Q&A With Kate and Andy
Q: Can you describe your life before Alaska?
Kate: My life before Alaska was also a wonderful adventure, but totally polar opposite to the life I live now. The only things I miss are my family, friends, and high heel shoes.
Q: What do you think would most surprise people about your lifestyle?
Andy: It is very comfortable. We work physically, but we have a very high quality of life. For me, quality of life is measured by how much free time you have to pursue your interests. Isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be? Two years after I moved to Eagle, I visited my family in Silver Spring, Maryland. My dad introduced me to his friend, “This is my youngest son Andy, who lives in the Alaska bush and is retired.” I was only 25 or 26 years old at the time. We always chuckled at that. Later, he came and witnessed firsthand my life, and the retirement thing seemed to slip away.
Kate:People are most surprised by the fact that I am not afraid of being alone in the bush. Quite the contrary, I am very comfortable.
Q: Have you always been an outdoor person? Was there a particular experience you had that spurred you into this lifestyle?
Andy: Growing up in suburban Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C., I spent all of my time outside. I just loved to be in the woods. It always felt natural and I was always at peace there. My parents were also instrumental in getting me involved in Scouting and later in a father-son club my dad organized with some co-workers. We would meet twice a month at one of the member’s homes and they would teach us a skill or an activity that they were good at. Then every year on Father’s Day, 7-15 father/son pairs would pack up and spend a week on a group camping trip. That was one of the most valuable experiences growing up, and great exposure to many types of experiences.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you during the winter?
Andy: That very much depends on the time of winter; our dogs are the main focus of my time and energy in the winter. Early on, we focus on getting them in shape and trapping, though not as much as I did when [they were] younger. Otherwise, I’m busy with basic chores like getting wood, collecting water from the Yukon under the ice, and keeping trails open. Living off the grid with wind and solar power also requires a daily routine of checking power consumption and ensuring the batteries are performing well and maintained. I always have a long list of projects I want to accomplish, so there is never time to just sit around for me. That said, Kate and I like to spend the mornings in bed with coffee and tea just chatting, and evenings are our time together.
Q: How do you keep yourselves entertained when weather keeps you cut off from “civilization.”?
Kate: This is our civilization. The rest is merely outside. It is peaceful during the freeze-up in the fall and break-up in the spring of the Yukon River ice, knowing you can't travel. Extremely zen.
Q: What is the scariest moment you’ve had out alone in the winter?
Andy: I have had a few very close calls with death. Most recently, I fell through the ice at the mouth of a small river and was almost swept away by the current under the ice. The dogs were on top and unintentionally were pinning me to the bottom of the river. I had bad dreams for a long time after that, and still get clammy when I think of how close I was to not making it.
Q: What is your proudest moment?
Andy: I am pretty humble, but I think the best experience I have ever had was my years alone trapping with the dogs. I went three months without seeing anyone; it was just me and the dogs and the wilderness. I never felt lonely and never felt scared, it just seemed right for me. I experienced very pure thought and no compromise in my life. I was living day-to-day with just my dogs for companionship, and we became very close. We were so in tune with each other they would do things without me giving commands.
What would you say your biggest daily/weekly challenge is during the winter?
Kate: Sometimes it is hard to get motivated to do my mundane daily chores. Sounds like life anywhere, does it not!?
Q: Tells us about your dogs: how many do you have?
Andy: Currently, we have 25 dogs. A few are retired or close to it.
Q: Do they all have names?
Andy: Of course they do! Having 25 dogs is like running a daycare center for 2-year-olds; they are very similar in behavior. Each time we have a litter of pups, we choose a theme to name each pup from that litter by. It helps us keep track of who is related to whom, and of course choosing funny names is a lot of fun.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
Andy: Yes, but we really love them all. I think for me the favorite changes from time to time depending on what I am doing and how they are behaving. Some dogs tune in to you better than others, so those tend to become favorites. Each has a very distinct personality, just like kids.
Q: Do you think of them as family, or more like employees?
Andy: Our dogs are working pets. They are all very well trained and all come inside to spend time with us one on one. We tend to spoil the dogs at times, but I really like having a close bond with the dogs. I ask a lot from them and in return they are treated very well.
What do you hope viewers will take away from watching you on this show?
