"There is no noise here unless you create it," Aikens said. "For me, I tell people out here, your mind is allowed to flow horizontally."
Justin Breen joins DNAinfo Radio to chat about Susan Aikens and her show "Life Below Zero:"
Aikens, who grew up in Chicago's northwest suburbs, has lived in Alaska for more than 30 years and at Kavik — a base for up to 83 hunters, ecotourists or scientists — for the last eight. Kavik has an airstrip — the only way in and out of the camp — and the closest road is more than 80 miles away.
"But it doesn't matter where I go, I'm still a Chicagoan at heart," Aikens said Wednesday via Internet phone. "And my goal is to provide a unique and twisted bed and breakfast."
For most of the year, Aikens, 50, is alone with the exception of TV crews and the wildlife around her, including the several foxes she's befriended. There also are 80-some grizzly bears in the camp's vicinity, and one nearly killed Aikens after attacking her and leaving her for dead seven years ago.
"Life Below Zero" debuted last year, and the latest episode of season two airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel. This season, which was filmed in August, already has shown Aikens killing a grizzly and a pair of caribou. She uses the animals' protein to survive the extreme winter, when temperatures can drop to minus-60 degrees.
"I still have some of the meat left, and I'm soon going to be making another batch of jerky with it," Aikens said. "I don't limit myself on what I eat. ... I eat what I want and how I want."
Aikens still wears an old blue Cubs shirt — a gift from a nephew — she's had for years and does her best to see the North Siders on the Internet. She also checks out the NFL's Bears and enjoys trash-talking with Green Bay Packers fans on her Facebook page.
"If you're a real Chicagoan — doesn't matter where you go — you're not a real Chicagoan unless you're a Bears and a Cubs fan," Aikens said. "Whenever I can catch a game, I'm like, 'Yay!' "
Aikens has never minded solitude. When she was a child and people asked her what she wanted to be when she was older, her response was always a lighthouse keeper. Aikens said there's never a boring day in Kavik, and she loves cracking herself up.
"I have absolutely no problems keeping myself entertained," she said. "And I'm extremely curious and challenge-driven."
Aikens, who has a son, daughter and three grandchildren, hasn't been to the Chicago area since the 1990s, when her grandfather died. Aikens' last significant amount of time in the city was in 1976.
But she still has fondness for the area.
"When people ask me what's the best thing about Chicago, No. 1 is the food because you can never go wrong with a Chicago dog or an Italian beef sandwich," Aikens said. "And No. 2 is the museums, which, as a kid, sparked my imagination.
"Chicago's got a hell of a lot to be proud of, the Chicago I grew up with" she added. "I'm guessing it's a very different Chicago now. I'm hoping there's still a lot of pride in the city."
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