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Alaska Railroad (TV show)

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Tevin, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    Has anyone seen the reality series Alaska Railroad?

    I'm not a regular viewer but I happened across it the other night and it grabbed my attention. It's not a "prepper show" and the people featured do not directly claim to be preppers.

    What hit me is how dependent the "off gridders" (as they call themselves) are. Although they live out in the sticks and have a lot of prepper-like qualities, I see a many holes in their situation.

    Situation #1: A girl and her baby go to visit a friend who lives "off grid". Upon arrival, mom discovers she forgot her baby formula. The girl then trudges a few miles back to the railroad (with her baby) to go into town and buy formula. She is clearly not well dressed for the weather. On the way back, she comments that snowshoes would have been a great idea.

    Situation #2: An elderly off grid couple runs out of propane. They too trek out to the railroad and wait for a delivery. I don't know if the threat was real or just dramatized for TV, but they made a big deal out of the fact that they would be in big trouble without the propane.

    Situation #3: A single guy lives alone in the woods and depends on his mother to bring him supplies and clean laundry.

    Situation #4: Another elderly off-gird couple radios their son to deliver a generator they had sent out for repairs. The generator is a beat up old Coleman "screamer" mill that wasn't all that great when it was new. They have no other source of electricity.

    I noticed that a lot of the equipment all these folks have appears very well used and in some cases barely functioning.

    The theme of the show, among other things, is that the "off gridders" are heavily dependent on the railroad to keep them supplied in spite of the fact that they claim to be self-supporting.

    To be fair, all of the off-gridders do provide for themselves to a large degree (chop their own firewood, hunt some of their own food, use local water, etc.). They are more prepared than most. But they cannot live where they do without the train.

    Am I missing something here? Aside from not having any neighbors to loot you when the bubble pops, are these people really any better off than the average suburbanite who runs to the grocery store and Home Depot every week? Is being on- or off-grid just a matter of how often one goes shopping? I respect what they're doing but I can't see how someone can say they are "off grid" when their entire existence revolves around one single railroad route.

    brewmaster1918 likes this.
  2. Rabid

    Rabid Monkey

    Perhaps they are considering being not hooked to the power grid or being out of sight out of mind as being off grid instead of being self sufficient.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    They are NOT on the Grid, simply because there is NO Grid to hook up to..... These Folks live FAR Out in the Alaskan Bush, just like I DO.....
    and We CHOOSE to live out here, and it is our way of life.....
  4. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Living off grid and being self sufficient are two completly diferent concepts.
    Brokor and Tevin like this.
  5. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Monkey++

    All types in any location. Some folks just want affordable place to live or no close neighbors. Or they don't like the idea of being tapped for escalating utilities every month. Doesn't mean they have the interest or concern to prep.

    Most of them appear to get by on limited funds. Old machinery and vehicles, make-do repairs. They don't run out and buy the latest commercial duty reefer/generator/snow machine/chainsaw. I am impressed by the size and comfort of some if the homes shown. Some are just shacks but others are pretty big for not having any roads.

    Just like the folks who pioneered the West. Takes all kinds. Some will do better than others. But it certainly was not then or now just the professionals or uber tactical types. :)
    Brokor likes this.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Actually, most of those folks depend on the train, the same way I depend on the summer Barge Service, to bring in their supplies. There are very very few, that are completely independent of civilization in the whole USA. When the last Barge leaves here, I must have my 18 months of supplies already in stock and put away, or I will not make it thru the winter. Same with those folks, when they get low on Propane, they call the supplier in town, and he loads it on the Rail Truck for them. When they need groceries, they call the Store in town, and the store delivers to the Rail Freight Depot. If I want some fresh Milk, I call SuperBear Foods, in town, and they deliver to the Mail Plane Outfit, at the airport. This isn't Rocket Science, it is just the REALITY, of living in the bush of Alaska. The communicate with Radios and where available cellphones. It works for us. Again it is a lifestyle.
    STANGF150 likes this.
  7. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Will have to see if Amazon has that show available, sounds like something my mother might be interested in. She likes Alaska and railroads(and say what you will about Doomsday Preppers but it got her at least more serious about being prepared, she was kinda so-so about it before). I do not share her desire to move to Alaska though, I think we are remote enough where we are, but still only 5 miles to post office and stores and gas station. And we have good neighbors who aren't in our business all the time.
  8. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    I'm not denigrating these people's lifestyle. Actually, I'm kind of envious of it!

