Living Off The Grid In Alaska

Sep 25, 2022 827.5K Views 1.7K Comments

Most American big cities have become more difficult over the last few years due to an increase in crime and homelessness. Some families have decided to leave it all and start anew. Join me as we meet a family from Philadelphia that decided to move to Alaska to start at a new life living off the grid.

► Tony’s Life & travel YouTube channel: ttps://youtube.com/user/earthshipempire
► Tony’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/schmycowski/
► Rebecca’s travel page: https://www.instagram.com/rebeccafiducciawanders/
► Rebecca’s tattooing: https://www.instagram.com/rebecca_fiduccia/

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello
► Researched by: Kymberly Redmond

PETER: Here we have a glacier
going right into the water there.
Beautiful Alaska.
Good morning, guys.
I’ve spent about a week
in this great state.
So far I’ve realized a few things.
One, super diverse with its landscapes.
Two, many people here
living many different lifestyles.
So today we’re meeting up
with some homesteaders.
This is a family that left
the big city of Philadelphia.
Decided to cut loose.
Live off the land away from the utilities.
Away from the road.
So we’re gonna go inland
I believe roughly 30 minute or so
and meet this family
and sort of see
what that life is all about.
I think a lot of us have a…
Sort of a mystique or that, you know,
“Into the Wild” calling at times.
So let’s get it from the source
Let’s do this.
♪ somber acoustic guitar ♪
Uh and it just like kind of
solidified everything that I
already knew which was true
which is that like this is all
bull
[door opens]
PETER: Here we are, Anchor Point.
Tony!
-How are you doing?
-Great man, how are you doing?
-Thank you, appreciate it.
-Yeah, nice meeting you, man.
PETER: So Tony, how long have you
been doing this for, the homesteading?
Three years, it’s going great.
You have a pretty crazy story.
You’re gonna let us know, right?
Like you lived in Philly, the hood.
Oh yeah, Kensington.
In an area where a lot of people
are just really addicted to drugs.
A lot of homelessness.
A lot of violence.
TONY: This was actually all logging roads
and then a group bought it all
and turned it into a massive subdivision.
It’s like all sorts of layers of history.
At first there was a cotton mill back here.
Because there’s
cotton that grows everywhere.
PETER: Interesting.
The what you’d call a muskeg
which is pretty much like a bog.
<Uh-huh.
And that’s where you’ll see,
like, you know, National Geographic
and all that stuff, you’ll see pictures
of, like, bears and moose out there.
It’s because it’s loaded
with berries, loaded.
And my wife’s actually out with the kid
and our neighbor right now in the muskag.
Picking berries to make a pie.
I think my dad’s smoking salmon.
The moose are like
the king of the jungle here
and they’re quite lazy
but when you do get them up
they’ll charge you
and then they’ll stomp you.
TONY: They fight bears all the time,
and they win, and they’re everywhere.
I mean I got a bunch of them
living in my front yard.
PETER: So you just keep your distance?
You keep your distance
and, really, be armed.
So you have to carry?
You have to have guns out here?
Pretty much, yeah.
PETER: I love these flowers.
What are they?
TONY: This is fireweed.
You eat it when it sprouts.
It tastes like asparagus
and it looks kind of like asparagus
when you get it
and it’s really good for you.
So this is horsetail
and it’s high in silica.
It’s like really, really good for
your teeth, and your mouth, and wounds.
So if you got, like, a wound
and you’re bleeding
you can crush this up, chew on it,
spit it out, and cram it in your wound.
It’ll stop the bleeding.
So this is good to have.
I mean you’re in the middle of nowhere.
PETER: You don’t have
power lines or anything, right?
No, they quoted me $350,000
to get hooked up to the electric company.
[chuckling] 350.
TONY: Like the squatter situation
with the meth heads
what they would call tweakers here.
PETER: Wait, I thought you said
you were getting away from
meth heads and tweakers in Philly.
Right, well with comes…
You know, the freedom to live like that.
Just, like, pretty much in a plywood shack.
It’s all overgrown now but there’s
a lot of stuff laying all over the place.
They had goats
and the woman had kids… or a kid.
They took their kid away because they
had a dead goat [chuckles] inside of it.
PETER: You get all types in Alaska, huh?
And right next to
this beautifully guy’s setup.
The drug situation here is different.
It has more of a sense of humanity
because no one comes here to be on drugs.
It’s someone’s daughter or cousin
that just got mixed up.
They all try to help ’em.
-So your work in progress right now?
-Oh, yeah.
PETER: That’s an octagon house?
TONY: Yeah, octagon.
PETER: Interesting.
TONY: Two stories, it’s 25 years old.
Welcome to the homestead.
The beginning of one at least
and uh, you know…
FATHER: Or what was left of one
and is now being fully renovated.
These are what the foundation
was 25 years ago.
They just laid
a bunch of logs down and, uh…
PETER: Is it… It’s rotting out?
TONY: Oh yeah, I mean I can just…
…take this house apart in pieces.
PETER: So you have skills,
you know what you’re doing?
Yeah.
Yeah, I’ve been doing it
my whole life and…
I’m not afraid to learn either.
Take it one bite at a time.
When it gets cold, what’s the story here?
[Tony sighs]
I’m lucky I have a big wood burning stove
and we have access to natural coal here .
So we just go to the beach
and collect coal.
PETER: Coal is on the beach?
Yeah, massive pieces of coal.
I mean they’ll be like the size
of a truck, or a car, or something
but then you can find smaller pieces.
[tarp rustling]
PETER: Oh okay.
TONY: So just natural…
[knocking]
Huge chunks and it’s quite heavy.
PETER: So Tony, you were
in Kensington, Philadelphia.
-Yeah.
-Notoriously bad these days.
-There are a lot of YouTube videos, right?
-Oh, yeah.
Just, the place sort of falling apart.
What was the snapping point
for you to come up here?
