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The long-awaited sequel is finally here!

After hundreds of requests for “the rest of the story,” award-winning author Bonnie Rose Ward has finally delivered the highly anticipated Winds of Skilak sequel.

Winds of Skilak: The Continuing Saga of One Couple’s Adventures and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness continues the journey of Bonnie Rose Ward as a “wilderness wife” and her tough-as-nails husband Sam in the stark, challenging, and exhilarating wilds of Alaska.

Imagine canning a whole moose. One thousand pounds of meat, critical to survival through the brutal winter on an island in Alaska. And doing it in a home with no electricity, no plumbing, and no refrigeration. For the Wards, this is just another ordinary task in an environment that can be unforgiving of mistakes but immensely rewarding to those willing to embrace the work of creating a home in a harsh but beautiful land.

In this sequel, Sam and Bonnie are thriving, building getaway cabins and continuing to joyfully tackle life on a remote, isolated island on Skilak Lake, where williwaw winds can whip up suddenly and without warning, and wicked storms can blow for weeks. In an era before cell phones and internet, their ability to communicate with the rest of the world, accessible only by boat or plane, is at the whim of the temperamental lake. Then, just as they are about to achieve a new dream, one of the largest man-made, environmental disasters strikes, altering their lives and threatening their livelihood and idyllic life. Will the love and devotion between Bonnie and Sam be enough for them to survive, or will Alaska finally win?

From the awe-inspiring beauty of the Northern Lights, to terrifying accidents and strangers, to a Christmas miracle, this is a testament of courage and inspiration to anyone born with a wild longing in their hearts. Through sorrows and joys, love and loss, God’s hand is always present in their lives as Bonnie shares her chronicle of faith, survival, and beauty in an untamed land few others will ever know.


Categories: Alaska, Alaska memoir, Bonnie Rose Ward, Homestead, Wilderness living, Wilderness Survival, Winds of Skilak, Winds of Skilak sequel | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Book Review by The Farmer’s Lamp

The Farmer’s Lamp


Winds of Skilak – An Alaskan Adventure

By Rhonda Crank

Winds of Skilak is A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness written by Bonnie Rose Ward. It’s their true story of leaving suburban America and moving to the wilds of Alaska.

Winds of Skilak

Late last summer I entered a giveaway by TrayerWilderness. Since I never win anything, I was shocked to receive an e-mail from Tammy saying I had won a book by Bonnie Rose Ward.

Homesteaders don’t have much leisure reading time until fall and winter. So I decided to add this book to my winter reading list. As you know, every October I begin reading the Little House on the Prairie series so I intended to add Winds of Skilak to be read when I was done. We had to make a sudden move from the deep South to the wilderness of northern Idaho mid November of last year.

We moved into the guest cabin of our friends. The cabin has no electric, running water, or plumbing. We heat and cook on a wood stove and carry water to the cabin in 5 gallon buckets. We eat, read, and work by lamplight and battery-operated headlights. What does this have to do with Winds of Skilak? I want you to have a mental image of the environment in which I read this mesmerizing, enchanting book.

I kept feeling drawn to open this book so I paused my Little House on the Prairie reading and picked up Winds of Skilak.

Me being me I started with the dedication page. I don’t like to skip anything in a book. I was immediately drawn by the love and affection the author expressed to the people in the dedication.

The bold opening of chapter 1 spoke so deeply to the ideas and feelings of my husband and I with our recent experiences. You will feel and experience the deep longing, pain, and conflict of both Bonnie and Sam Ward as you journey with them from the decision to leave the life they had built for themselves and follow their dream of moving to Alaska.

You will weep, even as I do while writing this and remembering, as they bid farewell to their family and friends. The image Bonnie paints of Sam and his father walking the farm for the last time together hand-in-hand moved me to weeping. You will experience the joy of seeing how all the planning Sam and Bonnie made, how their friends and family helped and contributed to their dream, encouraged them, and how the Lord provided for them in unexpected ways from people to things.

When Bonnie and Sam finally reached the shores of Skilak Lake I stood in terror beside her as the storm raged on the lake and she wanted to run home. You also feel the excitement and adventure in Sam as he is prepared to face the unknown and care for Bonnie and their dream.

