A retired law enforcement officer turned pilot and a former math teacher chose to leave their home in Texas for a cabin in the wilderness of Alaska. They left life as they knew it behind to start fresh in the land of the Last Frontier.
Their cabin on Cub Lake was only accessible by bush plane in the summer or snow machine during the winter, making life challenging. They knew their learning curve would be steep. What they didn't realize was living on a homestead in the wilderness of Alaska would make them face obstacles they had never experienced before.
This new chapter forced them to take every skill that they had learned in their lives to the next level. Hunting, fishing, gardening, and flying would all become key to thriving off-the-grid. Arctic temperatures and wild animals in the Alaska bush provided countless adventures. These tales may make you laugh, make you cry, and might possibly inspire you to follow your own dreams!
While enjoying the majestic nature surrounding them, they also learned to work together like never before. The two of them have dealt with everything from crazy chickens to bears, and ultimately even looked death squarely in the eyes. Throughout it all, Ann knew there was no place she would rather be than with Shon when he suggested, “Follow Me to Alaska.”
What makes two people sell everything they own in Texas and move to a cabin off-grid and off the road system in Alaska? This chapter delves into why we moved and what we did to prepare ourselves for the transition. Telling our friends and family about our plans created quite a stir and many people thought we had lost our minds.
What did we know about moving to the Alaskan bush? Nothing! We did it all wrong, and it took us months to get our few belongings to the cabin on Cub Lake. There were times I thought we needed to pack up and move back to Texas. It might have been frustrating to us at the time, but every problem we faced made an exciting story later! Feel free to laugh at or learn from our many mistakes.
We moved from a cul-de-sac in El Paso, Texas, to a cabin off-grid and off the road system in Alaska! We brought our daughter-in-law with us. It was a culture shock, to say the least. We could no longer turn on the heater when we needed heat. We had to gather enough wood to last us through our first winter. Instead of running by the grocery store when we needed something, we had to get enough supplies to last us for a couple of months. My husband, Shon, and I bought many of our supplies in bulk to last a year. What we didn’t have, we learned to live without. Our first few months were challenging as we learned to adjust to life in the wilderness of Alaska.
We didn’t know what that first winter would bring. Before we knew it, we had a new mode of transportation: snow machines. Shon and I quickly realized that winter was the time to get around in our beautiful winter wonderland. Our frigid adventures included making trips over the frozen Yentna River to pick up mail and supplies. The frozen tundra allowed traveling to become easier, providing us the opportunity to meet neighbors across the river. Not only did we make some new friends, but we also got to know Bob and Ruth, the original owners of the cabin on Cub Lake. Most importantly, Kuma, a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy, became an important addition to the Parker household.
Summer in Alaska is glorious. After seeing the white snow for so long, catching a glimpse of the first green blade of grass is exciting. Getting into the canoe when the lake has finally thawed is such a treat! There are some jobs that can only be completed during the summer. Building, gardening, and picking berries were all activities that required our attention during the summer months. Even though most of our activities were tame, there were times when an idyllic day took a turn towards the wild side. Who knew that dogs, mice, roosters, bears, and moose can cause such chaos?
One might think that life shuts down in Alaska when everything freezes and the snow flies. Nothing is further from the truth. Our world opened up when snow machine season rolled around. Traveling a few miles across the muskeg went from impossible to reasonably straightforward as the terrain changed from summer to winter. Getting supplies, visiting with neighbors, and getting our firewood became routine, but not without plenty of lessons along the way. And to top it all off, seeing the dogs racing in the Iditarod just a few miles from our cabin has been thrilling!
Aviation in Alaska is unique. It is a way of life, not just a mode of transportation or a hobby. Alaskan airplanes are highly modified, and the pilots are a breed of their own. This chapter introduces some of my favorite Alaskan pilots and the influence they have had on our lives.
Getting our own little two-seat airplane changed our lives. Not only could we travel in the winter by snow machine, we now had a way to get around in the summer. My husband, Shon, was back in the pilot’s seat and was enjoying every minute. Making short takeoffs and landings from Cub Lake was challenging, but thrilling to both of us. Our highly modified little PA-12, N3227M, was definitely life-changing.
Shon had 13 seconds from the time his engine quit until he hit the ground in the little two-seat airplane. This chapter tells his story, including the days leading up to the crash, what he remembers from those 13 seconds and the rescue that followed. It tells of Shon’s miraculous survival and God’s protection throughout the ordeal.
The road to recovery is always longer than expected. Ours was no exception. Recovering the wreckage was heart-wrenching, as was watching Shon suffer from his extensive injuries. Surrounded by friends and loved ones who cried with us, and then made us laugh, helped with the healing. Life as we knew it changed. We made adjustments to accommodate our new situation, but life went on at the cabin on Cub Lake.
Before Shon left the hospital, he had already decided that the crash was not going to stop him from flying again. Within a year, he was flying in and out of Cub Lake once more. This time around he even had a new little passenger.
I cleaned out my flowerbed awhile back and found this plant. I was hoping it was a flower and kept it. Now that I have moved all of my irises, it has had room to grow and bloom. I would love for someone to help me identify it!
This may be the most beautiful moose I have ever seen. We spotted her on the way to McCarthy. My husband, Shon, stopped the truck, I rolled down the window, and I talked softly to the pretty girl. I was amazed at her coloring and muscles....
Did you know that there is white sweet clover in Alaska? I mean A LOT of white sweet clover… It is all over my yard. I love it. It smells divine. I go out on my porch when the clover is in bloom and deeply breath in the heavenly smel...
Do you notice all of the dead spruce trees? If you look closely, you might even notice one that is broken off. A few years ago, spruce beetles came through our neck of the woods. We did our best to protect the huge spruce trees a...
This Fourth of July, Shon and I flew across the Yentna River to celebrate our independence with our small river community. When we arrived, I realized that there were quite a few people at the party that I didn’t know. There were some w...