[Tony sighs]
The pandemic happened, it started
and Philadelphia started protesting.
Then the police leaked a memo saying that
they weren’t gonna show up
to, like, small crimes.
Which were home burglaries and small…
-They weren’t gonna show up?
-They weren’t gonna show up.
Okay.
And then all of a sudden,
just overnight, like…
in that area it just started popping off
and people were blowing stuff up
and there was black helicopters
flying around and
one of my wife’s friends
invited us up here
and uh…
…to work at her tattoo parlor.
We just fell in love
and accidentally bought this place.
[both chuckle]
Okay, when the black helicopters were
flying around, it felt sort of lawless in Kensington?
Oh yeah, you’d hear
automatic gunfire, explosions…
People had like dynamite
and they were blowing up the ATMs
just behind my house,
My whole house was shaking…
PETER: That’s the salmon
you caught in 12 hours?
TONY: Yeah, we went over the weekend.
PETER: [amazed] Wow.
Went dip netting
and we maxed out in 12 hours and…
A while, I mean…
For me, and my wife, and my child,
I mean that would get me pretty far
but that’s not my total limit.
I could still go halibut fishing.
I could still go fishing for salmon
in the river with a fishing pole.
PETER: Okay.
how many fish you can catch?
Yeah, uh, this is dip netting.
So you have a massive net and you go
and catch ’em while they’re
running into the rivers.
<Okay.
You’re in and out of the water
with a net dumping the salmon
and then running back in,
and you’re back and forth
until you pretty much max out.
PETER: Did you have those skills
or you had to learn ’em up here?
TONY: Gotta learn ’em.
Monkey see, monkey do, you know?
It’s pretty straightforward.
PETER: Here’s the place.
PETER: Your cat is huge.
[Tony chuckles]
PETER: She’s like the moose of cats.
TONY: So this is what
the inside of the house is.
Got your inverter
for the generator outside
that charges some batteries
that are in there.
TONY: Gravel floor.
PETER: What do you want
to do with the floor?
TONY: I’ve been doing this.
So as I replace the foundation I’ve been
building and insulating the floor…
PETER: Okay.
TONY: …and the foundation,
and really make it heatable space.
‘Cause the heat just goes
right into the ground.
PETER: The ground is frozen, isn’t it?
Oh yeah, when I came here this season
it was like a sheet of ice
underneath that deck.
PETER: Your guns in here?
Yeah.
TONY: We have one, you know,
for other people to wear too.
I’m not gonna let you just walk off
and put you in a position to get hurt.
Moose mainly, yeah.
I mean there’s bears here.
You’ll see… Every now and then
you’ll see some bear poop.
PETER: So with moose,
when a moose comes at you
if you fire in the sky does it scare it
or you actually have to go for it?
-Uh, they attack people’s dogs too…
-Okay.
and from the people that I know
that had to try to stop that.
I mean they were shooting
just above its head just to scare it
and it just kind of stares at you like,
-“What?” you know?
-“Bring it, give it to me.”
-Yeah.
-Okay.
PETER: You got vinyl,
that’s a necessity, huh?
-Having vinyl?
-Yeah, you gotta have, you know…
some relics of convenience.
Like, we have a kitchen.
PETER: Yeah, this is nice.
I like how it steps up.
-Bathroom’s over there?
-Yeah.
TONY: Yeah, you’ll love this. [chuckles]
TONY: So you got pure luxury here,
you got choices, okay?
You got your, uh, your potty in a box.
Which is just a bucket, honey pot
and then you got your camping toilet
and then this is where you shower,
or bathe, or whatever.
PETER: Got the steps.
TONY: Just a trough,
instant hot water heater.
PETER: So you do have hot water going?
TONY: Yeah, it runs on propane.
It’s just like a camping…
-…instant hot water heater.
-Okay.
PETER: This is wild. So like you feel
like you just sort of fell into it
or in the back of your head
you always had some dream
to live way out there and…
I wanted to live out there, I just
didn’t know Alaska was gonna be the place.
-I never thought I would live here.
-Okay.
I studied, like, sustainable architecture.
-Like earth ships and stuff like that….
-Okay.
…For, you know, over 10, 12 years and…
I just figured that if I can do it here,
I can do it anywhere, right?
This is, like, a pretty inhospitable place
to be trying to live,
like, completely off-gird.
If you can do it here,
I mean dealing with some heat and…
-You know, a nice environment.
-New Mexico mountains would be quite…
…refreshing, probably after this.
Yeah, right. Yeah.
[both chuckling]
And, you know, the community is great.
Everyone’s here to do the same thing.
Get away, explore, camp.
PETER: Oh wow, this is the lair?
PETER: Hello.
TONY: Here’s my mother.
WOMAN: Hi Peter.
PETER: What’s your name?
Marsha.
-Marsha, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
PETER: Yeah,
so how do you like being up here?
MARSHA: I love it.
We came up here and I helped him.
I watched the baby pretty much.
Took the baby out
and I fell in love with it.
It took me a couple weeks
to get used to the… Not the rat race.
-You had to kinda unwind.
-Okay.
‘Cause you have to pack patience
when you come up here.
-You have to pack patience?
-You do.
Because everything’s just different
and the way it should be.
PETER: What about loneliness,
you don’t feel it?
MARSHA: [scoffs] No.
-Okay.
-Well, with the internet, I have my phone.
But no, I have my family.
I’m with my family.
PETER: And you’re up to date
with the video games, I like that.
PETER: The Nintendo.
MARSHA: Yes, we have Nintendo.
MARSHA: We have our TV.
PETER: That’s the Gen X version.
TONY: Yeah, that one’s
not gonna spy on me.
[both laughing]
PETER: That’s good.
TONY: We got an LED TV.
MARSHA: This is the sleeping area.
We don’t have much privacy
but we all sleep…
-Can I walk around?
-Of course.
PETER: Kid zone for your son?
MARSHA: For Rocco, yeah.
PETER: Rocco?
