stay away as I have been given this amazing large cabin to stay in and must look after it. Still, just as in Patagonia, I have always more and more writing to catch up on. It’s pleasing to know that perhaps David Jury can make another letterpress book from this but also I feel a pressure to keep on going wth it and make sure the facts are in order and that it isn’t too dull. My yearning to do the best job I can for this forthcoming Archly project is making me serious. Yes, I see the funny side of things but I constantly have to make sure I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing and that is a strain. OK, I must tear away from this keyboard and get going so I can return to this later.

23 February 2017


It’s 6:11am. My alarm went off at 6am and I lie in bed groggy from the Melatonin I took 7 hours previously. I use the light off my iPod Touch to navigate around my bedside table and find the 2 out of 3 bottles I need for my daily supplements. 2 vitamins and 2 probiotic gummies. I am still tired and despite still having to wake in the night 2 or 3 times to pee I am sleeping very well. Why? No stress or worries from people. At Angel’s I always feel some kind of tension. Here I am being made to feel at ease and Brad is being very helpful, friendly and kind. After Paul’s class yesterday I came back to the log cabin and did lie on the couch for a bit to rest but it wasn’t for long enough and Adriana was already emailing asking me to come to the coffee shop. Shirley the owner has asked her to come to cook as the pilots from the Iron Dog Snow machine race are passing through and need feeding. I walk up there and it is only -15C but wear my Snugpak Salopettes which was a wrong move for two reasons. IT’s too warm to wear them and later I split the seat of them bending down to lift a 3 and a half ton trolley jack as Brad asks me to remove a wheel from a car that is parked underneath this cabin. Next week the Iditarod dog sled race passes through Galena and Brad will hire both his vehicles out to people. Instead he’ll use an old 2 wheel drive Mazda 626 2 wheel drive parked under the cabin. At the coffee shop Adriana is all alone and busy getting the cooker and ingredients ready to make burgers. She used to make me a free burger in the past, when I was last here and I honestly say they are the best burger in the whole of Alaska if not the world. Shirley’s son comes in to the coffee shop and asks for a soda and goes out back behind a curtain that shields off a store room and Adriana goes to find him to ask him if he wants a burger.. He says yes, a burger with cheese and bacon but not lettuce or tomatoes or ‘anything of that healthy stuff’. ON the way to the coffee shop I see LaRee Ueeck outside her cabin, on a stairway porch and she is busy shoveling snow and ice off the wood. I could stop to say HI but have already said hello and given her a hug at the school as I was leaving. She said that Kim, her husband, is ill and that I shouldn’t call round to say hi as ‘I don’t want what he has got’. Large and Kim fed me a couple of times when I was last here and Kim also took me around town in his Ford Ranger and helped take me to locations to take photos. Also, after I left Galena last time the couple came to Fairbanks for a teaching course and Kim, who was at a loose end, drove me around Anchorage as I prepared to go and photo a U.S. Army course. They are 7th Day Adventists and a nice couple. I’ve just made a cup of green tea and put the last 2 of 6 of Sable’s first moose kill sausages on the stove. There is no oil or butter so I simmer the sausages in a frying pan of shallow water until it evaporates, then I top it up with water again. Brad said last night that my flight out might be delayed as warm weather is developing and that means snow and high winds and there is a winter storm going on somewhere near the coast but coming inland. I can see through the window that the thermometer hanging on an upright supporting an overhanging porch roof is saying -16C only. I’m up early because I have to be at the school by 8:30am in time for the start of Paul Apfelbeck’s photography class at 9am. This time I won’t prepare notes as seriously as I did for the photojournalism class yesterday. Kids don’t want to know about the history of photojournalism at all, or too much about cameras. They’d rather hear about adventures and MuskOx charging me, that is when their eyes widen and start to shine. Adriana makes me a hamburger and people start to come in. Soon the small coffee shop is getting full and noisy. An overhead TV shows the news, the weather and people working on snow machines in Nome which is the half way point of the Iron Dog race. It looks icy cold and windy over there. Adriana askes me to stay to keep her company so I do. I st at a table near where she works and try to get a wifi signal but it is too slow and weak. Soon Brad and his family have come in with a cake Sable made. It is a vanilla sponge with a strawberry yoghurt topping and it is for Adriana’a sbirthsay on the 20th. They sing happy borhtday and the cake sis quickly cut up. I bet handed a slice and it is really delicious, I cannot believe that such a young g girl like Sable can make a cake this good. I ask Brad about whether his plane engine uses a carb for fuel injection


and he makes a joke about my accent. He says that he does have a job for me since I am always asking if he needs me to do anything, to take the wheel off the car so I ask to get a ride back to their house with them if they need it doing straight away. I say goodbye to Adriana and say I will see her tomorrow. I get out at Brad’s, it is dark and I get a 3 and a half ton trolley jack from his garage, a spider for undoing wheel nuts and screwdriver to remove the hub cap. I put them in a small yellow plastic sled and pull it behind me though the snow back to the cabin and pull it up to the Mazda below. The hub cap is frozen on solid so I fetch a kettle of hot tap water and pour it over. I have tried already to remove the hub cap but the cold makes the plastic brittle and it cracks slightly, not breaking it. The hot water, before it freezes quickly, frees the hub cap up enough for me to remove it. Brad has warned me that the trolley jack goes down slowly but this is an understatement and as soon as I pump it up it goes down rapidly. After I have finally chosen a jack point on the car, from the rear under a wheel hub arm and not from the side under a fragile sill I start to jack and stack a pile of wood under a bushing mount. I go to the jack, pump it up, run to the right side rear wheel and put a slither of wood on top of another, then run back to the jack, pump it up to its maximum heigh then place more wood on the block until the wheel is hight off the ground. t’s coming iff because it’s flat and I make sure to block the car high enough so that a fully inflated new tyre on the wheel will fit onto the hub without having to jack it any higher. By this time I have changed out of the salopettes as the teaching is ripped, I have a hole in my ass and it is baking hot despite being almost -20C. I take the wheel in the yellow sled bak to Brads house and the wheel occasionally fall off into the snow as the sled is very narrow. Brad is in his garage stretching out fur pelts, his entire garage is full of the skins of drifferne tanimals. In tell himI used hot water and he seems grateful I did that for him. It’s not bother because initially I thought he wanted me to remove the tyre a,also which I would have gladly done. There is a massive black wolf lying dead on the floor f his garage. I ask how much a skin fetches and he said $300 and it takes 20 hours of work to skin in and get it tanned so it isn’t cost effective at all. The other much smaller animals he is stretching out on planks of wood make a 100 bucks he says so much more economical. He also says it ks hard to put the wolf in the back of the plane and fly it all the way back from wherever he has been trapping. Obviiosy I ams ad to see this fine wild animal laying dead there on the concrete floor with its tongue hanging out of its mouth and wrapped up in a big thick wire noose. I don’t think about the torture and fear it suffered whilst it waited to die. I feel the possibility of Brad stiffen about this subject as it is obviously a touchy point so I don’t ask. Instead I ask if there are wolves close to Galena and he says they have come as close as 300 yards to his house. IN winter they hang out in packs of between 5 to 11 but he saw one pack of 19 once. He says that a pack will usually kill one moose a week to eat ‘and you know how big a moose is’ he says. I tell Brad to think uo any more jibs he needs doing and leave, Sandy has come down to the garage and I get the impression every time I visit that they don’t have time ti chat. I leave quickly and walk back to the cabin, as ever on my way to the stairs I stop to collect a large armful of wood for the stove and head in. I take my clothes off down to my hoodie and long johns and go upstairs to find a needle and thread which I aways travel with. I go through all my kit upstairs in my bedroom and also through my camera bag. I know I have borough the needle etc with me because I always do without fail, but where? Finally I remember, whilst sitting on the flor of the bedroom and one by one passing items from one spot to another so as to double check I am going through everything. It’s in a small metal container I use to store a ration pack tin opener and ear plugs. I sit on the couch and begin to sew. I’m hoping to get it back together again as good as it was when new but rea,like that the salopettes where stitched together inside out, hence the invisible thread. It’s a compromise and doesn’t look too ugly. The main thing is that there is no hole for cold air to rush in and that the hole doesn’t get bigger, if it did there would soon be insulation exposed and it’s heat retaining would no


longer be useful. I load the stove up with wood so it is completely full and so that it keeps the cabin warm the entire night. There are 3 bedrooms I think and a bathroomm upstairs. I should really check but everyday is a blur as I am so busy. I’m in ‘warhorse’ mode as Angel calls it. I like that term. I turn the lights off downstairs to head up to my room, no light is on in the cabinn and I notice the chimney glowing red. This worries me. I’m scared the chimney will melt as it only looks think metal sheet. The door has it’s air dampers closed so no air is getting into the stove but the chimney is still too red and I realize I have simply put too much wood into the stove. I open the door and use a metal fire iron to pull logs towards the door so they are not so close to the chimney. But the influx of air makes the fire roar harder and huge flames go up the chimney, by the time I have re-arrnedg the logs the entire height of the chimney up there ceiling is glowing red hot and I am really concerned it will melt, if that happened there’d be one hell of a mess and I’d have to use the fire extinguisher that hangs on the wall to put it out. And that might crack the cast iron stove and potentially burn the cabin down. But luckily the fire dies down and the chimney stops glowing since no air is getting in and shifting the logs away from the chimney has meant it isn’t burning so hard. I sit on the stairs and watch the stove in the darkness for a bit just to put my mind at ease and then head up to bed. Luckily I am at the right temperature lying under my sleeping bag which is opened out like a duvet. I take the two Meotonin and am soon asleep. There is one street lamp outside on a snowy track that leads into the village and it only illuminates a small patch of ground directly under it amongst a massive jet black night that hovers over the light threatening to engulf it like a large cloak. I don’t know what I am dreaming of these nights as I cannot remember. Now It is 7:30am and I must walk out at 8:30 in time to get to the school at 8:30am. I have to put my camera bag bag into my backpack and carry it for the talk. I have to also remember to bring along an excellent bracket I both got a couple of quid that allows you to attach an iPod Touch or smart phone to a tripod. I need to make the kids aware that they can have control over their photography even if they don’t have a proper camera of their own. Brad says I might be flying on Saturday now as Friday, tomorrow bight be bad weather.

25 February 2017

Yesterday was so crazy busy that I wasn’t even able to write a diary entry. First thing I did was borrow a snow-go from Brad and ride to Adriana’a house. I’m tired of walking that route even though it takes half an hour. So much activity in 5 days has drained me but luckily I don’t feel ill, just tired. Taking vitamins have made sure that my immune system is good and the B vitamins mean my mental health is in great shape.The day before, the 23rd, I have gone to the Galena Coffe Shop for a second day in a row where Adriana has fed me a cheeseburger, double patty, with bacon, a can ion root beer and even ice cream and some kind of thin Italian biscuit with echolocate down one side. That would be about 20 bucks worth. She has asked me to go to hers to saw up timber and split it for firewood. She says that her keys will be under a grill lid (BBQ) on her porch. When I go there, there are no keys so that I can let myself into her house to get the chainsaw. I ride to the high school I taught at the day before and ask at the front door office for her. The principal comes through at that moment and helps, I met him the day before, Ken, and he hasn’t yet seen the BBC piece about Galena so asks Paul Apfelbeck for the link as he’d like to see it. Ken telephones GILA, the other school in Galena which is in old town near the airport and a secretary there tells him that indeed Adriana is teaching, ‘subbing’ there this day. I get back on the snow machine and ride the 5 miles to GILA. Is it 5 miles or a 5 mile round trip?


It’s a beautifully sunny day with blue sky, a perfect day to fly but Brad this morning came to see me and said that his wife Sandy was flying out to the coast to teach skiing and he had to babysit the kids after 1pm for her so he couldn’t fly. Brad told me that at 8:45am on the 24th, yesterday whilst I was still in my PJ bottoms walking around the cabin here. I wasn’t changed yet as I was trying to get a wifi signal through the downstairs toilet windows from the Scotton’s house some 100 meters away. I had no luck and then Brad came in with a coffee mug in his hand and told me it would be Saturday before we could leave. Obviously I said that was cool. So I asked to borrow a snow-go and Brad asked me if I had experience using one. I did, so that wasn’t a problem. Witouth experience it would be more than easy to wreck one as they are lively on ice and don’t turn like a car or motorbike, instead when you turn you slide round corners as the skis out front don’t grip at all well. So you really have to preempt your turning space and timing. So I have left the high school and ride to GILA. I go the long way round near to the edge of the Yukon River and realize it would have been quicker to go the further inland route but I’m enjoying the view and the experience to be almost like motorcycling. I whizz along at 40mph in a 30mph zone and realize I have to really pay attention as I cannot afford to hurt the machine or me, in that order. I get to the part of the school she is at thanks to a small post-it note map Ken has drawn me. This is the site of the old US Airfare base and their old buildings which are now being used by a boarding school. Children from all over state come to this school so there is an interesting mix of Inuit, Athabascan, Yupik and white faces. I walk in and ask the secretary who shows me the room Adriana is in and I walk up to her despite the room being full of students. I tell her the story of my morning so far and get the keys from her for her house. She asks me to return when I am done but I say if I cannot I will leave her keys under the grill on the porch. I travel back to her house and let myself in. I find one of two chainsaws, Stills, but there is no gas. I spend ages searching high and low, upstairs and downstairs all round her house but absolutely no sign. I do find engine oil which I use to top up the chain oil container on the saw so it lubrivates the chain. I give some attention to her cat Pumpkin who is podgy from never going outside in winter as it is too cold and has a thick jet black coat. He is a good natured cat and loves to have his belly tickled until he can;t take it anymore and then all 4 legs, claws and teeth attack your hand to stop. I also go under the house, since like all houses here now, it has been raised off the ground on metal legs in case the area floods again. There are a multitude of gas containers on the ground, maybe 20, but not one of them has gas in. And even if I did find gas I’d still need to find 2 stroke oil to mix with the gas for the 2 stroke chainsaw engine. I decide to try and start the chainsaw with what gas is in it already, maybe a quarter of a tank…so maybe a cup fulll of gas. I walk with it to the timber that Harold, the next door neighbor has left out front for Adriuana and try to start the saw. Nothing. I pull it maybe 100 times with choke at various settings. I remove the air filter and see it is clogged and needs a blow out with compressed air. Mike, Adrian’s son hasn’t been here since November or DEce,her she says as he first of all cut one of his fingers off and then he slipped two discs in his back. He’s been in fairbanks all of this time. I take the saw back into the house but don’t put it away, instead leaving it out to prove to her that I was here trying to help. Then I search for 5 minutes to find a pen to leave her a note since don’t intend to go back to GILA. The green biro runs out midway throuhg my first sentence and so I have to spend another 5 minutes finding another biro. I tie the note to the inside door of her house inside her arctic entrance, lock up and leave. On the way back to Brad’s I stop and say Hi to Kim Ueeck and he invites me in. He has just had a bad cold and the whole house reeks of it and I am worried I will watch it but he says he is not now contagious. He offers me a coffee and I say I gave up a year ago. He doesn’t offer tea so we sit and talk for quite a while. I feel a small amount of concern about me because at Xmas time I had emailed Kim and his wife LaRee for help with finding the Atchley’s contact details. To me, though no doubt I am wrong, they didn’t seem particularly bothered


in helping me and I was quite abrupt with them. I thanks them for all of their great help as ever when clearly they has;’t help me that time at all. It’s not big deal but Adriana tells me later thiis day that Kim mentioned he though I sounded angry. Kim and LaRee are very good people but when I think about how much money they earn and how frugal they are and their annual holiday to the Bahamas it kind of swings the scales to one side. Well, Adriana points out that it is my decision to live as I do, without those exotic holidays but I explain that I don’t feel entitled to help from people but since I am doing this almost for nothing i.e. next to no pay from the BBC for my efforts then I like to hope that others will see the worth of what I am doing and try to do their best. Kim or LaRee’s replies to me felt less than concerned. Anyway, after leaving Kim, when we talk about the family I am going to see, motorbikes and Kim’s Volvos and I decide to head back to GILA> Adriana is now where to be found so I walk across to the canteen building. I find a me a member of staff who says she was there but has now left so I walk back and she is exiting the main building where she has been teaching and tells me she has sandwiches for me for my lunch. I tell her that the saw won’t work and there is n gas so I cannot help her. I eat the sandwich in her class as her students begin ti drift back into the room and she tells me not to worry about the wooed. By now I have wasted half a day running around trying to help her but to absolurelyt no avail. I walk out to the snow machine and am about to start it the she comes out to ask where her keys are. I say under the grill. I ride back to Brad’s and park the snow go up and ring the door bell to say that I am returning it safe and sound. I have asked him to think of jobs/ chores for me to do whilst I am here so he asks me to take a yellow sled to a metal container near the house and fill up two late 25 liter jerry jugs of Av Gas. Aviation fuel. He was only going to ask me to do that then adds, that if I didn’t mind could I pull the sled to the plane out on the frozen creek near his house and fill up the aluminum fuel container there. I do this bt when I go to put the cap back on the container the screw thread in the cap cross threads and it becomes completely unmovable. I curse and walk back to where I am staying, rather than bother Brad, and go into a tool shed which is exposed to the elements with no door and find a rubber mallet android chisel, second best to a metal drift. I walk back, maybe about 500 meters to the plane and try to knock the cap around but it won’t budge. I walk back and find a Stilsen pipe wrench next which will open out to 3 inches. I trudge back though the snow again. It has been compacted in places but a snow machine tracks but it’s possible to get slowed down while you are walking and sink up to your knees where the snow is soft. I get to the fuel container and manage to open the cap no problem with the large heavy wrench. I make sure to really slowly screw it back on this time and that a broken rubber washer fits snugly so that the gas doesn’t evaporate quickly. I enjoy the smell of Av Gas and realize that the smell I smelt in my Grand;as garage and workshop for all of those years was Av gas since he worked for the Royta; Airforce and specialize in ejection seats and others escape systems etc. I think alot about his work and all the amazing experiences he must have had in his lifetime and all the good work he did as well as pioneering survival clothing in the canadian arctic in the 1950’s. I go back to the cabin, put the wrench back in the tool shed to the side of the house. Between then and a bit later I cannot remember what I do next but I do know that my next jib is clearing snow and ice from the front wooden stair case that leads up the this cabin I am staying in and this is the next job Brad has given me to do. At about 2:45pm Sandy comes up to me and asks for another favor, if I can come to her house at 3:05pm to babysit Colter who is asleep whilst she goes to a meeting. I finish clearing the steps of snow and go to her house, take my Baffin boots off, go upstairs to their living room and kitchen, take off my cold weather clothing and I ask Sandy for a water. They use Mason jars as glasses which is neat and after she leaves I plug down one and a half more. I haven’t drunk anything since breakfast so am dehydrated. Presently Hawken their middle child comes back and he shows me his Minecraft books and a large Dorling Kindersley book abut animals unthaw world. He says his favorite animals are


either a Puma or one whose name I cannot remember but it has big ears and lives in the desert. Like a small dog. Sandy comes back after about 45 minutes and thanks me very much. I chat for a minute and she asks me about bakeries in the UK so I tell her the private family ones are great but the chain owned ones like Greggs are crap. She and Sable do alot of baking and this is why she is interested. I tell her I like crumbles best and she knows what I mean but that they have the same here with a different name. I leave and go back to the cabin and do some more thinking about the Olympus action cam and how I can adapt it do that I can wrap a hot hand around it to prevent wind chill from draining the battery. Harken comes round to drop a tote off fill of sheets for the house since soon it will open as a bed and breakfast and the first guests will be a part of Chinese who are coming to dog sled. Hawked asks if he can hang out for a bit and I offer him chips (crisps) from a packet I have been eating from and which Adriana gave me from the school. Hakwken says he wants to show me his shelter outside and can we go. The sun is beginning to set and it is a gorgeous afternoon. I think about the photo I need to take for Snugpak which I have promised them for a door week now, for the Snugpak webpage for my bio since I am now an Ambassador. Hawked asks if we can go several times in between being transfixed to a tv that an engine called Ed Pitka has been installing with a satellite dish today. Hawked does;t have a tv in his house I don’t think as they bare proper outdoor people. Hawked prompts me to get up and I go into the downstairs toiler to change into my Sakppttees since I need to be seen in a photo wearing all of their clothing. We walk out and I have the olympus camera around my neck and the grey snugpak hat which is too small and not as warm as the yellow hat that Adriana gave me last year. As we walk out Sady is coming toward us with Colter and Ruby the Chesapeake Bat retriever. Sandy hands me a ziplock bag of cookies she has just baked and I thank her very much. The night before, after I return from the coffee shop they give me a plate of spaghetti bolognese with sheeps cheese on top. so I fridge it and eat it for breakfast in 24 Feb. I ask Sandy if she can take my photo pretending to get into the airplane and she agrees. I walk back to her house with Hawken and Colter. Hawked has a stick that Colter wants and he gets upset when Hawken refuses. But Hawken later hands it over. The new boys have been having a terrific time ousted playing because Sandy came into the house to hack out the new stallite tv service. She seems very excited by it and mesmerized and flicks though all the channels but admits not knowing how it works. As we get back to the house John Korta arrives on a massive snow machine with high seats with Sable on the back and drops her off. I say hello John but he just scowls at me without saying anything, reverses out and whizzes off. What a sad man. I know deep down he is ok, but he ego gets in the way of helping people like me and he realized I know he has been a prat because now back in Galena I am getting some respect because of my BBC work. It is 9:22am now and I am racing to type as at any moment Brad will come to tell me he is ready to fly. It is overcast and a low pressure front is meant t be coming in but right now there is no sign of it. Having said that I turn my head 90 degrees to look out of the front window and see that it is snowing. Yesterday was a waste of time and we could have flown but it’s not a big deal‌Brad gets back from being out running and Sandy, Sable, Hawken and Colter and Ruby and I walk to the plane and Sandy takes photos of me posing in the plane after Sable shows me hw to get into it and which step to use. Sandy takes time great shots and we walk back. Hawkweed shows mew his shelter which is very impressive and it is dry inside and could seriously save your life in a bad situation. Colter comes out to join us and Hawken peels me brach bark off a tree which, as Brad says, is the kerosene of natures fire starts. Hawked also helps me get together some small dry twigs which will help get a fire going in an emergency situation. He instructs me to put them into one of my smock pockets. I am grateful to him and praise his knowledge and tell him I am impressed. Colter is ultra cute and asks Hawken for birch bark which he then hands to me, in order to help me too. We go back into the house and I ask permission to send an email from down


below in their basement to Snugpak, or rather their marketing agency called Puddle, of the photos Sandy took of me. I also post it to Instagram and Facebook. Then Adriana phones Brads house and Brad gets Colter to answer it which is cute again. Colter presses 1 instead of the green button so I press the green for him and he says hello. Adriana asked to speak to Brad who then hands it to me and Adriana asks me if I am coming for supper. I say yes ut that I will walk and am tired and that I don;t want to ask Brad to borrow his snow go again. Brad cottons onto to what we are talking about and says I can take it. We talk for a while whilst Brad skins the massive black wolf. It is hanging vertically from the ceiling and he uses a sharp knife with skill whilst breaking the wolfs legs in order to remove the fur in one go. Occasionally he knicks the flayed body with his knife and dark red blood seeps out which he systems with paper kitchen towel. We talk about how he met Sandy in Chile and how he has been to Antarctica 4 times. We also laugh about the salmon lady photo with Jackie which I have emailed to him and which he will get printed and framed for a friend in Anchorage who he used to work with. He jokes that he will makes sure everyone i the office will be abe to see it before his friend tries to hide it. I top up the snow machine 2 stoke oil container as the warning light has been on and go out to leave. I have a water container to leave in the cabin, my olympus camera but have a bag from Sady to take for Adrina which is a dip she has made with prawns and diorite corn chips. Adriana made the dip at Sabdys house when she was babysitting and Sandy is returning it for Adriana to finish with the addition of corn chips. I leave the snow go running outs but 2 stokes have a tendency to stall if not being used so I have no time to go upstairs to fetch my goggles and get on the machine and ride to Adriansa. She is frying up sausage and seven it with heated up french fries from the coffee shop and rice we ate a few days ago with some of the prawn and tomato and onion dip. We then watch TV and laugh, joke and I am falling alspee. Adriana cheekily suggest I go upstairs for a rest before leaving and I joke that I know what she wants. But I really am drifting off I am so tired and lave close to 11pm. Rather than disturb the Scottons and return the noisy snow go to the side of their house I decide to ride it o the cabin and leave it under the house where the mazda has been parked. I go to bed immediately and take 2 meolotonin as usual to help me sleep. I was telling Brad before I left to go to Adiana’s that I am very grateful to him and he said that he appreciate what I am doing and likes to try and help support artists. He appreciates the fact that I am willing to go to the school to teach and make the effort to do that. It has turned out that Brad and Sandy are both the kindest people, apart from Adriwna, that I have met here. Compared to Tom and Keith back in Essex they are exceptionally kind and a world part from the sick culture of Britain. Isn’t it ironic that it only snows when it gets warmer?! I look at ousted the balcony thermometer and it is reading 1 degree above 0C. Amazing yo think that a few days ago it was -40C. Now I am racking my brain for other things to write about before I have to possibly pack up to fly out. Brad did say that he thought Saturday, today would be no good so I will wait to see, I’ve covered yesterday pretty much OK and want to make sure I have Thursday 23rd covered too. As I might have said I taught photography this day and it went well. I taught the students about film photography and how it is good to learn about exposure and the rudiments. We also walk around the corridors and into classes to photograph people and also outside whilst it is snowing to take shots. The students share 4 Canon T5i’s and take turns photographing people and objects. I talk about ISO and later depth of field. Really, there is too much to first into one lesson and I am not sure how much Mr. Apfelbwck has covered with them. At the end of class I hand him an SD memory card to save over photos over he has taken of me teaching as he did the day before but she says he doesn’t have time and that he will drop the card round to Brad’s later. It is now Saturday, and he hasn’t so if I am not leaving until tomorrow now I would like to make a call to get it back as all of these photos get alot of attention on my Instagram/FB posts and it shows I am capable and that I am not just whizzing around having an adventure all of the time.


Honestly I wish I had more time to write these diaries, nt that anyone is going to care and so I wonder really why I a bordering. Yes, David Jury has produced a magnificent book of my Welsh Patagonia diary but I get kind of worried about hw the world is heading and in the greater scheme of things and because of how technology is advancing so raplidy I wonder if peopler in the future will ever really be bothered abut my experience, what I have observed and what histories and culture are at risk of disappearing. I want to write about that the experienced of being somejwree remote in Alaska is like and all the feelings it conjures within me that I live so much. You know that feeling of Xmas day? That feeling of coziness, and excitement and anticipation? That’s the feeling that I get everuda being out in these remote native villages. The darkness, being warm insodoors, having to dress up with serious cold weather clothing before going out give living a feeling here that yu really are living and not the dull, mundane life of Britain where everything seems meaningless. It is now 10:08am and I have finished the cookies that Sndy handed me yesterday. I’m on my 2nd cup of green tea and the snow outs8de it falling lightly, the equivalent of drizzle if it were raining. I don’t need to go outside yet though and winner if Brad is eating for me to arrive back with the snow machine and perhaps thinks I am still at Adrianas. I need to pack a little bit more and lay out the clothing I will wear for the flight as well as make sure that all my cameras have their correct settings and are full charged. For instance I want to set the Olympus to landscape mode instead of portrait (filter) and a aster ISO of about 800. Even though there bis enough light I want to have a good depth of field AND a fast shutter speed sincere’ll be travelling at about 90mph. It’s 11:35am and Brad just said we are going. Today I will fly out to the Atchley’s. The moment I have been waiting for for quite a while now. Over and out until I get there.

26 February 2017

I’m here. I’m at the Atchley’s. Yesterday after I finished typing this diary I returned the snow machine to the side of Brad’s house. I saw Hawken as I pulled inane walked back to him where he is with a shovel in between two out buildings. One is a shed the other a green house poly tunnel. I ask him what he is doing, building a snow shelter but he is only just starting. He digs for a while whilst Ruby jumps into the air and then dives her head under the snow so that only the back half of her body is showing. Then she comes up for air and repeats. I ask to help Hawken and tell him to pass me the shovel. I manage to get alot of snow out quickly and Hawken tells me to make it wider and the roof higher. Whenever I shovel the snow out to the side Ruby is biting at the snow and trying to eat mouthfuls of it. I see Brad walk up slowly and he said he will try to fly me out today. I apologize and say that I thought it would be tomorrow which is why I only just returned the snow machine now. I also add quickly that I got back to the cabin from Adrian’s last night at 11pm and didn’t park the snow-go up next to his house as I didn’t want to wake him or his family. He smiles and says so Adriana didn’t manage to keep you there last night. I repky that I was too tired and was falling asleep. Brad tells me to get my stuff and to meet him at his plane on the frozen creek in an hour. First I go into his house to use wifi and sit in his workshop for a bit. He gives me a rope to tie to the sled as for now it only has one handle to pull it by. I send a last post to Instagram and Facebook, a photo of the basic survival kit I am taking with me in the 4 pockets of my Ventile smock. I write what most of the items are, a leather belt for a tourniquet, energy bars, birch bark and matches for making a fire, condoms for holding water and surgical gloves, quick clot bandages, emergency thermal bivvi bag etc.


I also write that it is my last post for a while. I pull the yellow sled back to the cabin and go upstairs into the house and bring all of my luggage down to the back door. I have a last once walk around to make sure I have everything and that I am leaving the house clean. I pull the sled to the plane and draw it up close to the side of the fuselage where I will load the bags into the rear of the cockpit. I don’t know how soon Brad will come so immeidtaley hurry to attach first the GoPro camera to the left wing strut, to snow shoes that are bungeeed on. It is only 1 degree above freezing celsius but the plastic cable ties I have brought wth me from the UK snap repeatedly in the cold. I take my knife out to push the end of a cable tie through the webbing of the snowshoe and cut my thumb. Its deep enough to bleed for quarter of an hour and soon the GoPro and my hands are covered in blood. Cable ties keep snapping and I curse, but I am also glad that it isn’t minus 40 as not one would work. I have some paracord I have attached to the aluminum bracket I made at Goetz’s in Anchorage in 2014 and I tie it off to the wing strut so that if all the cable ties break and the idea fails that I won’t lose the camera and it will flap around in the air until we land. Brad arrives as I am about done with attaching the GoPro and asks for help in removing the wing covers. I oblige and then I fit the Olympus action cam to the right wing strut. Brad busies himself with fueling the plane and I leap to the fuel container and offer to switch it off for him. I say, say when and he does when the tank is full. Brad says ‘well we might not make it but we’ll give it a good go to get there’. I laugh. I go back to the Olympus which takes even longer to attach and I must break 20 cable ties before I am happy it is secure. A woman arrives with Hawken and says they are looking for Brad which I find odd as it is obvious if he isn’t here that he is in the house. She looks at me intently and I get the impression she is checking me out. She lingers all the while looking at me so I walk towards her, ask her name, introduce myself and shake her right hand wth my left as my right is covered in blood. She asks if I am flying whilst looking at the action cam and wishes me good luck.They leave and I continue. I’m aware that the wind is getting up and by this time it is starting to snow. I say out aloud that we’ll never fly in this as to me, with no experience of what conditions are needed to fly, I know that it is too windy. Presently Brad returns and says that we are having a weather check and that we won’t fly yet. Hawken is with him and Brad asks for help putting the wing covers back on. Brad advises me to leave the cameras in place and the luggage too. I go back to Brads house and carry some cables and a timer for the outside of the cabin, for electrical sockets where cars can be plugged into in order to heat their engines prior to being started in the cold. I get a shovel and clean all the ice and snow from the wooden front staircase again and this takes over half an hour. As it gets warmer and the snow melts it falls from the roof onto the stairs so it’s a job that needs doing more than once. I eat a Clif Bar as I do this, I have two in one of my Ventile chest pockets. It is 13:24pm. I put the shovel back in place on the side of one of the sheds near to the house and walk to Brad’s house. I see him working on a Ford Explorer, he has 3. The one he is at was crashed by Sandy and rolled down an incline so it is a write off. He is pulling a headlight bulb out as the one on the Explorer he is currently using has gone. I help put pressure on a fluid container bottle under the hood so he has room to move his hand in to remove the bulb and we then walk to the other Explorer to fit it. He says it probably won’t work and that it has a 50% possibility. I say be positive and that of course it will work. Around this moment the woman comes back wth Sandy, they have been for a walk and Brad jokes that they are wearing matching colored jackets. It seems to me that the woman is a close friend of Sandy’s and has come to talk about personal stuff and Sandy has been giving her advice or support. Before she leaves Sandy offers her a cookie and Brad pulls her leg and tells her to take a whole bag of them instead of just one. The woman leaves and I ask Brad what else I can do. Since I am getting so good at clearing snow and ice Brad says I can also clear the outdoor area of his workshop door. He says it doesn’t have to be perfect but I say it has to be so continue to shovel until it is completely clear and just bare wooden floor


boards as this a raised bit of decking because the house is built onto the side of a hill. Incidentally Sandy had to go and get the shovel from Hawken who now has a friend around and they are digging a snow shelter from the other side of where we were digging before. Sandy says Hawken has a habit of taking things and not returning them. I then go back to the cabin and clear the back stairs of snow and ice. By this time I am very tired as the past 6 days are beginning to take their toll on me. Walking through snow and the effort that takes, as well as all the activity, the cold and probably not eating properlly have an effect. I go inside and take off my salopettes and lay on the couch and check emails and how my recent posts are doing. I message Angel to tell him I haven’t flown yet and compliment him on his food post which are nauseatingly tedious ad dull but I say they’re great to make him happy. I mention the beer called panty peeler in his photo and he tells me for the tenth time that he found it with the redhead. It works I say but don’t have time to check his reply as I hear Brad come up the stairs so I jump up and head towards the door. He says that the snow has stopped and the wind has died down enough so that we can go. He apologizes as he sees me in my long johns and says that I have only just taken off my salopettes but will have to put them back on again. He waits for me to get completely changed and we head out. I say ‘thank you house’ as I close the door and he laughs. I tell him I have really enjoyed staying there and thank him very much. He says that I was their first guest. Brad came to the house by snow machine so I climb on the back of it and we head the long way round down a trail and out onto the creek towards the plane. The snow is deep on the frozen creek and Brad stands up as he rides. We stop close to the plane and I remove one wing cover as he does the other. He asks me if I will start the cameras and I ask him how close we are to leaving. Minutes he says so I start the cameras and he gives the GoPro a middle finger. I had gestured to him to stand and I’d put my arm round his shoulder like a team hug but he gives the middle finger instead and moves to pull the engine cowl cover off. I have had to scroll through the GoPro menu to find the setting I want, interval continuous photos. I don’t like the GoPro, the menu is awkward and easy to mess up and then if you go past the option you are looking for you have to cycle once again through it and this makes me nervous in case it doesn’t work. I have not faith in these cameras, its as though they are cheap chinese plastic boxes.I learnt a while ago that the goPro videos you see playing in stores to entice you to buy one are recorded using the absolutely best models of GoPro that have been professionally tweaked, bot the camera and specialist software when the footage is edited. You’re not buying that quality when you buy a regular GoPro. I’m writing this at the Atchley’s, this whole diary entry for this day has been written so far sitting on a couch in the first room you enter when coming into their building. It is now almost fully light though I have been writing for over an hour niw. It is 9:10am although Romey has forwarded her home clocks to an hour forward as they like to live by their own time. So much to write and presently I will come to what it is like being here. Thy have warned me, last night, that they don’t rise until midday and Sky might not get up until 2:30pm as he goes to sleep at 6am so lucky I have plenty of time to write this. That’s the problem with diary writing…you need as much time in the day to write it as you spent doing the things you are now writing about. It’s tedious but worth it as the words will be here for forever just like the Welsh Patagonia diary. I double check the Olympus acton cam. I have already set it up, days ago so that all I have to do it is press on and start. But I am worried it is wrong so cycle through the menus which are now hard to access since the camera is positioned above head height and the wood I have cable tied above it, in order to protect the buttons from being inadvertently pressed makes it hard to access the menus. I use the tip of my knife to press the buttons and audibly decide, speaking out aloud that it will work and it’s good enough. I press start on camera and Brad shows me how to climb int the plane. I put my foot on the proper step, not on a wing strut and climb in. Brad tells me where to plug my headphones in, to two sockets above my head and he puts the over shoulder harness onto me. He


says I can adjust it if I want and he doesn’t care if it is too loose or too tight. Initially I think he is saying he doesn’t care about my safety but what he is really saying is that it isn’t a big deal to him as pilot whether it is fitting well or not. He climbs in and very quickly starts the plane. He turns left back towards the end of the creek which is only about 40 meters wide and spins the plane round sharply whilst he tells someone through his microphone that he is about to take off. He gives his call sign and says which direction he is going in. He asks me if I am ready, I say yes and he accelerates hard. We are moving for now more than what feels like 15 seconds before we are airborne. I am used to taking off in passenger jets and small turboprops which require a long run up but this plane is ultra light and fast. Within 3 seconds of being airborne we are already 150 feet in the air and way above the trees. There is an excellent view of Galena and the landscape is breathtaking. By now it is at least 3:30pm and I asked Brad if he would have enough light to get back in. He says it oddest get properly dark untill 7pm so yes. The sun as it is heading down is almost visible through a hazy cloud and visibility is as far as the horizon. We follow the Yukon river for a bit and then cross it to the left side and travel across land to cut a huge corner out of the river to speed up our journey. I’m used to traveling on the ground so can only go where the land makes it possible to travel but obviously it is possible to go wherever you want in a plane. When I went to help in the search for Andrew Henry we travelled by snow machine along the Yukon river and so had to follow its course which takes a long time. On the map, in my mind I expect to follow the river to get to where we are going as it is like a road, a natural reference point for travel to get from one place to another but now you can cut off minutes and hours from your journey by going direct. It;s an obvious phenomena that takes my mind a few moment so understand. So obvious but not when faced with it. Complete freedom to travel quickly. In front of us there is what looks like to me bad weather. No longer is the horizon visible and in Britain the clouds would signify either rain or snow. I ask Brad through my microphone what the weather is doing up ahead. He says it shouldn’t be too bad but if it does get bad we will have to turn around. He warns me that it might get turbulent and I say I don’t mind. Soon after I come out of my seat and my head hits the metal bars of the airframe above me. We bounce around quite a bit, dropping and what feels like sliding to the side inside of flying staight. We leave the sunshine and bright sky behind and fly into a grey bleak darkness and Brad says visibility is a mile which is the legal minimum he can fly at but adds that he doesn’t care about that and is able to fly with much less visibly. I ask him if he has flown ast half a mile visibility and he replies he has flown at quarter of a mile visibility but that he doesn’t recommend it and that you have to be aware of mountains and hills around you and that there are no power cables or elcticrity pylons near you. I say I understand. As we fly I ask Brad what catches his eye whilst in the air and he says wolf tracks that sometimes lead to a moose kill and that he witnesses this occasionally, wolves eating a moose they have killed. I keep on looking at either wig strut and the cameras are holding fast. Brad says that since they’re still on that they should be good and aren’t going anywhere. he also notices that the Olympus is blinking a light to show it is still working which I can see too so we are glad that they cameras are still working. I am photographing with my main Olympus camera from the rear of the cockpit and am in awe of the landscape below. I have asked Brad how far we are from Galena and he replied 67 miles after we have flown about 3 so I say 70, yes 70 miles he says from Galena to the Atchley’s. The view is just of black pointy trees and snow below them and a darkening light grey sky that blocks all light. I am using ISO800 in order to get some depth of field as well as a fast shutter speed as we are moving fast and I am amazed that the shutter speed is as low as 1/250th of a second at f2.8 so I increase it to ISO1000. I ask Brad how high we are and he says, above the ground we are about 4 or 500 feet up. At times I feel as though we get lower and at some points I think about warning Brad that we are only 50 feet above the treetops. Obviously he knows this but t is quite disconnecting to be so low and going so fast


as losing 50 feet would happen in less than a second. I also ask Brad how fast we are going and he say 94mph. I realize that I have lifted my hat above my ears so that the headset fits snugly and see that Brads earphones go over his hat over his ears so I take the headset off in order to pull my heat down and the noise is an almost deafening roar without them on. Brad has told me that if I get cold I can use a heater hose, identical to a vacuum hose, but red to defrost the inside of the windows and heat myself. He passes it back to me but the windows don’t need defrosting at all. Extremely hot air is coming out of it being directed from the air cooled engine and I put it onot the floor of the cockpit and direct it forwards towards Brad since I don’t need it. Brad has asked me if I get air sick and I say no and that turbulence doesn[t bother me either, in fact I quite enjoy it, but now I start to feel slightly nauseous. I think maybe it is because I didn’t eat a proper lunch. Oh, I just remember that I asked Sandy for a box of 12 cans of tomato paste for Romey since she has emailed me in a state asking for at least 20 cans. Sandy had mentioned that Brad had got her 4 boxes of tomato paste but hadn’t said I could have one. I have spent so much money so far that I am loathe to go to the shop in galena as the prices are more than double of Anchorage. Romey has told me by email that when David recently travelled by snow machine to Rubu and did;t return with any of the items she asked him to get as ‘he forgot’. I find this ultra hard to believe. Id you are living as remotely as this and have to take a potentially life threatening journey maybe once or twice a year to get supplies you at least make a list of what to get. Apparently a woman called Tamara gave David 12 cans of tomato paste but he left them behind hence Romey asking me to get 20 cans on top of the 6 cans she has already asked me to get and that she’d pay me back for the 20 cans. I had replied to say that I wish I had gotten more in Anchorage when I had the chance as they would have been much cheaper. In truth I could never receive money from them as they are allowing me to visit them and they have offered to feed me. So far I have spent $50 on them and don;t want to spend anymore which is why I have gratefully taken 12 cans from Adriana that she offered and I have asked Sady for 12 cans. I ask Sandy if I am being cheeky and realize that I have put her in a position where she cannot really say no. I feel pretty bad actually about this and it plays on my mind. I was figuring that the Scottons are quite well off because Brad works so hard but that means I am having a feeling of entitlement because I am nit well off and that is very wrong indeed. As we fly I ask Brad if anyone else can hear us talk. He says no. I tell him that me paying him $100 isn’t nearly enough for flying me out and he says he doesn’t really care, that he isn’t bothered and that if he didn’t want to do this he wouldn’t and that he is good at saying no. He says that $100 has covered gas for this flight and so I say that I will pay him $100 for my return flight to cover gas also. Anyway, what I am mean to be writing is what Sandy said about the Atchley’s since I have asked her again what it is that people thank bit them. I am aware that people snigger and laugh about the Atchleys and so I need to get Sandy’s viewpoint. Over the past few days I can sense that Sandy has warmed to me as she gets to know me and her 3 kids like me so she is aware that I am a good guy. Now she opens up after I repeat that I am ware, from what she has said before, about how the Atchleys don’t produce anything. They are just ‘there’ i the Alaska bush not doing anything, just surviving. They are not working or adding to anything in any way. They don’t make anything and Sandy see’s this as more than a weakness, not that they don[t have a right to be out here but that they are a waste of space. Also, she reveals, the Atchley’s or David anyway is growing weed out here and no debt that is how they make their money as they have no jobs and therefore no income. I haven’t asked them and David in his emails has give the signs that it is rude to talk about that kind od thing, but I will need to bring that up in conversations later as it is part of the story. Sandy also said that the Atchleys are leaving it up to them to get me out to to their home rather than making the effort to go pick me up in Ruby and tale me back to their log cabin. I do say that David had originally mentioned he could tow a snow machine behind his for me to ride back on and that I could go stay at Sam’s near


