Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Winds of Skilak" by Bonnie Rose Ward

A friend of mine, Vicky, recommended this book on her blog Tramps Camp. I’d read most of the other titles on her winter reading list, but this book about Alaskan wilderness living was new to me.

Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness is the memoir of Bonnie Rose Ward. Bonnie and her husband Sam were from Ohio. Bonnie was a city girl, but Sam grew up on a farm where he learned how to hunt and became a jack-of-all-trades. They started out with a traditional town life, but Sam had a dream of living off the land in Alaska. So in 1980, at thirty-six years of age for Sam and twenty-five for Bonnie, they sold their home and packed up for the long drive to Alaska.

They searched for property until they came upon land on Caribou Island in remote Skilak Lake near Sterling, Alaska. A funny side note, my sister and her husband have built a cabin home in Sterling and love it there. But their location near town makes their lifestyle much easier.

Bonnie and Sam arrived in late spring and began cutting trees, stripping logs, and built a rustic cabin home before winter arrived. Bonnie’s memoir chronicles their first three years of cabin life, it’s challenges and joys. Sam was steadfast in his belief that they not only could live in the wilderness, but make a living there as well. Bonnie followed her husband, and in time became a “wilderness woman” herself.

I enjoyed reading about how Bonnie learned to can, cook, and keep a home without the luxuries of town life: electricity, water, sewer, stores and close neighbours. Even at our off-the-grid cabin I have the luxuries of propane appliances and lights, solar and wind for minimal electricity, and water hand pumped up from the lake right under our cabin floor. And we don’t have to contend with such cold winters or to make a living from our land. In a way, it makes me feel a bit guilty that I have so many resources to make life simple.



Stories about travel on Skilak Lake remind me of travel on my Powell Lake. The video above by Eric Bushnell on YouTube gives you an idea about how severe Skilak can get. We too are governed by the weather and storm waves, but Wayne is much better at listening to me when I’m afraid than Sam was for Bonnie. Maybe that means I’m not yet a “wilderness woman” willing to take anything Powell Lake has to dish out.

Winds of Skilak is available on Amazon in print and kindle formats. -- Margy

16 comments:

  1. Taking note of the title and author's name. Love stories like these. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. You are so funny. I don't know how you cope! We're so happy to have our new well pump!

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    1. It's harder to pump water out of the ground than the lake for sure. Glad it got fixed. - Margy

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  3. Oh I have to read that for sure. It looks so interesting.

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  4. I'll be on the hunt for this book as it sounds like a good read.

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    1. I got mine on Kindle. - Margy

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  5. I just finished this book last night and really enjoyed it. Had not thought yet to look of Skilak Lake...so glad you showed the video. I am not sure I could ever get used to that lake and having to cross it...

    Have you read Arctic Homestead by Norma Cobb? And what did you think of it if you did? I read it and really liked it. I would say more but want to hear your reply first.

    And if you ever get the chance, read O Rugged Land of Gold. Another good book--it is older though and there was a movie made from it.

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    1. I haven't read the other two book yet. I'll see if I can find them. Thanks for letting me know about them. - Margy

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  6. I would not like to be so dependant on my own skills. Fine while you are healthy but accidents can and do happen.

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    1. Accidents happen everywhere I guess, but I know it's important to be extra careful when you are away from normal medical resources. - Margy

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  7. Funny I was just thinking today abut a book I used to have---can't remember the name--it was about a couple that homesteaded in the wilds of upper Alaska. Harsh land but very interesting book. I will have to find the one you wrote about and also the ones Rose mentioned.
    MB

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    1. Let me know if you figure it out. - Margy

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  8. I heard about this book but I can't figure out where! It was lovely reading a more in-depth account of it. I thought at first you had joined our online book club at Springtime in Magnolia (see my blog profile) and I read the review there, but I just looked and did not find it. Perhaps someone else reviewed the book on their blog. It sounds really fascinating! If you are interested in our book club, go over and take a look--an email to us and we can add you as an administrator so you can post reviews. Take care! Thanks for commenting on my blog!

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    1. Thanks for the invite, I'll head on over and check it out. - Margy

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  9. I have to find this book in my library.I believe it is accessible

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