Letter from the Publisher | Anna Hoke:

Here we are, in full-blown spring! Since my last column I have two trips under my belt, one in Southeast Alaska with family and one to Hawaii with my husband and friends. Since Gustavus seems more relevant I’ll write about that. My trip to Gustavus started in a small plane also known as a caravan with my aunt. We landed in Hoonah to fuel up and drop off cargo; some of which were alive. It sounded like there were about twenty chicks in the back, and I’m not talking pretty ladies, I mean chickens! They peeped the whole way to Hoonah where they were offloaded. Back on the plane and a short while later we landed in Gustavus.

The weather was great and landing was smooth even though I do get a little nervous on those small planes no matter the forecast. After being met at the airport by my dad and a family friend, we retrieved our bags, skis, and boxes full of food and beverages as we packed into the truck like sardines. I can’t say for certain that Gustavus is a magically unique place but it certainly feels like it as we left the airport and set out for the cabin. The community is very friendly and helpful and I am still delighted by the requisite wave while passing someone on the road as they wave back. The locals we pass on the roads may be pleasant but the road itself is not so much. Our cabin is some distance down Rink Creek Road, and if you’ve ever traveled that road in the winter or spring you know what I’m talking about. The way is riddled with deep, continuous potholes and I could probably run faster than the truck could drive. Car parts can be found scattered about as they fall off vehicles and inside the cab, heads are knocked together. After a brief intermission halfway through our drive to view some swans at the gravel pit we arrived with scrambled brains to our charming little cabin just in time for dinner and celebratory cocktail hour. As night fell my aunt and I made our way to a neighboring house to sleep, as I had learned my lesson the last time with the epic family snorers. The next few days were spent hiking around, skiing in the meadow, morning runs with my aunt and laying on the flats in the sunshine watching geese and beach combing for bones and wolf tracks. Every evening we’d cook dinner, some nights play a card game called “hearts” and do a dusk or dark stroll in which we’d listen to howling dogs or wolves and the resident owl. We saw moose on several occasions, both on the road and in the meadows. We also visited the local library that happened to have a skeleton of an orca whale displayed there which was pretty neat. And before I knew it the trip was coming to an end. The morning of our departure was spent closing up the cabin, cleaning the incinerator toilet and packing our gear. The weather began to look more and more unappealing as the winds picked up. The trees danced together, a beautiful sight except it’s not something that I’d ever want to fly in. As I reviewed the weather report I was thrilled to learn that there was a Taku wind warning in the forecast beginning in the afternoon, as our flight was scheduled to land at 3:52pm…. Oh joy! We learned that our flight was still a go with a call to the airport as we didn’t want to make any unnecessary trips down Rink Creek “brain-scrambler” road. Fast forward, we load onto the plane and the pilot briefs us saying to strap in tight, “it’s going to be a bumpy one, if you start feeling weird turn on the air above you.” Well if I wasn’t scared before, I certainly was now and I knew I was in for an adventurous ride. As we took off I made the admittedly sheepish decision to keep my eyes closed the entire flight. I imagined I was riding a boat through the waves and catching fish. I made a mental note to put line on my new fishing reel. I thought about Hawaii and what I’d do there. I thought about what I’d cook for dinner when I got home and how nice it would be to take a real shower after the one freezing outdoor bucket shower I had the last 3 days. Alas, we made it home safely and obviously I lived to tell the story of Gustavus. Of course in the back of my mind I knew we were not in real danger as they wouldn’t let us fly in poor conditions but being in a scary situation does bring up all the thoughts, hopes and dreams you are looking forward to no matter how minimal or extravagant they can be. Southeast Alaska is a beautiful and adventurous place and I am very much looking forward to traveling to other places around the region this spring and summer!
Anna Hoke is the graphic designer and owner of Southeast Living Magazine. She can be reached at anna@seakliving.com.