Sunday, 21 August 2005

August 21, 2005 The Nook at NorthWapiti

Many of you probably aren't aware, but Mark and I were toying around with some big life changes earlier this year. It all started in March, when we were driving through Whitehorse on our way back home from Alaska. "Why don't we live here?" I asked. Neither Mark nor I could answer the question. 
See, for years folks have asked us why we don't live in Alaska - and I have two answers to that question - 1) it is too crowded (I know that sounds odd, but really it is hard to find land in Alaska that is 'on the grid' (in other words - has electricity) but doesn't have close neighbours) and 2) it isn't in Canada. Not that I have anything against the US - obviously I don't - I spend a ton of time there and many of my dearest friends are American. But in our hearts and souls Mark and I are Canadian. Neither one of us can really imagine living anywhere else. 

However, Whitehorse isn't as crowded as places like Willow, AK - and it is in Canada - so just why don't we live there? It would certainly be closer to the races I like to run in Alaska and I wouldn't have to leave home for 3 months of the year if we lived there. I could drive up, race and then just come home after the race was over. Plus, our area in northern Alberta is great for fall training, but not so great for sleds. Around Whitehorse there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of trail for dog sleds. 
So we spent virtually all our spare time in April, May and June researching the Whitehorse area - This makes my trip to Whitehorse to show this June make a little more sense now too, doesn't it? After all this time what we have discovered is that we can now answer the question of why we don't live in Whitehorse - we don't live in Whitehorse because Mark can't find a job comparable to his job here - and house and living expenses are all higher then here. Financially it just isn't a move for us that makes sense, at this time. I know Mark was very disappointed - I was both disappointed and relieved.

Honestly, while I saw the pluses of the move, the thought of the actual move was almost completely overwhelming - and I do LOVE our place here in Perryvale. Well, love it except for a couple things .
Those of you that have been out to visit us know that our house is small and doesn't accommodate company well. So far this year we have had folks from BC, Minnesota, New Hampshire, California and the UK camped out on our couch at various times - as well as shuffling a few off to the motel down the road. It is a real pain. If we were staying, that needed to change. For years we've talked about adding onto the house, but in reality, we both know that is never going to happen - every time we scrape any money together, we spend it on races or things like new dog trucks. So we began to talk about putting a small 'sleeping' cabin for guests in the yard. 

We looked at packages and plans online, but as gifted and talented as my husband is in many areas - he isn't the world's best carpenter (or backgammon player - but that's a whole other story). I talked to our friend, Roger Morey - who I consider 'up there' in the 'world's best carpenter' ranks, but before he could get back to me I was driving through Westlock one day and spotted these cute little 'cabins' outside the local UFA. UFA (United Farmers of Alberta) is an interesting place; you can buy anything from chicken feed to new socks to lumber to canola seed there. I stopped by to take a look and inquire about the price of the buildings. It was a little smaller then we wanted, but cute - and priced well below what I thought it would be. When Roger got a hold of me I told him of the change of plans and asked if he would drop by UFA one day and take a look at the building for us. He did and gave it the 'Roger stamp of approval' - later that week our new 10x12 'cabin' arrived.

Now, let me explain 'arrived' a little better. 'Arrived' means the cabin was unloaded outside our yard gates - not somewhere it could stay. No problem assured Mark and friend Andrew visiting from the UK. They told Chris (Andrew's wife) and I to go do our running around in town and it would be moved when we got back. We got back to find it sitting in exactly the same spot it was when we left (and the guys drinking beer). Turns out the ATV's couldn't budge it. That evening a call was made to the neighbour's begging for use of a tractor. Because our neighbours are wonderful, within a ½ hour we could hear the rumbling of a tractor coming down the driveway. The move wasn't that quick and for a bit I feared both the cabin and tractor were permanently parked in a dip next to the garage, but I should have had faith. Mark and young David persevered and eventually the cabin was close enough to where we wanted it!

A few days later I made another call to Roger and hired him to finish off the inside of the cabin. What would have taken Mark and I months to get done, took Roger days and the cabin (right now being called the Nook at NorthWapiti - 'cause it isn't much bigger then a nook) just needs a bunk bed and a few odds and end before it is ready for use. Which is good, because it already is 'booked' for the Fall Warm Up Weekend - which is just 2 weeks away.

nookcloseup.jpg (53688 bytes)
thenook2.jpg (61050 bytes)
thenook3.jpg (75833 bytes)

There is one more task related to the Nook that I wanted to take care of. Although we have never used it, there is a nicely built outhouse sitting in our yard that I wanted to 'reclaim' and bring back into use. I know the squirrels have been using it, as I often see TakeOut crouched in the bushes around the building waiting for them to come and go, but how bad could it be?? FAMOUS last words.

outhouse.jpg (44365 bytes)

Fly and I headed out to the outhouse to take a look. Before opening the door I gave it a kick and heard something thump in there. Cautious I cracked the door. There were no squirrels, but I had just opened the door to squirrel paradise!

outhousefloor.jpg (54938 bytes)
outhouseinterior.jpg (32067 bytes)

The floor had a 3-inch layer of dried mushrooms and pinecones - as well as mushrooms jammed in every space possible, but the 'piece de resistance' was the magazine rack on the door. Stuffed in there was the most glorious Siberian fur squirrel nest you've ever seen - complete with snacks within early reach of the entrance.

outdoormagrack.jpg (44375 bytes)
outhousenest.jpg (30269 bytes)

Squirrel heaven - although not heaven for a human who needs to pee in the middle of the night. I deemed that even if I cleaned it all up, I could never sit on that hole without wondering what might be living beneath the toilet seat. So, the goal now is to have a new 'hole' dug before the Fall Warm Up Weekend and recruit a group of burly men to move the outhouse on top of it. Problem solved - although I think I'll continue to use the indoor plumbing.

outhouseseat.jpg (45397 bytes)


 ©Penny Blankenship

No comments: