Last week at our writer’s group, Karla Tedtsen read us this poem about quilt making.  It is such a well-thought-out poem detailing the quilt-making process that I thought I would put it in here for the enjoyment of all you quilters, and the rest of us as well.

Making a quilt is what I love to do.  It’s a piece of my heart given freely to you.

The process begins with the choosing of fabric,  Then I decide, is it traditional or maverick?

Piecing the top is an art form of its own,  With seams sewn together, ripped out, then re-sewn.

Creating the border is another decision,  Having it lay flat requires painstaking precision.

Once the quilt sandwich has batting in middle,  Squaring it up becomes a frustrating riddle.

Quilting comes next, must plan on design,  Simple or dense, have I an idea in mind?

Choosing thread to complement the whole,  Embroidery or not, just what is my goal?

Fancy it up or just keep it plain? Decisions to be made can drive me insane.

But because it’s for you, the one I hold dear,  I’ll eventually choose, I will persevere.

And finally, when the last stitch is in place,  A big smile emerges, covering my face.

Will you like this small treasure?  That’s not really a care,

It’s simply a gift from my heart  With you I can share.


Fritz (short for Frederick) has a tee-shirt that reads “Bundin er batlaus madur –bound is boatless man.”  He subscribes to Wooden Boat magazine and Messing About in Boats.  His grandparents on his mother’s side came from the fjords of Norway, so he is l/2 Norwegian.   He loves to build, repair, fish from, and journey in boats.  He spent the first thirteen years of his life in Sitka, living on Sheldon Jackson campus across the street from the beach, rowing with his neighborhood friend in a small wooden rowboat.


SV Red Sea

When Fritz moved to Juneau as a teenager, his dad bought him a 16-foot wooden skiff and an 18-horse engine.  He began to teach himself how to repair and replace boat engines; how to wire and repair boat electronics; how to build wooden boats.


Fritz and I crewed on a 56-foot ketch, named the Red Witch, out of Juneau when we were 20.  We were running before a storm outside of Baranof Warm Springs when 19-year-old deckhand friend John raised the sail but over-stretched the winch’s reach.  Screw-bolted into the wood, it actually ripped out of the mast and hit John in the chest.  It could have killed him, but he was unhurt.  We made it back into the protection of the cove, where we all took hot tubs and hiked the hills of natural hot springs to avoid the raging captain carefully re-mantling the winch so we could continue on our journey.  A few days later we hit an unseen iceberg south of Juneau in Taku Inlet, heard the screaming blame of the captain one too many times and decided to leave the ship for good once back in Juneau. This was not the captain for us, but we certainly had sailing in our blood from then on.  Two things remain to this day – I am willing and capable of going out in any weather to deal with lines, then coil them carefully for the next person. The second is that I can tie a fast bowline knot, which I use to this day for tying up everything.


SV Soleglad

In 1977, at the age of 23, we moved to Gustavus with our klepper kayak.  For the first three years or so, Fritz traveled in the kayak either alone or with a friend up into Glacier Bay for two weeks each spring.  About this time we found ourselves moving up in the boat world.  We first rescued a small plywood skiff from a Juneau beach.  After two years, we acquired the 22-foot Soleglad, meaning sunset in Norwegian.  This scow sloop with lee-boards had been built by Manual from Haines in 1952, the year of Fritz’s birth. Fritz and my brother-in-law Jim  sailed it down Lynn Canal and Icy Strait to Gustavus.  We spent the summer when our oldest daughter Lena was two years old sailing and motoring all over Glacier Bay.

As a mother, then 28 years old, I found myself losing confidence in myself when afraid for the safety of my child.  I was no longer the 20-year-old sailing off on the ocean among men deck mates.  Now I felt responsible for others.  It surprised me as much as Fritz that I worried so much on the sea.  Though I never got seasick, living on a small sailboat in Glacier Bay I had to deal with my fear to enjoy life on the water.  I kept a small journal.

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Robert Ernest Luders entered the world on June 20, 1923, in Berkeley, CA.

Bob’s mother, Alma Vass,  had graduated from art school in San Francisco.  She was an entrepreneur and owned a design shop with two other women in the city.  She had been invited to study art in France.  Bob says, “Fortunately for us, that’s right when she met my father, so that was the end of her art career and the beginning of a family.”  It was not an easy choice, but one she thought about carefully.

Bob’s grandparents came from a well-to-do family in Lübeck, Germany.  They moved to London in the mid-1800s.  As tensions between the English and Germans grew, Bob’s grandparents were urged to go back to Germany, but they opted to stay in London instead.  The family was extremely wealthy.  They had become interested in gas lighting, put a significant amount of their money into it and lost their fortune.  So, “disgraced,” they packed everything up, including the grand piano, and shipped it to Texas, then overland to California.  Bob’s uncle had purchased land in Bakersfield, California, sight unseen. They lost two European manor houses and ended up in a tar paper shack.  Bob’s uncle disappeared and his grandfather took one look at the place and folded; he died shortly after that. Bob’s father, Ernest, was now responsible for his mother, his two sisters and himself. Bob says, “In those days, in wealthier families, as soon as you were born you were given a silver spoon with your name engraved on it.”  The highly educated wealthy class didn’t “work;” they managed their estates and businesses.  For Ernest, however, when things got tough, you did anything you could to provide for your family.

In Bakersfield,  they started a farm, raising strawberries and produce.  They even planted an orchard. Unfortunately, the water they had been promised wasn’t always available.  At one point, the little irrigation water they received simply ran into a hole in the sand.  Their solution was to plug the hole by “planting” Bob’s Aunt Anna. That hole was so large that Anna stood in it and they shoveled sand around her.  They added sand until Anna was covered up to her hips.  With the area now covered with sand, the water was forced to the plants.

Eventually, they had to abandon the farm.  The land was worthless.  Although oil had been found in Bakersfield, none came from their property.  The good news was that because of the land boom, they were able to get jobs at the land office in town.  Then, an old acquaintance from Germany suggested they go to San Francisco where Ernest could get a job with Schwabacker-Frey, a large company selling stationery, photographic supplies and various printed items.  Then came the earthquake of  1906.  The business was destroyed, so Bob’s father worked during the clean-up and reconstruction.

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The more of these Gustavus interviews I do, the more I am amazed at the people who live here.  So many of them love to travel, and have been to far-flung parts of the world.  Aimee Youmans is no exception, but has done more than her share of seeing and experiencing distant places.  It seems to me that there are three kinds of people in this community.  One group is content spending their life here.  Another group has done their exploring of the planet, and find in Gustavus a quiet place to spend their later years.  Many others consider Gustavus a home base, from which they can travel and explore where they will, and when their journeys are completed, they return to the calm, comfort, and familiarity of home.  I believe people here are oddly unique, and Aimee fits that description.

Aimee Youmans was born in Seattle on September 6, 1948.  The family immediately moved to Sitka, where Aimee lived until she was ten.  Her mom, Anne, got a job as a nurse at the Sitka Pioneer’s Home, where she worked for 25 years.  For Aimee’s first ten years she lived in Sitka.  She says a bit of her heart is still there.

When she was ten, her father already had a job at Glacier Bay Park.  He was discovered by the Park Service.  He had been prospecting.  Though he had done nothing illegal, her dad said they hired him so they could keep track of him.  He worked on the Nunatak, the supply boat for the park service, as a deckhand.  At the time, there was only a foot path to the park.  It was decided to start building a station at Bartlett Cove, and her dad became the foreman.  They got the roads in and docks built.  When Aimee was five or six she visited her dad, who lived in a wall tent in the summer and a small cabin in the winter.

Then began the annual family exploration of Glacier Bay, for two weeks every summer.  Aimee recalls, “My mother would pack the big ham, spam and foodstuffs in the Spindrift, our ‘marine station wagon’ that my dad built from a ‘Kriskraft’ kit.  We would set up camp in the Ibach’s old cabin in Reid Inlet, the kitchen and bunks for my brother and me, and a wall tent master bedroom just outside.  At this time, Muz Ibach’s trees, rhubarb, and the vestiges of her garden were all the green in the rocky new landscape of the West Arm of Glacier Bay.  We rarely saw another boat or plane, and never any animals at all.

One night a berg came into the pothole harbor on the high tide and picked our boat off the hook.  What a surprise in the morning!  My dad had to row the little punt halfway to Russell Island to retrieve it.  Who knows where and when it would have been found had he not spied it far out in the channel!”

Another favorite family jaunt was to take their boat behind Lester Island in the Beardslees to a small island called “Strawberry Island.”  Aimee and her family used to go there every year to collect raspberries from prolific bushes at the old fox farm.  They also gathered their strawberries from both sides of the road out to the park before there were trees, giving them a plentiful bonanza of berries.

In her tenth year, Aimee and her brother, Ken, came out to live with their dad.  Their older brother and sister were just finishing high school in Sitka, so they stayed with their mother until they graduated.  The Gustavus School needed eight children to start.  Ken and Aimee were number seven and eight, so there were enough to open.  The school at the time was held in the former preschool.  Over time this building served as a grade school, preschool, and the post office.

Aimee’s mom saved up her days off and flew out from Sitka when she could.  She flew the milk run — Angoon; Tenakee; Pelican; finally, to Gustavus.  Her plane was a weather plane — a Grumman Goose, which was a World War II plane.  To get from Juneau to Sitka she flew on a PBY, another World War II plane, which landed at Merchant’s Wharf in downtown Juneau.  In later years, her father would visit Anne via skiff along the Outer Coast.  He traveled in a small boat in a big ocean, and the trip took most of the day.

Ken and Aimee were park kids.  Then there were homesteaders’ kids (Chase family,) and some children from CAA:  (Civil Aeronautics Administration) families who stayed to maintain the emergency airfield.  These were pretty mobile families, so the kids “changed” from year to year.

Aimee was in fifth grade when she started school in Gustavus.  One teacher instructed all eight students.  Aimee says, “The students’ purpose seemed to be to entertain the community.  We put on many shows, programs, and music events.” During the winter, Aimee and Ken came to school on the snowplow which their dad drove.  He picked up the Chase kids as well, then proceeded to the school.