MARSHA: This is his window.
PETER: Who’s sleeping up there?
TONY: No one yet,
I’m gonna build dormers that go out.
That’s where I’ll put the beds, up there.
TONY: Skylights and stuff.
MARSHA: Came with…
PETER: You’re all sleeping
in this area, right?
MARSHA: Yes, my son sleeps on the couch.
Rocco sleeps on that bed over there.
PETER: Uh-huh.
MARSHA: Next to his parents.
This is my husband’s and my bed.
MARSHA: We make it work. We love it.
TONY: And then we have the only “room”
on the second floor, me and my wife.
PETER: You have to have
a special family to be able to do this.
PETER: My family, it would be
pure war in this environment.
MARSHA: I’m not gonna lie
it is a little bit of a testament
to your, like, patience with…
There’s a couple moments,
we had our little arguments
but you know what,
you have no choice but to work it out.
TONY: You can kind of feel the floor here.
It just like, it’s all super uneven.
PETER: So whose artwork is this?
This is my wife’s.
Yeah, she does oil painting too.
TONY: And then this is
basically our bedroom.
Just super simple stuff
and running on LEDs
and taking it one step at a time.
PETER: You like the fur, huh? Natural fur?
TONY: Oh yeah.
That thing’s so warm.
PETER: Tony, you’re a bad*ss.
PETER: You have a what? I’m sorry.
I have a larger memorial for everyone
that I’ve personally known
that’s died of Fentanyl,
and drug problems, and stuff.
PETER: You know of many people that have?
Yeah, like, over 40. Just me.
Over 40 easily.
MARSHA: Yeah, his friends.
TONY: My sister passed away from Fentanyl.
One of my really good friends died
from some other mysterious substance.
Um…
PETER: I’m so sorry.
<Um…
taking Fentanyl or no?
TONY: No.
MARSHA: No.
PETER: It was laced with something?
Yeah, yeah, it was laced in heroin
but then also, you know,
I have friends that died from Fentanyl
that came in cocaine,
in fake Percocets, fake Xanax.
You know, things that…
MARSHA: We just lost our niece
May 21st this year.
Yeah, my cousin.
PETER: To fentanyl?
Yeah, Fentanyl.
-My husband’s brother.
-[Peter sighs heavily] I’m sorry.
Yeah, I was on my layover here this year…
…and I got a call.
MARSHA: This is the reality.
“She’s dead.”
You know, “Your cousin’s dead.”
[Peter sighs heavily]
And uh… You know…
PETER: Insane.
TONY: Getting out of that environment…
…was possibly the best thing
I could have done for my mental health.
It’s dark. You can just see it
on the people’s faces
when they’re sitting at the bus stops
outside of the food shelters.
Everyone’s like, [groans]
and just also driving by
and seeing people
you went to high school with
and seeing people that you know.
Or have known for a really long time
just kind like of wandering around.
It’s not a good place.
MARSHA: Yeah, it seems to be
a world of despair.
Nobody wants to get better.
They just wanna stay the same.
-The mental health issue that’s…
-Mm-hmm.
After she passed away
I went on a healing journey.
I went to Arizona first
and then he came here,
and he was telling me how beautiful it was
and I’m like,
“Yeah, I’d like to go back up there.”
“I went up once, I’ll go back again.”
and when I came up last year, um…
I guess he told you
the history of the house?
A shaman built this.
PETER: No, we gotta get into that.
MARSHA: Yeah, so I was healed by a shaman.
I had to go find healing
to get through this.
It was very painful.
It’s… So he, um…
The shaman though,
alleviated some of the pain?
[sobbing] He explained to me,
the spiritual process of dying
and you know, what happens,
and he told me how I can get through this.
But, you know…
[hands slap thighs]
When I walked in here last year
there was a picture of Blue Sky,
who is the shaman.
This is his feather here.
<Okay.
There was a picture of him
but George… I think Fernandez took it.
The guy that helped build the house
but I felt something.
I felt a powerful… healing.
<Mm-hmm.
Calmness in my heart.
So I would look out
and I would see the moose come out
and I’d go, “Okay, there’s moose here,
I can live with that.”
They usually come out and they come around
and they walk around in the back there.
Maybe you’ll see one today.
PETER: Okay, I need to go
with a gun though.
Tony got me a little scared of the moose.
TONY: And then soon as that happens…
[all chuckling]
[crickets and birds chirping]
Gonna feed the rabbits we got
living in the uh…
…in this little house.
When we bought this property
there was actually an
old, elderly, Russian man
that lived in here for the last 10 years.
You might wanna watch your step…
TONY: So we’re breeding rabbits.
This is where the guy lived.
It was leaking and uh…
There was, like, mushrooms
and stuff growing out of the floor
and he was in his 70s.
And I got him to move in with his brother.
PETER: He lived alone?
TONY: Yeah, lived alone here.
PETER: All the way out here?
TONY: He was diabetic.
Diabetic and unmedicated.
PETER: How did he survive out here?
TONY: He just had a little tiny
propane burner and just burned wood.
TONY: That’s pretty essential too.
PETER: What is that?
TONY: That’s a mosquito magnet,
this thing eats the mosquitos
’cause I don’t know if anyone’s told you.
The Alaskan state bird
is actually a mosquito.
And they’re like, you know…
They flood into this thing
and it’s like population control.
And this is the heirloom smoker
that came with the property.
It tastes wonderful,
I’ll send you back with some.
PETER: Oh wow.
♪ country music from speaker ♪
Oh, wait until you try that, man.
[chuckles]
This is my brother.
-Okay.
-Yeah.
PETER: How are you doing?
PETER: Doing well.
PETER: So he’s living here too?
Yeah, got the whole family.
Supporting me, watching the baby,
and then you know…
They get their building for next year.
And Tony gave me a gun because
we’re going on the four-wheeler here soon.
Into the berry fields, right?
Oh yeah.
It’s better to have it.
