My Home—Kodiak, Alaska
Posted on 02/08/2021 Robin Barefield
Alaska Wilderness Mystery Author
Author Masterminds Member
My husband and I live in the Alaska wilderness on Kodiak Island, and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge surrounds our home. Kodiak sits in the Gulf of Alaska, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. It is a mountainous island with steep peaks rising from sea level and a shoreline carved by glaciers into deep, fjord-like bays. Due to this undulating shoreline, no place on the thirty-five-hundred square mile island is further than fifteen miles from the ocean.
In addition to this rugged topography, the Alaska Current, an offshoot of the warm Japanese Kuroshio Current, flows northward near Kodiak. This current brings warm water to the frigid Gulf of Alaska, spawning weather conditions that are often violent, change rapidly, and may vary considerably from one area of the island to another. Blue skies might predominate over the city of Kodiak while low-hanging fog fills a bay fifteen miles away, and high winds blow across the south end of the island.
Most of the island’s 13,500 residents live in Kodiak city on the island’s northeastern tip. On the western side of Kodiak island, my home is 65 air miles from town, and my neighbors are huge Kodiak brown bears, deer, foxes, eagles, whales, and sea otters.
Life on Kodiak is never dull. In January 2018, we experienced a 7.9 magnitude earthquake followed by hundreds of aftershocks. In winter, we sometimes have storms with winds nearing one-hundred mph, but when winds calm and skies clear, the stunning, uninterrupted view of ocean and wilderness makes this the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
My husband, Mike Munsey, grew up in this paradise, and after we married, we bought Munsey’s Bear Camp, a lodge that has been in his family for 63 years. I am from Kansas, and I met Mike in college in Hawaii. With a master’s degree in fish and wildlife biology, my dream-come-true is to work as a wildlife-viewing and sportfishing guide, and I am about ready to publish my new book, Kodiak Island Wildlife.
No roads cross Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers two-thirds of the island, so our only means of transportation is boat or floatplane. In winter, our mail and supplies arrive on our weekly mail plane. Otherwise, winters remain quiet and stormy in our little corner of the world, making it the perfect season to write my Alaska wilderness mystery novels.
During summer, we guide guests on wildlife viewing and fishing trips. We hike up small streams, sit on the bank, and watch Kodiak bears chase and eat salmon. I both love and respect the wilderness. Kodiak Island is beautiful and wild, but it can also be deadly.
As an author, I enjoy throwing my character into this dangerous, inhospitable environment. This wilderness setting offers me ideas to move the plot forward or provide background and depth for my characters.
Floatplanes figure prominently in my novels. Since there are no roads on the refuge, travel over much of the island is by plane. I have had several frightening small-plane trips in bad weather, so it is easy for me to write scenes of terror in the air.
I enjoy creating characters who are unusual and choose to live in wild, remote locations. These people understand wilderness, and they use it to survive—or to murder.
Kodiak Island is famous for its giant brown bears. Thirty-five-hundred bears live on the Kodiak Archipelago, so no fictional hike through the woods would be complete without at least seeing a bear. I’ve spent a great deal of time watching bears, and while I’m not terrified of them, I respect their strength, power, and intelligence.
I invite you to visit Kodiak and get a feel for this wild, mysterious, beautiful Alaska island.
My Home—Kodiak, Alaska was first published with Readers and Writers Book Club: https://readersandwritersbookclub.com.