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Annie “Cricket” Mackovjak tells an amazing story. She has lived through some great adventures, and has come out of them carrying only the benevolent scars of memory.  Read about this first part of her life journey and see if you don’t agree with me that she must be protected by a very competent guardian angel.

Annie’s story will appear in this blog in two parts.  This first part describes her adventures up to her marriage to Jim Mackovjak in December of 1978.  The second section lists the highlights of her life after moving to Gustavus.

Annie Osgood Mackovjak was born on December 5, 1948, in Lincoln, Maine.  The family home was in Prentiss, a town so small that some people in Maine didn’t know where to find it.  Annie grew up on Maple Grove Farm, a dairy and potato farm.  Annie’s brother tapped maple trees from their farm for Christmas gifts.  A neighboring family tapped the trees for syrup to make their living, using horses to provide labor, doing things the old-fashioned way.

In the 20s and 30s the family sold lots of apples, sending them by train to Boston.  They no longer harvested the orchard by the time Annie came along.  However, her mother still made lots of applesauce.  These days, her brother still lives on the farm, and the deer eat more of the apples than the humans do.

Annie has always loved being outside, and when she was young she was given the nickname of “Cricket,” as they chirped every night in the summer.  (This nickname actually came back to her twice later in her life.)  She earned the nickname from her mom, though she spent many hours outside with her dad, helping with feeding and milking the cattle, getting in the hay, and digging potatoes.  When she was six or seven she had a pony that she rode a great deal.  She didn’t have a bicycle until she reached eighth grade.  Very often after school her dad would have her pony saddled and waiting in the stable so she could ride.

When she was ten, her dad got a sleigh on skis.  They lived on a side road with little traffic, so she could take her brother on rides in the winter.

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Greg Streveler is a modest and unassuming man who does not agree that he is a Gustavus icon; however, I believe the description fits.  He has worked for many years, either for pay or simply as a concerned citizen, to move forward projects designed to enhance life here.  His contributions to our  community, no matter what he says, have been enormous.

Greg was born in Racine, Wisconsin.  He lived with his folks across the state line on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.  His dad worked in the steel mills as an electrician.  When Greg was six, they all moved to Marathon County in Wisconsin, where his parents were born.  The family lived in the country about 30 miles south of Wausau.  His dad was the “Mark Berry” of their community.  (Mark Berry is the local man in Gustavus who wears many hats and fixes what we break.)  Greg says his dad could fix anything.  Greg was often his “gofer.”

They lived in farm country.  Though they didn’t run a farm themselves, they were surrounded by them.  Consequently, Greg grew up working for farmers.  He says, “To this day I have to get my hands in dirt or I don’t feel right.”

Greg worked for a German farmer, Joseph Baur, who paid him what he earned and taught him to be useful.  He adds, “There was a difference between then and now.  During my youth, people were poor enough that the work I did for them really mattered.  That’s always stuck with me.  I wanted to be useful.”

Greg says he had a lovely childhood.  He had a very tight family; his parents were good to each other and to the children.  The neighbors and his parents were good because they gave Greg things to do that made him feel worthwhile.  He was lucky as a kid.  Everyone treated the children well in the community too — they all looked after each other.  Greg feels grateful to have had that.

At 12 years old, he was put in charge of the garden, 1/4 acre in size.  They grew everything in that garden.  His dad helped him when he could but he said, “This is up to you.”  He learned to use a rototiller and spent a lot of time with a hoe.

A moment from his childhood:  Greg loved sports.  His dad said they didn’t have money to get him a ball glove.  Greg finally earned enough to buy his first baseman’s mitt for $12.95.  It had Ted Williams’ name on it.  Greg felt it important to work and to see what changes earnings could bring.  He had that mitt until he moved to Alaska.  While in Anchorage,  Greg watched  some young people playing catch.  One tall black lad had no glove; he was catching with his bare hands.  Greg gave the boy his glove, deciding that he needed it more than Greg did.

For his last two years of high school, his folks sent him to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to stay with an aunt and uncle.  This was the first time he had lived away from home.  He went to a school run by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic teaching order.  He found out he could think!  In his earlier years, he just got through school; nobody learned about thinking.  He was more interested in playing baseball.  When he went to that school, he found it pretty cool to think.  His grades improved; he took that self-teaching skill to university.  He still uses it to this day.

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Since his arrival last May, David Thomas has jumped into Gustavus community life with both feet, introducing his own roasted coffee brand, Sentinel Coffee, and initiating a number of new activities here.  He has taken over the editorship of the Strawberry Point Pioneer, our local newspaper, started a “slow food” recurring event, and begun a monthly foreign film showing.  What a great addition to the town!  His energy and ideas add new enjoyment to our lives.  Read on to learn of the niche he is building for himself here.

David moved here because his wife, Louise (known as Lou,) a marine biologist, got a job at Glacier Bay Park.  A Juneau woman, she was hired as a whale ecologist, arriving here in November of 2015.  As David was working for the legislative session, he waited until it was over to move.  The couple found a cabin to rent from Karen and Larry Platt near the Good River, through the recommendation of a friend.

Actually, David had been here before.  Gustavus was the first place in Alaska he visited.  After completing a job in 2001, he returned to his birthplace, Massachusetts, and got a job as a bar manager.  However, he decided he wanted to travel again.  He looked for work on CoolWorks.com, and found a job working as a server at the Bear Track Inn for the summer of 2001.

After leaving Gustavus behind, David started a small coffee shop in Woodstock, Vermont, traveled the country in an RV and finally wound up on the Oregon coast, where he set up another coffee shop.  The Oregon coast taught David surf kayaking, hitchhiking, and pastry-making. It is also where he met his future wife, Lou.  David’s Ye Olde Green Salmon Coffee  is still open to this day, owned and operated by David’s original business partner.  A well-known eccentric hippy joint, David always insisted of the Green Salmon, “We are not hippies!”

In the summer of 2010, he went with Lou to the Pribilof Islands, where she had a job as a biological technician.  That summer he worked as a volunteer.  David and Lou were married on October 3, 2010, and went to New Zealand for the winter.  In the summer of 2011 they started doing the fur seal count together as part of a “mark and recapture” study with NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) in the Pribilofs.

David has an established coffee business in Juneau.  This business is not his first experience with roasting coffee. His operation is small.  He services 6 cafes in Juneau, and caters to individual customers on a subscription service.  At present, he returns to  Juneau every Monday on the ferry and comes home again on Wednesday.  On his ferry-rides, he does bookkeeping and paperwork.  In Juneau, he does his deliveries with a helper, as there are lots of stops.  They deliver to homes, offices, the six cafes, and Bartlett Regional Hospital.  Besides coffee, David carries 20 different types of tea and a chocolate sauce to die for.

To Stephanie Shor’s satisfaction, David took over the newspaper, the Strawberry Point Pioneer, in November of 2016.  His goal is to make the paper free.  In order to do so, he needs more advertisers and sponsors.  Right now it costs him $2.46 to print each copy, and at a customer cost of $2.00 to put the paper out, he loses money even if every copy is sold.  If he can cover printing costs with advertising consistently, he will make the paper free.

David got his publishing experience just out of high school.  He got involved in something called “zines” — these were self-published, small, not mass-produced booklets, requiring a small printer.  They used to be printed in small batches in bookstores, and included short stories, poetry, and essays.  Those types of magazines tended to be politically charged, though David was often more philosophical in his writing.  He found the experience to be helpful when he started doing the newspaper.

David has started a special food event here.  “Slow Food” was a movement which began in Italy about 15 years ago, as a protest against a McDonald’s moving to the Spanish Steps in Rome.  Started by one man in Italy, it soon became international.  It initially focused on traditional foods and methods, hence “slow.”  The movement had a credo:  To advocate for diversity in ecosystems and society; protect natural resources for future generations; help people and the environment to depend on each other; promote food that is locally, seasonally, and sustainably grown.  As David really likes cultural foods of all different types, these dinners offer him a chance to show his skills.   He likes recreating traditional recipes, and seeing how the way we prepare food has developed over time.

Gustavus “slow food” nights will be announced on Gustavus Buy/Sell/Trade, so watch for these announcements, bring your dish, and attend!  You will enjoy an excellent meal.

For our added community enjoyment, David is now showing foreign films once a month.  Watch the paper for the schedule.  David says he owned a café in Oregon where he did a film series.  He says choosing is hard with subtitles.  He likes to have seen the movie so he knows it is a good one, that does not include any offensive material.

David has been asked to join the Gustavus Community Center board, so he will have yet another place to utilize his talents.

In his spare time, David’s main focus is kayaking.  In Gustavus he has the opportunity to participate in this hobby quite regularly.  Actually, he met Lou while living and kayaking in Newport, Oregon, so it is an activity they enjoy together.



Now that you have learned of David’s activities since he has moved to Gustavus, go on to read “the rest of the story.”  You’ll read something of David’s many travels since he left his family home in Massachusetts, more about how he met his wife, Lou, an interesting look at the Pribilof Islands, and background on how his present business developed.  I believe that you will agree that he is definitely a valuable addition to our community.

David was born in 1979 in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He lived in the small suburb of Holden, living there through high school.  By then he was ready for a change.

His love of the outdoors began in his youth.  Here is a picture of the countryside close to his Massachusetts home.

He says he didn’t have the best time in high school and decided to go into seasonal work rather than college.  He got a job as a food server at Yellowstone National Park.  This job made him realize he could travel through his work.  He liked to work places where he traveled because in this way he could become acquainted with the local people, whereas tourists don’t really fully understand an area.  He lived inside the park so he could see its inner workings, and thoroughly explore the back country.  Being there through every weekend, he could see the seasons progressing and animals changing with their seasonal cycles.  He says you can really get to know a place when you see those changes.

Immediately upon his arrival in Yellowstone, he decided to hike up Electric Peak.  He had not experienced high-altitude hiking before, so it is not surprising that he got altitude sickness.

David’s favorite place to camp while in Yellowstone was the Lamar Valley.  He began camping there after a group of wolves had been relocated in the park, and it was the first time he heard them howl before he moved to Gustavus.