Ruby until David could go pick me up. Sandy says, exactly, that’s too much work for them and that they have given the hard work to them to do, and if you think about it that includes given me a lace to stay and occasionally feeding me. I understand this and feel bad that the Scottons don’t like the Archley’s. When I first meet the Athckey family I get a sense of understanding why. Brad has said that he can find where the Atchleys live by remembering the location since he has been here 3 or 4 times before. But to me with my limited experience the ground looks the same everywhere and by now there is no landmark on the horizon or in front of us to get out bearings with. Only if Brad can remember individual lakes and the shapes of trees and rivers and oxbow lakes could he feasibly now what direction to head in. He says he doesn’t have the Athcleys coordinates in his GPS but that he does have the setting of another cabin about 2 miles away. I say I should have the coordinates in my iPod to find them and hand them over his right shoulder. Instead Brad asks me to read them out. I do slowly beginning with the north coordinate and then pause before reading off the west coordinate. He programs this in and says we are 4 miles out. I ask if we can land so that the cabin is on our left and he says yes. this is so that the olympus camera picks up the families log cabin as we are landing. We circle about 2 or 3 times over the cabin so that I can get the ‘money shots’ of the cabin from the air and Brad skillfully banks the plane sharply. I exclaim that this plane can turn on a dime as I feel as though we are pulling about 1 or 2 G’s. Lurerally the plane is turing at almost a 90 degree angle.

27 February 2017

It’s 9:51am and nobody is up yet. It’d been full on and I barely have time for anything. I mean…I am up at 7am and to bed at 11:30pm but in all of those moments I am constantly with the family and David talks virtually non-stop. I need to keep up to date with this dairy but it is even harder than when I was in Patagonia because here I have no time to my self. I’m going to need time in order to collate my photos at the end of every day, backup my interviews and also write this. There are way too many details throughout the day to write down and I wish I could write them all as they are all superb and interesting. This morning I got up at 7am but decided to have a first look at the photos from flying here and of yesterday when we went out cutting wood. I’ve edited the images down to 41 so far, of the flight here and the Athcley’s cabin below from the air and of the wood cutting. I will try to catch up from the moment I landed until now and will write until David gets up, which will be in half an hour I expect. It is 9:56am but the Atchley’s live an hour forward compared to anyone else in Alaska because it suits them to make the most of daylight. As soon as we landed Brad is out of the plane within 20 seconds and talking to the Atchleys. It’s apparent to me by his body language that he doesn’t like the Atchley’s at all. He has said that he isn’t friends with them and Sandy has said that they don’t produce anything and are just ‘here’ doing nothing, just surviving. I personally don’t have a problem with that, they are not hurting anyone. Anyway, I finally get out of the plane after putting my camera on the seat in front of me, taking off my headphones and putting them into a pocket in the back of the front seat. I notice that all of this time my harness was never put on properly and not done up. I climb out and wall though deep powder snow to the Athcleys and shake all of their hands, looking them all in the eye as I do so. They are smiling but wary of me and I can feel them shielding themselves by slightly narrowing their eyes so they don’t give too much of themselves away. I extend my arms into the air and say ‘Yes, made it!’ and Brad says I don’t want to hurry you but I don’t have time to hang around so can you get your bags out of the plane as I need to get back. I think he says


this because he doesn’t want to converse with the Athcleys as their presence clearly annoys him and also he doesn’t want his engine to cool down so that he cannot start it. Visibility is getting worse and soon it will be dark and if he cannot start his plane he’ll have to spend the night here and he’d hate that. When I look at Brad standing next to the Atchlyes I feel that he is a good friend and solid. Because of his distaste for the Atchelys they look odd next to him and I feel that maybe I have made a mistake coming here. I can understand how Brad feels and right at this moment in time side with him. Unfair of me yes and too judge worthy. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. On one hand I have established an online friendship with people I do not know at all and have been delivered to them by a friend that I do know. I don’t know how the Atchleys feel about Brad but I do know how he feels about them. I feel ashamed that I am friends with Brad and also the Atchelys and at this stage, this very short moment I feel disloyal to Brad for now switching my friendship to the Atchleys. Its a feeling I cannot put into words easily. When I…(I don’t get a chance to finish as David comes down the stairs to where my bed is and asks me what I am typing so much. There is no way out so I say a diary. He looks offended for a bit until our conversation warms him up again). It’s 10:43pm and upstairs directly above me Romey is reading to Sky who is 13 years old. So much has happened in the last two days since I got here and I have not had any time to myself at all apart from when I sleep. It is an enormous struggle to find the time to interview anyone as David has now to stopped talking since I arrived. I am not kidding. It’s interesting conversation but everyday feels like a marathon and I wonder if this will ever change. This isn’t how I want to write this diary but now because of a lack of time I am having to catch up and all the details and facts are slipping away already as there is too much to remember. I’ll begin to write again where I left off which is when Brad leaves. He gets into his plane and instantly starts it, kicks it around hard to the left ad takes off to the south very quickly. I take photos and his prop blows up cold snow which showers me with its powder. I expect him to circle and pass close by so that he can wave but instead he steers north west and is gone very quickly. The noise of the Super Cub is gone as soon as the plane is out of sight. Before, when Brad tells me to take my stuff out of the plane I go to pat him on the shoulder as a sign of thanks and he flinches slightly. I’m in deep powder snow on the ice over the lake and turn to my luggage which is lying half covered in snow. By this time Romey has taken the rucksack, Sky the cardboard box with their potato chips, dog toys, dog chews and tea. He exclaims that it doesn’t weigh anything so that their is nothing inside of it, just air. David offers to take my large black monster kit bag but I insist instead that I take it as it weights 50 pounds. He instead takes the two action cameras which I and Brad have just taken off the plane. Brad removed his GoPro which I’d fastened to the snow shoes and he says with disappointment that the lens was covered with ice. Sure enough when I review all of the images from it today I see that as out journey through the air progresses the images darken and darken until the photo is black as the build up of ice increases. But the Olympus action camera has worked well because the lens was at a 90 degree angle to the wind. We walk up wooden steps from the edge of the lake to towards the house which is some 20 meters away. I don;t even have time to look around me or check the exterior of the log cabin out. Romeo then Sky go in and David tells me to enter before him. There are double doors but not an arctic entrance. They are two wooden doors that are standing close together. Open one and then immediately open the other. So one doesn’t close before the next one is open but what it does do is insulate the interior from the bitter cold. The room we enter is a small boot room with a Blaze King wood burning stove. Clothing hangs from the low ceiling and a large blackened pit sits on the stove. Along the right wall as we enter is a couch with a burgundy bed sheet on it, 3 pillows, a table at the head of it under a double glazed sliding window with beaver skin gloves and a hat on. At the far end of the room a staircase leads into


the kitchen and the rest of the house. At the left end part of this boot room, which is about 9 feet long there are two stained and dirty brown canvases that hand from the rafters which are to conceal a person taking a pee in a bucket or having a rudimentary shower. There is no drainage in the floor and the shower head attached to the wall is small. It is meant as a hand held shower whereby I guess you squat over the bucket and and clean your bits. Sky upstairs enacts voices of the characters his Mom Romey is reading to him. They play dungeons and dragons together so it is another form of role playing. He takes turns to read a bit and then his Mom does. He shouts, shrieks, laughs, screams and giggles. After I have entered the cabin David tells me where I can put my bag and that I can sleep on this couch which also pulls out if I want a double bed. I say no thank you and that I am happy to sleep on the width of the couch as it is. I open the black bag and the 3 stand at the top of the 3 stairs in the kitchen whilst I stand below. I’m anxious to immediately give them all of the items I have bought for them and some I have lugged all the way from the UK. I say youngest first and begin to unwrap a bag that contains 6 cans of coca cola but with a green can which means they have been made using cane sugar and they have asked me not to buy anything for Sky that has artificial sweeteners. I then apologize and say sorry, I should start with ladies first. They laugh but cannot remmeber what they say but they take it with good humor. I also hand a selection of 3.11 pounds worth of British coins to Sky to be part of his coin collection. I say that I am looking forward to seeing the rest of his collection but so far they say he only has one Canadian coin that they found someplace. They seem ashamed that it is not really a collection he has yet but this will then go somewhere to be a start to one. It is 11:14pm now and I have to go to bed. I’m falling asleep and now, if I resume this writing tomorrow morning I will be almost 3 days behind with writing. Luckily my photos can remind me of what I have photographed but not necessarily all of the little things I have noticed and all of the conversations I have been having with this family.

28 February 2017

It’s 9:09am and I’d love to continue sleeping. I can barely see what I am typing as I have only just woken up and urgently need to write this. Yesterday I reached almost the point where I couldn’t control myself any further without being rude. David has now spent more than 2 days talking nonstop and Sky wanted to have his chance to talk. I was up in Sky’s bedroom watching him play his Playstation 4 with David and David stops playing so he can resume talking. I should never have gone up but felt that I was being anti-social and wanted to give Sky a chance ti talk. Eventually Sky has had enough and tells David he has been talking for 2 and a half days non-stop and that he should give someone else a chance. David retorts with ‘who gave you life and brought you into this world?!’ That Sky should be grateful just that he is here and that David has the right to talk. I don’t mean that David has just monopolized the conversation, I mean that he actually hasn’t stopped to draw breath for all of this time. Just non-stop talking and it is wearing on me. I need some serious time to be by myself and I am seeing that their seclusion is resulting in their desperate need to communicate with someone other than themselves. During pizza, a really very tasty pizza that Romey makes (she does all the cooking and washing up and I have offered to help more than once so far) David has put on a Grateful Dead movie to watch on a MacBookPro and he tells me about it non-stop. Sky doesn’t say a word but then suddenly leaves to go to his room. There are no doors inside so you can almost see everyone all of the time from a couple of places in the main living room. I can see him watching me


and then him looking at his bookshelf and finally coming back to sit next to me on a couch. He has two games with him to use with Playstation and wants to show them to me and tell me about them. He interrupts his Dad whilst David is trying to show me Rolling Stone magazines with tributes to Gerry Garcia. So I am trying to watch a film, look at magazines David is showing me, listen to David and also engage Sky in conversation about his games. It is unbelievably frustrating but I cannot be rude to any of them. I cannot publicly clench my fists in anger so press my thumb hard against my iPod Touch that I have in my hand. Romey is in the kitchen area and says jokingly that is must look as though they are all attention seekers. David is angry and puts down the magazines and goes into the kitchen area and I had him say to Romey that he wishes to shoot Sky and that he needs to create a divergence in order to stop Sky talking to me. I feel it is rude to ignore Sky and I want to talk to all of them. I reassure Sky that his time will come and I will interview him very soon. He is still talking about the characters in the games he plays on Playstation and he enjoys killing people. David jokes that this is a way to socialize Sky without having to go live in a town or city. It is funny at the time but I also realize now as I write this that is also desperately sad. Here is a tiny family living extremely remotely and their son, who is very funny and remarkably grown up for his age is also enjoying using a mini-gun, a revolving barreled machine gun to blow things up and decimate many people. It;s not what I was expecting. It’s now 9:26am and I need to begin to write what happened after I arrived. In an hour David will come downstairs and I won’t be able to write again until maybe tonight if I am not too tired. When I arrived it was 0C degrees. The next day it was -10C and yesterday it was -20C. I go outside twice yesterday. Once to photo Romey as she walks down to the lake to go skiing and the other to empty my pee bottle at a place David showed me to empty pee and dirty water. I look to my left to outside a small window and it is blue sky and beautiful. OK, so…after I arrived I was made a tea by Romey and we sat to talk. Presently Romey makes food and it is a bowl of pearl barley and moose meat. Minced moose meat. Also Romey gives a large slice of homemade bread with butter. There is a large hair in the top of my food which I move to the side of the bowl. It is tasty and something I appreciate eating as I am very hungry and did not have lunch that day. I am barely able to look around the room I am sitting in because I politely maintain eye contact with David. I am conscious of being aware of any first signs of behavioral problems amongst David, Romey and Sky. Romey is the only one I think at that stage. She is quiet in the kitchen making food and starts to bang utensils loudly as she cooks. She also appears to drop a metal lid to a jar on purpose to the floor. Almost throwing it down instead of dropping it. It’s apparent to me that she is alot louder than a normal person would be in a kitchen. But so far that hasn’t been a recurring situation and she is the most quiet and relaxed of all three. It gets late and we are still talking and I have been yearning to go to sleep for ages but as I move around their small living room and kitchen they follow me and when I go to the boot room to begin to get ready for bed they follow me there also and continue to talk. My back is aching and I have to sit down and still David talks. I am looking up at hime and continue to maintain an interested face but I could fall asleep instantly. By now I have handed them all of the food I brought with me for them, I did this before we began to eat. I have also given 2 dog toys to their dog Charley which was a sweet moment as she really enjoys squeaking them. She prefers the first one I bought, a long red sausage dog which is made from a tough felt fabric and has some squeaks inside them. I bought her another toy from Fred Meyers the next day as I was one toy wasn’t enough and it plays a funny song. It;s a late mouse with an electronic loudspeaker inside it which goes: Deedee, diddle dee, deedee diddle dee, dumb, dumb, dumb - dumb, dumb, dumb. Charley doesn’t seem to like this one as much but throws the red toy around by shaking her head. She is abut 9 or 10. Part blue healer, part retriever and part husky type dog. She is fat and heavy with a raw patch on either shoulder where she has to lever herself up to get off the ground when lying down. I have


brought my own pee bottle with me as I always wake in the night to pee and wasn’t sure what their arrangements were. To avoid me making any noise in the night it means I can sit upright on the edge of the couch, turn a head torch on and pee the carry on sleeping. I so wish I didn’t have to write this diary but know that since I have made a start and written so much already that I have to continue. It might be useful for making a letterpress book in the future, I do hope, and nice to have a lasting record of my time here but I also wonder if I will ever be able to manage writing everything down. My fist night here I sleep well. I have taken my regular 2 Melatonin and have a pleasant realized dream though I cannot remember it now because I haven’t had time to catch up this writing. The room want too warm either because David has been burnin wet wood which never gets too hot. I write for 3 and a half hours my first morning, non-stop and then David comes down to make himself a coffee so I have to stop as he begins to talk. I have been shown where there are two plastic buckets with lids on the kitchen floor under a large window which is covered with sellofane. In this weather any window, no matter how well it has been set in the wall and whether it is double glazed or not will emit alot of cold from its edges. So cellophane helps to prevent this draft being felt. It means you cannot open a window but you wouldn’t want to in this extreme frigid weather. This morning it is now -22C, a Tuesday and I remember that Brad said it will get very cold on Thursday. The first day here David says that we all, excluding Romey who will stay behind will go to the end of the lake to get firewood. He says it is further than he will normally go to get the wood but that he would like to show me where the river is, the ‘Novi’ or rather the Nowitna River. His boat is there with the engine still on the back of it all covered in thick snow. There is a also a tent with some equipment for the boat in it and an oil drum. David shows me a point in the land as we travel to the boat from where we can see the edge of the river and then after 100 meters we get to the boat. He explains that the point 100 metres back is 4 miles away by river from where we are standing now because it is on an ox-bow lake that curves around and away before getting back to this point. It is hard to imagine and quite an amazing fact. David has led on his 550cc 2 stroke snow machine and he is pulling a sled. I am following on a 270cc single cylinder snow machine. I too am pulling a heavy metal sled that Sky sits in and I am amazed that this ting snow machine, which David calls the scooter, can pulls itself through deep powder snow let alone me on it and a sled with Sky on. David makes a trail on fresh snow in front of me and Sky and goes fast. Even full throttle I cannot keep up. I soon realize that is ridiculously dangerous. The snow is 2 feet high on either side of the snow machine and the two front skis on the machine have to fit into a narrow channel that Davids snow machine has carved. If I steer to far to the left or the right my snow machine will tilt up at an angle and I risk rolling the machine and potentially hurting badly both me ad Sky together.It is nerve wracking and I also know that if I slow right down or stop that the snow machine will lose traction and bog right down and get stuck. Its important to maintain momentum and keep charging forwards. Breaking trail. It;s now 10:05am and David is down so I have to stop. It’s 11:01pm. David has just left me and gone to do his nightly routine. It’s actually their midnight as they are living one hour ahead of me. Romey reads to Sky for one hour until their 1am and then they spend an hour on their own to each individually have their own time. Then at about 3am they come downstairs to eat a meal, maybe a bowl of cereal or cookies and make a drink before going to sleep. The main thing we did today was have a sauna. Yesterday we spent all day indoors whilst I interviewed David and on the Sunday we went and cut firewood. As I have already written David comes along at about his 11am and starts to talk. Usually if I wasn’t here he’d spend an hour meditating but right now because I’m here he is happy to talk to me instead. Essentially David spends 8 hours in bed and Romey gets up an hour later as she lies in bed and listens to the news on the radio.


Sky gets up about an hour or two after that, he sleeps for 12 hours. Charley his dog sleeps upstairs in his room. There is too much to write, even if none of use have been anywhere these past 2 days. Non-stop talking and small details about things that happen need to be recorded but there are just too many things to remember. Constantly having to listen, occasionally ask questions, type interviews out on my iPod Touch, look interested, be interested, remember what is being said is so hard. I am being fed twice a day. The meals are wholesome and good and at the rate I should lose alot of weight. The first two nights we have moose and barley with bread. The last two nights we had pizza which was really tasty. All homemade obviously and on a thick wheat flour base, lots of tomato paste and ground moose meat. The 3rd night, yesterday, we had a bowl of the last moose meat and barely before pizza as a snack. It’s been hard for David and Romey, David says, to know how to answer my questions. I have told him it is simple as I ask the questions and he answers them and we move onto the next question. The problem is actually that have barely asked any questions as I never the opportunity to do so. Occasionally I have to butt in and ask a basic question but then David goes off on a tangent and tells 20 stories absolutely non-stop, usually not about what I asked and Romey laughs and says she feels sorry for me that I never get a straight answer. I just took two constipatipn relief tablets even though I know I am not constipated. I haven’t defecated since I arrived here on Saturday and now it is Tuesday. My body is using every bit of food I am putting into it. In 6 days in Galena I only defecated twice I think. At Angels in 4 days only once. That means in 2 weeks I have defecated 3 times. It’s not something I make a record of but now I think about it, it is worrying. David says that he gives himself enemas here with coffee to clean his liver out which is kinda amazing. They are definitely all into looking after their bodies to keep fit so they can look after themselves for as long as possible which means they won’t have to move from here for a long time. They’ve said that they don’t know where they’d go to then the time comes as they won’t be able to afford to go anywhere else. I don’t feel that I want to write too much about how they behave because actually they are being very kind and I don’t want to judge. They call it a bubble that they live in and is so far removed from everyday life that it’s hard or at least not appropriate to comment on how they are. David does like to put it to me though that it must be hard for me to understand where he is coming from as he is so advanced in philosophy. I know that is true but it sounds arrogant. He says he finds it easy to talk about philosophy but hard to answer my basic questions. Ultimately I am a photographer so today I have been taking more photos inside the house and also of them outside sitting naked inside their sauna. Luckily I was able to take shots were all 3 of them weren’t revealing themselves at all but it was hard to get a good exposure so I figured the next time I would use the Olympus Action camera inside the sauna as it might not get damaged and it has a torch on the front of it. Also, when they open the door the extreme cold forms clouds inside the sauna room which get sucks outside and I’d like to capture that. Right now I am taking candid shots of them indoors, relaxing and cooking and playing games and talking. But I have told David that I would like to take photos, posed ones, of them all outdoors wearing traditional furs and in a hunting pose with all the guns and knifes and snow shoes etc. Yes, it might be contrived but I need to take these photos so show how tough it is out here and that these are outdoors people in a very remote location. I am getting some of the answers I need and as David pointed out Skys interview will probably be the best one as he gave some great natural answers and he replies exactly as I need someone to reply when I’m interviewing them. As far as I can tell, even though David is kind and thoughtful I think he is also massively ego driven but hides it very well. Everything about living remotely here is about his ego I think and doing what he wants to do and nothing more. When I give Sky attention he seems upset and like a child that is being ignored. I


hear him tell Romey when I go to watch Sky gaming on Playstation that he is now able to do what he wants to do. But all of this time it has been him that has kept me penned in with his nonstop talking. Romey and Sky never leave the house apparently. Only Romey to ski and Sky occasionally to go snow machining with his dad. I’m sitting here next to the Blaze King stove and it is comfortably warm. On the second night it was so hot in this boot room that had to open the window and lay on the couch naked with not even the sleeping bag on the couch with me. Last night was a bit better and eventually, near dawn I had to pull the sleeping bag over me. Now I am falling asleep too have to go to sleep. It is 11:42pm. I had hoped to be able to write about every detail just as I did in Patagonia but here I simply do not have enogh time. I could ask david if he can give me an hour to go to my laptop to type this but I don;t want him to know I am writing abut them all. He does know I am writing a diary so its pretty obvious I must be writing about my experiences here but I don;t want to make is so obvious. It does;t seem fair of me to be here i their house and eating their food and then openly writing abut my experiences here. I’e just closed my laptop for the night but open it again ti type this - I have to say that normally I have many questions lined up and can get a complete interview from anybody in one hour. But here, because of the barrage of non stop talking I not only feel myself being drained of all energy but drained of any idea of what question to ask. I need simply to have time to myself to formulate what I want ti say but at present my brain cannot think straight at all. All this talk of philosophy is clouding my normal inquisitive, logical mind and making it hard to think straight.


01 March 2017

8:44am. I have to force myself to get out of bed this morning in order to write this. At 1am this morning Romey woke me up. I was in a very deep sleep and panicked and grabbed at her hand, not in a handshake but the way ‘brothers’ or bikers shake hands. I held onto it tightly and swore several times before I realized it was her and worked out where I was. She says that she hates to wake people up. (I just check the temperature this morning and it is -32C). Romey tells me that the northern lights are out and earlier we have agreed that if they do come out and she sees them that I would like her to wake me. But nethertheless it is unexpected and I freak out for a few seconds. I am comfortable where I am sleeping and am sleeping very well here, better than anywhere else for many many years. I say I will have to work out exposures carefully and ask her to listen out for me in case I don’t return to the cabin. I’m walking out onto the lake and even though the ice is 5 feet thick anything could happen. I put on my Snugpok Salopettes over my pajama bottoms and zip them over my Baffin boots so I don’t get snow in the tops of the boots. I put my thin hoodie on over my Snugpok t-short and just the Sleeka jacket over the hoodie, the yellow Kotz Huskies polar fleece beanie hat I prefer as it covers my ears and pull the hoodie over it. I hang the US Army ECW mitts by their strings over my head and take the tripod Romey has left for me next to the couch where I sleep. I unlock both outside doors and head out with my head torch turned on. I get my bearings first of all and choose the path in snow which leads to the lake. It isn’t far at all and I carefully walk down the stairs to the thick snow covered ice below. I look up at the bottom of the stairs to gaze at the heavens and it is some of the best, probably the best northern lights I have ever seen. The ones at Prophet River were beautiful but the sky wasn’t as vast as it is here. I look up and the very top of the ceiling of the sky and the northern lights rapidly expand and swirl and grow and ripple at great speed. I don;t pause for long, though want to. I’m aware that if Romey and David are listening out for me to return I might be keeping them up and I haven;t yet gauged exactly how cold it is yet. It doesn’t seem to be too bad even though it’s more than -20C at this moment, I walk out towards the centre of the lake but am soon stopped by deep snow which comes up past my knees and holds my legs firmly in place. I retreat back to where Davids snow machine has been before and which has compacted the snow underneath it so that it is possible to walk on without sinking. Ideally I need David to break a trail straight out across the lake to the other side in a direct line from the cabin. Ideally I’d like to get as far away as possible and photo the northern lights dancing above the cabin but have the cabin very small to give a sense of the vastness of its location. I take some photos and am relatively happy with them because they do show the northern lights well but it is not the effect I am visualizing in my mind. I begin to walk off the snow machine trail towards the other side of the lake but walking is slow due to sinking all the time way up above my knees. I admit that I am scared to walk towards the far shore because I do not have a hand gun with me. Bears are hibernating but a pack of wolves could easily run across this snow in seconds and pull me down. I wouldn’t stand a chance. I set the tripod up and notice that a pin is missing from a leg support. I was aware of this and should have taped them up before using it. It was loose to begin with but in my tiredness and rush to get out of the cabin to begin photogtapging I slipped my mind. I feel bad about this and did try looking for it last night briefly but it would be worse than looking for a needle in a haystack as the pin would have fallen into the snow and


disappeared. Yesterday in the sauna David said that he would make a better effort from today to answer my basic questions better. I think he has realized that I am becoming ground down and since he was listening in the background to Sky’s interview he has perhaps realized what I am after. He did say that Skys quotes would be the best for the news piece and I reassured him that his would be good too. However, if he took the time to slow down and give me to a chance to listen to my questions without being deeply philosophical about everything then he too would also be giving good quotes also. I don;t think that it is because he has been isolated for so long he talks so much but more that he would like to prove his knowledge and how intelligent he is. He doesn’t do it in a nasty way and has only a couple of times suggested that what he has learnt out here with Romey is far superior to what I know. I honestly don’t mind about this since I am here to do a job and it isn’t about me. he keeps on talking to me because he knows I have a ‘personal interest’ in what he knows, and I agree, but first I tell him I need to cover the basics first before I can type down his words of wisdom. he tells me he doesn’t know what the basics are or what people will want to hear in a news piece about him and I continually tell him it’s about things like why he lives out here, how he copes with the isolation, how often they go to town, how they survive and hunt etc. He says he doesn’t know how to answer these questions which seems to be an excuse for his extended diatribe monologues. Now I am going to go through my images from the past few days as I need to edit then before I get back to Galena so they are ready to upload online for Phil Coomes. David has also said he would like to see what I have taken so far. The more Davd talks the more he sucks away my ability to think clearly abut what basic questions I should ask him. It’s as though air is being vacuumed out of a room and I am suffocating. Usually with subjects I ask them a series of questions and the interview is over after an hour and I have all the information I need. Here half a day is taken up quickly by David talking non-stop about philosophy and it drains me to my very core. When I think about what I wish to ask nothing comes to mind and all I want to do is be on my own and sleep. Romey can talk but she is calmer and relaxed about this but I can tell she would like her turn to talk soon also. I have made a list of what to write yesterday on a small note pad with an annoying feint pencil so that I ca barely read my own words but hopefully this will put me back on track. Sky shouting Spahgetti and Moon Shadow and screeching wildly.

02 March 2017

8:32am. Right now I am tired so focusing on the negatives as, apart from being here, there aren’t many positives. David is beyond hard work. Maybe because he knows I am writing a journal and must wonder what I am putting into it. Certainly, if people are alone for so long by themselves they are probably in tune enough to know how I am feeling and feel what I am thinking. Last night I was woken up at 1am by the 3 of them playing music loudly. In emails before I arrived I had told David to just be themselves upon my arrival and continue as normal and he reminds me of this. But I certainly didn’t mean for him to be anti-social. Obviously its hard to tell him this and I have warned him that I don’t function well if I don’t sleep or eat properly. I arrived on Saturday and it is now Thursday and I still haven’t defecated yet despite taking more constipation tablets last night. I think that it is simply I am not eating enough to defecate and my body is using everything for energy that is going into it. Everyday David gets anger and more arrogant and more ego led in his talking. I’m wondering perhaps if he isn;t schizophrenic. Really I should drag myself out of bed to photoraoh them playing


instruments at 1am but I am just beat. For some reason at about midnight they all drink caffeine and David has an espresso so that they are all buzzing and this is why they wake up so late in the day. Yesterday I asked David if we could go outside and find a hill to go up so that I could take a photo of him with a good landscape behind him stretching away below into the distance. As is normal now David gets up and sits around talking non-stop until 1pm and then slowly stirs himself to do something, normally more talking. He then finally gets changes out of his pajamas after we have eaten breakfast at 3pm and goes outside to do small daily chores. On this day he wants to defrost his snow machine as the choke cables are sticking. He has been meaning to do this after he got back from his journey to Ruby which was about 2 weeks ago. He has a wall tent outside with a stove in it and where he can work on his snow machine. He uses a jack from the rear of the machine to get the tracks off the ground and, with a fire going in the stove, intends to melt the ice from every part of his machine so that it works properly as it should do again. I offer to split more logs for the Blaze King stove that is in the boot room. I split 4 armloads and bring them into the cabin. Meanwhile Sky sits in his pajamas and does nothing to help. A few days ago David had asked Sky to refill the generator with gas and Sky simply says No. David says OK. It’s apparent that Sky is massively spoilt. He seems to represent both a son and a daughter to David and Romey and is worshipped by Romey who allows him to get away with everything. He plays video games all night and shrieks and hollers and occasionally shouts out things at nobody in particular like you should see the amount of bullet holes in this guy or I just ran over this guys head in a tank. He calls Romey up every now and then to show her who he has just killed and David also. But later David says very loudly to me downstairs, so that Sky can definitely hear, that Sky is much better at going up to listen to Sky’s almost non stop running commentary about his gaming. David says that its hard for him as he doesn’t give a shit about the games and mimics an idiot playing a controller. They have an interesting way of behaving wtih no apparent understanding of lowering their voices when talking about people, rudely, behind their backs. (This morning it is -28C). So…I have asked David to go out and essentially pose for a photo wearing old fashioned clothing. The deal is that he doesn’t appear to ever leave the cabin so I am having to force a situation to happen so that I can get some interesting photographs. I tell him what I would like and what I have in mind politey and carefully and he listens. When I;m done he agrees but then tells me at great length how we will go about doing this. It seems that he has to be in total control. Despite maintaing an image of coolness by listening to the Grateful Dead and telling me many stories of how he hangs out when he goes to Fairbanks he is amazingly uptight and controlling. He has already maintained that he is King of his own Kingdom here. Sky is coming along with us on the outing to get photos and I wonder how he ever gets anything done around here. Romey has pulled out some old fashioned clothing for him to wear and he stands in the boot room in his pajamas expecting to be dressed. He has Carhartt lined dungarees hanging from a nail in the low ceiling and takes ages putting them on over his pajama bottoms. He then chooses which shirt he wants t wear whilst David loses patiences and says he is going outside as he is too hot inside He has already started his snow machine which is running already. I can’t believe how slow Sky is to move. I’m fully dressed and so is David and his snow machine is running and all the equipment we need is already packed on the back of it. Sky puts on a red work shirt but says it is scratching his arms and that it hurts him. So he slowly puts on a thin burgundy shirt to go underneath and does each button up in slow motion. He pulls small dog hairs off the fabric as he buttons. Then has has to choose from a red shirt or a green jacket. The deliberation takes ages and I am frustrated beyond belief. Sky is enjoying the attention. He finally chooses the thick wool red work shirt to wear (instead of a green felt jacket) and I have to hold it up, like an overcoat, for him to put his arms through and into the sleeves. Next is a large wolf fur lined waist coat which I hold up for him to try on but he says it is too warm and refuses to wear it.