Kate: I would like viewers to see that life in the bush for a woman is a wonderful life, not a hardship. If I inspire one woman to come over to the wild side, I will be delighted.
If you could choose any other place in the world to live, where would it be and why?
Kate: I have thought about that, and for me there is nowhere else in this world I would rather be. I will be a part of this land for as long as I live and beyond. It frightens me to think otherwise.
Andy: As Dorothy once said, “There is no place like home.” I have no desire to live anywhere else. This is where I belong.
I can imagine he is a lot worse off camera than on....if you cant hold back your anger in front of the world god knows what you're like off.....As far as hearing how tough life and how frustrating it can be up there...thats NO excuse..Andy you're embarrassing you and your wife. Half of the problems you encounter in your everyday life are cause YOU(Andy) didn't think situations through. I enjoy the program..I tend to fast forward through Andy and Kates segments.
The most amazing thing about this this couple surviving in the wilderness is how such an ill tempered fellow manages to keep such a beautiful good natured lady at his side.
I think that Andy and Kate's relationship is a highly personal thing. Those who don't agree with their dynamics really should keep their opinions to themselves; it's none of their business and it's not their life.
I have watched every show of this series to date. I now know I am only one of MANY, MANY viewers who can't stand how ANDY treats his wife KATE. Looking at ALL of the Comments on here, 95% of the People Feel the SAME way. ANDY has a PROBLEM. KATE has a Problem. This is an ABUSIVE Relationship! Serious Therapy seems warented. For the people here who try to 'Defend' ANDY...maybe these people have been in/through ABUSIVE Relationships like this and can SEE Clearly there are REAL issues here. I hope and PRAY that KATE wakes up and GETS Help or Gets OUT before her life is over and she has nothing but regrets. ABUSE is ABUSE, no matter how much you try to Hide/sugar-coat/Deny/Justify/pretend it is all OK. Funny how simple -Viewers...can SEE a Serious Problem with these two people,,,and the People -ANDY/KATE...can't see how bad their problems are. SAD, very SAD. STOP making EXCUSES KATE!!! Wake up and RESPECT Yourself...because your Husband does NOT Respect You!!! He seems only in it for His NEEDS & DESIRES. Please...stop throwing your life way.
I don't know why so many people on here don't like Andy. I think he and Kate are great! Sure he has a temper and I'm sure the show is edited to show him losing his temper more often than he does in reality. What no one on here has ever sworn before? This is what happens when you fix everything yourself and don't pay other people to do your work for you, it gets frustrating when things don't work out. In their case it could mean life and death if it doesn't so to me it's understandable when he gets mad. He might yell at Kate, but he always is apologizing and he must treat her well most of the time because she seems like a smart woman and she's still with him!!
I do admire the will people have to live there but Andy should look at Sue in Kavik who is doing it pretty much on her own with some help from her new helper. She has a more upbeat way to deal with problems and not take them out on others. It is clear there is lot of love between Andy & Katie but I still cringe when his ego gets the best of him. Swearing is understandable but anger management should be Andy' s next appointment when he goes back to MD to visit.. Katie, you gotta love a hard working man but a good man would value how special it is to have the love of your woman even if she does not have the muscle you need. If you need muscle do what Sue did and hire extra muscle help. There is no excuse for his temper.
Whats the story with the black eyes Andy? Kate teach you to shut your mouth? The show would be better off with out Andy!!! Don't know why the sponsers have not already insisted he be taken off the show.
Sure a lot of Andy bashing. I have to say that he blows a lot of steam and actually I have seen a lot worse. I think that they pretty much balance each other out and depend on each other a lot. More power to the both of you..don't judge unless you stand in their shoes. Kate you and Andy keep on going on...
Andy you are so skilled- just the perfect man to be married to out there- but you need to quit yelling at your wife. One of these days she's going to say "enough"..... Every episode has you screaming at her, makes you want to mute your segments.
I was so glad to read the comments about Andy. He really is just an overgrown kid who is also a bully not capable of taking responsibility for his own actions. Sometimes I feel sorry for Kate. He was probably so jealous and controlling of anything she did in DC that he moved her to Alaska where he didn't have to worry about how he behaved or treated her. He should be grateful that she puts up with him, but I doubt Kate would ever leave him. Andy definitely abuses her emotionally, I just hop he never gets physical. You can still be arrested in Alaska for domestic violence can't you?
