June 27 2009

The Old Permafrost Ranch

It May Be Sold


We have received our first viable offer to buy the old Permafrost Ranch.  This picture was taken shortly after midnight because I was up, thinking about the offer.  I can’t sleep because I’m torn on what decision to make.  As I sit here and watch a little Red Squirrel on the feeder, all these memories come flooding into my mind.  Many changes of our lives have happened while we have lived here.  The kids were small when we moved in and now they are grown with kids of their own. As the years have passed I’ve grown from a young man to an old man.  I’ve watched many generations of squirrels live and die out this window.  I worried as to what will happen to them when I’m gone.  I’m very meloncoly thinking of all these memories and choices I have to make.  Summer nights in Alaska are sweet and it’s hard to think of leaving this behind. Even though the winters are so brutal and its harder and  harder for us to cope.  With the high cost of living in Alaska we know financially we will hopefully be better off outside. Can you understand the feelings I’m having tonight.   The thought of having to empty the place and sell off all those things we have accumulated over those years fills me with dread knowing the time will be short to do such a thing.  In so many ways my  mind is reeling with doubts and fears.  Then in others there is a sort of excitement in finding a new way of living searching out our place in the sun, looking for America.  Meeting all those folks who have watched with me out this window.  It’s a hard decision to make.  I pray what ever decision is made, it’s the right one.  The worse thing I want is to regret that we made the wrong choice.  Will I regret hearing the chatter of the Red Squirrels, the crowing of Rodney.  I know those things will be missed. To leave the old Permafrost Ranch is going to be harder than I thought now that the actual end is near.


20 Responses to “The Old Permafrost Ranch”

  1. Kat says:

    Bob.. I don’t consider myself to be wise quite yet. However, reading what you wrote spoke to me in so many ways that I had to comment to you my thoughts. I hope they are welcomed, and that you understand I’m just sharing MY perspective and not trying to make up your mind for you.

    First of all, you mentioned missing the squirrels that have become such a great joy to you. You would no longer see those particular squirrels, no. But there are others out here in the world who would love to make your acquaintance, so to speak. I guess what I’m saying is that because of the man you are, it doesn’t matter where you go. You will find something of beauty and joy anywhere you may end up. I truly believe that about you.

    The winters at the Ranch are very hard on you, and you know as well as I that they will only get worse. I think that making this move now while you and your lovely wife are young enough still to really get out there and ENJOY it is such an awesome thing. If you wait too many more years, the traveling you hope to do may not be a possibility. Seize the chance while you have it… that’s my opinion.

    Mike and I will have the guest room ready, and some excellent home cooked food, whenever you finally hit Indiana.

    Much love and hugs to you both

  2. I can see how it would be hard Bob, I have done that myself. But personal possessions are really just that, possessions.

    I know you will have a great time traveling around and seeing all those people that you “met” over the years but you know home is always in Alaska.

    What you should do is buy a small spot of land, I’m talking like 1ft by 1ft so you will always own land in the place you love. Maybe even put it in the contract for selling the Permafrost Ranch.

    Hopefully if you do decided to travel I get to meet you in person, me and Kat will even let you guy stay for a bit with us 🙂 and if you wanted and made it up that way, I am sure my parents would love company and could show you around the other coast 😀

    anyway, in the end it is all up to you Bob, what you feel is write in your heart. I know Bubba will miss you and so will the other ones.

    Anyway I’m rambling, I’ll talk to you soon.


  3. BruceB says:

    Having just arrived at The Squirrel Cam, and arriving as you are making some life changes, I want to offer my thoughts. Being a cancer survivor, I have found the following things true.

    Don’t wait until you get sick or near dying to say “I wish I had done that”.

    If you are happy where you are, and in what your life is, deal with the problems there, other places just different problems.

    You have lived a life most people would envy, having lived in Alaska, however its not all rainbows. I totally understand your feelings about moving and leaving your squirrel and wildlife friends , and the place you love behind. I had always wanted to see Alaska, and during my cancer, I promised myself if I lived I would go. I did, and even if I never return, I have the sweet memory of being there. You have your memories too.

    There will be a sign, either from nature or your heart that will lead you to making a decision.

    Always your friend. Mi casa es su casa

  4. BruceB says:

    I wanted to post again, to say this, thank you for such a treasure of thoughts, pictures and feelings you have given to many over the years.

