Jan Stafford Kellis

Frontier Vacation

I’m on vacation with my family right now, in the temperate rain forest of the Alaskan frontier. We’re visiting my aunt and uncle and witnessing their day-to-day lives, learning about their plumbing and electrical systems (there are 2 and 3, respectively) and gaining a greater appreciation for indoor plumbing and hot showers (we have hot showers here, but they require more effort than the one we’re used to). It’s a fabulous vacation from society, and a great place to learn about supporting oneself via gardening, fishing and trapping (crabs) and relying less on stores and other people.

My aunt’s place is comprised of several buildings: the Main Lodge where eating and sleeping takes place, the Powder Room, the Commissary where the refrigerator and some equipment is stored, the Workshop where my uncle does his woodworking and the Power Shed where the battery bank and freezer are situated. There’s also a garden of generous proportion ready to provide enough vegetables to feed all of us, and enough to can and prepare for the coming winter.

Did I mention the meals? We’ve enjoyed gourmet meals for dinner every evening: marinated salmon cooked on the grill; halibut served with cream sauce; tossed salads, garden potatoes, brown rice, homemade biscuits and jam, French toast. The offerings here rival any self-respecting high-end restaurant and at least 75% of the ingredients for each meal originated on the property or in the sea out front.

Since we arrived three days ago my husband has fished twice and brought home enough fish to see them through a month of winter meals. What a fabulous, mentally restful and physically tiring retreat!  I haven’t been here in 29 years–hopefully I’ll return before another 29 pass.