I am going to stop watching this show until he is gone. I don't appreciate his total disrespect for his wife. That is not the message I want to send to my children. This show is being blocked for now! If he is gone next season i will consider watching it again.
Kate is the only friend he has in the world. On the show I have never any friends come over. He is a abuser and act like a little mad boy. Andy needs help.
Andy is so disrespectful to Kate. Makes me cringe. Then to see him blaming not only Kate, but her daughter as well was disgusting. He admitted to not knowing what he was doing when setting the net for the first time, and yet when things didn't work he blamed the women. I will no longer be watching this show as I can't stand to see Andy blame his own failings on others. What he shows by mistreating Kate is how little he likes himself. So immature.
I will stop watching soon of they do not get rid of Andy.He is mentally ill and an abuser.A man who can only put up a front for a very short time.I have no desire to listen to him curse and swear and abuse his wife.Why is he still on there. I know why he is in Alaska.Anywhere in civilization and he would be ostracized or in jail.He's crazy and needs an anger management course.
Andy is not nice at all ! If he would talk to me the way he talks to his wife I would accidentally push him over board !
Andy is not a nice man at all ! If he would talk to me the way he does his wife I would accidentally push him over board !
Kate!! I cannot wait for the episode to show you and Andy. I feel I Know you already, Kate!! Where did you live before Alaska? Was it NY? And you met Andy on a ??? trip to Alaska for ???
Was it like/love/hate at first site? I would really like to get to know you better than I think I already know you. lol :)
Andy's temper is understandable at times. When you're trying to fix things & it doesn't go right most people swear & get upset. But, I do not like how he takes it out on his wife. I work & live w/ my husband 24/7 our business it hands on in the elements. When things break as they do often sometimes several in a day he never yells at me. He might yell but it's directed at the object. Andy needs to control his anger towards his wife.
Hello i love the Show but i think Andy is a abusive and i think national geographic should
get Andy some Help before Kate Shoots him !!
Buy Accident whoops ;-)
Andy is a Aubsive Wife Beater
I think national geographic should do a bit better in Checking out the People before they
put them on the Show...... the next time i visit alaska i stop buy and Bicth Slap Andy
After watching "The Mess of Success" I couldn't take it any longer...evidently many commenters here are also weary of Andy's childish behavior. Reading some of the commenters here trying to justify Andy's demeaning outbursts due to the "harsh" environment is truly pitiful. When Andy blamed Kate for pulling on the string which brought the framing down on the greenhouse, I felt I had to comment. You could easily see the framing start to fall before Kate got her hands on the string & then Andy go into his typical tantrum-like rage. When anything breaks or goes haywire, Andy is quick to blame something & if poor Kate is nearby, she will bear the brunt of it.
As some here have said...Kate should speak up for herself & give him some of the same. I don't know if Kate has tried that before & it makes things worse or what but as far as I'm concerned, she is a real angel. I think she realizes that for the most part, Andy is a good guy at heart & a loving partner. Obviously, his angry outbursts are in no way related to love. Qualities I must admire about Andy are that he is a very hard worker, not lazy, loves his dogs, & a great provider for Kate...I just wish he would give her the respect she deserves as his wife. I don't know if they have Wi-Fi access & can read these comments or not, but I love the show & can relate to the conditions as I lived in Kodiak for 2 years.
I love your life, I want to live the life !! look forward to watching , wont miss a show. I want to be there and work the new green house :)
I think the only hardship on Kate is her husband Andy. He sure doesn't know how to give instructions, and is very rude and foul mouthed to Kate when she doesn't do things the way Andy wants. (Because of his POOR INSTRUCTIONS.) Seem like a questionable relationship.
Andy, why do you do so much cussing.You treat Kate like a dog sometimes. There no excuse that you did that in front of an Alaska State trooper, they'ed wold chage your with verberal abuse. Joe
I hope to move to Alaska soon, But being from Fl there are many things that frighten me about it. I cant seem to shake the want to be there though. So im making plans. Hope to make my first visit in February and maybe check out some property while im there.