It’s like a parachute, it you need one
it’s probably the last time.
[four-wheeler]
♪ somber acoustic guitar ♪
TONY: These guys, these are cranberries.
PETER: Okay.
Then you have blueberry plants
that kind of have leaves like this
and these tiny little things
that look like that.
They have crowberries on ’em.
So there’s three types of berries here.
Look, here’s a blueberry.
Nice, little bitter but good.
Yeah.
And the berries here,
I mean you can see ’em.
They’re everywhere.
So no wonder this is where
the bears and the moose wander out.
You just go out here
and they do have a scooper.
TONY: Actually that’s what…
PETER: Oh yeah, they are everywhere.
Look at this.
PETER: Oh, that’s the scooper?
TONY: Yeah, so it’s just got these things.
You find a nice patch of ’em
and you just [grunts].
Tear it all up and speed pickin’.
PETER: Your son’s eating super well, huh?
[scraping]
TONY: Oh, yeah.
It’s funny you just let him go
and you’ll see him
rolling around on the ground.
Just eating stuff off the ground
and honestly…
I’m jealous that
he gets to grow up like that.
PETER: Free range kid.
TONY: Yeah, feral.
PETER: Feral kid.
[both chuckling]
PETER: So you’re right,
this is totally like a soft mattress.
TONY: It’d be great…
PETER: But it’s not wet.
TONY: This is what they call cloudberry.
And they’re everywhere
once you realize what color they are
and they’re delicious.
PETER: I heard these were also
salmonberry, have you heard that?
TONY: Yeah, salmonberry actually…
That’s like a bush
that looks like a raspberry plant
-Mm-hmm.
-This…
TONY: I thought they were
the same thing until I really got…
-Berries are my favorite.
-Tastes like Thanksgiving.
It’s crazy, right?
PETER: Cute dog.
TONY: I could totally take a nap out here.
I mean you just, like, bring a blanket,
you don’t need a mattress.
PETER: Oh, here’s the cotton
you were talking about.
TONY: Yeah.
PETER: Just naturally grows here.
TONY: Hey, guys.
PETER: How you doin’, Becca?
BECCA: Hey.
What’s your name? Peter? Nice to meet you.
PETER: Yep, you too.
-How are you guys?
-Collin.
-Collin, Peter.
-Nice to meet you.
-Jamie.
-Jamie, nice to meet you.
PETER: Oh, wow.
A full gallon, this is just from today.
PETER: Did you move up here also
or you been here for a long time?
Um, I moved up here about a year ago.
PETER: Okay.
COLLIN: Jamie was raised here.
PETER: You were raised here, wow.
JAMIE: Yeah, I was raised here
and then I moved out when I was 18.
So many kids here do.
And then, got married, had a kid,
and wanted to bring him home.
PETER: Bear print?
BECCA: Yeah, Jamie and Collin both
have dreams about being attacked by bears.
JAMIE: See the claw marks?
You had a dream about
being attacked by a bear?
Yeah.
But every time I need
a gun in my dream, it jams.
So it jammed but I cleared the jam
and killed the bear this time.
So that was good.
[all chuckling]
The sponsor of today’s
video is Cuts Clothing.
For the last two years,
I’ve been wearing Cuts T-shirts.
These are by far the
best T-shirts I’ve ever worn.
Since I absolutely hate shopping,
I love that Cuts is a
product that last and doesn’t
need to be replaced quickly
like most tees on the market.
Cuts is more of an upfront investment
versus your normal T-shirt
But over time, it pays for itself.
It doesn’t peel or fade and
the collar doesn’t stretch out.
Even after 50 washes.
I love the Pima
material for hot summer days.
It breathes well and I wash it
and let it air dry in just a couple of hours.
There’s also the soft
buttery Pika Pro material shirts.
I find these to be much better when the
temperatures aren’t super hot.
Cuts also make sweats, jackets,
pants, and polos.
I absolutely love the sweats and live in
these when I’m at home working in my office.
I also wear them every evening
when in hotel rooms
when I’m on the road shooting videos.
and Cuts recently started a full
woman’s line of clothing.
I wouldn’t represent Cuts if I didn’t
fully use or believe in the products myself.
I’m wearing Cuts every day because it is
the best quality and comfort I’ve found.
Here’s your opportunity to give
Cuts a try for yourself.
To receive 15% off your order, click on
the Cuts link below in the description
CUTS.TEAM/PETER
Again, click on the link below,
CUTS.TEAM/PETER
to get 15% off.
Now, back to the video.
PETER: Born and raised in Alaska.
Has it changed? I mean you’re quite young
but has it changed a lot
since you were a kid or not really?
Um, I wasn’t born here
but I was raised here.
-Okay.
-So I got here really young…
…and yes, it has changed quite a bit.
I wouldn’t necessarily say for the better.
Coming back, I thought that…
Especially Anchor Point would have grown
and maybe the businesses
might have improved
but really, even though the population
in Anchor Point has grown…
<Uh-huh.
The businesses have really declined.
There’s not a good grocery store
within 30 miles.
The Safeway in Homer
is just not big enough
to supply the demand
for the entire Lower Peninsula.
went in there today, it was busy.
Yeah, and it’s always busy.
Even in the winter time.
Because it’s serving
the entire Lower Peninsula
and when we have the tourist influx,
shelves are empty.
-You know, it’s crazy.
-Right.
CHILD: Fist bump.
TONY: Fist bump.
TONY: Pow! [chuckles]
PETER: So Tony,
having Rocco grow up out here
feel like it’s the right decision?
-Oh, yeah.
-What are your thoughts on it?
There’s gotta be pros and cons I’m sure.
Yeah, I mean we live…
…with the Earth, not just on it.
You know, and that’s the kind
of mentality I want him to be his default.
Some people prefer to live in the city.
Where they’re closer by
and globalism can supply all their needs,
and wants, and all their fantasies
but here, it’s, you know…
You’re living with the Earth.
The season.
