About the new Alaska Billy Blog

How Landscapes Shape Our Lives

As of October 2017, I am expanding theme of the Alaska Billy Blog to: Landscapes Shape Our Lives, including my interests in ecology, outdoor adventure, oceans and forests, Southeast Alaska, and culture/landscape in every corner of the world.

Over the last 10 months, I’ve discovered the joy of writing on almost a daily basis. But this writing has been shared mostly through my Instagram posts, not here in the Alaska Billy Blog, since the content, impulsiveness, and daily search for photos and stories that I produce in Instagram have been broader than my original concepts for the Alaska Billy Blog.

The Alaska Billy Blog will still deal with the original topics that I envisioned: 1) how the landscapes of our past affect our future lives, and 2) explore concepts, themes, and topics that directly feed into my draft novel Spinning Heart, including themes, history, and changes in American society at the dawn of the 20th century: exploration of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, migration and settlement of new territory, and the changing roles and perspectives of women.

I hope you’ll enjoy both my new Alaska Billy Blog http://www.hansonalaska.com/alaska-billy-blog, and also my Instagram posts found here: https://www.instagram.com/bhfootloose (@bhfooltloose). I’ve added links to my most recent Instagram posts in the sidebar of www.hansonalaska.com. These are accessible to anyone, even if you don’t have an Instagram account. The downside is that you must click them one at a time rather than going to my account @bhfootloose to see all of my posts at once. You can only see the 9 most recent posts of my total of 130 and increasing. I’ve also added a sidebar section dedicated to 9 of my Instagram posts from my recent trekking adventures in Ladakh, India in what is commonly known as Kashmir.

How landscapes of our PAST shape our future lives

The Alaska Billy Blog uses family history to consider how the landscapes of our past shape our future lives. Born in 1881, only 5 years after Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn, my grandfather and namesake, William Otis Hanson (Billy Hanson), grew up in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie. At the age of 15, Billy left home to become a cowboy in Wyoming.

I’ll combine relics from Billy’s steamer trunk with memories of my grandpa’s ranch (called “The Billy” by neighbors) to link the society and history of life in the rural West from 1881 to 1964 to life in the present day.

Billy Hanson's travelling trunk
Billy Hanson’s travelling trunk. Tin over wood with reinforcing wooden slats across the sides and the rounded top.

I’m Bill Hanson (writing under my full name, William Arthur Hanson). The Alaska Billy Blog unites my desires to produce immediately readable work, interact with other writers and interested readers, and conduct research for my novels in an entertaining way.


Billy Hanson's traveling trunk
Billy Hanson’s traveling trunk. A  treasure trove from the early 20th century until 1964. Clothing, keys, letters, deeds, rifle cartridges, and many other mysterious objects fill this chest.

I’ll explore topics useful in writing my novel Spinning Heart, including themes, history, and changes in American society at the dawn of the 20th century: exploration of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, migration and settlement of new territory, and the changing roles and perspectives of women. At the same time, I’ll include thoughts about contemporary life, writing, and the relationship between landscapes in different parts of the world.



Go to the Alaska Billy Blog posts … or read more about the Alaska Billy Blog below:

William Otis Hanson – Billy Hanson

WA Hanson's grandpa, Billy brings Wyoming landscapes to an Alaskan's heart.
Grandpa Billy Hanson (left), Tom Petty (right). Six gun and lariat. Chaps. Alaskan writer William Arthur Hanson uses The Alaskan Billy Blog to bring life in early 20th century Wyoming into his Alaskan landscape novels.

The Alaska Billy Blog originates in my grandfather, Billy Hanson, but if these writings ended in a simple family history, they would serve little purpose. A family tree standing by itself without the context of the culture in which our predecessors lived is a barren landscape.

Rather than a family chronicle, I want to learn about the origins of my own heroes and dreams. True, I’ll learn about my family, and hopefully come to understand my fascination with the stories of fathers and sons. My name, William Arthur Hanson, is a combination of Billy’s first and last names, with the middle Arthur from my maternal grandfather (whose middle name in turn, was Wilhelm). And yet, Billy was not a blood relative of mine. He was my father’s stepfather, so we’re talking about nurture here, not nature.

Grandpa Billy Hanson with Bill Hanson. City kid home on the range. WY 1953
Grandpa Billy Hanson with Bill Hanson (Age 4,1957) with hereford cattle on the OH Bar Ranch, Wyoming. The city kid home on the range.

Despite our separate genes, I share a number of characteristics with Billy: my fascination with rocks and fossils, and my love of open spaces and wild places. Perhaps there are other shared interests as well. My father, Milt Hanson, found his first love of music listening to Billy’s records on the Victrola. Dad moved on to classical music in his own time, but I think that the universal presence of music in my life (encouraged by both my mother and my father) from birth until now can be traced back through the generations.

The Billy

Ranch House with neighbors' brands. Billy's OH Bar brand in low center.
O-H Bar Ranch House with neighbors’ brands. Billy’s OH Bar and WOH brands in center of lower frame, along with Betty Hanson’s Square and Compass brand. Painting by Dorothy Morse

There’s another Billy that looms out of my sense of myself. That would be ‘The Billy’, my grandfather’s ranch in the dry lands of eastern Wyoming. This is the first place that I can point to as a Place of My Own, a landscape that I had all to myself, a personal world in which to act out my dreams, explore and discover, to return to every year to explore again, recognize changes, and become part of.


Go to the Alaska Billy Blog