    Among much of the meaningless stuff shown on the Internet , your website is a comfort, it is one of those things in our lives that make us smile.

    One of the most important things we can do in our lives is have one thing…that each day, brings a smile and some happiness to our lives. Whether it be a loved one, a place, or children, or pet, memory or activity, you should find that and seek it every day. Seeing the squirrels, ducks, and your surroundings over the past few days has brought that smile to me, and I know there are many , many others that feel the same.

    The point I am making, is that in the event you do leave and the website closes, you have given a million smiles to people!

    We all wish you the best, no matter what you decide.

  5. littlesnow says:

    Very very poignant writing Bob & such a hard decision to make. I can only imagine what the winters must do to you there, it’s got to be hard on you. Whatever decision you make, I want to thank you so so much, even though I just found this cam a few months ago it has given me much joy. I just want to really thank you for that & what you have done for the animals all these yrs. I guess you will have to go with your heart, a hard decision to make, I know. Lots of fears, regrets but also excitement, just as you have said.

    If you leave I will remember this blog & cam fondly & if you’re ever in Pittsburgh you’re welcome here, 🙂 I wish you & yours much health & happiness in whatever your choice.

  6. CCMike says:

    Just some thoughts from me. I understand your torn feelings completely about all the memories you made watching you children grow up at the “ranch”, and the thought of leaving all that behind tears at your heart.

    But you see Bob. That’s the beauty of memories; you don’t leave them they go with you.
    Yes you won’t own the ranch any longer but you’ll always own the memories. Forever.

    The idea of moving on is always a hard one for us to make, you see we are all creatures of habit and old habits are terribly hard to break, however all the new habits and adventures lie just in front of you.

    Look forward, see into the memories you are about to make.
    I’m sure wherever you travel you’ll be making them, and in abundance.

    You are a wonderfully passionate and considerate human Bob, so many have seen that in what you do with the squirrel cam and the blog posts you write and I for one look forward to seeing what great cam shots and posts come from your travels because, I know wherever you travel you’ll find that beauty and wonder in the places you visit, it’s inside you so you’ll bring that where you travel and share it with the rest of us as you have already.

    Don’t look back in sadness, look forward in wonder in all you’ll find for it brings the rest of us much joy

    Thank You for being you and allowing some of us to enjoy the joy you find in life


  7. Cleta says:

    Bob i say Follow your Heart live your Dream’s Enjoy your self see whats out there i know it has to be very hard on you to think about leaving but remember you said you would love to walk on the beach get to meet your friends travel and show everyone your travels its a new adventure for you in your life story Bob the Squirrels will be fine i know you will miss them terrible but you have to think about you just follow your heart 🙂

  8. Cleta says:

    Bob just had to post this couldn’t help but think of it when i read your post still brings tears to my eyes everytime i read it .
    To walk the Red Road
    is to know sacrifice, suffering.
    It is to understand humility.
    It is the ability to stand naked before God in all things for your
    wrong doings,
    for your lack of strength,
    for your discompasionate way,
    for your arrogance – because to walk
    the Red Road, you always know
    you can do better. And you know,
    when you do good things,
    it is through the Creator, and you are grateful.

    To walk the Red Road
    is to know you stand on equal ground
    with all living things.
    It is to know that because you were born human,
    it gives you superiority over nothing.
    It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit,
    and the river knows more than you do,
    the mountains know more than you do,
    the stone people know more than you do,
    the trees know more than you do,
    the wind is wiser than you are,
    and animal people carry wisdom.
    You can learn from every one of them,
    because they have something you don’t:
    They are void of evil thoughts.
    They wish vengeance on no one, they seek Justice.

    To Walk the Red Road,
    You have God given rights,
    You have the right to pray,
    You have the right to dance,
    You have the right to think,
    You have the right to protect,
    You have the right to know Mother,
    you have the right to dream,
    You have the right to vision,
    You have the right to teach,
    You have the right to learn,
    You have a right to grieve,
    You have a right to happiness,
    You have the right to fix the wrongs,
    You have the right to truth,
    You have a right to the Spirit World.

