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Becoming Alaskan • A blog about life at the end of the road

Ever wonder what it's like to give up everything and move to bush Alaska? I didn't. Not until I met my future husband on an internet dating site. After two years of dating, I took one giant plunge and left my home, career, family and friends in British Columbia to join him in bush Alaska. We later moved to Homer and now live beside stunning Kachemak Bay. I am Sarah in Alaska (but not that Sarah). These are my stories.

Chillin' Down Under

I know a few people who split their time between New Zealand and North America, never getting to experience winter. I see the method to their madness because I tell you, winter in New Zealand isn't as lovely as it is in North America.

I am going to grouse a bit... I can't feel my toes (I tend to grouse when I can't feel my toes.) I was living in a land of Cadbury-fueled nirvana until the weather turned. That's when it dawned on me just how uninsulated New Zealand houses actually are. I know there's a good reason for uninsulated houses down here, I just don't know what it is.

The Hostel that Stole the Show

So Hunter and I have been working on a plan to see as much of the South Island as we can on the wee little travel budget we have. It was Easter last weekend and for Hunter, that meant a four day weekend. So I got to work on a trip to the South of the South Island.

I figured we'd hit up the south end of the South Island before Winter set in and head north as it gets colder. So I booked us a trip to Invercargill and the Catlins. The area known as The Catlins is a sparsely-populated, rugged and exquisitely scenic area on the South Island between Dunedin and Invercargill.

The Kiwi Rings Twice

Three months in and we're finally getting a handle on life in New Zealand. While Hunter and I navigate all the complexities of setting up a new life down under, the kids have adapted like little champs.

There are some very simple things that are new for my kids. Things that I took for granted growing up but as Alaskan kids, they wouldn't necessarily have access to. First is sidewalks. The street we now live on is basically one giant oval and there is a new sidewalk that goes around the whole thing. For two kids with access to scooters and tricycles, it's heaven! 

Doorbells are another

Breaking out the Stretchy Pants

We've been in New Zealand for a month or so now. I still love it here.

Before I left, my uncle told me two things about New Zealand: the internet is horrible and so is the food. While I can agree about the internet (it took us nearly five weeks to get internet hooked up) I have to wonder what he was eating.

New Zealand takes eating to a whole new level. For starters, they have Cadbury and lots of it. As I type this to you, I'm sucking on a velvety, rum-infused dark chocolate. Quietly. Because I don't want to share.

They have all sorts of delicious Cadbury chocolate down here.

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

It’s been five days and New Zealand is amazing. There are so many things to love here.

We arrived in Auckland on Monday morning. To put it mildly, we planned poorly for our arrival. We had a two-hour layover between our arrival from the States and our connecting flight to Christchurch. I thought that would be more than enough time. Turns out it wasn’t.

We brought a mountain of luggage along for the ride. Air New Zealand allowed us each a 60lb bag and two carry on pieces. We packed that, plus a duffel bag full of fishing gear and one hunting bow in a ridiculously awkward case. 

We landed

Bad Mood Thwarted

For several weeks now, we’ve been waiting for our passports and visas to arrive from London.

What we didn’t know was that the process of getting a visa approved was the quick part.  The process of sticking said visa into your passport and mailing it to you could take upward of a month. That’s a long time to wait when you didn't realize you'd have to wait so long.

I woke up last Monday feeling like my life was moving at a glacial pace – like the universe was trying to teach me an unwanted lesson in patience.

Alaskans Down Under

I decided to turn my life over to chaos. I tend to do that every few years. Must be from growing up with a Mountie for a dad. We moved a lot and I think I got used to shaking things up.
We’ve been in Homer five years and I’ve been yearning for a shake-up. Luckily for me, the fates agreed and handed our little family a very cool opportunity.
Hunter’s contract with his last employer stipulated that he could not work in his field for 12 months after said contract’s end. As we neared the end of his contract, we had a few options.

Up a Creek without a Paddle

A few years ago some friends and I hiked into Grewingk Glacier Lake for the first time. Hunter dropped us off at Glacier Spit and took off for a day of fishing with his best friend.

My friends and I hiked the lovely flat trail into the lake and sat down for a picnic at the edge of the glacier lake. Two men came along as we sat down to our picnic and started inflating tiny rafts that they'd pulled out of a backpack.

I'd never seen a pack raft before. I was in awe of the glacier and I wanted to see more of it. I wanted to get up close. I thought what they were up to was pure genius.

Sarah's 29 Things you Learn While Living in Alaska

My amazing friend, Heather posted a like on Facebook this morning... 29 things you learn while living in Alaska. Check it out, it's a fun read but it got me thinking. If that's the best one can do after even a year in Alaska, you're not doing it right.

The Last Frontier is a place like none other. Anyone can come here and live an ordinary life but why would you? It would be a perfect waste of a perfectly extraordinary place.

So here are Sarah's 20 Things you Learn while Living in Alaska

1. The True Meaning of Subsistence
Living in the city, I didn't know the first thing about subsistence living.

Summer Bucket List

It's been rainy in Homer lately. Wet, soggy, cloudy and windy: a whole, miserable enchilada smothered in lamesauce.

What's particularly cruel about it is that school starts next week. For a lot of people, that's the end of summer. I had high hopes for this summer when May's heat wave hit. Now my standards are lower - I'll go out in almost anything if only to knock something off this summer's bucket list.

This weekend is not looking good for my planned sortie.