Lloyd Haessler, a retired civil servant whjo lives 63 miles north of Anchorage, ambles out of his house every day and cooks 100 pounds of dog food and water in a 55-gallon oil drum to feed the dozens of Malamutes he raises.
Haessler is a dog musher who decided to move from rapidly growing Anchorage, Alaska's largest cuty, to get away from the influx of people attracted by oil.
Standing in front of his house, set back in the woods 100 yards from the George Parks Highway, is a hand-painted sign advertising sled dogs for sale.
Haessler, 71, likes to take his dogs on the mushing circuit around Anchorage each year, racing against serveral dozen dogsled enthusiasts and giving his friends an occasional ride. For a number of years he has also taken the dogs out behind his five acres and run a trapline that has been used for more than 20 years.
But since Nov. 2 when Alaska voters selected 100 square miles behind Haessaler's home to be the site of a new capital, the area's trapline days appear to be numbered.
"My wife and I came up here to get out and get away from it all and now we're right in the middle of it again," Haessler said.
"We're just going to have to move again. I came up here to be alone," he said.
Juneau, the current capital, is accessible to the rest of the state only by airplane or a long ferryboat ride. No roads reach it and its is frequently so weathered in the Alaska Airlines flights must bypass it.
Perharps that is why, after failing to gain a majority in 1960 and 1962, an initiative on the primary ballot in August, 1974, calling for a new state capital finally passed.The initiative called for the governor to appoint a nine member capital site selection committee. It was to select no more than three sites - outside of Alaska's isolated southern Panhandle region were Juneau is located, nut no closer than 30 miles to Anchorage or Fairbanks - to be presented to the state's voters.
At the Nov. 2, general election the voters chose Willow over two other sites near the George Parks Highway, Mt. Yenlo and Larson Lake. It is the closet site to Anchorage - which is home to nearly of the state's 400,000 residents - and this proximity means it will be the least expensive lication on which to construct a new capitol building and government compiles.
Seventy road miles from Anchorage, but 37 by air, the unincorporated town of Willow has no elected officials and fewer than 400 residents scattered along the highway and in the woods. By 1990 the capital site selection commitee estimated its population could reach 25,000.
An oddly shaped 100-square-mile area of state land (which has islands of private property inside its boundaries) has been set aside for the capital city. It lies less than a mile east of Willow, although only an 8-square-mile "footprint" development site five miles from Willow is likely to be built up initially.
The average winter temperature is 10 degrees Fahrenheit and in summer it's 57 degrees. The site commands a beautiful view of North America's tallest mountain, McKinley. The Alaska Railroad has already begun plans for a spur into the capital to haul tons building materials from the port of Anchorage.
Although Haessler is not enthusiastic about seeing the capital move to Willow, most of the local residents appear to favor the idea. In the November election, local voters case 141 ballots for Willow, 31 for Mt. Yenlo, and 15 for Larson Lake.
Perlia J. Strassburg, a real estate broker. lives at Mile 57.5 on the George Parks Highway which connects Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska's second-largest city 293 miles north of Willow. She thinks the move in a fine idea.
In fact, from the 375-person community of Houston, she heads the "Move It To Willow COmmittee," which worked for the capital relocation.
"Even Gov. Jay Hammond, who originally opposed the idea of moving the capital, said he would have it at the new site in time even if he had to hold the legislature in a tent," she said with a laugh.
The initiative calls for the move to the new capital to begin no laterthan Oct. 1, 1980, and those in favor of the move want to see the 181 session of legislature in a new building where there is now nothing but wilderness.
Land prices along the George Parks Highway have increased dramatically, especially near Houston where one of the proposed access roads to the "foot-print" area is tentatively slated.
"I've sold every lot on the west side of the road," said Strassburg, whose greatest source of land sales has been her own 160-acre homestead along the highway.
A plumbing shop, an electrical supply store, an automobile body and paint shop, and an auto repair firm will occupy four of the 20 lots, Strassburg said.
"And I'm going to build a combination laundromat and beauty parlor on the piece of land where my real estate office and the Old Prospector Rock Shop are located," she said.
Strassburg said she does not want to see the capital city became a commercial hodge-podge.
"I don't want to see the realtors make the land sales in the city," she said. "I'd like to see the state sell off all the land itself. The 8 square miles, I think, should be completely uncommercialized. To make it aesthepically pleasing you'd have to keep commercial enterprises out of the capital campus."
A committee appointed by Hammond could decide where to put the hotel, restaurants and residences, she suggested.
"They have to make their plans very complete and then stick with them - you want the planning to be definite and set," she said.
Before the plans can be translated into building, the voters will have to make one last commitment. They will have to approve a bonding proposition to finance construction.
Politicians elected from Juneau who fought the capital move are still suspect to those in western Alaska who feel they still may try scuttle or delay it.
"The timetable for the most could be fouled up by the failure of a bond proposal to pass," Strassburg said.
At least one state senator from Juneau, Bill Ray, acknowledges he would still like to keep the capital in place.
Juneau is a city fewer than 20,000 people, more than half of whom depend on the state payroll. And Ray, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, thinks it would be a shame to see all those people leave Juneau.
If Ray has his way, the capital will remain in Juneau. Leading advocates of the capital move fear Ray will put a bonding proposition so large on the ballot that voter will refuse to approve it. He estimates the new capital will cost at least $1 billion.
For the moment, planning is halted. But the state legislature, which is to convene this month, will vote early in the session on a bill to set up and fund a new committee to begin planning for Amrerica's newest capital city. At present the new capital does not even have a name.