At 77 this month, I am enjoying all these stories. You two are fascinating to watch how you live and survive in the far north country.
I think she is very brave i have all ways wanted to go to Alaska but i am too chicken scared of bears and the cold weather but the atmosphere is divine i watch the show every time it comes on very interesting try not to miss an episode.
Love Life Below Zero, I have learned much from the show. My bucket list includes visit Alaska someday.
I have to say I am not too fond of your angry outbursts Andy, then to say "sorry" and all is ok. But if that is what Kate wants to endure, more power to her!
Where did Kate and Andy meet? Why cant' the dogs be fenced in instead of chained all their lives? Thanks
I thoroughly enjoy your segment of "Life Below Zero"....yours and Kavik are really educational as you learn about the various ways of survival in each type of life. I LOVE the way you treat your dogs (as I am an avid animal lover)....my animals are also "my children". As far as comments about moving your home, etc., I am sure not every year is a fearsome one as this one shown on the series....as you stated, previously you suffered the "sunami" (sp?) of spring thaws.....just because in the lower states we suffer one flood it does not mean we pick up and move.....maybe just once in a lifetime event. At any rate, keep up your segment of the show.....I really do love it. Maybe you could show how you train people to run dogs and sleds on one segment...that would be great! I haven't ridden in a dog sled since I was a child living in Alaska.....Yea Kate! Hang in there girl!
Just finished watching this show for the first time and really enjoyed it. I noticed that one of your dogs was named Stolte (I believe that is what I saw as it was only on the screen a brief second). I was wondering how you decided on that name. My mother's maiden name was Stolte.
WIll continue watching this show as I find it fascinating!
Robert Gold your old classmate from Kennedy H/S. Allen told me about your program and it's good to see that you haven't changed much in 35 years. As we say here in the Washington metro area, "When the rat race is over, it just proves one thing.......You are a RAT!" Congrats to you and Kate from Not being rats.
Please look me up if and when you get back to Silver Spring. Allen and I would love to try your beer and talk about the old days.
Best to you and Kate,
Kate and Andy I have so enjoyed your story. You are two amazing creatures. I cherish witnessing how you two make it work in AK. TG this year's melt did not destroy your home. I too left Washington DC for a better life in CO and just recently came off my mountaintop after 16 years. I miss my critters and land as what is happening in Boulder is a little scary. Arrgh, the people!!! Best of luck to you and I hope this is not the end of us getting to share your journey. Kate I am a wild woman like you, having left the high heels and make-up behind for a soul driven life in CO. GOOD-LUCK!
Apologies for the tripple post. The site was trying to make me create a new account so it posted each attempt.
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching kate and andy. I really truly hope there is a next season. I am so hooked on this show and sharing their life.
Without opinions, reality shows wouldn't exist. When you see a red flag warning, you can either put your head in the sand or stand up & be counted...as for me I prefer the latter.
"I don't know why so many people on here don't like Andy"...because he's a pr*ck, that's why...pretty simple really.
Just because you have seen a lot worse doesn't vindicate Andy when he treats Kate as a common laborer, a hired hand if you will. As someone else has stated...it's obvious why Andy moved to Alaska, he's very unsociable & controlling..it's his way or the highway...Kate puts up with his crap because of reasons we'll never understand.
@Vicki Alberts I DVR the program and actually skip through all parts with this couple. I can't stand listening to him berate his lovely wife. Shame on him
@Michael Solstice they probably feel sorry for you and your life too. I don't think they are asking for anyone to feel sorry for them. They seem perfectly happy. She's a smart woman, I'm sure if he didn't treat her well most of the time she wouldn't put up with it.
@Elaine Kist Yep keep em in a plastic bubble that'll help! It's a "reality" show and I say it like that because I'm sure it's edited to show him getting mad more often than he really does. She's a smart woman, if he didn't treat her well most of the time I'm sure she would leave him!
@Kent Thalacker He comes off as a brat throwing a tantrum.
It's OK for someone to feel sorry for another's life whether they ask for it or not, especially on a reality show Brian. When Andy is berating & bullying Kate, do they seem "perfectly happy to you?"...yeah that's what I thought!! More than likely, Kate has never had a quality man in her life to show her respect & appreciation as a helpmate through both the good & bad times.