About Me

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My name is Mike Knoche and I am a naturalist/guide and carpenter living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I studied migratory birds and whales for over ten years and have a Master’s degree of Wildlife Biology. I am an absolute “bird-nerd”- one who loves to see and hear birds in the wild. Learning about the natural world around me and exploring Alaska is ingrained in me and I love to share the anecdotes from working on scientific studies and exploring Alaska with my clients.  I have guided for several companies including National Geographic Expeditions. I intersperse guiding trips with a creative outlet I picked up along the way, carpentry. I have built two of my own homes, continue to build for myself, and make improvements on clients’ homes.

Swim with sea lions

I started working when I was fairly young by painting houses and landscaping. I wanted to save for a wrist watch with a calculator in it. When I tired of landscaping at age 14 I entered the restaurant industry which would carry me through high school, college, and beyond. As a Sous Chef, I managed a kitchen and worked in numerous different restaurants across the United States. Cooking professionally left an indelible mark on my life, which can be seen in my continuous passion for cooking and my insatiable appetite. However, more influential than cooking was the inconsistent nature of work that came with being a migratory cook and then a seasonal field biologist in Alaska.  As a cook in the lower 48, the lure of hiking in national parks captured me between busy work seasons.  As a seasonal scientist with little to do in the Alaskan winter, I started venturing out to see the world .

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Now called a “Snowbird” by some locals, I have traveled to over 35 countries and tend to get out for a month each year. The rest of my winter is spent trying to explore the land that is opened up by snow highways or by breaking my own trail through Alaska.  There is a balance I have found between living in this extreme environment and exploring the world. Travel is like a reset button and each time I come home to Alaska I am in awe of its people and beauty.

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Many people have expressed their thoughts about travel but when I read

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover …”

now at 39 years old I have no regrets about what I have been doing for the last 20 years and find Mark Twain’s famous quote a fitting name for my venture, ExploreDreamDiscover Tours. Here, through ExploreDreamDiscover Talks I hope to convey my passion for life and my personal experiences with all of you (btw- never bought that watch).

UPDATE: 2-27-14 I turned 40 in May. It was brutal. How could I be so old? I’m over that now.  I love being 40. I just checked off my 40th country as well.  It was Egypt where I slept in front of the Great Pyramids.  I can’t believe that a King or Pharaoh who died at the age of 20 is still so revered. Anyway, this life is amazing. Don’t forget all of the gifts you have inside and always see how fortunate you are. If you can’t then go to Ethiopia where most people have nothing and practice the art of kindness like I have never seen. I miss my tibs and my buna.

Later,

Mike

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Thanks for the visit.  Please feel free to share from this site and join me on Twitter,Facebook ,or Google+

328 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Thank you for “liking”my post “Into the Greenwood”. I have enjoyed visiting your site tremendously, and will be following. God bless!

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  2. Hello. I appreciate your interests and curiosity about nature. I am currently reading a book called “Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death” by Bernd Heinrich. It talks about how different species of animals and bugs choose to die. It also speaks to what humans can learn about it. I think it will help me death more closely so that I can apply what I learn to the Death card in the Tarot. I am a nerd as well. . .

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    • Animals and bugs choosing to die.That’s a pretty interesting idea to get my head around.Thanks for sharing that title, I will check it out. Have you read Raven in Winter by Bernd? Its amazing.

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      • Not really choosing to die, but the way they die when their time on earth ends. Ravens sharing food in the dead of winter? Hmm, interesting. I just looked at the book on Amazon. I don’t think animals are as competitive as we believe them to be. I think they also cooperate a lot as well. Perhaps we see them as purely competitive because humans are very competitive.

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      • It really depends on perception. As I scientist, I don’t feel like we view animals only from a competitive point of view. Certain times of the year call for competition while others call for cooperation (e.g. breeding vs. wintering where herding occurs). There is a huge disconnect between how science actully views competition and what the public thinks they view it as. This is god fodder for a book actually. What’s the book you were talking about again?

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  3. Thank you for stopping by and then allowing me to find you. Love the story about Myanmar and the man having his photograph taken for the first time, alone and with his grandson. A hard one to convey. Well done! Best ~ HuntMode

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  4. My name is Robin, so I was very interested in your stories or interest in birds! That along with your following my posts was a wonderful way to spend this afternoon. I am going to check out all of the rest of your posts. My reason for writing, though, is to tell you I wanted to have you check out a post I wrote about “Cardinals send special messages.” Several people have enjoyed it. I won’t give away, why! Take care!

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  5. Thank you for visiting my blog Jackson’s Life Lessons! I’m new to blogging and it’s been fun discovering other people’s bogs. Yours is AMAZING. I’m a science geek at heart ( I taught science for 8 years before I became a school counselor) so your blog is right up my alley!

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    • Hi Jen, It’s nice to have you here and I am happy you enjoyed these posts. This blog aspect is becoming a big part of my life now. The best part is it keeps me looking for new ideas on what to write about and even better, doing some basic research. Keeps the brain from atrophy. How is the counseling gig? Teaching and counseling are the most probable careers for someone in my family.

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  6. Thanks for liking my blog about the painted churches of Oaxaca. We have spent time in several areas of Mexico, and Oaxaca is by far my favorite (so far). It is incredibly rich in culture, the arts, and of course nature.
    It seems like the term “snowbirds” has taken on a negative connotation, so I tell people I prefer to think of myself as a humpback whale! (A monarch butterfly would be OK too.)
    Our life here in Oaxaca is almost the total opposite of life in Alaska, and I feel very fortunate to be able to experience both. Next year during our stay in Oaxaca, a trip to Chiapas is a must.
    Your tour company looks like a wonderful way to help introduce people to extraordinary places. There is so much to discover!

