Little cabin in Alaska

Back of cabin

I’m a member of Houseblogs.net, a community site for people interested in home improvement. They’ve started a new section, Topics, with cabins as one of the topics. Houseblogs.net and DIY Network are doing a cross-promotion, each of them featuring the other blog, in connection with DIY’s Blog Cabin Sweepstakes. I happen to be one of the few people on Houseblogs.net that labeled their home a cabin, so my blog is one of several being featured on the DIY Network blog right now. So, I thought I should show you a little more of it.

I live in a small frame cabin with an attached garage; the structure is 24 feet square, with half of that devoted to the garage. “My” half of the building-the living area-also has a 12×8 loft above the kitchen area, and I store my books and my bed up there. Access is by a drop down “attic access” ladder, which is really handy, since that leaves a large open area in the cabin, uncluttered by stairs.

Gizmo

I live here with Gizmo, my 105 lb Labrador Retriever. I think the cabin’s a little too small for him; he prefers staying outside in his doghouse, unless it’s too cold. “Too cold” starts at about zero for him. He’s a bit on the rolypoly side, and loves romping in the snow. He dives enthusiastically into snowbanks to retrieve frisbees, tennis balls, and sticks, and is a frost-and-snow covered black dog when he finishes his walks with me.

I don’t have running water, so I haul three 5 gallon jugs home once a week. No running water also means wintertime honey buckets and an outhouse. I shower at work, and do laundry at a laundromat. I’ve lived this way for about twenty years now (except for a stint “Outside”-the lower 48) and don’t really want the hassle of running water. I can leave the cabin in the winter with no worries about breaking pipes and a mess when I get back from a trip.

I do have electricity, which I would really miss! No computer, no sewing machine, no drill or skill saw; life would be a lot different. My Monitor oil stove runs on electricity, and I also cook and heat water with electricity. I used to have a wood stove, but the cabin is so small and it just takes up too much space. I use 100-150 gallons of heating fuel per winter, so I don’t feel that’s excessive, compared to some houses that use 600 gallons or more per winter.

I love living this way; it’s very common in Fairbanks and the town is adapted for those of us with “dry cabins”. Many businesses provide shower facilities for employees, and all the laundromats are equipped with showers and a place to fill water jugs. I like that my house is paid for, and I have an acre and a half to play on, as well as lots of room to take Gizmo hiking. I live about a mile from the Alaska pipeline, and can walk or ski to miles of trails off the pipeline. I picked several quarts of blueberries there this summer, and I’ve gone grouse hunting off the pipeline too. It’s a great life!

Cabin

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17 responses to “Little cabin in Alaska

  1. I think your lifestyle sounds great ! I like the idea that it is paid for too & hassle free (pretty much). Are you sure your not Dana Stabenow?

  2. i like the look of your cabin ,your way of life and the beauty that surrounds you is very interesting

  3. I so envy your lifestyle, I was raised in Alaska and even spent one winter in Fairbanks. I live in Illinois now but consider myself an Alaskan. I did get to visit fairbanks a few years ago and it is true, you can never go back. It has changed so much, I bet you can agree with that. I lived there in the late 60’s, not to give away my age!
    Thanks for your blog.

  4. To answer Prickly Pear, no, I’m not Dana . I do write, but I don’t think I’m quite up to her level yet. Just another single AK woman living in a dry cabin.

  5. cowgirl53-u r 1 lucky lady a cabin is my dream home

  6. Hi ,its me again ,I’m a writer too its my passion in life .I’m also a landscape designer .i was just wondering where you get your ideas from for your writing.also i built my little house myself i know how great it is having it all paid for but it was hard .how did you come to live where you do

  7. I must say that I’m intrigued by your blog and the way you decide to live. It is wonderful that you enjoy your home and surroundings. I personally would have difficulty retrieving my water somewhere other than my kitchen sink. Plus, having to shower in town! What a task. Congratulations on being featured on DIY. That is where I found your blog. You indeed are creative and must have self-preservation to feel comfortable in the small town forests of Alaska.

