Today marks the 11th anniversary of the day Aly, Michelle and I first toured the property that would become our homestead. “First View” is now one of the high holidays in our little family, an important marker day in our Christmas season (see First View: A Homestead Made Holiday).
I edited the paragraph above to say we “toured” the property rather than “saw,” as I originally composed it. I did this because, technically, we’d seen the property once before.
In August 2004, we took a family vacation. We rode the new fast ferry to Haines, then drove to Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory to camp in and explore that region for a few days. We drove south to catch a ferry out of Skagway to return home to Juneau. They call this The Golden Circle. It’s a popular touring route.
We accomplished the first leg of the trip on a sunny, summer morning. We watched the sun rise over the Coast Range, admired the lighthouses on Sentinel Island and Eldred Rock, and watched killer whales cruising by.
After long stretches of uninhabited wilderness on either side of Lynn Canal, we saw in the distance a large house, apparently sitting alone in the forest. As we drew nearer to it, we saw other, smaller buildings nearby in a small inlet. Soon, we passed these sights, and saw mostly wilderness again. Although, not quite . . . .
Here and there, peeping out of the trees, we saw small, rustic buildings, obviously remote homes. One of them had a small green archway with an old-fashioned, orange life ring hung above it. Close to that, we saw the corner of a metal roofed log cabin. We stared hard, scanned the properties with our binoculars, but soon swept past on our way to Haines.
Before beginning our drive to Canada, we went out Mud Bay Road to Rainbow Glacier Camp. My family has been associated with this church camp ever since I can remember. My father served as camp dean for many years. My brother, sister and I all went there. Aly attended in her turn, and wanted especially to show the place to Michelle.
We toured the camp and returned to Haines, where we found a coffee shop, bought some hot drinks, and settled in a local park to enjoy them before starting the big drive.
We chatted about all we’d seen, particularly those rustic little properties in the woods south of town. “What sort of people lived there?” we wondered. “What would it be like to live in such a place?” we asked each other. “Could we live like that?” we asked ourselves.
Little did we know that two months later we’d trek across Mud Bay, over the ridge to the Far Side, following a local Realtor, on our way to our “first” view of our new homestead.