ALASKA! I still call it HOME even though it stopped feeling that way long ago. It’s where my mom lives…half the year. It’s where some of my best girlfriends (the ones who knew me when I was 12 and love me for it) raise their families and it’s the setting of many a hilarious adolescent “sneaking out in broad daylight..at 2am” story. Going back for the first time in 3 yrs got me feeling nostalgic. The smell of the Birch, Alder and WIllow when you step out of the new fancy airport put a huge smile on my face. Yes – this IS HOME! Even though I felt like a blind person trying to feel my way around town with a foggy memory, I refused to use my GPS app out of pure stubbornness and pride. I’m FROM here damnit! I really am! I even drove by my old high school (Go Malemutes!) and sneered at the rock painted ’93 from the recent reunion. Who knew I still had school spirit?
My trip was an awesome lovefest of quality time with good, old (not to be confused with good ol’) friends and their hilarious kids, trips down memory lane , and new adventures and connections. Mom made me clean the “shrine to my high school years” that was my old bedroom and is now her guest room. Found a Huey Lewis record (dating myself), a box of old notes and a list of “boys that had been to my house” made with Becky the friend Mom thought was the responsible one… And if you know Andre Colbert, I found a note that is serious blackmail.
But all that is only meaningful to about 5 people in the world, so on to the interesting stuff! After many years of begging, pleading and wooing every member of the Bast Family – I finally got to visit their Beaver Creek cabin. Me, my bff (and youngest Bast kid) Alicia, and Mom were flown by my hero, Dr Fred Bast, in his float plane (Piper Cub for those that care) to their cabin in the White Mountains – one of only two privately owned properties in the area, closest cabin is 8 miles down river. Its out there.
So Fred and his buddy Walt bought the cabin off Herman the German who Fred met when he first got to Fairbanks in the early 70’s and was looking for someone to teach him to fur trap so he could make a fur coat for his wife, the lovely Kathy (who upon receiving the beaver coat realized she hates furs). He was introduced to Herman who was living out in this cabin by himself, snow shoeing in from the Elliot Hwy and trapping all winter. The story goes that Herman’s brother back home met a pretty young woman on the Czech border who was looking to get out of dodge. He wrote Herman to ask if he wanted a wife and even though Herman thought he was getting along just fine without out – was convinced to come home to Germany and marry this one. So Herman and Marie were married, and he returned for her to follow a few months later. And she did. Alone. Speaking not one word of English. Picked up at the Fairbanks airport by a friend who then guided her out to the cabin, in the winter. At 40 below zero. When they arrived (by bush plane mind you on her FIRST time to this new country) they found the cabin, empty. Herman was out trapping. The friend guide made her a fire, wished her luck, and left. She waited THREE DAYS and he showed up. Can you imagine what was going through her mind? And what that first encounter must have been like. I’m kind of obsessed with this story..can you tell?
Fast forward they lived happily ever after. Turns out she was one tough cookie. They left that cabin when Herman developed Parkinson’s and by then a friendship was forged and he sold it to Fred and Walt.
But wait..there’s more! Herman has a nephew, Hans. He loves to hunt and that’s primarily what the Bast family and friends do at this cabin. Hunt Moose and Sheep (and Bear but I don’t like to think about that). Herman asked Fred if it was ok if Hans could come out and just tag along given his history with the cabin, and Fred of course said “Sure Hans, no problem”. And for the last 20+ years, Hans goes every year. He even helped build the NEW cabin and High Seat (where they scope game from). When I backpacked with Alicia (youngest daughter of this family and my bff) through Europe we went through Heidelberg, Germany and guess who we stayed with – Hans! I fully intend to see him on our EU leg of this upcoming round-the-world journey and tell him I have now been to his uncle Herman’s cabin.
Good story, right? Ok -picture time!
Flight from Seattle –> Fairbanks
Float Plan Ride to Beaver Creek Cabin: