A New Year Far from Home

By , January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! As you read this, we are ringing in 2016 in Baranof Warm Springs, on the east coast of Baranof Island.

Yes, where else would the Haines Zeigers go on the holidays except deeper into the Alaskan bush?

My brother, Dave, and his wife, Anke have kept the Wilderness Lodge in Baranof Warm Springs on alternate winters for quite a while. They move in to the lodge in October, and leave in May. Every year they’re out there, we talk about going to visit them; this year, we finally made it.

I last visited Baranof on a family boat trip when I was 10 or 11 years old. Michelle and Aly have never been there. When Aly first started talking about coming home at Christmas, she asked if we might go visit Dave and Anke, since this may be their last year keeping the lodge. She got a job in retail, and couldn’t come home for Christmas itself. Instead, she returned to Alaska at the end of December. She flew straight to Sitka, where we met her and chartered a seaplane to Baranof.

Their stays at the lodge abound in irony. Normally, they live aboard their homebuilt sailboat (see their page in the boat building section of our Web site, or Dave’s boat plan site, www.triloboats.com). It’s a rich, but somewhat spartan life. When they go to the lodge, they move “uptown” by their standards and ours. They enjoy satellite television, constant Internet connectivity, boundless electricity from the lodge’s hydroelectric system, and a hot tub on the porch if they don’t feel like hiking to the hot springs from which the settlement takes its name.

Normally, this is the case. This year, all of that has changed.

The hydroelectric dam broke shortly before Dave and Anke started their winter residence. They have no power, other than a gas generator that runs 6 hours a day, no hot water, no heat other than the wood stove. Since the heat’s usually electric, they’re harvesting firewood as they go, so it’s none too dry. It’s a luxurious lodge, but conditions are rather primitive this year.

No matter. We used to visit them when they lived in Tenakee Springs. We stayed on their boat or in guest cabins there, in rough conditions as well. We always had a blast, and you can bet we’re having a ball right now in Baranof.

We’ve been gone from the homestead a few days now, and won’t return until January 7th. The most recent blog posts have been prescheduled, as have this one, and the ones to follow this week. If you’ve commented on any essays, you won’t see your comments on line, or my response, until after the 7th.

When we return, I’ll hopefully have some photos of the trip to share!

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