Moving to Alaska was a childhood dream. Throughout my life, I asked what it was like to live here in Alaska to those who had lived here. I had daydreamed about moving here since I was a kid, reading actual paper books, and getting lost in the stories of this “far away land.”
The day came when I looked in the mirror and saw this woman staring back at me, and I was trying to figure out what had happened.
Where did the time go?
Suddenly, the hyper 20 something that I felt that I still was now had a late 30 – something woman staring back at me in the mirror. I knew it was happening, but there it was — the very moment in time where the reality of getting a little older fully sinks in.
I thought to myself, “you’re not getting any younger.” We all have that moment, I’m sure. But, for each of us, it’s always a little different.
All the dreams and plans we had for our lives had not fully come to pass, if at all. I had become very used to my comfort zone. My life consisted of working, helping my family, laundry, dishes, and a daily routine. The same was true with Daryl.
Then the day came, after talking about moving to Alaska for most of my life at this point;
My family got on board.
Are you guys serious?
The excitement set in, and we started forming a game plan.
Five more years passed because life will always toss you a million excuses or struggles. Or, things flat out get in the way because we let them.
Then one day, the house goes on the market, finally!
This plan going into action is a pivotal moment when most of your family and friends think you have lost your mind. Literally.
A few people said they were jealous and wished they were moving to Alaska too!
Then somewhere around another two years pass, and the house is still for sale — because not many people like living an hour away from the nearest mall.
By this time, we were wondering if this would ever happen.
It’s at this point that our son introduces us to the girl he had fallen head over heels for. After supper, one night, one of us brought up the move. I remember asking her, are you sure you want to go? She said, “hell yeah! I was born there!”
Just like that, the wind was put back in my sails, and I was reminded that everything happens at certain times for a reason.
We did a partial remodel on the house. And we gave the trim on the outside a fresh coat of paint.
It wasn’t long after that my husband inquired about another job posting. Looking for work in Alaska was not out of the norm for him, but he usually would get an answer that he would have to be in Alaska first to apply.
He had the work history, experience, knowledge, references, etc. We were just not here yet.
At that point, he had been with the small trucking company he worked for almost ten years. He thought he had just found another small family-run company like where he currently was.
He had found a company that wanted a driver with a clean driving record and experience. They also wanted a couple to work for them.
The owners of this company explained at great length how they kept going through employees that would come and go and how they desperately needed dependable people. They told us how the man’s ailing father was not in good health and how they would need to leave at times to fly out to Arizona to take care of his parents. Her grandfather, as we were told, was also in poor health. They had bought their company from him.
When they found out, there were four of us moving together, they said they would happily put everyone to work.
That is the micro version of that part of the story. But this is how the new plan was born.
We all talked about it in-depth. Being the type of person I am, I researched this company, and I could not find anything negative online. I still had a nagging feeling that would not go away, but I ignored it after asking about a thousand questions. (Maybe more knowing me)
I chalked that feeling up to being a bit nervous about it because I knew this move was fixing to happen, and it was now happening fast.
*If you are moving or thinking about moving to Alaska, you may want to read this: Moving to Alaska*
The couple who owned this company explained that they offer employee housing to everyone who works for them. The reason was the lack of accommodations available in rural Alaska. In the town of 400, where this company was at that time, there were not a lot of rentals, they explained.
They knew our house was on the market already, and we all thought it was the perfect plan until our house sold. Once that happened, we would find our land and start building. On the surface, this seemed to be a fool-proof plan, especially considering that we wanted to be further out in the country than we already were.
For us, adding another couple of hours to get to town for supply runs was not going to be an issue at all. We do not like city life.
I watched the new realtor we had just signed a new contract with put a new sign in the yard. Standing there, I thought back to the days when I was a teenager lying in my bed, reading books about Alaska & the Yukon.
Chasing Pipe Dreams
That “pipe dream” of mine had become all of our dreams. Our closest friends soon realized that this was not something that I had just talked about for years on end. Instead, we had found a new way to make this happen without waiting any longer for the house to sell.
When people I barely knew (or didn’t know at all) heard rumors that we were moving to Alaska, the stories and the tales started pouring in. It was like we had just been plucked out of our own lives and put straight into a reality show.
That’s small town living…
I was close to losing my mind a few times when I was asked for the millionth time, “So are y’all going to be the Alaskan Bush People?” The short answer to that would be – NO! Not on your life! I’m not too fond of that show, although my husband found the stupidity of it all funny for some reason.
