Posts Tagged With: wilderness

WCHS TV Channel 8 News INTERVIEW OF SAM & BONNIE

PART ONE INTERVIEW ON WCHS & WVAH TV with Brad Rice

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.

CLICK PHOTO TO SEE PART ONE INTERVIEW

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PART TWO INTERVIEW ON WCHS & WVAH TV with Brad Rice

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.

CLICK PHOTO TO SEE PART TWO

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

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Kirkus Review

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
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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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THE BEGINNING . . .

1981

Building  Our Home In The Alaskan Wilderness

In the spring of 1981 we purchased our “little piece of wilderness heaven” on Caribou Island in ill-tempered Skilak Lake. Following are photo’s of beginning our new life in the wilderness! I hope you enjoy them. Please forgive that some of these photo’s are old and grainy.

1981 - Our Cabin Site on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

1981 – Our Cabin Site on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake! Notice our neighbor Bullwinkle in the background!

Checking out our new surroundings on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

Checking out our new surroundings on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

scansamonbeach

Sam standing on Caribou Island’s rocky beach. In the background at the upper end of the lake are the Kenai Mountains.

Bonnie standing on the beach. Water is low in the spring.

Bonnie standing on the beach. Water is low in the spring.

Sam carrying a log that will be used for firewood.

Sam carrying a log that will be used for firewood.

Peeling the logs that will be used on the cabin.

Peeling the logs that will be used on the cabin.

Seems like Sam's always got a log attached to his shoulder these days!

Seems like Sam’s always got a log attached to his shoulder these days!

Floor's done! Time for a coffee break!

Floor’s done! Time for a coffee break!

Cooking breakfast on the camp stove. There's Bullwinkle again, browsing nearby!

Cooking breakfast on the camp stove. There’s Bullwinkle again, browsing nearby!

Making progress! Can't wait to get out of the pup tent and into my new "home!"

Making progress! Can’t wait to get out of the pup tent and into my new “home!”

Writing letters to the loved ones back home. The pup tent in the background was home for three months. Pot of beans is cooking on the wood stove. The plastic sheeting behind me is used to cover the tent when it rains.

Writing letters to the loved ones back home. The pup tent in the background was home for three months. The plastic sheeting behind me was used to cover the tent when it rained. There’s a pot of beans cooking on the wood stove (that Sam’s brother, Paul built for us) for supper. We ate beans every day! This photo is old but it “tells” a lot!

My handsome husband shaving out of a gold pan. This photo is dear to me because Sam looks so happy, but tragically, this was taken shortly before his horrific accident! (Details are in my book!)

My handsome husband shaving out of a gold pan. This photo is dear to me because Sam looks so happy, but tragically, this was taken shortly before his horrific accident! (Details are in my book!)

This photo was taken after recuperating from his tragic accident, Sam is back to work on the cabin!

This photo was taken after recuperating from his tragic accident, Sam is back to work on the cabin!

Finally got the roof on! Just need a door now!

Finally got the roof on! Just need a door now!

Sam is almost finished hanging the door! A good solid door! Let the cold winds blow, we'll be snug and warm in our little cabin home!

Sam is almost finished hanging the door! A good solid door! Let the cold winds blow, we’ll be snug and warm in our little cabin home!

FINISHED!

FINISHED!

Home sweet home! It took lots of blood, sweat and tears, broken bones and many pots of beans, but, it's like Sam always says, "We did it, and that's what counts!"

Home sweet home! It took lots of blood, sweat and tears, broken bones and many pots of beans. But, it’s like Sam always says, “We did it, and that’s what counts!”

When the salmon entered the lake on their way to their spawning grounds, all work ceased on the cabin. It was time to go fishing!

When the salmon entered the lake on their way to their spawning grounds, all work ceased on the cabin. It was time to go fishing!

Several species of salmon enter the lake. Sam is posing with a nice King salmon. He got this one on the Kenai River, which flows through Skilak.

Several species of salmon enter the lake. Sam is posing with a nice King salmon. He got this one on the Kenai River, which flows through Skilak.

The salmon have been soaking in the brine and are now drying. They will soon go into the smoker that Sam made from a barrel pictured in the foreground

The salmon have been soaking in the brine and are now drying. They will soon go into the smoker that Sam built using a barrel, pictured in the foreground.

My wilderness kitchen! The heart of a home - for me, that is! Burned a few loaves of bread not to mention a few fingers before I got the hang of the wood cook stove!

