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Friday, January 23, 2015

Alone in the Wilderness

Twin Lakes, Alaska 
(Credit: Wikipedia)

There's a good amount of peace and solitude to be found here on the Plateau, especially at this time of the year.  However, Dick Proenneke (1916-2003) took it to a much higher level starting in 1968.  It was in the spring of that year, while I was completing my last year of high school, that Dick, a 51-year-old diesel mechanic who learned carpentry skills in the navy during World War II, built a cabin with hand tools on Twin Lakes in a remote area of Alaska.  He intended to stay for one year, to prove to himself he could do it.  Instead, Dick Proenneke turned it into three decades of solitude, leaving in 1999 at the age of 82.  He left his remarkable cabin, to the U.S. National Park Service, at the Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, comprising 4 million acres and several volcanoes..  It can be visited for the $1,200 price of a round-trip flight from Anchorage. 

To learn more, read Dick's book One Man's Wilderness and view the DVD Alone in the Wilderness.  The DVD was put together from splices Dick filmed of himself using a 16-mm camera mounted on a tripod.  Bob Swerer, producer of the DVD, took excerpts from Dick's book, for the narrative.  You'll marvel, as I did, at Dick's skill with the axe in fashioning not only his cabin, but his furniture, bowls, spoons, and more.

Click here for some photos and further information.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


With temperatures hitting minus 11 here yesterday, I decided it was time for the annual Crawl-Space-Crawl.  Once a year, during subzero temperatures, I venture down into that "fun" space known as the Crawl Space.  One half of this place has a crawl space you can stand up in -- an addition to the house that was completed in the early nineties.  The other half, constructed in 1940, and "winterized" several years ago, ranges from 3 to 5 feet high, depending on whether or not you are navigating around/over a substantial boulder of Rensselaer Graywacke, covered with plastic vapor barrier.  Yep, "fun."

So, what I do is go around the perimeter with my trusty Black & Decker Thermal Heat Detector (click here for post I wrote a couple of years ago providing full details), which is the best tool I've purchased in the last 10 years (followed by the electronic stud detector, covered here).  It pays for itself in no time, by locating the most egregious drafty spots/crevices in wonderful, but not-so-tight, Plateau homes such as this one.

Energy audits can be very expensive, but for the $33 this cool tool costs via, you can save yourself big bucks by identifying and eliminating energy sieves.  Every year, I raise the bar on spots I decide need some additional insulation - and it saves me propane dollars.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan's recording, Subterranean Homesick Blues, turned 50 this week.  Click here to listen and you will hear the first rap song ever -- only this one is good and Bob was smart enough after cutting it to say "been there, done that."

Bob Dylan is the hybrid Shakespeare and Beethoven of our times.  That's poet Allen Ginsberg in the lower left of the video.