GOODBYE, BOISE...HELLO, ALASKA
Cora's first book details her remote life. If you subscribe to Country, you already know Cora Holmes, her husband Milt and her two sons. They're the Alaska sheep ranchers who live on an island so remote, their nearest neighbor is 85 miles away. They have no phone, radio or TV, and they receive mail only four or five times a year. After several stories appeared about them in Country, hundreds of subscribers wrote asking for more detail, and Cora happily complied -- with this color-photo-filled book.
You'll learn how Cora traded the stress of her nursing job in Boise, Idaho for her life in a wild and desolate place in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska where the Bering Sea is the front yard.
"I purchased four sets of your books and every person I gave them to loved them. My cancer stricken sister-in-law said they really took her mind beyond her sick bed. You are truly my Eleanor Roosevelt. She was my ideal for all the work she did-so did you, Miss Cora. Thank you for coming into my life." Kay Espinosa, Yucaipa, California
"I just finished reading your books and I must say I could not put them down. The adventure, love, daily/seasonal routines, the ups and downs of raising your children on a remote island is a mind bending thing." Pat Fessler, Crownsville, Maryland
"Please excuse my use of "Cora" rather than Mrs. Holmes. After reading your books I feel as though we are all family. You probably get more mail like this than you care to receive but after reading those in the book, I decided to join the crowd and tell you of my experiences in regard to Dutch Harbor and Unalaska…." Don Taylor, California
"I just finished your delightful book! I was attracted to it by your interest in self-sufficiency and your spirit of adventure…" Bobbie Steinke, Martin, Tennessee
"I just had the immense pleasure of finishing your two books! I am only disappointed I don't have a third to start reading…" Collette Hand, Palmer, Alaska
"I like to keep in touch with you at least once a year. We have all your correspondence placed safely with your books, which Milton and I have read and reread…" Martha and Milton Headings, Archbold, Ohio
"I have just had the pleasure of staying at Chernofski Ranch for a few weeks.. I'm a fish and Wildlife Service biologist and was assisting in a bird mortality study in response to the Selendang Ayu oil spill. While at the ranch I read your book…I found all of it fascinating. Pat Walsh, Dillingham, Alaska
I subscribe to Yankee is where I first learned about you and I sent away for your books. I was so touched by your story and what a dramatic turn of events led you to Alaska. I read that book many times and often touched to tears by both of them…" Mary Snowbird Mzurecky, San Juan Capistrano, California
Cora Holmes could not have known her fate, when in 1979 she answered a newspaper ad for a housekeeper and secretary on an Alaskan island she'd never heard of. But weary of the stress of working nights as a neonatal nurse in Boise, Idaho, while single-handedly raising her two sons, Holmes took a chance on a new life in the Aluetian Islands.,/p>
"Chernofski Sheep Ranch - a tiny dot on the map, closer to Siberia than the continental United States...buffeted by gales, hidden by fog, jarred by earthquakes - was the most peaceful spot I'd ever found."
Sixteen months after Holmes stepped off the floatplane in front of the ranch on Unalaska Island, she and her employer, Milt Holmes, were married. With a kind new husband and father to teach them, Holmes and her sons, Randall, 10, and Chuck, 14, soon learned all the skills needed to run a 152,000 acre ranch: riding horses, rounding up cattle, shearing sheep, trapping foxes and operating an open boat in the stormy Bering Sea. Although the work was hard, the family learned to appreciate the isolation and the silence.
Since we live in a world without libraries, churches or neighbors, places take on special significance. Chuck loves to watch the waves crash against the cliffs on West Point. Randall loves Koner's Head, where he can watch the wild horses. Milt loves the ancient village sites with their low rock walls and bleached whale bones."
"And I love Foggy Butte. It is my cathedral...no church in the world as did this beautiful gift of nature," Holmes writes.
Part of the charm of Hello Alaska lies in its surprising theme: just when we thought homesteading, ranching and pioneering in the wilderness were historical events, along came the Holmeses and their life of adventure." Jill Shepherd, The North in Print