If I could do a chapter by chapter review of this book I certainly would. There are so many stories to share and experience on their journey. You are immediately drawn into their unknown and unexplored world of adventure.

There are heart aches, health crisis, helpful angels, happiness, and heavenly lessons. When Sam drives Bonnie out onto the ice for the first time I found myself there with her. Once I read through the adventure, I realized every muscle in my body was tense and I had been holding my breath. When the ice began breaking up and they were spinning I was panicked with her. I knew she was okay, she lived to write the book. But you are so involved in the story it’s hard to think past that.

Every day when my husband would come home I would share the adventures of Bonnie and Sam with him that I had read that morning. When I finished the book, he laughed at me because when he came home I was sad. When he asked me what was wrong I said, “I feel like I’ve just been separated from dear friends.” That’s what you will feel.

Many times during the book the Lord spoke to my heart as Bonnie recounted the blessings, watchful care and tender mercies God showed towards she and Sam. He reminded me His arm is not short, He knows where we are and what we need and He will provide in His own way and in His own time.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will be angry, you will rejoice, you will be happy as Bonnie shares their adventures with you. If you only read one book this year, give yourself the pleasure and privilege of reading Winds of Skilak.

 Be sure to share Bonnie’s book with your friends and family. They will thank you for allowing them to enjoy Sam and Bonnie Ward’s journey of true grit, true love and survival in the Alaskan wilderness. Visit their website Frontier Home: Living Off The Grid and let them know how much you enjoyed the book.

You can connect on Facebook at The Winds of Skilak. She is also sharing her email address with you: so you can share your experience of the Winds of Skilak with her. I’m excited to share with you that she is currently in the process of writing a sequel to share more of their dentures with us.

Safe and Happy Journey

Rhonda and The Pack

The Farmer’s Lamp


Categories: Alaska, Bonnie Rose Ward, Book Review, Homestead, Off grid, Self Reliance, Skilak Lake, Wilderness living, Wilderness Survival, Winds of Skilak | Leave a comment

Slide show of our off-grid frontier home

We hope you enjoy the slide show depicting our life off-grid on the remote Caribou Island in Skilak Lake, Alaska, which culminated in my book Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness.


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Floating Island ?

Frost covered Little Caribou Island

Frost covered trees on Little Caribou Island. The island appears to be floating between the frozen surface of Skilak Lake and the sky. Sam took this photo from the beach on Caribou Island. He threw the rocks out on the ice to see if they’d go through. At the time of this photo we were stranded on the island waiting for the lake to freeze up..

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Embracing the Alaska Dream with Bonnie Rose Ward

Podcast #78 – Embracing the Alaska Dream with Bonnie Rose Ward

December 10, 2014 By Tammy Trayer

CLICK ON THE RADIO to hear Bonnie Rose Ward’s interview.


December 10, 2014: In today’s show I had the privilege to interview Bonnie Rose Ward, author of Winds of Skilak.  She can be found at where she blogs about her life in Alaska and her life today.  Bonnie’s books was absolutely amazing and I had to get in touch with her for an interview!! Her book was something I really treasured because I could relate SO much to her story – it paralleled mine and it takes place in the wilds of Alaska which is the next dream our family would like to embrace.  She is an inspiration and an amazing Mountain Woman.

If you like my Mountain Woman Radio you can also Subscribe to me on iTunes.

#TrayerWilderness  #MountainWomanRadio

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TRUE PIONEERS: Meet Bonnie Ward, a Nicholas County wife who, along with her husband, gave up everything to move to ALASKA for 15 years.
Facing the harsh elements, the Wards find strength in each other, and the awe-inspiring beauty of “the last frontier.”
And just when they finally settle in, a freak accident proves to be the ultimate test of their resolve.




What would YOU DO if your husband came home, and said you were moving to ALASKA?

– Oh, and also said he QUIT his job and put the house UP FOR SALE?

It didn’t take long for a brave woman to say YES and became a “wilderness wife” in Alaska.


Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

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Kirkus Review


Ward’s spirited debut memoir documents the privations and advantages of life in Alaska’s wilderness.

