Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Access, Part One

By Alaska standards, our cabin is not remote. It is about 70 miles from Juneau and only 20 miles from the small town of Haines. That is no great distance if there is a road. But travel to our rural spot involves some combination of truck, small plane on wheels or floats, snowmachine, sled, trailer, three wheeler, ferry, jet boat and lake boat. Our touch down point after leaving Juneau might be the Haines ferry terminal, the Haines airport, the gravel runway a half mile from the lake or the lake itself. How we get there depends on the season and conditions and also how much time or money we have.

Back when we both had jobs, Dave had a float plane. He bought it in 1987 and we used it to travel all over Alaska, Canada and Montana. When we bought the land at Chilkat Lake, we only seemed to want to go there. The plane became a perfect commuter, hauling freight and the family from the Juneau airport to the dock in front of the cabin.

Landing at the Juneau Airport

Float plane at the dock

A plane with new floats and all the latest upgrades increases in value over 17 years and is prohibitively expensive to insure. We were flying around in an uninsured investment and had used up our available construction funds building the little cabin and the shop. So in 2004 we sold the float plane and bought a wheel plane for one third the price. That left us with money to build the house.

Now when we fly to the lake, we must land in Haines on a paved runway or land on a gravel strip close to the lake. Landing at the airport gets us 50 miles closer but to actually set foot on our cabin site, we need to drive 20 miles by truck, launch our jet boat from its trailer, go upstream a very short but treacherous quarter mile on the Tsirku River, which gets us to an outlet creek which leads to the lake. It is then about six miles in to our cabin.

This option requires that we have a truck staged at the airport, the jet boat on the correct side of the river and, hopefully, some recent report about what the river is doing. The Tsirku is shallow and silty, fast running and changeable. The route into the creek has a very narrow blind corner and last year there were two collisions. Fortunately no one was injured and out of 4 boats, only one engine was lost. Boat engines frequently "suck rocks" if the water gets too shallow, and that stops the motor, causing the boat to go downstream immediately. Last year there were at least three boats that were swamped when this happened. Again, no one was hurt but the winter episode led to a lost boat and three men in a freezing river on a 20 degree day. Rescuers got to them in time, but one guy was 89 degrees when he was found. A very close call.

Usually, of course, nothing like this happens. The motor starts, the correct place to launch is determined and the chosen course through the river is the right one. No big deal, boom, you are in the creek.

Looking upstream on the Tsirku
Clear Creek When we are at the cabin for more than 10 days or so, this is how we travel to Haines to replenish groceries and fuel. Down the lake, down the creek, down the river, hop in the truck and drive down the highway.

It isn't wilderness and it isn't that far but it isn't easy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time at the Cabin

Two weeks at the cabin have kept me away from the computer and the blog. I spent some quality time with a paintbrush, however, transforming floors and doors and window trim. I rowed around a little when the wind wasn't fierce, read some books and made some knitted hats. Ray played with gunpowder and Dave built a trailer for his three wheeler.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Judy's Scarf

This scarf was for my friend, Judy. The pattern is Alison's Scarf by Annie Modesitt. The scarf was made from Rowan Cashsoft DK.

My friend, Patty, supplied me with books, music and yarn while I was in Puerto Vallarta. I made her an Annie Modesitt scarf, too. Patty's is Backyard Leaves, which is in the book "Scarf Style", which I made with a plum colored alpaca. I forgot to photograph that one.

Finished Projects

I wasn't writing on the blog for a few months, but I did do some knitting.

I made this sweater for my niece while we were still in Mexico. The pattern is Boo from I used local yarn and made some adjustments in the pattern to accommodate the different gauge but otherwise I pretty much followed the instructions.

Odessa with beads
Odessa without beads

Another Odessa
Grumperina hat

And I made a few hats, Odessa times three and another one inspired by Grumperina. The three hats with beads were made from Rowan Cashsoft DK. The bright green hat without beads was made from Mexican yarn.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's Good To Be Home

We rented out our house for a year, June 1 to June 1. Last summer was spent at the cabin and in August, we moved to Puerto Vallarta. We lived in two different apartments during our 8 months down there and since our return to Juneau in April, we have been housesitting.

So, finally, we are back in our house. It is a practical place, a townhouse with a small yard, oil heat and a two car garage. It is next to a tame little park with a duck pond. But after living out of boxes, with clothes piled on other people's dressers, it feels real good to be home again and unpacked.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Cabin

About five years ago, a man with a cabin for sale invited us for a weekend stay at his place in the hopes that we might want it. We ended up buying some property just down the lakeshore a week later and Dave was felling trees before the title was clear.

This is our third building. We started out in a tent until our little cabin was built. The next year we built a 24 x 24 foot shop. After spending that summer up on ladders and a very steep roof cutting rafters that were not quite the size they were supposed to be, we were happy to find a builder who was willing to build the shell of our "cabin". We may have gotten a little carried away. It seems to be a house.

Last summer we did the exterior finish work and started in on the interior. The biggest milestone of 2005 was completing the bathroom with flush toilet and a hot shower. Yippee!

On Tuesday we moved into the kitchen. Stove, refrigerator, sink and cabinets - it is all progress. The corner base cabinet is missing and the countertop is plywood for now. There is still work to be done. It is a fun project and a pretty place.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Uhh...Hello Again

It seems like a time to resume blogging. I sort of missed it. A few people, who I didn't know even read the blog, told me they missed it and that they liked it. And I liked most of it, too, most of the time. So I will try again with an attitude of letting it be what it is, and trying not to take it too seriously.

I am home now in Juneau, here since April. It is a foggy, rainy place but there is a glacier down the street and glorious mountains waiting to loom out when the clouds part. It is good to be home, for all of us. Tomorrow we will go to our cabin at Chilkat Lake for three days. We will spend a good part of the summer up there. Lucky me.