Looking for Adventure? Move to Alaska

Photographer Derek Bedwell catches us up on life in Alaska and introduces us to some of the characters he’s met along the way
November 14, 2019Words by Derek BedwellPhotos by Derek Bedwell

Look out the window. What do you see? My guess is something like tall buildings, busy traffic, or people in a hurry to get to the next meeting. Such is the life of most places in modern-day America—but not in Juneau, Alaska. Take a glance out almost any window in this quaint Southeast Alaskan town, and you’ll see mountains, wildlife, and glaciers. Here, people move more slowly. They’re on their own time—Alaskan Time—and most spend it outside.

Nolan Davis

There’s a real sense of community in Juneau, one that adventurer Nolan Davis quickly fell into after moving to Juneau from North Carolina. As a seasoned mountain climber, boat captain, and pilot, he would be a fascinating character just about anywhere but Alaska. Here, he fits right in. Nolan first came to Alaska during a summer break before dental school. He went backpacking in Denali National Park and kayaked in Prince William Sound—true Alaskan experiences that made him want to call this place home. Nolan now uses his pilot’s license to travel around Southeast Alaska in a small Cessna plane, treating patients in remote Alaskan Villages. In his free time, you can find him in the air, flying one of his planes or hanging off the side of the Mendenhall Towers—some of the tallest mountains in the Juneau Icefield

It was the wild beauty of Alaska that first drew him in 15 years ago, and it’s the wild beauty that will keep him here—in a place he now calls home. 

Ian Perez in Alaska

Ian Perez is no stranger to looking out his window and seeing something different every day. He has opted to live in Alaska rent-free, after converting his Ford van into a living space. He first moved from California to Alaska three years ago, finding work as a Naturalist Photography Guide for a local outfitter, Gastineau Guiding. He spends his days teaching people how to use their cameras in a variety of outdoor scenarios, photographing bears, eagles, glaciers, and marine wildlife. He works with people from all over the world who specialize in environmental sciences, photography, or marine biology. All work in Alaska’s burgeoning tourist industry. And, for Ian, they make living in a van in a remote part of the world anything but lonely. In Alaska, Ian is “grounded in a community, making bonds with like-minded people”. 

I’m not much different from Nolan and Ian. After living and traveling in different parts of Alaska for the last few years, I have to agree with them, there’s a sense of wildness that attracts the adventurer in us all to the last frontier and leaves us with a sense of wonder. It’s no surprise that adventurers just like us come to this wild place, Alaska, and feel right at home.

Whale in Alaska

Ian Perez surfing in Alaska


Nolan Davis flying in Alaska

Alaska at night

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