The author was just 25 years old in 1980 when her husband, Sam, quit his job and sold their Ohio home. Sam was from West Virginia mountain stock, and had strong survival and hunting skills, so they decided to go to Alaska. Although suburbanite Ward was initially reluctant about going on such an adventure, she threw herself into her “new role as a wilderness wife.” After a five-day journey, they settled on Skilak Lake on the Kenai Peninsula, known for its sudden storms. They started out in a tent, eating nothing but rice and not showering for a month. The chapter on how they built their cabin, “By the Sweat of Our Backs,” particularly stands out. Throughout, black-and-white photographs and lively, recreated dialogue show how the Wards adjusted to new standards. “We eventually learned to slow our pace to nature’s speed. Compared with squatting in the woods, an outhouse was quite a luxury,” Ward writes. A few close friendships with other residents eased their loneliness, even after 2 feet of snow and a frozen lake isolated them during the winter. However, the cozy, Little House on the Prairie–style domesticity of their “little piece of paradise” couldn’t keep danger at bay, as when a tree fell and broke Sam’s back. In this memoir, Ward strikes a good balance between repetitive daily tasks—foraging, canning meat, making blueberry jam, milking goats and sewing leather garments—and more momentous events, such as an earthquake, a view of the Northern Lights, and run-ins with bears. She also uses a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, to provide much comic relief. Along the way, Ward emphasizes the spiritual as well as the practical implications of becoming a pioneer woman: “The wilderness made me who I am today….Although I remained far from the nearest church, I felt closer to God than ever before.” The descriptions of nature sometimes shade purple (“Autumn showed her brilliance by clothing the mountains in a skirt of tie-dyed glory”), but, more often than not, the language is restrained. The couple’s Alaskan odyssey lasted 15 years, so there’s still plenty of room for future sequels.

An often engaging story of outhouses, canned moose and bears—oh, my!

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 2013

ISBN: 978-1626524712
Page count: 404pp
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indie Book Promo Guest Post

Guest Post – Why Did I Write My Book Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward

// Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Bonnie Rose Ward to the blog. Bonnie is sharing her thoughts on writing her book as well as sharing about the book, itself. If this book sounds like something that you would be interested in reading, please find buy links below and pick up a copy or two.

Why did I write my book Winds of Skilak?

During our very first night on Caribou Island, shivering as we pitched our pup tent in the cold and rain, the thought crossed my mind, “Who does this?” We drank straight from the huge glacier-fed lake we lived on. We didn’t filter or boil our water, and I often wondered, “Where else can you do this?” I knew early on that what we were doing was unique. Many might dream or fantasize about living in the wilderness, but few actually attempt it. And, of those who do, many give up before the going gets rough. In our case, that first winter.

The term “stranded on an island” certainly described our isolated life on Caribou Island. There were weeks and even months at a time when we didn’t see another soul. This was in the pre-cell phone era, so, without telephone lines going to the island, there simply was no communicating with the “outside” world.  We built our own log cabin to live in.  All of our food came from the land. As Sam always said, “If I didn’t skin it, scale it, or pluck the feathers off it, then we didn’t eat it.” We were on our own. We and we alone were responsible for whether we lived or we died.

Someone once said, “The best thing you’ll ever find in Alaska is yourself.” That was true for me. I needed the Alaskan wilderness, not Corporate America, to figure out who I was. When we first moved to the wilderness, I secretly hoped that Sam would get this “wilderness camping” out of his system and we could go back to civilization in a year. I thought, I’m young and adventurous, I can handle it for a year. But then something happened.  I fell in love with Alaska. I evolved into a wilderness woman.

I wrote letters to my parents that turned into journals, as trips to the post office were sometimes months apart. When I had the opportunity to visit my family a couple years after moving to Alaska, my mother returned the letters. “Here,” she said, smiling as she handed me the bundle held together with a neatly tied ribbon, “for the book you’ll write one day.”

Those letters did become the first rough draft of my book. But they weren’t the reason I wrote the book.  I wrote it for two reasons. First, because I was so affected by the beauty and the power of this special place. And second, because I am who I am today because of my time in Alaska. Even though I no longer live in Alaska, it is inside of me and will remain so forever.  I want to share that experience with others.  I hope you will take the time to read of our adventures and our life-changing experiences. You, like us, will never be the same again.

