Sylvia returns, Norman insulates the remote cabin

a pile of firewood

Plenty of firewood

Sunday, November 1, 1981—Sylvia called. It’s been a while since we talked over the phone.

Monday, November 2, 1981—Sylvia called to give me her plane arrival time.

Tuesday, November 3, 1981—went to Anchorage to pick up Sylvia. James went along and Jeff stopped at the lodge to visit.

Wednesday, November 4, 1981—we got some shopping done before we went out to Nelchina. The road was slippery all the way home.

Friday, November 6, 1981—cut up stove wood, built two dog houses, Rusty and I took the pickup to the wood lot and got one load. It’s a nice day this morning, -5°.

Saturday, November 7, 1981—cut and hauled a load of wood, split and stacked it, some other chores too. Of course, I’ve got the dogs to take care of every day. Went to Tolsona Lodge for the Polack party. They Monday,

November 16, 1981—it was -25°. Got up early and loaded the gear and the snowmobile on the truck and drove to the Eleven-Mile Trail on the Lake Louise Road. Jackie and Ken came twice and Jackie drove their truck back to her home.

We unloaded my truck and trailer at Jan’s on Lake Louise Road. Ken and I then drove the snow machines and sleds to the end of the seismic trail, which was about six miles. Then we broke out our own trail to my cabin. We hung up a few times, especially on one steep hill. It was a heck of a time to get up to the top of that. It was getting towards dark and I felt the pressure of finding the cabin. I go in the general direction that I think the cabin is. Ken was breaking trail for me and I was pulling a real heavy load on my sled behind the machine. We broke out into a more open place and I recognized it and knew exactly where the cabin was. I tried to holler at Ken to catch his attention. He got to be about a hundred yards away from me before he stopped and I waved him over and pointed towards where the cabin would be and he started breaking trail in that direction. We got there just as it was getting dark.

Sure glad to have plenty of wood split an the cabin up. We were so grateful to have hot water to make coffee, get warm and I had Chili to thaw out so we could have something to eat. We were very hungry. We ate the first batch of chili. I could tell Ken was really hungry yet and I could use some more. The next package of chili filled us up. He thought it was a really nice cabin. The evening temperature was running -12° to -15°. Did a few things in the cabin and built a trap carrier for the snow machine. Today was a pretty day and it also had kind of a rainbow in the sky. Very unusual.

Tuesday, November 17, 1981—it was -10°. After breakfast, we got ready and I went with Ken halfway to the end of the seismic trail to make sure he got headed out on the trail with no problems. We said our good-byes and he went out to the road. His wife was to pick him up and take him home. I headed back to the cabin. When I got to the upper end of Blue Lake, I set two marten traps and I got a ptarmigan for supper.

Wednesday, November 18, 1981—Rested all day.

Thursday, November 19, 1981—it was -18° when I woke up and it was cloudy with some ice fog. I found I was really stiff and sore today. I got a slow start. I got out on the trapline and made an otter set and some fox and marten sets south and west of Blue Lake. Saw a few ptarmigan tracks and rabbit tracks but no spruce hens. Nothing much near here, only moose and caribou tracks and some marten and fox. Went hunting for bait, didn’t get anything. Ice fog setting in this evening and it’s -15° tonight. I could see the seismic trail from a high hill west of Blue Lake. I must tell Ken that would make a landmark to follow. Not enough snow for good snowmobiling, it’s really rough.

Friday, November 20, 1981—it was -20°. Slept late, need the rest. Lots of frost in the snowmobile gas, I suppose because of the foggy nights. Broke another trap trail to the north, then east, then south, then back home. Set four marten and otter. No fox bait with me. Saw fox and marten tracks and some caribou, otter and moose. Saw a beautiful small lake today. It was really nice out there. It’s -15° at dark. Fixed supper, read and rested. The Coleman lantern lights the cabin in the evening and I cook on the airtight stove. (A type of wood burning stove.) It’s a medium sized airtight. It’s a really nice stove for a remote cabin like this. I’ve got a big firewood pile that I put up last spring just before snow left. I’ll do that again this coming spring so that I’ll have dry wood to use through the winter.

Saturday, November 21, 1981—it got warmer. I made a short trail. There are no fresh tracks of any kind, so I put up insulation in the ceiling of the cabin. It only took 2 ½ hours, but it sure made a difference in the wood it takes to keep the cabin warm. I sharpened my knives here at the cabin too. It’s -10° this evening.

Sunday, November 22, 1981—it was -10° in the morning and 0° at noon. Very bright and sunny, no wind. Measured the ice on the cabin lake. It’s 13 inches with 4 inches of snow on top. I made two sets on the ridge back of the cabin. No new game or fur tracks anywhere. It was really nice all day, but it looks like snow clouds 20-30 miles to the north by east, I can see some really nice peaks from in the higher ridges. This country right through here has little high places. When you get up on them, it’s about 2700 elevation and often times, you get a real nice view. It helps keep track of where you are in the country too, once you learn what it looks like. The cabin stays lots warmer now and heats with less wood since I insulated the ceiling. It’s -10° this evening.

Monday, November 23, 1981—it’s 5° above zero with a light dust of snow falling overnight. It was 8° at noon. I ran both lines today—no fur. Did see a cow and calf moose though. It seems to be much warmer. There is a lot of overflow and water that comes up through the ice and soaks the snow. Plan to go out to the road tomorrow.

 

Sylvia returns to Alaska and she and Norman build a Greenhouse

Aerial image of farm in Motley

Wilkins farm in Motley from high above.

March 5 to May 10, 1980—Norman goes outside to Minnesota to take care of business with the farm in Minnesota. Sylvia returns with him to Alaska and they busy themselves with springtime projects.

Monday, May 26, 1980—started building the greenhouse. I got it framed up. It’s very small. It’s 8 feet square and 8 feet tall.

Tuesday, May 27, 1980—worked on the frame of the greenhouse again most of the day and went on a wrecker service call with Henry.

Wednesday, May 28, 1980—worked some more on the greenhouse. Leo Ogilvy and Mike both stopped to visit. Helped Henry this evening.

Thursday, May 29, 1980—put clear fiberglass paneling and some plywood on the lower parts of the greenhouse. Then I went to Dave’s for a birthday party in the evening.

Friday, May 30, 1980—slept late, put the door on the greenhouse and did some other work on it. Mike stopped by. It’s been quite windy most of the day and a light shower this evening.

Saturday, May 31, 1980—had to build benches in the greenhouse. We had a shower last night and half inch of snow and ice-like hail this afternoon.

Sunday, June 1, 1980—worked on the greenhouse and visited Lucky and Mary Beaudoin. Mike and Lynette stopped and Mike and I went shopping in a couple of the local dumps. That’s always fun—sometimes you find something you really need.