Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wilderness living in Alaska

My family and I have been living in the wilderness of Alaska for about five years now. Our cabin sits on a 50 foot bluff overlooking Kupreanoff Straits, a seven mile wide channel that runs between Kodiak Island and Raspberry Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Although I spent over thirty years in the little community of Kodiak (pop. +/-10,000), I knew the moment I set foot on our property that I was finally HOME!

When I can sit up in my bed in our half-loft bedroom and look out my living room windows to see whales and sea otter swimming by, and can sip my morning coffee while looking down at the bald eagles flying by, I know that there's nowhere in the world more beautiful. The quietness and serenity of being miles from another human being is so spiritually therapeutic that I can't imagine living anywhere else.

We are far beyond reach of any roads or power lines, so everything that you likely take for granted becomes a huge production for us...In order to have electricity we have had to get 55 gallon drums full of fuel loaded into our boat which we then take on the 2 1/2 hour or 40 minute boat ride home (depending on which boat we use). Then we have to run the boat up on the beach and drive down with our backhoe to lift the drums out of the boat and drive them up to camp. The drums are then set down and pumped, by hand, into the fuel tank of our 5kw Northern Lights generator.

To have running water we put 300 gal tanks under our main cabin and our bathhouse which, until recently, we've filled using our Honda pump. Then we wired in 12V RV pumps to push the water when needed. NOW, though, we've got ACTUAL running water!! Just last weekend my husband Stan ran a waterline up the side of Kupreanoff Mountain. The other end crosses camp and goes up the hill to my house with plenty of remaining head pressure to satisfy my needs in the kitchen as I cook for our guests.

In the very near future, our hydropower line will be operational and we will have unlimited/silent/"free" power and running water to every building. Stan and I have laid 1500 linear feet of 4" ABS pipe and are working on the final stages of completing the project. These are only two of the major issues we have to deal with in order to live where we do.

Just last week we had to rescue our 41 foot seiner (commercial salmon fishing boat) for the third time in five years. The anchor line chafed during some heavy winds one night and the boat blew up on the beach, yet again. Thankfully the weather was accommodating when we went after it but, like everything else in our life, we were subject to the whims of the tide and had to make our foray at 2:00 AM for the tide to be high enough for the boat to float. Whew!

Perhaps I'll post regular updates so that you can get the impression of what it's like to live off-grid in the wilderness of Alaska vicariously through me. But nothing beats the real thing, and if you'd like to see for yourself what it's like, visit www.alderwoodretreat.com for more information. Thanks for reading my very first blog ever !