Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have an obsession with remote locations. It’s strange but true. I spend copious quantities of time researching the Northwest Territories of Canada and wondering what it would be like to live in Barrow, Alaska. Brett and I get excited over information about the research stations in Antarctica. I am moderately obsessed with Lapland in Scandinavia, and desperately want to visit.

Who wouldn't want to make this metropolis home?

I am not an adventurist, and have no desire to engage in extreme survivalist activities, but I am enthralled by daily life in remote areas, especially cold remote areas. I am not talking about leaving society and shacking up in an abandoned cabin in the woods. No, I’m talking about the fully functioning towns that make these harsh climates home. Over 4,000 people live in Barrow and honestly, that’s about as remote as it gets for a “city” in the U.S. How do 4,000 people live where the warmest month of the year averages 46 degrees?

I have no idea why I’m so fascinated, but it’s a constant obsession. I think it would be thoroughly exciting to somehow do something that would let us live somewhere more remote. Maybe this obsession is a reaction to living in a megalopolis, but I have always been fascinated with such places. However, I think I romanticize them. I mean, I routinely fantasize about living a life like Joel Fleishman in Northern Exposure. Unfortunately, that’s T.V. and real life is never quite as “colorful.” However, I have spent time in remote places. In fact, when Brett and I started dating, he lived in a town with fewer than 100 people in it. I enjoyed it. Would I enjoy it forever? Who knows.

When I first moved to Montana, it scared me a bit. I mean, at night, it was just so very dark. And when you traveled the interstate, you could go many many miles without any where to stop and very few other cars. It was intimidating for a city girl. But something changed in me, and I began to feel less threatened by daunting landscapes, and now I’m more threatened by massive populations. It’s amazing how little patience I have for cities now. I love the convenience of a city and the fact that everything you want is right there, but a city life is no longer my dream. I used to imagine having a well appointed high rise condo, or a row house within walking distance to cafes and shops. Now, when I search for real estate, I’m more concerned about acreage and “shop” space for Brett’s tools.

All this talk about cold makes me colder than I already am. It’s a mere 3 degrees in Chicago today, and the wind chill will render you speechless, or possibly dead. Nevertheless, I am invigorated by the cold.


Tessie said...

Well, first of all WHAT THE HELL and I demand to know the answer to the dress quiz from yesterday.

I do this same kind of romantizing on the Large Family issue. I watch shows about it and read blogs about it and think about how AWESOME it must be, but none of it is particularly based on my own reality.

Jess said...

I wouldn't say I feel threatened by daunting landscapes, but I definitely feel the way you did back when you were a city girl. I wonder if something would change in me too if I were to move to somewhere like Montana. I'm not sure I want to find out.

Artemisia said...

When I first started reading this post I thought, "Oh, does she watch Northern Exposure?" A. and I currently catch that show on the local PBS channel every night as week cook dinner. LOVE IT.

It is interesting that the cold is a part of this obsession. I hate the cold, but am growing to love small towns more and more.

I was scared to death of the city when I first moved to DC. I was POSITIVE that I was going to be mugged and raped. I actually grew to feel very safe in the city, the more I understood it. Funny.

claire said...

Heh, i was thinking the same thing. "She must like Northern Exposure". :)

I don't know if i could do it. I think i'd like to visit a place like that (and do what? i have no idea) but i don't know if i could commit to it full time.
I'm not a city girl, but i wish i were.

JMC said...

I loved Northern Exposure as well, and romanticize many places that I see on TV or read about, because they must be better than HERE, right? Otherwise why would they be on TV and in books?

But today we lost power, as we often do when the wind blows (PECO, YOU SUCK!!!), and I wondered what people who live in places like Barrow would do in the case of a long-term power outage? Freeze to death? Or is there another option?

desperate housewife said...

I have that same rural desire, but it is coupled with a very real fear of inconvenience, (pathetic, I know,) so it will probably stay just a dream.

Penny said...

I have spent a little time in tiny remote towns and I can tell you that it is DULL. One such town I was in, the people kept talking about outings at "The Irving," like, "going to hang at the Irving, etc" and I discovered later that it is a GAS STATION. That was the HIGHLIGHT.

Stay away.

Stephanie said...

I have to say, I am extremely NOT fascinated with remote, cold areas. I like nice, safe suburbs with a nearby Target and a plethora of restaurants.

Like you, I STILL question my decision to move to the city.

cndymkr said...

This woman lives in Barrow. Except for the extremly high food prices, horrible cold spells and other such things, she really loves living there.

Sorry to drop in unannounced here but the mention of Barrow caught my eye.