My wilderness kitchen! The heart of a home – for me, that is! Burned a few loaves of bread not to mention a few fingers before I got the hang of the wood cook stove!

Sam building a log chicken coop for our chickens! Good job, Sam!

Sam building a log chicken coop for our chickens! Good job, Sam!

Chicken coop is finished! Sam is taking a break while our rabbit checks in for a visit.

Chicken coop is finished! Sam is taking a break while our rabbit, Susie hops by to inspect Sam’s work!

The flock is growing and we now have a turkey as well - seen in the pen. The fish net covering the pen protects the chickens from predator birds looking for a good dinner!

The flock is growing and we now have a turkey as well – seen in the pen. The fish net covering the pen protects the chickens from predator birds looking for a good meal!

Chickens go scurrying when a young bull moose pays a visit!

Chickens go scurrying when a young bull moose pays a visit!

Feeding the chickens!

Feeding the chickens!

Our hen, Gladys with her little chicks. Gladys loved nesting and she hatched and raised more chicks than any other chicken!

Our hen, Genevieve with her little chicks. Genevieve loved nesting and she hatched and raised more chicks than any other chicken!

Sam looks pretty happy with his new generator. Used for recharging our radio battery!

Sam looks pretty happy with his new generator. Used for recharging our radio battery!

Our little homestead slowly included new members. Sam is pictured here with my milk goat, Esther, and our two kid goats, Heidi and Billie . . . oh, and let's not forget, our turkey, General Lee.

Our little homestead slowly grew to include new members. Sam is pictured here with my milk goat, Esther, and our two kid goats, Heidi and Billie . . . oh, and let’s not forget, our turkey, General Lee.

"It's mine, I seen it first. I know there's corn in the bottom of this bag."

“It’s mine, I seen it first. I know there’s corn in the bottom of this bag.”

Heidi is trying to get Sam's tobacco out of his shirt pocket!

Heidi is trying to get Sam’s tobacco out of his shirt pocket!

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning. Oh, the washtub had a dual purpose (at least). I not only used it for laundry, but for my bathtub as well!

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning. Oh, the washtub had a dual purpose (at least). I not only used it for laundry, but for my bathtub as well!

Milking Esther! After I milked Esther, I would strain the milk and pour into a sterilized quart jar. Then Esther and I would walk down the "water trail" to the beach where Esther would browse on choice grasses while I would re-fill my dishpan with fresh cold lake water. I would rotate the jars in the dishpan, which I kept off the beach and tucked away in the tree-line That milk would be very cold in less than an hour.

Milking Esther! After I milked Esther, I would strain the milk and pour into a sterilized quart jar. Then Esther and I would walk down the “water trail” to the beach where Esther would browse on choice grasses while I would re-fill my dishpan with fresh cold lake water. I would rotate the jars in the dishpan, which I kept off the beach and tucked away just inside the tree-line. That milk would be very cold and delicious in less than an hour.

Yippee! I'm moving up in the world! From wash pan to sauna for my bathing needs! Sam built this wood heated sauna our second summer on the island. Nothing better to warm a body to the bones and clean out the pores!

Yippee! I’m moving up in the world! From washtub to sauna for my bathing needs! Sam built this wood heated sauna our second summer on the island. Nothing better to warm a body to the bones and clean out the pores!

AND THEN COMES WINTER!

AND THEN COMES WINTER!

WINTER WONDERLAND! So quiet you can hear a snowflake falling to the ground.

WINTER WONDERLAND! So quiet you can hear a snowflake falling to the ground.

Chickens are tucked in safe and warm for the winter!

Chickens are tucked in safe and warm for the winter! I think Heidi wants to move in!

OUR FIRST WINTER! FEELING BLESSED IN OUR HUMBLE LITTLE CABIN!

OUR FIRST WINTER! FEELING BLESSED IN OUR HUMBLE LITTLE CABIN!

A moose out on the frozen surface of Skilak Lake.

A moose out on the frozen surface of Skilak Lake.

Moose on Caribou Island!

Moose on Caribou Island!

Moose on Caribou Island munching on tree branches.

Moose on Caribou Island munching on tree branches near our cabin.

With winter comes trapping. Here is Sam with a Coyote!

With winter comes trapping. Here is Sam with a Coyote!

Sam with a coyote he caught. Along with coyote, Sam trapped, mink, otter, beaver and more.

Sam with a coyote he caught. Along with coyote, Sam trapped, mink, otter, beaver and more.