What grows out of the ground
and I think that he’s
just gonna have that…
That respect.
That fundamental respect for,
like, where he lives
and where stuff comes from
and the effort it takes
to get what you need.
BECCA: This used to be super sparse
and a lot of people…
A lot of younger people…
-Not younger, my age, you know?
-Mm-hmm.
…are moving in here
and trying to homestead and…
PETER: Why do you think
there’s that big push right now?
I mean I think that
it may just be part of, like,
the way humans are broken up
into different personality types.
I think there’s always
gonna be people that want to
get out of the Matrix
and live free.
But I also thin right now
it feels more pressing, you know?
<Right.
Just like, all the hostility
in the cities and the kind of, like…
…need for this, like, uh,
homogenized way of thinking.
Out here, people aren’t
too black and white.
Everybody’s not the same.
You don’t have to be.
‘Cause there’s space, you know?
-Okay.
-Like I can live next to somebody…
…who disagrees with me
and I don’t feel oppressed by that.
PETER: There’s a mutual respect out there?
BECCA: Yeah.
I mean people really
believe in freedom here.
PETER: I dig that.
BECCA: Yeah, I dig that.
PETER: ‘Cause that got out of whack.
[scoffs] It’s been crazy, you know?
and, like, “Oh, you believe this…”
PETER: It’s so ridiculous.
BECCA: Boxes and, “If you think this…”
…then you must think that.” and
“If you think this the you’re my enemy.”
and like all that stuff.
went into seventh grade collectively.
Yeah, totally.
-And there’s the in and out groups.
-What lunch table are you sitting at?
Except there’s only two.
<Right, you gotta simplify it that much.
Yeah, simple, simple, you know?
And I can’t stand that, I feel like
being intelligent is
being able to think critically
and, like, all the gray area,
all the nuance of things…
And, like, it’s so…
People are just…
They’re so simple-minded.
The way that things have to be,
like, categorized in a simple way.
And to a degree,
that’s kind of like human nature.
Like, you gotta know somebody,
not like animal nature.
PETER: If they’re a threat
or if they’re coming
with good intention maybe over the hill.
In our DNA, it’s like
the different thing coming over the hill
was a threat to our existence
but we’re modern people to some degree
we don’t’ have to
worry about it like that anymore.
Right, and I feel like
it plays on our base…
You know, this base animalistic…
You now, like, lizard brain, you know?
Where you’re just like, “Friend or foe?”
“I need to know right now.” you know?
<Right.
PETER: You, Tony,
were a heavy metal guitarist, right?
TONY: The vocalist, yeah.
PETER: Singer… Vocalist.
BECCA: He plays everything though.
I come from, you know…
TONY: Train-hopping punks?
[Becca sighs] Yeah.
The old ones.
I mean I grew up…
PETER: What’s happened to punk?
Oh, yeah, I mean,
like all the same people that
you know, I grew up with
that were, like, you know,
“F*ck the system. F*ck the man.”
You know, like, “Never trust authority.”
You know, are the same people that…
They’re just like, “Fall in line.”
“Fall in line or you’re a threat.”
or “You’re the enemy.”
and it’s totally bizarre.
And the metal scene was weird too
because, like, it’s
based on being obscene.
Uh, and…
vulgarity, and all these forms of…
PETER: Loud?
…of bad things but now
they’re, like, super sensitive.
PETER: You just killed everything for me.
Metal got sensitive?
Well yeah, the same way punk kinda like
died off with the political mentality.
It’s like even in a scene where
the album covers have dead people on it
and they talk about all this crazy stuff.
They’re not good at taking criticism
or accepting new ideas
and they get… They’re very like…
sensitive is the best word.
[all chuckling]
So, that… Honestly you guys just
couldn’t hack that and you’re
just like get me as far away
from that as possible. I mean,
I mean, it just felt like the more that
I tried to preach like respect
and tolerance you know like the
more that like people that I…
initially had seen myself as
like my side you know?
Attacked me because it’s like
you can’t be moderate
you need to like “f***” anybody that doesn’t
agree with you and then coming out here…
I tattoo people that have a completely
different diametric ideology than I do.
I don’t even know what my
ideology is at this point
I just like don’t
subscribe to this system.
Getting to actually talk to
these people that
the left think are like the
enemy and really like get in their heads…
They don’t even like see
the same news that you do.
They don’t even know what
the f*** you’re talking about
when you’re like Trump’s racist
or he’s like homophobic, they’re like…
“Absolutely not”, there’s no truth in that.
And they’re not idiots.
They’re just getting a different set of
information than…
…most of the people in Philly are. And…
It just kind of solidified everything that
I already knew which was true
which is that, this is all bulls***
[chuckles]
Historically, America tried to
come in here and enforce a bunch of rules
on the locals and the natives.
Uh…
Trying to tell them how to live out here
and they wouldn’t have it at all.
I mean they just burned down
ranger station, after ranger station
and eventually
the president had to, you know,
send somebody new in
who could really make peace
with the locals and be like,
“Look, we’re gonna work with you.”
because they couldn’t be like…
There was no iron fist for this group
PETER: You’re talking about
the indigenous or the…
-Not just the indigenous.
-Okay.
Like also the early Americans
that had come to settle here
because they starting
trying to tell them, like,
“You can’t dam up this river.”
or “You can’t fish this way.”
or “You can’t…”
and there are a lot of rules.
There are, you know but, uh…
But they really…
You have to get these people on board.
You know, they’re not gonna let
their way of life be threatened.
People really give a sh*t
about their way of life out here.
PETER: And they suffer for it
’cause the winter’s not easy?
Yeah.
There’s a very specific
breed of person that came out here.
PETER: It makes Montana
look like light version.
Yeah, yeah.
[all chuckling]
‘Cause at least you can drive
to get healthcare
where they’re not gonna like…
TONY: Chop your leg off.
BECCA: [laughs] Yeah.
Any time I leave the city,
even just to go camping I’m like,
“Oh sh*t, I should not have been in there.”
