Van Life: How the Zink family copes as they homeschool their children


Most Alaska families are suffering through a cold and isolated winter in Alaska, where they are homeschooling their children as best they can, while working two jobs and waiting for schools to reopen.

Parents report to authorities in Anchorage of the horrible depression and anxiety their children are suffering from during the Covid era, where many students are just now returning to school, but cannot see their friends through the face masks they all must wear for the entire day.

Some of these experiences are documented in a public meeting that was censored by YouTube, but is now available on the MustReadAlaska Rumble page.

Must Read Alaska has posted this video on Rumble after it was censored by YouTube.

But that’s not Dr. Anne Zink’s family. The Zink family has a Sprinter van that they outfitted and took off in November on a road trip, heading for Southern California, where the kids are learning to surf and rock climb, while completing their school work. Dad is evidently the chaperone for the adventure, while Mom Zink returned home to Alaska.

Zink is Alaska’s chief medical officer for the Department of Health and Social Services and is the key adviser to the governor on matters of Covid mitigation and control.

The adventure in “Van Life” high school are chronicled at the Four Alaskans blog, where apparently the family got the van across the Canadian border by telling guards that they were going through Canada to complete their education. (Pro tip: This may not work for average Alaskans; check before you head for the border with your van.)

The blog is the picture of privilege. While, Dr. Zink is remaining at home to keep the lid on Covid in Alaska, the family is on the adventure of a lifetime, with the teens taking over the writing and posting on the family travel blog.

Dr. Anne Zink has an active Twitter page to communicate Covid updates.

They have posted about surfing, climbing and exploring the Southwest.

Zink, meanwhile, was featured in a recent Washington Post story about vaccine distribution in the wild north:

Read The Washington Post story here.

Living the gypsy life might be an option for other Alaskans to adopt as they try to cope with the uncertainties of school closures and limited activities for their children. But most Alaskans have jobs that require them to stay in Alaska. This lifestyle is a rare privilege.

For most who adopt van life, it means giving up a lot of their worldly possessions. For others, it’s just a temporary adventure. Read more about van life at the blog


  1. Another example of how this Covid cluster F impacts elites differently than working people. Not impressed with her or her grand adventure. I have family living on the coast of California and they were restricted from beaches. I have friends in mountain towns in California and those communities were literally asking people to stay away and not tax the limited local health facilities.

    Then there is Canada where non-essential travel is prohibited.

    This Covid event has certainly proven there is “Us & Them” in this world.

    Just another tone deaf elitist. She is an embarrassment. She should just move back to California.

  2. She tore up our state with fascist health mandates and her family drove off into the sunset to warm & sunny California…seems pretty obnoxious to me.

  3. Time for the Governor to stop this hypocrisy and remove Zink from her position! How can anyone take Her seriously again.

  4. Anyone here know what Zink’s salary is? Are surfboards and rock climbing gear perks in her contract with the state? Bet the family doesn’t live full-time in the van on pork and beans.

    • Kids eat peanut butter sandwiches. Husband drinks Corona. There you have it. A combination of welfare and government socialism, courtesy of Alaska, run through the back of a van, in sunny California.

  5. Another ” mandates are for thee, not me” hypocrite! Dunleavy should terminate her. How can anyone trust anything that comes out of her mouth after reading this?

  6. My only question is, getting across the Canadian Border in their van. We have been wanting a road trip to visit family in the lower 48 for some time, however we’re told the border is closed for all but a few “essential” reasons. In fact, it’s our understanding you can’t even go across the border to get the ferry in Haines even if you don’t linger in Canada. So which is it? Open or closed? Or open if you make up a false story? Closed if your honest? Some of this maybe is about Canada customs, I don’t know. Everything else, is the Zinks exercising their freedom to travel. And that’s fine. I’m happy they can do what they are doing!

  7. LMAO. Nice hit piece on the Dr who did a lot to save the people in Alaska from much of the devastation others experienced with COVID. Too bad the Governor has been hiding behind her rather than out front leading the way.

    • And who is going to save us from all the corporate media and establishment-led hair-on-fire hysteria and gross overreaction to this very mild pandemic, hysteria and overreaction that is literally destroying FAR more lives than all those overreactive and draconic measures are supposedly saving?
      This corporate media and established-produced hysteria will go down in history as one of the great, if not the greatest, mass hysterias and collective insanities of history.

  8. I don’t hold this against her personally, she’s using the resources she has and is making the best of a tough situation. Yes, it’s tone deaf, and politically unsavvy.

