In 2001, I traveled from Valdez, Alaska to McCarthy, Alaska to take a week long writing workshop at the Wrangell Mountains Center. That week of writing in the Wrangells changed my life. I knew I very much wanted to be able to spend more time in this beautiful location. For many years, I attended this summer writing workshop and really felt it energized me–gave me creative food for thought for the rest of the year.
In 2009, we had the amazing opportunity to buy a little cabin there. Since then, we have been spending our spring breaks and as much of our summers as possible in this quirky little town at the end of the road. To get to McCarthy from Anchorage, you must drive more than 300 miles with the last 60 miles being a dirt road that was once a railroad track. This time of year it is an ice road in many places.
Its spring break this week, so my family headed to McCarthy.
Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that part of the reason I began this blog adventure was to improve my computer literacy. One of goals for this year was to be techy.
When we are out in McCarthy, Alaska, I have, until now, refused to get a cell phone and/or communicate on the internet. For me, part of the beauty about being in rural Alaska is the chance to check out of urban life–to live in the woods. I like that and have been very reluctant to give it up.
Last summer, the tiny town of McCarthy got a huge cell phone tower or something like that. I don’t know the exact details, but I do know that anyone who wants internet out here now, just needs to pay a fee–its like being in an airport or a hotel. For twenty-five dollars, I can now have internet in McCarthy for the week. Walt signed us up. This means he gets to check on KU basketball and the KC Chiefs drafting decisions, and I get to write my first ever from the woods blog post.
We got here on Saturday afternoon. Friends had made trail to our porch and started a fire in our stove, so moving in was easy. Unlike previous spring breaks when temperatures were below zero more than they were above, this break has been full of warm weather and sunshine–using the outhouse is not so bad in this weather!
To get to McCarthy, you must cross a footbridge over the Kennecott River or buy a bridge pass to use the private vehicle bridge.We do not have a bridge pass, so we haul water and food on a big orange sled in the winter. In the summer, we use a bicycle cart.
McCarthy is off the grid which means individuals must generate their own power for lights and sewing machines. Over the last few years, we have worked to improve our off the grid power situation and now have enough power for me to run a sewing machine and an iron with power from the sun. I must say that I have limited iron usage in the winter because we have limited sun. The summer time is a different story.
Our place in McCarthy is a 1920s gold miner’s cabin. It is 600 square feet with an upstairs bedroom (not for tall folks) and storage area. This means my sewing space is located in our living room.
Thanks to the Sustainable Arts Foundation, I received an award to build a small studio in our garage. We have installed the solar power and purchased the building supplies. Now Walt just needs to find the time to build it.
While we have been out here, I have managed to work on several projects. My goal was to complete two sweaters, two half-finished quilt tops, and two bags for the Surface Design Conference in June. I now realize that was just a tad too ambitious. This is a reoccurring theme in my life.
While I didn’t get it all done, I had a very good time trying.
In full disclosure, I must say that I am making this post from the comfort of our Anchorage home. I foolishly forgot the electronic device that allows me to download photos onto my ipad. So this is really my first ALMOST post from McCarthy. I did the writing in McCarthy and uploaded the post from Anchorage. This coming summer, I plan to make many posts from the woods.
I’d love to hear about your spring break adventures–where you traveled and what you stitched.
As I do every weekend–I’m sharing this post on Nina Marie’s Blog. Check it out. It’s a great way to see what other fiber artists are doing.
Good job, Maria!
Thank you Lila!
WOW! What an awesome adventure you are have had and will have!
wonderful… almost like being there. Really like the iron on the stove top!
is the 2nd annual quilt workshop scheduled?
Beth- the next Creative Cloth workshop will be held July 19th-24th at the Wrangell Mountains Center. I will be writing more about it soon. I hope you can come!
Good show Maria:) ..and Walt’s facial hair looks good too!
George- I’m glad you like it. It was good to see you out there!
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Maria- I loved your post- and loved your life in isolated McCarthy- art filled and intentionally simple. I have a mountain-simple studio too, though I have already learned from yours. I love the solar power and your irons!
Thank you. I do feel a bit shy about showing just how simple my space is in MXY, but it works!
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