He worked at the winter lodge at Old Faithful and at the Yellowstone Inn, built by a 21-year-old architect.  The Inn has an impressive central fireplace and twisted wood banisters.

For the next winter season, he got a job at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida.  It was a private club for the rich folks.  David hired on as a server and then started bartending at the “clubhouse” for the country club.  The club had three golf courses, but the clubhouse was only for those on the members’ list.  It was very exclusive; no guests were admitted.  David said it gave him a view into another world.

He met several famous people while working there.  One of them also happened to be named David Thomas.  He was the founder of Wendy’s.  When the two were introduced, the David Thomas from Wendy’s said, “I must challenge you to a duel, because there can be only one David Thomas.”

He lived on the grounds at first, but wanted to experience more of the Keys.  He moved in with two other guys who rented an apartment — a dumpy one-bedroom accommodation in town.  He stayed there for a month and a half, and couldn’t handle it any longer.  There were already three people staying in this small apartment, and then another worker from the club moved in.  The next new resident was a 15-year-old homeless girl.  One of the men owned a parrot.  David gave the parrot to friends to deliver to his sister.

He says he made more money at that job than he ever had before, yet he never had money because he always spent it.  Getting rid of pests was an ongoing undertaking.  Cockroaches and ants filled the apartment.  To get rid of them, the apartment dwellers finally brought in lizards from outside.  This solution was a trade-off, as the lizards chirped all night and caused sleeplessness.

He had to get out of that situation, so he moved into a camping spot right next to the channel, at the John Pennakamp Coral Reef State Park.  The campground lay on the border of the park, making it ideal for David, as he could jump in his kayak from there and go out to paddle and snorkel.  It could be considered a strange transition, going from staying at the posh club to a hammock  in a campground, but he found it a very satisfactory place to be.

When David went kayaking from his camp, he traveled out to a group of mooring buoys and secured his craft.  The buoys were grouped together above a statue called “Jesus Christ of the Abyss.”  Permanently anchored on the ocean floor, it was 20 feet below the surface.  David found it to be a good starting point for his underwater snorkel explorations.

For a summer season he went to Newport, Rhode Island, and worked as a server/bartender at the Vanderbilt Hotel downtown.  A British company owned the hotel, so David learned a lot about European-style fine dining and bartending.  His “teacher” was a fellow who made a career out of butlering.  David got to know how to do things according to British tradition and how these traditions came about.

David liked mixology.  He mixed drinks all the time, and found that coffee often made an interesting addition.  Over the years he learned to mix flavor profiles.  He took courses on scotch and wine.  Many high-end hotels offer courses to learn about such drinks.

While in Newport, David spent a lot of time learning how to sail.  Sailing was very good at the time he was there.  The Americus Cup used to be held there, and the town boasted a large sailing community.  He had taken a sailing class in high school and really liked it.  He got back into it in Newport, doing a class that summer.

He spent a winter in Vail, Colorado, skiing and bartending.  Next he went to Maine for a summer season at Acadia National Park, which is close to Bar Harbor.

The next winter he worked as bar manager for the Picadilly Pub, right next to the Patriots Stadium in Massachusetts.  Being back home, he realized he didn’t really want to be in Massachusetts.  He began to see what this lifestyle was all about.  He went in to work at 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., and got off work at 5:00 in the morning.  He realized his life had become unhealthy.  He had not much chance there to be involved with nature; he liked places where people were more  connected to their natural world.  However, his job gave him good experience, which would be useful later.

Summer, 2001, he got online and found a job in Gustavus through CoolWorks.com.  He worked as a server at the Bear Track Inn with Mike Olney, then the inn’s manager.  He really liked Alaska.  The job provided his first west coast experience.  However, warned of the winter cold and dark, he veered away from an Alaskan winter.

Instead, he went to Vermont, where he worked for the Rockefeller resorts in Woodstock, Vermont.  David liked Vermont because of winter skiing and an interesting view into traditional Northeast culture in the summer.

David said, “For me, my development started when I left home.  I started learning a lot about my philosophy of life when I lived in Vermont.  I went to the Maple Forest Monastery in Woodstock and started meditation classes there.”  Maple Forest is a Thich Nhat Hanh monastery, following his teachings.  David says he studied various philosophies, learning how to get more control of his life and his emotions.  He found it helpful to be able to learn and then practice his lessons.

At this point in his life, David decided he would no longer work for other people.  He started a coffeehouse in Vermont.  He began brewing his own coffee and baking for his business.  He found that other bakers were not consistent in quality, so he decided to do the job himself.  He wanted to keep featuring a high-quality product.  That started his baking career.  Since he was purchasing kitchen equipment, he felt he might as well start roasting coffee as well.

He learned his roasting skills while he worked.  He took courses with Specialty Coffee Association of America.  Here he learned how to roast coffee beans.  He also took courses at traditional shows in Boston, or in other big cities.

David learned baking through on-the-job training.  He took small courses in bread making.  He took one from King Arthur Flour, who offers a class in Vermont.  Later, when he lived in Oregon, he began doing more and more pastry, from making a couple of choices to baking lots of variety.  David likes pastry baking the best, and says he might be talked into doing a local bakery class.

David teamed up with another traveling seasonal worker , Deb Gisetto.  He sold his shop in Vermont and decided to purchase a camper trailer.  They traveled around the Mexican border and got a feel for the country. They intended to live in the trailer and get jobs on the west coast.  They went through Oregon and Washington.  At Port Townsend they turned around and started coming back.  They ended up on the Oregon coast at Florence, Oregon, on the Siuslaw River.

They intended to try to find some earth-based work, but the owner of the trailer park  where they lived had a building on a dock by the river.  He found out that David had a background in the coffee business, and wanted him to convert the building to a coffee shop.  He told David, “You don’t have to pay rent until you start making money.”  So they started cleaning the space.  The venture became a fiasco.  They ran into so many problems with permitting for the business that it became impossible to continue.  As they already had about $18,000 in the venture, they decided to find another spot for a coffee shop.  They went to Yachats, Oregon, and started the Green Salmon Coffee Shop.  It included a bakery and a coffee roastery.  After five years there, David sold the shop to Deb, and they parted ways there.  Deb kept the business.

David became interested in meditation after his initial experience at Maple Forest.  While at the coffee shop in Yachats, he heard of a group of Tibetan monks who were touring, trying to raise money for a monastery in India.  David contacted them and invited them to Yachats.  There, they created a sand mandala, right on the floor of the coffee shop.

The monks worked on the mandala in shifts.  It took five days to build.  As they lay the sand down, they meditated on prayers for peace.  On the sixth day the finished mandala was swept up and thrown into the ocean, releasing the prayers into the world.  Hundreds of people came through while they were working on the mandala, and over 100 people came to watch the sweeping up ceremony.

That winter, David went to Newport, Oregon, working his barista trade.  He first saw Lou from his station at the espresso machine, when she came in as a customer regularly, visiting with her classmates from Oregon State University.  She had a kayak on top of her car.  David told her if she ever wanted to go kayaking with him, let him know.  So they started kayaking together all along the Oregon coast. They did one long trip up to the head of the Columbia River.  Then Lou went on a trawl survey for a month.  This separation caused the couple to realize that they really missed each other and wanted to be together.  They ended up living together in Newport.

David went with Lou to the Pribilof Islands for the first time as a volunteer the summer of 2010, and worked in a “mark and recapture” program.  Workers would mark the fur seal pups  by cutting a small patch of guard hair off their heads, leaving a white spot.  They marked 10% of the group in this way, then re-released them into the main group.  Then they went back and counted the number of marked pups in groups of 25 to get a population estimate.  Residents helped with the study, with the tribal council selecting the workers.  Northern fur seals are managed by NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service.)

Lou worked as an observer; her job was tagging fur seal pups.  Tags on individual seals allowed them to keep track of the survival rate through the

years.  Observations were done from the cliff tops.  Each year they did a resighting and recounting on both islands, with St. Paul hosting the biggest

group of animals.  They looked for tagged individuals, and noted how many were nursing.  The adults would leave the pups on the beach and go out to feed for a couple of days; then come back to nurse the pups.  From their observations, NMFS could estimate the total population, birth rate each year,  survival at different age classes, and other statistics known as vital rates.

At the end of the summer when the pups were old enough, the team tagged a new generation so they could record their life and movements.  Adult fur seals are only on land to give birth.

After the first year on St. Paul, Dave and Lou went to St. George.  They were in the Pribilofs for five seasons total, four of them on St. George.  They lived on the island where they worked. The people living on St. George were vastly outnumbered by fur seals.  The population was

Village of St. George

recorded as 74, but only about 50 people actually lived there, many of them quite elderly.  The population of St. Paul was recorded as 530 people.

The dense natural environment created by the continental shelf  supports millions of breeding sea birds.  The islands are all tundra. Herds of reindeer  roam free on both islands.

At one time fur seal hunting had to be stopped because of over-harvesting, and for a while a food source went missing for the Native community. The reindeer herds were introduced to provide an additional source of food.  Since then, subsistence fur seal hunting is again permitted.


The two found it took a couple of years before people started opening up to them.  Native residents were suspicious of new people, especially government workers.  Once they got to know each other, they began making friends.  Others visited — Fish and Wildlife did bird studies; traveling scientists from all over the world visited each year.

Locals halibut fished.  There was no industry and no real place for a garden.  One year David helped build a geodesic greenhouse for the community.  

APICDA (Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association) helped fund the project as a community development activity.  This group takes all the fishing quota allowed for the community in the Bering Sea and then fishes the quota for them.  They also sell the fish, and the money is used for community infrastructure projects.  St. Paul also boasts a Trident Seafood cannery, which caters to crab fishermen.  They come there to deliver, providing another source of revenue for the town.

This experience changed David’s view of Alaska and villages.  He enjoyed learning of the complexities of village life and getting to know a Native culture.  A  bush village does not have the same world view because it is isolated.  The Pribilof villages face many challenges due to

their isolation and lack of employment opportunities. Like many struggling villages in Alaska, the residents are torn between wanting to stay and keeping the communities alive and leaving to find better futures for themselves Outside.

