This teacher turned Alaskan adventurer has taken a year off from work to build his dream wilderness fishing lodge.
Have you ever dreamed of dropping everything and living in the wilderness? It is a dream that many hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts share at one point or another. But how many people actually follow through on those dreams? Not very many, but don’t count teacher Nick Blanco among those who don’t. The 27-year-old St. John’s University grad is taking a year off of work to build a fishing lodge to rule all fishing lodges in the Alaskan wilderness.
Not only is he building his dream fishing lodge, but he is also doing so with naturally sourced materials like massive driftwood logs that may have made their way to Alaska from as far away as sunny California. Blanco has been living in a wood-heated canvas tent with few modern luxuries as he builds the lodge with occasional help from family and friends.
His chosen location for the lodge? Kodiak Island, for its temperate climate and vast abundance and variety of fish. The massive logs utilized for the project’s required lumber are towed via boat over a distance of eight miles from where they are located near Shelikof Straight. Once the logs make it to Blanco’s remote building site, they are carefully sawed and milled into the lumber he needs to build the mess hall and bunkhouse he is constructing.
A small generator powers Blanco’s power tools and cell phone and an electric fence perimeter keeps marauding bears at bay. His dog Sarah and a .45 handgun are his only companions except for the times he is joined by family, friends, and volunteers who help Blanco however they can.
His helpers are not simply there only out of the goodness of their hearts, either. You see, Blanco’s plans for the fishing lodge once it’s finished are to use it not only as a personal retreat, but as a camp for the troubled youth that call Kodiak Island home. His wish to use his dream to help others has spurred friends, family, and even complete strangers into action. A recent GoFundMe campaign helped raise over $5,000 to help cover the travel expenses of those eager to help.
“When it’s done, the lodge will accommodate six guests. Clientele will be both paying fishermen and youth from Kodiak Island. “I plan to focus on kids with addiction or kids without father figures in a boys-to-men kind of camp,” Blanco said according to the White Bear Press.
Blanco developed his love for the state of Alaska during his time in college. A St. John’s alum invited him to spend some time over a summer at his fishing lodge in Alaska and that was all it took for Blanco to realize that Alaska was going to be an important place throughout his life.
“I started going back every summer to work on fishing charter boats. I really like to fish. When I graduated, I went up there full time and started teaching. I’ve taken a year off to do this project,” said Blanco.
Blanco’s story has gained so much attention that the building process is even being filmed by the DIY Network with plans for the show to air sometime in 2016.
Nick Blanco is undoubtedly being lived through vicariously by most any outdoors enthusiast who hears about his story. He is more than happy to be living the dream of countless people who don’t have the means or ability to take on such a challenge.
“You have to earn everything you get up there. You have to prioritize and plan and you appreciate things more. Just a cup of coffee can be special. I take pride in learning how to be self-sufficient.”
To read more about Nick and his fishing lodge, including a story involving the Coast Guard, check out the full White Bear Press article here.