    It's just that I have a disconnect between the off-gridders claim of "independence" (which is a big theme in the show) when they are never more than one missed train away from becoming freeze-dried Moose Chow.

    In last night's episode, an 80-something off gridder ran out of important medication and had to have her son bring it to her. The passenger train runs only once a week, so if he doesn't make it, she's out of luck for a full seven days.

    As for my comments about their beat up gear, I realize not everyone can afford top of the line, shiney-new stuff. But, oh crikey! Those who need their power equipment that badly would be wise not to settle for something that looks like it was dragged behind the train for 50 miles. Or at least have a "backup junker".

    No disrespect intended, but if they wanted to make a program on prepper blunders, Railroad Alaska would be a pretty good fit.

    I think what I'm getting at would make more sense if you saw the program.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I have watched the show, many times, as I happen to like the Alaska Railroad System, and as a part Owner (State Resident) I have an interest in it succeeding. She is NOT out of luck, if her Son, doesn't make the Train Connection, there are plenty of Bush Pilots that would do Air Drop Deliveries of RX Meds, in a pinch. Heck the guy that had my job, before me, almost got Beaned, by a 10# Can of Roasted Peanuts, that the Bush Pilot was giving him for Christmas, One year, during an Air Drop... Missed his head by about 6"..and scared the C**P out of his wife, who was watching from the cabin window. We have to be creative, or we have to do without. simple as that. I just got done Plowing the Snow off our Road that Bush Planes land on, with Momma's New Toy. (Road Grader) Getting ready for a Mail Plane, possibly tomorrow, due to Christmas falling on our Regular Mail Day. (Wednesdays) If I didn't get it cleaned up, they would just bring it on an Amphib Beaver, instead of a Cessna 206 on Wheels. I will find out in the morning, if the Post Office will dispatch our Mail, early, considering the Holiday. Heck Two weeks ago, there were no Bush Planes flying at all, for 8 Days, due to Fog, and extreme Low Temps. Folks just settled in until the Wx cleared, and then waited for their turn, as the Freight & Mail backlog was quite large. It is just how things ARE, and you learn to deal with it..... .....
  10. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    The Alaska Railroad System is a tiny thing that serves a very small portion of the state.
    Alaska Railroad Travel - Railbelt Map

    I suppose folks that live "near" the road bed have become accustomed to using it, as they should. It also makes sense to me that they have backup methods of getting what they need, and I have to conclude that they know how to plan ahead in case of delays in deliveries.

    One thing, for sure, those people can tell you about limitations to SHTF preps. There are not a lot of folks that could make it thru a winter without stocking up. There are, it's safe to say, exactly zero of the Mountain Man types that existed in the early and mid 1800s trapping the beaver. (Think Liver Eating Johnson, Bill Sublette, Hawken brothers, and the like.) Even then, spring rendevous was stock up on staples time, trading plews for flour, sugar and tobacco among other stuff. Not all of them survived all that long.

    Seems like I've read of some handcars stashed along the rails for emergency.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ghrit, Those have ALL been replaced, with modern Trucks with "Boggy Wheels" since the advent of the Modern Railroad Radio Communication Dispatch System. Every motorized Vehicle on the Rails , is required to be under control of the Rail System Dispatch Center. That goes for all Trains, Section Vehicles, Maintenance Vehicles, and anything else, running down the Rails. There just are NOT any blind spots in the Comms System, not even in the tunnels. It is all under positive Control. If you are interested in this @m 99 is in that Biz. .....
  12. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Unless and until ==
  13. Pistolero

    Pistolero Monkey+

    I retired early two years ago from BNSF. At 57 years old. I was considering applying to the Alaska RR to work a few more years. But the wife said no, she wants to stay here in Florida. I miss Alaska, worked several years up there many moons ago. didn't know about this show, will have to look for it.
  14. TV is like that. If they showed all the humdrum, too few would want to watch it. The TV crews always look for things that the average viewer (he lives in Cleveland and has two-point-two children) will like to watch, including things that portray ordinary Sourdoughs as freaks.