-You know?
-Right.
Like it’s like leaving a house
with a carbon monoxide leak.
Okay, so what are you missing though?
-I miss my friends.
-Okay.
But you get over the convenience things.
Then there’s the convenience of like,
“Oh, I can go in my back yard
and I can pick all these things…”
that I can cook for dinner.” you know?
-Right.
-Like that’s convenient…
…and it feels better.
BECCA: Like gratitude that you get for
something that you bought in a store
or like a fancy restaurant
wears off real quick.
But here, like where we can go camp out
and it’s beautiful, and dip net,
and get a sh*t ton of fish
and then you come home,
and you process it all, and you smoke it
and share it with your friends
or your family
and feels like you’re
cutting out the middle man.
♪ country music coming from speaker ♪
PETER: How’s it looking?
TONY: Um, I think it’s looking really good.
Have you tasted any yet?
-No.
-Oh, you’re in for a treat.
Lower two racks,
these were the spicy ones.
These were the sweet, you know,
brown sugar maple but awesome stuff.
And this why I brought this out
’cause yesterday
I totally wasted a good piece of fish.
‘Cause I couldn’t get to the bottom
and I think you’re Italian aren’t you?
<Yeah, father.
Yeah, okay, so what do they call
these pizza spatula things?
[both laughing]
so there are no white lines really.
-The white lines are fat, right?
-Oh yeah, no, no.
This is actually…
This is just pure unadulterated salmon.
This is what you get,
this is nature’s salmon.
This is not something they raise
on a farm and they force feed it
and make it grow
to market size in one year.
<Wait, what did you have?
Reindeer sausage.
Venison…
Venison to people that eat deer.
Reindeer sausage.
But absolutely delicious.
People think we’re crazy.
We eat… You know, you have rabbit.
What do you think people ate 250 years ago?
They ate rabbits,
they ate deer, they ate bears.
Bears, my son’s gonna go on a bear hunt.
[music, chattering,
and joking in the distance]
PETER: Blueberry pie?
BECCA: Blueberries, cloudberries,
a couple crowberries.
Which are usually not
thought of as being delicious
but, you know, Rocco helped
and a couple cranberries too
even though they’re not
quite ready, quite ripe.
Everything’s good
with a little bit of sugar.
PETER: Then over here?
TONY: We got some halibut
with sunflower seeds in it.
PETER: Oh, you have halibut too, nice.
TONY: Yeah.
PETER: Halibut, salmon, shrimp?
Yeah, moose and deer.
You’re gonna eat moose and just be like,
“Why don’t they just
farm-raise these things?”
They’re humungous, they taste delicious,
they’re, like, fat free.
<I’ve never had moose.
Yeah, it’s so good.
PETER: This is your craft, Tony?
Oh yeah, I love cooking.
TONY: So this is what our friend harvested.
This is the sitka deer.
-The black tail deer…
-Okay.
…that’s specifically on Kodiak.
And then this is Kodiak shrimp.
And then this is moose.
Oh yeah, big time.
BECCA: And people tip me in fish a lot.
It’s part of how I fell in love with here.
PETER: So they’ll pay for the tattoo
and then tip you with a fish?
Yeah, or sometimes people
are a little short and they’re like,
“Can I tip you in meat?”
“Can I pay the rest in meat?”
and I’m like, “Yeah, dude.”
Game, and meat, and fish,
it’s all currency.
I mean I know a guy that got
a brand new septic tank with just fish
and maybe some marijuana that he grew.
BECCA: He had his whole roof
done with fish and weed.
TONY: Yeah.
TONY: And Homer does have
it’s own currency, Homerbucks.
I don’t know if you
noticed that next to the…
PETER: No.
It’s like they have a little sign.
They have their own currency
and they’ll give you change in that.
That you can spend locally.
PETER: Interesting, so what do you mean?
It’s like instead of using dollars?
TONY: Mm-hmm.
-Homer bucks?
-Homer bucks.
PETER: So what’s the advantage
of Homerbucks?
I don’t know, maybe you get a discount.
I haven’t used them honestly.
We do pretty good with her
getting fish from tattooing and stuff.
Some people are really generous.
They also come down here
’cause it’s a fishing destination
and they have no way to take it with them.
Nowhere to put it.
PETER: Okay.
TONY: They come down here,
they get like 80 pounds of halibut
and they’re like,
“I only want 20 pounds of it.”
and then just give the rest out.
BECCA: I love avocado.
TONY: Oh, the halibut.
BECCA: Really hard to get
a good avocado out here.
TONY: Mmm.
PETER: Nice.
TONY: It’s great, flaky, not fishy.
Right.
TONY: These are the eggs of the shrimp.
PETER: Mm-hmm.
TONY: It looks like little caviar
and people eat that.
It’s, like, considered a delicacy.
So some people
like my father would be like,
“Eww, I’m cleaning it off.”
but you know, I love it.
TONY: My initial goal,
always was to create
like a retreat center type situation
and just bring it back to the basics
of your experience of just your body.
Like the sauna’s a great example.
Getting in the sauna
and jumping in the snow or an ice bath
and going back and forth.
PETER: Mm-hmm.
TONY: That’s an experience that
sucks you back into your body
and you realize how cool
having a body actually is.
-Right.
-And how cool being cold can be.
You know?
PETER: What are the challenges though?
Everything sounds all great and…
BECCA: We haven’t been
through a winter yet.
Last year we made it ’til mid-November
before the water froze solid.
I mean we’re prepared for that, you know?
Just for like, this being a process.
I think that by next year
we’ll be able to be year-round but…
Okay, so you go back
to Philly in the winter?
We’ve always traveled warmer,
cheaper climates in the winter, you know?
So, like where?
Uh, like this year it’ll be Turkey.
Okay.
We’re very fortunate to have that ability
to kind of like tap out for a little bit.
We’re gonna spend a few months
and thaw out because I am a lizard
and I do… I like to be hot.