Romey tries to fit a .357 revolver on a belt to him but it doesn’t look right so it gets removed. Finally when Sky is ready to leave it is 5pm and the sun is starting to go down. We head out and I use Sky’s 277cc snow machine again. David is using a sled behind his machine and Sly sits in it. I love the white sled Sky says. But as we head down a steep hill and onto the frozen lake to travel left, south away from the cabin I see that a hail of snow is kicked up from Davids snow machine and flies directly into Sky’s face. He grimaces against the cold and puts his beaver gloved hands over his face. I travel in Davids tracks again as he travels fast. We journey about half a mile and then he slows, looking up at the left bank and thinking how he will approach it to ride up. I ca tell it is too steep and that he obviously never journeys up there. I realize that he very rarely ventures far from his cabin and that he hasn’t ever gone up this area before. He turns off his machine as do I and I walk to him to discuss what to do next. He says with exasperation that it is too late in the day to be setting out to do this and that we should have left earlier. Every single thing with David is a contradiction. He says we should have set out earlier and of course should have done - so why didn’t we? I tell him that it’s OK and we can come back another day. Instead I suggest that we can simply go to the other side of the lake which is 300 meters away, park the snow machines up, put snow shoes on and walk into what is called the Burn zone where there was a major forest fire in 2015. Trees are lying on their sides and it looks inteertestihg. David is flapping slightly and troubled and wants to talk about this at left but I say we should simply go. It’s not a big deal, but he wants to flap about it. Yes, we should have left 6 hours earlier to do this but it was impossible with his non-stop talking. We park the machines up on the edge of the frozen lake an David puts his snow shoes on first followed by me. They are the old fashioned kind with leather bindings. Sky cant out his on so I help out but it is impossible. David helps with Sky’s right foot but gets angry quickly and accuse Romey of lying that the bindings would work. He ridicules Romey about 3 times and they gets angry about the people who manufacture them. My hands are bare and are getting extremely painful from the extreme cold. Instead, I suggest I take my snowshoes off and that Sky wears them for the sake of the photo and I will manage without. The snow is between waist to chest deep and impossible to walk through. Instead I tiger crawl like soldiers do and this means my greater body area is able to move forwards without falling through the snow. I notice that David is totally different outside, a completrly different person and character than when he is inside, I barely recognize him when he is outside and he seems relatively normal. After I have spent 5 minutes getting myself into position I ask politely ask David and Sky to walk towards me with rifles drawn as though they are hunting spruce chicken. David is natural but Sky is like a mannequin as David later says. I take photos in 3 different situations and it is not really working. I find a lone vertical tree for them to pose near and it looks good but doesn’t feel right. It is obviously contrived simply because of his they are standing, tense and awkward and because of Sky’s pouting expression. David is a mountain man as outdoors men are known but Sky is certainly not, more like Gwen Stefani posing for a photo shoot. I do the best I can before the sun goes down behind the hill and wonder if these two have any concept of time, day and night and how much time is needed in order to do anything. David has already admitted that days and even weeks are spent indoors talking about stuff and that if he doesn’t feel like doing anything that he won’t. We should leave earlier next time says David. Er…Durgh!, I think to myself. Sky is getting cold despite not wanting to wear the fur waistcoat and starts to ask if we can go. David is talking all of this time and then starts a new monologue about how he loves snow shoeing and how he loves these leather bindings. Sky rolls his eyes and tries to say that he’d like to go again but his voice is drowned out by David’s. I interrupt David and say that Sky is getting cold and that we should go. David and Sky trudge off on their snow shoes back towards the lake edge as I crawl back through the deep snow. David starts his machine, leaves Sky standing there and comes to pick me up. He rides out towards the middle of the lake and


in a long sweeping arc turns the snow machine through deep powder snow by leaning right off the machine and just hanging onto the right hand grip. He is actually entirely off the machine and only standing on the right side of it as he leans into the curve whilst going into a right bend. His body almost touches the snow and it looks great. As he picks me up and I clamber onto the back seat I ask him to repeat that again for a photo. So we ride past Sky and I photo David as he goes past me but it isn’t as good as the first time and he ends up falling off his machine into the snow with his legs sticking way up in the air coming out of the snow. I whoop and holler with laughter as I can David finds the moment amusing also. It’s 11:13pm. A long day again. Because I only went outside a few times I have alot more energy. Today was a better day. Yes, there are still times when I pickup undertones of David saying things about me to Romey but it has been a better day. First thing this morning David appears at the top of the stairs as usual and nods at me as he goes up to the oven top to make an espresso. He makes it and comes down the 2 steps to me into the boot room and sits down next to me on the couch I sleep on with his coffee. He wants to talk about yesterday and first thing tells me that Sky had told Romey during a big discussion that he was tweaked out about the photos I took of them both snowshoeing and that he wasn’t upset about it but that he was feeling weird about doing something that he doesn’t normally do and that he got very cold. I apologize but say we left the house way too late in the day to take any decent photos and that I should have suggested we return home instead or just dig an ice trail to get the snow machines up off the lake the next day. We discuss it at left and I try to make David realize that it isn’t a big deal but for David and Sky it’s seriously on their minds simply because they have nothing else to think about out here. David tells me that he discusses every single thing that happens during the day with Romey and I’m amazed at what detaill he goes into. Not just about what occurs but also looking at everyrhig from all angles and all sides. Romey comes down and doesn’t say anything, she makes her tea and avoids eye contact so I let it go and wait to see what happens. We talk about all sorts of stufff and I cover old ground. We compare stories and experiences and I bring Tom up quite a few times, whose barn I stay in, in England and we decide that he is a really sad wanker. Or at least I do and David laughs. He cannot believe how Tom won’t even allow me to have my mail delivery to his house while I am there. I conclude that I should never have brought Toms name up while I’m out here and that he doesn’t deserve my breath. Today is mostly spent interviewing Romey after David finally stops talking and breaks himself away to go outside and do some work on his snow machines and chainsaws. he burns a load of wood in the Blaze King but leaves the chimney wide open inside so all the heat just escapes and goes up the chimney so the house feels cold and I end up wearing my Snugpok Sleeka jacket for most of the day indoors. Miraculously after writing my diary in the morning I end up going to the outhouse compost toilet and defecating. Not very much but nethertheless it’s reassuring that nothing is wrong with me and I am not bunged up. I sat there freezing cold with goose bumps on my bare legs looking out as there is no door at all. I see what I presume is a crossbill land on a fence post and am amazed that any birds exist out here at all at -28C. I watch it for a while and as I go to take a handful of toilet paper it sees my movement and stares at me mesmerized. I also hear a repeated sound from across the lake of what sounds like a woodpecker. It’s intensely moving to be here, there is blue sky and a bright sun and I’m amazed that I am actually here. The thing is that I don’t feel as though this is remote and I wonder when this will dawn on me. Yes, I did fly here and so experienced the remoteness first hand from the air and saw all of the many thousands of miles of trees stretching off in all directions with nothing anywhere apart from snow and rivers and lakes. No sign of animals and no sign of people. I think that the deal being here is that I am used to people and have a western state of mind and this family are used to extreme isolation with alot of heavy thinking and spending all of their time together in just their company. Obviously anyone is going to come across some sort of


issue in these unique circumstances. But since I spoke to Romey who was much easier to interview, much slower to speak and more relaxed things have seemed better. I haven;t even scratched the surface with photos or interviews and have so much to ask it is overwhelming. Instead of asking people about one topic like Harley-Davidsons I am here asking 3 people about every aspect of their lives whilst trying to simply fit in these questions amongst Davids long monologues. When David leaves the cabin the mood lightens and I am finally able to ask the questions I want to ask and which I am satisfied will be useful for the BBC news piece abut this family. I have a good understanding of what needs to be asked and what I would like to hear. David comes in from time to time and starts to talk which I can tell frustrates Romey as she wants tone interviewed. After all david has talked nonstop since I first arrived and it is definitely her turn now. She lifts her head up to the ceiling and kind of almost rolls her eyes. We cover about 3 different areas - living remotely, homeschooling, what to do in emergencies, animals and what she cooks with moose when they catch one. Today Romey cooks rice with butter and brewers yeast in it with 2 fried eggs and and some fried spam. It is tasty and filling. I know that I am losing weight slowly which I am glad about and realize that I only have to eat 2 meals a day really. Before the rice though I do ask if I can help myself to a pilot bread, which is like a large cracker, with peanut butter and raisins on top. In the evening, just like last night we eat a bowl of beans with ground moose meat, corn and grated cheese. Last night, like every night when we eat, for about 20 minutes we watch something on a MacBook Pro. It was Ren and Stimpy which David laughs manicaly at non-stop but which unfortunately I cannot muster even a chuckle for. It just doesn’t seem that funny to me although the art work is good. I feel sad that I do not laugh as I can tell they do hope that I will enjoy it also. Tonight they show an episode from Friends which I hate with a vengeance. The film a previous night about the Grateful Dead from the 70’s is interesting though to be able to see how people dressed and behaved in those days. Romey has hurt her back, an existing injury that hurts her from time to time. She did it lifting a heavy pit of water of the stove and I can tell she has alot of pain by the way she walks. Occasionally she lies on the floor to try to help relieve her discomfort and she cuddled Charley the dog at the same time. Charley seems to like the squeaky toy I brought for her and everyday so far has chewed on it and squeaked it. A couple of uncomfortable moments come up today when David mentions that whatever I brought out for them, all of the food and its that Romey asked for means nothing to them in relation to them having to look after me or be hospitable to me. he says he does;t give a damn about what I brought out because they have been kind enough to allow me to come here ad that they they were going to say no. I notice that they all often go to the tupperware container that holds many of Romey’s homemade cookies, especially when they go to bed the first time at midnight and always take hot drinks and cookies to bed with them. But they never offer me a cookie despite saying that they have 2 years worth of food here. David says that the National Geographic has asked him if they can come out to him him and his family living out here and he said no so I am very lucky. I don;t believe this and reckon he is just flexing his muscles and keeping me as the underdog. This has changed my view of him and I realize that what is important is the photos and the interviews and getting the right quotes to make it compelling to read. I don’t have to be friends with this guy in the future nor mind the fact that he is going to be two faced about me behind my back to maintain his macho character to his friends. I’m here for another 2 and a half weeks so just have to keep quiet, keep what I think to a minimum and continue to do the best I can. Tomorrow I think, if we don’t go back out to take photos snow shoeing I will walk around their area here and photo every out building and small detail that stands out. Tonight I am staying up until they resurface from their bedrooms at 1pm when they go to Sky’s room directly above me to play music. I have decided that if I cannot beat them that I need to join them and I walk to photograph them all jamming together. Last night I was woken up which really pissed


me off but I just about have the energy now to stay up to photograph them although it is 12:08 am my time so 1:08am their time. I would love to take 2 Melatonin right now and sleep but don’t see the point as I hate getting woken up. I still have plenty of time left here to achieve the result I am hoping for but cannot help that David won’t ever get his ass into gear. All of the opportunities are here to make this a good piece but I have to be so careful with what I would like them to do for photo ops. What I do know is that they have the right words so I just have to get the money shots as Brad called them. So far I probably almost have enough for a news piece already but not enough that satisfies me I have done my best or show the full picture from here. Romey is nice. She isn’t as outspoken as David and is a good cook. Once so far she has handed me a smoothie in the morning with frozen fruit in, yoghurt and protein powder which she said she does;t have enough of to share with me. Romey is alot quieter, reserved and humble than David. He has kind of apologized for his talking and said that we’ve got to the point now after 4 days that he has given me the introduction to his family and house and that now I can settle down int the way things run around here but somehow I imagine that he will continue to talk manically all of the time. Today I went outside to the compost toilet and when it gets dark to empty my pee container and bring split wood int the house wjch David has split. Yesterday I both split and carried wood in but sincee it is dry wood we need more of it as it is very cold outside.

03 March 2017

6:51pm. I’ve only been outdoors once today, just now to split one round of wood, for the boot room and the stove in the room under David’s and Romey bedroom. Last night I stayed up late to photograph the family playing music after 1am. It was funny I admit that as they all sung funny songs they had written. But I was wanting to go to bed at that stage, when I get to midnight I feel the need to reach for the Melatonin as I need to sleep. I took some photos in low light that I think will be OK and then everyone heads to bed. Just as David and Romey are brushing their teeth they notice that the northern lights are out again and I get changed to go outside. It is -29C so I put my pajamas on and the Snugpok Salopettes over the top. I wear the Snugpok t-shirt, thin hoodie, thin wind extreme neck tube, yellow polar fleece hat and hoodie pulled over it and black sleek jacket over the top. Snugpok claim the Sleeka is good to -10C but at -29C with only a t-short and hoodie underneath it is plenty warm enough. I strap David’s .44 revolver to my waist and ask him to take a photo as I’d like to post it to social media when I leave here as I, and I know others, get a kick from a British guy having access to using a hand gun which would never be accessible to anyone in the UK. I put the US Army ECW mitts over the head with their strings and my head torch and head out the door with the Olympus camera on Romey’s tripod. David turns the lights inside the house off for the sake of my photogrpgyy and I plant 4 flashlights in the snow bank at the front of the cabin outside. I then walk down onto the lake and walk across it to its far side on a trail that david has broken with his snow machine. The underside tracks from the machine compacts the snow enough to walk on normally othweewise I’d be wading through knee to waist deep snow. The northern lights are in the north but stretch eastwards towards the cabin and my aim is to photograph the lights dancing above the cabin for better effect. I admit that I am concerned of being in the dark so close to the forest on the far side of the lake and look from time to time behind me into the blackness, listentig out for wolves. I know that without a handgun I wouldn’t stand a chance and they’d quickly rip me to shreds. I set out the


tripod facing the cabin and adjust the manual settings. I set the aperture to f8 tonight to make sure that the stars are sharp this time instead of f2.8 and bump up the ISO so the shutter speed is faster and less risk of any movement in the stars. My hands are outside my mitts from time to time as I adjust the camera, varying the shutter speeds and pressing the shutter release and they are beyond cold. I reach into the Sleeka jacket right side pocket and get my liner gloves on and put them on but without the mitts they do nothing to warm my hands. I try to keep one hand in a mitt, my right hand, so that if I have to remove the revolver to fire it I can do so and won’t be crippled by the cold. The camera picks up more northern lights than are visible to the human eye and I study the images briefly on the cameras rear LCD screen. The northern lights are fading so I decide to go back to the cabin and because the batteries will soon run out in David’s torches so I want to turn them off. I walk back and stop a couple of times to look back at the trees behind me to check whether a wolf pack is about to circle me. I climb the steps back up the the cabin, retrieve the torches and head inside. The camera outside under my head torch light looked fine to me, totally normal but inside the cabin the heat instantly develops a hard frost on the camera and I cannot turn the zoom lens as it is frozen. I’m impressed but it as it is rated to work at -10C but it was just fine outside for half an hour at -29C. I’m pretty stoked by this evenings photography and it takes a while for me to settle down. I go to bed and turn the light out and remember that I haven’t brushed my teeth or put my ear plugs in. I sleep well but wake as usual frequently to pee. My head must have been in a bad position as I have a pain all day in my neck and it makes the day uncomfortable and I walk around with my head turned to one side. This morning I don’t have the chance to write my diary as I am still in bed when David comes down. But it is before 9am my time, 10am his time, which is unusually early for him. Before he even makes his usual morning espresso he unusually comes to sit on my couch next to me to talk as I am now sitting up normally. He talks earnestly and non-stop as usual about how he is no longer a human but a being of the universe, that he is the universe and we also talk about natives. I throw in my 2 pennies worth about my experiences at Prophet River of rape and incest and general horrible behavior since David has brought this subject up. he has been talking generally about mans badness and so of course I confirm what he is saying about that by saying I can relate to it because of my experiences. He understands and we continue the conversation but later when Romey comes down I go for a pee behind the curtain in the boot room and hear David telling her that I tweaked her in our conversation. He tells her in a way that he blames me for our conversation and that he needs comforting from her. Just now I hear Romey call me the photographer and not Ed which might be because I am writing this diary in view of them and they probably know I am writing about them… what else would I be writing about after all? I’d better leave this for now and finish it later. It’s now 11:17pm and all sorts of things are going on psychologically here. I’m feeling too tired to write about it but feel I have to keep going with this diary until I leave here since I’ve been writing it for 12 days now. Overall they are a really nice family here but with plenty of quirks. How can I expect to come out here to a family that never sees anyone for 11 months of the year and expect a normal situation? David is obviously here because he has social issues, Yes, probably justified social issues and he has admitted that he is angry at the world because of the way it is. I’ve spent the last 2 days indoors for almost the entire time and there has been too much conversation. I have got some good interviews from Romey as she knows to talk slowly so that I can catch up with my typing to the iPod Touch. David on the other hand has to talk philosophically about everything and it was only today that I managed to get some of the basics down for the first time about what it is like living out here. There are some undercurrents of hostility and leg pulling going on which I feel uncomfortable about. I am now constantly having to justify my work since David doesn’t understand still what I am trying to do despite having seen my photos already and I have handed him a Wales: Portrait of an Alaska Village


book. Today I asked him if he has looked at it because he said he hasn’t seen any of my work. Romey then reminds him that I showed them a slideshow of 700+ images. David has also said that he doesn’t understand why I made some of the interviews I have from him because he knows the BBC won’t use alot of it. I told him that I am good at what I do and that the interviews I have made from him are very good and all relevant. He is taking alot of convincing about what I am doing but never seems to listen to it. He says that I am taking too long to make my interviews so I jokingly say that I could tell him to shut up and stop talking so that he can answer my questions but it would be rude of me. He tells me that I have to behave myself. At one point I get him with an answer and he says touche because he cant say anything else as he knows I am right. It’s awkward but I have to make him understand that my work is good and honest and that I need to get the basics of the interviews before I can make notes about his philosophy. I’ve explained that the BBC won’t be interested in his ideas and that people will want to read about the basics if how he lives out here with his family. He’s keen to see my work before I submit it to my editor and that I edit it down before I present it to him because he is well aware that so far he has spoken way too much. I tell him the story about how I photographed the Polish nurse and how she didn’t take me seriously as a way to point out that he should. It’s not uncomfortable enough yet to have to leave but it wouldn’t take much to get to that position. david explains to me tonight that he has only allowed me to come here, not so that he be featured by the BBC but because he knows from my emails before I came here how much this project means to me and that it is personal to me. He says that if I was here just taking photos for the BBC that he wouldn’t have allowed me to visit and stay. Sky is relatively quiet and plays his video games for most of the day an is funny but there are some issues going on. His dog Charley sleeps on his bedroom floor but doesn’t want to anymore because Sky says up late playing Grand Theft Auto 5 and the dog doesn’t like his constant running commentary about who is killing and how he is going about it and also that she doesn’t like the sound effects ion the game. David has told me this and says that Sky thinks that Charley doesn’t like him but david has explained to him that it is because of the game and Sky doesn’t believe this. Tonight as we are getting ready for bed Charley comes to see me and stands by the couch I sleep on and won’t go upstairs to Sky’s bedroom. Sky and Romey come to the top of the stairs of the boot room and call Charley but she won’t move so Sky has to manhandle her away. I say to Charley ‘don’t run away from Sky’ like an idiot which was totally the wrong thing to say and I’m not sure if Romey hears and comments on it. It’s obviously an emotional situation. So far David says that I will be welcome to return in the summer to visit, ‘so far’ are the predominant words I think and he has said this kind of thing everyday. Like ‘we’re still happy for you to be here with us’ which I wonder isn’t reverse psychology. ‘still happy’ being the predominant words again. All I need to focus on is getting more photos of their buildings and detailed shots of interesting things that catch my eye. I also need to get plenty more material from interviews as well as do some moving around outside doing things. Both David ad Romey continue to ask me why I don;t make audio recordings of them talking instead of tying and I explain that it is too expensive to get recordings transcribed and it takes too long. They ask why I cant transcribe audio recordings myself and I explain that it would take forever. It seems to annoy them that they have to talk slowly and sometimes I have ti ask them to repeat parts of whay they just said. It seems to be a massive job for them and a hassle when actually the wouldn’t be doing anything else instead if I wasn’t here. I have to go to bed as I’m beat again. It’s 11:58pm. Tomorrow it will be a week since I got here.


04 March 2017

10:26pm. A better day today. The days go good depending whenever they start off OK or not. This means whether David and I have a good talk first thing. These days he comes to sit on the couch I sleep on and we talk side by side but today he made his espresso and I made my Green tea and we sat in his living room. As always he starts by talking about philosophy and implies that I can’t comprehend what he is talking about. I say I know because he’s had all thus time out there to get to that point of enlightenment so of course I cannot possibly understand in comparison to him. But I do say some things that makes him make a surprised face which shows he is kinda impressed that his discussion isn’t wasted on me. I get the feeling that he is better at ease with me if I try to make the effort to engage him with conversation that he is interested in so that he can make me see what he has found in his solitude. After an hour or two Romey comes down and very soon it is at least 2pm before they even think about eating anything. Surprisingly I am not climbing the walls with hunger by this stage so I must have gotten used already to this new kind of restricted diet. Luckily I am able to interview David as basic level for this BBC piece and get the information I need from him about distances to civilization and times when traveling in winter and summer. I am pleased by this as I finally feel I am starting to scratch the surface in my interviewing because I have now been here a week to the day. Usually I can get all the info I need from someone in an hour or two and we talk for at least 6 hours a day so it just shows you how much of the talking is wasted instead of me being able to pin David down to answering the questions which are really important. Once again today, like everyday I have had to justify my work and give David examples of how I intend this work about him and his family to be used by the BBC. He is compelled for some reason to read me out letters of thanks from people that he has helped or people that have stayed with him in the past. He needs to show me how appreciate these people were and how he and Romey and Sky have made a difference to those individuals lives. I reassure him that my work is good and read out emails, saved in ‘Photos’ on my iPod Touch, from strangers who have sent me compliments following my past BBC news pieces. I understand and appreciate how he has changed peoples lives and I think that he is reassured that the work I do is appreciated also. It is 10:48pm right now and I was too busy this morning to right this and now I am getting tired as it was a full on day. But I have to keep it up. Romey makes rice and fried eggs again as they have 300 eggs in their root cellar. The food is good for sure but they only cook and eat twice a day which I know is only just adequate and I know I am losing weight which I am pleased about although I do crave sweet things. Sky has been writing his first song about the seasons in Alaska and he has now written 3 verses and also the music to go with it. For a 13 year old it is quite impressive. Romey also makes smoothies and hands them out to Sky and David but today I don’t get one. So far I have had two handed to me in 7 mornings. They contain yoghurt, keifer, frozen fruits, protein powder and chia seeds. Instead I make myself a hot chlcokate with the powder sachets I have brought with me, 40 in total. Sky also reads out many jokes that they have all made up which are saved onto a laptop and most of them are very funny and original. Finally David says that he and I will go outside as he wants to show me around the area by snow machine. It was -22C this morning but rises up to about -11C so it isn’t too cold at all, but still nasty without gloves and still dangerous if your skin is exposed for too long. We go to the snow machines and he starts his Ski-Doo 550 and the Tundra II 277cc single cylinder snow machine that I will do. We travel south down the lake in the direction we went the other day to take photos snow shoeing with Sky and turn left up the lake bank


this time. David has been here before by himself yesterday to pack snow into the steep bank so that it turned to ice thus making it possible to snow machine up. If he hadn’t of done this the snow would have been too soft and too deep to climb with the machines. He slows down before approaching it and stops gets off and walks to me to explain that I have to keep going up the bank and keep the revs high otherwise I will not make it to the top. We both get up and over the bank no problem and he has already broken a trail through the trees. He shows me an area of ground where his old trail leads up a hill where he used to trap and which he would like to take me and I agree it would be good to go along in order to take photos of him with a good backdrop. But he says we will have to return another day to do this as he will need to bring a chainsaw to cut the trail again as it is grown over. We turn around from this area which resembles a natural paddock surrounded by trees and out onto the lake again. We travel further and go up another bank off the lake and ride through fresh deep snow between a firebreak of trees that a fire crew cut here in 2015 when a massive forest fire threatened the Atchleys’ home and to destroy many thousands of acres of forest. David is going fast ahead breaking a fresh trail and it is amazing that his snow machine can forge ahead like this. His machine appears to glide on the snow like a hydrofoil boat on skis and appears easy and effortless. For me on the other hand I have to follow on David’s path that his machine has created and it is so narrow that my 2 front skis have trouble staying centred on the flattened area of snow where his track has just been. It is surprisingly difficult and requires alot of concentration. If the width of his track I am in was wider it wouldn’t be a problem but as it is if I don’t keep my skis within the trough I am traveling along then one ski will go up the sheer sides of the channel and I will start to veer off into deep powder snow. If I counter the veering then the machine goes to the other side of the narrow channel and begins to veer off in that direction. If I cannot keep the two skis pointing ahead straight then I will either veer off the track altogether, which happens 3 times today or the machine rocks from side to side causing me a great deal of stress. Finally the back end of my snow machine comes off the trail David has made with his leading machine and sinks. He circles back through snow and goes around me packing the snow down so that it will be easier for me to pull my machine out because it has sunk into the snow. He says that he doesn’t know how much experience I have snow machining which implies that he is saying I don’t enough or any experience at all because I have got stuck. I find this odd as I know I am doing very well and anyone who has never ridden a snow machine would have crashd before even riding down the first bank to the lake upon immediately leaving the cabin. I say nothing as there is no point in justifying how I got stuck. We set off again and David, now far ahead, reaches the bottom of a steep hill and continues to ride up the fresh snow in between the fire break, goes round a bend and disappears. Now I have managed to stop weaving in his channel and am managing to keep my skis going straight in his track’s tiny trail I cruise on up at a slow pace, maybe at about 20mph. This seems to be a speed that is fast enough to avoid getting stuck but slow enough to remain in control. I surprise myself by how far I manage to weave up the side of the steep hill, going in between many birch trees. Finally I begin to slide of the trail as I go into waist deep snow and my two skis are no longer straight on the track and end up heading towards a tree. I get stuck a couple of feet from the tree and see David off to my right side. I don’t understand what he is doing off his machine waist deep in snow and I get off my machine to try to drag it back onto the firm trail. He tells me to cut my engine and that we are not going anywhere for a while. He tells me that he took the wrong like up the hill and swerved to avoid a tree stump. He then wasn’t able to turn back onto his course and the machine banked over hard to the right and drove towards the edge of the treelike. Rather than stop he had tried to continue and loop back on himself to do a 360 and try to go upward again. Instead he had continued on going and hit a tree which he didn’t see. The brach had bent his left hand ski and now he got an axe out from under his seat. He chopped the branch out of the way. By this time I have


walked from my machine over to his and am waist deep as he is. I help pull his machine away from the trees and we can both clearly see that his left ski is badly bent so that when he puts his handlebars straight ahead his right ski is straight and his left ski is pigeon toed inwards. I can tell he is ashamed and feels dumb for doing this and perhaps feels bad that he had questioned my snow machine earlier. We have to turn around now and go straight back home so he can begin to make repairs. We talk for a long time about how it isn;t possible to dwell on things like breakages out here and that it is just one of those things that happens. I don’t think it happened because he was showing off but certainly he was traveling way too fast and had no reasonn to go charging ahead like that. We go back to the cabin much slower than we had arrived and I do get my machine stuck once again and spend several minutes pulling it out of deep powder. I finally manage to free it by standing next to it waist deep, thumbing the accelerater and pushing forwards hard on the hand grips. It begins to move forwards and I am able to leap aboard as it takes off. If I had released the accelerator it would have sunk again. All the time I am wishing that I was just able to stop for ages and be still and admire the trees and sky and snow and marvel at the fact that I have probably never been this remote anywhere in my life ever before. I catch up to David who by now has noticed I am no longer following him. He is beginning to walk towards me and I thumb the accelerate hard as I come up to the steepest bank yet to climb. ON the outward journey I have come down it but it never felt as steep as it looks now. I am almost tempted to park at the bottom and ask David to ride up it for me but I give it a shot and I make it OK. My mouth is wide open in a massive expression of excitement, laughter and amazement. David is smiling and impressed that I managed it. He tells me he is glad I pulled my machine out as it would have been a long walk back to me to help. We get back to the cabin and David rides his machine into his wall tent workshop ready to work on it. He then rides the machine I have just been using a mile and a half with a sled behind it north along the lake to the wood we first went to, to get firewood in order to get the last section of tree trunk. Instead of going inside to tell Romey we returned early because David bent his machine I walk around outside taking photos of things outside that catch my eye, including inside his outhouse which has a calvin and hobbs cartoon book open. Presently I see David returning along the lake and wait to take a photo of him as he passes down below. He returns and saws up the log into 6 sections and I split every one. He firstly goes into his tent workshop to bring out a used food tin can which he has wound cardboard into and filled with candle wax which he told me about earlier today in a interview. It is for starting a camp fire in a survival situation. I remove my small ziplock bag from my Ventile top and show him my birch bark and matches so that i can make a fire too. I also show him the quick clot gauze I carry with me in case of getting cut badly, like with a chainsaw and he is impressed. Later when we go back into the house I hear him tell Romey about it and that he would like to buy some the next time they go to Fairbanks. David also finds in his workshop a spare part for his snow machine which will replace the bent part that got damaged. We are both amazed that he had this part spare in his toolbox and this will mean he is able to get back up and running again. I carry 3 loads of wood inside and the rest of the day is spent like this - it is getting dark so Davids takes a small stove outside and sets it in the snow outside the kitchen window. He gets it started with wood and soon large flames are coming from it. The fire dies down and he grills moose steaks which Romey has marinated. I photo him doing this from inside and outside. It is still about -11C and I am just wearing a snugpok thermal top and hoodie and it soon gets extremely cold. Romey has made french fries and we sit down to moose steak which is very tender and chips and canned string beans. We watch another episode on a laptop called Community, a sitcom with Chevy Chase. I do the washing up for the 3rd time so far and David and Romey go out to the workshop to work on the snow machine part. Romey has her own snow machine identical to Sky’s, the one I have been using and for the past 2 days has been going over a workshop manual


trying to figure out a problem it had when it was last used 7 years ago. They told me the symptoms and I told them it was the carburetor, that the pilot jet is blocked and David initially tells me that it only has one main jet. I tell him that it actually has at least 3 jets and that pilot jet is needed for idle and that the machine cannot run at idle on the main jet. He is telling me that he thinks the crankcase seals need repacking and I realize he doesn’t have much of a clue about engines despite having rebuilt the one in his 550. He changes course with his idea of the problem and agrees with me that he always starts with the simplest solution before tearing stuff apart. Today again he says he always starts with the simplest possibilities which is a change of tact away from him wanting to immediately change seals instead of going for the most obvious solution first. Basically the machine starts and runs OK but won’t idle so it sounds to me as though it is the carb as I have had similar problems myself in the past which I was able to cure. I do photo David and Romey working together in the tent workshop and knock before I enter because I say they might be being intimate, pulling their leg although this is a good possibility because it is a chance to have some space away from Sky and me.

I say I will go back to keep Sky company and go upstairs to his room to keep him company. I watch him as he plays Grand Theft Auto and he says he wants to tell me a secret. He doesn’t like the music his parents like and that he prefers dance music which Grand Theft Auto plays which he drives around crashing and killing people. He also tells me that his favorite thing is the My Little Pony


cartoon. I don;t know whether to take him seriously and tell him I don’t believe him and that I would like him to tell me about it. He seems to know all the names and then tells me nonstop for half an hour all about every aspect of what happens in the cartoon. He knows at least 10 names of the ponies like Rainbow Daze and Rarety which is his favorite. He also tells me there is a club of adult men that like My Little Pony called Bronies and that he is a Bronie. I laugh nervously and tell him he is pulling my leg. He says that he told his Mum because he wanted her to get him every episode from Fairbanks. He also told his Dad once but he didn’t want to hear about it. He said he likes it because it is camp. I obviously think to myself that he is coming out to me and he sticks his tongue out to me in a suggestive manner. I can’t help think that either he is being outrageously funny by making me feel awkward or that he is telling the truth. I have to stop at this point at it is 12:20am my time, 1:20am their time and they have all just come downstairs to eat cereal and play guitar so I will now put earplugs in and go to bed. They have seen I am typing and said I am still working so obviously I won’t be joining them. I am beat now and need to sleep and don’t want them to see me too much typing this so much.

07 March 2017

12:36am. I just missed writing on the 6th by 36 minutes. It has been a long day for sure and I have spent some of this evening editing photos. I’m now up to date with 9 days of photos and I am pleased with what I have so far. Possibly there is even enough images for a BBC News piece but David has said I can be here for 3 weeks so I have plenty enough time to take more. I also need to make more interviews too. I was still dozing on the couch by the time David came down for his espresso and I stayed in bed for a bit as I am aching and still have a crick in my neck from sleeping awkwardly. He comes to sit on the couch again and we talk for hours and hours after he has his coffee and I have made a green tea. Initially David talks about philosophy as usual and again explains to me that I have no comprehension of his understanding of the universe. I agree but tell him about my near death experience which makes him think. I tell him this just so he can’t completely dismiss me as being ignorant, I tell him that because of what I experienced when I had a motorcycle crash in 1993 I am full aware that there is stuff going on out there that most people aren’t aware of. My experience was about feeling a euphoria of joy and love without the gravity of conscience that we always feel in day to day life. All of his talking about philosophy and being as one with the universe makes me realize that none of his ideas matter, nothig matters and there is nothing to worry about. All that there is at the end of it is one overwhelming feeling of love with no body and no worries or concerns that we all feel whilst habitating on this earth. Romey makes waffles and makes a small snide comment about how they should send me out into the bush on a snow machine that breaks and see how I manage. The fact is that yes, David bent his machine yesterday but I never said anything bad or snide about that. Today they seem to be on the defensive about it and keen to make me feel that even though they made a mistake that it would be worse for me if anything like that happened to me out there. I let it go. I can see the goal I have to achieve because of being here and won’t raise my ego up to match theirs. Little do they know what it is like to walk through a mine field in Afghanistan or other things I have witnessed and the difference between most people is that I don’t have to show off, make comparisons or make digs. Which reminds me, we get on to talking about sex and David says he has had sex 7000 times. How he know this I do not know but it;s an odd thing to say and most likely


impossible to have counted to that figure over the years. I take some photos indoors today of Sky and Romey after breakfast but don’t make any interviews. Before David and I go out again snow machining David takes a shower indoors and I ask to take photos of him in the tin bath. It’s after these photos that I feel as though I am starting to get somewhere with my photos and with this project. All of this time since I arrived 2 Saturdays ago I have been worried that I won’t be able to make anything good from my stay but I have taken photos tirelessly as I always do and made sure to make many interviews so I am on track. David and I snow machine out to the same place as yesterday and then snow machine up to the top of a hill in between a 30 foot wide fire break. We walk up the left side of the fire break, through the trees so out tracks cannot be seen and which would spoil a photo as I have an idea for David to pose on snow that only he has walked on and which doesn’t show my tracks. It’s an amazing view of the mountains in the distance. He’s a funny guy David. The other day I am looking out of his kitchen window and ask him what the names of the mountains are and he says condescendingly that they are hills not mountains. He tells me those are just small hills compared to the proper mountains you get elsewhere in Alaska. But since then he has been referring to them as mountains so he is one of those kinds of insecure guys that has to disagree with what you say just for the sake of putting you down and being superior for the sake of it. Because I am in his house and in his area of landscape he has to be boss about anything. Since I suggested that Romey’s snow machine has a problem with its carburetor Romey has been pouring through her workshop manual about her machine and keeps on ignoring the possibility it is the carb and instead wants to replace the crankcase seals because the engine won’t idle even though it runs fine at higher revs. Anyone with any motorcycle experience at all will tell you that the pilot jet is blocked but she won’t accept my advice because her and David have to be the full on independent wild bush people and are too proud to accept that I might know better than them. It’s hard work this kind of stubborn wall that I face with them being so snooty. Yes, David was reckless yesterday and bent his machine but they don’t have to be snooty and say they should take me out into the bush to see how I fare. I’ve never discounted the the fact they have lived out here for 18 years and have said I amazed by them. It’s childish and irritating of them to be like this. At the top of the hill we snow shoe up there is an amazing view of the ‘mountains’ and trees stretching 25 miles away with snow everywhere.As I maneuver myself to get in position to take David’s photo of him walking up I lose my balance and fall forwards. I keep the camera up in the air with both hands so it desn’t go in the snow and therefore cannot save myself. I am in a position where I have to put my camera down the front of my Ventile smock before I cab do anything so it doesn’t get wet or damaged. But now when I out my hands down into the snow to push myself up my hands cannot touch the ground as the snow is waist deep so I have to lie on my side and take both snow shoes off before I can get myself upright and able to stand up and then I have to put them on again with 2 leather straps on each. David is really enjoying this and tales the piss and I say I only did it to give him something to talk about to Romey. Of course, when we get home I catch him talking about it twice to Romey behind my back and no doubt it makes him feel better because of bending his machine yesterday. Despite him telling me how tough he is and that he used to deal cocaine, pot and acid and what a good guy he is, he still behaves like everyone else, like an idiot, despite claiming to have discovered what infinity is and that he is now above mankind necayse of his greater intelligence. I take the photos and am able to catch his face in a small beam of light as he walks up and while the sun goes down. Now it is 1:12am and the light is still on in the boot room above my couch and which can been seen through the small log cabin so I mist finish this for the night and get to sleep. After the photos we ride down the hill to the lake and David poses for more photos of him whizzing past me on his snow machine hanging off it in tight turns as the sun goes down behind the trees. The last set of photos with the camera set to high speed is


enough as I could see through the viewfinder as I was taking the photos that they will be good eniigh, I don’t even have to check the LCD screen on the back of the camera. He offers to show me the end of the lake so we snow machine on for another mile and I can see where the fire was two years ago and where it jumped the lake to the other side. We head back as David wants to drink a coffee and Romey makes us a moose steak sandwich. It is kind of her but I notice every meal that she always serves me smaller portions than david and never as well prepared as Sky’s. In other words she doesn’t care as much about me. For instance Sky;s waffles this morning were covered with many tiny bots of butter in each of the waffle squares and I just had one tiny bit of butter on each waffle. Also I watched her as she made smoothies for her, David and I and the one she handed me had noticeably less ingredients in. Despite me bringing them alot of presents they seem stingy in a weird way, especially when taking into account how they are so snooty with me. Not only that but Dabid today suggests I am using the for free board and logging for 3 weeks but I remind him I have spent a vast amount to get here and if I wanted free food and a place to stay that I could have spent my money getting here on food instead. The fact I brought so much stuff for them there seems to have escaped them and I find this a shame but I am not surprised. Even though they shun society because the human they have no hope in they are very much still the same type of humans with the same behavior. You can take the monkeys out of the zoo but you cant take the zoo out of the monkey. Romey cooks spaghetti bolognese tonight which is great but for the 2nd time I feel like being sick immediately after eating it. I remember I felt the same after eating her pizza so wonder if there is something wrong with her ingredients. It’s a really nasty feeling, a sort of nausea that quickly comes over me that makes me feel like I ate something really disgusting, It’s weird because it was a really tasty bolognese but I cant help think that the tomato sauce or paste in it is suspect. Yes, I brought them paste so am sure it is that which is the problem but it is gross and I find a chocolate on the sideboard i the kicteh to eat quickly to take the feeling away. I do the washing up for the 3rd time so far a d then watch Sky play some video game called The Evil within or something. It is incredibly dull and after 20 minutes go downstairs to edit my latest photos. I also go up to David and Romeys bedroom to photo them up there and have now photographed every room in their cabin and also the outdoors too. It is a tiny attic space with no window and I say that all I need to photo is action shots in the future and David says nit the action that might be happening in his bedroom later on that night. I warn him not to bang his head which makes the both laugh and I leave quickly. I add these photos to a desktop folder of best images to far and then type this. It is now 1:30am and I am up to date. It was -28.5C when I woke this morning, -10C during the day and now as I write this it is -35C.

