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In Love In Barrow

Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008.

When Ben Greene described his wife, Deborah, as “the stunningly beautiful but somewhat irascible redhead,” it was clear that true love was flowing within the room, throughout the C.E. building of the Ukpeagvik Presbyterian Church, and in all of Barrow.

The Greenes not only have a profound love for each other, but also for the wilderness, which is why they choose to make their home in Alaska. They were living in Anchorage when Ben got the opportunity to move to Barrow and work for the North Slope Borough Planning Department, an opportunity so unusual there was no way he could turn it down.

“After all,” says Ben, “how many people do you know are given the opportunity to live amongst an Inupiat whaling community 300 miles north of the Arctic circle? You get to see a very unique slice of life and you get to participate.” Ben and Deborah have been in Barrow since May.

One of their wilderness adventures since living in Alaska was paddling from Valdez to Whittier, a trip they had been dreaming about for years. In 28 days, the two traveled over 300 miles and came across a plethora of wildlife.

On another adventure, Deborah and Ben were hiking the prominent Wolverine Peak located outside of Anchorage when they encountered a huge brown bear. Deborah says, “She was so close you could see the guard hairs on her body.” Ben adds, “It wasn’t as though we were looking at a bear, it was as though we were studying the intricate detail in the bear’s eyes.” The bear pursued them for a little while, but Deborah and Ben managed to escape unharmed.

Being in Barrow has not stopped Ben and Deborah from being active. Even in the harsh and cold conditions, the two still manage to explore on their cross-country skis, their bikes, and even on their kayaks in the Arctic Ocean. They’ve already spied bowhead whales and grey whales, Arctic foxes and snowy owls.

Ben says one of the most important things in his life is to celebrate the wilderness, which means playing in the wilderness and exploring. What’s important to Deborah is her personal relationship with family, friends, and Ben. Together, what’s most important to each of them is beautifully and naturally combined.

“Wilderness is an incredible anecdote to whatever ails us,” says Ben. “Maybe when we’re not doing that well, it’s just because we’ve spent too much time on concrete and under fluorescent lights.”

Deborah responds, “May we always be there for each other to get each other out of the house, out of the buildings and into the grasslands, the tundra, the mountains, the rivers, the creeks, the ocean,” and Ben replies, “I’ll keep chasing you.”

4 Responses to “In Love In Barrow”

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  • Lisa and the entire Story Corps staff –

    The experience of sharing memories form our past, listening to each other, and then sharing it with anyone who wishes to go on-line to hear it was such a thrilling adventure.

    May everyone be inspired to share their stories with their loved ones through Story Corps. These memories do last forever!

    Thank you.


    Comment from Deborah Greene on January 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Thanks for sharing. My husband and I have lived on the Colville River Delta for over 50 years. Come visit…it is only 180 miles east from Barrow by kyak. See .

    Comment from Teena on the Colville River delta on December 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Wonderfully put! Thanks for sharing Ben and Deborah’s story.

    Comment from Jalylah on November 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • I once had to use “Bear mace” when hiking in Alaska. We tested it out, and the spray went 30 feet. I was told that if you do use it on a Bear, and it works, that you need to hightail it out of there, because every Bear within a 5 mile radius will smell it and come looking for it.


    Great story, thanks for sharing it.

    Comment from Andy on November 6, 2008 at 1:17 pm - Reply to this Comment

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