Yeah.
So that’s a little challenging for me.
Just acclimatizing to it being cold
but the beauty makes it all worth it.
It’s a lot easier to
not have a bad attitude about it.
PETER: You feel like you can
hack it out for year after year?
BECCA: I think so.
I love that the old timers are like,
[crotchety voice]
“You’re never gonna make it.”
I’m like, “Give it to me.”
TONY: They always say
crazy stuff like that.
They’re like, “Where’d you move from?”
“Oh, you’re screwed.”
[all laughing]
They turn into those people
on the TV shows where’ they’re like,
“Hurry up quick ’cause the winter’s gonna
be on ya and you’re gonna freeze to death.”
and like all this sh*t,
and you’re just like,
“Aw c’mon, man, can’t I enjoy myself?”
BECCA: I mean they’re right.
You gotta hustle,
the summer goes fast, you know?
But it’s like it’s hard to miss that vibe.
TONY: But when your sink,
literally, cloggs with ice and pouring…
You can’t even boil
enough water to thaw it out
and your toilet freezes
and then your shower drain freezes
and then you get no water anymore
because the water line froze.
It’s like you’re pretty much
getting kicked out.
You’re being forced out
by nature, you know?
And you could probably muscle through it
and go and get…
Go to the well, the local well in town
and go get water jugs and stuff
and really do that but, you know…
BECCA: We’re very fortunate in the fact
that when we’re like…
As we’re troubleshooting this…
‘Cause the learning curve is steep.
-It’s so steep.
-Okay.
And every time that we’ve closed
this house down and come back we’re like,
“All right, new things that we need
to remember to do better next time.”
You know?
What would be the big lesson of late?
Okay, well the dumbest thing
that somebody did
was somebody left
an entire bag of bird seed in the house
and then we didn’t wrap up our bedding
or clothes, or whatever
like we should have.
Next time I’m gonna take
everything that’s warm and cozy
and put it in Tupperware or something.
Something… Anything.
But the squirrels got in
and they just spent all winter
sorting different types of seeds.
So there’s just like mountains of…
I’m still pouring out boots
full of just sunflower seeds
or just those little round white seeds.
-You know?
-Right.
It’s incredible how they’re so diligent.
They really…
They get around.
TONY: They don’t just find one place
and nest in that.
Right.
[giggling]
Literally I just went fishing
and I went to go put my boot on
and I’m like,
“What the hell is that, sand?”
and I go like this, and it’s just like
a ton of bird seed came out
and I’m like, “Oh man, that squirrel.”
but it’s okay ’cause I ate them.
-You ate the squirrel or the bird seed?
-Yeah.
I chased it outside and shot it.
BECCA: That was last year.
BECCA: We have had this ongoing…
PETER: How is squirrel?
-Is it tasty?
-It’s all right.
They’re smaller than
the ones on the East Coast.
BECCA: They’re very small
but they’re delicious.
PETER: Moose is tasty.
BECCA: Yeah, I love moose.
PETER: Moose is amazing.
BECCA: And this deer is phenomenal.
TONY: It’s not gamey.
PETER: No.
TONY: Doesn’t have a really weird taste.
PETER: I mean it’s not far from beef.
It’s not far from cow.
TONY: No.
BECCA: I feel that way
but I like the flavor more.
It’s like a flavor.
PETER: Right.
If you didn’t tell me
I wouldn’t have known though.
Mm-hmm.
TONY: Right, exactly.
BECCA: Mm-hmm.
TONY: You’d be like,
“This is really tender.”
It’s low in fat.
Very low in fat.
BECCA: You can, like, starve
if you have nothing to eat but moose.
TONY: And they’re everywhere out there.
As soon as it starts getting dark.
-Just around dusk and dawn time…
-Mm-hmm.
You’ll see ’em littered all up and down
the highway just standing there
and it’s dangerous when
they’re that close to the road
’cause they’ll just run out.
BECCA: Most people are more afraid
of the moose than the bear.
Which I find interesting ’cause I’ve heard
a lot of really scary stories about bears.
PETER: So what’s scarier, the moose
or the tweakers in Kensington?
[Tony chuckles]
BECCA: Honestly the tweakers in Kensington
didn’t really freak me out
because it’s not tweakers,
it’s crackheads and junkies.
And crackheads and junkies,
they’re harmless, you know?
But the tweakers…
Tweakers are a different story.
Okay.
And we do have tweakers out here
and they’re wily and unpredictable.
So that does…
That makes me a little nervous but…
I still am more scared of the moose.
Alaska does have a high crime rate.
A very high crime rate per capita.
It’s because it’s all spread out, right?
And a lot of the stuff
is just out of the law I guess.
I’ve been curious about
what the factors for that are.
I mean, like why so many serial killers?
I get it that if you needed to bury a body
this would be the place for it for sure.
-Like, no one’s gonna find it.
-Mm-hmm.
Still, people don’t use heroin
’cause there’s needles around.
You know, so why so many serial killers?
You know?
I didn’t know that. Serial killers?
I just thought a lot of
domestic abuse and…
-Sexual, rape and…
-There’s domestic abuse.
A lot of alcoholism might,
I think, might fuel a lot of it.
Sure.
The fact that people
run out of things to do
and they just recreationally
become alcoholics.
Well the winter’s gotta be brutal, like…
This light right now being
the most light during the day
but only for a few hours.
Mm-hmm.
-Then dark.
-Yeah.
People say you really gotta
get out every day and do something
and they keep their eye on the newcomers
and make sure that they’re
supplementing with vitamin D
-and people do get depressed, you know?
-Mm-hmm.
I think men get desperate.
There’s so many men here and…
and…
It’s imbalanced.
What did they say?
What’s the saying?
The odds are good but the goods are odd.
Yeah.
It’s like China.
-More men than women.
-[both] Yeah.
And it’s… They call it the recycling bin.
Is that how it works?