06 March 2017

11:55pm. I have been having some long days these past days. Today we didn’t go anywhere as it was too cold. It was -35C when I woke this morning and warmed up to about -20C during the day, went down to -37C and is not about -32C. David and I talk philosophy as usual for hours before Romey comes down and it is hard to get a word in edge ways so eventually I interrupt and ask David if he can answer 4 of the basic questions I had emailed to him before I came out here. These are the examples of questions that Phil Coomes had suggested to me. I thought I had copied these questions down when I first came here but couldn’t find them in my notes on my laptop. I ask David to describe the isolation here and initially he answers the question well with practical information but then he slips


back into philosophy mode. After alot of long winded words I ask him the same question but again in a different way. I do this 4 times, each time changing the wording of my question as he is trying to be clever and won’t answer straight forwardly. I say that the average person looking at this BBC news piece won’t understand his philosophy and that they need to know the simply facts about living in isolation. David replies that it is the masses that are isolated in the cities from their true selfs and that he is not isolated at all. I tell him that he is intelligent and that I know he is capable of answering my question and repeatedly tell him to turn his philosophy ‘mode switch’ off. It’s beyond annoying now to have to listen to him for 10 days preaching his ideas and I just need to concentrate on straight answers. I do understand him and do find his ideas interesting for sure but for the sake of the BBC piece I need him to keep it simple. I tell him that I have thought about documenting John Stam the trapper out in the bush and no doubt if I asked him for an answer about living in isolation and how he does it I’d expect him to reply that he keeps busy and reads books. David laughs at this but still he cannot give me a short answer. Eventually we manage to conclude the question but it has taken hours. I thank David and say he answered well and he thanks me for making him look at things from my point of view. In his own way he is right about what he says but nothing he says could be used by the BBC for a news piece. Back in Galena I will have to go through my notes to read what he said and edit it to pull out the bits that people want to read. I give him one example that most families of 3 would go insane not being able to socialize with anybody else and only seeing other people for 1 month out of every year. I say that one person on their own would go made over that about of time by themselves and that a French scientist did an experiment in a cave by himself to research the effects of isolation. He went mad so how it that 3 people can be by themselves and not be mad? I still need to ask more questions and know it will continue to take a long time to do so. Romey starts her laundry day and David goes outside to do some jobs. I go out too to bring in the last of the wood I split yesterday, or was it the day before? I carry in 3 armfuls and then ask David what he would like me to do. I dig a trench out of snow alongside his log pile and he does the same on the other side so that he can stack more logs. I dig to the ground so that the logs don’t fall over when the snow melts. We both recount stories and explain to him that I used to do alot of shoveling for a farmer called David Fordham when I was younger and that I have done alot if my life. I try to avoid shoveling and manual labout these days. David again tells me that he has had sex 7000 times and that he is a tough dangerous guy if he gets angry. I don’t let my ego to rise to attempting to match his claims and instead stroke his ego. I also shovel a path to his greenhouse where a single dead marajuana plant stands. I go inside to drink water as I am dehydrated these days and have only defectaed twice in 10 days and the second time, today, barely produces anything. By now I am having pain my kidneys and know I must be severely constipated as, even though I am only eating the 2 meals that Romey cooks a day, I have been eating enough and by now I should be expellng all of these meals from my body. I think I have taken 6 Sennecot type tablets so far whilst here but they are having no effect at all. I should have brought bran flakes with me. I am trying to drink enough water and think that I am but maybe it is still not enough. I have taken 4 tablets today and hope by the morning something happens. Whilst outside when I am digging the path to the greenhouse david comes out and I say that after this I will have earnt myself a muffin and he tells me that Romey took the last one because I didn’t seem like the kind of guy that would want to take the last muffin. I say that I have only eaten 3 and that there were loads so somebody has eaten more than their fair share. I tell him to tell Romey that she is mean. I ask Sky if he will go sledding so we walk to the hill that goes down to the lake. I try to photo him 5 or 6 times with the camera set though speed shooting and twice he runs into me and we both go flying. Despite seeming to be effeminate he is pretty tough as he bangs his head hard into me. We also go to the greenhouse and then Sky finds a large clump of snow and smashes it to bits


with a long chain he takes out of his Dad’s workshop wall tent. We go inside and Romey is making doughnuts with a choice of 3 frostings, echolocate, coconut cream cheese and peanut butter. They are extremely good, probably the best doughnuts I have ever had, especially because I have never had frosting to go on top of them. We talk again for ages about philosophy and about people that annoy him in Ruby like Ed Sarten and I mention Tom Bartleet who David brings up in conversation alot and I go upstairs to watch Sky playing Grand Theft Auto again. Did I write I dreamt that I had stolen a car in Grand Theft Auto and that I was in England being chased by Police? I went to see the Queen just so I could bow to her, after I had removed a really badly knitted and scruffy woolen beanie hat and then I was arrested. We eventually east spaghettini bolognese again, the left overs from last night but I don;t get the nauseous vomit feeling. While we eat David puts on the film Hercules with the actor The Rock in it just so he can laugh at how bad it is while we all sit on the couch in the living room and eat. David and Sky keep up a non-stop tirade of abuse at all the actors for at least half an hour when Sky gets up to go and play more Grand Theft Auto. I am starting to see why John Korta, Sandy and Brad Scotton laughed at me going out to see David because they know exactly what he is like…and I didn’t up until now. One part of david is decent but he really does have some social issues which is obviously why he is living out here. On one hand I am excited that I am feeling as though I am starting to get good photos and on the other I almost feel that I could leave because I cannot stand Davids long monologues and feeling his changing attitudes towards me, with taking the piss one moment and Romey’s occasional snide comments to being seemingly totally decent. Today he mentions again that he is happy to feed me as he thinks what I am doing is interesting and worthwhile but because he has mentioned it more than once I get the impression that he is suggesting either I do pay him or that he is being very kind to me. he seems to misunderstand that I bought him alot of food when I flew out here and that I am not using him as a place to stay for 3 weeks and where I don’t have to buy food. He’s a pain in the ass talking like that and I find it immature and dumb but I must say nothing and keep quiet so that I can finish this project and get the material I need. After all, I have spent enough money getting out here. Right now I feel as though I have to go and use the outhouse as the laxatives are taking effect and will wrap this up. It is 12:57am.

07 March 2017

11:11pm. I have to keep this diary up now for a month since I have already written so much to date. It would be a shame to stop even though I wonder if it will be good enough for David Jury to make a letterpress book from or if anyone will be interested. Today when I woke up it was -39C and it warmed up to -30C during the day. Right now it is about -33C and the inside of the double glazing windows in the house are iced up at the bottoms of glass. It’s incredible that double glazing isn’t that efficient and just shows how cold it is outside. Inside there is the stove in the boot room which I sleep less than 5 feet from and the old oven in the far room below where David and Romey sleep. Both are going and hot so the house does not feel cold despite the wooden floor having no insulation and being cold to stand on with socks. I went to the outhouse last night and defecated a little but I am definitely constipated badly. Today I went two more times but never enough to feel like I have cleared myself. My kidneys ache which is a sign I am still not regular. Last night it was great to go outside into the night which had a clear starry sky with a bright moon which illuminated the trees and the snow and I


could see clearly to the other side of the lake. I wondered how far away the nearest wolves are and sat there for a while relishing the fact that it is almost -40C but still feeling warm with my Snugpak clothing and ECW mitts on. This is why I like Alaska in winter, I like to be close to the danger of extreme cold but be safe within good quality warm clothing. Today was a slow day. I haven’t slept well for 3 nights in a row now. I think it could the the worry and discomfort of constipation keeping me awake. So far I have taken 12 out of 20 tablets but not all of these here, but definitely 8 so far which I fear is too much. I hope I don’t run out as I don’t like feeling this way as I worry it is bad for my body. I have been drinking plenty of water to make sure I am doing all I can to aid myself. The food is good and David says that when people come out here they have the opposite problem but actually the food is stodgy with lots of wheat based food, pizza, bread, spaghetti bolognese, sandwiches and burgers. A lot of moose meat and bread. Because I slept badly I was still in bed when David came downstairs and I am dozing when I turn to open my eyes and see him putting more wood in the fire next to me. I stay with my eyes closed for a while so that I can get away with staying on there couch for longer as I am so tired. I took 2 Melatonin last night but they are now having no more effect. I even woke a couple of nights ago in the middle of the night and took 2 more but they did nothing, I did go back to sleep but was aware I was tossing and turning like I do normally in the UK when I have alot of stuff on my mind. I finally get up and David is there in the kitchen ready to break into another days worth of monologue. He makes coffee and I make green tea and he says that he was talking with Romey last night. His first words every single morning is ‘Romey and I were talking last night…’ So I brace myself to hear what he has to say. Because it is cold in the living room he gestures to go down to the boot room which is warmer because of the stove next to my couch. It is the original part of the log cabin, dark and cosy. We sit upright side by side on the couch, lounging back in our pajamas and he said that last night he was giggling with Romey about that days questions I had asked him about living in isolation. He had taken around 4 hours to answer one simple question about living in isolation and his ego had stopped him at every corner from answering the question normally or simply. It only took Romey later joining him in conversation to actually conclude the discussion and which he was well aware of being able to end alot sooner. This morning I am hoping to go straight into another question but his tangents take us into at least 2 hours of philosophy which includes Tom Bartleet again, what a ridiculous idiot he is and how he isn example of one of the problems to do with the society. Because of his capitalist attitude and because how he lords over me thinking he’s so important just because he sells insurance. Finally Romey comes down and stands in the boot room in her pajamas and talks to us standing up. I haven’t interviewed her as much as David yet became none of us can get a word in edge ways and so I ask her to sit next to David so she can join our conversation. David has already said that he cannot answer questions on his own properly and is only able to think with Romey and answer with her help because they think ‘as one’. Luckily because Romey is more level headed and rational and I’d say more mature too David is spurred on to answer the questions efficiently and it is less tiresome than yesterday. We talk about day to day survival out here having discussed the isolation yesterday and it goes well. At one point David says he thinks in pictures because it is faster for people to think that way than formulate words, that indeed everyone thinks in pictures and then adds words to them and I say that I realize that what set me apart at school was that I was different because I have always thought this way and which is partly why I was attracted to photography and how I started out on this journey. I explained that when I was young my teachers and parents thought I was dyslexic because I wouldn’t learn like everyone else and so I realized, today for the first time, that instead I was learning in a different way in my youth. By using pictures in my mind and that is why I have ended up taking photographs because it answers my need to learn and to understand and is the best medium tool in which to do so. We also talk about me


being out here a part of my life journey, as a quest to figure out what life is and how I fit into the world. David talks alot about his friend Dave in Fairbanks and his wife Kate and alot of other stuff. Other we are done Romey makes a bread from scratch, a think wholewheat bun with scrambled egg and bacon in and gives it to all of us for breakfast at 4:30pm. Yes, 4:30pm which is actually 5:30pm their time as the Atchleys set their clock to their own time, an hour ahead. Is it any wonder perhaps why my body is constipated? I am used to eating breakfast within 5 minutes of waking usually and always by 8 am and at the very latest by 9am. This morning I did eat a doughnut with my green tea as I didn’t want to sit around for 6 hours waiting for food. Strangely I don’t feel as hungry as I thought I would which might be because I am warm, I am not exrercisig that much, my body doesn’t want food because I am consitapted, my stomach has shrunk and I am also taking vitamin gummies which will stop me from getting run down. After ‘breakfast’ we talk some more and David says he will take a day off as he had mentioned taking me back out on the snow machines to go check on other landmarks and lakes to photo and just to show me the neighborhood. Instead we carry on talking and I do also watch Sky playing games as he likes that. I do actually feel sorry for him as all of this time his Dad has monopolized everything and because he never sees anyone at all for 11 months of a year I know that he wants company. He’s a really funny, nice guy and wish I could break away from David to hang out with him more. Sky has mentioned it more recently that David talks too much and Davis has admitted he is aware of this but it doesn’t shut him up any less. Today is half way through my visit to here already and I feel that I have enough images and words for a BBC story so the pressure is off to achieve BUT I also want to continue getting as many good photos as possible and more interviews. I need an evening to formulate new questions and think further than I have been so I make sure I have done the best I can. I have photographed every room in the house now and all 3 of them enough also. I need to start to polish what I have and refine it. Right now it is 12:01am and David and Romey just came down stairs. david comes into the boot room to put more wood in the stove and asks me what I would like to take photos of next. I don’t know what is up with him and cannot imagine he is so much of an egomaniac controller that he has to repeat himself 6 times. He ask me what I’d like to photo and I say the 3 of them out on snowshoes breaking a trail and cutting firewood. He says he can do that, but then repeats himself 5 more times and I am desperate to just get this diary written up for the night so I can get to sleep. He loiters near me for 15 minutes and no doubt can sense that I am irritated which is why he prolongs his conversation. Obviously I don’t allow him to see what I am writing as he’d throw me out into the deathly cold if he knew my real thoughts. Things aren’t so bad but I stuggkle with not eating or sleeping at correct times and now, at 1:22am their time they are sitting in the living room for their nightly guitar playing. I don;t mind too much as I am using ear plugs so they don’t disturb me too much but I am pissed off that I am now living by their time which is affecting me. Having said that I don’t have to abide by anyone else time or schedule out here and get up later than normal. I just feel annoyed that I still feel like I am up too late and would rather wake up at 7am so I can make thhe most of the daylight. By the time we have finished breakfast we only usually have 2 hours of daylight left which is such a waste of time. I have to accept that most of my photos will be of the family indoors since that is where they are most of the time. But now David comes to the stairway to the boot room and just as I am writing this says loudly to his family that they will be going snow shoeing soon sos that Ed can finally get some photos of the family actually doing something outside for a change rather than just sitting around indoors. I laugh and he laughs and then he starts another conversation. I do admit to him that it is a new phenomena for me live by a whole other time schedule and that since I can only abide by the families time I have no choice but to sleep in late and go with their flow. The only times I went outside today was when I went to the outhouse twice and also offered to carry firewood in. I offered to split it too but David has spent some


time outside today by himself and had split it already. I brought in 4 armfuls of firewood via a black plastic sledge for the boot room and also split one armful of thinner wood for the oven stove. That’s the only time I went outside and it was -30C. David today did show me the printed packaging he has designed for his mrajuana he grows in his greenhouse. He says it is just for friends which I know is a blatant lie. He ays that weed is legal in Alaska but it is illegal to grow on federal land which it is here and that getting caught isn’t worth losing his house for some plants. But I can tell by the packaging design, the logo, the colours and the considerable literature that goes along with the label inside the ziplock bag he puts the weed in that he is obviously selling large quantities of it and this is how he is able to afford so much machinery, boats, snow machines and vehicles in Fairbanks and Ruby not to mention the games Sky plays on, all the food they buy etc etc. He must think I am dumb for lying to me but I am happy not to challenge what he says as I am not going to rock the boat. They played guitar for a bit but went to bed earlier than normal. David seems irritated and I get the impression that if he feels he s being disrespected or crossed in anyway, even just a slight suspicion, that he would turn into a maniac so I do not want to cross him and must make the extra effort to keep thanking him profusely. He knows I have written a diary in the past and knows I am writing one now and possibly he os worried about this or concerned that I am writing something negative but I am not going to hide the fact I am writing this. Romey was much friendlier to me today when I was chilling with Sky and when David was out of the house and I get the impression by Davi’ds body language that he is jealous of me and that maybe, just maybe, he gives Romey a hard time for being friendly to me. He has already mentioned that it has been a deal that I have even simply just spoken with her so I feel that part of the reason he has her out here is so that no other man can take her from him. Behind closed doors, all by themselves I wonder if the really all are as happy as they portray themselves to be. Certainly today David seems to be making an extra effort to hug Romey and when I glance in their direction whilst he embraces her from behind I see her grimace slightly. They do appear to be in love but I can imagine him giving her a hard time for even just talking with me. Certainly she is a nice woman but I am not attracted to her at all. I seend much of the evening talking with Sky and watching him play his video games. I hear that he is coughing above me and find myself coughing too. Since I am near the stove and he is near the chimney that runs up past his bed I wonder of the stove is leaking any kind of smoke or carbon monoxide which could account for me not sleeping well. I feel that there is much more I have to write in this diary as I said next to two books of Romey - one about Edward Curtis’s photos and the other Shackleton photos. I want to look at them but am so tired and feel the need again to go outside to use the outhouse. It is now 12:52am and -35C. I smell the vague aroma of weed from Sky’s room and wonder if they have all been smoking it too since I heard David coughing for the first time since I arrived today also. They are obviously massive stoners and have been trying to hide the fact all of this time. Now that I have been here 11 days and are more comfortable with me, and jay I have made out I have no problem with it, they must be relaxing their ways. In a way it is a shame that they are like this as I would have liked a much tougher story about an Alaska family rather than hippies but hopefully what material I have gathered will be enough for something powerful and worthwhile. I am tired of listening about philosophy, it is interesting but it won’t change how the world is and I am here to show the basic facts of these peoples lives and not how far they have thought about things that will bore the average person reading a BBC news piece. OK, whether this is any good to be published or not I have to quit typing tonight. It is 12:59am.


08 March 2017

10:48pm. I finish doing the washing up again today at 10pm. Romey cooked biscuits and jerky gravy today which was pretty delicious. Biscuits in the USA are essentially bread buns covered in a thick gravy. In this case the gravy is made from finely chopped up bits of dried moose jerky. I can’t remember ever having it before and it definitely wouldn’t be classed as a meal in the UK. I went to the outhouse last night and today two more times in the morning. I’d taken 2 more constipation tablets last night and as soon as I woke up I had to get outside fast. It was -35C this morning and cold to be defecating in an outhouse with no door on. I then spoke with David but had to cut him off and run out again. Each time I do a small amount of almost diahrorrea and feel as though I am still not empty but decide that I must be and that simply my body is using almost all the food I am putting into it. David looks up constaption in a home style medical self treatment book and it says avoid meat and flour and that is exactly what I am eating in each meal. David dislikes vegetables and won’t eat them which is why we rarely eat them. Dos far we have eaten canned runner beans once and that is it. Baked beans last night with a hamburger doesn’t count I think. Romey is reading above the boot room to Sky and as she talks Sky shouts, groans and shrieks in relation to what is happening in the story. So guess what the first thing is that David says this morning? Romey and I were talking last night…I smile to myself as I hear it and feel like I am now definitely stuck in Groundhog Day. This morning and all of today David is especially egotistical and I endure what he says simply so that I can continue with this project and get more good photos and interviews. But seriously…I’m amazed he can keep up this barrage of self-praise. Instead of trying to explain what he ways here I actually typed out his words to my iPod Touch, just as I type out interviews. I was so in awe of his self-praise that I had to make a note of it so that I could include it within this diary right here. Basically he is saying that he is tired of explaining to people what his thoughts are because nobody understands. In each sentence he contradicts what he says, for example he says that Romey is scared of being left behind from Davids thoughts because they are so far reaching. And then he says that he learnt everything from Romey. It is just a massive lecture about how clever he is and how dumb making is. He says he is the universe, and even a universe within a universe. I can’t look at him as he tells me, instead I gaze out of the window trying not to even hear him. I can’t say anything so just have to say yes from time to time and say how amazing it is. After Romey has finished reading to Sky he comes down to see me in the boot room and wants to know what I am doing. I click onto a different window on my laptop as I am typing this to hide the file and instead open up Adobe Bridge so I can show them my latest of them. Romey asks what game Sky will play this evening and he doesn’t answer. She asks him for a hug and tells him he loves her, he looks at me as they hug and sticks his fingers into his mouth as though he is being sick. I am ashamed that I find it amusing and tell him to squeeze tight. Romey goes upstairs for an hour until they all converge again at their 1am to play guitar and Sky comes back into the boot room as he wants to talk and see what I am doing. It;s even obvious to him that I’m hiding something on my laptop as he is inquisitive. I show him a photo of all of them in the sauna today and Romey appears again and takes a look. She leaves and Sky talks about his ideas for jet propelled snow machines and, because he is interested in helicopters, I try to explain to him about gyrocopters and motorized parachutes. He calls me Fat Bald Moron so I joke with him about FIM


which he confided in me means Friendship is Magic. I tell him if he calls me FBM I can call him FIM which is a streamline from My Little Pony. I pull his leg about it an he goes red so I guess he is telling the truth so I stop saying stuff as he’s a good kid and I don’t want to upset him. He reels of names like Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Twilight Sparkle and the Pony Peluza Rock Concert. I say that he should go upstairs as his Mom is expecting for him to play his games and it just seems weird him wanting to hang out and I feel awkward. I feel actually intensely sorry for him because he is here for 11 months of the year without seeing anyone at all and I can tell he is very lonely. He is happy for sure as his parents give him plenty of attention but he must surely wish for some social diversity in his life. I’m used to being here now but also know that it is a strange situation to be out here so far from anyone at all and with no quick or easy way to see anybody. When Romey wakes up she tries to listen to the radio in order to hear news about the Iditarod but David cannot stop talking. The radio station is very feint and quiet on the radio and nothing is audible apart from a woman voice. It’s only when her voice goes high-pitched near the end of the sentence when you can discern a word. Even though Romey is straining to watch the news David talks so loudly that she doesn’t stand a chance of hearing anything. I take some photos of Romey listening to the radio with her notebook and I am really happy with them, the lighting is perfect and just how I like to take interiors with plenty of shadow and contrast. Next, and this blows my mind today, David gets onto the subject of ego and we discuss it. He doesn’t know what it is he says and I suggest it is about grounding you so that you have an identity. Its what anchors you. david comes up with an understanding of self but fails to recognize that he has a massive ego and this is what I find so funny. He also suggest that ego is vanity but I say no but vanity is certainly a part of ego. He seems to think that his words about learning about the universe is not ego but about sharing. He asks whether wanting to share his knowledge is ego. I say that ego is not sharing. It is about the self and that is why people talk about inflated, deflated or bruised egos. He sits there silently with head bowed whilst I ask Romey more practical questions and I can tell he is angry at what I said because I pretty much spelled it out to him and put him in his place. Later, in the 2nd sauna since I got here, today, he brings it up again and said jokingly that I know what ego is but that he doesn’t. One again in the sauna he goes on about how much he knows and I say that I am here to do a job and that I cannot go into his philosophy as I need the practical side to his life here. He even admits at one point that in the past he wrote an email to all of his friends saying sorry for trying to force his leanings onto them and that he was sad that they didn’t understand what he was talking about. Whereas Romey can just give me a normal answer to my questions David has to contastly prove that he is more clever than me and that what he has discovered from being out here in isolation is so mind blowing that if I ever understand what it all meant that I would have to lie down on the ground because the shock and awe of the truth would mean that I couldn’t even stand up. By now I am getting bored and tired of listening to this shit. Yes, it is interesting to a point but nothing he is saying is actually going to her this piece I am doing for the BBC and nothing that will change my life. He keeps on bringng up things I have written in emails to him before I arrived. I had mentioned Gaia and he says ten times in the course of a sentence that he hates it when people talk about the Gaia and think they know what it means. i won’t rise to the bate and say nothing. Some parts of the day are OK, normally when he is outside but as soon as he gets indoors he starts to dig and talk pretensiulsky. After the sauna he comes in and askes Romey if she can remember anyone ever calling him an arrogant bastard. It’s almost as though he is scared I am thinking that and he is excusing himself by saying it out aloud. It says to me that he is very insecure.


09 March 2017

8:24am. I had to break off from the diary lest night as David comes down at his 1am (my midnight) to put go outside to fetch the generator in and put more wood into the stove. Of course he has to start talking and I am beside myself tired and wanting to go to bed but have to be polite and patient with him. I can’t work any more on this so sleep. I’m still tired right now but want to make the most of the time I have alone before the next monologue starts up and I should have time to add some more words before he appears. It’s not all bad, the food is good and Romey is pleasant enough and Sky is fun. But David is arrogant and egotistical. Not all the time either. He’s a normal person outside but inside his face changes and his mood. Last night I think I smell weed on him and I realize that all of his lengthy ramblings are no doubt because of paranoia and because of what he has seen whilst stoned. That would explain everything. Basically I’m dealing with a family of stoners and that annoys me because I had hoped for a more rugged, more basic family to document. Instead they are hippies and as Sandy said, they don’t do anything out here. My response to that was that they are remote and that is enough of a subject to document, but the process has been hard work, much more hard work than was ever necessary. I wanted to add to the diary yesterday that I did go outside. David went south down the lake to check on trails we will use soon with all off his family for more photo opportunities. He also went north up the lake to ‘Portage’ where his boat is to go and get more tree trunks for firewood. In that time Sky and I hung out and I chopped the remaining log and a half for firewood. Sky finds a thin heavy long with rope tied to it and wants to swing it around and around to throw through the air. I am tired but go along with him down to the lake where we both try. It’s like throwing the hammer in the olympics. Sky initially cannot even lift the log off the ground but I have a go and he gets a sense for the technique involved. We both keep taking turns and every time he does it he dramatically falls over into the snow on purpose which I always laugh at as it is funny. After a while we go back towards the cabin and Sky drags the long back up the steep hill that leads down to the lake. I just realize that my Dad is getting married for the 3rd time today. He is 80. I could use the satellite phone here to send an email but I don’t see the point. I’m purposefully cut off from the world here and am enjoying the break from endlessly checking my emails and feeling as though I have to post stuff to social media. And also of course I feel as though I am producing meaningful work. David gets back with wood and saw it up into logs. Sky uses the axe mostly to split the wood whilst I stand it on a chopping log. Occasionally when one is really hard to do I’ll take over as after a while he grows weak and misses the log or bishes it so that the axe lands skewed. For such a skinny young guy he is surprisingly good at chopping wood. I carry in an arm load of wood for the boot room and an armful for the far rooms stove. I have to now really knuckle down to what I have left to photo here and need to make sure that when I leave I have covered every area of their lives and have all the words I need. Yes, indeed, too many words from David that I cannot use for the BBC piece but which he insists is essential for me to hear and understand for my visit here. He keeps on repeating that if I hadn’t reverred his house and life in my emails to him before I arrived that he would never have let me visit. He said it is because he could sense some like mindedness from me that he allowed me to visit and if I was only photographing for the BBC he wouldn’t have been interested. All this while he insists that I am here to learn something from him and that somehow my visit is interconnected to their lives. It is


-30C this morning and ice again at the bottom of all of the double glazed windows on the inside. Romey has said she heard on the radio that last night is the last of the cold weather for now which means it might warm up 10 or 20 degrees. But you never know out here. I just got up to help myself to another doughnut from a tupperware container and apply coconut cream cheese to the top of it. The doughnut is stale but it still good and I cannot sit around until 4:30pm for breakfast waiting to eat as I need fuel. Seriously! 7 and a half hours until breakfast! These people seem to relish living by their own time just because they can and just to be awkward. Its not wonder I have been starting to feel really tired recently. Two meals a day and supper is at 10pm. I looked at a calendar on my iPod today to double check dates and I will be here for one more week plus 2 days. Staying longer won’t achieve anything I don’t think a I already have enough images and I need to spend a few hours alone to work out what other questions I need to ask. Then I’ll have almost 2 weeks back in Galena to upload this work online to a web album for Phil Coomes. I had thought about spending more time in Galena, to perhaps photo John Stam out at his cabin where he traps animals. But no matter how interesting his life or the remoteness where he works alone I cannot help be applied by the cruelty that is involved with trapping and feel it is bad karma to document what goes on. Despite imaging what potential images might be produced by visiting him I don’t think that the public in general will be interested at all in one man murdering animals in a painful way just for their furs. I also realize that back in Anchorage I have to do 3 things. Firstly I need to apply for a journalist visa and can do the while I am still in Alaska and if I am successful it means I will find it easier to gain entry to the USA in the future as the immigration officer at Los Angeles shook his head when he allowed me in this time. He said that it looks as though I am living here and that for my line of work I need to get an ‘i’ visa. Also I will put a book together about the Atchleys from my visit here and possibly include this diary also, but I’ll send it to David Jury first to see what he thinks. That will be time well spent even though it means being in Anchorage for 6 weeks where I have the potential to put on weight and get annoyed by Angel. Lastly I would like to fit different handlebars to my Suzuki motorcycle ready for when I ride the ALCAN in July. But the visa is the best reason to go back to Anchorage as that affects my future and access to Alaska and Canada so that I can continue with this work. I tell Sky about gyrocopters yesterday as he liked helicopters when they landed when the large forest fire was in this area in 2015. A gyrocopter I explain would be a much better alternative because they are small and cheap. I then think that it would be cool to have one myself and fly around Alaska visiting remote places to photograph. I’d like to document all remote families in Alaska and that would be a good feeling to know I have covered every one. Well, I have a green tea beside me I just made I’d like to drink and then I might pretend to be asleep for when David comes down to avoid the instant barrage of philosophy. Or I might check my notes and see want questions he can answer this morning if I can shut him up and make the most of the time I have here. I think I will ask him again about his energy use with solar and generator. We have discussed photographing all of them as a family together breaking a new trail, David chainsawing wood whilst Romey and Sky clear it. I need to have some more outdoor shots that show them actually doing something aside from talking indoors. I have to say that I really do love Alaska. It’s the feeling nature gives me. The only time I am by myself and have some peace and quiet is when I visit the outhouse and I listen out for sound. There is pure silence apart from the occasional noise of what sounds like a woodpecker. Also cracking noises can be heard. Because it is so cold branches pop off trees. They don’t break off from the weight of snow or anything like that but the extreme cold causes wood to snap. It’s nothing to do with pressure either so is hard to understand. It’s just the same as if the cold might crack glass, it does it to wood too. It is 9:17am.


It’s 10:51pm and -20C outside. It’s been a long day and I’m tired again. I got up to make a green tea and eat a doughnut this morning early before David came down, I wrote this and then dozed some more. David came down and I got up, sat on the couch and David made chaga tea. I’d never drunk it before and I think I immediately felt its effect. It’s effect or a crumb from a pilot bread that I was coughing on. It felt as though I was in the sauna again and feeling the effect of breathing in eucalyptus deep into my lungs and feeling it’s rasping effect. Romey and I…is how Davi’ds morning talk started as usual - that he was up half the night talking with her about everything and me as usual. I have to suffer his usual condescending tone about how I cannot possibly grasp what he has learned in isolation from the last 18 years here and I say as little as possible. I gaze out of the window at the Kokrine hills from the kitchen window and calm myself by knowing I already have good enough material for this piece and that I just have to be patient. We got from the kitchen down to the boot room and sit on my couch bed in front of the stove and I manage to slip in to David early on that I’d like to ask some questions. He talks with a maximum of a 4 second pause between his paragraphs so I have to be very quick to break into his words. He agrees to talk about his greenhouse today and talk about plants and growing the yearly vegetables. We also talk about the generator and eventually Romey comes down to join in the conversation too. By this time since I woke I have had a doughnut with coconut cream cheese frosting, a pilot bread with peanut butter and raisins on top. Romey sets about making a protein smoothie with yoghurt, heifer, frozen fruit, chia seeds, protein and skimmed milk powder. A short while after that Romey gives me a plate of biscuits and gravy also. Today David still has a sore left eye and is worried that it is larger than the other. Last night he said that his left eye went dark and he couldn’t see anything out of it. He has had eye problems before and he is worried that his retina will dislodge from his eyeball. He talks about it constantly and it is a big concern to him obviously. Because of this he doesn’t want to go anywhere today although we had discussed going snowshoeing, all 4 of us, so I can take photos. Instead it is another slow day. David and Sky start to play music, just jamming and it’s about how work sucks. I realize that I cannot leave here without recording them so hurriedly get my cassette recorder out and the 5 black tapes I bought from Fred Meyers in Anchorage. I put new batteries in the recorder and ask if I can record. They agree and it doesn’t seem to influence the the way they sing. I end the recording just as Romey says it is time for her to listen to the radio and get the latest update on the Iditarod. This doesn’t stop David though from finding one of his first son’s music DVD’s and trying to play it. His constant monologue doesn’t stop either but luckily the DVD player doesn’t want to work immediately. I don’t know how Romey doesn’t ask him to be quiet as she cannot hear anything on the radio. This is why she likes to stay in bed in the morning for an hour or two after David gets up so that she can listen to the radio in peace. Since we are going snowshoeing David needs to make sure we all have snow shoes. He has enough but one pair doesn’t have bindings. I was going to use an old US Army pair of snowshoes but after adjusting their bindings and testing them outside we decide they are useless because they sink deep into the snow and catch snow on top of them which makes lifting a foot forwards hard going. I stead I take its bindings off and David transfers them onto his snow shoes. He has a new pair from George Gilbert which he hasn’t used yet so he puts his bindings onto those. George Gilbert is a native who is in his 80’s, lives in Ruby but also has a cabin 8 miles away from here that he used to use but not anymore. I go outside and Sky follows and we talk to David about his Polaris 500 trail snow machine and Sky jumps off trees into the snow. He soon gets bored and goes in then David climbs up a ladder to shovel snow off his greenhouse since he intends to begin to plant seeds soon for his summer vegetable crop. But did I say that all of his keeness about his worm farm is not so he can use the


compost for vegetables but for his weed plants. I’m saddened by this as the compost, which is obviously rich and potent is for bullshit rather than something positive. I go and split wood for a while and chop up some extra thin for the stove oven in the other end of the house. I also carry 2 arm loads of wood in for the boot room stove. Finally I get to come inside to warm up but David asks me to try out the bindings on his snow shoes he just swapped over from the US Army shoes. I have to get booted up again and go out, The snow shoes work well as I trudge around deep snow off the packed down trails running around the house. David watches and I congratulate him on a job well done. This means tomorrow will be much easier when we all go out to cut a trail up a hill for photos. I ask if we can take Charley with us and Romey would like to try but David isn’t keen and doesn’t think she will be happy to sit in a sled to where we aim to go about a mile away. I forget that even if Charley gets to there OK, that without snow shoes she would just sink into the snow up to her chest and would find it unfair and extremely hard to go anywhere. She is ten and overweight. She js a cute dog and plays everyday with the red squeaky toy I bought her. Romey bakes cookies today and I eat 3. I go to sit upstairs in Sky’s room to watch him play Grand Theft Auto and he runs over women, screams and shouts and even uses a mini-gun on a Scottish West Highland terrier. I start to have deja vu and begin to realize that I am feeling very weird. I have mild heart palpitations for a bit and start to sweat. It dawns on me that I am beginning to trip and that Rimey has made some hash cookies but hasn’t told me as I guess they think it wold be funny to get me stoned. I ask myself if this is paranoia and I realize it is but not because of my brain but instead brought on by something else. I really think hard about it, to try to compare how I would be feeling if I were totally normal and now that I am not. Sky has eaten hash cookies too and begins to stare at me for no reason at all. He starts to laugh more manically than usual and so do his parents downstairs also. As far as I can tell they are all stoned, me too but I fight it and just sit back in the armchair and try to focus on the game. All today has been talking about the ego in a way that he knows I know he is an egotist, or rather that he knows I have found him out and he subtly prods me about it. One dig here and one dig there about the ego. It’s very hard not to tell him that he has a massive ego and for him to grow the hell up but I have to keep the peace and go with the flow. Romey must know what he is but her love for him is creepy. 23 years they have been together and they both tell each other how much they love each other every day. It’s nice to see because they are obviously good friends and get on well, but it’s also really messed up to see a woman like a guy who has his head massively stuck up his ass. Some moments he is friendly, kind and funny but the other half of the time he is defensive, condescending, proud ad arrogant. he uses beard dye because he says it isn’t good for him to see an old man with a grey beard in the mirror and need to keep looking like a young man for his wife who is 8 years younger than him. I find it hard to be negative about David been though it sounds as though I am in this diary. The fact is that his attitude and nonstop talking is getting to me and I wish for peace and quiet from time to time. He just has a ceaseless barrage that is draining. After the cookies I develop a headache which I still have whilst writing this. I don’t give them the satisfaction of asking them whether they liked the cookies with hash nor do I want to possibly insult them by asking and finding I am wrong. But what other explanation is there? Possibly my heart and a lack of oxygen maybe? I haven’t been sleeping well recently and I have been feeling tired but I attribute that with not eating enough and sleeping too late at night. David again this evening says as he heads to his bedroom that he will come to load up the boot room stove at 1am and is sorry if he disturbs me if I have an early night. I don;t reply as I’m fucking going mad that he continually talks and then disturbs me when I most want to go to sleep. Instead I decide it is a better idea to write as much as possible of this diary and wait up for him to come down and do what he has to do. The deal is as usual that he comes down with Romey at 1am and Sky comes down from his bedroom also at 1am and the sit around and jam with guitars. Sky


usually also eats a bowl of cereal and I frequently see David taking a tupperware of cookies up to bed with him. We eat beef stroganoff tonight and all 4 of us sit on the living room couch and watch Harold and Maude, a good film made in 1971. Half way through we break so I can do the washing up by hand which takes more than half an hour to do all the days dishes. IN that time all 3 of them fire Sky’s Nerf guns at each other with foam bullets and I take some photos. I finish the washing up and then finish watching the film. Throughout the whole of it there is a running commentary about every detail from david and I miss about a quarter of what is said the whole way through. At the end of the film David tells me about all of the hidden meanings as though I am a simpleton and that I have no idea about anything. He also says that he and Romey had decided that I should watch it as it would be good for me and that in the future I’d tell people I had watched that film with them. he also said that in the future I;d think of the Atchleys in their bubble watching films and having fun like this evening. I find it hard to say anything. He has some kind of atiturde with demands to have acknolweegemtn and praise heaped on him. I ask his birthday and it isn;t a Leo surprisingly. Instead I think he is born in October. He says a Libra I think and Romey is a Capricorn. Sky was born on 01 September so not a Leo. It is 11:57am and funny to think that my Dad got married today. I have realized alot since I came her almost 2 weeks ago and one factor is that almost everybody I know is a total idiot. Including my parents. It’s just a fact of life I realize and there is nothing I can do about it. I am hoping that they all come downstairs soon as I would like David to load the stove so I can sleep. I will be so glad to leave here so that I can simply be more or less in charge of my life again. Even though that will never be the case because I am always beholding to some one wherever I am staying. Sky is making his noises upstairs as he plays his video games and the bed squeaks as he bounces up and down. I have seen no evidence of any home schooling since I got here apart from dungeons and dragons and Romey reading to Sky every night. I’m not judging them as I respect the fact they are living in such a remote place. I wish I was able to travel more around this area whilst I am here because it really is so beautiful, but I won’t push David to do anything. He has said that he makes a point of never doing anything ever that someone suggest to him. The way he works is that I ask him very gently whether it is possible to photo somethim…

10 March 2017

10:44pm. Last night I had to stop writing as David came down to play guitar with Romey and Sky at midnight my time, 1am his time. Instead of staying up with them I tried to go to sleep but it was impossible, Even with earplugs in place I could still hear their playing and singing and David purposefully cranked up the stove so the wood was blazing inside. I don’t know why as it was only -15C outside last night which is very warm in the scheme of things. I couldn’t sleep with a sleeping bag over me at all and eventually turned the stove right down. Last night was the first night I tried sleeping without Melotinin but it didn’t work so after hours of turning over and over I took two and eventually drifted off. I woke tired and saw David go up to the oven to make his espresso. I got up within 5 minutes and drank another cup of chaga tea and I asked David if the cookies contained hash in them. He says they didn’t do talk through at length whether what I experienced last night was mental or physical. I think either it was lack of oxygen in my blood supply to my brain due to my heart or I was having some kind of spiritual experience. Having said that I remember now that the back of my head was hurting and feeling like somebody had smacked it with a cricket bat. I started


having this pain before Christmas and felt this last night. Instead of a pain in the skull I also got a headache too which lasted until bed. It’s crossed my mind that something is wrong but I don’t feel it is ad enough yet to visit a GP with. Much of this mornings conversation with David is about the feelings I have been getting since I was aged 3 about stuff I’m aware that is going on in the background subconsciously. Not about my head or my heart but that there is more to life than we see. I relate the time when Rachel Orange poured a gallon of petrol over my head when I was 3 at her house and dreams I have had later in life. Also I mention bonzos, self-isolating monks. David suggest that it is to do with the insanity of man spreading and how I don’t wish to catch it. A detailed account of my dreams would explain what this means but this is not the place. Eventually our discussion about fire leads to me asking about the fire break that was cut in 2015 so that I have text to go alongside the photo I took of David on Bucket Hill. By this time I have had 3 cookies for breakfast and eventually Romey makes banana pancakes with birch syrup. We then get changed and ready to go out on the snow machines to the old trail up Bucket Hill to cut overgrown trees that block the trail. David and Romey go on his snow machine with a sled behind with Sky in. I have asked Romey to take some old clothing so they all look more authentic rather than wearing modern winter clothing and she packs a backpack for fur hats and fur gloves. Finally, after what seems like half the day, but which is in fact three quarters of a day. Breakfast is usually at 4pm despite David getting up first at about 11am. David goes outside to warm the snow machines up whilst Romey packs her rucksack with clothing and we head out the door. We ride in convoy with me at the rear and go south down the lake for a mile until we turn off left. We ride through many trees on a thin snaking trail David has broken earlier in the week. We finally get to a clearing where we dismount and put snowshoes on. I walk into the wood a way to get ready for the first photo of David chainsawing with Romey and Sky helping move cut branches out of the way so there is a clear trail for the snow machine to ride up and over bucket hill in order to get to another cabin owned by David 8 miles away, a hunting cabin. The chainsaw won’t run however and David suggests we go back to the cabin because it is iced up. I say no and ask him to go back and get another one, explained that it takes way too long to get organized and since we are out here we should make the most of the opportunity. He ride back to his cabin extremely fast and returns with another saw whilst I photograph Romey with the .44 revolver and dressed all in blue with platted pig tails. Now that David has a saw that works he begins to walk up the old trail through the woods cutting branches that have fallen in the way and which would stop a snow machine from journeying upwards. He’s helpful one minute and a condescending and pompous ass the next. I keep my mouth shut and keep on taking photos. Sky is cold despite not taking everyones advice and wearing a balaclava or neck tube. Sky is only 13 but he moves slowly and isn’t keen to be photographed but just about hangs in there until we get to the top. I’m using the dreadful old bindings off the old US Army snow shoes now on David’s wooden snowshoes and it is hard going. The bindings are pretty much useless and my feet slop around on the snow shoes in all directions which means moving in any direction hard. Near the top I am taking photos again of the family clearing wood and my camera battery door opens and the battery drops into the snow and is gone like it was dropped into water. I could let it go because I have 2 spare batteries in my Sleeka pocket but want to try hard to find it first. The family are below me still cutting through the trail as I take off my snow shoes and stand above my knees in the snow powder. I put my gloves on which have been off all this time as -15C doesn’t make my hands cold at all. I dig and dig until the tiny grey battery appears and I happily put it back into the camera after jokingly swearing at it and wiping of any water droplets before turning the camera back on. Romey is very obliging all of this time and tries her best to make sure that I manage to get the shots I would like but wanting to help. David helps too by occasionally going ahead to stand down a trail for me to walk on ahead of all of them so that I can get


in a good portion to photo them as they walk up. Most of the time I walk my own fresh snow myself but he does try to make it easier for me since my snowshoes work like crap. he tells me he needs to get better bindings in the future and I say I will make sure to buy my own for another time. I mention that the US Army snow shoes worked well and he keeps on saying that he doubts they’d work well on soft snow at all without a crust. I say they would and that they are so short you can literally run with them. Now it is 11:34pm my time and 12:34am Archly time. The generator is still on outside which means that as well as come down and make an alright racket singing and playing the guitar badly that David will go outside to turn off the generator and bring it back inside and also load the stove up for the night. I’m not enjoying their anti-social behavior as I just want to sleep at the time I want to. By the time we get back today it is after 7pm and still light and I bring in firewood to the cabin. I also sweep the log cabin floor and wash the dishes again after beef stroganoff for the second time. David says to me ‘see how behind we get if we go out for 4 hours during the day’ meaning that they all have so many jibs to do when we get back to the cabin. I nod but feel like saying ‘see how you get behind when you go out after breakfast and at 5pm’ but resist doing so. Even midday would be late in the day to go out and photo so 4:30pm after eating breakfast is taking the piss. They certainly do live by their time and do as they please. The trouble is that if I went to sleep right now that David would wake me and that would piss me off even more. I almost feel as though he is doing this on purpose. Well, obviously he is doing it on purpose to assert control over me but I’m also sure that he wants to get a rise out of me because it would give me a kick. I have noticed that when he is in front of Romey he acts like the big tough guy and Romey barely talks to me but as soon as he goes outside Romey is friendly, ‘normal’ and talkative. Well I have to tell myself that I am only here for one more week and then hopefully I can catch up normal sleep and rest a bit. I feel as though I have enough work but it has been a struggle because of having to wade through so much of Davi’ds bullshit. Today he was showing off how high his IQ is, withouut saying any numbers and I realized that I really don;t care. He’s hypocritical about what he says because actually he is no different from the rest of mankind. Right now it is 11:46pm and I am so damn tired it is a case that I have to stop right now typing this. There’s alot of small things I’d like to mention but wonder if anyone out there is the slightest bit interested in any of this. I can’t help but think about what Sandy said about the Atchleys, about them just being out here and not being productive. I wish that there was more of a story I could document about them because all the story is about them being off grid someplace wild and remote. Maybe that is enough for them to be interesting. I hope so. I can hear David laughing up in his bedroom whilst talking with Romey and it annoys me that he just desn’t give a shit that I might want to sleep. So many late starts in th day mean I have waited hours of opportunity because of their slavishness. I can’t help imagine that I could have taken better images but realize that this is them and how they behave and nothing more. It has been -15C for most of the day and I have seen alot more wildlife activityy outside. I mention this to David but he says there is always animal activity but by now I kmwo that if I said red was red he’d say it was blue just to be pedantic. I’d like to write mroe but I’m done in this evening. I’m also tired of saying bad things abut David as it isn’t productive but unfortunately that is the truth if the situation here. Since we are remote I’d like to see more of nature and wilderness. The views of the Kokrine mountains are really gorgeous and I’d love to be able to soak in the feeling of isolation but everyday revolves around Davids; non-stop monologues and Sky playing video games. So much for homeschooling , he has the best childhood ever, he does;’t have to do a single chore and just wears pajamas all day everyday. Having said all this I don’t think life will ever be the dame again as I will think tat almost everyone is a cretin in the western world. The way ppeople are living in modern society is wrong and I am tired of putting up with people’s bullshit. If I could live remotely myself I would also.