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    • I love Oaxaca and always tell people to go there when in Mexico. Two years ago I took my bicycle down to San Cristobal and rode 600 miles along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, up into the Sierras of Guatemala, and then through the Laconda rainforest. Keep in touch!

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      • Thanks Mike for following my blog. That bike trip must have been spectacular. Check out “Hoofingitinoaxaca.com, the site about a hiking group here in Oaxaca. Larry, the man who organizes all these hikes, is an avid mountain biker. We participated in quite a few of the hikes this season (two more to go), and it has been a great way to see areas around Oaxaca that we would never have known about. On that site he has posted maps and a short history of each area.
        Larry also volunteers at a Learning Center here and organizes bike rides (and provides bikes) for young men who attend the center.

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  7. Hey Mike! I have recently thrown “off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.” myself – exciting isn’t it!? If you love the great outdoors in all of its beauty its call will get you in the end. You have a new follower and I will look forward to your posts 🙂

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  8. Eek. You were on my blog over a month ago and I am just not getting over to check out yours. Hmmm . . . funny though because it was yesterday that my Nia students and I were just talking about Alaska. One of my students said it is one of the last states she needs to get to, another said she’s been four times. My story was that I met a couple on a Med cruise who had been on 14 cruises and they said Alaska was there favorite. Alaska holds a special place in many people’s heart. I would like to go again because when we went it was right after 9/11 so attentions were elsewhere. I’m gonna go poke around the rest of the blog now! Cheers!

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      • Nia is a cardio dance exercise. And, yes! We had booked a cruise. I think the sail date was 9/16 (I think). I had just bought a new car so we didn’t feel comfortable driving it to Canada (where we were to board the ship). So we rented a car and drove up there to meet our ship. All flights were grounded. The airport in Canada had planes all over the place! The cruise was very weird because a lot of people didn’t make it to the ship . . . . and as you can imagine . . . a lot of other things. But we still enjoyed Alaska. But I would love to go back. And as I said so many people I meet just love it!

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      • Me too. I bet I will make it back to Alaska before I get to the Galápagos Islands. Times have been strange ever since 9/11. :-} I bet you were so shocked when you got back! Wow!

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  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Are you related to an August ‘Gus’ Knoche from AZ?
    He was my high school geometry teacher, and my friend’s Scout leader. I’m guessing he’s long gone.

    gfa

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    • I understand that and love to travel the tropics too. My tours outside of Alaska on exist in the tropics, however, Alaska is amazing in the summer. I suppose you know that based on where you live. What part of Norway or what latitude are you at? We are at 64.

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  10. I very much enjoyed your brief description above of you and your life. I lived next door to you in the Yukon and very far northern BC (Atlin) for many years so know and understand your love of that environment. To put my skis on at my front door and go for miles through wilderness, across lakes, up and down hills. Such freedom, and beauty!
    Now retired my husband and I are completely nomadic.
    I actually dropped by to say thank you for visiting our blog, and for the like on the post about Varanasi. In case you’re interested, there’s a second post on Varanasi, focusing on life on the Ganges here:
    http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/india-part-15-varanasi-the-holy-city-of-benares/
    I think it’s better than the first.
    Since you’re a bird nerd (we’re a bit birdy ourselves :)) I thought you might like the photos in this post:
    http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/india-part-13-agra/
    Ecuador and Galapagos is on our list for later this year so I’ll read all your posts.
    Cheers and Blessings
    Alison

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    • Thanks for sparking this conversation. I once floated the Yukon R starting in Atlin. It was June 1, 1998. The lake was huge and blue. On our second morning the conifers all opened and their pollen blanketed the entire landscape. The water turned a shade of blue-green at the surface. Each time an osprey crashed into the lake for a fish, there was a print left behind much like that of a whale fluke when they dive. This story is 63 days long though. Maybe I will start putting it up here.

      Safe travels

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      • That sounds like an amazing trip. Do post about it. One day when we run out of travels maybe I’ll post about my time cooking in wilderness camps in N. BC and Yukon. At the moment I’m trying to catch up on our most recent trip. Finally got to Burma (we were there in Feb!).
        Safe travels to you too
        Alison

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  11. Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake – the big four. My most recent posts have been about the first 3 places, and I’ll be posting the first one about Inle Lake in the next couple of days. Quite extraordinary place.

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      • You rode from Heho to Inle to Mandalay? And then onwards from there presumably. That’s impressive. Must have been an amazing journey, though from what I’ve read I’m not surprised it took longer than you thought it would.
        Fabulous country. We loved it.

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  12. Alaska is a dream I want to wake up in one day. Your blog is one of my favourites. Do you have an email id which I can save?

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      • What’s new is up on my blog with three sonnets uploaded each day. Otherwise, the weather is wet all over again; politics is hot as always. People are warm as usual. The rich are richer today, than yesterday and the poor poorer. Kashmir is more beautiful than ever and more trouble torn than last year. The mountains of Uttarakhand have protested the plunder by the moneyed and misled. The south as usual takes its time bracing for winter monsoon while the west keeps fingers crossed that high tide and rain don’t turn conspirators to teach it a lesson. And I continue to crave to see your part of the world.

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      • Thank you so much. Have you seen children in Afganistan? They smile like children everywhere else. Interesting how poverty can be cheerful and the wealthy seek treatment for stress!

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      • I maybe have seen them. I tend tend to head towards the equator every winter for a bit. This is a band of warmth and poverty. I have always been moved by the spirit, generosity, and hospitality shown to me in these places. The ability for them to share and laugh in the shadow of insecurity is powerful and makes me feel ashamed for some of my own petty hang ups at times but even more to return home to such a generally unsatisfied culture that has everything they need.

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