    But it also serves to highlight the outrageously high prices we are all paying for health care in Alaska, and especially the Mat-Su. She can pull just a couple shifts a week as an ER doc, and support the rest of the family on their adventures. Health insurance rates continue to climb through the roof, and our school district’s and local governments’ budgets are being stretched to the limit all over health insurance. Well, think about where the money is going and why the costs are so high next time you have a trip to the ER, and you get that astronomical bill.

    Yes, doctors are entitled to fair compensation for their work. But something is off here.

  9. Even the Zink doesn’t want to place her children in the crappy Alaska Public schools hahaha
    If Alaska leaders and managers were smarter none of their children will attend a public school here. This income level of parents will either be homeschoolers or enrolled private schoolers. By Golly! these parents will being about School Choice vouchers real quick!

  10. I hold nothing against Zink- she serves at the pleasure of the Governor. He is the one we elected to take her advice, and the advice of his other advisors, or leave it. And largely, I don’t have a lot to argue with the way the governor handled it. I have MANY issues with Anchorage. But the Gov, and Zink, for that matter, had nothing to do with that. The people of Anchorage were asleep at the wheel, and allowed for corrupt voting practices, and (surprise) got a bunch of corrupt commie dictators, who then acted like.. well, a bunch of corrupt commie dictators…but then the people went screaming to the gov to bail them out. Local control. First class city. Take the good with the bad. You have more autonomy than any other muni in the state. With great power comes great responsibility—you all dropped the ball over the last 6-7 years and let this city’s leadership become what it is. Time to get involved and show some resolve. Now is your chance; take back your city. No Governor is going to do that for you- and if you ever got one who would, you’d just be trading these nine tyrants for one.

  11. Ok, how is it possible that she can cross the border when we can’t? I’m 69 and home schooling too. I guess rules are made only for some.

    • Andy,
      Have you tried?And ask yourself, how many mothers would give up there chance to be with there kids.You dont think her responsibilties didn’t come with some severe sacrifices?
      Susanne,you do the hardworking/sacrificing women of the world a GREAT disservice.AND YOU KNOW THAT.

  12. Privileged? Sounds like they’re making the best of a crappy situation. Why the ongoing stream of criticism? She has worked hard and her family is reaping the benefits. Isn’t that what living in America is all about?

  13. Your article on Dr. Zink’s family is offensive. I don’t know what Dr. Zink’s husband does for a living but he is taking care of his family in a manner that best benefits their marriage and their family. That they may have greater resources than most young families, that he may be able to work remotely does not make it “white privilege” just because they are able to home school on the road instead of in their Anchorage home. They chose a different schooling plan than most Alaskans, and they are entitled to be smart in how they do that. I don’t see anything in their story that says “white privilege”. What I do see are two adults with children who are embracing the home-school option instead of complaining about it. Yes, I know that many Alaskan families can not manage this, but the Zink’s are not the “few who can” manage this. As a single parent with two small children and a full time job outside the home, I took advantage of the Anchorage School District’s offerings for children who are home schooled. We lived paycheck to paycheck but we collectively put our children first and there were plenty of sacrifices to go around. There was no “white privilege” in our home, just hard working children and parents who were committed to giving their children the best education possible. This type of learning plan is available throughout the school district and has been so for years. You just have to apply and put together lesson plans and follow through It is a privilege to receive an education, but it is not a “white privilege”. It is a privilege for all Alaskans. And it is a privilege for all Americans.

    • And I, Jamilia, take offense at your feigned offense, as well as at your contrived and desperate defense of an obviously arrogant and hypocritical bureaucrat.

      PS: Nobody here has used the phrase “white privilege” except you. Reread the article, this time with your brain in ‘drive’ instead of in ‘neutral’.

  14. Dr Zink worked extremely hard to become a Doctor. Any money she receives in compensation, Dr Zink earned it.
    Good for them on their out of the box solution.
    My daughter have their kids in private schools. They are paying for my grandkids education in addition to paying for other’s education through property taxes. Not receiving ANYTHING from ASD. Therefore their school tax money is padding the school district budget.
    No the unspoken question here is WHY has ASD ( or other school districts) been shut down, where as school districts and private schools all around ASD, have been operating all school year?

  15. Anyone pushing mRNA injections should have their license revoked. They know these lead to 100% death in animal studies when exposed later to the viruses designed to protect from.

  16. Clearly everyone commenting here agrees that Alaska schools do a terrible job by any measure, especially as measured by standardized tests. Yet the $1.6 billion the state spends on K-12 is untouchable (and those of us living in organized municipalities pay additional amounts). No one dares to even talk about reducing the amount, even where student populations are falling. Alaska has statutory “hold-harmless” provisions just as all of us take a haircut on our PFD so that people who obtain both a PFD and food stamps are “held harmless.” I would bet that the Zink offspring test above average, likely way above average, and I cannot blame anyone who chooses to keep their children away from Alaska public schools.

