Tag Archives: Log cabin in Alaska

It Takes Two

Maria’s cousin and her two sons have been visiting from Germany, and I have been doing a lot more work by myself, since they arrived about two weeks ago, while Maria and her Mom have been focusing on hosting. They’re taking a long holiday, visiting Alaska and the Southwest U.S. for two and a half weeks. First off, I was solo in McCarthy building the roof on Maria’s mom’s new cabin. I also finished a commissioned painting while I was awaiting their arrival. The new cabin is not too big, a 16x20ft log structure with a sleeping loft for overflow guests. It sure would have been nice to have the extra space when we had everyone visiting for a couple of nights last week! Before Maria left McCarthy to meet her relatives in Anchorage, we got all the log work done and installed the sleeping loft platform on the new cabin. I was forced to take the tarp down that had been protecting the building site from rain. The house had grown too tall to work under the tarp anymore. It is now the rainy season, which was worrying me, since I didn’t want the plywood and OSB flooring to take water damage. I successfully made and installed all the trusses and most of the metal roofing before the guests arrived. Of course it was raining. Maria had her cousin’s strong young sons help her bring out the large French door. When they arrived, we carried it to the site, and it was ready to install. The next day Maria and her guests went on a glacier hike and spent the afternoon in Kennecott. I was really worried about the lack of ridge-cap and spent the day putting it, and the last sheets of metal in place. I was also able to wiggle the huge door into place, and secure it to the log walls. When the crew got back from exploring the valley they helped me put the large window in. It sure is nice to have more than two hands to lift heavy stuff!

Mama Klava approves of her new cabin so far!

We all drove to Anchorage the next day, stopping off at the Klutina River to nab two Sockeye salmon. That weekend Maria and her guests flew around Denali, and then took a glacier cruise out of Whittier. I started catching up on work in the studio, and took down my art show at Dos Manos Gallery. We had an amazing dinner at Seven Glaciers restaurant at the top of Alyeska Resort. After resting up the next day, we went shopping for souvenirs downtown, and got all the guests packed up for their flight to Las Vegas. En-route to the airport, we had an amazing sushi boat dinner. Maria flew to Vegas the next morning, and I have been holding down the fort here in Anchorage while the Benner crew sees Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce National Parks, Sedona, and Mexico. They will have seen five National Parks when they are completely done!
Maria does a lot of work for the business. She makes, packages, and mails all the Etsy orders. She manages the business and home finances. She does half the house cleaning, she does a lot of the kitchen work, and makes sure I don’t mess up and miss out on stuff I should be taking care of. When Maria is gone, I have more freedom to do what I want, when I want, but the workload is probably doubled, so it really doesn’t make life any easier. In fact, life is way more difficult. My responsibilities are doubled, and my free time is cut in half. I really don’t know how single artists get everything done! I know that before Maria decided to become my business partner and manage the business end of Real Art is Better, I was decidedly less profitable. I will be fine, and she will be back after only nine days in the States. Cheers to our partnership! I can’t do it without my better half!


Summer Plans

Is it just us, or is summer crazy for everyone? I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and running around with my head cut off. Most of the time crunch has to do with going out to our cabin in McCarthy, which is very time consuming, but so worth the 300-mile trip one-way! Because the drive takes so long, we try to make it worth our time by spending at least a week out there. When we’re back in Anchorage, we’re catching up on painting commissions, mailing orders, doing art shows, and managing to do some house chores and hang out with our friends in between. The unrelenting summer heatwave with endless sunlight also contributes to the hyper-activity. I guess we have all winter to rest.

So, what are our summer plans? Well, Maria’s mom really loves visiting us in McCarthy, but she’s fed up with staying in our small cabin with us, so she commissioned us to build her a log cabin on our property. I’m really excited about building another log cabin, but Maria says she already built one, and is not that stoked about doing it again, because she forgot how hard it is! This project will take up most of our time, and we hope to have it completed this summer.