Trapper Sam holding up a string of mink pelts! Notice the Bear jaw handled knife he made?

Trapper Sam holding up a string of mink pelts! Notice the Bear jaw handled knife he made?

I enjoyed sewing and making crafts out of the furs that Sam trapped.

I enjoyed sewing and making crafts out of the furs that Sam trapped.

Sam sporting the beaver fur hat I made for him. He trapped the beaver during the winter.

Sam sporting the beaver fur hat I made for him. He trapped the beaver during the winter.

Building a dock! Skilak is frozen and you can see our "ice road" behind Sam as it heads toward Frying Pan Island!

Building a dock! Skilak is frozen and you can see our “ice road” behind Sam as it heads toward Frying Pan Island!

Our second summer, Sam also built a guest cabin tucked into the woods behind our main cabin.

Our second summer, Sam also built a guest cabin tucked into the woods behind our main cabin.

My sister came to visit our fourth year on the island. She is seen here with Sam as they skin a rabbit that Sam just shot for our supper.

My sister came to visit our fourth year on the island. She is seen here with Sam as they skin a rabbit that Sam just shot for our supper.

Sam the great hunter! He provided all of our meat from hunting and fishing. We never bought meat (or bread for that matter) out of a grocery store for nine years!!

Sam the great hunter! He provided all of our meat from hunting and fishing. We never bought meat (or bread for that matter) out of a grocery store for nine years! I canned all of our meat in quart jars by the hundred’s and baked all of our bread! Yummy & Healthy!

The huge 1,000 pound brown bear that Sam shot!

The huge 1,000 pound brown bear that Sam shot!

That was a big bear!

That was a big bear!

Sam's pretty happy that he brought this bear down. It had charged him and his friend up on the mountain.

Sam’s pretty happy that he brought this bear down. It had charged him and his friend up on the mountain.

That brown bear was so big that it made our cabin look small!

That brown bear was so big that it made our cabin look small!

                                                           

Photo’s Of The Beautiful Outdoors!

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Up on the mountain where Sam shot the bear and where we would pick blueberries. Looking down the lake toward Caribou and Frying Pan Islands. The tiny Island in between the two is Little Caribou Island.

Up on the mountain where Sam shot the bear and where we would pick blueberries. Looking down the lake toward Caribou and Frying Pan Islands. The tiny Island in between the two is Little Caribou Island.

This is our second cabin home that we built our third year on the island. Nestled safely in a forest of snow covered pines. You can see our very first "wooden Dumpey" boat, "Ol' Slow Boat Annie," we dubbed her. And the Old Dorey next to her. We've swamped that Dory a time or two crossing that lake with a loads of wood!

This is our second cabin home that we built our third year on the island. Nestled safely in a forest of snow covered pines. You can see our very first “wooden Dumpey” boat, “Ol’ Slow Boat Annie,” we dubbed her. And the Old Dorey next to her. We’ve swamped that Dory a time or two crossing that lake with a loads of wood!

Skilak is in a bad mood today! Photo is old, grainy and not very clear. Doesn't do the scene justice!

Skilak is in a bad mood this day! Photo is old, grainy and not very clear. Doesn’t do the scene justice!

Landscape photo of the upper end of the lake by Jeremy Sauskojus. This is Skilak on one of those rare and beautiful days. Days like this would make me sometimes forget how ill-tempered the "great lady" could get.

Landscape photo of the upper end of the lake by Jeremy Sauskojus. This is Skilak on one of those rare and beautiful days. Days like this would make me sometimes forget how ill-tempered the “great lady” could get.

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GOODREADS BOOK GIVEAWAY FOR ‘WINDS OF SKILAK’

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN MY BOOK ‘WINDS OF SKILAK.’
JUST CLICK ON THE LINK TO GOODREADS BOOK GIVEAWAY TO ENTER! GOOD LUCK!
Check out my goodreads book/author page and enter the Goodreads Book Giveaway for ‘Winds of Skilak.’ https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/73470-winds-of-skilak
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‘Winds of Skilak’ Book Signing at Summersville Public Library!

FIRST BOOK SIGNING DECEMBER 19TH, AT THE SUMMERSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY!

For all those interested in obtaining a signed copy of my book ‘Winds of Skilak’ I’d like to invite you to my first book signing at the Summersville Public Library in Summersville, WV on December 19th from 1pm to 5pm. Come on out and join the fun!

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