ALASKA: The Sophisticated Wilderness by Jon Gardey

ALASKA: The Sophisticated Wilderness

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Recollections of the Alaskan wilderness and regrets for its pipeline connections. Gardey loved the idea of Alaska long before he first arrived to climb Mt. McKinley with two fellow students in 1954, but his image of the land, always slightly romantic, is threatened now that city sophistication and pipeline technology are taking over. A meteorologist, he and his wife Jill chose to settle in Anchorage in 1958, but city living was a compromise to economic necessity that they tried to counter with trips to the interior and a budding photography business. Dismayed by the prospects when oil was discovered in 1965, they left for a new life near London but found no satisfaction there either; their plans to return were canceled when Jill was killed in a car crash. Gardey stayed away until an assignment took him back to Anchorage where he found classic signs of the pipeline's impact: divorce, suicide, and alcoholism are chronic problems, prostitutes cruise in Winnebagos, and the telephone directory has a 40% turnover each year. Although the city is still small enough to find Senator Gravel in Woolworth's, the lines have been drawn over the oil issue: opponents of the Sierra Club's conservation efforts have bumper stickers reading ""Let the bastards freeze in the dark."" No solutions offered--just an ominous contrast of then and now.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Stein & Day