The foundation for the mother-in-law cabin, and some of the D logs that we have to peel for it

Other than that, we will spend most of our time working on the art business. I have two art shows happening this summer that are kicking off tomorrow on First Friday, June 3. One is my regular show at Midnight Sun Brewing that I have every year, and the second one is at a new-to-me venue, Dos Manos Gallery. I have been selling my art there for several years, but this is my first time being the featured artist in the gallery room! We hung the art there today, and I’m really happy with how it looks! I hope you check out both of my art shows, and bring your friends!

My art show at Dos Manos Gallery

We will also be vendors at two events. The first one is the Eagle River Beer & Music Festival on Saturday, June 4th. I love having a booth at beer festivals, because that’s where I find fans of my beer art! We will also be participating in the Beer, Beards and Art Market at Anchorage Brewing Co. on June 18th, 4-9pm.

Besides work, and building a cabin, we’re flying to Sitka to celebrate Maria’s birthday. She likes going to places in Alaska for her birthday that she’s never been to. Of course, Salmonfest is not-to-be-missed, and then Maria’s cousin from Germany is coming to visit with her two sons, so we’ll get to do some Alaska tourist activities with them, which are always amazing!

I hope to see you at some of these events this summer, and if I don’t, I wish you a safe and fun summer! What are your plans this summer?

10 Life Lessons Building a Cabin in Alaska Has Taught Us

Framing the roof.

Framing the roof.

Scott and I started building a log cabin in McCarthy, Alaska in 2012. We expect to finish the project this September. This isn’t the first time we endeavored to do something big. In 2009 we rode a tandem bike all the way down the Pacific Coast from Vancouver, Canada to the Mexican border. In 2011 we toured on individual bicycles from Kaliningrad, Russia to Paris, France. In 2014 we started and completed the Year of Beer Paintings project. So working on a time-consuming, long-term task is not new to us, and we have a 100% completion rate so far. Each endeavor has taught us important life lessons, and this cabin-building project is no exception. So here are the ten things we’ve learned so far.

1. We don’t like to take steps back. When we make a mistake, we try to find a way to work with it, rather than starting over and fixing it right away. The farther along we get, the more evident the mistakes become as they pile up. Sure, had we gone back to fix every error, and started over with a new log, or made a new notch, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today, and would have had to buy more materials, but the house would have fewer flaws. We’re hoping all of our errors will be smoothed out by finishing touches.

2. We stopped expecting a perfect cabin. When we started, we had high hopes that every notch would fit perfectly, and everything would be square, but the reality is that this is our first big building project, and we’re not professional builders, so we had to get over the disappointment that our cabin wouldn’t turn out as perfect as the Parthenon.

3. Plans will change. Scott spent countless hours researching how to build with logs, and drawing plans. We have a stack of graph paper with different versions of cabin plans, and when we settled on the one, we really did intend to build it as planned. Yeah right. Once we got started, we realized what would actually work, got new ideas, and plans changed. Not dramatically though.

4. When working with your spouse, give compliments on tasks well done. Compliments are encouraging and do wonders for boosting morale.

5. A stitch in time saves nine. Before beginning a task, think about what you’ll need and get everything ready. That saves so much time and frustration.

6. While building a cabin, your social life will suffer greatly. We were in denial about this during our first building summer and made a special effort to be social butterflies, but now that we’re building the roof, going down to town is just not a priority.

7. Don’t start building a log cabin if you don’t have a lot of spare time. You’ll end up hiring someone to finish it, or it won’t get done.

8. Women can build too, when the right person is teaching. Men have to be patient and explain things really well. That’s how Scott ended up having a building buddy who works for free.

9. Quit working when you’re tired. We set goals for each day, but when we get tired we start making mistakes and that costs more time and materials later. Also, most injuries happen when people are tired at the end of the day. So just quit for the day.

10. You can accomplish big projects if you break them up into smaller stages, and just take one step at a time, and don’t stop until you are done.