    To Walk the Red Road
    Is to know your Ancestors,
    to call to them for assistance…
    It is to know that there is good medicine,
    and there is bad medicine…
    It is to know that Evil exists,
    but is cowardly as it is often in disguise.
    It is to know there are evil spirits
    who are in constant watch
    for a way to gain strength for
    themselves at the expense of you.

    To Walk the Red Road,
    You have less fear of being wrong,
    because you know that life is a journey,
    a continuous circle, a sacred hoop.
    Mistakes will be made,
    and mistakes can be corrected –
    if you will be humble,
    for if you cannot be humble,
    you will never know
    when you have made a mistake.
    If you walk the Red Road,
    you know that every sorrow
    leads to a better understanding,
    every horror cannot be explained,
    but can offer growth.

    To Walk the Red Road
    Is to look for Beauty in all things….
    To Walk the Red Road
    “Is to know you will one day
    cross to the Spirit World,
    and you will not be afraid…

  9. Z from Chicago says:

    It’s always hard to move from a place that has held a lot of memories, but it’s ok. The memories go with you. The hardest part is leaving all your family and friends. But … they can come visit you and you can visit them.

    Giving away and throwing away all the material stuff that you accumulate over the years is ok as well. When my family moved to the U.S. we brought only one small trunk and a couple of suitcases apiece. The important things you keep and more, new stuff can be gathered that create new memories.

    How is your firewood pile coming along? When you’re in a warm and sunny climate, you can look at the pictures and remember all the work with fond nostalgia.

    Think of the new animal and bird friends (and people!) you will make. There are a bunch of black squirrels that live not far from me–and one I saw with an orange tail. Plus, there are communities of white squirrels in some parts of the country. And, if you go far enough SouthWest, you may even see a Jackalope. 😉

    It’s going to be an adventure. I can just imagine you driving down the highways and byways with your snow scoop tied to the front of your truck. Bon Voyage.

  10. Bob,

    I wasn’t able to visit much during the time that I have known you, and now I feel I may have missed a golden opportunity. However, as you progress through life you need to take care of you and yours first. The squirrels will figure out how to survive, (That have for longer than you or I have been alive.) That being said, you should take heart in the fact that you have been a part of their lives and they apart of yours. Just like when you kids moved away and raised thier own family, now you have to make the choice to move away, away from your squirrel family.

    Stuff is just stuff, I often think if we had less of it how much easier our lives might be. Your friends and family will support you and love you no matter what decision you make. You and your wife need to make the best decision for your lives first, then what’s good for your family, and then you can consider the rest. They may not all agree but if you prioritize it right, the decision will be right.

    I pray that the decision process is easy and that you have peace about the final decision.

    God bless,


  11. Bob, this touches my heart in a way you can’t even imagine. I just sold my mother’s home, the place I grew up in and continued to visit nearly every day for 33 years after I’d left. The house had three generations of my family’s stuff crammed into every old, dusty corner…..plus more stuff from my aunts’ home which we sold in 1996! I lovingly went through every box, every bag and every drawer until the clock started ticking loudly and I had to triage — only keep what was really important. At that point I realized that what was really important was in my head and heart, not in the boxes. But you gotta go through the stuff carefully and lovingly before you can let it go. I have come to know you and the squirrels of the Permafrost Ranch so well over these few years on The Squirrel Board, and I know how those winters get you. This year, in fact, I was truly worried about you Bob. You’ve paid your dues to old man Winter, and then some — get out there and soak up some UV rays, my friend! Just make sure you keep us with you on the road. 🙂

  12. Munford says:

    I am the wrong person to even try to give anyone advice on something like this! I am just an old sentimental fool. That is the reason I am such a pack rat… don’t throw it away because whatever it is has sentimental value. Doing hard core cleaning this summer and having to make decisions do I keep it or throw it. Much of it needs to be thrown and I don’t need to be THAT sentimental I know…but still when I throw it away it tugs at my heart.
    Whenever I have to make BIG decisions though like you are having to make I just always have to use my trust and faith in my Lord and pray to God that he is with me to make the right decisions. Don’t know if you believe as I do but think so from our discussions. If so, just let Him lead you and tell you what you are meant to do.
    Hope this doesn’t offend you, Bob, but it is the way I was taught from a toddler on up to work through my problems.
    My Mom and Dad made sure that I knew this would always work for me and it has. Just think of all the love and goodness that you have given to God’s beautiful creatures and you can continue to do so no matter where you are. Told you I was the wrong person to give my opinion!
    Picture at midnight is beautiful. Beautiful midnights now! Do you ever have any darkness now to sleep?
    Keeping you and your wife in my thoughts and prayers,

