Kristina’s Cache (A Memior of Adventure and Survival in Alaska)
A modern day immigrant from Finland, a single female, ventures to Alaska to accept a job in marine geology offered by telegram. Kristina arrives in Juneau 10 years after statehood in 1969 when bids for drilling at Prudhoe Bay are announced over the radio. Her boss is enigmatic and scheming. Kristina ends up in command of a scientific cruise when the boss doesn’t show up. Her job ends abruptly after 2½ years. For a vacation she becomes a field assistant on the Juneau Icefield. Conditions become challenging when she is left alone four days in bad weather.
When Kristina gets a new job at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, she drives her un-winterized Volkswagen bug over the desolate Alaska Highway in winter, experiencing many dangers.
Kristina’s rental housing in Fairbanks is modest with a leaking roof and frozen pipes. She takes a class in log cabin construction as part of her Alaskan education. The influx of people for the pipeline construction makes Kristina’s housing situation critical. She buys property, moves into a tent, and starts to build a practice house, a 49-square-foot cache with a 16-foot ladder. The construction takes longer than she thought. With winter approaching, she ends up in a fierce competition with the elements to get a roof over her head. She lives four years in her cache, the first without electricity. The big cabin she planned to build that summer takes ten years to finish using volunteer help. There is no room for indoor plumbing. She adds an addition and gets running water after 18 years.
Kristina’s professional life at the University becomes an escalating struggle for short-term research grants. Insecure job funding continually provides new scientific opportunities from the bottom of the ocean to the clouds. On the cutting edge of innovative research, especially in remote sensing, Kristina does field work by sea and air and writes scientific papers. She believes there is always a solution to a problem.
A nature lover and adventurer with a soul of an explorer, Kristina never passes an opportunity to see and learn more about Alaska by touring, hiking and canoeing. She tries to be in the right place at the right time: to experience culture preserved in a whaling celebration for instance, and history unfold, such as the meeting between the Pope and the President.
The collection of 39 chapters spans 33 years from 1969 to 2002. The chapters are chronologically arranged to show the author’s personal development and the changes in Alaska during more than a quarter century.
Work related chapters from Kristina’s 30-year employment at the University of Alaska and chapters from her 20-year construction project are interspersed with stories depicting every day life in extreme weather, experiencing Native culture, and outdoor adventure.
By Kristina Ahlnas