Soon, everyone found out that three out of four of us had never even set foot on Alaska’s soil. Our DIL was born here but had no memory because she was so young when her parents left.
I would try to explain that we knew “what we are getting into,” but people didn’t understand for the most part.
Many days and nights were spent dreaming and researching a place I had never even been to. This was not just a decision that was made on a whim. Long before reality tv was a thing, I had my nose in books and asked lots of questions.
There is a word for being homesick for a place you’ve never been to. It is “Fernweh.”
It is a German word that describes a “far sickness” or “a longing to be somewhere you have never been.”
The closest word in the English language to compare “Fernweh” would be “Wanderlust,” in today’s terms, I suppose. Still, it does not do it justice – not even close.
North, to Alaska!
The cargo trailer was packed to the max, and what had not fit or was not deemed necessary for a move of this type had already been sold.
Finally, it was almost time to head north, to Alaska!
Daryl had flown out the day before because the company needed him there. Of course, that was something he and the rest of us were not okay with, but it’s the way it happened.
When he landed, after arriving in Anchorage, he called. The excitement in his voice was like no other as he described what he was seeing. The couple picked him up we had gone to work for, and they drove him back out to the area we were to call home.
When he arrived, he called again to check in with us. I could almost see the beauty of this place through his voice. However, the excitement somewhat faded when the reality kicked in for both of us that the kids, Jack (our German Shephard) and I, were setting out the following day for that 4,000-mile journey home.
Daryl went over last-minute details, doing what good husbands and dads do best.
The last night in that house was very surreal. Jack was wound up not understanding why his bed was gone. I was wound up and ready to go. We ate supper and camped out in the living room in sleeping bags, telling stories and wondering how the trip would be. I was also going over the last-minute to-do list in my head.
Morning came. It was July 1st, and I was ready to go. I don’t think any of us slept well that night, but it was now time to head out. We said our goodbyes and hit the road. The only thing left to do was stop in town to get a spare tire for the trailer on our way out. Finding that tire proved to be more difficult than it should have been. We ended up finding one right before crossing the Canadian border after driving across the country.
As we made our way into Dallas that afternoon, I realized that I had been so focused on everything but the fact that this was a significant holiday week for not only the United States but Canada as well. Two major holidays and we were going to hit the traffic for both.
And, we did.
After going through some nasty weather and a couple of tornado warnings, we finally arrived at the border crossing at the end of day two.
We went through the crossing and had to go in and answer questions, which was fine, of course. Then, we had to pull the trailer into a building, and a border agent did a random search on that. Then, after all that was done, we went into the next town to stop for the night, our first night in Canada.
The further north we drove, the more daylight we had. That started messing with me right off the bat, but I didn’t fully realize it at the time.
Even with the extra traffic and RVs for the holidays, the further north we came, the fewer people there were except for touristy locations and construction zones. But, of course, there was no lack of construction zones that year.
As we got closer to getting here, somewhere in the Canadian Rockies, I realized that this place – this place I had never been to, that I had longed for, for so long, is home. I felt it to my core, with no doubts about Alaska herself whatsoever.
When I stopped at the border crossing to cross into Alaska, I realized that everything I thought I knew was spot on. However, it was on a much, much larger scale than I could have ever imagined. I only thought I knew what wide-open spaces were! There was so much that was and still is just waiting for me to learn!
When the border officer said, “Welcome Home,” I know I must have been smiling from ear to ear.
As I sat on the other side of the border crossing, parked with Jack, my faithful four-legged buddy, waiting for the “kids” to come through, I thought, “I am FINALLY HERE! After all these years, I am finally here!”
We made it to Glennallen, our final stop, after a few more hours on the road. We took a short break after being reunited with Daryl. Then, we started unloading mattresses and a few belongings into employee housing.
The plans had changed ten or more times once we took those jobs, but we were all finally here.
All of us went right to work, and the rest of the summer flew by in a flash. With the traffic of tourist season, all four of us were kept extremely busy with the workload of that company. Most days, I had lost track of what time it was because of how busy we were and was not used to having 20 hours of daylight.
Things were going sideways, and we all had the same gut feeling. The excuses were wearing thin, and the warnings to our family had started coming in.
As we talked, we were hurt, angry, and at a loss. But, we had to keep pressing forward…