11 March 2017

7:27am. I cannot sleep so get up to make a green tea and eat a couple of cookies. Luckily not hash cookies. It is -24C this morning and I had to open the window last night as it was so hot in the boot room. I also turn down the Blaze King stove to it’s minimum heat setting, I don;t understand why David has had it only on the minimum setting whilst it was almost -40C and then makes it hotter when the weather gets warmer. It’s such a dry cold that it doesn’t feel cold at all, only when the wind gets up and your skin has been exposed for longer than about 4 minutes. Every night I sleep worse and I don’t know why. I’m still taking Melatonin but it is nit effective at all and I don’t want to take more as you can end up taking 5 and you get used to that dose also. It’s light outside right now, a dark grey light with cloud. Yesterday was good as we all got out of the house and I can tell Romey enjoyed it too as she barely leaves the house or the immediate area around the house. I wish I could see more of the landscape as the views off to the north and the Kokrine mountains are gorgeous, more so because it is so incredibly remote. I really feel the need to to sit still out of doors to really appreciate the isolation here and realize that the only way I will properly understand how cut off it is if I had to walk, snow machine or boat out of here. Flying is a luxury and, even though it has its dangers and feels risky as you bounce through the air in such a tiny plane, it’s easy to forget its easy access. Almost like a taxi, pick up and drop down. When I begin to think often about how I wish the Atchleys existing out here is more purposeful for the sake of a story I realize it is story enough just the fact they are out here living as they do. In fact, because they are only going about a basic everyday survival it is even more interesting because they no longer trap and only simply collect firewood, eat their store bought and home grown food and David does all of his own timbering too for his self build cabin construction. He has mentioned he will start milling soon and that will be a good example of what work he does. Last night, or rather at 1am his time, he came down to load the boot room stove and started talking but I already had ear plugs in place and told him I couldn’t hear. That didn’t stop him from explaining what he was talking about. I put my head in my hands as I was feeling like screaming. I’m sure he must have picked up on how I am feeling but despite him constantly preaching to me about how bad mankind is he does nothing to suggest he is any different. But what do I expect, there are 3 people out here all by themselves for 11 months of the year and their whole lives revolve around themselves and Charley the dog. How could I expect otherwise? Consistently Romey will heat water in the kettle only for herself so that when I go to pour myself a cup of tea there is only a couple of tablespoons of water left. That means I have to go to the water bucket and ladle more water into the kettle and turn the gas (propane) stove on again. That doesn’t bother me but the making noise at 1am to 2am does (my midnight to 1am). Today I hope to climb a tree on the other side of the lake so I can get up high to take a photo of the cabin of the far shore with the Atchleys going past below on a snow machine and sled which I hope to give a feeling of remoteness. Ideally I’d like to get above the tree line to show some sort of horizon to show expanse but will only be able to do this when Brad comes back to pick me up. David has said that he would like to pay me for the Wales book I brought him. This is became he has realized that firstly I don’t receive any money at all for it and secondly I had to buy it for him out of my own money. Obviously I don’t say yes, give me the


money and simply say that in the future I won’t be able to afford to keep handing books out to people. They have said they will pay me back for the tomato paste I brought (even though they don’t know that I got 12 cans from Adriana and 12 cans from Sandy. In Anchorage stores 12 cans sell for about $16 so that means in Galena, where they think I bought them from 24 cans would cost at least $50. The book is $30 and I spent $50 on bringing them gifts of food and soda. I sound tight yes but that’s the way my life is. Yesterday David ribbed me about being bad at making money and that I only make 8000 pounds a year. I had to correct him that actually it is only 6000 pounds that I live off a year, which he laughed at. Yesterday Romey took photos of me at the top of the old trail on Bucket Hill. I had asked her to do this so I can send a few photos to Snugpak. When I look at my face I see a person who is getting old quickly these days and who looks sad and tired. I think my eyes look like sockets and I am fat. I know I have lost weight since I got here and am determined to go back to Anchorage for 6 weeks and only live on smoothies which means I will have to buy a blender. Hopefully I can take it back to the UK and use it everyday for meals too which will simplify my life as the ingredients are simple and shouldn’t be too expensive. This is what I should have been living on all of last year in the barn and in this way I would not have gotten fat at all. I’m not that fat but I can see my face is not as skinny as usual. I want to be able to fit into my leather jeans easily when I get back to the UK and for when I use them in Alaska and Canada for the ALCAN project from July. I have been here 2 weeks now to the day and could leave today and say I have done a whole project but since we had always agreed that 3 weeks would be the right amount of time I will aim to get a few more photos during my last week and make sure I have captions for every photo I have taken. So far I have 271 photos I have selected into a folder of my best photos from here of 2 weeks work and want to make sure I only submit a maximum of 300 to Phil Coomes. I will have to check to see how many I have submitted to him in the past in web albums and think it won’t be too many as living off-grid must have had an initial 300+ photos from 10 days work last August. The gym project had less than 100 photos and I’m trying to remember for the nurse, US Army and Galena. Galena may have had over 300+ also since I know I took 65 photos with the 4x5 and more with the Contax and iPod. What a shame I sold the Conatx as it wasn’t an expensive camera and I could have afforded to have kept it. It’s not often people use an 80 year old camera for their work. But never mind, I am enjoying using the Olympus and have learnt to use more of its features on this project. Like the HDR1 setting which takes photos at different exposure settings in rapid succession, 4 photos in total, and if I am steady can manage this handheld. This makes for a much richer image with better highlights and shadows. A fine example is of Romey with her foot up on a table by a window with her notepad listening to the radio. It’s almost like a painting. When I look out of the tiny window now and see the spruce tree tops I feel a sense of nostalgia for all the trips and projects I have made in Alaska and Canada since 2009. I don’t really feel any difference from Alaska and Canada as it is all the same land, which looks the same which stretches south and it is all remote. I think about my motorcycle journeys and how lucky I have been, to have done so many miles so safely and lived so frugally. I’m excited by the thought go this year, that I have done this project here with the Atchleys just as I intended, that hopefully Patrick Chew will send me some New York Times styles magazines of the living off grid article he has written using my words and photos, that I get to work on my motorcycle in Anchorage and make it good for later in the year. That I go back to the UK with British Airways which should be alot more comfortable than bloody Norwegian airlines and will make an exhibition at Firstsite. That I get to come back to document the ALCAN too and after that I wonder if I will make another project in Alaska in the winter? I also wonder if I will continue to use digital in all of my projects. Since I am sponsored by them I should continue to use their kit and if I want a better effect from digital I should knuckle down and work out what it will take to do so. I mean…many of the images which aren’t HDR


look slightly washed out and thin so, instead of going backwards and relying on the lovely quality I know film all give me I need to concentrate on getting the digital to give me the desired effect. The photo of David performing on his snow machine and Sky sledding are photos I couldn’t get with a film camera so I have to build on what works best. I have to accept that my work is OK and that what I am doing is OK too. I just feel very mortal all of a sudden and sad that I am getting so old. Part of me wishes I had take photos more earnestly when I was younger but then also realize that it takes experience and maturity to be able to ‘see’ the photo you should be taking. And also I wasn’t in any sort of financial position to be able to travel when I was younger. Having said this…I should be grateful that I made the decision in 2001 to take photos full-time when I was 32 years old so that is comparatively young as some people don’t find their calling ever in their lives. Also, I first picked up a camera when I was 8 and this is something David and I were discussing yesterday, that photography has been a part of my journey throughout my life and is a necessary tool to have been able to see where I fit in, in the world and amongst people and a crucial way for me to use my creative brain. I think back yesterday to what aspects of David bug me as I keep getting drawn back to the negative and am fed up that I do this. David was boasting that all the famous philosopher’s works in the entire world looks like child’s play compared to what he has achieved during his time in isolation here. There is only one philosopher he says that stands out as being better than what he has achieved (I need to find the name and put it here). Personally I don’t care how brilliant a philosopher he thinks is and put modesty in front of intellect. After all, how is he able to use his philosophy to help others? Maybe occasionally on a one to one basis but not via the web to a world audience. He also tells me at great length yesterday how he was once take out to lunch in Fairbanks by a female friend just so she could tell him what a great influence he had been on her life and how he couldn’t believe she could shower him wth praise for 20 full minutes non-stop about how brilliant his mind and understanding of life is. All the time here he is everyday telling me how clever he is and how he gets annoyed that people cannot accept his help, advice and vision. I wonder if there is a name for people like David with his need to be recognized and praised. Is he something of a narcissist too? Or at least an egotist? I guess that’s the reason most people think I am incapable or inexperienced, because I do not show off about my achievements or experience. It is 8:41am and I will put my head down again. I wonder Davids morning monologue will produce today. What’s ironic to me is that David has so much to say but when it comes to the crunch, like yesterday and taking photos which we have talked about for so long that he can so damn long to do it and be so badly organized.

11 March 2017

2:19pm. This is hell. Apart from the conversation I just had with David for the last two hours which I will have to cover later David just told Romey that he dreamt he slept with 3 women last night. He said that it happened in the cabin and that Romey was cool with it so that David was able to enjoy it more than usual in his dreams about sleeping with women. Romey replies ‘lucky you’ in a really unhappy way but tries to make it sound as though she doesn’t care. 11:41pm. What a day. It ends well but the start is hard work. David makes his coffee but I close my eyes so I don’t have to talk with him immediately. Instead the meditates for an hour which he says he has missed doing. He also brings up last night and said that it seemed as though I needed to sleep and he recommended I do so at 11pm. I told him that I’d rather not because I don’t want to be woken


up so would prefer to wait until he put out the generator and and loaded the stove for the night. I tell him its ok though and that I’m now 2/3rds of the way through my visit so I’m cool with him continuing to do what he does every night. I explained that it isn’t me being physically tired, I was just needing to mentally shut down. This kind of puts him in a bad mood and this mornings talk is about how he wants to cut the tether from himself to humanity because of my visit as I have made him more aware of mankind and his he does;t like it. I actually type out all he says because I find it highly egotistical and arrogant. He asks me why I am typing it out and I say because it is very interesting and he questions it again saying that he doubts the BBC will be interested in it. I agree with him and say I want his words for myself so I can re-read them, which is true because I am shocked by what he says.He mentions ego again and obviously knows that he is being massively egotistical. I agree with his opinion about humanity but I disagree that he feels it is right to force his belief and knowledge onto others. I say that if other philosophers in history couldn’t make a difference I doubt that he can make a difference either. The late nights and his non stop talking is taking its toll on me and I feel the tide turn today for the first time during my stay. I am not careless or flippant with my response to his words today but it is obvious that I don’t care for what he has to say. He even tells me he has stopped being friends with 10 of hs friends simply because they cannot understand what he tells them and cannot accept his words. I find this sad and suggest that perhaps he shouldnt try to help others unless they are open to being helped. After this it is awkward. At one point we are talking and I stand up and leave the room and have to lie down on the couch to rest. I cannot even butt in to David’s talking so I simply leave the room, walk down into the boot room and say over my shoulder that I have to rest. I ask myself did I really just do that as it was rude of me to walk out whilst he is talking to me but I know I am near my limit now of what I can take. David then asks Sky to snow machine with him to Portage to help get more firewood and Sky direst the Polaris 500 which he enjoys. They get back as Romey is making French Toast and she serves me first. Whilst they were gone I asked Romey if I can email Brad with the satellite phone to ask him to collect me in one weeks time, next Saturday or anytime that is convenient for him. This seems to change the dynamics of me being here completely. I get the impression that David is sad that I have made the move to leave and possibly thinks it could be because of his talking this morning that I made the move to arrange my exit plan. I feel sad because I feel like a traitor in a way. Despite my negative writings about all of Davids’ constant talking ad how egotistical he gets we have been getting along well and it has felt like something of an adventure. Now because I sent an email whilst he wasn’t here it feels perhaps as though I am fed up and wan to leave in a hurrry. During my stay David has said that I don’t have to leave exactly on the day 3 weeks is up and I could leave later if I wanted to. I appreciate this but am now thinking ahead to getting this work in order for Phil Coomes and getting back to Anchorate. if I do leave on 18th from here it will mean I spend almost 2 weeks back in galena before I have arranged to fly ti Anchorage on 31st March so I could spend an extra week here BUT that would mean I will be straininbg to document more material for his project and over staying my welcome here. Certainly there is no rush to submit my work to the BBC at all but I’d rather do it before I leave Galena. I’m slightly concerned where I will stay though as 2 weeks is a long time if I stay at Brads and he might want me to pay rent. I might ask Adriana but that might be hassle as she doesn’t have internet and the only place to sleep would be in her bed and I’d have to chop and split wood and put up with her son Mike. I could have tried to stay here for a month in total but I already feel as though I have enough work and if I don’t, that I can make sure I get what I need during the week. It was just a sad situation today because I feel that David is going to be upset that he has;t managed to convert me to his way of thinking. I did suggest to him that it seems as though it is important to him that people take on his words and praise him for them. I unfortunately cannot do


this. I point out the he has had 18 years of thinking and working in isolation about philosophy so it is hard for me to take on and accept in just 2 weeks of being here because I do not have the insight or experience that he has had in all of this time. Emailing Brad whilst he was out must seem like a cowardly thing for me to do and that is possibly how he might view it. He’s a good guy for allowing me to be here and for helping me as much as he can with the project but I have found his talking and ego very hard to deal with. Certainly I will have some very good memories of my stay here and will be sad to leave but being in this environment is hard to bare. I also feel that I have come to the end of what questions I am capable of asking and know that in such a rare case of studying a remote family that I could have come better prepared with more questions for all of them. Because of David’s nonstop talking I could have spoken with Romey more and hope to next week. She has been very nice today and I went out with Sky to check out a tree I wish to climb so that I can get a high up view over the lake of the cabin and them in the foreground. Before that I photographed Romey making yoghurt and then Sky climbed up the tree a little ways after he had used his sled to go down the bank to the lake once. After he has climbed the tree we walk into the 2015 forest fire burn zone and I take photos of him jumping into snow. I also make videos which are funny and we get on well. It is not very cold, over -10C but under -15C however after an hour I cannot move my jaw to talk easily. I don’t feel the cold as being harsh but I cannot from my words to make coherent words. Sky has been jumping and digging in snow and is using his baffin boots and cold weather jacket, but as is his style, he is still in his pajama bottoms which are covered in snow and wet. We walk back to the cabin and as usual Charley howls when we enter, her welcome home. Right now it is 12:22am (1:22am Archly time) and David has come down to play guitar before properly going to bed even though he has just been upstairs in his bedroom with Rome for a good hour and a half. Romey has baked bread and is making sandwiches and putting the washing up I did away. David sings and I have to finish writing this. Romey has made gumbo with chicken and sausage this evening with rice which is very tasty and David and I have seconds though neither of us finish the oven dish it was made in. We watch another Community American comedy but it is a stop frame Christmas special this time and we view all of it. after washing up I ask Sky for permission to interview him and go up to his bedroom to ask about playing in the snow and his cartoon drawings. I also take some photos of him showing me his cartoons and a map of favorite locations for him to hide in and around the cabin. On the way back from jumping into snow in the burn zone he confides in me walking half way back across the lake that he wants to tell me that when he was last in Fairbanks he found something about My Little Pony porn and that he looked at it. He said it involved animation with ponies and also humans and asked me nit to tell his parents he has told me this. he tells me he knows more about sex that I could ever imagine and I assure him that I can imagine. Romey has made me another tub of popcorn which she puts next to my couch and after I have interviewed Sky I begin to eat it whilst Romey reads to Sky upsarirs. I download my photos from today and write this and that’s today. It is is hot in the boot room and I have already turned the stove down. Sky and Davi are singing about a girl wearing holey and smelly knickers caught in a toe jam in new Orleans and it is time I went to sleep. David has suggested to me that I track down all the old Grateful Dead fans around America as that would make a good BBC piece. I know he thinks he can make me see the light and that he wants to be responsible and receive the credit for waking me up to life but he doesn’t realize that I already have a good understanding of what is going on and that I am comfortable in my situation in life. Yes, I don’t have a place I can call home but right now there is nothing I can do about that. Sky is singing about losing his toe in the woods of old Kentucky where the water buffalo roam and David and Romey are laughing. I should be recording this but I am tired and have to sleep. Today is the turning point of being here. It;s sad but I have to move on.


12 March 2017 (does the time go forwards today in USA?)

3:10pm. All concerns about feeling bad about emailing Brad to come get me next Saturday have fallen away overnight. Davids talk with me this morning confirms to me that it will definitely be the right time to leave and in fact, I’d be happy to leave today if I could. It’s a beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine like summer and I’d get great photos of there cabin from the air which I urgently need to put the cabin location in situ to the remote location. I’m writing this blatantly in front of David and Romey whilst I sit on the couch in the bot room. Ramey is about to make oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, breakfast mid afternoon. I think they purposefully live like this just to be awkward for the sake of it. Here are people who maintain thet are tough outdoors people but they never use the day because it’s always late afternoon by the time they get out the door. Of course, the flip side is that in summer there is 24 hours of daylight so they can do stuff ant anytime but surely its better for the body to sleep at night or at least at decent regular intervals instead of living within a permanent slumber party stupor. I wake at 7am isn today and the first thing I do is to walk into the kitchen to lookthrough the window at the outside temeratyre gauge which reads -25C. I then eat two vitamin dummies and two probiotic dummies and then snooze again. Finally I fall asleep and actually sleep deepest from then until midday. The bitter acrid smell of coffee wakes me slightly earlier and which David usually pours from a great height to make as much noise as possible to wake me. I have ear plugs in so snooze again. I’m at a point where I cannot get out of bed earlier due to a permanent tiredness and also that I cannot face any more of Davids talks. I know I am one of the most patient people I know but even I am stretched by the egomania. David makes himself another coffee fr himself and puts on hot water for me for tea.

6:22pm. I take a pilot bread (a cracker) and put peanut butter and raisins on the top of it. I finish eating it by the time he walks down to the boot room to sit on the couch and so another ‘Romey and I got to talking last night about…’ monologue starts. Early on I manage to interrupt and ask if I can begin with some more questions. If you’ve got any left David says. I go through the photos I have selected on my laptop so far and intend to ask him about individual ones so I have captions for each. I ask him about the tree shots I took from the air on the way here and we discuss black spruce and then I ask him about his scariest experiences snow machining. By now I have alot of information from interviews and writing this diary and I’m confident it will be the basis for an interesting book about one family living remotely. Eventually Romey comes down and says that she wishes she had internet so she can listen to the Iditarod updates. David tells her in no mean terms that she would have to leave here and live in town if she wanted internet. Romey replies that she hopes it never comes to that. I understand why Dabid doesn’t want internet bit he does’t seem to grasp that he is able to turn it off when he wants and use if for what he wants, as a tool. Instead he thinks it is the world invading his life and home if he allows it to be used in the cabin. I feel, now that I understand Davd better, that he is one of those men that need to dominate his wife and be in control of eberythig. To the point that he doesn’t want to be in a town where another man could take his wife from him. As long as he is here in control, with nobody else around then he is safe to talk and behave as he pleases. Before


Romey comes down David says that he would like photos that I have taken of them. I say I can give him the selection I have made but he wants every single photo that I have taken here during my visit here. He says that I promised this in my emails to him before I came out here and that it is a fair request since he has been feeding me all of this time. I don’t say too much as I am sure I never said that he could have EVERY photo but I know I did say he could have some. I have also said that I will email them after I have left all of their interviews but realize that if I do this that they will have everything apart from this diary that I have produced from my visit and that work has been hard to produce. Mostly because of having to cut through all of David’s bullshit and also having to occasionally justify my questions and my ability to take photos. IT’s the same deal everywhere I go. I build a yurt for free for Robin Jennigs in Portugal and spend most of that time putting up with him telling me that it is impossible to build a yurt with straight lengths of wood since the structure is round. It’s the same deal with David and I have too much modesty to show off to him about what I can do in retaliation to what he s always showing off about. David tells me that Romey would like to go through her interviews with me before I leave so she can check them and approve that she is happy with the words. I say that I’d rather email them al their words instead in one go after I have left. My main concern isn’t that I don’t want them to have their own words because they will be able to use them in the future for their own publications but because in previous experience it is easy to lose an interview on an iPod Touch if you mess around with it too much. Usually if you try to delete a word you can end up selecting the whole body of text and when you cut it, in order to paste, it all disappears. That is my concern. Since there is no internet here I cannot back up any of my interviews s all the words I have typed out onto my two iPods are all that I have. If I lose that text I have no story for this news piece which means I have nothing. Going through somebody’s interview is more trouble that it’s worth as it means I have to read it out or they have to read it and scroll through it. Touching the screen means that potentially the text can disappear and I wouldn’t be able to get it back. It;s happened several times before and now I am in a situation that will be hard to get out of. I could continue to ask Romey if she will allow me to simply email her interviews to check and I hope she will agree. It has come up in discussion more than 3 times to far since I got here and she is adamant that I allow her to see her words before I leave. There is no way that I will send them their interviews because why should I give them all of my hard work/ And also why should I give them all of my photos. They say that they might need to send photos to Grandpas and Grandmas etc but surely they just can sent the best for the best! It;s not often that we have our own photographer here so we want to make the most of it David says. A wedding photographer he jokes. He says this as another of his lame jokes beceuase he says he knows it winds me up. IT seems to put him in a bad mood that he has had to challenge me about the photos and interviews and I see a pattern of how not being in control affects him. This is obviously why he is living out here, became he does not fit into society. The fact is that I was warned by peoples laughs before I came out here and by Sandy that it might be hard work but I have had to make a go of it since I was committed the second I bought my air ticket to return to Alaska. I know I can be proud of doing my best out here, with photos and words, as I always do but as always, also, people are constantly and challenge and always hard work! I was thinking about documenting John Stam after this but to be honest I am tired and want to chill out afrer I leave. I also want to out all of this work into book form, to hold it all together as a complete, concise work. Even if David is a pain to get on with, the work is relevant none the less since he is still out here in isolation and still an interesting subject. IT’s 4:30pm but the time we eat breakfast, Romey makes oatmeal (porridge) after I have eaten another pilot bread with peanut butter and raisins. David talks loudly, with fake and harsh aggressive mock laughter. He puts on his mukluks and goes out to get his snow machines ready and chainsaws. I don’t realize he is waiting outsde for Sky to go out and ride the


other snow machine as Sky is taking ages as usual sauntering around the house. Whilst eating oatmeal he is on the couch in their living room and says he needs more sugar and Romey asks if he wants her to get him more sugar orin he can go. He says nothing and David, before he goes out, starts laughing because he says Romey knows the answer to that question already. Even though Sky is closer to the kitchen than Romey she gets up and comes back with a handful which she sprinkles on top the oatmeal. Another example of him being spoilt is when she comes to hand me a plate of food and he reaches out to grab it for himself. I thought I brought you up t have better manners than that Romey says. But obviously she hasn’t brought him right at all since he gets waited on hand and foot. And he is 13 years old. “Mum, get your ass over here!” he shouts at right now as I am writing this. Hard to believe his angelic face hides that behavior but thats always the case. But when Sky does finally decide to go outside he is quick to get out. His outdoors clothing is simply a pair of Carhartt padded jean dungarees over his pajama bottoms and his grey hooded jacket over a t-shirt. No socks go over his feet into his Baffin boots and remarkably he seems to keep warm. A black pair of gloves goes over his hands but no hat either. Sky goes out and seconds later both he and his Dad go past the boot room window on separate snow machines. They cross the lake and go into the burn zone on the far side. Today Davd is going to be milling a tree which is in the burn zone from 2015 and which he felled a year ago. He wants to mill it for wood for the roof of his and Romey’s bedroom to replace the sod he has up there right now.

8:31pm. I just got clobbered by David. I wanted to show him a photo on my iPid of what an narrowboat looks like i the UK as he diene’t know. He then tells me at great length about how he only allows his friends in Fairbanks to show him one photo on their smartphones when he gets to town before he refuses to look at anymore. Instead of our conversation being about alternative living and ways to live off grid he tells me the same story he has told me at least twice already. It’s all abut how he won’t use internet and if he did he wouldn’t know what to do with it. He says that he only ever uses it ti research what other films an actress he likes has starred in. After all he says, man has survvrd for thousands of years without it. Anyway….David and Sky ride across the lake and I walk ten minutes later. I take old holed mukluks that Romey has lent me so I can climb a tree more easily than using my Baffins. I get to Davd and Sky in the burn zone where Davd has 2 chainsaws and his milling set up. After a short while Romey arrives walking wth Charley. Sky is busying himself digging into snow and keeping himself amused playing. Romey helps Davd for a while until he gets started and then she helps Sky dig into snow. Charley plays with Sky and bites small twigs off a fallen tree so she can make way for herself to get under the tree with him and I can tell the cold is making her paws hurt as she licks them from time to time. I put down the mukluks I have been carrying and encourage her to lie or at least stand on them but she doesn’t understand. Occasionally Sky crawls along the ground encouraging Charley to hump him as though she is a male dog and he is a bitch. I tell Charley out aloud to hump Sky as it is amusing and she does and Sky seems to enjoy it. David again, for the second time, recites what Phll Coomes wrote me for me as a reference. David sarcastically tells me that ‘I’m in it for the long haul so I should go dig myself an igloo in the snow’, I ignore him and don’t say anything. This man thinks he is so tough milling with a chainsaw and has no idea what I have done in my life. David proceeds to tell me all about the different types of Stihl saw ad that his model is called a Magnum likes it’s extra powerful or something. I don;t bother to tell him used to work for one of the largest tree surgeons in Britain. I take photos of David milling and he doesn’t do much,


only 3 boards before saying he has done enough. I do appreciate that he has made the effort today to do this for the sake of photo taking.

10:06pm. Holy shit. This guy is crazy. I’m down the washing up again after supper. he says I’m a super washing up machine. I say yeah. He says well you did say that you enjoyed doing the washing up in your emails, I have it in writing. I am tired and say that he is always bringng up stuff in my emails and that I never mention stuff that he has written…and then after I pause I say, probably becauase I don’t have enough time. At this David goes berserk but in a controlled way, he starts ranting but whilst doing things like putting a book back into the bookshelf and not looking at me whilst he is talking or Romey or Sky. He keeps saying that he is a spacial anomaly and something to do with not fitting into humanity. It’s like I have insulted him massively and he is having a tantrum. Romey is sitting on the couch in their living room and plays with her hair nervously. She twines a long strand around her finger. I don;t say anything but keep on washing up, there is a whole days worth so it takes a minimum of half an hour. David is saying something about preferring to talk about Trump and bathrooms instead. It’s as though he views my presence here as all of humanity coming in to attack his understanding of th world. It rubs me up the wrong way when he continually brings up what I have written in my emails to him before I arrived or things I have told him since being here. Everyday he mentions things as though throwing them back in my face and obviously he hits a nerve wth me. Frankly life is too short to bring up things that people have said, so what if I said I enjoyed washing up in my past emails. Yes, I did say that and I still do enjoy washing up. But why bring it up in an email? Now I am starting to feel as mad as him. The fact is I don’t mind washing up because Rmey is kind enough to feed me and the food is good. It’s the least I can do as well as firewood. The stem of the deal tonight is I don’t think it is good manners to bring up stuff that people have written all the time. It is time I left of sure so I must stay focused and realize that I only have 5 full days left before I have asked Brad to pick me up. All I have to do is stay cool and not let Davids’s constant talking get to me further. Out at the milling today, out of the blue Davod says that I have to listen to what he has to say in his house. He gives an example of when 7th Day Adventists came to his house in the past before he lived here. He said that they were welcome to come into to his house to say what they wanted to say but first they had to hear what he had to say. Oh my God I said. I bet they ran away quickly and never came back. I’m starting to feel trapped now and realized that there is no way out apart from Brad flying in to puck me up and luckily I have contacted him already. If he has replied I will ask Romey when David is to check for a reply and I might write again to say come whenever you are ready as I am done here. Prolonging the wait is just provoking a very possible meltdown b David because I don’t want ti listen to him and because I don’t like it when he brings stuff up that I said. The things I said are’t bad at all, it’s just the principle that the ‘you said’ statement is childish. But again, what do I expect? These people live out here because of various issues and living in isolation for so long has obviously had an effect on them. I can understad their point of view about humanity but the fact is that whether I agree with it or not I am the one that is still a part of humanity and will be leaving here shortly to go back to the world, whether it is ‘real’ or not. David has 3 pkanks of milled wood and says he will go back to his cabin now. I ask if he can pause before the lake and wait for me to climb a tree I checked out wth Sky yesterday. I go with Sky on the back of the Tundra snow machine and he goes too fast of course and we almost tip over. Going back to this evening I have to write that David just goes past me outside to dump dishwater. On his way back in he catches his arm on a screw that protrudes through the front door. I have told him


about it before and have been avoiding it since I got here as I don’t want to tear any of my Smugpak sleeves on it. It doesn’t rip his shirt but it hurts him so he immediately goes back outside to his workshop to get a dremel and he comes in, plugs in the lead and tells me that he is going to be obnoxious for a short while he makes some noise. Then he looks at me and says, you’re probably used to me already being obnoxious aren’t you. I laugh and say ‘that’s funny’ but nothing else. He cuts the end of the screw off, which is holding one of the door hinges on. I immedayley feel better because he was admitting that he is obnoxious and feel less bad about myself conintually chiming on in this diary about his behavior. At least he can admit he is being an ass. Yes, I shouldn’t have reacted this evening at all to him bringing up stuff in my emails, that is my fault. He also said, and this is the most poignant thing of all, ‘well you didn’t expect to come out here all this way and meet normal people’. This is the point I have been writing about all of this time in the diary, that isolation obviously makes people behave in a certain way. Tomorrow I should now turn my attention to not taking photos or interviews but instead recording the sounds of the day. Right now Sky is playing his video games upstairs and has asked his Mom to come upstairs to watch. He usually shouts down to his mom when she is in the kitchen “Mom”. She replies “Yes, Sky?” Mom, d you love me?” “Yes, I love you Sky”. He then tells her to come upstairs to his bedroom to to watch him play as video game and he gives a nonstop commentary of what is happening. He is funny I’ll give him that as he makes noises and swears. He says friggin alot, holy fuck etc etc. Going back to leaving the milling…we stop at the tree next to the far side of the lake and I put the old mukluks on of Romey’s. I ask them to kindly ride slowly across the lake and for David to go right along a trail and Sky to go ahead with Charley following behind on foot. I get up about 2/3rds of the way up the tree and feel it wobbling alot so stop and decide I am high enough. I ask them to start riding forward and take photos both zoomed in and wide angle. My hands get extremely cold even though I am wearing thermal liners and green work gloves David has lent me. I climb down making sure to look at every branch I tread on as I cannot afford to fall out. I take off the mukluks and put my Baffins on and walk back across the lake to the cabin. It is a really gorgeous day with a deep blue sky that reminds me of Patagonia for some reason and bright hot sun even though it is -10C. I go back into the cabin and Sky wants to know how the photos look. I say I haven’t had time to check yet and Sky is surprised. David and Romey have only been back in the cabin for no more than 5 mi utes and are talking about someone with no face. It sounds as though it is about a girl, another person who said they hd no face but then pulled one out and stuck it on. Just pulled a face out of their pocket and put in on Romey says. Sky asks what they are talking about but they don’t reply. I get the impression it has something to do with me because David is always saying that I am a part of their organism because I am living with them here and that they talk about me every night. My impression from what they say is that in some way they are saying that I am two faced but 1. don’t believe that because I am nit and 2. the world doesn’t revolve around me so why would they be talking about me.

00:38am I’m about to go to sleep. I’ve spent the evening writig tis diary and getting editing my work up to date. The boot room is stifling hot and I have had to turn the stove down again to position 1. My teeth are brushed and I take 2 more Melotonin, I check the label to see whether taking it long term is harmful and it doesn’t mention it but it isn’t for under 16 years old. It included chamomile and some kind of tea as well as melotonin and the label says it is a vitamin. At some point I need to stop taking it though as it isn’t good and I need to sleep naturally and normally. And go to bed at 10pm like in the UK and get up at 7am instead of bed at 1am and up at 12pm! Breakfast at 4:30pm is messing me up


and I need to be my own person again soon. The things I do for art! I just stuck my head out of the boot room tiny window to cool down. IT is a beautiful clear night, -22C and it seems as though the moon is full by how much light there is. The moon is behind the house so I can’t tell and I pause before closing to take deep breaths of the cool air. I realize that I will look back on this time here with fond memories but right now I am tired and stressed. It could be a relaxing situation here if I was able to sleep in my own place nearby, a small cabin or walled tent with stove. The fact is that I haven’t seen anyone else for over 2 weeks now and I have been living on top of this family for every hour of 12 hours a day. It’s natural that now we are all feeling slightly strained with one another but soon I will be leaving. I feel as though I am dreaming right now because the remoteness won’t hit me until I am flying out I think. I know that if I had had more time on my own, to walk places and think and witness nature I would be feeling differently. It is almost a wasted journey in a way because I haven’t been able to really soak up the feeling of wilderness. Instead I have been in the house alot and when I do go outside it is usually rushed wth David and no time to just sit and stare at stuff. The far away Kokrine mountains look so gorgeous in the distance and they make me romanticize about memories of the mountains in Tin City near Wales village and the feelings that project gave me. Apart from alot of talk and the milling and going up Bucket Hill there isn’t too much else that happens here. I watched a slideshw of my work this evening and I am reasonably happy with my work from this visit. I always expect more fro my work and, despite knowing I now have enough for a BBC piece and that the work is good enough, cannot help feel that I should be producing better work than this. I do feel however that I have covered literally aspect of living out here and that I have enough words to go with the images. If every shot I took was like the one of Romey with her notepad with foot up at the window I’d be very happy. As it is many shots are high ISO because of low light and I purposefully haven’t used flash for this project as it would kill the atmosphere. I hope that I am able to document the ALCAN in the summer because that will put me back in a remote, moyntainuse terrain and will be more fun because I get to motorcycle and I won’t be with any one person for much time. I should be happy though, I have the New York Times magazine living off grid piece to look forward to seeing, this piece going online, the Firstsite exhibition and David Jurys catalogue of it, and coming back to Alaska and Canada fir the summer project. Then I have to choose a winter project and that all hopefully make 4 projects shown by the BBC this year. Despite it being beuatufoul here I just need to leave now to get this work edited, words added and uploaded online. Then I can relax.

