I tell people, "Not just art, but a way of life." And, "Not just raw material but a way of thinking." These are pictures helping to explain what I mean. This is not a snapshot in an album, this is a movie of my life.
I spend a lot of time on the river in Summer. I am sometimes gone for over a week. My boat is set up to be able to go over 700 miles without refueling. At night I can pull up a cover to cook under and sleep in a tent set up on the bow of the boat. I use these trips to find raw materials I sell and use in my own art. I find fossils like mammoth tusks, as well as interesting rocks to cut up and wood burls in trees the river has claimed. Here is a place called Rock creek, where I catch fish and camp for a night.
I love to garden, grow my own food, as well as take pictures. This is my crab apple tree in bloom, being pollinated by the neighbor's honey bee. I sometimes trade art or raw materials I have for honey as part of my subsistence lifestyle
This is the Kantishna River about midnight when we hardly get any darkness.
My invention, heater cooker
I often need goods that do not exist, are costly, or I want to conserve space. This is a standard 'buddy' propane heater. I hinged the screen so it flips up and pins in place so I can set a pot on it to cook, so I do not need a separate cooker
In my remote river travels I see interesting things. This is a landlocked boat from the gold rush days a hundred years ago. Someone tried to drag this boat to drag this boat overland to access a remote river and gave up. No surrounded by trees. It was made from hand whip sawed lumber. Trying to access gold? A trapper with a load of furs to bring in? All I have is this picture recording a past lost struggle.
In Alaska a few people still depend on the river and a subsistence lifestyle. This is a friends fish camp. No electric, no water but the river and only transportation in winter are these sled dogs. The sled dogs are fed salmon, caught in summer as seen here hung up drying for winter use. This way of life is getting lost. I tell my friend when I take such pictures I am recording ending times. Up to 10,000 salmon are dried for the year for these dogs. Note the 55 gallon drum homes for the dogs. People who life like this are people I have known many years and I trade for some of my raw materials with such remote people, buying what they collect for me.
I used to make my living as a remote trapper hermit Mountain man. Here I am coming in from the trap line using sled dogs with a load of furs. Fur hat and all frosted up from the 50 below weather. Back in the 1980's
One of my trapline cabins I build in the 1970's I had 12 of these built, and 200 miles of trail I cut by hand, taking 20 years. All burned in a forest fire. Picture taken before the age of digital, when a year after taking a picture I got to town to have rolls of film developed. I could not afford color this trip, so why this is black and white. This group of pictures of my early years are written about in my books here is the link Miles Books
I unused to hunt with a black powder shotgun in those days of being a Mountain Man. Here I have two geese I got - note the custom patch box on the shotgun I built. Much of these early years is interesting reading in my books for sale. There is an interesting story behind this old cabin.
Alaska is known for it's northern lights. I see them often, but hard to photograph without special cameras. This is my cheap digital camera getting a picture over the house. Much of the scenery I view is what gives me ideas for knife blade etching designs, or jewelry themes. Viewing the northern lights and other Alaska wilderness themes is a big part of my book writing, along with the adventures
Tiger lily usually does not grow in Alaska. Each fall I dig up the bulbs and store then indoors all winter then replant in spring. Flowers are a common theme in my art.
The barge is the only way to get supplies to the communities downriver from me in Nenana. It is 800 miles to the ocean. This is the last road the barge will see and only bridge. Villages are from 20 to 500 people. Only Galena and Tanana are bigger. I travel these rivers and trade for some of the raw materials used in my art, as well as providing stories for my books. I am the source for most of my raw materials sold.
Mail in sled headed for the post office. We have no local deliver in Nenana. Everyone has to go to the post office to send and receive. I hardly drive, but use my snow machine to deliver orders headed out. Here is a sled load of outgoing priority mail.
We just call her 'Kitty.' She found us, we adopted her. She has 6 toes on each foot!
Another 'invention' I built s tiny woodstove from a metal coffee can with 2 inch chimney. It has a draft to control the flame. I can cook a meal and heat the tent. Seen here in the left corner with smoke coming out it's chimney. Used fist size pieces of wood.
A new way to set a stone I try. This nice cut amethyst has it's corners grabbed with nothing across the back or face to distract from the stones light. link to more such pendants pendants
Visited a glacier with friends, in the foreground all the debris the glacier drops when it melts.
Mt McKinley seen in the fall not far from home
More beautiful fall colors near home. I find a lot of my exotic wood shapes, burls etc along the rivers in such settings. Usually there are old fire burns or log jams so I can find already dead or down wood and not have to cut any live trees. It is common for the nearest road to b e over 100 miles away. I arrive by boat, on a week long trip. Link to wood for sale I fine on these trips . wood
Small mammoth tusk found along a remote interior Alaska river. The skull and teeth off this same animal were found as well. I put bands around the tusk right away to stop it from cracking. It was still frozen in the permafrost when I found it.
link to my fossil finds for sale fossils
link to my fossil finds for sale fossils
I'm ice fishing on Dune Lake in spring. New snow machine I love.. Just had the carry box on back built. Note I have with me a saw, snowshoes. On the other side is a jack to lift machine if it gets stuck. I can go a long ways, even camp out overnight. On such grips I look for fungus on trees as well as interesting wood.