  8. My husband and I are building a cabin, 20 x 24, log. We have milled the logs ourselves and got the shell up the 2nd year. Third year was the tin roof, windows and doors. This year is electricity, heat (Toyo), chinking and making the flooring and getting it screwed down. We are going with a holding tank for water…can’t live without that. We have 40 head of sheep, so we need a lot of water. We have lived in AK for 23 years (probably almost neighbors-CHSR) and this is our first experience at log cabin building and it has been a lot of fun. Always nice to see what others have come up with for small space design.

  9. I have lived in Alaska for 26 years, my kids are grown and my ex is just that, and ex. I am planning to build my cabin in Anchor Point this summer. I will have running water and septic and I am excited to get started. The cost of a builder are too high for me so I am going to have to DIY. It will be difficult, I know. Any tips on getting started and beyond will be gratefully accepted.

  10. Becky-we are! I live at 5 mile… I used to have goats and back then I did wish I had running H20! Sounds like you’ll be moving in soon-congratulations!

  11. Patti-
    I’d start with Cooperative Extension Service. They have a lot of good info on building in Alaska. And find a good carpenter. I didn’t build my cabin, but I do most of the maintenance myself; I have a couple friends that are very willing to give me advice and help out if need be.

  12. Victoria, it’s all a matter of what you’re used to. I don’t think I’d live w/out running H20 in the lower 48, but it’s pretty easy up here.

  13. Joanna Harrington

    I’ve lived in Alaska 5 yrs. My son and his family are there. Now, I am in Michigan and hope to move back to Ak. in the near future. Everyone should see Alaska before they die. Nothing compares to the northern lights flashing in the black winter sky. Alaska is awesome,it is spiritual.

    If an Alaskan would like an email friend in the lower, please email me at dogsled41@juno.com.

    I visit each summer to see my grandchildren in Anchorage. My email address was chosen because i was a volunteer at

  14. God! How fantastic!

  15. SOUNDS WONDERFUL WANT TO DO THE SAME THING WE HAVE 40 ACRES NORTH OF A SMALL TOWN IN NEBRASKA HIGH ON TOP OF MISSOURI RIVER BREATH TAKING VIEWS OF RIVER VALLEY KIND OF A SPOT THAT MOST PEOPLE DONT KNOW ABOUT WE EVEN HAVE BALD EAGLES AND ELK AND SOMETIMES MOUNTAIN LIONS THIS IS IN NEBRASKA ENOUGH ABOUT THIS MY DREAMS ALWAYS SEEM TO BE ABOUT ALASKA BUT HAD TO CONVINCE MY WIFE TO TRY IT FOUND JOB WITH COMPANY OUT OF ANC HAULING DIRT AND GRAVEL FOR SUMMER MAY COME UP WORK THAT DURING SUMMER TO GET ALASKA OUT OF MY THOUGHTS MAYBE DECIDE IT IS NOT WHAT I THOUGHT IT IS OR MAYBE FALL IN LOVE AND NOT WANT TO LEAVE WELL I AM RAMBILING ON THANKS FOR YOUR POST DAVID

    Be sure to get out beyond Anchorage; Homer and Seward aren’t far, though the traffic will be bad in the summer. Be sure to see Denali, and get over to Valdez, and go up to Delta on the Richardson. Maybe go north on the Parks (from Anchorage) til you get to the Denali Highway, and take the Denali to Delta. lots of pretty country, if you get out of Anchorage! Enjoy your summer!

  16. I envy and totally agree with your chosen way of life. I was stationed at Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks from 1988 thru 92. I loved every minute of it, and have been homesick for Alaska ever since I left. I planned to return but didn’t due to being needed due to help with a family emergency. The next thing I knew I was raising a family and tied to a job. The relationship has ended, my two teenage sons are nearly grown and would like to go to Alaska with me soon. Our plan is to live much like you do, somehere close to the city, but still far enough to get that bush feeling. I’m sure things have changed there since I left, but I’m hoping we will still be able to live in a handbuilt dry cabin with only electricity. I crave such a simple live so bad I can hardly wait !

  17. Sorry I didn’t catch your location earlier. The Hot Springs area is really nice. I used to stay with a friend on Farmers Loop for a short while when I got out of the Army. Can dry cabins with outhouses still be constructed in the area, and if so, how far out of town do you need to be ? I keep worrying that by the time I make it up there those days will be over.

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