13 March 2017

9:07am. I’ve been up since 4:58am. As usual cannot sleep despite taking Melatonin. I make a green tea and eat a cookie. The temperature on the outside gauge is -28C and the inside of the boot room double glazed windows are icing up. I decide to open my laptop to try and complete as much of the I-539 US Immigration form to change my visa status to Foreign Media (Journalist ‘i’ visa). After doing as much as I can with that I also begin to resize and adjust tone/contrast for my choice of photos from this project. I try to automate the entire folder to begin with, to save time, but instead this wastes time as I don’t have full control of what I want to do to every image. Instead I have to do it manually, the same as every other time. I plan to watermark each image too and copyright them for when I give the Atchleys copies. There is no way I will give them every image or full size and I hope by watermarking them it will prevent them from being able to publish them ever. I’ve done all of this


work myself and paid a fortune to get out here. On top of that I’ve brought them over $100 worth of gifts so they should be grateful. I’m going back to bed for a bit to sleep if I can sleep before the menace comes downstairs.

2:31pm. The interesting thing is respect and routine. Before I arrived I subtly paved the way for my arrival by firstly asking if I needed to bring my own food with me. No, I was given a list of supplies from Romey that grew and grew until the day before I flew. But I was told that feeding one extra mouth wasn’t a problem and that I shouldn’t bring any food. I did tell them that low blood sugar level can bite me if I dom’t eat regularly and Romey confirmed that she suffers the same deal. But now it is 2:30pm in the afternoon and breakfast is still in the process of being cooked. I woke early this morning and ate a cookie then when I got up at midday I made a pilot bread with peanut butter and raisins. I’m glad I did as I am now about to freak out as it’s approaching mid afternoon and still no food in sight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be here but sleep and food are such basic human requirements for survival that I shouldn’t really be talking about this. I guess this is the deal, living with hippies and why I could never be one, life is short and theres stuff I want to appreciate and enjoy and create. This morning ‘the Romey and I’ discussion starts and I let it flow for a quarter hour before butting in to ask another question as part of my interviews. It’s about trail breaking for a caption for there photos of the family up Bucket Hill recently. Like all captions it is lengthy but I’d rather have more words than fewer as it gives choice for Phil to choose from and will make any future book interesting. 11:17pm. I only went outside today to defecate, at last, and to fetch in 4 armfuls of wood. David went out to mill again in the burn zone on the other side of the lake so I took the advantage to take the rare occasion to interview Romey. I wanted a caption to go along with the photos of her dressed in blue outside when we went trail cutting. It was a god interview and only ended when David came back to have a coffee and check up on us. As soon as he came in he started talking so I had no more opportunity to interview Romey but I got enough today. Romey emailed her Dad to add more phone minutes to the satellite phone as it was down to 18 minutes and when it gets low they like to top it up in case there is an emergency. They mentioned that they were going to check their emails so I asked to look out for one from Brad. He had written and said it should work that he can pick me up in Sunday or Monday. I replied to say that Sunday or Monday is good but that he can also pick me up anytime as I have all the material I need from here. I also said I’d appreciate he pick me up on a sunny day as I need good aerials to photo the cabin here as we leave. A blue sky will give a good sense of location and isolation which I didn’t get when I landed because visibility was so low. I feel tired and rough today and know that it is because I am not taking much exercise and that I am not eating nearly enough. Today was a small plate of fried diced potatoes and scrambled egg and the leftover cornbread and chili from yesterday. A small bowls worth. I estimate I am getting no more than 1000 calories a day. After interviewing Romey I worked on resizing my choice of photos from this project so far. There are 303 but it is taking ages to manually resize and adults auto tone and auto contrast. I’m being as careful as I can but its one of those brain numbing jobs. Occasionally, rather than just click click click quickly as I blitz through photos I have to double check the effect of auto tone on photos taken under fluorescent lighting as it can really make the image look too blue and cold. On one had the family here are really welcoming and kind. But on the other hand David talks too much and he is also very opinionated. Today I mentioned to Rmey that initially I had felt bad about asking David and Skly to dress traditionally and walk through the burn zone with snow shoes because I


know they bdidnt like it. But in fact Romey says that Sky did;t mind but he was just cold that day as he hands got cold holding the rifle wth his beaver mitts. And David Romey explains didn’t like it because he does;t like being told what to do. But you know what, I’m tired of writing about how his character winds me up. It doesn’t matter. I’m lucky to be allowed to come out here and I will be sad to leave. I’ve had an amazing chance to document the family and I believe I have done my best. Lots of interviews, lots of writing, lots of photos and lots of diary writing. Plus I have so far recorded one audio tape of them singing, playing video games, Charley howling and them talking over a film. I recorded David and Sky giving an almost non stop running commentary over the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill. They did;t seem to realize I was recording and carried on talking. I genuinely found it amusing and then afterwards I recorded them playing the video game ‘cars’. I thought it would be a good sound track to be played in elevators rather than then cheesy music you hear in public buildings. I think David knows I am recording them all but he doesn’t seem to remind too much. Whilst Sky is playijh his games withnhs dad today he says crabby house guest and it made be aimed at me. That’s far enough but they cannot see hw thet are being with me. Nit Romey as she is great but David swigs from being funny, although obviously funny for the sake of it, and which makes us all laugh, to droning on about philosophy and how he is so intelligent. Sky also is treating Charley badly and being angry with her became she doesn’t want to sleep in his room because he gets violent when he plays Grand Theft Auto and shouts. Romey tries to explain to Sky that when he shouts Charley thinks he is getting mad at her but there is no convincing him at all. He even puts up a small grey plastic gate across the entrance to his room space at night so she cannot walk down his stairs. Its really sad to see because Charley is a really beautiful dog and very intellegent but obvipusy she can’t differentiate between his shouting at a video game or shouting at her. Its to just shouting but he’ll also bounce up and down on his bed and this upset her. I did some recording today but need to do more before I leave as it is very interesting from a psychologists point of view I think. After David and Romey had played cars with Sky he called for me to come up so I just watched him play Grand Theft Auto as he did;t offer to play a game with me. I asked him if he could go to his home in GTA and take his wife out on a date but instead he stole a car to get hime, then rode a motorbike up the stairs on in the inside of his house. Rode the bike into his wifes bedroom, rode the bike onto the bed and on tip of his wife who appeared to have been sleeping but then did;t move an then he blew her up with explosives. When she was on fire he blew her up again and I have to say I found it horribly funny that he could do such a thing. Then he chased his daughter outside whilst trying to shoot her with the mini gun, but he missed and shot lots of police with a mini gun before blowing himself up. It’s so ironic that he is in a beautiful location and barely leaves the house, instead preferring to kill people in a fake city environment whilst shouting that people are stupid. Today is the first day I realized I haven;t taken any photos apart from the day I landed. I feel as this project is now over although obviously I still have loads of potential to take other images. I am tired from not sleeping properly but am compelled to write this even though I misspell almost every words and can barely focus on the screen. David knows that I am winding down now and told me to enjoy my stay here but I cannot. I am always like this and cannot relax properly. before a project I have anticipation because I have yet to do anything. Whist I’m on a project I have anticipation because I’m treeing to do the best I can and the afterwards I have to make sure I edit it properly and tweak it right in Photoshop prior to uploafihg it for Phil Coomes. I a looking at my work today and thinkihg that some images aren’t sharp enough, mainly because alot of the time I need a high shutter speed which means a high ISO and thus more noise. I’m in the boot room looking around and whishig that all the rooms in the building where dark like this and characterful. Other rooms have bright garish paint and I’d prefer rooms like the ones I photographed in Patagonia. I feel as though I am almost achieving what I set


out to get with my work here but the photos are too normal. But that us what life is like here, there is nothing myserteous about the cabin or the outside buildings or in nature. It’s all pretty straight forward. The resizes I have made today seem to lack quality so I might try making them 96dpi instead of 72dpi. I also have to be careful when using auto tone and auto contrast as it makes interiors look blue. Well, I am really tired now and discontent because I don;t go outside much today and feel as though I am letting myself down somehow. I guess that out of 300 images Phil can definitely choose 20 really powerful ones so I must have enough. Maybe I should make a separate folder of the images I really prefer over all the others. If I see those and that I also have enough now then maybe I will feel better. It’s -18C outside right now and 12:33am. Everyone is coming down at 1am was as usual to play guitar so I will try to get to sleep by then with my earplugs. Perhaps if breakfast was at a normal time and I went to sleep every night at 10am then I’d want ti stay longer here but as it is I want to leave. It feels like a waste of an opportunity but I honestly feel that I have explored every possibility here apart from snow machining all the way to another of David’s cabins but I feel that would be tempting fate. He’s pretty chaotic and forgetful and if we did 20 miles by snow machine to a cabin to photograph and something went wrong there is no way to call Romey for help as David has no satellite phone when he is out and about. And would another cabin be interesting to photo? Yes, a cabin all on its own, barely used would make a great photo but getting there would be a struggle though deep snow and the trail might need to be cleared again in order to get there.

14 March 2017

8:54am. It’s -29C this morning. I have been a wake for quite a while but finally roused myself to get up and the first thing I do is put another blank audio cassette into the old Sony recorder I bought in Trelew, Patagonia in 2006. I fished a tape yesterday of Sky playing ‘Cars’ with David and Romey and at some point when Romey was playing it got to its end and automatically stopped recording whilst I was washing up. I have left the recorder on the back of the couch I sleep on so I am ready to press record if David comes to sit next to me in the morning whilst he starts with ‘Romey and I’ and then his philosophy and then hopefully I can break in with some questions for interviews. The view is beautiful today, there is a medium dark grey sky then with a much lighter contrast pinkish band underneath it. Below that the mountains are a stark white with a slight pink hue and I gaze at them with bare feet on an uninsulated plywood floor so I don’t stand around for too long. I heat water in the kettle, two scoops of water from the green plastic bucket, for a green tea and I make a pilot bread with peanut butter and thick raisins on top. They could actually be dried cherries but I can’t tell the difference. I sit on the couch and type this. It is cold in the boot room this morning and ice is on the inside of the double glazed windows. I’ve been going through my mind what I have to do today, edit my photos. I want no moe than 300 in total, in a web album and from those I will also select a further 40 for another web album as my favorites. From those it might be easier for Phil to choose 20 for a news piece. I’m not happy that the house has such gross, garish colors in it, as it spoils the effect of old fashioned remoteness and looks like it could be anywhere at all. I’d have preferred the interior of a very old log cabin throughout the building. The boot room as I call it has this effect but it is a tiny cabin in this part and can’t be shown as the only living quarters, even though it used to be back in the 70’s and 80’s before Davd added on to it. I have decided that I will be firm with David and that I


won’t give him every single photo I have taken. Instead I will give him 300 with the excuse that I have to correct and resize every one in Photoshop before I can hand the out. I’m also not in the habit of handing all my photos out to people in bulk. If I gave them all of my interviews to check also that would mean I would be giving them all of my work as that would be just dumb. In effect I’d be giving them a book, its a simple as that and I’m not sure they realize that. David has used the excuse that he has fed me all of this time as a way to get me to hand over my work. But I also brought $130 worth of gifts with me and the food here has been minimal, exemplifies but the fact that in 18 days I have only properly defecated twice. I am not consitpated at all and my body is using every bit of food that is going into it. When I do take consitpation tablets only a very small amount of loose stool comes out so this is the sign that there is nothing to vacate. Although I feel weak and tired at least I am losing weight, something I Need to continue with in Anchorage before returning to the UK. Right now I intend to continue editing my images down and make more interviews today to tie this project up. Apart from venturing out 20 miles to another of Davids cabins nothing else strikes me as interesting or worthwhile to photograph. I might stage another ‘dress up’ posed photo with the Atchleys, this time on the lake next to a large tree stump that washed in via the creek apparently. Did I write that David saids again to me yesterday ‘you didn’t expect to come out here and meet normal people did you?’ That is true, of course I didn’t expect to meet normal people at all, that’s partly why I came out here. But I didn’t realize one wouldn’t stop talking and would be an egomaniac. I’d still have come out as it is worthwhile to witness their lives but it sure has been hard work and uncomfortable. I was thinking when I woke up about David’s dislike of the internet and how perhaps it must rub up against his ego as it is such a large thing and within it, if he used it, he would flounder and have nothing to say. Then I think about how everything good that has happened to me, in my photography, has been due to the internet and how I do enjoy using it. Part of the reason too, why I want to live now asap is because I don’t know what is happening in the world and I would like to check my emails. Anything could be happening and I wouldn’t know. Romey does listen to ‘world’ news every morning in bed after David has got up but ‘world’ news in america actually only means American news as the whole world (is supposed to) revolves around it and most americans forget there are actually other countries out there besides it. It is now 9:24am and I have to get on with editing. David will be up soon, I actually think I heard him peeing into a bucket next door so I either have to go back to sleep so I can rest until midday or face the consequences of being up when he comes to make his first coffee. That;s another thing. He makes himself an espresso every midnight to drink, it;s not surprising he is crazy.

7:59am Had a good day. No time to write much as we are watching Vol.2 of Kill Bill. Last night was Vol.1 with a non stop running commentary which I recorded in part. The secret to today’s success was that I interviewed David about philosophy for at least one hour. I had tried to interview him about what he does with his trash here as I am spending these last days here making sure I tie up all loose ends and ask about every little aspect of their lives. Instead, because David got started as usual with philosophy before me breaking in to ask my questions I decided to run with it and so grabbed my recorder and asked him to go in depth about what he has learnt in isolation over the last 18 years. It was a good call and the right thing to do. I recorded what I feel is a concise account of his thoughts from beginning to end with an appropriate concilsuon about philosophy and on Side B of the cassette I decide to additionally ask David about what the future holds and what answers he has for humanity in living. I didn’t mean to ask him extra as I was so pleased with Side A but I wanted his philosophy


ideas first and then it occurred to me that I should also ask about the practical sides to living off grid too, for the future. Philip concluded with mankind needed to grow up and a practical solution for living off grid in the future conclusion was simply get out to the wilderness. David seemed to love the flattery Romey and I heaped upon him at the end of the interview and really this is all he has wanted since I arrived. To feel acknowledged for his thoughts and for what he says. Romey also adds her thoughts too but not too much as David is on a role and talks fluidly and non-stop for the whole time and I have to really strain my face to make him realize that I am about to ask a question. I am listening intently so am able to steer the interview by asking qwuestions to which I know how he will answer. That’s steering. Ask a question to which has an extreme opposite and you will get the required result. Afterwards Romey listens to the radio for Iditarod results as it finishes today. David makes himself a second coffee and adds Irish Cream liquor and also Kahula. I ask why and he says he is in a good mood and he just feels like drinkig some alcohol. It feels like breakfast since we haven’t eaten yet but actually it is at least 2:30pm by now. This is a routine that I still am not happy with and never will be because 1. I have to eat as soon as I wake up, which is always at 7am if not before and 2. there is too much to do during the day and it is such a waste of time and daylight to only get out of the house at 3pm onwards everyday, if you’re lucky enough to eat breakfast by 4:30pm. We talk about cancer and I mention my old friend Colin who died in late 2013. He was similar to David in his thoughts and ideas and I realize that I miss him alot. Romey makes 7 grain cereal for breakfast with sliced apricot and honey.

11:10pm Back from watching Kill Bill Vol.2 which we never got to the end of because Sky had to break to play a game upstairs with his Dad. Not only that but all the way though the film the movie player pauses on the Mac laptop so every 30 seconds the movie picture stops for 4 seconds but the sound continues. It’s stuff like this that pisses me off when I’m tired more than anything. And after Sky is satisfied he has played his game about wth his Dad, and I have done all the washing up again, we resume watching the movie but it starts to pause more frequently until it comes to a halt. It is 11pm Romey says so time for her to read for one hour to Sky, the same as every evening. At this time David goes outside to fetch the generator in as he runs it very night from 7 - 11. Then he loads the fire up in the boot room stove but he has let it go out tonight so he goes back and forwards forgetting to take his hat off, then fetching a towel from a cupboard in the corner of the room behind the pee bucket curtain. I am tired as usual but wish to simply write todays account and go to bed. A flame flickers to life through the blackened glass windown of the stove and the stove lights itself so that hioefully David doesn’t have to come back and mess around with it. Now I’ll go back to after breakfast, mid afternoon. I have asked David this morning if I can take one last photo of the family before I leave. I had wanted the to lose next to the large tree stump out on the frozen lake, the stump that washed in from the creek before freeze up. But I realize that actually a better, less contrived shot, would be of them travelling left to right again through black spruce but take the photo from slightly above so the viewer can see landscape traveling off behind them. I ask if we can take Davids home made ladder with us in the sled to the bottom of the old trail leading up Bucket Hill where we were recently but David knows of a better place where he wants to show me. He tells me and Romey that he will take me to check out the area to see if the place he has in mind is appropriate. He’s in the best mood he has been in for ages today, he’s had some alcohol to drink and is happy I fully know that he was at last able to speak his philosophy and be praised for it. It’s like a pressure valve has been opened. David comes back to check on the fire and then sweeps the floor at my feet. I have been doing this


since I got here and say I will do it but he insists. It’s one of those evenings when everyone is just being really fuckng annoying. Upstairs Sky bangs the thin floor above me wit his feet as his mother reads him the story and I can see the sheets of plywood above me bounce uo and down. He screams and shreiks as Romey reads an exciting part and in the background, unseen I can hear David stomping around. Both he and Romey have just drunk coffee and everyone seems to be on overdrive and it’s almost midnight. I also feel a draft as Romey has complained that she is burning up so David has opened the door on the other side of the cabin, even though it is -21C. Again I did;t eat enough tonight, Rimey cooked roast moose, baked potato and canned runner beans and gravy. Romey says I can eat the last cookie tonight so I eat that but it’s a tiny biscuit and I have a real craving for something sweet right now. I’m considering sucking on a couple of my vitamins which are sugar coated. Yes, I do also have 5 Clif Bars and 5 Combat Crunch energy bars tucked away in my Snugpak Monster Kit bag but I am saving those in case the shit hits the fan and I have to walk out of here or snow machine out. You never know what might happen and I feel happier knowing I have my own supplies if something bad happened, which could keep me going for 3 days if it came to it. Anyway…I need to write about earlier today. Sky stays behind with Romey today because there is a steep hill that he doesn’t like which is on the route David and I will take. David and I go out to start the snow machines and he busts his choke switch off his machine so I have to hold it out with a pair of pliers. It’s weird how snow machine manufacturers make parts for snow machines that break in extreme cold even though snow machines are designed to be used in extreme cold. We ride out, him on his twin cylinder Skandic Ski-Doo 550 Rotax and me on the single cylinder Tundra II 277cc. Despite being a small engine it is very light, easy to handle and surprisingly fas and capable in deep snow. We head out the back of the land around the cabin instead of going out the front of the cabin and onto the lake. I have never been out on this trail before and we head through tight trees. There is a trail but it hasn’t been snow machined on since before David rode to Ruby before I arrived. Small branches threaten to snap into your faces as we move and I am glad I have I have a pair of goggles that my US army friend mailed to me in Anchorage. Also it is bright sunlight and sunglasses weather. The goggles have a tint to them so I don’t have to squint and I don’t have sunglasses with me anyway so I’m glad to have them. We ride across large lakes, through black spruce and across more lakes. It’s a brilliant day and I am the gladdest I have ever been since arriving. This isn’t for taking photos today but a reccy to check out locations for tomorrow so it’s a bit of fun. In the past I had hassle riding in Davids’ wake from his snow machine as my front skis are too wide for his the path his machine has made and my machine threatens to jump into deep snow at speed. For ages I totally relax and and don’t concentrate on worrying about the threat of crashing. When I start to think about it though I rock from side to side and have to slow right down. I catch David up as he has stopped for the first time to tell me about the area. By now I am holding the end of the Olympus action camera in my teeth,. I have threaded a piece of parachord through the end of the camera and am able to bite onto the parachord knot to hold the camera upright and pointing forwards. I have no harness or bracket to hold it or fix it to the snow machine nor can I attach it to my head, hat or clothing so holding it in my mouth is the only solution. Obviously I am busy using both hands to steer to cannot clutch it. I make 4 videos in total but the damn camera stopes recording every time at 7 minutes and 15 seconds Why I don’t know yet and I will have to check the manual but it is damn annoying as I recoded a great moment today when we rode up to a moose that had been killed by wolves. The moose had been eaten by many animals form all over the area. Now it is midnight and Romey has stopped reading to Sky and they are in the kitchen fixing up food to eat. They either eat cereal, cake, cookies or candy at this time of the night. Romey made Zucchini bread this afternoon and I was offered a slice back then. It tastes great and now she offers Sky another slice. I wish she’d offer me a slice too! The moose has


all of its ribs missing from the side that is upwards as it lies on its side. There is fur lying around and part of the skull is exposed and the teeth. The eyeball is missing and that area has been picked clean. It’s intestines haven’t been touched at all and are a massive mass of frozen green bags. It’s amazing how the ribs have been gnaw through. I see a length of spruce branch on the ground lying across the body which David hasn’t picked up on. I see that its end has been sawn with a chain saw, that a human has done this and, since now spruce is growing nearby, remark that it is very weird. David agrees and we discuss it for a long time. All the while I am holding the Olympus action camera in my hand as though I am filming this. I stick my finger in the moose eyeball socket, rub it;s stained brown teeth, feel the partly frozen meat of it’s body and generally try to get an idea od when it might have died. Our conversation keeps on coming back to the spruce branch and David gets serious and worried. He doesn’t want me to show anyone the film from this (I don’t realize at this point that the camera has stopped recoding) because he is afraid that if Fish and Wildlife find out that they will use it as an excuse to tell him to leave the refuge. I don;t understand what he means but finally it dawns on me that he is worried that F9sh and Wildlife don’t like him living on the wildlife refuge here and will use any excuse they can get to get rid of him. He says he finds it weird that this moose is lying here dead so close to the time that Brad will be picking me up. What he is insinuating is that, possibly, someone has killed this moose on purpose and left it here to be discovered by Fish and Wildlife when Brad comes to collect me. I say that it is obvious that animals killed this moose and that id Dvaid had done it that he would be eating it at home already. David is only allowed to kill one moose a year within the huntingg season. Because he already has a moose and it is outside of hunting season it means that potentially he could be accused of killing it. It sounds highly dubious to me but the spruce brach with the chainsaw cut on it makes him highly suspicious and he says that his friend Sam always says to think of the worst thing that could be the cause or could happen in a situation like this. I pose for a photo wearing Davids .44 revolver as it is always a good look for a photo for my sponsors and people in the UK get a kick out of seeing a weapon being publicly worn by a Brit abroad as guns are so illegal in Britaun. David then finds another branch near the front of my snow machine with more chainsaw marks on it and he loads both branches onto the back of his snow machine to take away. Leaving branches with human cut marks on next to a dead moose could raise suspicion. It is an extremely beautiful day here and thrilling to known that no other human beings are within a hundred miles (or 35 miles as the crow flies to Ruby). As David says, if anything bad happens there aint no help coming. Before we left the house David and Romey do their little arrogant joke t each other abut hw they shoud leave me out there to fend for myself to see just how tough it can be, and because I am tired of their snide remarks I explain that they should believe me when I say I have had enough bad experiences in my life not to get stuck out all alone in the Alaska bish. I trhn recount the times again totem when I walked into mine fields in Afghanistan so if they think breaking down is bad in a remote place in Alaska then it doesn’t compare to fearing for your life 24 hours a day in a war zone. But of curse they don;t understand, how coulld they! So now I am making mistakes with my spelling and I am too tired to write this but I have ti finish. If I can just keep this up for 4 more days it means I have been writing for a month and will then match the Patagonia diary. David, if yu get to read this far, I an writing this just for you in the hope you will make a book of this. After we leave the moose we walk up to a bit of fur lying the tracks of many wolevs and other animals that have visited the area to eat whatever they can take from the moose. I hold it up to my face like a big mustache and David suggest he take a photo of me but I can’t be bothered. We then carry on to the Novi river and as we crest its banks in order to ride down onto it we see many many animal tracks from all over the area leading to where the moose was tracked down and killed. david thinks by looking at the tracks that wolves followed the moose down the river and herded it up the bank to a more closed area to kill


it. We rode north ip the Novi as try sun swigs around to the west and David throws the Spruce branches into a frozen slough so that any evidence of humans is gone. We don;t know why this branches are there but david thinks there were carried by water in a flood last August. I say surely if the branch was carried by water last year that there would no longer be spruce needles on the branches? But he says there would be. The most curious thing of all is that an animal has bitten off many of the spruce needles and dumped them all around where the moose body is lying. david has never seen this before and nor I have I obviously. I joke that the animals were eating the spruce needles for dessert because the moose tasted bad and he jokes the spruce is acting like a spice to go along with the meat. We ride to the slough on the river and David talks some more about who are the nearest people living to here. Then we ride back without stopping as David wants to drink coffee. This is the kind of day I enjoy, riding a snow machine through a large expanse of remote country in beautiful weather. It’s also good to see some hills and features that stand out. Riding down the river is like being on a wide flat white road with thick forest on either side. It is exciting and I wonder what the river looks like further on around the bends at either direction. David says that it is 47 miles to the mouth of the Yukon from here. That;s one hell of a snow machine ride or walk. I can’t help but imagine that animals are watching us as we move down the river and if 30 wolves ran after us that we;d be toast. Or even just 15 wolves. Sky has been playing his keyboard and Romey is quiet as she listens about the moose. Then David goes back out to get firewood and takes Sky. Sky qwishws he had gone wiith us as he would have envied seeing the dead moose and all the animal tracks. The only other thing about this evening is that we eat baked potatoes with tender roast moose and David leaves his potato skin. I ask why and he says he is a picky eater. I remember how Mrs. Bindloss shamed me into eating baked potato skins way back in 1973 and that although David says he had a bad childhood, that he must have been spoilt if he still is a fussy eater now. Obviously he has no clue at all about how damn tough I had it at boarding school in the mid 70’s. David maintains he is the big tough outdoor man and clever philosopher but he cannot eat a potato skin! Seriously!? It;s the best bit! All I have to add t this is that David is a totally normal, unegotistical man when outside in nature but as soon as he is inside an within earshot of Romey he has to act the macho guy. It’s now 12;47am and -25C. I don’t ave a problem with avid been though it must read like that. I just have a problem with peoples egos as it pisses me off. I just have to add that Sky is upstairs sitting in a squeaky armchair that rocks backwards and forewards and shooting one of his many Nerf guns. I am sorry to class these people as freaks but it is starting to feel ths way. I am so damn mad at not being able to sleep properly at a normal time and eating late. It is 12;52am and soon they will all come downstairs to pay guitar for an hour until 2pm. I will be glad to leave here and get my independence and sanity back.

15 March 2017

11:17am. David is actually here sitting next to me and I am typing this. I have to write this less I forget. Yesterday I asked them who they think they are. To give me a short bio of themselves, how they wish to represent themselves to people reading about them. I asked ‘who are you’ but I find a note written down om the side board in the kitchen which reads ‘what am I?’. I’m curious as to how that translation has already been lost. Is it because of their egos that they have already changed the question to what they think of themselves? Or did they mishear me because they don’t listen to me at


all properly? And is that a part of their ego? I’m slightly pissed off because already Sky has changed his answer slightly and I feel that what he said was affected by what he heard his mother saying about herself. She described herself as water and he described himself as wind. I tell David that wish I had asked them indiviusally in private who they think they are, or rather how they’d like to be viewed by others. I realize that what Romey told me, and what Sky heard her say about her say, influenced his reply to me. I wish I had asked him in private as I would have gotten a completely different answer. David even backtracks by standing up for Sky and saying that Sky has written his reply down before he came downstairs to join the conversation. So why didn’t Sky bring the paper down with him I ask? David says because Sky memorized it. Obviously there was no paper and Sky was only coping what his Mother had said. David is saying right now next to me that when you don’t have an undesrtasdnig of yourself it is hard to identify yourself wth only one single thing and it is hard for them to relate in common language. The who is just the roles we play David says and that is what I wanted to hear and they immediately went to the next step he says I guess…to go to what the are. Which is one in my opinion which is about ego and how great they are and not modest at all. He is saying that it is interesting that they don’t identify themselves with a who. We definitely deel alot wth what and how as opposed to who and why David says. I have noticed that the more annoyed he gets the more he loudly slurps his coffee and holds the mug with two hands as opposed to one. If life was just a realization where was the why he says. This is how screwed my questions become. I start off simply and they very quickly splat off the side of a cliff. The who comes with what identity I pick at the moment David says Romey said. Those questions because irrelevant he says. So my job has been a tough one here because all my questions get questioned and then they answer how they want to answer. It has been to fight to get any answer at all, especially to the mist basic everyday ones which is what is needed for the BBC piece. Davids stands up and again says ‘what am i’ is an interesting question he says. I find this highly amusing since he still doesn’t get the question which is to answer ‘who am i?’ 1:02pm. I manage to ask David another basic question, what a day in his life entails. I have to push him 3 times to give me times of when he does things and I can tell he is hesitant to say, even though I know them, because he is obviously ashamed of how late they get up and go to bed. I now realize that our conversations dictate how the day goes. He admits that he feels the need to somehow vent his thoughts and telling me is the way he can do it. But obviously he points out that I don’t understand what he is saying and this is what frustrates him. He doesn’t actually say that I don’t understand but this is what he implies. From what he is saying I have understood that he is a brain snob ad has;t actually said anything whilst I have been here of any significance. All he does is pontificate ad theorize about his ideas without actually saying what they are. So basically he is always maintaining how more intelligent he is than others but dosestn really say why and what difference that makes to anybody apart from him. And what I have also gathered is that everything he says in the house is about his huge ego but outside he is just a regular guy. In part I feel it is a way to impress Romey as it is like some kind of a mating ritual. Right now I can hear him talking to Romey about the ‘who am i’ question and he is saying that it isn’t a case of ‘who am i’ but rather ‘what am i’ and that my original question doesn’t make sense. I can hear him talk as though he thinks I cannot hear him and he is being patronizing. Again, this is what I am up against. Because of all of their egos I cannot even ask a simple question and get a simple answer. Because of their inflated idea of themselves they have turned it around and made it into a big thing. They don’t want just say who they are and I can hear David saying that I want an answer like what their roles are, like a photographer etc. Fuck that he says. So even now it keeps coming back to ‘what am I’ David says. I have asked this question so that people can see quickly who they are without reading all of their lengthy interviews. Instead what I have is a pretentious answer which is coming from the other way. David is saying that I don’t have


the understanding of what the words mean and is talking about walking through the doorway of understanding. But I have yet to explain that the average person reading about them, in David and Romey’s and Sky’s own words, will no doubt all think they are a pretentious bunch of twats. I was saying that the ‘morning’ conversation with David affects the day and now he is talking in-depth with Romey about ‘why, what and how’ I am and then original question is completely blown out of the water. It’s being turned inside out and adapted to how they view themselves which is pseudo intellectual. Why is it so important for them to be seen in such an inflated way by other people. The answer I was hoping for was obviously not what they gave as they gave no time to understanding what I had asked and completely devised their own ideas of what I had asked without undersdtandinhg. I am witnessing a day to day hypocrisy of there words which even comes up in David’s audio interview abut the ‘want’ which is a words he says he never uses and then does use, continues to talk, then pauses, realizes that he used that word and then apologizes for it. It’s these slip ups that show what he says is not the truth and not infallible. Right now he is talking about synchronistic particles. All I wanted is a small bio about themselves. I look at Rome’s book for a bio about her and re-read her Acknowledgments page. There are 7 paragraphs and 4 begin with ‘I’. On the back cover is a small section ‘about the author’ and this is the kind of answer I wanted to my simple question yesterday. So now I am going to take the book to them in the next door room and show them what I meant and suffer the bulllshit of whatever they say. Never again will I go to a place where I don;t know the people and will ask why people laughed initially when I said I was coming out here and heed their reply. This is more hard work than it is worth and the results are not as good as they could be if these people don’t have their heads up their arses so much. I can say that I haven’t had a good dream since I got here. Either I’m in a dream involving stealing cars in Grand Theft Auto or, like last night, unable to take photos. I was in a place, like an eastern european city at night, I had been meeting with people and was most aware of having the vivid experience of walking down a street and then suddenly an amazing procession of many horses go by pulling many open backed wagons with coffins on. I want to photo them but they go b so fast they are gone. As I pull out my camera it gets massively tangled up and slows down my ability to take a photo. Then I find that the lens has come off the camera and in its place is the action camera lens which cannot be removed. Not only that but my pockets are full of apple juice and the Olympus E-M1 lens is submerged in sticky apple juice. Not only that but I am having to clutch a pair of wading rubber gum boots but also a guitar and I walk into an alcove which has steps that lead down into a basement. I put the guitar down and the boots and attempt to empt my pockets of the apple juice and by this time the procession of horses pulling coffins has gone. David and Romey are still talking about my original question and I can tell by the tone of their voices that they are talking like this to comfort themselves and thatbthey think they are better than everyone else. I realize that they are massively insecure and in the real world they would be nobody with nothing to offer apart from words that mean nothing to anyone. It’s all about having to identify and justify themselves even though they say there is no self in their identities. Right, here goes, I am going next door to show them Romeys book and that I meant this. I mean, I originally asked them for a small bio about themselves, about who they are. Instead they totally change the question to have to mean what they want to say. It’s a struggle and David Jury, I hope you realize this! I am glad I have this diary to write to otherwise I would go insane. It’s also a great record of what has gone on here, as far as trying to write down everyrthig, as it shows just how anal people will get while living in isolation. Every minute detail is discussed and gone over. Why? Because they have nothing else to talk about and they have the time to do so. Isn’t this a waste of life? As Sandy says…they are here doing nothing, just surviving and not being productive. Now I can hear David bringing up stores to Romey about how he was thrown out of his father’s funeral and


that people have no idea what he talks about and no comprehension of what is going on around them. I just feel that perhaps he has taken too much acid, pot and mushrooms in his life. It’s good to be at peace and understand your place in the world but to stand your own thoughts upside down day in day out doesn’t achieve anything.

6:28pm. Romey just made a roast moose sandwich for Sky and me and we atet it on the couch as Sky sat next me showing photos on his Mums laptop. We went out to take photos and I got some shots but not what I had imagined. When we get back David says it;s annoying isn’t it to not get something you wanted. If only you knew I think. The deal is I had told him what I wanted to do with a ladder and he completely ignored it. Instead of going out and allowing me to do it we instead went out yesterday looking for other places to get the same effect but it wasn’t what I wanted. Instead of allowing me to do give the photographer the opportunity to do what he needed he gets diverted to something else. If I relied on candid shots here I would barely have any photos as nothing goes on here. Every words spoken and every photo taken has been more of a hurdle than it ever should have been. Whilst out photographing through the trees I think I find a chaga and cut it off a birch tree but when I get to the snow machine I am mocked the it isn’t one. David says I knew you wouldnt have found a chaga Romey says how could I have known what one looks like since they never showed me what one looks like. They both mention it 3 times to the point that I want to scream. Every opportunity they have they stick the needle in. Once back David takes his frustration out on everything by going outside to cut lots of firewood and then comes in to beat the boot room chimney with a stick to unstick the carbon in the chimney and of course he hits it so hard that the chimney splits and flames come out. Panic ensues so he opens the front doors and takes out all the pans that stand on top of the stove. He then removes the chimney piece and drops the section above it down into the stove so now his chimney is one piece shorter in height above the roof. For someone that is the universe and is one with the universe he sure has an attitude. It’s more than time for me to leave already…ad I wish Brad could come right now to pick me up. But it is Wednesday and I have until Sunday or Monday before I can depart Brad has told me by email. I need to make some more interviews but I am pretty much done with photos now. There are so many I can take but I would have liked to have gotten the one I imagined of the family moving through the short black spruce but up high on a ladder resting against a black spruce so I could get a better visit of them in the remoteness. Oh, I forgot to write what Davids and ROmeys replies were when I went next door to show them Rome’s book and the ‘About the author’ write up about her on the back cover. I showed it to them and Rome’s reaction is “Oh, now that you mention it I do remember that you asked that”. This beyond hysterical now. Seriously?! All of this time has been wasted listentig to them both pontification about total bullshit and now, when I have to spell it out to them, they finally realize. Davids’ answer is obviously more complex and he then says that this is even harder to answer than the question yesterday of ‘what am i?’ even though the question was actually ‘who am i’. I guess that you, the reader, has gathered that now. David gives a massive long speech in his embarrassment at his obvious stupidity and harps on for almost an hour about how it is so hard to give an answer to what his mini-bio should be. He says that when you make the subconscious conscious that there is too much to think about. In normal Britsh terms anyone talking like this would be told they were having a nervous breakdown or that they’re being a pretentious twat. But in America this type of behavior is pretty common I have found. IT;s known as having an ego as big as the .45 pistol you just bought whilst grocery shopping in Walmart. David jokes that it’s pretty hard to photo his family and I


add that it;s pretty hard to talk to his family also. But you know what - as a photo journalist trying to do a his best it’s my job so see through the bulshit and present the best image I can of this family without making them look or sound dumb. It’s a thankless task! Right now I will add todays photos to the folder I have on my laptop desktop of what I have selected from this visit. It should easily be enough photography and writing. I feel as though there is more to do here but accept that I have reached the end of whatever everyone is happy to pose for. I’ve had my chance and it isn’t good enough I’ll have learnt a lesson. The kind of documentary I prefer is to interview many different people separately for a project and take no more than one hour per person. Being here with this one family, with then for over 12 hours everyday for 19 days so far is too much. Especially since David is such needless hard work. His place is definitely out here in the wild where he can do his own thing. He does want to leave a book behind of his findings in philopshy before he dies but appreciates that maybe nobody will read it or heed his ideas. He has also said two or three times that he tried for 3 years to get a philosophy professor to listen to his ideas and that when he finally did, on his death bed that he was impressed and his reaction was ‘wow’. For me however that neither impresses me much or changes my life. I also personally believe i stuff but I don’t think that shoving it down peoples throats will change the world so I don’t bother. In an attempt to appease David and give him the alpha male lead this morning before we go outside I do apologize that I am not as advanced in my work as he is. I say that certainly we do have parallels in what we do because we both look at life to see where we fit in and what it all means BUT I don’t even scratch the surface as opposed to him going in deep. To scratch the surface is to go deep he replies. I can’t even give the guy a compliment! He says that the way he looks at stuff is like lookig through the lenses of the hubble telescope into the whole of the universe. I say that I should look at basic practical stuff and could never match that. I never mentioned also yesterday that he’ll be acting egotistically in the kitchen and then when Romey gets the Zuchiinni bread of the oven and he tastes it he gets all sycophantic to her and says that he could never deserve such an amazing woman like Romey because she is such a good cook etc etc. The trouble is he sounds so false when he says this and it’s just plain creeping up to her. One minute he’s staying to her that he dream that he slept with 3 women in his dream and that she would have to leave here if she wanted internet and the next minute shouting her praises because she baked something else. And then the says twice in a row “Its great to be king!” It’s great to be king. And then a a pause and he adds and obviously he needs a great queen to be beside him. I almost say that he’s the great queen but stop myself.

