Heidi Wright

Manley hot springs | fairbanks




"Making home in Alaska, it's like... a rebirth, intellectually and emotionally. And love."


Wright in Fairbanks, the school district hub for which she is an educator.

Wright in Fairbanks, the school district hub for which she is an educator.

"I should go to alaska for the summer." 

[I first came up for] employment, for the summer. I was gonna work—cooking, bartending—at the Roadhouse in Manley. My parents had spent the summer there when I was in high school. I didn't come up with them, but I was laid off of work in Minnesota and was working at the bulk mail center. And I found an Alaska Magazine when I was re-bundling magazines one night, and I was like, “Huh! I should go to Alaska for the summer...! I’ll ask Mom if I can get a job from that guy that she knew up there.” So I did. And she said, “If you're going, I'm going with you.” And she came along! 

life at manley roadhouse

Cooking breakfast, lunches, and dinners-- [Mom and I] kind of split that up, I don't remember exactly how. Cutting the lawn; doing laundry; cleaning rooms; keeping the dining room clean when it was mud season. Just whatever needed to be done during the day. And I didn't bartend at night; we had a bartender come in at the dinner hour. By the end of the season, [the gold miners] would come in almost every night from their mines and have drinks and dinner, and one night my mom got really mad at me about something-- I don't even know what-- and she said, “ You’re just like your father!” And she left. And I had thirty people in the dining room, and the bar was full, and I had to do it all! She didn't talk to me, well, for a year or so after that. And I really don't know-- she never told me what i did. But she was away from her husband, my dad, all summer; and it was the end, early September, so she'd been there almost six months; and listening to him whinge on the other end of the phone every week: “When are you comin' home?”

staying and creating home

It wasn't a decision [to stay]! It was just-- one of the girls at the end of the season said, “Oh you should stay for the winter!” And I was like, “Yeah, I guess I might as well, I don't know." I mean, I didn't have any-- I was not tied up to anything, and a girl had just lost her husband in Manley, and she was just going to spend the winter somewhere else, and she wanted me to watch her house. And then I ran the post office [in Manley] while the postmaster took a month vacation during the winter. So I had something to do... And, that’s why I stayed!