Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge.


Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: wildlife sightings, Denali National Park issues, recipes from our kitchens, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.


Tiny House Living

May 27, 2015

When my mom visited my Alaskan home for the first time, she looked around my 325 square foot one-story log cabin with a half loft and said “but where is all your stuff?” I could not help but laugh at her reaction. The joke of a cabin dweller is that you know you live in a cabin, not a house, when you can see all the possessions you own at once. From whichever spot you are standing in. She was in fact looking at everything we have, which in reality is not a lot. My dad’s reaction was by far the more hilarious one. He sat on my couch, taking inventory of our four 15-foot long walls, and said under his breath, “My God, Teresa.”

I have friends who gush about my perfect life, living the reality of the “tiny house” phenomenon. I just have to smile and do my best to not give them a reality check of what it is usually like living in a home smaller than my freshman-year college dorm room with another person. Although I suppose most of those friends’ assumption of a “tiny house” would at least involve a separate bedroom, a bathroom, and maybe even a “cutsy” lounge space for watercolors or crafting. I do not assume that they envision a 325 square foot cabin with no dimensions, doors, and only 4 corners.

I will admit that at times a small cabin is incredibly cozy and even has its romantic moments. Stringing up Christmas lights during the dark winter months makes the logs glow with warm light. Having a dinner party of six seems like a rambunctious affair. When there is space for only one loveseat (not even a full couch), there is no choice but to cuddle up to watch a movie. Although then the dog follows suit and someone usually ends up on the floor. It is typically not the dog.

For the most part however, a “tiny house” involves awkward arrangements of personal items and overlapping uses of space. My toothbrush lives on the shelf beneath the pint glasses. The dog’s crate doubles as a side table for the couch. Leaving dirty dishes out for the night is not an option, as they take up the only prep space next to the stove to prepare morning coffee. There are no doors inside the cabin, making the dramatic gesture of slamming the door in frustration quite difficult. Unless you were to physically leave the cabin in such a fashion, which is not incredibly appealing when it is dark and minus 30ºF outside. The thought reminds me of a favorite Mitch Hedberg joke: “I got into an argument with a girlfriend inside of a tent. That's a bad place for an argument, because then I tried to walk out and slammed the flap. How are you supposed to express your anger in this situation? Zipper it up really quick?”

At least I only have 325 square feet of floor to vacuum; there’s the silver lining. Needless to say, we are building a house on our 12 acres of paradise, and we are going all out. Two stories and 1,000 square feet. I cannot express how excited I am to have stairs.

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