Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cabin and Land

We spent a lot of time at the cabin this trip.  We got a lot done and it's starting to shape up a little inside.

One of the first things we discovered upon entering it was that about a million bugs had gotten inside through some uncaulked gaps.  They all gravitated to the light coming in our two picture windows in the peak. They crawled up the window in desperation for a way outside.  There were so many of them it looked like a wave, a mass of movement travelling from bottom to top.  Constant movement, hoards of bugs, "swimming" en masse up the window. The Fisherman got up there to sweep them off,
but they just ended right back up there eventually. 

It took us a couple days to come up with the brilliant, but obvious, solution to the problem. We remembered the hand held "Dust Buster" that came in The Fisherman's cool battery operated power tool set, the very set that has built the cabin. We simply vacuumed them up.

We finished insulating the front wall - the one in the above photo - and a few miscellaneous other spots around the cabin.  We then installed the 6-inch tongue-and-groove boards the rest of the way around the cabin except for the half of a wall where we'll put a door and attach an addition for our bathroom. 

Overall, on this trip, we spent a lot of days just snacking for our meals.  Alaska is weird; it messes with your internal clock.  Because it's so light out so late, you get off schedule.  It's kind of neat, actually.  My watch broke about three days after I got there and it didn't even matter.  We had a lot of smoked salmon, some fruit, crackers, and chips.  We'd eat when we got hungry, often eating small portions a number of times in the day. After a few days of this, we'd get good and ready for a real meal. 

We planned one such meal for one of our first days at the cabin.  We planned our usual grilled meal which included a vegetable of some sort, rice and grilled salmon. We threw in some awesome "donut nectarines" and some pretzel crisps (flat pretzels), some bread, and were eager for our feast.

 Now, you have to understand what it's like for us when we're in Alaska.  We have no real normal place to call home.  We live in the van and now The Fisherman had new digs this year, our 7x12 trailer that we used for our 2006 kettle corn venture.  We have the cabin, but it's basically a construction site still.  We also have a truck up there now.  Our lives are generally in a kind of confusion and state of inconvenience and disorganization. Everything we had was spread out in one of four places. We had stuff in the van, the trailer, the truck, and the cabin.  We had been used to always having everything with us in the van.  But now some stuff was in The Fisherman's trailer home and sometimes we were driving the truck instead of the van.

We planned our nice big meal at the cabin, drove the truck out there, and realized we forgot to bring butter.  And utensils.

Hm.  With what shall I chop the onion, dear?

Never fear, honey, you can use a carpenter's blade.
You'll need to take it out of the handle, though,
because we don't want the handle to get all oniony
and leave the scent of food inside the cabin...bears, you know.

So, that's what I did.  I chopped a whole onion with a carpenter's blade. 
I thought it was worth a photo.

OK, I promised you
The Fisherman's Awesome Salmon Recipe

Take a nice big sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil.
Lay your salmon fillet(s) out on it, skin side down.
Spread some softened butter or margarine over the top of the fillet(s).
Sprinkle generously with McCormick Season-All (what we call "the red stuff")
Sprinkle medium-ly with McCormick's California Style Garlic.
Absolutely smother it all that with Kraft Parmesan Cheese.  I mean smother it!
Absolutely smother all that with chopped onions.
Close up the foil in a loose-secure fashion, with a couple very small vent holes.
(There will be a LOT of juices produced so you want it to vent but you don't want it to leak, nor do you want the Parmesan to stick to the foil. That's why we put the onions on last, too.)

Place the foil packet on the grill and cook for about 20-30 minutes,
or until your peeking at it tells you it's done to your liking.

It's yummy!

We bought some furniture for the cabin.  A couch, love seat, and small recliner.  We also bought a beautiful caribou hide which we'll either put on the wall or hang over the upstairs railing
...when we get an upstairs railing.

You are now looking at.....

...exactly one half of our cabin.

Yep, it's tiny.  16 x 20 to be exact.  
The Fisherman calls it "cozy". 

("Calm."  "Cozy."  I'm starting to see a trend here.)

Someday we'll see just how "cozy" it is when we actually venture to winter up there, as is our plan.  Someday...  We'll see how "cozy" we feel when we're tripping over ourselves, and each other, with cabin fever and only 6 hours of daylight per day.
I'm game to try, but I just might go stir crazy!  :-)

On to other aspects of our Cabin and Land.

Here's some shots of how autumn settles in on our property.

Once the bright fuchsia colored Fireweed blooms fall off, only the stalks and leaves are left.  They soon turn red and dazzle hillsides, meadows, and river banks with their own bright beauty that rivals their blooms. 

Fireweed are stalks with flowers that start blooming at the bottom of their heads and, as their season progresses, bloom their way up to the top. Just this year I learned that "when the fireweed blooms hit the top, winter is six weeks away."  Our friends expected an early winter because the fireweed had bloomed out so early this year.

Here's some fireweed leaves next to our wood pile.  Every one of those logs was once part of a tree that The Fisherman had to cut down to carve out a road and a clearing for our cabin.

Some more hues of autumn setting in.

As per usual, we saw new bear tracks.

On this year's second visit to our property, we left the vehicle halfway up the road and walked in the rest of the way because we'd had so much rain and we didn't trust one particular spot of road.   When we got to the top of the hill, I smelled something like a stinky wet dog.  It smelled just like the stinky (but sweet) sled dogs we'd seen at the kennel the week before.  The Fisherman said it was probably the High Bush Cranberry. When it starts to die off for winter, it really stinks.

But we'd also heard that bears really stink, too.  We were a little nervous, thinking we might have just scared a bear away on our walk up the hill.  We kept talking and making noise, the standard advice when walking in bear country.  You sure don't want to surprise a bear; that usually ends in an attack, or at least a threatening false charge...followed, I'm sure, by a human fainting episode after the bear has gone!

When we got to the cabin, we saw that we'd had a visitor.  It's not real easy to see in this photo but there are dirty swipe marks on our door, made by wet bear paws.  Yikes!

We always take every bit of food with us when we leave the cabin and we are careful to not spill anything outside.  Bears can smell food from a half a mile or more away, I was once told by a Game Warden.  Unoccupied cabins often get torn into by hungry bears, so we're extra careful.

It turns out that we think the stinky smell was the High Bush Cranberry bushes after all.  On subsequent visits to the property we were assaulted with wafts of that same smell, which I had by then read described in the newspaper as "a stinky wet smell".  That's it alright.  So, while we had bear tracks on the ground and bear swipes on the door, I was glad to conclude we hadn't nearly had a bear encounter in our tracks on that earlier day.

Next post...the latest segment of the eternal road saga.


  1. Oh my gosh, your posts are fascinating Judi! SO much adventure!
    So excited for you & Rusty.
    Will you have internet when you brave a winter in Alaska? Or will you plan to post in town?

  2. Yes! I can't live without the internet these days! The electricity co-op may actually be working on bringing in power to our property this very moment. We ordered it before we left in Sept. If winter bogs them down, they'll finish in the spring, after the thaw. We're hoping that satelite TV will also provide us with the internet. Research on the docket for this winter to hopefully have things in place for next summer. I might be up there the whole summer next year!

  3. So, basically, we'll be better equipped with electricity in Alaska than we are in Arizona. Our solar in AZ meets our needs just fine, but what I call "real electricity" or "convenient electricity" will be a luxury! That is, until the bill comes. Water situation in Alaska will be a step backwards, though, at least for some time.