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Fireweed Summer in Haines, Alaska

Epilobium angustifolium…not a “Three Stooges” quote, but a complex name for a simple plant – Fireweed. The edible leaves of this wildflower rejuvenate rapidly after a fire. Flowers bloom from the bottom and signify the end of summer when they reach the top.

So…we are are half-way through our Camp Host tour. More accurately, we serve as “Glacier Viewing Hosts,” since our 35 primitive campsites rarely house more than 10 campers nightly. We appreciate the rough road which discourages RV’s from flocking here.

How has this exodus into the remote changed us thus far, being without comforts, friends or routines?

I would rather fish than shower and do not bring beer along. I’d rather chat with strangers about the beauty of nature than listen to politics. I almost get aroused when spotting a sink with running water. I’m going fishing at four o’clock tomorrow morning, two-hours prior to high tide, instead of getting on the internet.

Jack the dog would rather dunk his head underwater in search of rocks and logs, than bark at the mail carrier, whom I am sure he has forgotten about. He chases squirrels instead of cats. He almost comes when we call. He does not pass gas nearly as much as he used to, but has had two bouts of the runs thanks to treasures he consumes along the shore.

Mare would rather stay in the cabin and greet world travelers with an enthusiastic welcome, than wash her hair. She spends hours taking photos of the same type of tree, or flower or rock formation often testing Jack’s and my patience. Mare rejoices at the promise of new outhouses coming soon, and reminds Jack and I to stay in the present moment. 

We have a day off to explore the Mosquito Lake area, where those single-rocket choppers live-up to the lake’s name. The crisp air in the woods invites a picnic. Eat fast…the hoards of helicopters soon find us within their radar. I do some fishing. Jack chases some rocks and logs. Mare sits on the tailgate watching us with a smile.

Excitement back at the cabin…here come the new outhouses!

These 50,000 pound behemoths cost $50,000 apiece. They travel by barge from Oregon. A cast of cement they are…from floors to walls and formed “shake” rooftops. Everything is made from cement except for the doors and plastic vent pipes. Bouncing down a rustic road, a crane lifts the human waste collectors and precisely places them on top of a cement tank. The crane operator lets her down slowly, careful to drop the weight on a seal of tar atop the tank, meant to keep odors from escaping.

We sit on the deck. Visitors are gone and outhouses in place. We enjoy a nightcap in the midnight sunlight of eleven o’clock. Jack snores at our feet…we enjoy the moment and do not worry about summer’s end.

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ah, love the contrasts, Revel in your Haines life, just today, And tomorrow. And each day as it comes.

    July 26, 2011
    • Hey, tomorrow we will sip exotic tea, seeped in a wonderful flask that arrived in the mail from a good friend. Thanks. Ron

      July 27, 2011
  2. Ma & Pa #

    Sounds like paradise!!

    July 27, 2011
  3. Tammy Hardy #

    I love the read but Marilynn you are taking some absolutely awesome photo’s . Maybe you can give me lessons on our next visit. Miss you–your life looks so peaceful.

    July 27, 2011
  4. Pat #

    $50,000 for an outhouse?? They must be a lot nicer than those we had to use when we worked in the Oregon berry fields, Marilynn. . . . And congratulations, Ron, on your continuing success fishing. John will be glad to know his gear is getting a good workout.

    July 27, 2011
  5. martiwrites #

    Geez, MItchell — I am truly enjoying your blog. The simplicity, the photos, the rhythm … it puts me right THERE. Looking forward to the next one.

    July 28, 2011
    • Thanks for your kind words, Marti. We have fun…and Pat, I’ve thought about sleeping in those new outhouses before somebody uses them. Tammy, Mare is really delving in to reflections and frames….Thanks for your comments you guys., Ron

      July 28, 2011
  6. Leone Inabnit #

    i love to have some camping once and a while because it is exciting.*

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    December 2, 2012

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