After David’s first time in the Pribilofs with Lou, they returned to Newport, Oregon and married on October 3, 2010. On their honeymoon in Newport, Rhode Island,  David took Lou out sailing to show his expertise.  Their sailboat was a J20 (20-foot J-class sailor.) In no time at all the boat was grounded in the shallows of the very busy waters of Newport Bay.  A bystander on the dock who knew about sailing (and tourists) told them how to get out of the sand.  The sailboat had a weighted keel that was stuck in the sand, so they had to leave the sails open while David hung his body off the shrouds over the water so the boat would lean onto its side. Meanwhile, Lou steered with the jib until it reached deeper water. They narrowly avoided wrecking their rental boat, not to mention the several million dollar yachts moored close by.

David and Lou went to Akaroa, New Zealand, on the Banks Peninsula, for the rest of the winter months.  David found work as a barista at “By the Green” coffee shop, while Lou volunteered for a PhD study on New Zealand fur seals. After that winter, they went back to the Pribilofs for the summer.  Then they went to Juneau, where Lou got a legislative job for the winter.  David spent two winters working at Rainbow Foods.

In the winter of 2013, Lou started working for Jamie Womble, doing aerial surveys for harbor seals in Glacier Bay National Park, and David took Lou’s position at the legislature.  Then in summer, Lou’s contract overlapped the Pribilof Island job so David went alone.  They did one last summer together in the Pribilofs after that, before David started a coffee roastery in Juneau.

David and Lou have done an international trip  almost every year since their marriage.  So far they have visited New Zealand, Greece, Mexico, Belize, and France.  On the year they went to France, they visited a childhood friend of Lou’s, a historian.  She worked for a private tour company in Paris and treated them both to an amazing private tour of the Louvre and many classic neighborhoods around the city.

French town

Cathar Way

The second half of that trip brought them by train to the start of the hiking trail, the “Cathar Way.”  Along the route they found people to be very friendly and interested in someone experiencing their area by foot.  They saw compact towns surrounded by agricultural fields.  David says this arrangement, as opposed to the US model of wide open spaces and distant farmhouses, made the area a lot more “villagesque.”  In the photo is a picture of a windmill that is attached to a bakery, which grinds its own spelt flour.


In 2013 they traveled to Belize, going first to the coast and then exploring a bit of the interior.  They first stayed at Grover’s Atoll.  They arrived late and missed their water taxi, and had to hire a man with a skiff to take them there, about a 90-minute trip across open ocean, guided by only a compass.  They stayed in a grass-covered hut and rented kayaks.  They were there for about two weeks.

While there, they decided to see how many coconuts they could eat in a day without getting sick.  Lou holds the record, as she ate six coconuts and never got sick, but David gave up after two.

Every day the owners of the island would go out to fish, then bring their catch into town to sell.  They made sure David and Lou had a share; they ate fish every night they were there.

Mayan ruin

On their travels, they saw many ruins.  Here is a Mayan ruin they saw when they explored inland.

David says that Belize is an interesting mix — a true melting pot of cultures, even more so than here.  The population ranged from African natives to English colonists, and the country hosted lots of visitors.  He remarks that he did not see any racism at all — folks, though all mixed together, were tolerant of each other.

David’s coffee comes from all over the world, depending on the importer.  All are traceable to a farm source, listed with the Fair Trade Coop.  Thus he can tell exactly where his coffee was grown.

Coffee is part of a rich, world-wide tradition.  It is the second most traded commodity in the world.  It has a long history — like food, it brings people together, because the majority of people use the product.  Coffee houses become gathering places.  A lot of revolutions have been hatched in coffee houses.

Now we in Gustavus are privileged to enjoy all the extra goodness David adds to our lives.  Try his coffee, tea, and chocolate sauce.  Enjoy a foreign film presentation.  Look in the newspaper to learn when to bring your dish to a “slow food” night.  You will get a sample of David’s yummy cooking while there.  When you see David, tell him “thank you” for moving to Gustavus.


After I finished the article on Annie, I realized I had more questions about the climbs she made.  Perhaps some of you do, too.  So, for this column, I will do something a bit different.  I’ve asked Annie four  questions about the climb.  Read on to learn her answers.  After you have read them, if you have further questions, please send them in the comments section at the end of this column, and I will get answers from Annie and print them here, as well.

Here’s what I asked her:

  1.  Were you ever scared during your climbs?  “There were times I got worried, but very rarely scared.  I was scared when I was awakened and thought a crevasse was going to open and swallow me when the ice groaned and cracked deep below my tent on Denali.  Also, fear gripped me when the first climber on my rope team fell into a crevasse and I hoped we’d be able to hold him from not going too far.  Luckily, we did, though we had to do a real crevasse rescue to get him out.  Otherwise, I was most scared rock climbing.  I never did it very much but it was always free climbing, and I was always afraid I was going to fall and break bones, whether I was 10 feet up or 25 inches.  I always thought of a friend who was a Swiss mountain guide.  He fell in the Alps and broke 15 bones in his feet.  He had to walk 5 miles out after that happened.  I don’t know how he did it
  2. Was it hard to learn how to walk in snowshoes?  I don’t remember anyone having any trouble using snowshoes.  Although some of the people could ski well, we used the snowshoes to have a level playing field with all the expedition members.  Snowshoes were also a help for crevasses as, at that time, the snowshoes were longer and would more easily help wedge a climber into the sides of the crevasse, preventing a deep fall.  I remember reading about a McKinley climb in the early 80s with Jim Wickwire.  His climbing partner fell into a crevasse.  The fellow was lodged head down and Jim could not get him out.
  3. Did you use ropes, pitons, or other climbing gear at all while climbing the mountain?  We were always roped up on the mountain — lower down for the possibility of crevasses and higher up, where it was steeper, for falls.  There was a fixed line on Denali’s Headwall from about 15,500 feet to the ridge at 16,200 feet.  We would use our jumars (mechanical ascenders attaching us to the fixed line) to go up that one 45 to 50 degree section, the steepest part of the climb.  Then, hiking from 16,200 feet to the bowl at 17,200 feet was the most dramatic part of the climb because the ridge occasionally narrows to perhaps 2 to 3 feet across, and drops off dramatically on both sides.  You are totally exposed and many climbers have lost gear here, which has tumbled down to the Peters Glacier far below.  I’ve read that there are now fixed lines around Washburn’s Thumb on the ridge.  We always had our ice axe, as well.  We practiced doing belays, self-arrests, and crevasse rescues before every climb.

Did you have to rappel from anything during the climb?  No, we didn’t do any rappels on Denali or Aconcagua.  The only rappels I’ve done have been totally for fun and practice, both off cliffs and into crevasses.

Okay, readers, now it’s your turn.  If you have further climbing questions for Annie, please post them at the bottom of this article.  Hoping to hear from some of you.


After Annie and Jim got married in Maine, they returned to Talkeetna to run dogs.  Later in January they drove the 800 miles from Talkeetna to Haines to catch the ferry to Juneau.  They had a little yellow VW bug which Annie had bought brand new in Anchorage in 1972.  Annie had driven about every road possible in the area at that time.  Jim had hit a moose with it near Talkeetna so he had to put in a Plexiglas windshield with a plywood frame.

They drove toward Tok during a big snowstorm.  Jim was wearing his Arctic parka and Annie was wrapped in a down sleeping bag to stay warm.  On their feet they wore “Bunny” boots (vapor barrier boots made for the military to stay warm in extreme cold) so their feet were toasty.  The snow blew and drifted.  They would have to gain speed on the bare stretches of road in order to bust through the drifts.  On one straight stretch where it was hard to tell where the road ran, they actually went off the road, throwing up snow all around them so they couldn’t see anything.  Amazingly, there were no trees; only a few low bushes, so they ended up almost back on the road.  Luckily, another car came along within an hour and helped push them back on the highway.

In Canada, several miles beyond Dezadeash, they traveled in a line of three cars following the plow truck.  As they gained elevation, the visibility became almost zero and the snow got so deep that the plow had to turn around.  Fortunately, they had enough money to get a room at the Dezadeash Lodge for the night.

The original cabin

Finally they arrived in Gustavus.  They left their little bug in Juneau and flew home.  Fred Rose picked them up at the airport and gave them a ride to Four Corners.  No one lived on Wilson Road or at Rink Creek in the winter then, so they had not plowed the road.  Annie and Jim had to walk carrying packs all the way home through the snow.  Leaving Four Corners at 4:00 p.m., they finally made it to their cabin at 7:00 p.m.  It was a clear moonlit night, so they were able to navigate easily, though slowly,  through the 16 inches of snow.  Jim had to do a return trip that night to get more of their gear and food supplies.

Gustavus had less than 100 residents during the winter then, and the mail plane only came twice a week, making for a big social gathering at the post office while awaiting the mail.  They started clearing more land and building a big shop.  Annie spent a lot of time taking out stumps with shovel, axe, and mattock.  The wood for the building came from DeRosier’s sawmill at Excursion Inlet.  Sometimes he brought the wood over on a barge, and Jim and Annie walked the planks out to the barge to unload it at the boat harbor.  Once Jim went to Excursion Inlet in his skiff and pulled a raft of lumber home, going about 3 knots..

Annie and Jim interrupted their building with trips into Glacier Bay, hikes around the Point and up Excursion Ridge, visits from Maine friends, and community potlucks, especially crab feeds.  Being a small community still in the early stages of growth, most everyone had an outhouse.  Few people had phones.  Annie always had to ride her bike to the post office, where there was a pay phone to make calls.  However, in 1982, Jim was able to use abandoned phone line to lay a line along Wilson Road and hook them up.

Even though homes were spread out, there was always a strong sense of community.  Gustavus had no formal government; only the Gustavus Community Association.  You became a member by writing your name in the GCA book.  Then, just as now, the community functioned on volunteers.  For example, the city had an Arts Council that arranged for artists to come to Gustavus for performances, and Larry Tong helped organize volunteer fire fighters.

