Who the hell is this Alaskan Dude anyways?
The Alaskan Dude is just that: A Dude from Alaska.
Born and raised in an old miner's cabin on a river, I grew up without the amenities that are expected in contemporary western culture, such as electricity, running water, a grocery store, or Playboy Magazines. Less than a week after graduating high school in Anchorage I began commercial fishing, an occupation I have left and returned to several times since, even as far from home as the Florida Keys. But it wasn't until after my stint in the United States Marine Corps, when I had already hunted and worked in nearly every corner of my home state, that I began to really travel.
Suffocating under the weight of the dubious freedom the average American pretends to enjoy, I lost all patience for the day to day routines. The monotony of the same people and places and things simply became too much to bear. I was sitting at a gun show in Palmer Alaska behind a table full of Saturday Night Specials on the morning of my birthday, when I made one of the most profound decisions of my life. I made my mind in a mater of seconds, and on another vender's table few moments later, found the backpack that would be my only companion for a very long time. It was a hunting pack, and when I told the man selling it I'd be using it to hitchhike to the lower 48 he looked at me as though something were hanging out of my nose. I was a bachelor, self employed as a night shift taxi driver/under the counter gun dealer, and no mortgage or debt of any kind. My loose ends were minimal. My stars were in alignment. The die was cast.
I started scribbling the idea onto my note pad. I began making rules, my rules for the Road. I've never been in the habit of behaving like everyone else, or even how others thought I should, and I wasn't about to start on the Road. The rules poured out of my brain faster than I could write them down. Such as no sex on the Road, no panhandling, no alcohol unless the situation demanded it (this would later prove to be a very important clause), never say no to something new unless it breaks a rule...and being a man of principle, I would die before these rules would be broken; which was nearly the case on several occasions. It was clear to me that with my background I could approach the Road in a novel way. Anyone lazy enough can become a bum and live off of the fat of humanity, but that wasn't what I had in mind; I was going to be a traveler in the purist sense. My way on the highway.
My first time striking out on foot I spent 2 years tramping North America with that backpack. Wandering from place to place, from time to time looking up old friends or briefly making new ones. Alone and living by my wits, I discovered that the drifter life seemed to be custom built just for me. Challenging and unpredictable, the Road utilized every skill set that had been necessary to cultivate my entire life. I was hooked. I've been running more or less ever since, taking time to visit with family here and there and seeing how big my nieces have grown, or spending a season killing fish, but it's been clear from my first day hanging my thumb out on the side of the Road: I will die with asphalt in my veins.
With the ways of the world foisted upon me I am constantly faced with circumstances and scenarios that test me physically and emotionally, and push my constitution to its very limits. To sleep anywhere, from abandoned buildings to caves and even a week and a half under a public bathroom on a beach; finding shelter can be good sport. To eat anything, I hunt and fish, I'm not above dumpster diving, and after 3 days without a bite of food, no house cat is safe. To lose all prejudice when meeting a stranger, and accept the notion that despite what I might think about them or their appearance back on the block, they are all just people, and with few exceptions, the very best of intentions; even if they are remarkably fucked up. From college professors to the most derelict crack heads, we're all just chasing happy. The patience it takes to keep myself company when the time between rides approaches a week. Solitude is a powerful thing. If you lack the introspection to make it work for you, to learn and grow from it as a human being, it can damn sure ruin you.
These are a few of the most basic lessons the Road has to teach anyone willing to learn. To embrace the Road and all it has to offer, one must sacrifice whatever it asks. And these lessons can be very costly. Nearly all of them hurt, many of them hurt quite a lot, but nothing given has value. My life is the richer for it, filled with invaluable memories and friends, the perspective that leaves me feeling as though I make a difference in the world, and of course, very itchy feet. And who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll catch a ride into that magical place that really needs an Alaskan Dude. Meet a chick that trips my trigger, and hang around for the next 50 or 60 years. But until then I keep moving, surviving, living and learning. Nobody is allowed to see it all, but I can sure as hell try.
As is the nature of such things, there's always more to be seen, and the Road is calling me to wilder, more exotic places. There is always a next level. The hunger to experience life outside any known context is driving me into Latin America. I will wander on foot through Mexico, Central America, into the Amazon and hopefully beyond. No goal or destination, no friends or family, only the Road and where it leads me.
This is where you can follow me and my great joys and hardships.
Enjoy the ride...