Local Author Tells of the Well Earned Alaskan Tales
Book reviewed by Janet Juroch
A new book is out written by Garden Valley author T. Russel (Tim) Benedict which tells a first-hand tale of what Alaska is all about. Forget the promotions made by Alaska Travel Council, because Benedict will take you deep into the countryside and see Alaska in a bit of a different light. Some stories will make you laugh, while other stories will show the difficult and darker side of living in Alaska.
Covering a three or four year period, Benedict worked winters in the Alaskan territory. His experiences will leave you amazed and sometimes wonder why he would even go back every summer. Benedict often refers to the “challenges” he liked facing head on just because that is how “this guy’s brain works”. Some of it was the money. But after each tale, he has a moral to the story and how to survive in Alaska.
Benedict’s observations will take you through Nome in the Northwest, to Bethel in the Southwest, Yakutat in the Southeast, and all parts in between as he worked at various jobs. He explains life on the tundra and how different living there really is. There is much to consider, like how to build a structure on the ever moving tundra, to what chilling accounts of what happens to all the waste when septics are out of the question in the deep icy ground.
The solitude and peacefulness that can be found in Alaska and what some people finds appealing. Benedict explains, “Alaska is good for that, to just go find yourself your own little private stake, and hunker down and just live the secluded hermit life. That appeals to a lot of people, especially ones that just don’t like interacting with humanity much anymore, for whatever the reason. I met a number of these people.”
Staying off the radar also leads to the “crooks-in-hiding” and sex and drug trafficking. There are deep pockets of a more depraved society that Benedict saw first hand where people can literally “get away with murder”. Benedict has many stories that will maybe make you mad, but he said he always felt he would be okay and make it through.
“Logger and gold operations are not quite like what you see on TV,” says Benedict, “the logistics of getting it out of the ground makes it unprofitable.” Sometimes he felt it was more of bragging rights that a person would go work there and survive.
The book explains the roads to nowhere, temperatures so cold that you can pour out coffee and it turns to snow before it hits the ground, and rivers that become ice roadways with hidden dangers during the thaw. He also explains the beauty of taking a shower under a cliff with no one around and taking in the beauty of the Alaskan landscapes.
As the stories unfold Benedict tells the reader, “Hopefully, if you ever get to Alaska someday, you’ll be a little better prepared for what you are getting yourself into.” The book also makes for great campfire stories that he shares with the kids he works with at Project Patch in Garden Valley. He says, “They are the reason I put all of this into a book in the first place. They never seemed to get enough of all the stories and life lessons learned through me.”
Benedict lives in Garden Valley with his wife Karen and a blended family of nine kids. His book is now available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0779VXHD4. The hardcopy will be available there soon as well.