11:23pm. I did the washing up again to night after Romey cooked moose, rice and a thai coconut milk sauce. It’s -27C right now but due to get colder apparently for 3 days. It’s high time I left here as relations are getting to the point that David is having time to begin to question how my work will be used in the BBC piece after I leave here. He spends alot of this afternoon outside today and is thinking heavily about the questions I have been asking him. No doubt whatsoever he is also feeling dumb for the ridicously pretentious answers he has been giving me and is perhaps regretting for acting like a dumbass. He comes in and begins to ask me about my work and I know instantly that there could potentially be a problem so I ask what is up and am keen to straighten this out. David sits on the steps from the kitchen down to the boot room and begins by saying that people generally judge people who go off to live in the woods as being crazy. I only give David the chance to say that without allowing him to continue so I can nip his fears in the bud before he gets it into his mind that he should stop me or ask for my photos or interviews. Romey has already said that she would like a copy


of the recording Imade of David talking yesterday and I am fearful that whilst I sleep they will take my recorder from my backpack and do a tape to tape of the audio cassette or simply take it. I have no way of stopping them unless I put the recorder in my monster kit bag to slow or stop their search. It has some zipped inside pockets which they wouldn’t know to check. I know they also want to have a copy of every photo I have taken here and that simply isn’t going to happen. I will make the excuse that I have to auto correct every photo before I hand them out to others and there are simply too many to go through. As I have said before, if I give them all of my photos and interviews then they can use the work for themselves however they want and why should they since I have done all the goddamn hard work here and have had to put up with David’s lengthy and boring crap talk. We watch the end of Kill Bill Vol.2 and David says several times that it has taken us 3 days to kill bill i.e. it has taken 3 days to watch both films. Whilst I’m washing up I stop to make notes on a small pad of paper about 4 points I must remember to add to this diary. 1. In my bid to tell David all about how great the BBC news piece will be about him and his family I end up telling them a story about walking out on patrol in Afghanistan at night wearing NVG’s (night vision goggles). I then explain about how I left my helmet behind at a checkpoint when the platoon I was embedded with had to run out to help the mortar platoon when they walked into a mine field and 2 paras lost their legs and one got killed. After I finish telling them this story, I think it was about the Fuji DSLR I bought which I took infra red photos with but I got sidetracked with the story about the mine field David says to me that he knows the feeling after I have described the feeling of being o patrol and being in fear of your life. David has told me a story recently about himself about being involved in a cocaine war when he was a cocaine dealer and who everybody was shooting at each other and this must be how he says he knows how I felt when in Afghanistan. This is how he says he knows what it is like. What a dumb egotistical cunt. Nobody knows what being in a war zone as dangerous as Afghanistan unless they had actually been there. He says that the drug shooting he was at needed up with people shooting but not at each other and nobody got hit. Everyday this guy pisses me off more and more with his chest beating bollocks. Seriously, how would this sad hippy tie dye aside head pontificating pillock know what going out on a night patrol is like at night wirth Afghan Special Forces and a 1 Para bloke and being fearful for your life. Fucking idiot. I try to like this guy but his ego just rubs me up something chronic. 2. So I spend some time trying to put his mind at ease about how good the BBC piece will be and I keep looking at his eyes to check whether he is getting it or not. Well, he doesn’t ever really use internet so he doesn’t have a clue. So later I ask Romey for the print out I handed her when I first arrived of the BBC Galena piece so they can see how a story about them would be similar. I assure him repeatedly that the news piece will be good for him and is family and that it will be solely positive and that it will bring him respect and that he can use the link to the BBC piece in the future to send to people which will give him kudos. 3. Earlier today he tells me that when I leave here if people ask me how it was the all I need to answer with is that it was ‘nice’. If he is worried I will tell everyone what an amazingly annoying egotistical wanker he is then he has every right to be worried. How can anyone normal stay with him, have to put up with his proud talk and then ,leave without telling anyone about their painful experience?! But after tonight and more talks of which I will mention in a minute I have decide that I might just say absolutely nothing at allot anyone about mu stay here apart from David Jury. If I do tell people I will lose integrity so better to keep my mouth shut, have people see the BBC piece and then quietly move on to the next project. Of course I will be keen to vent to everyone what a fuking pain in the ass David Atchely is but that won’t achieve anything. The photos and interviews will be enough to convert the message of this visit, especially if this dairy is ever used too. So…David tells me that I only need to tell people it was ‘nice’ here. Hah! Was a damn coward. While I;m washing up David continues with how great he is so I tae the piss. I say that he has had 18


years out here to study philosophy and he doesn’t even know who he is (going back to the ‘who i am ‘ saga. 4. He then tells Romey that he should have been a greek in the times of the great greek philosophers alongside socrates so that people would have respected his views. He maintains that he is sad that people will probably never know or care about al he has learnt. I say that if Buddha and Ghandi never managed to change the world with their beliefs then what chance does he have. The fact is that I should respect this bloke because he has allowed me out here, Full stop. The fact that I have to put up with humans shit is part of the course of my work. He reminds me of Roy Eventov who was another prick that demanded I listen to and hang off his every word. Now it is 12:05am and -29C. While I am washing up Sky is asking me to go upstairs to watch how he parallel parks a car in Grand Theft Auto. As I watch I hear David and Romey talking ernestly below in the boot room and I move to the edge of the stairs of Skys bedroom from where I can see Romeys and Davids feet. Romey has been looking at the BBC news piece I printed out in Britain and is rolling it up. The have been looking at it because now Dvid is really worried about how he is going to be portrayed. I hear him mention something about being worried I am going to earn alot of money from this work and so I interrupt them and ask if everything is OK. I catch them totally off guard as they thought I would;t hear them sneak down to the boot room where all my stuff is. Now I really do have it in my head that they will do something to either copy or sabotage my work. I remember the lines I once heard in a punk song ‘never trust a hippy’. As I sit upstairs in Skys room I hear them again talking about John Krota and Brad. I had stupidly told Davod that John Korta had laughed when he heard I was going out to photo the Atchleys and Brad had said I could phone him if I needed picking up earlier, as no doubt he didn’t believe that I’d manage to last 3 weeks out here. Now I see why Korta laughed and Brad didn’t think I’d make it. But the fact is I have. yes, I could have done all my work in 2 weeks not 3 so that’s a fuck up on my part but I have at least done my best given that it hasn’t been that easy to communicate because of heads up arses. And since I am here I should continue to get all the captions I need to go with the photos I have taken. When I hear David talking abouut Korta and Brad I stand up to confront them directly. I say that I have heard them mention Korat and Brads names and I am starting to get worried that they have a problem with my work. This throws David and he butts in to say that R9meys mum made a nervous laugh also when she heard a photographer was coming to visit them. I ask why they thought she did this and Romey says she thinks because she know what Romey is like and how she lives and that there is nothing of interest about Romey to make her good for a news piece. I say that its probablyy because of her mums familiarity with her that makes her think her daughter isn;t anything interesting at all. David has once again viewed my work, the BBC paper scroll but he still isn;t getting it. Remember early on when I was telling him about my work and he said that he doesn’t know what my work looks like so how should be know what I am talking about… when only the night before I had shown him a slide show of over 700 photos I have taken in my life (a selection for Firstsite gallery). His arrogance amazes me. None of this will matter if I can only manage to get my work out of here untouched. Then I can make the news piece, see if anything good comes from it and move on. It must be obvious that I am writing down what has been happening here as I am always typing onto this laptop. Early on David asked me what I was typing one morning and I said a diary and I have also said that my Patagonia diary has been published so if they have any brain they’ll work out that I might aim to get this diary published also. But huh, it is hardly as interesting as the Patagonia diary. For all I know Davod was outside for so much of today because he was smoking weed which would explain his paranoia. And he’d better be paranoid because if he fucks with any of my notes or photos here he will get shit from me on social media and I have too much on him, with his weed growing and that dead moose. Before I came down from Sky’s room after watching him chop up zombies David called up to me and apologized before hand in case he wakes


me tonight because he will leave the generator running longer tonight as the batteries were more drained than usual today as Sky had been playijh his Wiuu game via the inverter. Also David said it will be cold tonight and he will be late in loading up the stove so it stays hot all night. he said I can turn it down if I want. So holy fuck, if I get woken up by him I will be pissed off and it will also be like a damn sauna too. If Brad picks me up on Sunday I will have 4 more nights here including tonight. I cannot leave soon enough now, I need to get my work out safely and will hide it tonight. I could stay up until David has loaded the fire but there is nothing to stop him trying to pinch my stuff later in early morning. Right now the photos and interviews and audio recordings are priceless and I have worked hard to create them. I will tell them I will email a transcription of the David recording when it is done and also the interviews but I never will. I’ll give them some 72dpi photos resized to 60cm wide, 300+ but not al of them and I have also added a copyright watermark to those images in Photoshop. If I ever find out that they have used them I’ll be able to prove that I made them not for copyng and that they are copyrighted. I head Davis laugh one of his mental maniac laughs and lord knows what shit he and Ramey are talking. Yes, Brad had suggested that another guy Sean Behr would be more suitable to photograph as he is more of a traditional guy but Brad also added that he went to Seans cabin recently to check up on him and he wasn’t there so would;t be able to document him anyway. John Stam is another possibility but he is a slave driver apparently and he would exploit me whilst I photographed him. So I will have to be happy wth what I have from this family eve though David is a prick. It’s a shame but at least I can be proud that as always I have done my best. Right, now it is -30C and I must hide my laptop ad iPod and tape recorder. It is 12:45am and in 15 minutes they will all be down here for their nightly noisy bullshit behavior.

16 March 2017

8:23am. It is -36C on the outdoor thermometer this morning. I have been awake for a while. The first thing I usually do is sit up, put my head torch on and pee into the gallon green tea bottle I brought with me from Anchorage. I then reach into the Snugpak Monster Kit bag and take out the vitamin dummies and eat two. I was also eating 2 probiotic vitamins until the day before yesterday but since I am getting low on them I have decided to save them if I ever feel like I have colic again. That is one damn bad feeling that I can do without. At sometime from leaving the barn in Essex, UK on 11th February to leaving my sisters on 14 February via my Dads then girlfriends house I got colic and felt so bad at one point I was concerned I wouldn’t make it to Gatwick airport. I knew what I had but of course my sister thought it was pre-flight nerves. But I’m not worried about any aspect of traveling, least of all flying or even being out in the remote Alaska bush for 3 weeks, even if it is with a delusional egotistical asshole and his family. Last night I put my laptop, hard drive, tape recorder and iPod Touch under the couch as far back as I could push it to the wall and covered the parts that showed with a pair of socks. They haven’t been touched but true to Davids word he does wake me up last night as he brigs he generator back inside and loads up the fire. I can sense him pausing next to the small table at the head of the couch nearest the outside wall and scanning for the laptop. I could hear him telling Romey it was weird that I stuck my head over Sky’s staircase last night to check out what they were doing next ti my couch. This shows they are aware of my concern about them getting close to my personal belongings as they could easily fuck everything up for me and I know they are perfectly capable of ruining everything. Now they are beginning to think along the lines that I could


make money from this material I have generated here and also that I have material to make a book with at the very least. The trouble in my mind is that I can make a book and have a decent BBC news piece is I hold back the real truth about the family being lazy weed growers who think they are better than everybody else ad have an inferiority complex. I look out of the window at the trees tops on the other side of the lake and the thin pink band of light above them, where it meets the blue sky. I almost feel butterflies when I remember the feeling of memories from my past adventures in Alaska and Canada and for some reason my and goes back to when I was in Bourget in Ontario and the sense of excitement I;d feel looking outside at the cold landscape. I’m also reminiscing about my motorcycle adventures and his that makes me feel, being free and alone in remote areas, enjoying the power of the motorcycle and the way it handles and knowing that I have to be careful and self reliant. Yes, David woke me as he does ’t try to be quiet when he does the stove and I’m imagining what I will tell Brad when he asks me how it went here when he picks me up. It will be too easy to say David is a prick when I’m in the plane flying back to Galena and that doesn’t sum up the true conditions in one word at all. There is no Patagonian romance here or mysticism, only the bleak truth of the extreme cold and a family surviving. Yes, they are kind to feed me but I then work out that I brought approximately $145 worth of gifts for them. 2 meals a day divided by 3 weeks is $3.45 a meal which is more expensive than what it cost them to feed me. So if David pulls the bullshit on me that I should give them copies of all of my photos then he can get stuffed. Actually, when I returned here with David after we snow machined out and found the dead moose Ramey was very quiet when we returned and I would hardly be surprised if she had copied my hard drive to her Mac laptop to save over a copy of all the photos I have taken of them. They are;t that dumb and realize that if they want to publish their own work about themselves that my photos will be ideal for that. I made a green tea earlier and a pilot bread cracker with peanut butter and raisins. Did I say that yesterday I defecated for the third time properly yesterday? I’m not someone that is so anal that I think alot about shitting and it’s a sad thing to mention but I only do so because 3 times in 3 weeks is hardly regular. I know that I am not consitaped at all, it’s just that I don’t have enough waste in me to expel as I’m not eating that much. Luckily I don’t feel hungry during the day, only weak so hopefully my plan to only drink smoothies back in Anchorage will work out OK. Even though it is over 60C indoors because of th heat from the snow the bottom panes of the double glazing window still has a thick build up of ice at its edge. I have more questions to ask David and Romey today and need to make the most of this time to get all the captions I need. Because I won’t be sending the family their interviews by email I am expecting they will be angry and so communications may break down and there won’t be a chance to ask questions in the future from them. Instead I have to get all that I can from them now. It;s incredible to think that they want copies of all the photos I have taken, are expecting copies of all their interviews and also Romey has said twice now the she wants a copy of the audio tape of David talking. They can make their own bloody tapes, after all, they maintain they are so damn clever so why rely on me to hand over all my hard won effort. They must think I am soft. As I lay snoozing this morning Iwas thinking into the future about what kit I will need next time I go remote. If I sleep out of doors in these arctic temperatures I will need 3 snugpak sleeping bags, one inside the other I have decided instead of asking them for their antarctica bag which is expensive and by itself, rated to -50C, probably not as warm as that at all. I’d also need a cot to get me off the ground sucks as all the heat out of you. Even if you have 3 sleeping mats underneath you it is still too cold so a cot is the only solution unless you can cut some spruce branches to put under your sleep matts to give some airspace and lift. I also need to get a folding hand saw so I can cut those spruce boughs and branches for a fire. Definitely the In Reach satellite texting device and a VHF radio if I am ever near any planes flying overhead who I could radio for help. I think to yesterday when I snow shoed up the hill to get


an overlooking view of mountains and the Atchleys snow machining in the middle ground. David and I used walkie talkies to communicate and he was shouting so loudly at it that we didn’t need to be using them at all as I could hear him fine as he was so loud. He didn’t see to understand that you can talk quietly if you have a radio to use. Eventually he spoke normally, no doubt Rmey had to point this out to him. It’s 9:05am and I will lay down again. In 2 to 3 hours David will be upend so the days lengthy discussions start again.

2:45pm. I’ve been sitting on my couch since waking up. Breakfast still has;t happened and I have been asking David about milling and playing the Wii game with Sky. David and Romey are visibly alot touchier about Sky today and I have explained that my questions are not personal. After I finish asking David questions he is downright arrogant and blatantly tells Romey about the areas we covered in out discussion. He says he was describing to me about how he put a 1000 pound log on the top of his cabin by himself and I was full or praise for him doing that as it sounds impressive. But to Romey he makes a joke saying that he’d like to see me do that and how I squash both my legs. Where has this come from? There open fear and hate and insecurity. Here I am everyday showing them that the photos of them are beautiful and that their words are interesting and the BBC piece will be great. But all the time they are trying to establish control over me and maintain that they are so much more intelligent and able. But when I see David in action outside he forgets things, breaks things, rushes things. But I havent judged him for anything at all in anyway so don’t understand where this is coming from. Certainly it was the same with Robin Jennigs in Portugal when I built him a yurt for free and he derided every aspect of my entire visit to him and I was only ever polite and hard working. Robin Jennigs said that he believed in buddhism and so does David so that appears as a marker, a warning to me for future projects, to avoid anyone who says they believe in buddhism because all of these people are clearly assholes and by saying they have bhuddist beliefs they are pretending they are something that they are not. It;s almost the same case in everything to do with man. You recognize that you’re an asshole so you hide behind something that says the opposite so you;re not so obvious an asshole. Right now David is moving around outside being the tough outdoors man and Romey has gone upstairs to Sky’s bedroom and is talking to him in his bed in hushed tones. I wish Brad would come an pick me up today as I am more than ready to leave. I need to stay polite and focused and continue to make notes whilst I can because every word counts. You know, I even said what a nice guy i think Sky is today and David and Romey react like a pair of schizophrenic paranoid children. I have explained that I am not judging them but only asking for answers to natural questions that people will want to know. 3 more nights here if Brad comes on Sunday. I am literally counting down the hours when I don;t have to listen to one of the biggest egos I have ever encountered.

3:45pm and we just ate breakfast, Leftover rice and 2 fried eggs each with brewers yeast for extra vitamins. Romey did make smoothies this morning but not for me. I guess I’ve had the 4 or 5 times since I got here. Some days I’m in favor but obviously I’m out of favor and am not deserving. It’s -17C outside and amazingly I visited the outhouse for the 4th time today to go properly. It’s interesting that despite this family maintaing they are without self that they are so defensive and so condescending, One of the ultimate conversations comes up today when David comes back in to eat breakfast just as I am about to re-take a photo of Romey in the root cellar (which is 8C, I have not


made a note of its temperature yet). David comments that there are too many photographs in the world and therefore there is too much vanity. I take the photos with his running commentary going on in the background and Sky shouting that he thought I had taken a photo already of his Mum down there. I say I have but I would like to get a better shot as I am not happy with the last one. When I am done Romey comes back up into the kitchen and David continues harping on so I ask him directly what he meant by vanity. He says that it isn’t about the vanity of who is is the photo but of the person taking the photo. I say oh dear, that I shouldn’t even be here in that case making a story about them. I ask if he thinks that I am taking photos for me instead of it being all about them. I say that I am here because I am interewteed in them and that it is all about them. Is it? he says. No, I repeat, I’m a photographer and have a curiosity about stuff in the world and the BBC showing my work validates what I do. Precisely he says. Is this guy insane! I then say, wow, everything that I say here is turned inside out and flipped right over. Romey butts in to make a joke to David that he dyes his grey out of his beard and I quickly say ‘surely that is the ultimate vanity!?’ David has already said that he does’nt want to see an old man when he looks in the mirror and because he is 8 years older than Romey wants himself to keep looking young for her. I can tell that he is really angry that not only have I confronted him but also flipped his original comment on its face. And now he is chainsawing outside and I know he will be seething with rage that he couldn’t get one up on me. Now I will go and joke with Romey that I should delete all of my work because it is vain of me to have made it.

10:57am “Are we going to go to the big finale?” David asks Romey now that he knows I am going to leave. As I do washing up this evening I ask Romey to check her email to see if Brad has written. He has and says that he will try to arrive tomorrow, Friday. If he can’t make it he will write by 4pm to tell me. I reply to say that I would like him to come tomorrow and it is good timing. Obviously it isn’t my email address I am using, it is the Atchleys, so I cannot say to Brad why I would like to be picked up quickly. But no doubt he will know why and must be getting the vibe I am sending subtly. Well, if this is my last day it has been another stressful one with awkward feelings, totally unnecessary but I am not dealing with normal people here. It occurs to me if it my last night I must record Romey reading to Sky for one hour until midnight and only press record too late in the evening. I record both of their voices as I have very little of Romey talking but record none of Sky shrieking and making weird noises. A couple of times since 11pm when Romey started to read to Sky I thought of recording her reading and his shrieks but thought better of it. I’ve had almost 3 weeks to record them and now miss my chance but his noises are recorded whilst he plays ‘cars’ previously so it is no loss. Now Sky cries out to Romey in mock anguish “Mom! Do you love me!?’ Yes Sky she replies sounding like a Hollywood heroine. Do you love me Sky? Romey asks. No Sky answers back, teasing her. He asks her repeatedly as she walks to the next room to go to her bedroom where David has disappeared to before 11pm. Right now it is 12:22am and -30C. I was just talking with Sky on the stairs to the boot room. I had to record him talking so held the recorder up high out of his line of sight. I have mixed emotions because if I do leave tomorrow it will be the end of another experience in my life which I will remember for forever. But it could have been a better experience if David hadn’t talked so much about how clever he is and had such a big ego. I feel like I have now been here at least 6 months and it is time to move on. Everything that was once fresh to my eyes is now routine and I feel as though I have covered evertrhig. After David tells me there is too much vanity in the world he storms off outside when I mention his vanity of dying the grey out of his beard. He climbs ont the roof and proceeds to shovel all the snow off which makes a big noise and it sounds as though he is smashing


the roof up. Sky goes out to join him and I interview Romey for a caption to go wit the photo of her and David writing their journals in their bedroom at night. I also ask Romey about medicine and playing the guitar at night too. 3 questions. David comes in and butts into the interview but I don’t reply as I don’t want to get David started and it is Romey’s turn. I have spoken with David far too much already and have tried to give Romey her own time to say what she wants also, or rather, to answer my questions without the pressure of David being around. Sky and David come in together after a while again and Sky is telling his Dad ‘ to kick his butt’. I get the distinct impression that Sky is telling his Dad to kick my butt, obviously, because who else could they be talking about. No doubt they have been talking about me outside and it seems to have really wound David up about the vanity thing and him dying his beard. Presumably he is slagging me off and Sky is telling him to sort me out. Don’t people realize that if they play with fire they’ll get burnt!? After I have interviewed Romey I go outside at some point to empty my pee bottle and I also defecate for the 4th time properly here today since I arrived almost 3 weeks ago. David has lit the stove in his sauna and spends time brewing chaga tea and ginger tea. I am offered to pour myself a chaga tea and lie on the couch in the boot room and begin to fall asleep. I don’t completely go under but snooze until David walks past in only a towel and tells me the sauna is ready. I feel incredibly sleepy and realize that it is the effect of the chaga tea which I finished half an hour before. I then pour myself a ginger tea, strip off and walk barefoot in the snow to the sauna where David is already sitting. Earlier, whilst I had been interviewing Romey Sky walked in and wanted attention from Romey. He is extremely close to her and she answers to his every single beck and call. Whilst we are talking he talks out aloud, as he does, and tries to interrupt Romey who finally asks him firmly to give her space to answer me. He then sits on his stairs with his head down and I have never witnessed him be so quiet. When Romey and I have finished he says that he poked himself in the eye with a leatherman tool and that he is hurt. Romey is apologetic and so am I but there is no damage to Sky and he quickly forgets about it. It’s not a problem big enough to appear to be an issue but he asks Romey at least 20 times a day if she loves him. He also makes jokes about a boy and his girlfriend getting laid repeatedly and Romey doesn’t react at all. It feels inappropriate to me and I can imagine that when he gets a could of years older he will get urges he won’t be able to ignore. Being a teenage boy out here when you begin to want to date and have a girlfriend is going to be hard for him all alone out here. Whilst watching ‘community’ on the laptop this evening, like every night, he makes sure his mom sits next to him on his left and his Dad is to his right. It reminds what I was taught abut Socrates saying that when a boy gets to 13 he tries to take his Mom away from his dad when he goes into puberty and it seems as though he is almost in love with her. It’s a really nice relationship but he is rude to her but in such a way that she doesn’t reprimand him. He might tell her to bring him food to his room or when she is in his room he ‘ll shout at her to get out. But she never gets angry or tells him off and this is how they get on so well. This evening David has brought the generator in early and loaded the stove up early saying that is it warm outside tonight and the stove doesn’t have to be so hot but last night it was only -35C and tonight it is -30C so not much difference. After I go into the sauna Sky comes in about 15 minutes later and then Romey. I close my eyes when she comes in even though I’d like to admire her body. I don’t fancy her because she is married to David and she loves him, which makes me think she is odd as well as him. I very occasionally see her body when I do open my eyes and whilst she is standing up facing me, washing her body with soap and a flannel. It would be beautiful and erotci of David wasn’t there. I have to say one thing and this is what puzzles me. David has boasted over the last 3 weeks that he has a 9 inch penis. And from catching sight of it in the sauna I’d say that is the truth. So if he is better endowed that me then why does he have such an insecure personality and such a massive ego? Today is the 3rd sauna I have had here. The fact is that I am not shy and during the 2nd sauna I


stood up with the sauna door open and with light coming in and took photos of all the Atchleys. I used the Olynous Action Camera and produced one result which I put into a desktop folder on my laptop to inclue in my best work from here for an online web album I will send to Phil. I’m secure enough in myself to know that my penis is nit as big as Davids but I have never had any complaints from women. It;s not a big deal to me but since the 1st sauna we all shared together David has make innuendos and whenever he says anything Romey stares at him smiling and catches his eye on purpose. The whole experience here has descended to being like a permamwnt lunch break in a kindergarten playground and I am yearning to put all of this work together and be somewhere where I don’t feel trapped. Honestly, being somewhere so remote that you have to wait for an airplane to get you out is exciting but when you realize you want to leave but can’t then it gets worrying. I have been wishing for the past few days for Brad to get me earlier than he said he could and hopefully this will happen. After the sauna I am the second last to leave. First David leaves, then Romey, then me and Sky. It was a good sauna, I was in there for over an hour and sweated hard. 3 times david poured water onto the wood stove to make the temperayre soar and steam the room and he used sage and cottonmouth I think and maybe some other herbs to make smoke to purge the air. I breath it in deeply and it feels as though it is cleansing my lungs. I have drunk my ginger tea and drink 850ml of water from the plasrtic bottle of water I bought in Gatwick airport the day I flew. When I come in David is watching American football on the laptop and has previously explained that Romey’s dad gives him CD’s of previous recording of games to watch. David gives a running commentary on what is happening and discuss it with Romey. Sky eventually comes in having washed his hair which he has a problem with as it is so frizzy and dry. If he puts his head in a bucket of water his hair stays dry. All 3 are in the kitchen and living room and I stay seated in the boot room. Eventually Romey says that supper is ready. She then tells David that she has made mashed potato but the skins are in the mash also and he doesn’t like the skins. He said it should be ok but that he cannot eat cold mashed potato so has to eat it quickly. She serves Sky first and gives him too much meat loaf so he gives a bit of it to his Dad when he gets his plate. Romey then says she forgot about me which is kind of weird so gets me a plate and serves me a smaller portion, as usual, than Sky and David. I sit down and then Romey sits next to me and asks what it means if people eat ketchup with meatloaf in Britan. I say that some people eat alot of ketchup with all of their meals and it is acceptable. But in other circles I also say that it is unnecessary and an insult to the cook. I prefer to go without it. What about Tabasco Romey asks as I use some they have on a shelf in the kitchen. I say Tabasco is OK but realize that I don’t really know and am only going by what I feel. Once again they try to catch me out. David gets up immediately after finishing his plate and helps himself to another plate full. Romey asks Sky if he would like so more, he would, so she gets up to put more meatloaf and corn and based potato onto both her and his plates but doesn’t ask me if I would like a second helping. For the first time since getting here Romey sits with her nose in the air and I wonder why she didn’t offer me more. They have finished it so I get up and start to wash up, thankig Romey for a good meal. I wash up whilst Rmey checks email and she asks me if I;d like her to read Brads email as he has written. I say no and come and read it for myself. I reply and ask Romey if I can send it. She says yes but it by now busy helping Sky move his bedroom around as they are soon going to put plants in his bedroom window to grow in sunlight as his window is large. They move his bed back away from the window to the far end of his bedroom, next to the staircase and I click send to the email but nothing happens. I ask Romey to help and she leaves Skys bedroom to resend the email. She did;t tell me that I ave to first dial up a connection in order to get the satellite phone to send it. She finds the email I have just written and tries again and it works. I thank her and go back to washing up. Romey goes upstairs to Skyes room again and tell David I might be leaving tomorrow. He says, ‘well that changes evetrhig’ and he comes


down to say ‘thank you for comb tp visit us and it has been good to meet you etc’. This way of saying goodbye before it has even got to tomorrow yet is unnecessary and normally a goodbye should be saved for the last hour before departure. He puts me on edge as he talks to me whilst I continue to do the dishes, by now I have been washing up for at least half an hour. I reply back to him without looking at him. He says thank you for coming half way around the world and spending so much of your money to be here. By now I am angry and expllain that I am not doing this for money nor for vanity and that is is important for culture, history, tradition, etc. He says he understands but I get angrier remeberig what a hard time he has given me and that his attitude sucks big time. I explain that for the amount I earn in my work that it is a waste of my own money and that I could have spent the money I spent on getting to Alaska instead on food for a year. He says ‘thank you also for putting up with us’ so he obviously recognizes full well that he is an awkward son of a bitch. Dvid asks if anybody out there can give me work as I, in the words of Brad whom I quoted in an email before I came out, need to monetize my work. David has brought this up many times over 3 weeks and has said how stupid he think that sounds. So why is he saying it now. Basically he is sitting there smugly making fun of me and is no better than Tome Bartleet or all the other idiots out there.He says he understands and comes across as being someone who feels the same but ultimately he is just the same kind of dumbass as the next man despite proclaiming he is one with the universe and selfless. What a load of baloney. I’m still writing this at 1:40am right now and they have all already played their guitars for ten minutes and are now eating food, taking snacks to bed and brushing teeth. earlier I emptied my pee bottle and stood out of doors to watch the stars. They are so bright and close I iamgine I can almost touch them and stick my right arm into the air to grab at one with my hand. It reminds me of being at Prophet River in 2015 for 2 moths and how I regularly stood on the balcony of the trailer I lived in and stared at the stars which were similarly beautiful. Despite Prophet River being dangerous and the people being mostly unwelcoming but at least I had time to myself to appreciate the surrounding landscape and thet is what I would love to be able to do here. It’s been a weird time for sure and further compound by Sky just coming to see me, inviting himself to sit next to me on my couch and telling me again about My Little Pony Porn and his he hopes he isn’t gay. Given his closeness to hisMum and who she molly coddles him I’d say there is a great chance of that but also he is very funny and does’ come across as camp at all. He’s just a guy on a permanent sleep over at his own house, on his own, enjoying my little pony animations. I actually record part of our conversation because I find it so amusing but later have to tel him to go to bed because I feel uncomfortable that we are talon and obviously his parents can hear. Lat night I was in his room wachig him play Zombie killing and he told his mum who was lying next to him on his bed that he will miss me as I take such an interest in his video games and because nobody else does. Romey pipes up that she likes them but Sky says his Dad doesn’t. I do feel sorry for him, that after I leave he will ba back to being just here wth both his parents until the month he spends in Fairbanks and Alabama in August and September but that is 6 months away and he won’t see anybody else until then. It’s weird and sad, what can I say. If David hadn’t of gotten so full of himself it would have been a special time but I’m going to leave feeling unhappy about the experience. They’ll be ok though doing the same thing as they always do so I don’t have to worry. It’s been a privilege in fact to witness people living like this and one of my dreams to find people like this n the world. Maybe Ill document more people like this in other countries in the world in the future. I’ll write this diary for 2 more days and then I will have written for a month and can end it just like the Patagonia diary. It’s 2:23am and -32C. Tomorrow I may add to this during the day before I pack away the laptop ready for flying. I wonder again what David meant when he asked Romey ‘are we going to go to the big finale?’ Oh, he has given me a heavy box of MRE’s, 12, that the free fighters left here and which he wants me to take away to


Ruby, either to eat or give to somebody else. As it happens I’ll be in Galena for about 12 days until I fly out so the meals will keep me going.

17 March 2017

8:40am. It is -37C this morning and the Kokrine hills have a beautiful subtle pink hue to them at the far end of the lake. David said it wouldn’t be as cold in the night but it was. When I went to sleep the inverter was still on in the corner of the boot room but now I notice it is off so he has been down in the night at some point to switch it off. I wear ear plugs and didn’t wake up so find it disconcerting that he could have been down here going through my stuff. I don’t trust him at all. So if I am leaving here today and finally go back to reality and mankind, to have my freedom back amongst people that are not much people but at least slightly less egotistical, what are my conclusions from this project? I have made myself a green tea already and ate a pilot bread with peanut butter and raisins by the time the kettle started to make a noise on the gas hob. The floorboards are cold under my bare feet and I gaze at the hills and feel very little emotion about leaving here. If it had been a hard working family that woke up and went to sleep at normal times, with just a decent attitude it would have been a better story. Instead the realty is that David is an insecure schizophrenic egomaniac and it has been a struggle everyday. His constant pompous behavior about how great his mind and findings in philosophy has worn me down and also his anger when he isn’t being revered. There is a word for this that I cannot quite remember but it a something god complex that describes his behavior. And to think that behind all of his bullshit is obviously a person who makes almost all of his money from growing weed and receiving handouts from his mother and Romey’s Dad. I don’t think he deserves to be busted because of his bullsht but me having to put up with his ego has been unnecessary. The odd thing is that he is pretty much a totally normal guy when outside, is fun and straightforward but still talks way too much. Inside he becomes this angry egomaniac who is intolerable and who I find very hard to deal wth. All of his words over 3 weeks mean nothing to me because his actions negate his philopshy and this kind of bigotry puts a bad taste in my mouth. Yesterday he came in after sulking on the roof to shovel snow off and came in to the stove in the far room. He started saying loudly that he has a ‘mosquito on his peter and has to knock it off’. I translate this as me being something small and annoying on his dick and that he is going to swipe it away. This isn’t me being paranoid and reacting adversely to spending 3 weeks in isolation with only 3 other people but what I am hearing and experiencing. Why else would he talk like this?In the past he has said ‘it is good to be king’ also which proves to me that it is very important for him to be the top dog. I told him about how I made the decision innWales to leave the icebergs and power in the boat to the pressure ridge shore and that nobody in the boat knew what to do so I had to take the lead and make a decision for them, I said that I am a good leader in those situations bit he knocked that in a conversation to Romey and mocked me. But I have already told him that I don’t need to show off about what I have achieved in life and I know I come across as a guy that is naive and inexperienced. That;s just my friendly disposition. Yesyersya in the sauna Sky, when we are the only two left in there, says he knows far moe about motorbikes than i do and that he is a better motorbike rider than me because of his skill in Grand Theft Auto. I agree with him of course. He calls me a fat girl and I wonder how Grand Theft Auto is giving him socialization as his parents call it. All he ever talks about is killing people and I am fearful


that he won’t fit into society at all in the future. How can an incredibly violent video game with no purpose or game plan socialize someone with little experience of socializing with other humans? It is hardly the best solution despite his parents saying that it is preparing him for the real outside world. I know that this diary isn’t as raw or compelling to read compared to tree Patagonia diary because the circumstances are totally different. Patagonia was beautiful, exciting and old fashioned with a large and varied community of people. Here I am with 3 people and a dog, all of whom display varying degrees of selfishness and pride. Despite them all maintaining that they are better than everyone else I see easily through their thin veil and recognize people who are angry and in hiding. Yes, certainly they might have a slightly better understanding of what bad things are happening in the world but they have shown me little sign of what they have discovered in their throughs over 18 years. I mean…I put it to David 2 days ago that after 18 years here he doesn’t even know who he is is. And not only that but he changed my question immediately from ‘who am i’ to ‘what am i’. If that isn’t ego taking control I don’t know what other words to use to describe them. All I asked them for was a small bio, one paragraph to describe themselves. Not a 2 day discussion about the far end of the universe which is turned inside out repeatedly. When yu are so proud that you cannot even answer a simple question like that being a photojournalist becomes incredibly tedious. I have joked with them last night that I won’t take any more photos of people, that they have put me off and that I will get a job at McDonalds because of this experience. But if course this is not true and I will carry on, but in the future will be careful who I study next. And if it is anybody with a small model of a laughing buddha I will stay well clear. The buddha for me is a symbol of total lying, deceitful bullshit which people hide behind when they know they have problems and wish to display the opposite of their true selves to the world, as a cover up. Id this diary is not ever published at least it has served as a way for me to release tension within this environment and as a timeline of my work here. Right now however I am imaging a letterpress book with this diary in it, all of the interviews I have made here, the best of the photos I have taken and a transcription of the audio tape recording of David talking triumphantly about his philosophical thinking. All that information together in one book will be something that is truly worthwhile, a large amount of information which will tell a story of the family out in the remote wild woods of Alaska. Now it is 9:18am and I will snooze for a while longer. I have already turned off my 2nd iPod Tocuh, the 5th generation one which has many interviews on and packed it into my backpack. To me it is worth more than gold right now and I cannot afford for anything to happen to it either oft them as without those two small phone sized devices I will have no BBC news piece and no opportunity to make a book. For now I think I will aim to put together a rough book or magazine with all of this information when I am back in Anchorage and show it to David Jury back in the UK. I’ll hope that he finds it interesting enough to make a letterpress book of or at least design something better using inkjet and desktop publishing. Perhaps a book printed by Len Friend? The Welsh Patagonia diary only has 6 photos in it and I certainly have 6 very good photographs from here so if David Jury wishes to go the same route with this work it would work well. I am excited by the idea he has offered to make a catalogue of my Firstsite exhibition and eagerly looking forward to the rest of this year. Yes, the Atchleys here have been kind to allow me to stay, for obliging me with photographic opportunities and for feeding me minimally. They have been welcoming and accommodating if not a little mean. David in the past has said several times how he would like my photos because he has fed me but does he realize I brought them approximately $145 worth of things for them? That amount has paid for my food I think and I am sad I am leaving them a Wales Alaska book that I had published in 2014 because I don’t think they deserve it and I would rather give it to Brad and his family as the would appreciate it more. In exchange I will get a book by Romey about Boofoot and Barefoot, a children story with her illustrations which is large and thin and dull ad


frankly I do not want it. I shouldn’t make comparisons but if I compare my Wales boo with hundreds of hard won photos a nd information it it that sells for $29.95 to Romeys book that costs $19.99 there is something wrong with them and the world. They even spent $8000 of their own money to publish it themselves. Why? They have not got their money back from the expense and aren’t selling many. Ate least my book has some historical worth to it, that it is at least a snapshot of a place at a certain time in history which will change in the future. Romey’s book I guess does show what life is like in remote Alaska but through the words of talking animals and in this I see again their pride and hw they want to show off to the world the they are out here. Surely a documentary of how life really is in reality is more interesting? 10:37am. I didn’t sleep again but instead went outside to the outhouse. I am becoming regular again after a month abroad even though I do not produce much. It is now -34C. I have just photographed the buddhas on the window sill in the kitchen. I used HDR because it is backlit and change the metering but I am not very happy wth the results. I now have a dislike of buddha because of the people who show it off in their lives. I have found people to be selfish and mean who are ‘into’ buddhism with is ironic because buddhism is supposed to be the opposite. If the Atchelsy thought that by allowing me into their lives so I could see how they lives was a compassionate act in doing so they have allowed me to see their true selves as opposed to the one they try to project. I am waiting yet again as I remember one more thing to write down from last night. I was telling David, just to try again to make him understand, that the money I have spent on getting here could have been used to feed me for a year. I said this so his bullshit about telling me several times that he has fed me means nothing. So he counters this by saying I have had somewhere to live, i.e. at his house, for a month rent free so I have saved money that way. I quickly reply to say that I never pay rent anywhere I am anyway so that makes no difference to me. He laughs because he has no reply for that. I think that this is why he gets so uptight, everything he says I can counter with the truth and he doesn’t like it. He has to be king but I knock him back down every time with my honesty. He has thrown feeding me and being rent free for a month (actually one day short of 3 weeks) in my face and this is generally the basis of all the problems I have witten about in this diary since I got here it feels like. I have tried to explain to him that he is going to have a story about him and his family on the BBC news website but it doesn’t sink in. He does;t use the internet and doesn’t like it so how could he understand. To cap it all in the past he has said that he wants to pay me for the tomato paste I brought from Galena (but which he doesn’t know I didn’t pay for) and also he’d like to pay me for the Wales book since he didn’t realize I have to buy my own copies. So will he hand me some cash when I leave today or won’t he? That will be very revealing and right now I expect he won’t pay me as he aid he would. In Romey’s email she asked me to get tomato paste, made a big deal about it, and said she would pay me back. In return they have been childish and tight with food and I am so happy to be leaving today. The BBC piece won’t mention what assholes they are and will show them in a good light. I know I have enough decent work for a piece and more than enough writing so I should be happy. I have to get it straight in my mind that I have done enough work and it is over. I just need to photograph the cabin again from the air with the E-M1 and also the action camera to best show the remote location and today is bright sunshine and blue skies again so I am hopeful for a great result. I just heard David peeing in a bucket in the far room and no doubt he will appear to make his first coffee. He is using Kroeger brand coffee which he doesn’t like, it is Fred Meyers own brand and I have the same make for my Green Tea which is cheap and vile. Even Sainsburys own brand budget green tea tastes way better. Tea makers the Americans aint. I won’t hold out for any cash from David for tomato paste or my book and if them feeding me or being rent free comes up today or in the future via emails I will


remind them of this fact. I have resized over 300 images for them from this project but have put a copyright watermark on each image and made them 20cm wide and 72dpi so they cannot be reproduced by them in the future. They have each written books about living out here and my images would no doubt be useful for them to publish along side their words. I’m not going to give them that opportunity as I know they would;t think twice to take advantage of my hard work. Remember Ed, never trust a hippy. David is now standing in the boot room next to the stove and he has just put wood in it. He has opened the window as the oxygen he thinks will help the fire start to burn better but it is unnecearry and he is just trying to be clever and assert his authority again. It is over -30C outside and kinda chilly to have a window wide open. He closes it just nw as he hears his espresso maker bubbling and stands at the stive watching the flames throgh the door He has a look that says he is still angry about something and I am expecting a good 5 hours of philosophy bullcrap before Romey makes breakfast at 4pm. Time for a second cup of green tea.

