Our little log cabin.

What We Do in McCarthy

~ by Maria Benner

We bought property in McCarthy, Alaska 13 years ago, and built a log cabin on it.  We love spending time at the cabin, but the problem is that it’s 6.5 – 8 hours of driving to get there, depending on road construction and the condition of the 60-mile, mostly unpaved McCarthy Road.  So it’s not really an ideal weekend destination, and when we come here, we usually try to stay for about two weeks.  People often ask us what we do in McCarthy.  So we explain that we’re self employed; Scott is an artist, and I’m the business & marketing manager for our art business.  Now that we have access to LTE, we can work from our cabin.  Scott has a small studio in the little shack that we originally built as a place to stay warm and dry while we worked on the cabin.  I work on my laptop, and can use the Personal Hotspot feature on my iPhone to connect my laptop to the Internet.  When we first came here we had no cell phone service at all, so technology has come a long way since 2005, and now allows us to work while we’re here.

So this is how a typical day in McCarthy goes.  We drink coffee in the morning while checking e-mail, and catching up on the news and social media.  After breakfast Scott works in the studio painting commissions, or Thirsty Thursday beer paintings, or new pieces for an upcoming art show.  I work in the cabin on my laptop promoting Scott’s art, booking future art shows, working on grants and 1% for Art applications, and managing the business.  After lunch we usually work on cabin and property improvement tasks such as building a wood shed, improving the driveway, framing windows, tiling the kitchen counters, etc.  In the evenings we go for walks, burn brush in the big fire-pit, or play ping pong on the new table Scott made for his birthday, or we’ll bike or ride the 2 miles to McCarthy for a party, or to hear a band at the Golden Saloon, or at the Potato.  On weekends we try to go on an adventure like searching for an ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier, hiking up to an abandoned mine, or biking to Nizina River.

This afternoon we did some Real Art Is Better work in the morning, and then walked to town to visit a friend at the museum, and to buy a few items at the store.  Now Scott is painting while I’m writing this blog post.  Tonight we’ll probably stay home and play Yahtzee, or burn some more brush, which is never-ending around here.  We’re here for a couple more days, and our goals are to dig a deep hole for a French drain for our kitchen sink, to finish leveling the bumps in the driveway, and to cut down and cut up a couple dead trees.  The list of projects is never-ending!

During my first few trips to McCarthy I met people who had lifestyles that allowed them to spend long periods of time here, and I wanted to change things in my life so that I could also come here for longer than just a three-day weekend.  So we both quit our jobs, and started our art business, and I credit McCarthy for motivating me to change my life.  We’re still not completely location-independent, since we lease studio space in Anchorage, and have to mail orders ourselves, but we get enough time here to justify the time and money we spent on building our cabin here.

The Solstice party in McCarthy.

The Solstice party in McCarthy.

An ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier.

An ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier.

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