An islander
After spending 30 years on the Bering sea as a commercial fisherman and decades as a snow ranger, Gus knows it all about the sea and the land.
Gus delivers his opinion about global warming, shares his views on Russia and explains why Kodiak is the place to be.
- How long have you lived in Alaska and why are you still here?
- I have lived in Kodiak since 1979 and prior to that I've lived for 2 years in Juneau, Alaska. So overall I live in Alaska for 40 years. I've decided then to get out from the forest service that brought me up here. I was a forest ranger and, specifically, I was a snow ranger. I worked first in Oregon and then in Alaska. So then I became a fisherman in Kodiak, from 1979 up to 2008. Then I lost my fishing business. So I had my big beautiful home that I built, this one, in 1982. When I lost my fishing business somebody talked me into running a B&B business that led to establishing the Russian River Lodge. So I figured out: that's the way I can stay up here if I rent rooms. I wanted to stay in Alaska. I love Kodiak. I love the people. I love the ocean. I love the animals. I just love the fantastic scenery here. I live on this little base here: I have the ocean, just 2 blocks walking away from the Russian River Lodge. I look up and see mountains on three sides of me and I say: 'Wow, this is awesome!'. When I could walk better – and I don't walk that good anymore – I'd be up on these mountains, like the Kashevaroff mountain, just looking around, enjoying. I've hunted all over here… One of the cool things about Kodiak: yes, it is fantastic and beautiful. Yes, the ocean is awesome and the mountains are great. The bears are walking around. Also the sea life and the deer. But the best thing about Alaska and Kodiak is the people.
- Alaska is…
- …the best place to know people. They're real people, they will help you. In big cities some kids have trouble in the streets and people would avoid them. Here we'll stop and help them. It is like… you're looking at everything around you and you smile.
- What is the spirit of Alaska in terms of values people live?
- The spirit of Alaska is: work hard, enjoy life, help your friends and they will help you.
The spirit of Alaska is: work hard, enjoy life, help your friends and they will help you.
- Since time immemorial the Native peoples of Alaska have lived here. Then the Russians came. Then Alaska became a part of the United States. In the end, who has the most claim?
- We, the United States, do now because we bought it from Russia. We paid for Alaska 7.2 million dollars back then. That was a pretty good deal: we've got a state that is one-fifth size of the United States.
- The First Peoples of Alaska, including Inupiaq, Tlingit, Athabaskans, Yupik, Alutiiq and others, how large is their role in modern Alaska today?
- Actually, it is getting better. I have a lot of friends that are Native Alaskan. I have Tlinkit friends and Haida friends from Juneau. I also some have Native Kodiak friends. We own things here, they own things here. We're really don't sit here and think: oh, it is our country and you have to get out of! We look at it: thank you for allowing us to be here! Thank you for sharing your wonderful land! I paid for this property for somebody else and I am not sure that I bought it from somebody's who had bought it from the Native Alaskans back then? I am not sure.

- Alaska and the 'Lower 48': do people do things differently there?
- I hope we don't go too fast and make Alaska a big populated mess like a lot of stuff down below, in the 'Lower 48'. There are 770,000 people in the whole state of Alaska, this is not even a medium-size city down below. We've got 13,000 people in Kodiak and 3,500 bears. One bear for every four people! And I like that. I get them walking around in the yard sometimes and have to tell them to go away! And they don't like the way I talk to them so they go away (laughing). When I travel and I go down below, I can be gone for 5 days and I'm just sitting here and saying: oh, I wanna go home! I want to be back to Kodiak. So that would be my answer.
- Do reality TV shows genuinely portray Alaska or they distort it?
- I think the reality TV shows are a horrible distortion of Alaska. They are ridiculous. I could go into more depth, but I've only watched enough to know that I hate them.
- Where, in your opinion, is the most beautiful place in Alaska? Why did you pick that place and why is it so special to you?
