Once upon a time the airplane named "Running Dog" was whole and fit and for 15 years I flew it here and there, all about the main body of Alaska and into the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada. I never took it into the Aleutian Islands, for it would have been insane to fly an airplane like this from here to out there, and I never took it to Southeast.
As airplanes go, the Running Dog was economical to fly. It could burn car gas as well as av gas, which was a big plus when traveling about in Rural Alaska, because sometimes car gas is all I could find; sometimes, I could find av gas but it was so expensive that I could fall back onto the car gas instead. I purchased this little 1974 Citabria 7GCBC in 1986 for $15,900. My annuals probably averaged about $2000 - several came in just over $500, some at $1000, a couple at $1500 - but what raised the average bigtime was when I had to replace the engine.
A story came to me - a vision if you will - about how the Running Dog got its name. To make it short, the airplane was possessed by the spirit of a sled dog named Citabria that had burst its heart in grief at the death of its musher - just as this Citabria airplane flew. The spirit of the dog merged with the plane and then came to me.
When the Running and I would fly together, I would sometimes talk to the airplane as if it were a comprehending individual, yet, at the same time, it often felt to me to be an extension of me. I could feel the wind against the skin of the plane as if it were my own skin - especially during manuevers like a tricky cross wind landing, when a pilot must be completely aware of the interaction of the plane and the wind, if he is ever to put the plane safely down.
I used this airplane to get me to where I wanted to go as I put together various publications, such as Uiñiq magazine and Alaska's Village Voices - but I had a vision that went beyond all of that.
In this vision, the Running Dog and I would put together a magazine all of our own. We would call it:
of the Running Dog
I am not a poet, but I did write a poem to describe the nature of the Running Dog:
The Running Dog
The Running Dog
doesn't lie around
The Running Dog
No. This dog
And so he flies
where he wants
Once, an unexpected windfall of cash descended upon me. I added a little bit more to it and made a prototype issue of the Logbook, which, upon printing, left me broke once again. When I tried to get the magazine into the stores and onto magazine racks, I found that there was a system in place, with its own hierarchy, which I could not beat.
It took me several weeks, months perhaps, to get it into a just a few stores and then it was tucked into places of low display, often hidden altogether by the money maker magazines.
So the Logbook magazine never flew. Even if it had, I had no mechanisms to keep it going. I did not want to mess it up with ads, so it had no ads. Had I sold every copy, after the magazine distributor and the stores took their cut, I would still have fallen short of printing costs.
Logically, what I did made no sense at all. It was just the pursuit of a dreamer, who does know how to dream, how to fly and how to put a product together, but has no economic or financial sense at all. I had no idea how it all might come together, but I figured if I tried to do it, somehow, it just would.
I was wrong.
One day I crashed the poor, damn, Running Dog and the dream seemed to die altogether. The plane that had cost me $15,900 to buy would now have cost over $45,000 to put back together. And it would cost about the same to buy another Citabria 7GCBC of the same vintage and airframe and engine times.
Not only did I not have that kind of money, I was so deep in debt that I did not and still do not know how I would ever recover.
Yet... I had faith... and hope... I believed that somehow, within a year or two... the means would come to me and I would get a substitute plane. This substitute and I would make that magazine and one day the means would come that I could also put the Running Dog back together.
That was over ten years ago.
It hasn't happened.
But now I can publish without paying printers, distributors and stores.
So now I want to set out and do the Logbook for real.
But I have no plane, no money to buy one. Financially... well... enough said.
But still I have faith in my idea... I have hope that the means will yet materialize to put me back into the air again and to grow and expand upon this second version of my blog until the dream becomes reality.
Call me foolish if you will and perhaps you are right, but that is my hope and dream and even though the decades are piling up on me, turning my beard white, I refuse to give up this dream.
Hence, the first part of the title of this blog:
I will log my travels however I make them.
The second part of my title:
Wasilla - Alaska - Beyond
I intend to document life in Wasilla, elsewhere in Alaska and Beyond.
And as for:
One photographer's search for community, home, and family
I have come to recognize that this search is what my entire career has been about - I think because my dad kept moving us from town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood. Everytime I would begin to get a sense of community, I would find that community gone, a new one before me. So I just keep looking for community, home, and family. In Wasilla, I have found the community where my house is, where I raised my family and where I hang out with my cat buddies. Wasilla is a place set in magnificent beauty but often dominated by people whose sense of the dollar so outweighs their appreciation of the beauty that they would destroy it, even as they praise it.
I suppose I am guilty of this as well. When we live a modern life, that is what we do. We destroy natural beauty to earn the dollar that we need to survive. But it could still be done better here in Wasilla than it so far has.
In the Arctic Slope and all across northern Alaska, I have found the community of my heart, my spirit. But climatically it is a hard and frigid place. Margie does not mind my going there for periods of time but she has no desire to follow, nor does she care to eat maktak. Wasilla winters, mild by comparison, are much too cold for her and this time of year she longs to go back to Arizona and I often feel a little guilty for having dragged her so far from her Native home.
Essentially, the goals of Wasilla, Alaska by 300 and then some remain the same in this new blog: to document life in this town where I live - Wasilla; to get out and about in Alaska, the place that I love above all others, northern Alaska in particular; while I do love Alaska above all other places, it has become clear to me in recent years that I love this entire, beautiful, stressed, brutal, endangered planet that we live on.
So I can't keep the blog just in Alaska. I have to go Beyond. But when I do, you will know that I will not stay out too long but will come back.
Some may not understand this, but when I leave Alaska, I am always happy to get to the place that I am going, but it isn't long before I don't feel so good about it anymore - no matter how much I might be enjoying myself, a bright and warm sun, or the company of relatives and friends seldom seen. Soon, all I want to do is to get back to Alaska, where the air is mostly clean, the mountains big, the animals wild, the land vast and mostly empty.
Alaska is the kind of land that demands an airplane.
So I must succeed at this and I must get another airplane. I hope I can still pass the medical.
I make this statement on the first day of the new year, 2012, having not one paying job lined up ahead of me, a mountain of debt and enough resources on hand to last maybe six more weeks.
Do you think I can do it?
I have no idea how it all might come together, but I figure if I try to do it, somehow, it just will.
If not, then why the hell did The Creator put me on this earth in the first place?