Seeking the Extreme

I have always been fascinated by extremes. I often search the internet for “largest vehicle,” “oldest man-made structure,” or “least populated area.” More often than not, I end up looking at Alaska to satisfy my search. It is the last frontier within the United States, and it is endlessly fascinating. The fact that such a large landmass that is thousands of miles away from the continental United States is nevertheless owned by it is quite amazing by itself, and its vastness and its inhospitable nature just add to the mystique.

I found out today about the artist-in-residence program in the national parks. Not this summer, not next summer, but the summer after, I think I will apply for a two or three week program in Gates of the Arctic, perhaps the most remote national park in the country. It has no roads or trails, and no amenities aside from a basic visitors’ center. It is wilderness in its purest form, all 8 million acres of it.

I am absolutely not prepared to spend time in a place like that. I am in pretty poor shape relative to what I would need to be in, and I have zero experience in the backcountry. I don’t have the gear, and I don’t have the knowledge. But I have time to obtain all of this, and if I were to earn an artist-in-residence position, a significant amount of cost and difficulty would be eliminated. It could be an incredible opportunity to explore something I might never get to see again.

I have a lot of time to think about this. I believe these programs are only in the summer, and I am busy this summer and the next. But in 2020, I’m sure I could find a couple of free weeks to live in a park and play saxophone. I can only hope.

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