*   *   *


Winds of Skilak traces a young couple’s adventurous move from the suburbs of Ohio to a remote island on ill-tempered Skilak Lake. As Sam and Bonnie adapt to a life without running water, electricity and telephones, the unforgiving, desolate environment tests their courage early on. Facing sub-freezing temperatures, unfriendly bears, and cabin fever, the Wards find strength in new friends, each other, and the awe-inspiring beauty of “the last frontier.” Just when they finally settle in, a freak accident proves to be the ultimate test of their resolve. Will they be able to survive in this isolated wilderness filled with unseen dangers?

Author Bonnie Rose Ward chronicles an exciting and thought-provoking tale of one couple’s faith in God and dedication to each other through all of Alaska’s curveballs. Winds of Skilak is a true tale of absorbing force, sure to bring out your own sense of adventure.

Winds of Skilak is available from Amazon

*   *   *

100_6799Author Bio:

After fifteen years as a “wilderness wife” in Alaska, Bonnie Ward now resides with her husband on their farm in central West Virginia. They still maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, raising goats, chickens, and other barnyard animals, with four dogs and a peacock named George rounding out the menagerie. Bonnie enjoys canning vegetables from the huge gardens sowed by her husband with heirloom open-pollinated seeds, and in her “spare” time, she continues to write her memoirs of the Alaskan wilderness.

Bonnie can be found:

Facebook  |  Blog   |   Website   

*   *   *


We’re Going to Alaska! 1980

“What do you mean you put the house up for sale?”
Sam set down his briefcase. “I listed it with the realtors.” He turned to me with his brightest smile. “I handed in my resignation today.”

My mouth gaped open. I stared at my husband as if he’d grown a second head.

Before I could articulate a response, he grabbed me in his arms and twirled me around. “We’re going to Alaska, Bonnie. We’re going to Alaska!”

He finally set me down, but my head continued to whirl. “You mean, just like that, we’re going to Alaska?” SAM_&_BONNIEMaybe I hadn’t heard him right. “When did we decide all this?”

Sam removed his coat and hat and hung them on the coat rack by the front door. When he turned and faced me, his smile disappeared. The muscles in his face pulled taut and his eyes bored into mine. “We’ve talked about this, Bonnie—we’ve planned this for years.” He started toward the kitchen.

I ran after him. “But we haven’t even mentioned Alaska for at least a year.”

Sam removed a cup from the cupboard and poured in a little powdered creamer while the coffeemaker coughed out the last few drops of freshly brewed coffee.

Dread somersaulted in my stomach. “What about our life here? I thought you were happy.”

Sam poured coffee into his mug in stony silence, clenched his jaw and set the glass carafe back on the burner. Instead of turning around to answer me, he leaned over, planted both fists on the counter and took a long, slow breath.

I folded my arms in front of me and heaved a sigh, resisting the urge to tap my foot. The clock above the stove sounded like a metronome in a deserted cathedral.

He finally turned around and leaned against the counter, facing me. “You know we’ve dreamed of this for a long time—you still have that dream, don’t you?”

I took a deep breath. “We’re living a dream life now—or at least I thought we were.” I spread my palms in supplication and raised my voice an octave or two. “What about our jobs?”

I didn’t give him a chance to reply. I reminded him of everything we’d be giving up. We both had great jobs with good pay. Sam held a management position at MDT Corporation, and I worked as an inspector for an electronics company. We had moved to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, three years earlier and bought a house on a huge corner lot. After a remodel and addition, Sam and his dad put on cedar siding. Our house—our home—looked like a country cottage.

Two new vehicles plus a camper and a boat sat in the driveway, completing what I believed to be the perfect life.

“We have everything we could ever want right here, Sam. Would you really give it all up?”

The chicken casserole I had prepared earlier for supper filled the kitchen with tantalizing smells. It was ready to come out of the oven, and I was out of words.

“Bonnie?” Sam’s voice sounded softer now. “I know we haven’t talked about going to Alaska for a long time, but it’s never left my mind. I know how happy you are here, so maybe that’s why I haven’t brought it up before now.” He took a step closer. “The other day it took me three hours to get home because I got stuck in traffic. My job and this house own me. You talk about all that we have. We never get to use the boat and camper, because I work six or seven days a week. We both work long hours; I never see you anymore.”

I shrunk away from him, but said nothing.