What, like “It’s not your girlfriend,
it’s your turn.” or something.
Mountain town mentality.
[all chuckling]
It’s interesting though
how many different types
of relationships there are out here.
I mean we have friends that are married
and they really are only together
for a portion of the year
because they’re fishing, you know?
-Oh, right.
-Sometimes they’re fishing together.
But sometimes, you know, like…
Just one partner’s out at a time.
Sometimes a partner’s out
with some of the kids, you know?
So a lot of long distance stuff?
Yeah, but also there’s this level of like
it’s completely acceptable
to bring your kid to work, you know?
Okay.
Or your dog. [chuckles]
Kids and dogs.
I feel like the struggle makes it sweeter.
The struggle does make it great.
It’s definitely… It’s victorious.
PETER: You guys are choosing discomfort.
You don’t have to.
-Yeah I don’t have to.
-No, don’t have to.
Pretty privileged that we can choose it.
Yeah.
I want freedom and I feel like the way
to do that is to just build it yourself.
Not be part of the machine.
<Yeah.
When you’re responsible
for your own comforts
and your quality of life
it gives you more energy than you’d assume.
If you want to live
a higher standard of life
you’re the one that’s in charge.
You’re the one manning that ship
and right now this house…
It’s like, the way I describe it
is you’re sailing the earth.
[Peter giggles]
TONY: You know, living
off the grid like this.
Like there’s all these ropes
and there’s a mast…
-Storm coming in.
-…and you have to lick your finger…
and find out where the wind’s coming from
and it’s more like an empowering feeling
that you can share with people
because you meet people that are so scared.
If you want to do something, just do it.
Don’t sit there and over-calculate
and be paralyzed by over-analysis.
“Paralysis by analysis”
people say, you know?
And you can get over these hurdles
and build awesome stuff
and then you meet people
that are so easily… [sighs]
…toned down by the unknown.
And they’re like,
“Oh, well I don’t know how to do that.”
Well, you can.
But you gotta learn.
You gotta teach yourself.
BECCA: All of this wasn’t here last week.
<Okay.
BECCA: So it’s just now
starting to actually look improved
’cause for a while
you’re just ripping things apart.
You’re just, like, ripping out
the foundation and trying to make it…
And yeah, everything here
I built within the last two weeks
and a lot of stuff
I like building with waste and trash.
Like trash is…
You know, like that sink was free.
That cutting board was free.
BECCA: The dump is our favorite place.
PETER: You just took this from outside?
TONY: That was just one
of the many trees outside.
-And that cabinet was free.
-We found this at the dump.
TONY: Free, free, free,
and it’s okay that it’s trash
’cause it’s just, you know…
You need places to put your forks and stuff
and it doesn’t need to be
beautiful and perfect right now.
And it feels so nice using things that
are just like… Would be refuse, you know?
TONY: It’s thrifter’s high, you know?
BECCA: Yeah, it’s great.
BECCA: And this is such a typical…
PETER: You’re on thrifter’s high right now?
Yeah, all the time, and I like…
‘Cause the Homer dump is like a big place.
There’s a whole area that’s a free section
and you have a big tent that says, “Free”
and people will literally come here
for the military and live here four years
serve their term
and they’ll furnish a whole house.
Try to sell it but they can’t.
So they just take it
to the dump, throw it out
and you can find brand new stuff there.
It’s pretty amazing.
BECCA: Yeah, silly. This is
another one of Anthony’s dump finds.
Yeah, who throws this out?
This is unbelievable.
[all giggling]
You know?
This is brilliant.
PETER: It’s stylish.
Oh, it’s like pants on backwards.
Yeah, it’s like someone cut overalls
and then, yeah, put it backwards.
I got pockets, I got an awesome cat.
It has green eyes.
It is good.
It’s a little more bitter I would say.
-The berries, right? But good.
-Mm-hmm, yeah.
BECCA: Kind of like a weird flavor.
PETER: Mm-hmm.
BECCA: And the blueberries
out here aren’t like…
These are low bush blueberries so they’re
like just tarter, kind of, I feel.
PETER: Mm-hmm.
Mmm.
BROTHER: [playfully] This is olive tree branch.
This is holistic.
FATHER: This isn’t S&M training,
it’s like, “Get the hell out of here.”
BROTHER: Rocco, you gotta fan them, bro.
FATHER: I got scarred…
FATHER: …and broken bones,
I don’t need to be whipped.
PETER: How much was this place in total?
It was like $58,000
and it came with
all the guy’s fishing stuff
the generators
his winter gear
tools, hardware.
12 acres, again?
-15.
-15.
it’ll be worth when you’re done?
Probably around $500,000.
-You think so?
-Yeah.
And then after I drop that yurt
it’ll be probably close to a mil.
make this really beautiful here?
Yeah, it’s gonna be gorgeous.
There’s gonna be dormers
that come through the third story
with skylights
so you can see the northern lights
and so you can just post up in bed
and watch the lights
from inside the comfort of your own home
and be nice and warm.
TONY: If you see a moose
and you’re near a car, get under it.
‘Cause they can’t, like, kick ya.
Cram yourself into,
like, some really tight trees
and go like this, [roars then laughs]
PETER: Moose tips from Tony.
All right guys, that was very interesting.
A lot of respect for these guys.
Raising their family out here.
Obviously it’s not for everybody
but I do admire the fact that
they took a risk, they stretched far
they’re going for it
and they’re getting the reward out of it.
Alaska is not an easy place.
But it does have something
that most places don’t have to offer.
So thanks for coming along on that.
Check out Tony’s and Rebecca’s channels.
Links down below.
Also got a new merch line.
Have shirts coming soon.
Got these hats going
and I’d love you to be
part of my mailing list.
More behind the scenes stuff and
information about these parts of the world.
So thanks for coming along.
Until the next one.
♪ somber acoustic guitar ♪

If you’re interested in more content from around the WORLD visit these links below:

Be the first to see the next video