In the fall of 1979, Ray Genet, after exhausting his body by leading four expeditions on McKinley that summer, climbed as a member of an international expedition on Mount Everest led by Gerhard Schmatz, a German.  Genet and a New Zealand climber arrived late in Nepal and had to walk in to the 18,000-foot base camp on their own.  Moreover, Genet was ill from an unknown affliction when he arrived at the camp.  Seeking treatment, he walked slowly down 15 miles to the Khunde Hospital, near 14,000 feet.  (Sir Edmund Hillary built the hospital in 1966.)  One source said Genet was treated for an infection from a leech bite.  Genet was not one to quit:  he returned to camp and became the eighth American to reach the 29,029-foot summit.

Descending from the summit, he traveled on the last rope team.  It was getting late, and Genet and the expedition leader’s wife, Hannelore Schmatz, and Sherpa Sundare decided to stop for the night at 27,500 feet, where they dug in.  By morning, Genet was dead and Hannelore collapsed and died soon after.  Sundare had frozen feet and snow blindness, but after his rescue he eventually recovered.  Annie had received letters from Genet from base camp and the hospital and she was not prepared for the news of his death.  He had incredible strength and stamina and could outlast almost anyone.  It was hard to believe he had reached his limit.

Later that fall, the yellow VW again took to the road, heading down the West coast.  They drove to Texas and then took a bus to Mexico City.  One day in a taxi, Annie found herself part of a Mexican standoff.  About eight lanes of traffic went in multiple directions, with not a traffic light in sight.  When drivers decided that the two cross lanes had been going long enough, the other two lanes would start inching their way out and finally block off the traffic flow, allowing those two lanes to go until drivers in competing lanes repeated the strategy.  It looked like chaos, and the drivers who braved the flow of traffic and eventually cut it off seemed to take their life in their own hands.  But, somehow, it worked.

Annie atop Popocatepetl

Jim and Annie wanted to climb two Mexican volcanos.  Their first goal, Popocatépetl, a 17,800-foot active volcano, also happened to be the second-highest volcano in North America.  They decided to do the Ruta Ventorrillo and climbed the first day to a hut just before the snow and ice line.  The next morning, they headed for the summit.  En route, they had to traverse a 45-degree ice-covered slope, so they roped up.  Annie remembers being scared, as the trail followed along the edge of a cliff with a huge drop-off just below.  They had to firmly plant each crampon step.  Upon reaching the volcano’s rim, they became nauseated by the strong sulfur fumes emanating from below.  To descend, they chose the Ruta Normal, mostly a cinder-covered slope where you would take one step, but slide about two.

They stopped next at Orizaba to climb Pico de Orizaba, a dormant volcano and the third highest peak in North America.  In Pre-Columbian times it had a name meaning “the ground that reaches the clouds.”  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.  For the three days they waited to climb, Orizaba was enshrouded in fog.

Returning to Texas, they drove the bug  to the East Coast.  While in Boston, they visited the Museum of Science.  Annie had corresponded with Bradford Washburn several times when he had written Genet for information about McKinley.  Washburn had helped establish this museum and been its director in addition to being an avid mountaineer, photographer, and cartographer.  On a climb of McKinley in 1947, his wife Barbara accompanied him and became the first woman to climb to the summit.

When Annie asked at the museum’s front desk if she could see Mr. Washburn, they looked at her as if she had asked to see the Wizard of Oz.  Quickly, they told her “no.”  Being persistent, Annie kept pestering and finally they agreed they would call him.  He immediately said to send them up, and visited with them in his office on the museum’s top floor for almost an hour.

As they headed back to Seattle, Annie realized it was Super Bowl Sunday, and the best day to drive.  They met hardly another car on the road.  As they traveled on a very tight budget, most nights they slept in the car.  Annie wedged herself in a sleeping bag on top of all their gear in the back seat while Jim curled up on the front seats.  It helped to be very tired.

Annie and Jim spent all their summers in Gustavus and traveled in the winter, working in the spring and fall.  They often worked in Petersburg, as one could arrive in town on one day and usually have a job by the next.  Jim would often write reports for Petersburg Fisheries or do carpentry work, and Annie would work at the cannery or the daycare.  They spent the spring of 1981, however, at Fir Island on the Skagit River near LaConner, Washington, helping friends refurbish a small house.  To earn some extra money, Annie joined migrant workers to pick daffodils and tulips.

Annie’s daughter, Anya, was born in September of that year. Shortly before Anya’s birth, they journeyed to Petersburg.  Friends had a place for them to stay, and they liked the doctor there.  The hospital at that time was basically a long-term care facility.  Although they spent most of the day at the hospital when Annie went into labor, they were the only ones there other than long-term care patients.  On Sunday, the doctor checked in several times during the day and finally arrived for business about 5:00 p.m., after a day of chopping wood.  As they still had a couple of hours to wait, he settled down to read the newspaper.  The whole event seemed more like a home birth.

In the summer of 1984, the family made a five-week trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park in the Brooks Range.  With them went Bob Howe, Bill Brown, Carolyn Elder, and Bill and Carolyn’s son, Danny.  They flew by float-plane from Bettles to the Kugrak River, near its confluence with the Noatak.  They established a routine of setting up camp and having one person stay in the camp with the two to three-year-olds, while the rest of the group hiked.  One day while Carolyn watched the kids, a strong gust of wind blew her tent over with the children napping in it, and sent it rolling along the tundra.  When she overtook it, Anya was crying, but Danny still slept.

The runaway tent

Tent camp

Annie says they had one unnerving grizzly bear encounter.  She and Jim took the kids onto a sandbar of the Kugrak, where they did laundry and made lunch while the kids played in the water.  A relatively small grizzly — perhaps 250 pounds — came around the bend and began heading toward them.  Jim had a rifle with three bullets in the magazine.  He tried to chamber one, but it was gritty and wouldn’t chamber.  Yelling and throwing stones at the bear, Jim put bullets in his mouth to clean them.  It worked.  He shot in front of the bear, and it jumped back. It went into the brush, but came out again soon after at the west side of the sandbar where Annie had taken the kids.  It started slowly advancing.  Jim fired two more times, with the same results.  With only two bullets remaining, Jim decided his next shot would be in the middle of the bear’s chest.  The bear went behind a low rise and Jim expected it to come after him.  By this time, Annie and the kids had headed up the hillside.  Finally, the bear crossed the river, but paced on the other side.  Jim sat for several hours watching the bear, ready to shoot if it decided to come back.  Fortunately, the bear apparently figured making a meal of Jim wasn’t worth the trouble and ambled off.

When they flew out to Bettles at the end of the trip, a message waited for Annie — her mother had been killed in a car accident in Maine.  When they reached Fairbanks, Anya and Annie got on a plane for Maine in their camping clothes.

Pregnant Annie taking out stump

That fall, the couple started Pt. Adolphus Seafoods in Gustavus, which primarily sold live Dungeness crab and fresh halibut and salmon purchased from local fishermen for West Coast markets.  The business operated until 2002.

In 1986, Chris was born at home in Douglas, and the Mackovjaks decided they needed more room in their house.  They put on an addition, doubling its size.

Seth was born in 1990, and slept in a little trundle bed that his parents pulled out each night from under their bed.

Annie’s Sherpa

In 1994, Annie went to Kathmandu, a trip celebrating the 50th birthday of Susan Clark, a Gustavus/Juneau resident.  In Kathmandu, Susan and her eight woman friends trekked with a Nepali woman guide, five Sherpas, five cook-staff members, and 21 porters.

From Gustavus, Annie’s flight led to Juneau, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, and at last, Kaathmandu.  The city is close to the same latitude as Miami, but at an elevation of 4,000 feet.  Annie describes this “Kaleidoscope City” well:

Nepali children

For me, the most impressive part of this city was its openness.  There were no closed doors, so to speak.  All of life was before your eyes.  You could watch 14 sacred cows eating garbage in the street, a mother nursing her child, a man bathing on his little balcony, a woman cooking, people spitting, worshipers performing religious rituals, the dead being cremated on the pyres in front of a Hindu temple, a yogi dressed mostly in his thick ground-length hair teaching those gathered about him, ragged street children or sightless beggars seeking rupees, young Buddhist monks in their maroon robes laughing together, tailors sewing, buffalo being slaughtered, monkeys swinging along the prayer wheels of a temple, women washing dishes or clothes in the brown waters of a river. No one could possibly be bored here–amazed, enthralled, grossed out, sickened, but never bored.

The group began their trek at Jiri, an eight-hour bus ride east of Kathmandu.  They then hiked to Phapu, a three to four-day trip east of Jiri by direct route, and 16 days by the groups’ circuitous wanderings.

Stupa (Meditation spot)

In the past, Annie’s hikes had concentrated on the natural beauty of an area and an avoidance of civilization.  Here, she found herself walking through the everyday lives of the Nepali people — past their homes of wood and stone, dark-eyed, black-haired children, goats and chickens, small terraced fields, prayer flags and mani stones (carved prayer stones). As the group wove through the countryside they realized these people’s lives were as open as in Kathmandu, and despite the poverty (by Western standards,) they were non-complaining, happy people, deeply religious, as their life and religion are one.  Annie observes that we could learn a great deal from them.

She says that the food was delicious, with lots of ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.  A common meal was daal bhat, which was white rice with a lentil sauce, usually served with a couple of vegetables, such as potatoes or cauliflower.  Momos — a favorite — were made with vegetables or meat and resembled a pot sticker.

The head Lama

The group visited several Buddhist monasteries.  At Thubten Chholing Gomba, an active monastery with 150 monks and nuns, they were privileged to have an audience with the head Lama, Tulshig Rimpoche.  His monastery had been on the northern slopes of Mt. Everest in Tibet.  He took refuge in Nepal after the Chinese takeover in 1959.

Annie says, I loved watching the monks and nuns during their day-long pujar — they would sit cross-legged on mats and chant their prayers.  If a couple of monks were talking and laughing, or another falling asleep, it didn’t disturb the concentration of the others nor was anything said to them.  It seemed a peaceful, respectful, accepting atmosphere — our only stress came from trying to down the yak butter tea they kept giving us.