  17. I have nothing against Anne for having the ability to treat her family to a wonderful family vacation. What I have a problem with, is her doing so while creating policies that put Alaskans on the edge of financial disaster. I also have a problem with the state’s chief medical officer aiding her family in crossing a local international border on false pretenses.They were not entering Canada for school, but for an extended vacation as tourists and they documented their path. Many of the places they visited along the west coast of the United States have been in total lockdown during their entire visit. If you can’t see the double standard then you are an idiot or blinded by your own love affair with Alaska’s Dr. Gupta.

    All state officials, especially the ones making emergency declarations, should be expected to live the way their policies force most Alaskans to live; regardless of their means. If they can’t do that, then you’ll excuse me if people are upset.

    Frankly, every single state employee should have taken somewhere between a 30-80% income cut from March-May of last year and then had it slowly return to something less than before, like the majority of Alaskans. How dare they draw a full salary while sitting at home, being half as productive or not working at all. Same goes for teachers. The double standard and lack of any fairness is outrageous.

    If Anne had been working hard to keep Alaskans employed, rather than quarantined, most people would have no problem with her trip. If she were an advocate for reason and liberty, an advocate for maintaining a healthy economy while protecting our seniors, that would be different. But no, she is flaunting the fact that she make whatever draconian policy she wants and it doesn’t apply to her. She will even ignore our neighbor country’s laws and then ignore west coast lockdown orders to make sure her family has a good time.

    If she wanted the same for all Alaskans, that would be great. But she doesn’t. Alaska was not the beacon of freedom in the face of unreasonable fear that South Dakota and Florida have been.

    Oh and cry me a river that she had to return home early to work while the rest of her family remains on extended holiday. She does work full time for the state after all. Going to work isn’t a sacrifice, it is her job.

    This is a prime example of policy makers creating policy for the rest of us that frankly doesn’t apply to them. Her family decided to boast about it online. It is relevant and it is disgusting. Anne should resign or be fired, but she won’t because Dunleavy has no spine. I never want to hear from her again. Time for her moment of fame to end.

    • I’m afraid I see the situation much differently. I don’t know Dr. Zink but I am sure she could do much better if she worked entirely as her M.D. allows and did not work at all for government. I know of a young woman who works 3 days a week as an M.D. and pulls down $320K. Look what Al Gross made! So send your children and grandchildren to medical school. So far as state employees working from home, the Commissioner of Administration testified a few days ago she has about 70 state employees working from homes not in AK! You can look at Senate Finance Committee archives to see that (hear it anyway, she was not there in person). Finally, there is an entire department devoted to getting people to work. Just like ADF&G is tasked with stopping resource development, DH&SS handles food stamps and the like and therefore is tasked with helping people not work. Have a DH&SS official assigned to keep Alaskans employed would confuse everyone. We do need much smaller government in Alaska, but Dr. Zink did her job very well during this pandemic sent us by China and there is no doubt at all that she saved lives.

  18. Thank you for this story.

    Yes, medical doctors make a lot more than average Americans and they always have. It is due to supply and demand. This is a core principle of our capitalistic system.

    I am guessing that Dr. Zink could make much more money than she currently does. Every Alaskan indicator as far as COVID goes is above and beyond the rest of the country, often the very best in the nation. In business, when data drives salary you are paid more. Lucky for us, we pay her state wages instead of her true value.

  19. Yep! Our own Gavin Newsom, or Mayor Adler of Austin, TX, (urging people to stay home, while in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico).
    I do not care how much doctors make and Dr. Zink made a choice to stick with her government job. The argument that she sacrificed financially is irrelevant. She set the policy and interpretation of science for all Alaskans. We can argue if she drank some of the Kool-aid hype, but for this discussion that is also irrelevant. She made the rules and then she ignored her own rules! Just like many politician these days, she feels above the rules and entitled to special treatment.

  20. Wow. A new low for MRAK. I know jealousy when I see it.

    Throw the good Doctor and her family out there and let them be devoured by vicious MRAK readers. Nice.

  21. I was told by the Canadian border authority that I could only drive through to the Lower 48 and back if I had work and my residence at my destination.

    I had work, but Canada didn’t think it was important enough. I had my own house, but that didn’t matter since I also have a house in Alaska. Short story: We were not allowed to drive and had to fly + find a car to use.

    Education was not a qualifying reason to drive. So, why was this a satisfactory reason for the Zink family? So irritating.

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