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Part 2 will be released next Friday. Thank you so much for reading! Please like & Share & Subscribe to follow my articles here as well as my Twitter!
Last week during an interview I did on a Podcast, someone asked me what I thought of today’s television shows. I told them I didn’t watch much television anymore due to the lack of quality, but that I did like a handful of shows. Of course one of those was Yukon Men on the Discovery Channel.
I wrote about Stan (above) and I so have enjoyed him showing his points of view and his talents. The two people though that interested me was Stan’s wife Kathleen and his daughter Kate. Most of us growing up know that the grunt work often is done by our fathers, but the glue to the families are usually the mom’s. Kathleen is the glue of the Zuray’s plus being an Alaskan woman, she is a tireless worker as well. She is not a big fan of all of the attention or fame and I respect that. As most of us can attest, Kathleen is the classic mother who’s strength and heart solidify what a great family is all about. Another person has shown that same kind of familial spirit that solidifies and guides Alaskan families such as the Zuray’s and that person is Kathleen & Stan’s daughter Kate. In the few times that we get to see her, Kate has shown that same kind of passion for family. Her maturity and kind nature was easy to see. I asked if Kate would do an interview with me and she graciously accepted. Here is part 1. I hope you enjoy her comments as much as I have.
Jim Jax: What are your first memories as a child growing up in Alaska?
One of my first memories was during winter time being bundled in a sleeping bag very early in the morning before daylight. My dad put a long cardboard box in his dog sled, where I would lay there for hours while we drove 40 miles to my dad’s trapping cabin. I would sleep and then wake up and I could hear the dogs mushing while my dad whistled or hummed a song. I feel like I was a good passenger.
Jim Jax: As a kid was there ever a chance that you thought what it would be like to live somewhere else?
Being hidden from the world, I didn’t know we were a poor family living in a small village. I was happy with my family and life as it was. When I became 12 years old I began watching music videos and MTV and I learned quickly that we were very different from people in the lower 48 states. The fast busy lifestyle wasn’t very desirable to me as a child, but I think I was mostly attracted to the ocean and sea life, so living near the warm ocean was desirable to me.
Jim Jax: As you got older did you ever think of leaving Alaska?
Yes! I was like, “I’m out of here!” I felt so ready to leave the village life behind and explore the world. I wanted to move to NYC or LA; typical small town dreams; I would talk all the time about how I was going to leave. I did live in Hawaii and Boise Idaho for a short time, but what I learned while living out of Alaska was that I’m actually a family person and it’s hard for me to leave them. I didn’t know how much I needed my families support. Also, people in Alaska are very nice and genuine people who would help you out if you needed it. It’s a great state to live in and I also missed the big green mountainside.
Jim Jax: As a teen how with a small population, how hard is it to socialize or date?
In Tanana or any small village, you have the same classmates from preschool to 12th grade. My classmates were more siblings to me and we would even argue like siblings. You didn’t want to date your classmate you’ve known since preschool. You almost have to be strategic and take advantage of your time when you traveled to other villages or cities. There was no going to the mall and accidentally meeting the love of your life. A good example was my cousin. She had no romantic prospects in Tanana. She is related to most everyone so she moved to Fairbanks in order to find a boyfriend which is really common for people here. It was just like Charlie Wright who went to the next village to find a girlfriend. As far as socializing and dating for me, I was able to become more social and meet new people once I went to the University of Alaska.
Jim Jax: What was the scariest event you experienced so far in Alaska?
My brother Joey was a wild kid. Once at fish camp, he built plane wings that attached to his back and jumped off a cliff to fly. So there were those scary moments when someone would get hurt and were 40 miles away from the nearest clinic. Once at camp, I was maybe 10 years old when a spooked dog bit my dad’s wrist which tore off his skin and he started bleeding heavily. I remember thinking can I drive the boat? What if he dies and it’s just Joey and I with no help. If you get seriously injured out in rural Alaska it would take half a day to get to a doctor. Afterwards my dad Stan taught me what to do if he died suddenly and it was just us kids alone. He taught me how to grab the rifle, and fire three shots at the bank of the river, and hopefully a nearby fish camp would hear the shots and then come help us. I remember he made me load the gun then unload the gun over and over until I got it right.
Jim Jax: You help your dad out with some of his social media activities; what are some of the things that you do to help him?
He handles his Facebook all by himself. I’ve never helped with that. I do help him with his twitter and Instagram pages though, and recently we have been making some YouTube videos. He has been making YouTube videos for years all by himself. All of the pictures we post from his social media, he actually took himself. He reads every single tweet or message and comment that is sent to him. With Twitter I’ll make sure the YukonMen promos are retweeted or sent out. Instagram was iffy and I wasn’t sure if I should make him a page. However what I learned is we get more likes and comments on IG than Twitter so I want to put more focus into that. I assist him, give him tips, sometimes he’ll call me and we will just discuss social media, Twitter vs. Facebook and how the fans/followers differ. It’s really fascinating to us and we have seen changes and tried to adapt to those demands.
We put a lot of effort and thought into what we post and we genuinely love the connections we make with people. I still talk to people that followed me on Twitter from season one. We remember people and even have become legitimate friends. One time I got a twitter message from a women asking to meet me for lunch. I was really hesitant but just went for it and it was one of the most fun lunch dates I’ve ever had. We talked and laughed the whole time! She and her husband & kids moved to Alaska for a better job and life. I would call her my friend today and I’m excited for them when they visit Tanana. This winter I made a few Youtube videos with my dad, and it was so much fun. We filmed for hours one day and it was just a blast! I really loved it and I hope to continue making videos. Maybe I’ll even be in some!
Jim Jax: You don’t see your mom much on Yukon Men; what type of a person is she?
She’s the strongest women I know, and so beautiful. She just wants her family to be happy and healthy. She doesn’t want fame or attention, but I think she’s so funny and makes everyone feel welcomed. If I introduced her to my friends she would hug them and welcome them to the family. Filming can be so awkward especially when you don’t know what they want from you. She doesn’t get that everyone wants to meet Stan’s wife and get to know her. She’s like “I support you filming but I’ll stay behind the lens”. She is an excellent salmon cutter, and puts so much work into it. At fish camp she’ll cut fish from morning till midnight, it will be dark and I’m getting cold watching her work, and we just have to force her to finish up for the day. Filming isn’t for everyone and you just have to respect that.
Part 2 will be released next Friday. Thank you so much for reading! Please like & Share!