Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Call Of The Wild

It began with Jack London. Or, to put it another way, like so many of my obsessions, it began with bedtime. For as long as I can remember, my mother read to me at bedtime, mostly books that were way too advanced for my age. The Moomin-books (more about that in a future post) when I was a little over a year-old, the entirety of the Lord Of The Rings, before I was five. Somewhere in between them came The Call Of The Wild. Followed, in pre-school, by White Fang. As you can imagine, in this context Alaska became something of a mythical place for me, not unlike Narnia, or the Earth Sea.

With its sky-high mountains, desolate landscapes, Northern lights and giant bears, what was not magical about Alaska?

Later came John Krakauer's "Into The Wild", cementing Alaska as the place where young men (and women, surely) still escaped the pressures and triviality of modern society, the last frontier, where honour and courage still meant something.

A little romanticized I'm sure, but what can I say? Literature tends to elevate it's subjects.
What really pushed me over the edge of the iceberg though, and into a full-blown Alaska obsession, was, of course, the 1990 TV-series Northern Exposure. Not only was the show set in a fictional small town of Cicely, Alaska, but the it was also inhabited by the coolest, most off-beat characters, to whom the strangest magical things happened every episode. And how philosophical they(especially Chris!) could be about them. Small, wondrous events followed one another. Amazing allegories abounded. This was my Alaska all over.

Watching those episodes from the show again now, I am mesmerized not only by the hilarious characters and arch, yet touching plot-lines and clever dialogue, but of course, the awesome 90s styles: the lumberjack shirts, floral tops, skirts and dresses, the woolly hats, the native designs, puffy coats, Ed's amazing leather jacket. Heck, Shelly even has a pair of darling nerd glasses.

Needless to say, that style-inspiration ensues. Furthermore, it turns out to my delight that, the show was filmed in Roslyn WA, quite close to where I'll be living in a few months (and quite close to North Bend where the exterior locations of Twin Peaks were), so a road trip is definitely in order.

I am also hoping to finally visit the real-live Alaska, maybe for our belated honeymoon, one of these days. It seems appropriate since hubby's family lived for a generation on Kodiak Island. In fact, his grandpa was a bushpilot there...and a hairdresser too. Judging from the tales the family has to tell, I will not find the real Alaska any less magical, quirky or breath- taking, than the fictional.

I'm off to read my stepdad's 90s Alaska Magazines. The ads rule.

Reading: The Blue Bear
Listening To: Portugal. The Man
Major crush: Ed Chigliak


  1. I simply adored Northern Exposure when they first showed in on Finnish tv, I watched every single episode. I haven't seen any episodes since, but even the small clips you posted show that it has not lost its magic. Oh, the episode with Maurice and the violin, or the flipping of the piano... I must get the entire series on dvd! I hope you get to visit Alaska soon!

  2. Oh. My. God. This is way too weird. Speaking of strange and magical happenings...

    Yesterday I randomly thrifted a little item because I thought it was cool, but now it's obvious that I didn't thrift said item for me at all. I thrifted it for YOU, I just didn't know it yet! I won't tell you what it is, but rest assured, you are going to L-O-V-E it!

    Also, the grave dancing clip was so good, wonderful post!

    Hugs-a-plenty Millakins :D

  3. Twin Peaks, 90210 and Northern Exposure were my favourite TV shows in the 90s. I love the landscape pictures you posted too!

  4. mmm yes. that was great show. it could completely make a person want to move to middle-of-nowhere.

  5. I'm quite obsessed with Jack London. I love his stories. My only desire to go to Alaska however is to see the Northern Lights.
    My sister however dreams of a roadtrip up there from WA (which a friend of mine did do!). She's also obsessed with that series and now I have seen most of the episodes as a result.
    Alaska does seem sort of like Narnia to me...but I think Hawaii is more my ideal of a fantastic world...

  6. You should look into the Alaska Ferry system ( My school took a fieldtrip on the inside passage route one year, stopping at Ketchican, St. Petersburg, Juneau, Sitka and Skagway. Alaska will not disappoint you, it never ever does!

  7. Ha! I think you were far cooler than me then and now!

  8. this post makes me so happy and nostalgic.
    my mother grew up in alaska, she is always telling me stories about it. i recently acquired TONS of family things and there are so many letters documenting the time my mother and grandparents lived in alaska! i'll have to scan some things in.

  9. i spent 3 weeks in alaska, and not to be a killjoy, was one of the worst 3 weeks of my life -- however i was stranded in a suburb of anchorage, nannying two monstrous french twin boys for 15 hours a day so that put a damper on things. i saw the icebergs one afternoon though, and they WERE rather lovely, if you're into, you know, NATURE.

  10. you know what's funny, when I was younger I would pass by Jack London's birth place everyday on the way to school. I wanted to learn about him so badly that his novel The Sea Wolf was my very first novel read. I really enjoyed it.

  11. I too am obsessed with Alaska, everything about it, ever since I went there on a cruise ship. If I had not had obligations, i might have stayed there. I intend on going back some day,maybe to live, who knows! Did you ever see the show "Men in trees"? That made my obsession even worse!!

  12. I know this is an old post yet I somehow crossed it in the depths of some random internet search. I have to know: did you ever make it to Alaska? I live in Juneau and your photo of our beloved town glacier caught my eye. I have to say, this is a magical place indeed.