With regards to my siblings:  Mark Gaede, Mishal Gaede, and Patti Gaede, who don’t pretend to be locals. They are locals.

A single-prop Cessna 206 at Anaktuvuk Pass, in the Brooks Range — flown by Dwayne King, a local. (2009)

“We left Anchorage for the wilderness,” the travel writer for the Post said in so many words. He was driving to the Kenai Peninsula. The “wilderness”? This man has not been to Galena, Anaktuvuk Pass, Point Hope, Dillingham, …places I’d consider a bit more remote than the Kenai Peninsula – wherein lies my hometown of Soldotna. We don’t even consider our Gaede-80 homestead remote anymore, seeing that it is now surrounded by subdivisions.

The writer went on to say that most people live in Anchorage. I read that three times. Anchorage does have the largest population of any settlement in Alaska, but I got the impression he believed life didn’t really exist anywhere else; well, except in that wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula.

“Few of them (locals) spend much time on cruise ships, or flying over the Brooks Range in single-props. ..” Let’s stop right here. I fail to see the similarity of a cruise ship and flying in a single-prop over one of the most remote areas of Alaska.  My one time on a cruise ship was not like my several trips to Anaktuvuk Pass, located in the middle of the Brooks Range, of which one was in a Piper PA-14 Family Cruiser with a single prop..  It’s true, locals probably avoid cruise ships.  However, you may find some locals on the Alaska Marine Highway.

“But a lot settle down in the Last Frontier because of the nearby (read: ability to get there in a Subaru) wilderness….”  Amazing! Alaskans choose the Last Frontier for accessibility to the wilderness in a car?  Wrong again. The locals define wilderness as a place Subarus cannot access. The sourdoughs didn’t choose a population hub. Bush pilots don’t. Missionaries don’t. School teachers don’t. Commercial fishermen and women don’t. Biologists and seismologists don’t. And …there are indigenous people in Alaska and the Native population does not all reside in Anchorage.

His comments about Anchorage were not complementary. We all know what it means when someone chooses the word “charming” to describe “lack of with-it-ness” and not a “vortex of culture.” I sensed disgust. Again, he suggested the reader not act like a tourist, but a local, and reported jubilantly that he’d found a Japanese sushi bar.  I thought locals ate moose, caribou, smoked salmon strips, halibut, trout, ptarmigan, giant cabbage, and blueberries.

Before using the Travel section for kindling, I took a deep breath and read on. One day he “played tourist.” I read that again. He never started a chainsaw, flew in a bush plane, chopped wood, mended a fence so the moose couldn’t finish off the cauliflower, checked out a tide table for clam digging or set-netting, asked about berry picking, or bought a blue tarp, but he thought he was blending in with the locals.

His final paragraph: “Boy do the locals love their java!” What locals was he talking about? The locals I know love their tall, black rubber boots; a newly sharpened ax; airplane wing covers; fleece; rhubarb; the smell of damp moss on a drizzly day; buying bread that is only a week old; finding a matching set of about anything at the one Home Depot on the Kenai Peninsula; and early August, when the tourists stop clogging the road through town, the road to Anchorage, and Fred Meyer’s parking lot.

It would be an eye-opener for him to read any of my Prescription for Adventure books, where, yes, Alaskans actually fly in a single-prop airplane to the Brooks Range.  There is human life outside Anchorage.  Ask a local.

Here I am in Anaktuvuk Pass, in the Brooks Range, in 2009. I was also in Anaktuvuk in 1962, and 1988. I am not in or on a Suburu.

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 What does “a local” mean where you live?

If you’ve been to Alaska, what was your observation about the “locals”?

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