How do people live in Alaska

Emigrate to Alaska

Emigrate to Alaska

Beware - anyone who travels to the country in the far north of America may never return! VITAL author Brigitte von Imhof met three women who simply stayed there after a trip.

There is one thing you will never experience in Alaska: a traffic jam on the highway! Instead, seemingly endless roads from somewhere to nowhere, past 3 million lakes, 100,000 ice-blue glaciers and 3,000 thundering rivers. The Alaskan landscape looks like a gigantic cinema backdrop, everything is a bit bigger than you can grasp - and also more lonely than some can endure.

In the vast expanse of this land, Claudia Werner has nevertheless found a comfortable place to live: like a witch's house, her hut is hidden in the dense fir and birch forest. No people far and wide. Your lived dream of freedom, silence, natural romance. Even if with restrictions, because there is neither a toilet nor running water in her hut. She fetches it in huge canisters from the next town, Talkeetna, 15 kilometers away. “Without a car I would be completely lost,” the 39-year-old knows.

Just as indispensable: Austin, a shepherd-husky mix, by your side day and night, because the silence can sometimes be loud: "When it cracks and creaks outside, I sometimes get queasy." But she knows: Mostly it's just a lynx in search of food. Completely normal in the wild. When Claudia traveled through “the great country” for six weeks with a backpack 13 years ago, as Alaska is called in the Eskimo language, she felt: “This is mine!”

She didn't want to stay in Germany anyway, the longing for a different, nature-loving life was too great. She only knew that Alaska, of all places, was going to be her new home after she had experienced the rugged beauty for herself. Luck in the green card lottery helped the Darmstadt resident with a new start. Even the inhospitable reception in Fairbanks on a December day in darkness and minus 55 degrees did not deter Claudia. For board and lodging, she hired a husky farm. “Going out into the night alone on a dog sled, hearing the silence and seeing the northern lights twinkle, that's pure happiness,” she says.

Today she tours with tour groups across the country in the summer season: shows them the old gold rushing villages from the 19th century, when thousands of fortune seekers set out for the banks of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. Accompanied glacier trips through the Prince William Sound or into Denali National Park with the towering Mount McKinley. At 6,194 meters, it is the highest mountain in North America. Is happy when she sees the light in the travelers' eyes. Especially in Denali National Park: Here bears, elk, caribou, lynx, Dall sheep, wolves, musk ox and coyotes roam through nature. “You get goosebumps when you turn a corner and suddenly see a moose or bear mom with her cubs,” enthuses Claudia. "These are always touching, overwhelming moments, even if you have already experienced them many times."

You can also meet wild animals in the cities. With a population of 280,000, Anchorage is the metropolis of Alaska, surrounded by majestic peaks, deep blue lakes and dense forests. Anchorage was not founded until 1915, before red foxes, moose and bears grazed here - and it almost seems as if the animals also consider this city as a permanent place of residence. More than 2000 moose are said to live permanently in the city, they graze in front gardens or plunder vegetable patches, while brown bears like to play football with garbage cans - a sight to which the residents have long since got used. 670,000 people are distributed over Alaska and that over an area five times the size of Germany. The northernmost state in the US is also the loneliest. You can only hate or love Alaska - that's what they say.

Prejudices and Truths About Alaska's Men

Maria loves the country. She has lived in Alaska for 30 years. At that time, the ex-stewardess took part in the international airline ski championships and not only won several medals, but also the heart of a bush pilot. After a few months and a “wild back and forth fly”, Maria from Lower Austria moved to Willy in Anchorage, worked as a teacher, gave piano lessons and trained children in the ski club. She won skiing, cross-country skiing and cycling races, and got her pilot's license: “No big deal, flying is as natural here as driving a car,” the 56-year-old dismisses. The need for bush pilots is great to fly fishermen and hunters into the wild or to bring engineers to the oil fields in the north. “It's also the most beautiful job in the world,” says Maria, “you can't experience more feelings of freedom.” But this freedom also has its pitfalls.

“The best thing about Alaska? The clear, pure air that one would most like to drink. "

When their two children were born, Willy turned out to be a mistake for the role of the family man. “His plane and his desire for freedom were an absolute priority. A typical Alaskan, ”she comments dryly. Attractive and daring at the beginning, but in the long run pretty unsuitable for long-term relationships. The cliché of the indomitable outdoorsman? Might be. Sometimes clichés are just right. What is not true, however: the rumors about the supposedly huge surplus of men that has already lured some single women from Boston or New York to the rough north. 51.5 percent of the population are male, a negligibly small advantage.

Maria did not mourn Willy for long. Self-employment is as important to Alaska's women as breathing. They go fishing, can operate a gun, control pick-ups, snowmobiles and airplanes - there is no time to complain. Maria found a new partner, a Norwegian. “He suits me perfectly. We're always outside, whether it's 30 degrees plus or 30 degrees minus. ”They actually live in Anchorage, but they spend most of the summer in their cabin on Lake Iliamna. “Not a soul within a radius of 100 kilometers, but tons of fish, mushrooms and blueberries. But the best is just this air. So pure that you want to drink it! "

Minimum of culture, but maximum of nature

Anyone who lives here will automatically become an outdoor fan. “Yes, the good air is a real beauty product,” claims Stefanie Flynn. Every morning she goes out with her two dogs for at least an hour. Jogging in summer, cross-country skiing in winter. The 42-year-old runs a bakery and breakfast restaurant with her husband Michael in Girdwood on Mount Alyeska, between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. In Alaska's largest ski area, you see the sea with every swing. It goes without saying that the “Bake Shop” is overrun by hungry hikers and skiers, good bread and Bavarian pretzels are rare in America.

Many guests also come to look: because of the colorful display of flowers that oozes from the pots, baskets, buckets and boxes in the entrance area. Stefanie's work: “I'm incredibly proud of the flowers.” The trained hotel specialist from Bruchsal came to Alaska in 1992 with a stopover in San Francisco, where she met Michael from California. At first only because of a hotel job, but it wasn't long before they both fell in love with the country. And in the people. When they heard that the bakery was looking for new owners, they didn't think twice. What she liked best was the idea of ​​seeing her daughter Annika grow up here. "The climate is open, honest and extremely relaxed." Only one thing troubles them: “The cultural offerings are poor.” To go to the cinema or to visit a museum, you have to go to Anchorage, where Alaska's only opera house is located - although it has been closed since 1976.

But she has the lush nature right in front of the door. And she likes to be hired as a tour guide when friends visit her. She is always amazed when orca whales suddenly appear on a wildlife boat tour off the Kenai Peninsula or hundreds of sea lions loll on a rock in the sun. "There is a very special sensation in Alaska: feeling tiny and great at the same time."

Arrive: Condor flies from Frankfurt / Main to Anchorage and Fairbanks until October. From approx. 469 euros: Other offers through Delta Airlines: or Continental:

Accommodation: “Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge” at Denali National Park. Overnight stay with a full-day tour approx. 430 euros per double room. Windsong Lodge, rustic log cabin style accommodation near Seward. Overnight stay with a 2-day tour from 210 euros p. P.

Reading: "Alaska - Pioneering Country at the Arctic Circle" is the name of this coffee table book that whets your appetite. C. J. Bucher Verlag, 288 pages, 29.90 euros.