You’ll Have to Ask Spike

I’ll be away for three weeks and I’ve decided to leave the porcupine in charge. He’s an industrious dude, perfectly capable of watching over the few posts that will appear here while I’m gone. Besides, if I don’t give him something to do, he’ll chew through everything in sight.

Seriously, this guy and his ilk live all around our cabin in Alaska, which is where we’re headed until mid-September. Stewart took this photo of him on the back porch last year, near one of his favorite chew toys — plywood. Anything made of plywood.

We were going to drive from the Bay Area to Alaska this year, but life and death intervened. I stayed home to help care for my beloved grandfather. He passed away on August 12, at the venerable age of 86. My mother, bless her, was determined that I wouldn’t miss my time in Alaska. After his memorial service, I caught a plane to Fairbanks, where Stewart was already gathering our food and supplies.

Today, a helicopter will deliver us, along with 1,500 pounds of stuff, to a spot way out on the taiga — far from towns and roads and other folks.

Then the helicopter will fly away.

Then everything will get very, very quiet — and we will finally be home.

Here is our front yard. In this direction, there’s nothing but wilderness for 900 miles. After that, you fall into the Bering Sea.

And this is what our front yard will look like at sunset in about two weeks. That’s how fast the colors turn from summer to fall.

On a clear day, this is what we see when we hike up the ridge behind our cabin. It’s the highest mountain peak in North America. Sometimes when I search the sky for the peak of Denali on a cloudy day, I become disoriented. I scan the horizon at the height where I’m used to seeing mountaintops. Then I remember to look up where I’d expect to see a jet plane flying. Seeing the top of a mountain way up there always makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. In a good way.

There’s an excellent river a few miles away from our place. It’s close to a glacier, too cold for any fish but the smallest grayling. I think of it as our playground. We hike down to the riverbank to check out all the tracks and scat — grizzly, moose, caribou, wolf, and lynx.

And of course there will be berries to pick. We’ll have wild blueberries, rosehips, and these lovely low-bush cranberries. Once again, I’ll try my hand at canning on our propane stove. Last year I made two little half-pints of rosehip butter, and it took me only three days to do it. Rosehips. A little bit of flesh, a whole lot of seeds. Sigh.

See ya mid-September. Until then, take it up with Spike.

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12 comments to You’ll Have to Ask Spike

  • Christina

    Enjoy your trip. It looks like it will be beautiful, and it sounds like the perfect trip to take at this very moment of your life. See you when you get back.

  • Anonymous

    Enjoy your time-sounds like the most wonderful way to end the summer. My oldest is in AK and has purchased some remote property. He will be @ his place getting ready by clearing a road from the river. I was in AK in July and despite the weather love it there. I look forward to spending more time there and re-locating ASAP. Keep up the blog-it's much enjoyed by all of us!

  • Denise | Chez Danisse

    Shae, Amazing! I don't even know what else to say. Wow. But now West Marin will not be enough to allow me to feel I've escaped for a while… Enjoy this time. Say hello to Spike for me.

  • Julia

    It's so amazing what you two do. I am impressed, in awe. Beautiful shots. And beautifully written, as always.

  • Cynthe B.

    Fabulous place to recoup!!

    Was going to see if you were home today. My hubby and I are headed to Marin county to visit his folks…and thought we'd stop by and exchange jams on our way through. Guess not. You're doing something SO much better! Enjoy.

  • Lourdes Cornelious

    All I can say is WOW. Have a wonderfull time. love spike.

  • Ann Nichols

    Oh so pretty! How exciting it will be in a very non exciting way! Thanks for sharing! I look forward to seeing more pictures!

  • Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven

    Christina: Thank you. It was a perfect trip. The only thing less than perfect was how short it felt. More time next year!

    Anonymous: I'm so glad you left a comment here, and I appreciate your kind words about the blog. Here's to more time in Alaska for both of us. :-)

    Denise: I think Spike may want to come and spend some time with you next time he's in the Bay Area.

    Jules, Jules: Thank you. Been missing my favorite blogs. Looking forward to catching up with you all.

    Tigress: Once again, the same back at ya. We've both had big trips!

    Cynthe: Next time, okay? I'm so glad you checked — and I've still got your marmalade!

    Lourdes: It was so wonderful. And Spike is quite excited to have his own fans.

    Ann: Yes, it's thrilling to be in that vast, quiet place. More pics coming soon!

  • Tate Peterson

    Do you have a link to info on making rosehip butter?

  • Gina Farr

    Technicolor landscapes and two wild rivers! LOVE your home away from home, Shae, oh my… And not surprised that your kitchen is as perfect as the food you make from it.

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