I am always amazed at those hardy women who can live in extremely remote places. Welcome Ambassador Jamie to blog and read her interview with a woman who inspires her.
I’m surrounded by amazing women and I am truly blessed because of it. I choose to be surrounded by such lovely women due to their amazing attributes. One friend in particular really inspires me to step outside of my comfort zone, her name is Amanda Bowman. You see, to live in Alaska and enjoy the outdoors, you gotta be hardy. It’s not for the faint of heart. Amanda has to hike in and out to her cabin either rain, shine, snow or negative temps. I’m so inspired when I hear of her adventures and everyday living.
Tell us a little about yourself and the homestead.
For the past 2 years I have lived on my family’s homestead in a cozy log cabin, off the grid and off the road in Alaska’s Mat-Su valley with my husband and 2-year-old son. We have no running water, but an outhouse and a spring. Our power comes from solar panels in the summer and a small generator in the winter. No fridge, T.V. or neighbors. We have a few raised bed gardens, but are in no way living off the land or self-sustaining. (I don’t think I could do that; it sounds romantic, but is actually incredibly difficult in practice and requires more human resources than I have available.) It is magically beautiful living in an untouched, wild place. In the winter it’s impossible to not know the phase of the moon, if there was an aurora last night or notice fresh tracks in the snow. In the never-ending day that is summer, we explore as if we were the first humans through this place on earth, which may in fact be the case. So although it is with tremendous effort that we make life way out there work, it is a priceless life experience.
What does an average trip of hiking in/out of the homestead look like for you?
We do a big haul of non-perishables in the spring, but we still need to hike into town for fresh produce and supplies twice a month. Depending on trail conditions, it’s about a 2-hour trek over tundra and creeks and through the woods to get out. Once we get to our truck parked at the trailhead, it’s another 1 1/2 hour drive to the store (that’s a 7 hour commute). The round trip can be grueling so if possible I try to break it into two days, or just one of us goes and gets back late in the night. When I do take my son, I try to be as prepared as possible: check the weather and have appropriate gear, clothing, snacks, and toys. It’s nice when I can time the hike with his sleep schedule. When he was a baby it was easier because he slept most of the hike in and out. Now that he’s older I talk with him as we walk… he loves listening for bird calls. I’ve had my share of difficult hikes that I wouldn’t want to do again… blisters, rolled ankles, heavy packs, falls on ice or into mud, but the worst by far is a crying baby! I’ve run the last 1/4 mile home with a 35+ lb pack singing nursery rhymes at the top of my lungs to my screaming child, every nerve frayed… what else can one do? I often heard Dory in my head… just keep swimming, just keep swimming…. We always make it.
What or who inspired you to become an “outdoor woman?”
Being surrounded by wildlife and nature is the inspiration. It’s peaceful, calming and grounding for me, yet I would not describe myself as an “outdoor woman.” I don’t fish, hunt, or feel the need to start fire with sticks. It’s more about being in touch with myself as part of this world and not outside or apart from it.
What are your goals?
I think I’m like most moms, daily survival of sanity is a challenge. I’m just trying to raise a kind, competent, thoughtful son.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
Before becoming a parent, I would have said rock climbing, trail running, sailing, or some other energetic activity. But really the best thing for me these days is just being still and observing the world. If there’s a log to sit on and a cup of hot coffee in my hand – even better!
Tell us about a favorite adventure.
Life. Everyday we get choices to experience something new or try what we already know. Becoming a parent has probably been my biggest adventure. But you’re looking for more of an event huh?
What adventures do you have planned for the future?
Nothing planned for sure, but we’ve got plenty that we’d like to do if we can work it out… like sailing again, another kid, traveling near and far and more trips into town.
You lived on a boat for awhile, tell us a little about that.
My husband and I sailed from San Francisco, California, across the Pacific Ocean to Brisbane, Australia. We lived on our 36-foot boat, and it was surprisingly similar to living on the homestead. Provisioning for long passages requires the same meal planning, water and power usage awareness, and overall need for self-reliance.
Which have you enjoyed more, living on the homestead or the boat. Why?
It’s impossible to say. Our sailing life was pre-parenthood. I love the kind of learning and experiences that come with traveling. And being able to bring your home with you is amazing! But it is still traveling so there’s a lot of hassles and stress. Being out at the homestead disconnects you in both the good and bad ways; it can be very isolating. Yet there’s a certain freedom and comfort there that is like no other place.
Can you share some unique things that happen on the homestead with a toddler in tow?
I’m sorry, but nothing comes to mind. He’s just your regular, above average toddler, doing amazing milestone things. Like most moms, he comes with me to the bathroom. It’s just that our bathroom is an outhouse, so we see spruce grouse there. And instead of going to the playground we just go outside and explore what’s out there…
I’d love to build confidence to hike solo, so what helped you to hike by yourself? What would you say to other ladies who want to hike solo?
Hiking in and out of the homestead is sometimes the only and best exercise I can get. And because it’s necessary I can’t overthink it or get out of it if I’m feeling lazy or anxious. All I can do is think ahead to anticipate my needs and be prepared. Once I get going, it’s almost always enjoyable, at least parts of it.
For other people that want to get out hiking but are freaked out I’d say… carry bear spray (counter assault), sing/talk to yourself or play music (just be noisy) wear a bear bell, bring snacks and water, spend money on good gear (xtratufs, rain pants & coat, wool socks, backpack, headlamp, etc) so you can be comfortable. Make sure someone knows where you plan to hike and text them your ETA before you go and when you’ve arrived back safely. And then just go!
Where haven’t you been that you’d like to go?
I would love to sail the Mediterranean!
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I’d like them to know that climate change is real! The environment needs protection! These should not be partisan issues; we all rely on clean water to drink and clean air to breath for our survival.
Thanks Amanda for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’d like to follow Amanda on her homesteading adventure, you can follow her on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/myhomeinstead/
Did that inspire you to do something to get out of your comfort zone?! Sometimes what holds us back from accomplishing our goals and dreams is ourselves! Don’t stand in your own way from accomplishing great things!