“For what?” He held out his palms. “We’re indebted to the bank for our house, we have utility bills that get higher each month, and I’ve got a stomach full of ulcers.” Sam swept his arm dismissively and shook his head. “We don’t need all this, Bonnie. It’s not worth it. I can build us a home in the wilderness. We won’t have to answer to anybody but ourselves.”

Sam spoke with the same passion he had the night he proposed to me. He lowered his voice. “I’m not getting any younger. I know you’re only twenty-five years old, but I’m thirty-six, and if we’re going to do this, we need to do it now.” He stopped talking, walked over, put his hands gently on my shoulders and looked into my eyes.

I met his gorgeous blue eyes—eyes a woman could get lost in; eyes that still made me weak at the knees. They spoke to me now, desperately pleading for me to understand the way he felt, willing me to feel the way he did and to want the same thing he wanted.

“I want to go to Alaska. I want us to go to Alaska.” He waited for a reply, his eyes never wavering from mine, his hands pressed gently on my shoulders.

I remembered the words he’d said years before—the words he’d said on the day he asked me to be his wife. “Someday, I want to go to Alaska, where a man can still live off the land. There’s so much land and game up there, places man hasn’t even seen. They call it the last frontier.” He had paused to take a breath; passion flowered his words. “I could build a log cabin, and hunt and fish for my meat. I wouldn’t need to go to work every day and punch a time clock just to get by, but could provide for all our needs with my own two hands.”

I had promised I would go with him. As much as I loved my home and life, I loved my husband more. If Sam didn’t go after his lifelong dream, he would always regret it. I would not stand in his way. I lifted my arms and wrapped them around his waist, pulling him closer to me. I knew he’d been unhappy for a long time. And, in honesty, we both had. We had every material thing imaginable, but it had cost us more than mere money—it had cost us our time together.

I tightened my grip on him, my ear pressed against his pounding heart. “I love you, Sam. As long as we’re together, nothing else matters.” As his arms tightened around me, I closed my eyes. “Of course I will go to Alaska with you.”

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SRP Review: Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward

Review by Christina Freeburn

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

winds of skilakThe book I’m reviewing today is a non-fiction book titled Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness. The heroine (and the author) is Bonnie Rose Ward.

I was drawn to the setting and reading about a woman willing to go outside her comfort zone and live a life different from what she knew, and far from where she called home. Even though Bonnie was following her husband’s dream …originally… I found her strong and determined. She loved  her husband and made the choice to follow his dreams, she was also making the choice based on her convictions and beliefs. I admired how she was willing to share her weak moments and fear. At times she was terrified and questioned the decision of moving to Alaska, but she didn’t allow fear to dictate her life.

I loved reading the details about the wilderness, Alaska, and the Wards simple life style. What I loved most was getting to know Bonnie and seeing everything through her eyes. She has such an open heart and honesty in her writing that I was drawn into story. I read non-fiction as I like seeing how the world, life, and situations are viewed by others. It gives me another way to look at the world … and at times encourages me to reevaluate what I thought I knew about a situation in my own life. It makes me pause and look past my view and consider how the someone else might perceive it.

There was an event that happened in the book (I won’t elaborate as I don’t want to give it away) involving a neighbor that I first felt wasn’t fully addressed. I wanted to know how Bonnie came to terms with and what was said to the neighbor after the incident. I was confused why it was never brought up again. It dawned on me that the reason Bonnie didn’t mention it again in the books was because she forgave. It wasn’t an easy forgiveness. She shared her anger, heartbreak and how she struggled with it. Bonnie also shared how she opened up to God and prayed about it and was able to forgive her neighbor.

I realized Bonnie didn’t mention the incident again because she was showing forgiveness. It wasn’t because the author forgot to “tie it up” for readers, or an “editing” issue (as I’ll admit was my first thought) but that is how forgiveness works. It isn’t dwelt on. Isn’t rehashed even in the mind. It’s done. Over. Bonnie’s ability to forgive so truly is what I admire most about her and left me in awe. I hope one day I can have that type of “pure” forgiving nature that the incident doesn’t need a big act of closure on it for it to be done. I’d like for “I forgive” to be enough.

Winds of Skilak Review by Christina Freeburn can be seen on her blog: The Self Rescue Princess. Link below!

SRP Review: Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward.

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