Sometimes I wonder how civilization ever developed, but I know the answer to that easily enough. To move forward, you must abandon the past. Aahhh but I don't want to abandon what I have here. I like what I have here. But living this life here in this wilderness, needs careful planning, and sudden changes are difficult to manage.
Over the last few years, our sons have wanted us to spend winters at least in town. Their generous hearts are just looking out for our best interest, but neither Don nor I are very big on change, and spending the winter in town is a very big change. You might not think it is so hard - just go to town when summer work is over, but it's not that easy. I've spent years shutting down the lodge and getting it ready for the winter months, and shutting down a house is no different.
Here's a list of the things we did last fall to get ready to go to town.
- Make sure the boats are secure and the motors safe - we hauled 3 motors to the house
- Make sure the gas was safe and as hidden as we could manage - we didn't want someone to stop by and help themselves
- Make sure there was some firewood cut and ready for when we came back
- Make sure the generators were safe and ready to be used when we got back
- Make sure nothing was just laying around to be buried by the snow and therefore lost for the winter
- Make sure all my water buckets were upright and safe - it would make my first collection of snow easier
- There were a few frozen meats and such left in the freezer, so we moved them to the outside freezer - the hope was that winter would be cold enough to keep them good - that ended up not being the case
- Make sure all jared and bottled liquids were in the sink or in the shower so if they broke from freezing, I'd have less to clean up.
- Make sure there was no standing water, bits of coffee, or any other liquids sitting around
- Would have needed to make sure the propane was shut off but that bottle ran out that morning, so no worries there
- Hide all our handguns and our most valuable rifles - for the same reason we hid our fuel. We didn't want someone to break in and help themselves
- Make a list of supplies to bring out with us
- Try our best to make sure the battery bank was charged up as much as possible to protect them from freezing
- Pack: clothes, computers, power cords, internet cords, (forgot my camera)
- Put all dry goods not in a bucket into the now empty inside freezer
- Ordered propane before going to town - we're almost out now
- Made sure snowshoes were at the house - so glad we bought a pair in town
Well, that's most everything, and there's always the constant looking around to make sure we didn't miss anything.
So all that is just for getting ready to go to town. Being in town wasn't so bad but what with Carrs just a stroll away, it was way too easy to go buy a pack or two of cigarets, some candy, or muffins. Sometimes there was the Salisbury steak TV dinners or for me just red meat to fry up. Sometimes there was a few cans of chili, or tuna - whatever we were hungry for at the time. I got pretty good at keeping coffee available and bought our share, that and honey to put in it. Donnie is looking out for healthy foods and honey is healthier than sugar. At any rate, we ended up spending about $50+ every other day or so. So, our trip to town, counting the flight to and from, ultimately cost us a lot more money than we would have spent just staying out here.
I wanted to do it once though, at least. There were some good things that came from this trip. Don allowed me to buy a couple filleting knives from Amazon, which in turn allowed me to publish one of my books through CreateSpace, a free Amazon self publishing company, and THAT ended up being a good thing because it has paid for my internet for 2 months in a row so far. Also during my trip to town, I was able to hold a book signing. Now that was rather anticlimactic, but kinda fun. One of my books never made it to me, so I was a book short, but the bookstore bought 2 each of my other two books, and I sold 3 to customers (one was the book store owner's sister, but that's okay, she wasn't buying them as a favor to her sister or me. Another thing I wanted to do is look into some place where I could join some kind of exercise class. I was hoping to find a Kung Fu class, but would look into Yoga if I saw something. I did see a yoga place in my walking around but it was never open when I went by. And then there was the Alaska Club - probably why I didn't see anything else around. So I stopped in and just couldn't see myself spending $80 bucks for no less than six months. What I would have preferred is pay as I go in, maybe $10 per trip at the most. I wasn't going to be in town for six months, nor was I going to be able to go there every day. They tried their best though. I got the grand tour, and was impressed with all the things they offered, and with how clean the place was. Ha, maybe I should have applied for a cleaning job there. I might have got something that way.
Another thing I wanted to do is find a winter job. That way I could work out here for the summer and then have a job to go to in town for the winter, thus giving us a year-round income, but really this winter was more of an experiment so I didn't look very hard.
Then the floor gets pulled out from under me.
I heard a rumor. The lodge where I work went bankrupt - well, more correctly, the owners went bankrupt. I wouldn't have my normal job this summer. I kept hoping and hoping something would change, that surely someone would run the place to keep the money flowing and pay whatever the bill was. The previous owner even came down to look the place over, but what with the flood last fall, and with ongoing problems that needed to be fixed. He wasn't willing to make the investment. So, there it sits, soon to be abandoned in the care of the bank until someone decides to buy it. I need to get there and get my things before everything is inventoried and claimed as their property, and I have yet to be able to make it down the trail with the 4-wheeler. I can walk there, but there's no way I can carry a motor down there, and boats don't go very far without a motor.
Not to worry much, I do have work, but only part time. A friend at a neighboring lodge has been after me for years to work in his yard. Now I have the time. And the list of things I want to do here has grown over the years. Looks like I'll have time for some of that too, however, working here at home isn't going to earn us much, and such things like food, gas, and propane, cost money. Thanks to our now frivolous-seeming trip to town, and a bunch of other rather frivolous-seeming spending over the last few years, we are ill prepared for a sudden summer without work. I'm pretty sure we'll make it just fine, but there won't be any left over - back to scraping by from summer paycheck to summer paycheck, and if we lose our internet, book sales and publishing will also plummet. I so wanted my writing to support us someday, but though it is improving, that hasn't happened yet.
I'm kinda pissed about the lodge. It seems the owners had declared bankruptcy very early last summer, and they didn't trust me with this information. Had I known last summer the potential developments of this summer, I could have arranged for work then, and been all set, and no worries. But no, John, the caretaker, and I, were left scrambling for work, and him, for a place to live. He has lived at the lodge for 3 years now, I think, year round, though the flood drove him out of the cabin where he lived. I think that now qualifies as condemned. If they were worried that I'd quit early, they didn't know me very well. I have invested over 10 years into that place; it is my second home. Even now, I won't completely abandon it. I fully plan to stop by frequently and tend my gardens there, and mostly just keep an eye on the place. I'll be working almost next door anyway.
Last summer I looked into buying a small place upriver, but the owner wasn't willing to work with me. Who knows, that was last summer. I asked my family for financial help in that direction, maybe they will come through for me this year. I know I can pay them back; there's just no way I can get my own loan. Banks don't loan for buying businesses out here, not with a part time work record. They want their monthly payment every month, and no business out here will have a monthly income year round, not when half the year is spent with un-travelable conditions and winter business being thin at best, especially at first.
Living out here takes planning, and somethings I plan an entire year ahead. I came to work at Riversong because I couldn't get a firm yes from the lodge where I had worked before. My first stint at Riversong was the very last 3 weeks of the season with a for sure promise of a job next summer, and I stayed there ever since for the same reason. When hope for any kind of work at Riversong finally played out, I sent an email to a couple other of the lodges here on the river, but I was too late, they were already filled up. They too plan ahead, and rightly so. I'll still go around and offer my services on call. Maybe someone will quit or get fired. I've seen it at Riversong a few times. Some people just don't know what they're getting into coming out here, and end up not being able to take it. Some people think it's a working vacation and end up playing far more than working, and get themselves fired. Not that I wish anything bad for those hopeful workers, I'm just needing to work. Most of them are just filling a summer.
So - planning is vital - change can be painful - and hindsight can really torture sometimes