My tent cabin on the Kvechak River

The Bush Life

The Bush Life
My old buddy "KAYAK"

Friday, October 31, 2014

Going back in time

 Hi everyone, the other day when we got the first snow, I sat at the table with a hot cup of tea and staring out the window, I started to think about my old caretaker days. I think they were the best times of my life. I was younger of course and it seems that I had real purpose in my life. As strange as it sounds, I enjoyed taking care of other peoples properties more than my own. I enjoyed the recognition I received from the owners of these lodges who at the time have $100,000s to a $million dollars invested in their properties.

  I remember my first lodge which was Painter Creek Lodge located 40 miles North of Pilot Point on the Alaska Peninsula in the mountains. I would be there for 8 months  mostly alone except when the rare visitor came to visit or check on me. I stayed in a one room cabin 14'x16' that wasn't very insulated and lots of cracks. In the Winter time that area was and still is noted for it's Winter winds which would effect 60 to 70 mile an hour winds which in turn effected wind chills to about -80 degrees. I had an old barrel stove to keep warm and cotton wood for heat. Cottonwood is the worst wood to use, it usually stays wet and I had to make stacks on each side of the stove to dry them out.  When they were somewhat dry they burned very hot.

  The woodstove would turn bright red and inside stack would turn white. That time in my life, it didn't really bother me because, it gave me bragging rights among other caretakers, LOL. In those days, I was only making $200 a month and I had to pay my own taxes out of that. I didn't care. I remember filling my day pack and taking off with snowshoes and walking all over the area taking photos of all kinds of wildlife. I have those photos today and will try to figure out how to get them transferred to my computer. I use to walk for miles and it wasn't very easy at the time.

  I remember how now and then the owner of Penn Air out of King Salmon would bring his son out for a weekend and we would go Moose hunting and when they came, they brought sweaters his wife knitted for me and a big tub of chocolate ice cream. What a treat.

  Five miles away there is a lake named Mother Goose Lake and on it's Northern shore is a volcano which had pockets of heated water and I used to hike over and sit in the heated water and it sure felt good. The only problem, I would get sweaty on my hike back. For water I had to shovel snow into a metal garbage and sit it beside the woodstove to melt. Painter creek was the only water source and it was 3 miles away and we had no snowmachine at the time.

  I spent five years there and the final year was when the original owner was killed in an airplane with 3 clients in it. I remember one day, I was starting my morning walk on the airstrip and there were 4 streams of light shining down on the runway and in that light was a Caribou with a beautiful massive set of antlers, it was my belief, that was Joe coming home. It still is today. Had Joe not been killed, I would still be there as the Winter caretaker.

  I thought it would be nice to share this with all of you. Joe is to the left of me in the picture with the airplane wearing a bandana around his neck.

                      R.I.P. Joe


Debbie Schreib said...

loved reading this.

John said...

Thanks Debbie, glad you like it

Anonymous said...

Hiya John I too loved reading this an getting a small glimpse into your life.I could detect this was a special time in your life.It sounded like a man's dream of a lifetime.Having a job doing what you enjoy is a rarity in this day.You must have been an excellent caretaker and seemed to have made good friends doing so.Looking forward to more reminiscing on your earlier years in Alaska, in the future...Stay warm and take care my friend...Bert from Bama

John said...

Thanks Bert, it brings back alot of memories, so, I plan to do more trips back in time.

KC said...

John, I am so glad that you decided on sharing some of your past, it is truly interesting. It shows how much a person can truly love nature by the way you lived.
I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather and snow!? It's getting to that time to get a pot of soup on the stove! KC

John said...

Thanks KC, that was THE most special time in my life. I would up and sell everything and go back there and caretake for free under new management. Soups, Stews and Casseroles, coming soon.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I truly enjoyed reading it. How sad about your friend.

John said...

Thanks Kimberly, and welcome. Hope you stop in now and then. It was a tragic loss.

simplyfree said...

Hi John, Thanks for sharing that wonderful part of your life with us. It helped me understand you wanting the remote life. That truly is living isn't it. Being one with nature. So sad to hear about Joe. How nice of them to bring knitted sweaters and chocolate ice cream. I am sure every time you eat chocolate ice cream you think back in time. Thanks again John I really enjoyed reading blog today!

John said...

Thanks Carol, glad you enjoyed this post. Even though it was a sad part of my life, it had more fond memories.

CottonLady said...

Hi John! I am back from my last trip of the year up to see my Mother (93) this year. I am hoping she stays well enough I don't have to make the 1,000 mile trip in Winter weather.

I really enjoyed reading this post and look forward to you maybe sharing more. Would love to hear more of what you did, ate, etc. when remote. Sorry your friend was killed, that sure changed you whole life, too, didn't it?

Take care...blessings!

John said...

Hi Cotton, welcome back, hope your mom is doing well. I'm glad you enjoy the posts and always glad to hear from you.