Part of the charm of a “get away from it all” cabin is in the getting there. I’ve learned to leave early because even though the drive is only about 90 minutes, and even though I’ve done that drive maybe a thousand times, I still find myself pulling over to enjoy the views along the highway. Finally I pull through the gates of the camp where we have been graciously allowed to park and drive down to the water’s edge where I unload my car before driving it back up to the parking area. A short hike – maybe a half mile at the most – and I’m at my front door where I collect the oars and go down to put the boat into the water.
Besides my feet, the primary mode of transportation
The first trip of each season I always struggle to stay on task! I want to linger on the deck and drink in the fresh air and listen for the loons. I want to paddle around to my favorite spots in the afternoon sun.
But I have gear that must be removed from the camp’s beach to my own property and when I bring my cat, he must be collected asap! So off I go.
Some grunting and sweating over loading the gear and sometimes wet feet in the process of landing and taking off at the camp end (their dock is fenced off for safety except when they have a lifeguard on duty) and finally I’m heading back across the lake.
At my dock, I unload and tie up and then begins the real work of hauling everything up a very steep little hill to the cabin itself. Coolers and bottled drinks sometimes get left in the shade until the next day!
Chitters the Cat is always a bit nervous at first, but quickly relaxes and begins to enjoy the freedom of Cabin life. He has his own set of stories that I will have to share!
Mr Chitters surveys his domain
The first chore once we’ve arrived – before unpacking, before fixing dinner, before anything – is to haul out the deck chairs, arrange camera and binoculars so they are close at hand, and take a break!
The loons sometimes pop up right off my stern when I'm rowing my boat
My parents and I are rarely at the Cabin at the same time anymore, so Mom left a notebook up there for us to exchange notes about the birds we had seen. They have a number of bird books that they consult on a daily basis, but since they take them back to Kenai with them when they leave, and since I somehow never invested in any of my own, the notebook was in danger of being one sided. I can only identify the obvious like the trumpeter swans that stopped by one afternoon (VERY exciting!) or the stellar jays and camp robbers (aka grey jays). So my notebook entries quickly evolved into general observations about life around the Cabin.
My human neighbors are busy and sometimes a little noisy, though as a price for the privacy we enjoy I really can’t complain. My wild neighbors are noisy in their own way, but the noise fits somehow. A cow moose crashing through the underbrush, while startling on a quiet evening, is less jarring than the buzz of the four-wheelers across the lake. We have a family of loons that have become regulars, much to my delight. In years past we had red-necked grebes, also entertaining. We have a couple of families of muskrats, but the beavers left for greener pastures some years ago. Dad has seen weasels, rabbits (or more properly, “hares”) abound, and a neighbor a few miles down the highway shot a photo of a lynx crossing her driveway. We’ve heard coyotes singing and seen dall sheep on the hillside beyond the end of the lake (with the spotting scope), and once Dad woke us all up after a late night trip to the outhouse and we all tramped out to see a little boreal owl hooting softly on a branch above the trail. As a kid I named the resident squirrel “Deckster” since he spent so much time looking for scraps on our deck. I am sure I left out a few, but you get the idea. Lots of neighbors, and lots of stories.
Dad's macabre decoration has grown on me!
The location of the Cabin makes it an ideal jumping off place for Dad’s hunting trips. To the best of my knowledge he has never actually shot anything larger than a rabbit on any of these excursions (though he did get a small black bear and a dall sheep on other hunts). This skull was found high up in the mountains behind the Cabin and was packed out with no small effort by him and two of his friends sometime in the late 1990’s. It probably weighs 20 lbs or more! He was going to leave it after realizing how heavy it was, but his friend insisted that they could manage it. I went hunting with him as a teenager and I can attest to the difficulty of the terrain up there. Adding an unwieldy 20lb rack and skull to the top of my pack would have been out of the question! As a result, I have come to appreciate it, not only as a decoration, but as a testament to … determination? Luckily it doesn’t act as a deterrent for my (living) moose neighbors!
Welcome to my blog about Alaska and my Cabin and my retirement dreams!
This is where I wish I was sitting right now! I hoped to get up there once this winter, but events are stacking up in my way as always. June can’t come soon enough! My little cabin was built sometime in the 1950’s by a woman and her two sons. It is tiny at 13′ square, but a bigger one is coming soon. For now it is purely a recreational cabin with an old cast-iron wood stove for heat and no running water or power. My dream cabin will be about 20’x24′ and will have more conveniences as I plan to retire there eventually.
My hope for this blog is that I will attract some readers who can not only enjoy my journey vicariously but can possibly give me construction advice as I go along. Although I will have to hire a contractor for the heavy stuff like creating a septic system and framing and roofing, I hope to do as much finish work as I can manage on my own.
So I welcome and encourage any comments as long as you are patient with me!
Thanks for joining me.