4:40pm. I’m now back in Galena at Brad’s B&B where I stayed before I flew out for the Atchleys. My brain is still adjusting to the freezing it got as we circled around the Atchelsy cabin 6 or 7 times before leaving. Brad said he could open the entrance window to the plane whilst we flew but warned me it would be cold. I needed to open the window as the camera autofocus wouldn’t work through the perspex side window and by raising it I could then autofocus but because we were travellling low and fast it was hard to take any photos at all. I’ll write on from where I left off this morning whilst on the couch. I have to say that all I have done since landing is walk from the frozen creek where Brad lands his plane to his B&B and he has kindly allowed me to stay here for however long I need to. He has also asked me to work for him and that he will pay me as he has alot of jobs to do which he doesn’t have time for like cutting firewood. What I’d like to do is get this diary up to date for today so far and then I will allow myself to go online and check my emails etc. Obviously I’m itching to check them right now but I want to be able to concentrate on getting all of what has happened so far today out of my head before I can check emails and upload my photos and words to a web album for Phil Coomes. Not only do I have to upload my work but I have to make sure all of the extensive text is spot on. Well…I’m sitting on the couch and get up to make another Green tea and pilot bread. David has his coffee and sits next to me on the couch and I can tell he needs to say something. I can’t remember the first thing he says but the 2nd is that he apologises if he has offended me in any way at all. I ask him why would he say that? Of course I am pleased he is apologizing and fully well why but would like to get it out of him in his own words why he feels the need to say this. He says that he knows he can talk too much and that he can be outspoken and so is sorry if he has been like that with me. I cannot remember the actual words he used but he is obviously aware that he has behaved in a way that was hard to deal with. We then talk for a long time, until 1pm about all sorts of things but mainly along the lines of people, how terrible they mostly are, the state of humanity and mankind and all the things we have gone over during the last 3 weeks. I make some notes as he talks as I have now put both my iPod Touches away and feel like this project is well and truly over so it is time to relax. But there are a few things he says that will be useful for captions for the web album. We talk about Angel in Anchorage and people he knows and how people are deeply unhappy and don’t hear words, that they say they know what you are taking about as the recognize the words but don;t understand what they mean. I feel that this is Davids chance to clear the air and finally bond just before I leave so that there is no hard feelings. I appreciate that he is talking like this with me and he even offer to pay me for the Wales book and for the tomato paste. I don;t jump at the offer but do say that any donations


he’d like to make towards the tomato paste would be appreciated and that paying for the book would be good since I have to buy all of my Wales books from Barnes and Noble bookshop myself every though I don’t make any money from it. I also explain that I brought the hard copy from England from a small supply I have of hard covers and that I have never been able to find hard covers for sale in Alaska. Romey comes down and is in the kitchen and joins the conversation from time to time. She has signed her book to me along with Sky and written a message in it. I ask her to date it please and she brings the Wales book I gave to her and pen so I can sign my book to them all. I write a heartfelt message in it to them and take a photo as a record. David has told me this morning that he does appreciate the work I do, that I don’t do it for money, that it is good work and said that the whole ‘vanity’ thing yesterday was a joke and he did;t mean anything by it. He says that he gets my work and is glad that there are people like me out there doing what I do. I tell them that if I ever take photos for money then I lose the power to take a good photo and that money means my work isn’t pure. Therefore if I am taking photos from the heart for a good reason, not for money, or at least in the BBC’s case not alot of money then I am able to capture good images. I also explain that when I finish taking photos for a project I won’t pick up a camera again seriously until I start the next project. I will however take snapshots with an iPod Touch if I need to photo something. All the while I am saying this I am packing and wearing my Snugpak longhjons. I have hing up my salopettes from the ceiling rafters on a nail ready to put on when Brad arrives. I visually check every part of the boot room for things I may have left behind and even go on my hands and knees to look under the couch. David asks for all of my photos I have taken and whether they will all fit on the pen drive he handed to me with Grateful Dead songs and videos on. I say it will be big enough and that I will save them over. david also asks if they will get all of their interviews and I say I will email them but right now I am nit planning to in case they use the words I typed out for themselves as I have mentioned aearlier. I have it my mind that I will copy over the photos to their pen drive close to when I leave so they don’t have time to check the resolution. Romey makes oatmeal and I eat a bowl with raisins and honey. All the while Sky has been sitting on my couch talking to me and wants to show me an episode of my little pony and recounts names of the different ponies and what happens in that episode. It is light hearted banter and he occasionally hits me and makes karate noises. I am standing in the kitchen inn my long johns when Romey all of a sudden says Brad and I haven’t heard anything at all. We all stop talking and not far away is the sound of Brads plane. Maybe a mile away if not less. I put down my bowl of oatmeal quickly, swear and rush to grab my salopettes. I remember when he dropped me off and how he did;t hang around for longer than 4 or 5 minutes so imagine that this time he won’t have time to stand and talk either. So David immediately asks me to copy over the images to his pen drive and I open the laptop wjch is the last item I haven’t packed. He watches as I save the folder across I have made for them and as I turn my body away from him to hide how long it will take to saye across and how many megabytes it is (50MB for 300+ images) he strains his head at the laptop screen to see what is happening. I don;t want him to realize that the folder I am giving him is so small that the images will be tiny. David has also handed me a $100 note and asked for a hug. I tell him I am very grateful for the money, that it is a big help and that I am grateful to him for allowing me to visit and for feeding me etc. But now I am in rush mode, save the images over and pack my laptop into my backpack which David takes outside and down to the plane. By now Brad has been here for about 3 minutes and I don’t want to piss him off by keeping him waiting. I have a box of 12 MRE’s David has given me that he wants taken away, either for me to use or to give to someone in Galena. I have a cardboard box of MRE’s and I also put another 7 loose MRE’s into my Snugpak Monster Kit bag and zip it up. I have gone from pacing myself whilst packing up in a steady manner to full rush mode. I was enjoying eating the oatmeal as I was extremely hungry even though I am eating whilst standing


up in the kitchen and walking around and talking. Everyone is on a different energy because I am leaving today and I can feel their apprehension at me leaving. David has said that Romey has learnt not to say things to people as she doesn’t like them to dump their words on them. By contrast David has said that he cannot hold back and often gets himself into trouble by saying what is on his mind and then he suffers the consequences. David takes the backpack outside which has my hard drive in, tape recorder, laptop and I ask him to kindlly be careful with it as it has alot of essential kit. He also takes out the box of MREs. I put on my Sleeka Jacket and Ventile top and carry the black kit bag through the 2 front doors which is a bit of a struggle as they never open very wide. I thought I would;t have had to rush like this but I got caught up in conversation from all of their sides. David has also added to Romey’s book his name and writes ‘It has been an honor’. After Brad arrives Ramey has also asked me to include videos of Sky and I am confused. I don’t remember making videos of Sky at that time but now I do remember. We are in the snow on the other side of the lake and he is digging a tunnel under the snow. Right now I decide that I will make a CD for them of better images and videos which I can send to Ruby for them but which they won’t see for another 6 months until they leave their cabin for Fairbanks. After 3 weeks of non-stop talking from david and that constant barrage and his ego I am drained and obviously I have been using alot of energy to pour all of these experiences into this diary. It has been a battle of negative and positive emotions, few of which I have appreciated or been glad to have. Now this morning David has cleared the air by apolgozxing , handing me $100, giving me MRE’s and being much nicer and with no ego to speak of. I find this to be a great shame and wish that there had never been any of his attitude. I think the main reason for him behaving this way is because he says he feels desperate that people cannot understand or accept what he says about the things he has learn from 18 years being in isolation. I know what he means but he has to accept obviously that not everyone will want to know what he thinks. I push out of the front door and have left my half eaten bowl of oatmeal on the floor somewhere, Im nit sure where as everything is now a blur. I think hard whether I have left anything behind but know subconsciously that evertythig I brough with me for these 3 weeks has always been in the boot room, either in or on top of my monster kit bag at the foot of the couch nearest to the kitchen stairs, in the backpack on its side tucked under the couch near the kit bag or at the head of the couch nearest the window. I leave my mug on the table with the pen drive and feel weak because I have not eaten enough yet today and haven’t digested he half a bowl of oatmeal I was in the process of eating at 2:30 pm. I walk hurriedly through the snow to the wooden stairs that lead down onto the lake and David is there talking to Brad who has parked the plane very close to the lake shore so that it is no distance to walk to. I feel rushed and sad that I am having to say goodbye this fast and find it ironic that this exemplifies the entire life that the Atchelsy are leading, Call me a square but I ,ike to get packed quickly and efficiently and changed so that I am ready to go and THEN I can take my time to eat and talk. As I was leaving the cabin Rmey asks me if I would like her to put my oatmeal into a container so I can eat it while I am flying and I say no firmly. We are on the lake and I go up to Brad and shake his hand and thank him for coming back. He is funny as usual and respectful despite being the guy that gave up not of his time to fly me out and pick me up. IT’s weird that out of everyone I have met who is in a position to condescend me that he is the last person to do so. He is the ultimate professional fying for over 10,000 hours since he was 19 years old, a trapper, biologist and one tough guy. The fact he has said he is willing to help me because I am willing to do things like teach for free in Galena high school means alot to me. He is one of the few that actually realizes what I am trying to do and achieve. David starts to talk to Brad and I expect to be leaving very soon so I put my bags next to the plane and stand quietly waiting for Brad to say goodbye. Instead Brad is polite and gives David time to exchange news abut local people, about planes and equipment, man talk and such. Of course I also have to


appreciate that David and his family never get to see anyone so whoever it is is fair game to talk to for a while. I spend my time cuddling Charley who knows full well I am leaving and she howls so I video her. She is talking to me and quite honestly, apart from my Toss dog, she is the cutest dog I have ever known. She keeps coming up to me to lick my face and I scratch her bum which she likes and I itch behind her ears. By now I am becoming aware how incredibly cold it is outside and I put on my thin black thermal liner gloves as I have packed my ECW mitts. My gloves are now covered in dog hair and I make some video recordings with the E-M1 of Charley howling. Brad has brought a small cardboard box of gifts for the Atchelys like chicken eggs as the Scottons keep chickens but I don’t get to see what else is in the box. Brad jokes that the eggs are probably still warm as they were laid that morning. Brad asks me if I need to attach the action cameras again to the wing struts and I say no. He pauses and asks me again and am I sure. I say no and he tells me not to be so difficult for making things so simple. We all laugh. I hug Romey first and she is happy to be hugged for a while and doesn’t break away. I hug Sky but for not quite as long as he feels awkward and he doesn’t know how to react. Romey aghs and I say I’ll miss you buddy. I go to hug David but he is still talking with Brad. I keep hugging Charley and walk to the edge of the lake to pee which Charley comes and sniffs. I remember the flight is about an hour so don;t want to be in pain if I don;t go now. Finally we are ready to fly and I hit Romey and Sky again and finally David. He jokes if I ever want to read a long email that he can write me one. I climb into the back of the plane and it takes a while to position my feet and hands so I can manouevre onto the seat gently so that I don;t damage any of the plane surface. I put on my seatbelt and Brad hands me my headset and I’m about ready. I ask Romey if they can all stand an arms length apart on the snow in front of the cabin and wave sometimes as we fly over. It’s extremely quick to take off and we are airborne and banking over trees almost immediately, just skimming the tops of them. We ate only 40 feet off the ground when I quickly ask Brad to loop over the cabin so I can get some good aerials shots. he already knows this as I have written in my recent email I will be grateful if he can circle for photos. Now this next bit pisses me off as I let myself down. I have the Olympus action camera around my neck on a string and the E-M1 around my neck on its strap and I intend to use both of them. As we are taking off I have already turned the small action camera on to take continuos still photos and of course I have my E-M1 turned on and ready also. Brad very kindly circles the cabin but this means constantly fltying in loops up and down and around the lake, altering height, asking Brad to position himself to how I need the shot taken. Not only that bit I am still hungry and the G forces we are pulling, even if it is only 2G makes me feel queasy. I have my left side windows open which is droughty and my fingers are like ice. Brad suggests that he can fly so the cabin is on our right and that he can open the perspex door fully, the door we use to climb in and out from. He warns me it will be cold but I have no idea how bad it will be. We are doing abut 78mph and the wind rips at me as though I have my entire head in a bucket of solid ice. I snap away but am not wearing a hat as I had stuffed it into the front opening of my Ventile smock for safe keeping whilst getting into the plane. I had then put my headppnes on over my bald head thinking I could put my hat on later into the flight. Now I have no time to take my head phones off and put the hat on and snap away at the cabin as we pass overhead many times. To make matters worse I see in the viewfinder that the EV is +0.7 and that my shots will be over exposed. By now my hands are too cold to adjust the EV dial and I realize that I am fuckig tuis all up badly. Not only that but I am also trying to occasionally point the action camera at the cabin as we pass overhead too. I have a sad feeling that I should have been better prepared and realize that I should have fixed the Olympus action camera to the wing strut again to give me both hands to operate the mirrorless E-M1. I ask Brad to circle a few more times but overtime we come around to line up I realize that he is either too low or too close. I am aiming for a shot of the family below, the cabin viewable clearly amongst


the trees and the horizon with blue sky in the background. I am still typing nonstop since I started back in galena and it is now 6:14pm and time I put the kettle on to make a drink. I don;t however but instead load the Fisher fire stove up with wood and sit back down again. I feel ridiculous as today is the one chance for me to finish this news piece with a really excellent photo of the Atchleys area from the air on a beautiful crystal clear day. All this time the Atchelsy are waving up at me and as we make out last fly past I wave out of the window with my arm fully extended so they can see me saying goodbye. Brad has shut the perspex door but now and comments that I must be totally frozen. Even now as I write this some hours later I still have pain at the back of my head. He reminds me about the funny red rubber hose on the floor of the cockpit and pokes it up towards me from the front. I swap my hands over it to warm up and it is a real godsend. Damn I have so many emotions leaving this place and what a horrible rush. I haven’t said enough thank yous to them or expressed my gratitude profound enough and as we stop looping and head straight back in the direction for Galena I feel enormously sad that I am leaving this family behind down below. The view from about 300 feet up is breathtaking and the Kokrine seem so large and close and not so in the distance. We fly across the end of the Novi crossing lake and over the Novi river and immediately see two moose below in the snow. One is standing and another lying down. I have no time to raise my larger camera so point the action camera in their direction. Brad begins to ask me questions about David and I have told myself I wouldn’t say too much but he is very interewyted to hear what my stay has been like. I start by saying a little and then he dishes me for more. Does David talk all the time, how well adjusted is Sky etc etc. So I tell Brad the truth but without being nasty about it. I explain that after 2 weeks I was ready to come back, that I was starting to climb the walls and that I wanted to say in the recent emails to Brad that I needed picking up asap and he confirms that he packed up on that and realized that was probably what was going on with me. I now turn the action cam on me for a bit to get some selfies from both sides with the Kokriens on my right side. Brad actually talks alot more than on the way out and so we converse for pretty much the entire journey. He says he doesn’t know what my plans are but that he would like me to do some work for him and that it is helping him out if I stay at his B&B as I will be able to keep the stove going to keep it heated (and also I will be a security guard though he doesn’t say this. There are break-ins in Galena and it is good to have people around to protect places that people know might be left empty). We fly very low alongside Ruby and Brad radios ahead to it, from 2 miles away that he is approaching its airspace. We are actually level with the tip houses in the village but as before I literally have no time to take any decent photos. Brad also fees along the Yukon river for some way to give me stuff to look at rather than flying over trees. He is in a good mood and we fly along at 100 feet above the ice. Brad points out the recent Iditarod route and there are tiny markers that are spaced out every 100 metres in case theres a snow storm and it is to keep dog mushers on track so they keep on route without getting lost. Brad also points out to me the place where Andrew Henry went through the ice and asks me twice if I was there on the search and I reply yes.he talks about open water on the river and is amazed that water can stay open in forty below temperatures. As we fly we go past cabins, the first one being John Stam’s which is amazing to see as there are so many buildings. It literally looks like a tiny village. We actually circle and Brad thinks about landing to see if John is in but the ice is too hard on the river he says to land on and also it is obvious that John is not at home as he would have come out when he heard the plane and would have waved. It would have been a chance to talk to John and sinus documenting him because Brad says he would be a much better person to document than the Atchleys as he is a very hard worker and has achieved alot in his life. he is a trapper bit also a log cabin builder, a sled builder and fishing reels etc etc. Yes, he has had four wives and treats them badly but Brad says everyone has their faults and he is fair the way he talks about people and I admire that. We then carry on again and pass by Andy


Gribbins cabin. He is a Vietnam veteran and a hermit apparently and Brad has flown out before with heart medicine for him which he dropped of the plane. Brad views himself as a public service and is happy to help out even though it can take up his time and risk his life. He says it is good charm because if he ever needs help then it will come back to him. he axctuallhy mention this before we took off and looked at me as he said it because he wants me to work for him whilst I am still in Galena. he said that he does;t mind if I leave in two days time bit I have said I will wrk for him as I owe him and he even said he would pay me too. I see it as a win win as I have 2 weeks until I am due to fly from galena and it will give me a chance to lose weight before I am back in Anchorage and if I can earn a couple of hunted bucks it will go towards a motorcycle helmet for the summer etc. Also I ,ike him so I said I will see him tomorrow. We continue to fly along the Yukon and then go overland to cut a corner off the river to Galena. We fly close to a large hill side and all of this time I am making videos with the E-M1 as it is less fiddly to set to video than the action camera which is set to continuos stills photos. Brad tells me he is involved with a program with Fish and Wildlife to capture Lynx to collar them to check on their population and I ask him for details as I say the BBC might be interested on this. He says he is not allowed to fly me though and that I am better off asking another FWS in Tok. I say that is a shame as I am in Galena right now and it would be a great opportunity to fly out there with him. I say he has a parcel shelf in the back of the plane behind the passenger seat and that I world be happy being stuffed in there but he say he would definitely not be allowed to do that. This is seething however I must look into soon as it sounds great. We also circle around Charlie Greens cabin as Brad visually checks on his trap line and says that flying out something was caught in a trap but it appears to now be removed. I just remember that Brad also whilst flying along the Yukon points out John Kortas cabin too. It is now 6:52pm and I pause to look around this kitchen in Brad and Sandy’s B&B and find it amazing that I was here 3 weeks ago before leaving and how much I have done since then. I remember how the anticipation was of being in this house before I left for the Atchleys (which I have also called a cabin because it is built from logs). I remember how I had been so tired still from colic and jet lag, of having only been in Anchorage for 4 days and walking in Galena to go see Adriana and teach at the school and being so tired all of the time. I find it amazing that before I was in Galena for 6 weeks and now am here again. IT feels very normal to be here, like a home and far more normal than ever being in the UK. We talk about flying as we near Galena and I ask Brad about pulling G. As soon as I mention it Brad accelerates and goes into a tight turn to show me what the Super Cub can achieve and tells me that if he turns too aggressively that the engine will stall. He tells me that as part of his job as an FWS plot that he was taught at an aerobatics school in an aerobatics plane and can most if not all of the stunts that are out there. I say that all of this flying has got me interested in getting a pilots license and Brad then tells me that it only costs $10,000 to get a private pilots license in someplace like Phoenix, Arizona. He also says I could buy a plane for $15,000. As we continue flying Brad drops low onto a lake and I am surprised at how low we are. I ask Brad the height and he says 8 feet. Then he drops the plane lower so that the skis are touching the lakes frozen surface and he continues until the end of the lake. We are doing 80mph he says and expanse that he does this to the kids as it scares them. We are rushing very fast towards trees on the far shore and all of this tome I am filming with my eye behind the viewfinder of the E-M1. He says at this point the kids get very scared as he still hasn’t lifted up and by now the trees are towering above us. At the absolute last second, like a stunt pilot he pulls up steeply and we only just clear the tree tops. I am not sure if he was trying to scare me but I don’t utter a peep.Instad I say that I really enjoyed that and the truth is I did as I have the utmost confidence in Brad and find the experience of being flown by him like being driven in a car. After he pulls up he levels out quickly which produce positive G, or rather that is what I call it over the microphone to my headphones. I feel weightless for a brief moment and float in


my seat against my harness. Soon we get to Galena and and we circle overhead. He talks on the radio to let control he is coming in to land on his creek and he also lets Sandy know as I am sure I can hear her voice amongst the noise of engine. I am still filming and am recording as we land amongst the narrow band of trees on other side of the lake. Brad swings the plane around in the snow and we stop next to his other, older Cub plane. He cuts the engine and I thank him very much. I finally free myself from my seat and unload my luggage, the backpack, kit bag and cardboard box of MRE’s. I have 19 in total which will keep me in food whilst I am in Galena. Part of me now feels guilty for accepting the $100 from David and for also giving them small resolution images of themselves. I have made them 20cms wide and 72 dpi so they cannot be reproduced. After such an amazing adventure being with them and leaving in such a rush it feels horrible and sad to have left in such conditions. As Brad and I walk from the plane to his B&B he mentions that he knows that Romey has a trust fund given to her by her grandfather and that she is well off. Brad mentions this because I said I was mystifies how they make money and that it must be through selling weed. In the house I discuss my agenda with Brad and I say he can work me like a dog which he says he won;t do. He also tells me not to be in contact with David Archly. I’m not sure why but perhaps he thinks that Davis is trouble and that the project is over now so it is time to break ties. I will have to remember that for alot, if not all the time with the Atchleys, despite them allowing me to take their photos and helping set up shots, that they were hard work and I must bare this in mind before being too soft in my nostalgia for them. OK, now I cannot write without making a mistake on every word I type so will take a break as I am up to date. IT is 7:20pm and a good time to stop and go online now.

It is 10:58pm. I have just finished for this evening even though it is alot earlier than I am used to normally. I checked my emails, replied to some and made one Instagram/Facebook/Twitter post to notify people that follow me that I am back. I also managed to email myself all of the interviews I made of the Atchleys so I know they are now safe and backed up plus I uploaded my photos to a Google Web Album. Tomorrow I will have to save the photos and video I took from the air to my hard drive and choose the best photos from those for the web album, then the web album is complete for images but I will have to start the task of adding text. I expect it will take all of tomorrow. I did write to Adriana to tell her that I am back and she invited me to Kim and LaRees tomorrow morning for 7th Day adventist church but I explained I will be busy working but she is at the coffee shop tomorrow from 4pm so I said I will try to go to see her then. Earlier Hawken and Colter came to give me pizza from their Mom and they took their cold weather clothes off and came inside to jump up and down on the couches and explore the bedrooms upstairs. I hung out with them for a bit and we played and make jokes and I allowed them t hit me with a fly swat and play with my Olympus action camera as though it was a gun and they would shoot me, bang bang. They loved that. I have messaged Angel on Instagram but he hasn’t answered although I do know he has seen my post from today as he liked it. He is honestly not a real person at all, a bloody sad idiot and I am sick to think that I will be going back to Anchorage to stay with him as he is so hard to deal with. I explained about him to David and Romey today before I left and they couldn’t believe what kind of person he is. The simple truth is though that I cannot go everywhere getting fed up with people and then going on to the next person to tell them how bad the last person is. Everyone has got their faults but some are more intolerable than others. It seems to be my path at the moment to get caught up in the worst cases unfortunately. I mean, the idea right now of being out in the bush is a beautiful one even though the Atchleys, particularly david, have issues. But then they compared to Angel are not a


problem at all because the Atchleys do have a decent side whereas Angel is simply all about himself and ego and money and young women on drugs he uses for sex etc etc. I really have to change my life soon and try to cut these people out of my life that make me feel so ill. I also have to stop these negative thoughts and be happy. Hopefully tomorrow I will have my energy back. It is about -22C here in Galena looking through the window to the balcony with a head torch and 11:14pm. I am sad that my departure from the Atchleys was so fast today, it wasn’t right that I left like that after 3 weeks of such intense work and experiences. IT was a life changing situation despite David’s attitude sometimes. Yes, they were kind to me and perhaps I should;t have taken the $100 or given them such small files of the photos I took of them. The fact is that they did let me stay with them and they did feed me. Romey was always nice and so was Sky and David was nice sometimes. People are people everywhere we go and I mustn’t judge. Hopefully Phil Coomes will make a good piece from this work soon and the Atchleys will be happy when their friends and family tell them how good it is. I also hope that Phil will write me a letter so I can apply for a journalist visa. OK, I am going to bed now as I am very tired and I just hope that there is one good aerial photo out of all of them today that I can use. I did write to David Jury to tell him that I think he will like the work I have produced. It’s weird using social media again and gave me such stress earlier that I was barely able to breath at one point. Living in isolation certainly has its merits.

18 March 2017

I wake at 5:48am and after peeing lie in bed wondering if I will fall asleep again. It is at the forefront of my mind to edit my work as this is all I am living and breathing for right now. So I get up and I am downstairs and writing this by 6:25am. I feed more wood into the large stove, boll water for green tea and eat an MRE ‘nutritious energy bar’ apple and cinnamon flavor. It is -30C and since last night there are have been loud bangs coming from the underside of the building. It is at least 8 feet off the ground, like every building in Galena since they have all been raised up in the air on steel pillars because of the flood in 2015. David Jury has written an email glad that I am back safely to Galena. The energy bar I eat isn’t enough and I eat crackers and peanut butter too, similar to my morning snacks at the Atchleys. Now I must go through the last of my images from the project, edit them, put them into the web album and begin to add text. This part of the project is always ironic because I have waited to get out to the Atchleys, spent alot of money to do so, spent time there and worked very hard to get the material I require and then now it feels like a last gallop to the finish line and slightly rushed and hasty. But the pressure I give myself makes good things happen so I will see how it turns out. Luned also wrote to say there is still a chance she can hand the DVDs to someone who is flying to the UK if I give her my address. Her email was 23 minutes before I replied to her so it was good timing waking up so early this morning. I will come back to this diary soon to update it. Now word from Angel in Anchorage the arrogant twat. I see he has been making a lot of boring food posts on Instagram while I have been gone and one of his latest is of a mao showing a route to Coldfoot, north in Alaska saying how he will drive there for summer solstice but I know full well he will never do it. He never does anything he says he will do and I need to find a word for that. Cry Wolf would be apt since he called his house wolf house and owns the domain name www.wolf.com. Coming back to civilization is a rude awakening to the plight of humanity that is for sure.


It’s 8:55am and I have edited the last photos from this project of the images from Thursday and Friday, yesterday. I am furious with myself that I over exposed the photos of the Atchleys standing outside their cabin on the lake. It’s a big deal to me and my only mistake of the entire project. It was the combination of eating breakfast at 2:30pm, being cold and also knowing that I should have fitted my action camera to the wing strut of the plane while I am waiting for David to finish talking with Brad. Yes, I had been in a hurry to get out of the Atchleys cabin and I thought Brad would want to leave in a hurry but instead he allowed time to talk with David and I could have set up the action camera to get the shots I had been dreaming about for 3 weeks since I arrived to the Atchley’s. The aerial are only overexposed by +0.7 of a stop but it is still a huge amount. The trees are well exposed and the cabin but the snow is washed out and the sky has lost color. I managed to get some well composed images also and they would gave been perfect if they had been slightly under exposed. I did my best in Photoshop and that;s all I can do. It’s now 9am and the sun is just coming up from behind the trees. I had to stop adding text tp the Google web album as I got double vision which is a symptom of my heart murmur. I usually find that closing one eye stops it but not this time and I am concerned that the bicuspid aortic stenosis is getting worse but maybe not…I haven’t had these symptoms for a long time and figure it is because of lack of sleep and stress right now. The over exposed shot is really bugging me and I want to let it go. Maybe Phil won’t even use it…all the other photos are perfect however. The sun is shining of the left side of my face as I type this and I must carry on. I might be able to get this done by mid afternoon so I can go visit Adriana at the Galena Coffee house. It is now -32.5C.

1:43pm. It’s -13.5C outside but I haven’t left the building since I got into it at about 4:30pm yesterday after I landed. I am still working on the web album, adding text, since 6am this morning. I had the MRE energy bar, then two crackers with peanut butter and at midday I had a Cliff Bar. I’m wondering if I can get done by 6pm I can walk to the coffee shop and maybe Adriana will be kind enough to make me a burger. Or I can stay here and make sure the web album it totally done. I have already written an email to Phil Coomes sending him the link to the album with an explanation. I told him that I made one mistake, over exposing the aerial shots of the Atchleys and normally I don’t send him any messed up photos or admit to it. But this time it felt crucial to me to include the images and it has bugged me. But it could be worse and I could have lost my interviews which would be absolutely tragic. While I am going through all of the text I am thinking hard about the Atchleys and they are fully on my mind. On Thursday night I was desperate to leave such was David’s behavior and now I am sad that I has to leave in such a rush. In the time I was was waiting for David to finish talking with Brad I could have finished my oatmeal and saved across the videos of Sky to their pen drive. Now they will have to wait 6 months to get any CD to them. It’s a beautiful sunny day right now and the light is round to the south and streaming in across the table I am at. I have replied again to Luned Gonzalez and as usual she writes annoying emails which confuse the situation. It got cold in this cabin even though the stove has been going since I arrived. I put an extra log on along with the 3 I usually burn every few hours but I have had to put my Baffin boots on due to my lack of activity. I made over 20 interviews on my iPod Touch, by typing them out in real time and now I have about 8 or 9 left to paste into the web album. Perhaps if I hadn’t accepted the $100 and my aerial photos from yesterday were better I would be happier? Or perhaps if I hadn’t of accepted the $100 I would have taken better aerial photos!? It makes me think about the lessons I feel I have either learnt or haven’t quite learnt yet. I can’t help think that stuff will go wrong because I accepted payment for my book


and the tomato paste even though I didn’t pay for it (Adriana gave me 12 cans and so did Sandy). I spent $50 of my own money on gifts for the Atchleys and the book costs $30 but Vered gave it to me for free when the book was first published in 2014. Yes, Romey does have a trust fund that even Brad knew about so maybe she is very well off? Well, I must try to get all of the interviews into the web album today so that I can begin to work for Brad and Lord knows I do owe him for his kindness in flying me twice for $100. By now the Atchleys will just be surfacing at 2pm and no doubt discussing my visit.

It’s 5pm and Brad just came round to drop a water filter osmosis thing off that he wants me to fit to his B&B here. I now have 4 interviews left to copy and paste into the web album. I have managed to do 19 in 11 hours of work today and I could continue but I’m so tired I need to walk to the coffee shop and see Adriana. One I am obviously hoping for a cheeseburger as she makes the best I have ever tasted and Two Brad has given me 12 of his home laid chicken eggs to give to her so asked if I had a date with Adriana tonight. Everyone seems to know something is going on with her and I here and she now seems keen to make it obvious to everyone so no other woman wants to make a move on me. Men are in short supply in town here and are plenty of hungry single women who are up for it. Some pretty tasty too…I’m going to get changed now into my long johns and salopettes as the temperature is fluctuating alot these nights. Very cold at night and warm during the day. I have no idea what time I will get back here so I will dress for extreme cold just in case. I haven;t eaten alot today purposefully as I want to continue to lose weight. I’ll just put my laptop upstairs and get a move on. It’s only -7C right now but ould go past -30C again tonight. I subtly mentioned to Brad about borrowing a snow machine and he didn’t follow up on it so I will leave it for now. If I do some good work for him first then he might lend me one of his soon. I’ll be here for 2 weeks so have time to do some good work for him and hope I can make him happy as I do feel I owe him.

19 March 2017

2:13pm. I have now been writing this diary for a month. 19th February to 19th March. It’s been a challenge and to tell the truth I am glad the month is up. Maybe I could continue it as the adventure never ends but I will have to see. Maybe I will have more time now this project has ended? In a way I wish I had kept a diary for all of my years of documentary photography as it would be truly amazing to read of all the stuff I have. So…yesterday I had done 11 hours of inserting interviews into the web album and right now, today, I have finished the web album finally. It has take 4 hours just to do the last 4 interviews, namely because Brad’s eldest son and second child out of 3 kindly came with a small ziplock bag of 3 cookies for me from his Mom and wanted to hang out. Yesterday I went to the coffee shop and Adriana kindly made me a cheeseburger with bacon and fries and I sat there talking with her until 7pm when she closed up. A native girl came in very very drunk and ordered a burger and sat and spoke with me. She started by saying how much she fucking loves Trump but didn’t realize he is cutting budget and funds to native people. Finally Mike, Adriana’s 25 year old son came to collect her in the old yellow Chevrolet V8 pickup that he first collected me in from the Airport in


December 2015. In fact it was Adriana who first invited me to Galena to document the village and it was Mike that told me about the Atchleys even though he didn’t know where they lived or what their names were. So the Hevezis helped me for sure. Mike bugs me because he is pretty immature but a normal twenty something in that respect so there’s nothing bad about that. He talks the talk but doesn’t deliver and that’s what gets to me but as a human who helps his Mom I should respect him. After the burger Adriana asks me if I want to go with her in Mikes pickup back to her home and I uhm and urgh about it. Really I’d like to get back to Brad’s B&B to finish going through the interviews off but then realize it is rude of me to just eat the free burger and leave and I haven’t see her for 3 weeks. I go back and Mike drops us off. He shakes my hand as he leaves and I wish him a good evening. Adriana and I go in, drink tea, she eats as she was too busy making burgers for people. It gets to 11pm and I end up staying the night but am worried that Brad will be pissed off and really

want to get back early to be around in case he pops in. I get up when it is only just light and am in the room where I slept on my first visit to Galena which is ironic but which now is Adriana’s bedroom. She doesn’t have running water or a toilet or shower or a washing machine so wants to walk with me back to the Scottons as she regularly uses their shower in exchange for her baby sitting for them. Adrianas makes two fried eggs and toast for me using the eggs I walked around to her at the coffee shop yesterday which Brad handed to me for her. We walk back very slowly as Adriana has short legs and is unfit. I admit I am in a massive hurry now and it’s obvious by my attitude that I wish to race ahead and walk at least twice as fast she she does. We take a ‘short cut’ to the school instead of walking past Kim and LaRee’s house in case they see Adriana and I together and I carry Adrian’s bag with a towel in and shampoo and I ask what is in it as it weighs a ton. Adriana is originally from


Ecuador and on my first visit she asked me to sleep with her so we have some kind of a casual thing going on. I admit I enjoy her company as she is very kind and funny but I also feel bad as I can tell she desperately wants to be loved and I am just a guy that travels and is too serious about only ever taking photos and I am not a guy that could always be there for her. Weirdly I don’t really find her attractive although she was far prettier than Susan Sarandon when she was younger. It’s just that she is kind and that it what I like about her. She has put on weight since I was first here which is why I feel bad for being involved with her but also feeling like I always need to run away. But I agree with her when she tells me we will always be friends. Hawken is 9 and sitting to me trying to use my iPod and laptop and Adriana comes round to the B&B after her shower at the Scotttons. She is waiting here for Mike to collect her after he finishes work at 1pm and it is before midday so I am now getting very stressed trying to copy and paste the final interviews into the web album and concentrate hard bit also talk to her without blatantly rude. Yes, I should break away from my laptop altogether but I have worked so damn hard for the past month it is just ridiculously unfair to be kept back from completing this project when I am a couple of hours away from completing the whole thing. Now all I need to do is wrap this diary up too, if David Jury deems that OK after I have sent him a copy. I’m not sure I even have it in me to spell check this before sending it to him as there are so many words and need to find the time later in the week to go through it all as I need to fit Brad’s water osmosis thing to the B&B sink today so he can see I am starting to pull my weight whilst staying here rent free. I did take some laxative fibre powder twice at Adriana’s and today it works well. I hope to now get moe fibre in my diet here even though I will be surviving solely off MRE’s until I get back to Anchorage. I will fly back to the UK 13 May so have approximately 6 weeks in Anchorage but might stay here longer to work for Brad, especially if he wants to pay me as that would be handy. But first I need to make sure he pays me after I have cleared what invisible unspoken debt there is for flying me to and from the Atchleys for only $100. This morning when I woke up it was -30C and now it is just over -10C. I am cold however as I am eating less and am wearing the Sleeka jacket. Time to email this diary to David Jury and go over the web album to check it’s in good shape. For 3 weeks work with this diary and all the masses of interviews and audio recordings it is an extremely impressive body of work and I will be interested to see what direction it goes in.

End www.edgold.co.uk


Profile for Ed Gold

Positive Futures 04  

Positive Futures 04 is part of a documentary photography series about off-grid and alternative living. This magazine leads on from the origi...

Positive Futures 04  

Positive Futures 04 is part of a documentary photography series about off-grid and alternative living. This magazine leads on from the origi...

Profile for edgold
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