Sunday, July 21, 2013

Going Off the Grid at La Caleta: Day One

 Now, I know the fam has been up to a gazillion things lately...and the Rigby fam visit to AK surely came before this series of posts. I apologize these entries are not necessarily in sequential order...but this really must come first.  It DESERVES to be first.

Background: Every year we celebrate our oldest's birthday with a trip to somewhere new.  When we first arrived in AK, we took a rail tour to Trapper Creek and stayed at the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge.  Last year, we pulled a camper trailer to Denali National Park and climbed our first mountain. This year, we aimed our compasses south and headed to the Kenai Peninsula.

I scoured the internet (as I am known to do) for the perfect place.  Wilderness lodges, public-use cabins, resorts, we considered all of them. We remained undecided until I stumbled across the website for La Caleta in Sadie Cove. (CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE) Suddenly, our decision was made, reservations secured, and we all anxiously awaited the arrival of July.

On the 17th, we drove the five-hour journey to the "end of the road," Homer, Alaska.  We met up with the owner of this private cabin, Willie Condon (more about him and his lovely wife, Marcee, later), loaded our supplies on his aluminum skiff, and headed out across Kachemak Bay

The water across the bay was rough...and a bit nerve-wracking as the open little boat bounced hard on the swells as we sat on coolers in the middle.  Little Liv, however, laughed that big ole belly laugh of hers at the first bounce, and she screamed and hooted and hollered all the way across.  

"Are you having fun, Sophie?" she would yell over the wind and the sound of the boat motor. 

Sophie, my more timid and reserved child, would just glare at her sister as she shook her head, pursing her lips in a tight line, her hands desperately trying to secure a handhold around my thigh. 

But soon enough, we approached Eldred Passage, the body of water between the islands and the mouth of Sadie Cove, and the waters calmed down.

So calm, in fact, that I was able to wrangle myself out of Sophie's death grip, pull the camera out of my pocket, and take this picture. This was our first view of the cove.

As we rounded the bend, this sight welcomed us. Right on the rocky beachfront, stood La Caleta.  To the right is a boathouse that can also sleep more guests. The roof of the building on the left is the bathhouse (Yep, folks, there is running water here.  Pressurized heated showers. AND a sauna.  A SAUNA!).  The structure above the kayaks is a boardwalk connecting to a boat shed still in the works.

The wonders of this do I begin to even explain it all?

The genius of its owners.  Willie Condon, a native of Chile, a warm man with the kindest demeanor, cut down every tree, hauled it across the bay from Homer to Sadie Cove, and milled it himself.  Any piece he couldn't lift himself, he had his then-teenaged children help.  He even configured a system that gathered hydroelectric energy from the mountain streams!

The second floor is a family-style loft with these gigantic windows, offering the most beautiful panoramic view of Sadie Peak anyone could ever wake up to.

As handy and talented Willie is with his woodworking and construction skills, his other half, Marcee, is equally talented with the finishing work.  She is credited for oiling the beams, decorating the place, and making it feel magical.

This is the entryway. I especially loved the porthole "peephole."

 From the inside, these painted double doors open to the short boardwalk that connects it to the bathhouse and sauna.
Dylan, taking full advantage of the fact that this was his birthday trip, jumped on the windowside bed and claimed it for himself.

 Oh, and yeah, the view looking towards the head of the cove is pretty amazing as well.

Willie and Marcee showed us the ropes, to include a quick kayak how-to, jumped into their skiff and left us in our solitude.

More to come...

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