Home for Steele is a little cabin in the midst of the huge metal buildings and docks of the former Parks Cannery. He has carved out a couple of bedrooms, kitchen/living/dining room, with a flush toilet in a windowed closet on the left of the kitchen, and another windowed closet on the right of the kitchen houses a shower. Down the hall past the two sleeping rooms is a cold passage containing laundry and then a substantial pantry and fridge. All of the guests who come through during fishing, hunting and sightseeing season leave foodstuffs behind, so there is no shortage of goods - though some of it has been there a number of years.
Steele's cabin and the other buildings are supplied with running water and electricity generated by a hydro electric plant in the main cannery building. The hydro power source is a stream that gushes down the mountainside, fed through a heavy plastic pipe. Steele replaced the original wooden culvert a few years ago.
The mountain extends up behind the cannery, with mountain goats high above keeping watch. The cabin is just yards from a gravel beach. We spent lots of time looking out the big picture windows watching the winds, murres bobbing on the whitecaps, river otter playing and diving in the surf, and whales spouting across the bay over near Amook Island.
We also passed time touring the old cannery where I shot lots of pictures. We read, visited, prepared meals, watched old MASH tv show episodes in the evenings, kept the wood stove stoked. Most of this was done in the total absence of cell phone connection, and limited wi-fi access. Steele has internet, he just chooses to turn it off much of the time, so clients get the full experience of life slowed down, the way it used to be everywhere. Or at least all over Kodiak. It is still that way to a degree - although Purists would argue that TV and the Internet have sullied that way of life, even in the villages or remote sites. I did not miss the constant interruption of e-mail, FB posts and all that electronic communication has brought to our lives. It was a quiet, slow 5 days. My mind and soul were refreshed by the vacation. It was good to pass time visiting with my friend and preparing meals together.
On my last day, Monday, the weather broke and Steele took us beach combing to Flamingo Beach, down the Bay. We hauled a good load of cottonwood bark and other driftwood onto the boat in an empty halibut tub and quarter of a 55-gallon drum sawed down, pulling them along the beach with ropes. We stopped at Amook Island, in a little cove where Steele's other guest cabin is located, and the "Bluff House" - his first cabin out in Uyak Bay. Both cabins are served by a quaint outhouse fashioned out of two boats sawed in half, then joined together. A crescent moon window lets in a tiny arc of light. These cabins don't have the luxuries that the cannery guest lodge does. Surrounded by tall wild rose bushes now burdened with orange hips, black birch and cottonwood trees, the cabin on the bluff looks out across Uyak Bay to the 'mainland' of Kodiak. It would make an awesome writer's cabin! I shared this with Steele, and he said he'd welcome a guest who wanted to hole up for a month or more and write. I talked about Annie Dillard's book, where she describes living in a cabin on a deserted island in the San Juans of Washington State. This is way more remote that her experience. I fleetingly pictured myself as that writer - sequestered in the Bluff House, taking in that view, feeding the wood stove, getting clean in a banya or steam bath, trekking to the outhouse.
At night, I marveled at the sheer soup of stars overhead. Without ambient light to interfere, we would stand out on the beach in front of Steele's cabin, using my iPod app to identify the constellations. We watched the Northern Lights play out near the entrance of the bay, seemingly over Shelikof Straights. The Milky Way led a hazy river through the night sky. The surf tinkled the gravel, and lulled me to sleep. Wind lashed the corrugated metal roof and rain dumped down in sheets. We nestled safely, sheltered and warm far away from the 21st Century.