    Trust me: they're just selling soap. I got so disgusted with TV that I stopped watching it a long time ago, and I was actually surprised when one of my employees asked to leave early on Sunday to watch the suprabowl, and I didn't find out which team won until I heard it on the radio yesterday morning.

    William Warren
  15. I haven't seen this show and didn't know about it. Thanks for mentioning it. I love to watch shows about Alaska and Northern Canada. I took the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward, stayed overnight and took it back. My new favorite show is Ultimate Survival Alaska. I'll have to check out Alaska Railroad.
  16. connie1959

    connie1959 Monkey

    Question re: off gridders getting on train by rail...... Love Raidroad Alaska! Being from the lower 48 how does the railroad work for these people who live out in the boonies? I assume the off gridders know when the trains run by their homes but how do the fares work for them? Are these trains the same ones that run sight seeing? Or are they regular freight type trains with passenger cars added? Just really curious as to how this works! Thanks for explaining!
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The residents know what the schedules are, and most of them use the "Whistle Stop" method to get on the train. The conductor sells the Tickets, as they board, and their Freight goes, into the Railroad Express Car. Most of the Freight Trains are Freight, ONLY, WHERE THE Passenger Trains usually are both. The Hazmat (Fuel Deliveries) are done, using a Special Section Truck with Boggy Wheels, that only carries Hazmat deliveries. Most of the OffGridders, have RadioPhones, or Cell Coverage, so they call in their orders, to be delivered to the Depots, for transport on specific Trains, so they know when to head out to the Tracks, to meet the Trains.... No trains down here where I live. We depend on the Bush Pilots, and Mail Planes, for our small Freight needs.
  18. connie1959

    connie1959 Monkey

    Guess I'm being nosy and if none of my business tell me so but we've been looking at the train sightseeing trip fares (will have a friend stationed at Ft. Wainwright shortly and may come to visit) - I would assume if you live outside Talkeetna and need a trip into town to pick up supplies those fares are much cheaper? Like tonight the couple that had to go into Fairbanks for a propane refrig. I admire anyone who choses this way of life but oh man there's lots of work to just surviving!
  19. Illini Warrior

    Illini Warrior Monkey+

    new Alaska based reality show starting this Sunday (11/30/14) ... Alaska Off Road Warriors .... History Channel at 9pm CST following Ax Men .... saw previews - looks good ....
    Yard Dart and connie1959 like this.
  20. i've developed a strange fascination with Alaska and have been watching lots of TV shows about Alaska. currently watching Alaskan Rail Road.
    Watching all these shows fills me with questions that I've got buckleys in answering being that i live in australia.
    i love the desert.
    i think a lot of my questions would make u all scream n howl with laughter so here goes;
    people getting around on snow machines etc ...why are these machines so exposed? how come they are not kinda sheltered?
    i note that places - rooves are built with thin rafters n beams and plywood (nearly fainted) and that one roof like this had lasted like 30 years.
    Yes - i also wondered about income.
    Guess you all have radios for communication? or maybe there's satellite internet that the cameras dont show us.
    and i noticed ppl had to stand up on the freight train for hours - are there no chairs - or do ppl take their own chairs.
    also notice that dogs are allowed on the trains.
    and - one pressing question - i notice ppl worry bout their water supply - but from a dumb aussie point of view it seems simple - melting the snow.
    guess the train knows when to stop cos you've radio-ed it?
    and how many tons of chopped firewood is needed for winter?
    do u all carry around e-burbs?
    and - what do you's all eat - and where does it come from?

    that'll do for starters - thanks!!
    connie1959 likes this.
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