- Kodiak. The whole of it, the 3,ooo sq. miles of Kodiak. I haven't been to every other place here in Alaska. I haven't been to Denali and it is beautiful. I have been to fantastic places around Juneau and on the Inside Passage. I fished in Prince William sound… magnificent place, beautiful. But when you look overall, total on people, things to do, how could you feel… I think, it is Kodiak.
The best thing about Alaska and Kodiak is the people.
- What are you favorite Alaskan foods? Do you have a special recipe?
- My favorite Alaskan foods are seafood. Some people don't want to believe this but I think Pacific cod is an incredible food. Also, halibut, and salmon. Plus sablefish or the black cod, and I smoke it myself.
- What do you know about the Russian America or Russian heritage in Alaska?
- I know Alaska was a Russian territory before we bought it from Russia. I know there is a lot of Russian background here in Kodiak, just like this mountain, Kashevaroff mountain. Lots of Russian names for different things. I think we have evolved. When we did buy the territory and made it a state, it was the best thing the United States did property-wise. I like what we, the Americans, have done here. I like our lifestyle… Did we make mistakes? Yes! Will we continue to make mistakes? Very likely. So here in Alaska we have evolved from Russian ownership to American.
- This year is the 150th anniversary of Alaska purchase by the United States: are you aware of this event?
- No, I am not. I know they celebrate Alaska day but I am not sure why.
- How do you feel towards Russia as a country?
- We have our differences, obviously. We fought each other. We probably have our differences now but I think our leader, President Trump, is trying to fix things a little. I hope your president work with him. I know that in the past we were the most dangerous to each other because we have the most weapons, we have the most capability of killing each other. But I think we're getting over that. We're working towards friendship, also on personal level. I personally would like to see our relationship with Russia become much better because we're so close.
- America and Russia: are we enemies? Or are we not?
- No, we're not enemies. We're not necessarily friends. We're in many cases neutral to each other. We avoid confrontation because, I think, we're both getting smarter. Why should you puff up your chest and want to fight another country that possibly has enough weapons to wipe you out? And we wipe each other out and maybe other countries would come in and pick up the pieces?
- If you had an opportunity to meet and talk to an ordinary Russian, what would you say?
- I would tell Russian people that I'm happy to meet them and hope that we continue to be friends. And become more friends.
- What is your version of the American dream?
- My version is peace and tranquility. People getting alone, we always have little arguments or upset each other. But, get over. Apologize. Move on! I think the American dream is to live peacefully. Get smarter in how you deal with nature. With other people. You know, don't develop things that are going to damage nature.
I don't believe in global warming... One eruption from a volcano is like 10 years of all those smog stacks in the world.
- What a great single Alaskan person of past or present would you like to talk to?
- Well, I am not sure about Alaska, I haven't thought about anybody that I would… President Ronald Reagan would be one of the top people on my list because he was very flat out in doing that he protected our lifestyle and our people.
- What will Alaska be like in 2034, 17 years from now?
- I don't believe in global warming. I don't think that's a problem. I know that there's a bunch of environmentalists who would disagree with me there. I believe that if we're smart with how we develop, we'll just develop fine. This might not also sound nice but I hope we get rid of the ISIS, the Moslem terrorists. Kill'em all! Get rid of them! I don't wanna see them walking down my street. There's people like that here in Alaska. They probably call themselves Moslems… But when somebody kills 30-40 people and yells 'Allah Akbar!', I want him dead. I don't want to go him to trial, I just want a bullet in his forehead. And I want us to clean up that mess, I want us to work together with other countries to clean it up. I would like to see the United States stay tall in working to make the world more peaceful. As to the global warming, I think this is crazy. You know, to talk about all these smog stacks and CO2: one eruption from a volcano is like 10 years of all those smog stacks in the world. We're just like to be on this world and we should appreciate it. One of the way to appreciate it is taking oil out of the ground. Keep going, do it! Let's stop helping Iraq, Iran and all these places by sending them money for getting their oil. Let's take our own!
Made on