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

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

Categories: Alaska | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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

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