In Phaplu the group met Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who, along with Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, was the first to climb Everest in 1953.  Hillary’s Himalayan Trust has helped to build and support schools, health clinics and two hospitals in Nepal, one here at Phaplu and one by Everest.  The trekking group was allowed to attend a dinner hosted by the hospital in which the Sherpa people honored Hillary for his generosity.

The Hillary Group

Many of the Sherpas placed a khata, a ceremonial white scarf, around Hillary’s neck as a symbol of their respect and regard.  It is said that the scarves are white to symbolize the pure heart of the giver.  Hillary must have been wearing about 30 scarves by the end of the evening.  Dancing and singing by the Sherpa people lasted until late that night.

At a shop in Phaplu Annie bought material for a skirt which a tailor made up for her in one hour, for the charge of 80 cents.  She also bought material for a sari and, when she wore it, the Nepali women smiled and called out didi, meaning sister, to her.

Annie says Nepal lived up to all her expectations.  She remarked that everything looked like a National Geographic photograph, and she wishes she could say the same for her photos.

Farmer and his yakeverything looked like a National Geographic photograph, and she wishes she could say the same for her photos.

In 1997, Jim and Annie began building their new house about 150 feet away from the one they were living in.  They designed the house, and Jim hired Gary Martell to help build it.  Actually, Gary really knew what he was doing, and Jim mostly assisted him.  According to Jim, they hung 300 sheets of sheet rock, and made only one bad cut in the process.  Guess how many pieces Jim cut?  One.  And the bad cut?  We won’t go there…The house is 2,600 square feet and heavily insulated.  (The walls are ten inches thick.)  Almost all the wood used in the houses’s construction was Tongass wood.  It is framed with Sitka spruce, sided with beveled red cedar, and has floors of western hemlock.  The Mackovjak family moved into the house in 1999 but, like most Gustavus houses, there are a few details that remain unfinished.

In March, 2001, Annie took a trip with four women friends to White Sulphur Hot Springs, on the outer coast of Chichagof Island.  Accessible mainly by boat, the Forest Service cabin is nestled among spruce and hemlock trees.  The nearby bathhouse has a huge tub with the hot springs water continuously pouring in.  You can open the full-length sliding doors on the front to view the open Pacific, waves often crashing on the rocks below.  Although a 50th birthday gift, things didn’t come together until Annie turned 52.  The women read, hiked, soaked, and explored, naming many spots that they thought were unique, such as Five Fairy Pond, Whittle Trap Beach, and Otter Outlook.  One day they experienced almost every weather system imaginable — hail, sleet, rain, sun, snow, lightning, and thunder.  Heading home on Doug Ogilvy’s boat, weather was pretty good and they stopped at the Hobbit Hole for a visit.  While they visited, it began to snow and the wind came up, but Doug said they’d give it a go.  Though it was rough, they rode out the waves by laughing and singing oldies all the way to Gustavus.

For Gustavus friend Mossy Mead’s 50th birthday, Annie, along with six other women, rafted the Tatshenshini/Alsek Rivers.  Flying to Whitehorse, they signed on to a twelve-day expedition with Nahinni River Adventures.  The three rafts put in at Dalton Post on the Haines Highway in the Yukon Territory and began their 140-mile journey through the Coastal Range to Dry Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.  They donned their helmets for the Class III whitewater encountered early on while passing through a lengthy sheer-walled canyon, though most of the float was Class II.  At one point on the trip, over 20 glaciers were visible from one spot.  Day hikes took them high in the hills to overlook the river, as well as onto Walker Glacier.

Teri and the singing bowl

Annie shared a tent with her friend, Susan Clark.  Every morning Susan would rise at 5:00 a.m. and take her bucket down to the cold glacier-fed river to get water to take a cold shower.  Annie shivered in her sleeping bag just thinking about it.

One of the women was Teri Rofkar, Tlingit weaver and basket maker.  She taught the group how to gather spruce roots and prepare them to weave a tiny thimble-sized basket.  Everyone helped make it; then it was tucked into a dwarf fireweed by the river before they pushed off in their rafts.

Seventy-seven miles into the trip, the Tat joins the mighty Alsek, forming an even more powerful waterway.  Near the end, many icebergs from Alsek and Grand Plateau Glaciers filled Alsek Lake, and the rafters floated in a cold mist, finally camping on an island. Taking out at Dry Bay, they were met by Chuck Schroth, who flew them back to Gustavus as they gazed at the incredible wild scenery of the outer coast.

Thimble basket

Teaching became a big part of Annie’s life when long-time Gustavus teacher George Jensen retired, and Annie received a contract as head teacher at Gustavus School for the 2002-2003 school year.  The following fall, however, the family moved to Eugene, Oregon, so all the kids could be together.  While Anya finished school at the University of Oregon, Chris lived in Ashland, Oregon, with Bill and Carolyn so he could play high school basketball.  Seth  was the only child at home.  Jim wanted to write a book on the Tongass, and there were rich resources at the University of Oregon’s library. The Mackovjak family spent five school years in Eugene, returning to Gustavus each summer.  Annie subbed, volunteered for Hospice, the Red Cross, and at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.  She hiked a lot and attended many basketball games, cheering Chris on. He played first on the varsity team at Churchill High School and then on the Southern Oregon University team.

While Annie taught students, Jim lived his own interesting story. Now one of Gustavus’ well-known authors, he began his writing career with a local history, Hope & Hard Work:  The Early Settlers at Gustavus, Alaska, which was published in 1988.  Always interested in forestry, Jim became involved in Tongass National Forest issues starting in the early 1980s.  In 1997, Alaska Governor Tony Knowles appointed him to the Southeast Alaska Timber Task Force, and in 2003, Jim began researching the history of the timber industry in Southeast Alaska.  Tongass Timber: A History of Logging and Timber Utilization in Southeast Alaska was published in 2010, followed that same year by Navigating Troubled Waters: A History of Commercial Fishing in Glacier Bay, Alaska, which was written for the National Park Service.  Aleutian Freighter:  A History of Shipping in the Aleutian Islands, for which he won an Independent Book Publisher’s Award, was published in 2012.  Alaska Salmon Traps, a book designed and published by Gustavus resident Bill Eichenlaub, came out in 2013.  That same year, Jim received the Alaska Historical Society’s Pathfinder Award “for important reference works on timber, freighting, and salmon traps.”  An administrative history of Lake Clark National Park & Preserve that Jim wrote several years ago for the National Park Service should be published in the not-too-distant future.  His current project is a history of Alaska’ Pacific cod fishery, which is the state’s oldest commercial fishery and presently its second-largest.

Annie and Jim returned to Gustavus in 2008, as Annie had a contract to teach 6th through 12th English and history, plus electives.  She will be forever remembered by her students for her favorite sayings: Yippee Skippee and Sugarbeets.

Retirement party, 2015

In May, 2015, Annie’s students, their parents, and community members gave her a retirement party.  Two flowing chocolate fountains dominated the food table.  Ellie Sharman emceed an evening of reminiscing, poems read by students and  singing by Kate Boesser, Ellie Sharman, and Artemis BonaDea of “You Are My Sunshine,” rewritten for Annie.  The students presented her with a Lego trophy they had made and filled with chocolate.  They also gave her a memory book filled with cards,  student art and writing.  The finale was the gift of a duffle bag, organized by Deb Woodruff, and filled with all manner of treasures which Annie took out and enjoyed, including her new attire — sunglasses, hats, scarf, leis, and a Chinese robe.

As Annie’s son, Chris, was in Gustavus at the time, he attended the Wednesday evening party.  Anya and Seth had not known about the event in advance.  On the following evening Annie was in her classroom, grading and preparing for the end-of-the-year program the following day.  At about 5:00 p.m., Chris stopped by to visit.  Though surprised to see him at that time of day, Annie was happy he’d come in.  About five  minutes later, in through the classroom door walked Anya.  Annie had no idea she was coming to surprise her for her retirement.  As Annie recovered from the shock, in the door walked Seth!  All her kids had shown up to wish her well.  They had even bribed the airlines not to breathe a word about their incoming flight.  Then, on Friday evening, having completed her last day of school, Annie went home about 4:00 p.m. and fell asleep on the couch for about an hour.  When she awoke, there sitting in front of her she found a gold retirement bike.  Life doesn’t get much sweeter!

Annie states that retirement has been wonderful.  She’s traveled back east to visit family, done road trips in Washington with Carolyn Elder, had a wonderful trip through the Salish Sea on Kimber Owens’ Sea Wolfrode on the Katy bike trail in Missouri with JoAnn Lesh, had a family reunion in Las Vegas, and visited her children in Oregon.  She might be retired, but she is still going strong.

Annie believes in taking risks and getting outside one’s comfort zone.  She also loves quotes.  One of her favorites is by Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  Annie claims she would not have had the grand life she’s had without just jumping in and doing things.  That’s our Annie, and we are so glad she is doing things here in Gustavus.

The family


I received an introduction to Lou Cacioppo’s art before I ever met the artist.  I first saw one of his masks, and as the saying goes, I was “blown away.”  Delighted that he lived in Gustavus, I looked forward to seeing more of his work.  Then I met Lou, and, once he opened the Outpost, enjoyed several music nights in his place, surrounded by his marvelous inspirations.  Now I have the pleasure of telling a little of his story and showing you a bit of his art.  I’m sure you will agree that he has a great deal of talent. As his story shows, he has worked at perfecting his skills his entire life, and the results are reflected in all he has created.

Lou Cacioppo was born on November 28, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York.  Both his mother and father were Sicilians.  Lou reassures us there were no mafia connections. Lou’s mother came from this country, while his dad was born in Palermo, Italy.  Lou’s grandparents on both sides immigrated from Italy.  They spoke Italian and English.  The family lived in Brooklyn  in a section of town called “little Italy.”

After Lou’s kindergarten in a parochial school, the family moved from Brooklyn.  They first moved to Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, where 50 to 60% of the people were Italian or Jewish.  His parents enrolled him in a Catholic school.

