Way of Life

sarah in the cockpit
For Sarah Russell, Alaska has been the answer at the end of a long search for freedom. We spent time with Sarah last summer as part of our Above Alaska trip where she let us into her world and shared a bit of her story with us. 

Where did you grow up?

I'm a military brat. My dad did two tours in Vietnam flying helicopters and then he got out of the Army and joined the Air Force where he flew B-52 bombers. He was in the service for 32 years, so I've lived everywhere, but Montana was always home. Both my parents were from Montana. I graduated from high school over in Germany. I was originally going to stay in Germany and go to college in Vienna but I got claustrophobic. We would go snowboarding ...
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Willy posing next to his plane
Last summer we spent a few weeks in Alaska making a short film about pilots in various parts of the state. While in Kodiak, we took to the sky with Willy Fulton for a few hours as he showed us his "office." Later that night, we swapped stories over a whiskey or three.

How did you first decide to become a pilot?

Back in the late 80’s I was running pack trips to the wilderness in the summer and guiding elk hunts in the fall. One time I had four fighter pilots on a pack trip for ten days and I got so tired of hearing all their stories… that was it. When I got out of the mountains I tried to join the Navy but they wouldn't have me. I was maybe a year too old and I needed glasses; they wouldn’t let...

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Covering 663,268 square miles, Alaska is larger than Texas, California, and Montana, combined. With only 20% of that land mass accessible by road, aviation is not a luxury in Alaska. It is a necessity.

In Print: Branson Wallace

Branson pulling crab pots
Last summer while in Kodiak, AK we went crabbing with Branson Wallace and his buddy Aaron Thompson. We recently reconnected with Branson to ask him about life on Kodiak, his duties in the USCG, and how both of those things have shaped his life and effected his journey to becoming an outdoorsman. 

Tell me about your life in Kodiak, what made you want to extend your tour?
My wife and I will have spent six years on Kodiak in June. I am a Yeoman for the U.S. Coast Guard, which means I do administration work for crew members and officers. When we first moved to Kodiak I was stationed on the USCG Cutter SPAR a 225 ft buoy tender that services navigational aids out along the Aleutian chain. It was a ...

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Terry in a front end loader trimming an apricot tree
Terry Myers is perhaps one of the more adventurous women we've ever met, seen here trimming the spring shoots on her favorite apricot tree from the bucket of a front end loader. We went to her home, a pristine mountain ranch in the Idaho hills to hear the story of her favorite Mother's Day.

Once in a while a forest fire can leave a consolation prize behind in the form of a secretive and tasty fungus called a morel mushroom. A few years ago, nearly out my back door, conditions were ideal for a wilderness adventure in search of the mother lode of these smokey little gems. My plan was to head into central Idaho’s Salmon River backcountry following one of the biggest fire seasons in Idaho history...

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In Print: Brett Watts

brett riding a 4 wheeler through a creek
Brett Watts is a flight mechanic with the USCG and currently stationed in Kodiak, AK. We hung out with Brett last summer when we were on the island and he took us on a scouting trip into the hills to make a plan for the opening day of deer season. We caught up with Brett recently and asked a few questions about his upbringing and time on Kodiak. 

Tell me about your life in Kodiak:
I’ve been working for the US Coast Guard for 14 years and have spent the past ten years as a flight mechanic on UH 65 helicopters. They are the smallest aircraft in our fleet and are deployed onto our Cutters (large ships) that patrol the Bering sea so that we always have a floating air station ready to respond to an...Read More

reading a topo map
Outdoor recreation provides an opportunity for people to learn and explore. It allows people to spend time with family and friends, view wildlife, and experience nature. These experiences however, could potentially become life-threatening. Be prepared by utilizing the following steps to prevent any mishaps.

Preplanning is the key to a safe and memorable outing. Before the adventure begins, gather information about the location you are traveling by calling the park office or visiting the park's website. It is important to know the guidelines and warnings within the park – providing you with more information about gear or other items that will be needed. Additionally, create a plan. Des...

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In Print: Making Art with Ed Anderson

Ed's art in his journals
Ed Anderson is an Idaho-based artist known for his iconic scenes using bold colors and lines to present subjects from bush pilots to bull trout and bugling bull elk. We sat down with Ed to learn more about how he got into art, developed his style, and what has influenced him along his journey.

When did you first get interested in being an artist?
I've been doing art my whole life. My mom supported and encouraged it at a young age. I eventually landed in an advanced program in high school which led to architecture school at the University of Minnesota where I received a ROTC scholarship.

So you were in the military, where did that lead you?
Upon graduation I had the opportunity to serve in the US...
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Corey Forrest: Fishing Rhode Island

portrait of corey
As a little girl, I didn’t know I was going to grow up to be a fisherman, or follow in my father’s footsteps, and his father’s footsteps.  It was a man’s world at the dock of Sakonnet Point, no women working in sight. The faces of fishing, as I recall, were a blue-collar gang of burley, brutish men, unkept in their oilskins, fish scales hanging from their beards, and cigarettes dangling from their mouths. There was unfiltered grumbling of men sorting, weighing, boxing and icing, as the fish were shoveled off the boat onto a conveyor belt. Most hadn’t had a day off in forty days, were probably hungover, definitely in need of sleep, and completely indifferent about offending any passersby or f...

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Filson Food: Whiskey Cured Salmon Gravlax

salmon gravlax
Making cured fish is incredibly simple, but requires intentional time to prepare. Gravlax, a preparation of preserving salmon from the cold coast of Scandinavia, is cured in salt and sugar for just a few days. This recipe has been adapted from my grandpa’s handwritten notes, a treasure shared in my family. Gravlax celebrates the fish with its brilliant color, delicate texture, and rich flavor, making for a delicious addition to any meal. Serve it for breakfast, atop toast for lunch, or as an appetizer with soft cheese and rye bread.

1 lb fillet of wild salmon, skin on and pin bones removed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ cup Kosher Salt
¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
½ ...

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