  13. Databrokers says:

    Ok, I don’t know how to begin, but first. Thank you one and all for every word you typed. It was much appreciated, and it gives me great comfort. This isn’t the end, it’s just a new chapter in the path I’m following. The squirrel cam page will continue. I’m not going away, I’ve been doing this way to long to quit the internet and these relationships. It’s just going on the road. I’ll give more details and followup as they develop.

  14. BruceB says:

    I have been thinking a lot about what you wrote, describing what is going on at present with you. What you wrote describing both your history and ties there, and how you feel about the place is one of the most touching things I have ever read.

    When reading it, your deep feelings toward The Ranch, Bubba and his friends, and your ties there showed and how devoted you are to all of them. You do have a very hard decision to make, but you have realized you need to do something different in your life to continue. Sometimes you can talk to others to help influence some choices in your life, but in the end, it comes down to what you and only you decide.

    You and family are true Alaskan pioneers. Anyone who came to Alaska during the 60’s/70’s and toughed it out during those years has my respect. As you know, things back then were much different than now.

  15. Bravo says:

    It finally happened, an offer came in, and now the possibility of moving is quite real. I can relate to you so much, I’m beginning to wonder what’s next for me too, and I haven’t lived a quarter of the time you have.

    For what it’s worth, I can’t imagine it would be easy to move away from what you’ve known and loved for so long. Something would be wrong if you didn’t. You’ve put in the time, made a home and taken the good with the bad. I know there will be sadness as you leave, but I hope you also feel the freedom of the open road and the excitement of turning that next corner of your life.

  16. Ed B says:

    Hi. I have watched your Squirrel Cam since 2006. The Creator will guide you as it helped Chief David Salmon when he dispersed the rain. I have Mexican Native blood and must say that I know that you will choose well. Enjoy the journey and know that we all pray for your wise choice.


    Ed B of California

  17. Rosemary says:

    Hi from New Zealand. Four years ago Dave and I did a trip to Alaska and to North Pole. We discovered the cam prior to going and have watched it ever since, well mainly me as we do not have squirrels in NZ or Australia and I love the little critters!. Bubba looks good at the moment. I will miss it if you go but like all of your friends on the site have said- go with you heart. I do not know how you guys up there exist in that weather. All the best and happy snapping (photography) wherever you go….keep your Flickr site going.

  18. Miami says:

    Oh Bob! :*(

  19. dotolive says:

    Oh Bob.
    I have to comment to you even though I don’t feel I have any words that can help you with this decision, and that makes me feel really sad that I don’t.
    I have been following you and your squirrels for how long? There was camera 1 that refreshed when it wanted to I think. I would keep it on all day and night. I got picked on by friends and co-workers ( Your still watching that???)
    It stayed on my work computer as well, always in the background. I have seen many things at your home.

    But these are my memories. You have lived those days and the decision you have to make is so huge that I can’t imagine anyone but God leading you in the right direction. If he wants you to stay there, he will give you the desire and provide financially for you to do that. If he wants you to leave then he will open doors. This I do know.
    I pray you don’t make your decision out of fear but out of faith and desire.

    You will be in my prayers in this time. And if you decide to leave, put i the contract that the person who lives there must feed the squirrels 🙂

  20. Melissa says:

    Wow-lots has been going on since I’ve been away! What an exciting time in your life, huh?! It will definitely take courage to move on to new things, but you can do it! I remember how miserable you were in the throes of the long (!) dark (!), cold (!) Alaskan winter. It’s probably hard for you to think about that right now with the long daylight hours, but you need to reflect on what those winters do to your spirit. Just think, with an RV, you can always come up to Alaska in the summer when you enjoy it best and then you can leave whenever you feel like it to go play in the warmth of the lower 48 somewhere. You can enjoy it all. Sounds pretty darn nice. And if you stay connected to all of us folks on this website, that will make it even easier. I say go for it!! You are in my thoughts and prayers:) Take care my friend!

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