Thursday, January 21, 2010
Arriving at Banner Creek
Arriving at Banner Creek without a functional sled (me with really BAD hat-hair!), Iran ferried all our luggage on the back of the snow mobile, making mutiple trips between the road and the cabin while Lisa and I walked the dogs down. We had to keep them on leashes since there were sled dogs bedded down very near the trail.
The cabin was really nice. It was two story with huge picture windows all around, showcasing the gorgeous, remote landscape from all angles. Behind the cabin we were staying in, was a picturesque home shaped somewhat like an ark! Below, we could see Banner Creek winding through the frozen landscape.
There was one bedroom in the cabin. The panels of the bedroom door were made of cloth, to allow the warmth from the electric heater in the entry room to reach the bedroom. There was a second room (without a door) off the large entry room as well as the honey bucket room (indoor outhouse) and the stairway up to the kitchen/dining/living room areas. It had a wrap around porch as well as a balcony off the upstairs living room. The honey bucket room is closed off from the rest of the house with a heavy wooden door and is the only part of the house that is not heated. The HIGHEST the temperature ever got in that room this week was zero degrees. The lowest it got was five degrees below zero. You have to REALLY want to use the facilities badly before you step into that freezer in the dead of night! (There is no running water in the cabin.)
The cabin, itself, (not counting the honey bucket room) stayed toasty warm, in spite of NOT having an artic entryway--almost unheard of in Nome. (Artic entry ways are little, closet sized rooms that you go into from the outer door of the house and then (in the case of Lisa's house) you turn and go through another door to enter yet another little closet sized room and turn once more to enter the final door which opens into their actual house. Building entries in this way, keeps the artic wind from chilling the entire house every time someone comes in or goes out. The back door to Lisa's house has just a single small room for the artic entry. The floor of this room is always covered with bits of ice from the water that drips from Gabby's muzzle when she drinks and there is always a thick coating of frost on the INSIDE of the outer door, as well as on the doorknob (INSIDE the artic room). Lisa and Iran use the back artic entry as a giant walk-in freezer! When they bought three tubs of ice cream after our REALLY TRAUMATIC YET-TO-BE-WRITTEN-ABOUT experience, they just stuck them on a shelf out in the artic entry, confident that they would stay nicely frozen there!)
(In case you are wondering how I have so much time to WRITE right now, I am here at the house alone for a bit while Lisa and Iran are away picking up their car from the shop where it has been getting patched up after the wreck we had...but, I am getting ahead of the story--the car wreck didn't even happen until well after our snow machine wreck and our getting lost after dark in a remote area with the temperature rapidly dropping, miles from any other living soul!)
Back to the cabin and our first evening there...
The cabin was delightful. We were really looking forward to our three and a half days away there--even the lack of running water and FREEZING honey bucket room didn't put so much as a dent in our enthusiasm...in fact, it kind of added to the novelty of the experience! The views were gorgeous from the cabin. That first night, the stars were so exquisitely bright and the moon shone off the water of the wide, pristine creek just beyond the cabin. We were perplexed how part of the creek could still be unfrozen when the night time temperature was twenty degrees below zero, but, later Iran walked down to the creek and reported back that it actually was frozen...but, from the cabin, it sure didn't look frozen!
The only disappointment that first evening at the cabin was that I had forgotten to bring the two decks of cards I had brought up from Missouri with the intention of teaching Iran and Lisa how to play Nertz. The cards were back at their house in Nome. We HAD remembered, however to bring the DVD "White Fang" and a DVD player to hook up to the TV. We all settled in "my" room, ready to enjoy the movie, when, to our disappointment, we discovered the TV there was so old it didn't have an input jack to hook the DVD player up to! So, no movie...no games. We had fun sitting around visiting and looking out at the stars late into the night, anyway!
That night the wind howled and howled and the temperature dropped to twenty degrees below zero. (The temperature inside the honey bucket room dropped from zero to five degrees below zero!) Gabby, taking advantage of the fact that I was conveniently sleeping on an inflatible mattress on the floor in the room without a door, woke me every two hours, begging to be let out. It is rather disorienting to be awakened by a big wooly German shepherd licking you on the face! Lisa had told me that Gabby did that to her whenever she needed to be let out and I sure didn't want Gabby having an accident in the cabin, so, each time she would slobber all over my face, I would stumble out of bed and let the little pill out...every two hours on the nose!...nearly freezing to death as I waited at the door, watching her to make sure she didn't wander away.