Lou was the “wise guy” in class, so he got in trouble with the teachers a lot.  When he was a 4th grader, he became involved in a fight with a 6th grader, and ended up in Mother Superior’s office.  She smacked him with a large paddle with holes in it.  Lou swears she hit him so hard that her feet came off the ground.  After the incident, at Lou’s insistence, his parents took him out of Catholic school and enrolled him in the regular school.

Lou’s parents had totally different views on his fighting.  Lou’s mother would smack him for losing a fight.  Lou’s father would hit him for fighting.  Lou decided winning a fight was better — he didn’t have to suffer so many smacks from the other guy, or from his mother.

Around 1954, the family moved from Valley Stream to South Farmingdale, a suburban area with ranch houses and a nearby creek.  The area still had trees.  Lou played in the woods, either Tarzan or army, with sticks and fingers, nothing that looked real.

Lou drew constantly.  He had paper bags filled with sketches.  Comic books were his first texts for art.  Teachers always volunteered Lou for school art projects, such as murals.  Lou loved doing these projects.

South Farmingdale had a junior high — seventh and eighth grades — in a separate school.  His years there were uneventful.  Though not in sports, he was an avid weight lifter.  Of course, he always did a lot of art.  He says that he had art teachers all through junior high and high school.  Lou says the art teachers were fantastic.  His three greatest teachers were Mr. Denali, who was a big influence and took Lou under his wing; Mr. Cole, a great watercolor artist; and Mr. Schaffer.  Lou made his first sale of a piece of his artwork to Mr. Schaffer.  It was a wood sculpture, and he sold it for $15.00.  He bought a pair of pants with that $15.00 — his first purchase of his own clothes.

Lou went to high school in South Farmingdale.  He says it was a great school.  From junior high through high school, his favorite academic subjects were biology and geology.  In biological science lab, dissecting mice and frogs sparked a never-ending quest of how things are put together.  He liked geology for the same reason:  He liked  learning how the earth was made.  He also really liked literature, but not grammer.  His teachers forced him to read, and he was glad of it.  The stories he read also stirred his imagination.

Lou took extra art classes, doing two classes a day.  His art background paid off — in his sophomore year, he designed the school flag.  It is still the school flag to this day.  Instead of taking study hall, he took two gym classes.  He weighed 130 pounds and was in good shape.  He took freshman track and field, and also played football, playing halfback, defense and offence, for the whole game.  He says he was as fast as a little rocket, and tough — he didn’t get tackled too much.

Lou’s mother, who was in charge (the matriarch) decided the family needed to move to California.  So, after Lou finished 10th grade, they moved.  Though it was his mother’s idea, when they got there she hated it  So, the family came back to Valley Stream.

For the school year at Valley Stream, Lou stayed with his godfather (considered family but not family.)  He went through 11th grade there.  He remembers sitting in class when JFK was shot.  It was really painful.  Though  he was young, it affected him strongly.  How could someone shoot the President?

Lou’s home life was a bit rocky.  His parents were always arguing about money.  His mother dominated the arguments and his father took the role of sheep.  His father was very docile toward his mother, but Lou became the victim of physical abuse.  His dad would hit Lou with anything available.  Lou was afraid of him.  Lou says it made him tough because his dad was the scariest guy he knew.

In 1964, the summer after 11th grade, Lou went back to South Farmingdale.  He took part in Track and Field that year, and at the first county meet, he got a varsity letter, setting the school record for the running broad jump:  20′ 10 1/2″.  (That record was broken long after he left that school, by a 21-foot jump.)  At the meet he received a gold medal for the running broad jump.  He won a gold medal for the triple jump and ran on the relay team for the 880.  He won a silver medal for the relay.

Lou was very excited about the day, and couldn’t wait to tell his parents. It was getting dark when he got off the bus, and he ran all the way down the street to his house.  The door was locked, so he knocked.  His father opened the door, grabbed him by the shirt, and punched him.  His dad was going to hit him again.  By then, Lou was standing on the stairs, and told his dad, “Go ahead; hit me.”  His dad put his arm down and Lou went to his bedroom.  He took down all his trophies, ribbons, letters, and paintings he was working on, and put them in the trash.  He took everything outside to the big trashcan.  When the garbage man came in the morning and took it all away, Lou knew he had to go in a different direction at that moment.  He told his parents he was going to go into the navy and would need them to give their approval, as he was only 17.  He convinced them to sign or he would run away.

When Lou dropped out of school to join the navy, his counselors were shocked.  He was an honor student, and in line for an art scholarship.  However, he needed to get away from his parents.  He loved them, but couldn’t concentrate on himself.

The navy appeared to have been a good choice.  Lou was voted by Company 117 as Honor Man of the whole company, and received a letter of commendation from the admiral.

His 1964 tour of duty took him to Meridian, Mississippi.  At that time, the navy base and the military looked for three civil rights protesters.  The search was for two black students and one Caucasian student. Later reports of the incident say that the three were killed by a KKK lynch mob.  The FBI came in to investigate and found the bodies, buried in a concrete dam.  When Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in a state court, the federal government stepped in and charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the three men.

On a sailor’s first tour, Lou sidestepped the normal duties, such as peeling potatoes, cleaning, or doing maintenance painting jobs.  He interviewed for the position of yeoman (clerk).  To be chosen, he had to be able to type 50 words per minute.  He took a typewriter home and practiced all weekend.  By Monday morning he could type 45 words a minute.

Lou still did artwork whenever possible while in the service.  He was volunteered to paint a mural of the new cloverleaf for the Chamber of Commerce.

Then he started drinking,  as a kind of self-medication.  He would get so drunk at times he didn’t know how he got back to the base.  Along with the drinking went chasing women.  Lou says he was wild and immature at that time.

He was transferred to Jacksonville, Florida on the USS Yellowstone, where he served as a yeoman, spending about a year there.  Then he went to San Diego, California, again as a yeoman.  His duties included handling discharge papers, passes, and transfer papers — any administrative tasks for the base.  Lou got his G.E.D. while in the navy.  In 1966, he received an honorable discharge.

Lou migrated to his parents’ in North Massapequa, Long Island.  He bounced around from job to job, still drinking.  He took a job at the Minneola Community Hospital and started training as an Inhalation Therapist (involves positive pressure breathing with medications, such as dilators, antibiotics, etc.)  He worked for Dr. Frank, who headed a practicing team working on perfecting the process of transferring hearts.

In the children’s ward, there was a little Italian boy around 4 years old who was dying of cancer.  He wasn’t one of Lou’s patients.  The nurses were outside the door; they couldn’t figure out what the boy wanted.  He was asking for his shoes in Italian.  Lou told the nurses what the child asked for.  He made the mistake of going into the room.  The child asked him if he was going to die.  He can’t remember what he said; he just remembered that he hugged the little boy.  Then Lou said, “We all die, even me.”  He left, depressed, and quit the job shortly after.

He still drank pretty heavily and went from job to job.  He met his first wife, Beverly, during that period, and they had a son named Paul.  When holding the baby in his arms, he realized he was holding a little person, and wanted to do a good job with him.  His drinking slowed down a lot.

Lou got a job as a technical illustrator for Weber and Stevens Tech Publications.  He started working on the day shift and went to community college at night.  He took advertising and three-dimensional drawing classes.  These taught him to develop patience.  Then, he was offered the opportunity to be the art director for the night crew.  He made good money and enjoyed the job.  As the art director, he gave the jobs that came in to the artists that worked there, according to their expertise.  He had to prioritize the work according to its importance.  It was his responsibility to see that all work got completed by pre-set deadlines.  It was also necessary that Lou and several other artists be vetted for a security clearance because they did a specs manual for the first space shuttle.

Lou’s uncle passed away, leaving an empty house in Lakewood, California, where he had lived.  So, Lou and his wife moved there.  Bev’s brother, Brian, and his wife, Louise, decided they would come to California too.  There were two bedrooms and they split the rent  Lou was on Public Assistance until he could find a job.  The first job he found was at a carwash for $3.50 per hour.  There was a garden supply place in town where Lou wanted to work.  He asked the owner if he could work for them for a week for free.  “If you like my work, you can hire me,” Lou promised.  The owner said he would love to, but he couldn’t afford to hire anyone else.

During that period he did pen and inks that were published in the Hollywood Free Press.

Lou’s wife got a good job with TRW, which was one of the first companies in California to do computer chips.  His brother-in-law convinced him to go to school on the G.I. bill.  He attended Northrup University at Inglewood, California.  He graduated and got an Airframe and Power Plant licence and an associate degree in aircraft maintenance technology (a two-year program.)  He was hired to work right out of school by Temsco Helicoptors, based in Ketchikan.  Thanks to his reading of Jack London, Lou had no problem accepting.

In 1974, he moved with his family to Ketchikan.  He had $350.00 to his name.  The company had a small trailer near the office, and that became their first Alaskan home.  They spent one year there, then bought a trailer in a park.  Lou did free-lance mechanic work with his brother-in-law, Brian, for a variety of airlines.  Brian got Lou interested in a veteran’s sale of land, so the two bought two acres above Totem Bight in Ketchikan.  They leased a sawmill and logged the trees on the two acres, and sold the trailer, which paid for Lou’s property.  Using classic hand-logging and milling techniques, they cut enough lumber to build two houses.

Lou decided to open a commercial art studio called “Muskeg Magic.”  The company did logo designs, signs, advertising, and brochures.  Lou, Terry Pyles, and Don Dawson worked together.  They did the logo for the city of Ketchikan, and countless logos for businesses in town.  They created many artistic signs and helped businesses with basic advertising.  During this time, he was also doing art shows — one-man shows; groups; art festivals.  He was selling art.  However, Lou says he was a terrible businessman.  He just didn’t have any business sense at all; he just knew to work hard and fast.  Unfortunately, Muskeg Magic closed in about a year.

In Ketchikan, Lou started boxing as a junior welterweight, earning the nickname of “The Hammer.” (1979-1981)  He boxed in the Frontier Saloon, the room filled with smoke, but Lou loved it.  He felt that, in the ring, “I’m representing me, no one else.”  His goal was not to hurt anyone; he just wanted to win.  He got booed one time…he had a guy on the ropes; hit him twice in the head and backed off.  The crowd booed.  When the guy slid down the ropes, they cheered at his decision to stop hitting.

A position came up in the Ketchikan City Fire Department for a firefighter.  Lou did the physical fitness test (he was 35; the oldest candidate, and the only one who wasn’t a volunteer fire fighter.)  He did well on the fitness test and the written test.  On the oral quiz with the council and fire chief, one question stood out.  He was asked, “If you see your fellow fire fighter take money found during a fire, what would you do?”  Lou answered, “He’s my friend, and I think the first thing I would do would be to ask him, ‘What’s the deal?  Do you have a money problem?  If you need money at any time I will lend it to you.  I saw you take the money, and you have to do something about making it right.’”

Lou said, “They liked the answer.  It helped me get the job.  I was the first non-volunteer fire fighter they ever hired.  I loved the training and did well.  I found firefighters to be definitely a brotherhood.  Everybody has their life on the line and they pull together.”

Ancient One

Lou went into EMT training as well.  During this whole time, he was also doing art and building a home.  Lou and others from the class were the first Firefighter Is and EMT IIs in the state.  He says it was rewarding.  He loved firefighting.  He had to stop in 1987 because of two on-the-job knee injuries on top of prior sports injuries.

While in the fire department, Lou and a couple of buddies went to the Northwest Policemen’s and Firemen’s Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.  Lou won three medals:  A gold medal in running broad jump; silver in hop, skip, and jump, and third place in handball.  As Lou only worked 11 days a month, he had lots of time left over to finish his house and work on art.  He started self-employment carpentry and placed his art in galleries.

After 23 good years with Bev, things started to change.  The couple divorced in 1990, though Lou says he still cared for her.  As part of their settlement, Lou gave Bev the house.

During the period following the divorce, Lou met Cam and fell in love, and she became his second wife.  They married in 1994.  They moved to Toledo, Washington for a short time.  Lou insisted they come back to Alaska.  They came right to Juneau because Cam had a sister there.  Though Lou was still doing art, he got a job at Don Abel’s as a salesperson.  He soon decided he’d better get back into carpentry.  He started Louigi’s Carpenter Service, while designing his next house.  Lou and Cam pooled their money, Cam being the biggest contributor, and bought 1/2 acre.  He designed and built a three-story beautiful home viewing Thunder Mountain.  He took a jewelry class in lost wax casting when the house was finished.  Cam worked as a dental assistant.  She loved that job and was good at it.  Her working gave Lou leeway for more time for artwork.

Juneau was on a five-year plan; then Lou wanted to move someplace where he could do artwork full-time.  They sold the house in Juneau to pay for land and building money.    They visited Haines and Skagway.  Real estate in Skagway was ridiculously expensive, and they wanted a smaller community.  Haines was the same way, though they looked at some property there.  They came back to Juneau, and saw an ad in the paper for Gustavus.  Gary Scott, a friend and fellow artist and builder, had land for sale.  They came to look and bought the land.  It had trees that would supply lumber for building.  Lou built their house, which was totally done in about three months.  He had help several times from one other guy, though he did 95% of the work himself.  When it was done, he started building the Camalou Art Gallery on Sockeye Road, with living quarters above.  The upstairs started as Cam’s sewing room.  It had a bathroom and Lou put in a kitchen.  Downstairs contained the art gallery and shop.

Lou gave up this shop building for family needs and started construction on the present gallery on Humpy Road in 2011.  This project took the longest because he put in a lot of time on acoustics and maximizing usable space.  All the interior lumber was hand-milled and hand-sanded.  Dimensions of the new building were 24′ wide by 50′ long.  He finished it in 2013.  It turned out to be more than he envisioned, because of the people who came in.  Lou says, “A lot of people leave part of their souls in here; therefore, when they are not here, I still feel the energy.”

Lou has a great mission statement for the “Outpost,” his name for his studio/music stage:  “A non-profit music venue dedicated to building community and providing pioneering musicians with quality stage time in a nurturing atmosphere.”  The Outpost is a long room, with an elevated stage at one end.  It has lights and a good sound system.  The rest of the room is filled with chairs for the audience on music nights.  Lou’s artwork adorns the walls and available 






table space in the room.

The stage at the back offers an incredible potential tool for performers to hone and be conscious of their skills.   They perform in an art gallery and have a good time.  There is no admission charge.  People leave donations to cover overhead.  Lou’s policy regarding alcoholic beverages is that you bring your own drinks, but drink only in moderation.  Lou explains, “The Outpost is a quiet venue, not a party house, and is meant to be filled with great music, great people, and thought-provoking art.”

Lou says since the Outpost opened, he has collected enough extra money from peoples’ donations to buy a keyboard.  This instrument will be a permanent fixture onstage, so anyone, such as Kim Heacox, who always hauls in his keyboard, won’t have to go to the extra trouble to bring such a large piece of equipment.

Lou has done carpentry work here in Gustavus, too.  Here, he has had the pleasure of picking and choosing jobs.  Lou enjoys making rustic furniture, playing music, meeting new people and making friends.

Lou works in many mediums.  They include:  paintings in oil and acrylics, pen and ink drawings, pencil drawings, lost wax jewelry, stone sculptures, wood sculptures (including masks, some of which are articulated,) papier Mâché, bone, and Celluclay (a product name.)  Lou believes that artists should open up to new things.  He says many artists stick to just one venue.  He feels such a practice limits one’s creativity.  Perhaps a commercial artist might out of necessity allow repetition in his work for marketing purposes, but Lou feels that art is important as a means of expression, so selling is not his main goal.  It is his belief that the artist expands his scope and his talent by working with different mediums.

Lou likes carving  and sculpting.  He enjoys working with stone, though he doesn’t do a lot of it.  Carving and sculpting take a lot of time, and Lou considers it a form of meditation.  The piece might use a mask format, but sculpturing is a part of it.  His masks are wood or mixed media.  He likes using discarded items in his pieces.

Lou started carving masks in 1974.  He met Jack Hudson, a Native Tsimshian carver, one of the best ever.  At an exhibit, as Lou looked at his pieces, the artist introduced himself.  He talked about his methods and tools and said, “Come to Metlakatla and let me teach you how to make tools.”  Lou took him up on the offer, and made an incredible advancement in his carving.  He learned how to make any specialized tool he needed.

Guido Chigi

Lou met a man in Ketchikan who became another of his mentors.  Guido Chigi taught art in college and was a great artist in his own right.  His work travelled the world, and he even had some of his art displayed at the Louvre in Paris, France.  He used all kinds of mediums, but his expertise was in oil painting.  He was also an industrial designer:  a true working artist.  One day he passed the window of “Muskeg Magic,” came in and told Lou, “These pieces are fantastic — keep up the good work.”

Ninety percent of the wood Lou uses to make masks is red alder.  He prefers it because it is easy to use.  He also uses yellow cedar, red cedar, ash, and cottonwood, all woods found here in Southeast Alaska.  He bucks up the wood, cuts it into mask-sized shapes, and keeps them soaking in water so they remain usable.  Lou does not kill trees when not necessary.  In Juneau, the city cleared the red alder from along the road.  Lou picked them up and used them for carving.  Alder dries to a hardwood and finishes beautifully.

Lou has won countless awards for his art.  A few of these include “Best of Show in Haines and “People’s Choice” at the Ketchikan Armory show.  He has won this award and “Best of Show” there several times.  “Raven’s Nightmare” toured the state for one year.  Throughout his career from school years on, he has won awards.

“Raven’s Nightmare,” by Louis Cacioppo, is among the pieces to be displayed in the exhibit “Earth, Fire and Fibre,” which opens Friday, March 7, at the Alaska State Museum.
Photo by Chris Arend.

In Ketchikan, for a number of years spanning nearly the whole time he was there, he took part in the Artist in Residence program in the schools.  He taught children of all ages, including special needs kids.  He also taught mask carving at the University of Alaska Southeast.

He can’t say that he has a favorite piece, but he hates to sell his art.  He considers it serous art because it means something to him or he wouldn’t create it.  As he gets older, his least favorites are the pieces that represent realism.  He likes sparking an emotion in someone and feels that there is a better avenue for doing so through contemporary surrealism.  The impressionist style of painting, such as the works of Van Gogh and Sargent, are among his favorite artists.  He admires their technique.

His work has travelled throughout the U.S.  In Alaska, people from all over the world see it because of the cruise ships.  Some of the countries where he knows his art has travelled, include Fiji, Australia, Germany, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, and England.

Lou gains ideas through social events, historical events, and personal experience.  He can feel the clash of humanity between the modern technical age and the heritages of the past.  He says that the development of contemporary electronics and computers has reduced our ability to interact and to realize the importance of fine art.  He also feels that music is a tool useful in reaching out to more people.

When he was young, Lou got a guitar and learned three songs.  He didn’t really play much until he came here in 2004.  At the “Bear’s Nest,” once a Gustavus B & B, he listened and watched as the owners, Phil Riddle and Lynn Marrow, played music there.  The music inspired him to start practicing and playing.  He says, “I am self-taught, unfortunately.”  He first sang at the Bear’s Nest in 2008.  From that time forward, he started writing and singing what he wrote.  He performed for three years at the the Alaska Folk Festival.  By this time, he has written around 70 songs.  At music nights at the Outpost, it’s the custom for Lou to start the evening with two or three of his songs, and to end the evening when all other entertainers are finished.

If you would like to see more of Lou’s creations, visit his very nice website at www.camaloustudio.com.  Some of the photos in this article are taken from the website.  However, there are many more pictures of Lou’s amazing artwork on the site, so be sure to take a look.

Lou’s impressive talent gives him a prominent place in the ranks of the many creative people found in this small town.  However, his contribution to the community goes well beyond art.  He has found a way to give back something unique to the rest of us who live here, by providing a venue where residents can gather to encourage, share, and enjoy the musical talent that is so plentiful here.  Keep up the good work, Lou — we are glad you ended up in our town.