Tag Archives: Haines

Mudd Bay

16 Oct

We met the Zeigers, Mark, Michelle and Aly, on the side of Mudd Bay road.  We had just come from the town screening of White Fang, which was filmed in Haines, Alaska.  Earlier that day, someone from Haines Brewery told us that in a certain area of town, people parked along side the main road then cross a bay to get to their homes.  We sought out this road.  When we met the Zeiger family on the side of Mudd Bay road, they were waiting for a bear to leave the bay so they could cross it to get home.  We stopped and chatted with them for a while.  That night, Sarah and I could not stop talking about how they have to cross a bay while being mindful of the tides and then walk an hour through an unpaved forest just to get home.  I parked close by for the night so we could we explore the area the next day.  The following day, we went back to the bay and the tide was really high—uncrossable by foot.  While this added to my fascination of how people lived on the other side, I was disappointed I couldn’t walk across to learn more.

My other obsession in Haines was a wooden boat. DSC_0448

I spoke to the brother of the owner/builder.  He said it was a London sailing barge style.  After taking about a hundred pictures and measurements, I did an Internet search.  I found that the designer, David Zeiger, lives in Haines.  I emailed David trying to arrange a meeting since we were in Haines for a few more days before we took the ferry out.  The emailed response said it was Mark, David’s brother, who managed the website and email correspondence.  David was out of town but Mark was more that willing to meet up, and actually, we had met on Mudd Bay road the day before.  I told Sarah about this strange coincidence.  She asked me if I told Mark about how we were still talking about them nonstop.  I had, along with a request to visit their homestead.  Mark was up for it, as long as a tour of Skyhorse was in it for him.  In his email, Mark suggested we wear rainboots for our journey.

The next morning, we first stopped at the only store in town to buy rain boots, a worthwhile $40.  To say that the Ziegers live differently is an understatement that starts with the passage to their house.  Boots are a necessity.  After parking on the side of Mudd Bay road, we walked across the street and began to cross the bay.  If the tide is out, it’s a walk in rain boots, maybe waders.  When the tide is in, it’s a kayak ride or afternoon in town until the water reaches a crossable level.  That morning, we walked across what once was the bottom of a bay, wet and seaweed ridden.

the start of the walk across the bay

the start of the walk across the bay

boots and coats

boots and coats

Once across the bay, we treked 45-minutes through the lush forest.  If we hadn’t had Mark and Aly as guides, we surely would have gotten lost.  The path to their home was minimally marked with flags but heavily covered in mushrooms, canopy trees and moss.  And then we arrived at their ocean view homestead.  It felt like walking though Sherwood Forest to get to Robin Hood’s hidden village.

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The main cabin has a  wood burning oven in the center, along with their shower which is hooked up to the oven. The back room is the master suite and the upstairs has a cool tv room and Aly’s room.

the cabin

the cabin


There’s a healthy garden any rabbit would happily call home.

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They collect their own water, produce all their own electricity through wind and solar and have an outhouse with instructions on how to use the toilet.  They don’t have refrigeration and everything they bring out to the house must be carried on their backs.  Even though they did not build the cabin, it fits them so well.  I love their spirit—a spirit nesting in the treasure of nature.  In our contemporary world that encourages making our lives convenient and lavish, the Zeigers have ignored this and followed their hearts.  It affirms that those that follow their hearts receive rewards that are hidden in the waves of conformity.

The day passed like we were all on swings on a porch, sharing each other’s energy.  We toured the grounds.  Ali made us bumble weed pesto from plants in their garden.  Mark poured wine that he made.  After eating lunch, the tide had come in so we continued our stay.

The conversation flowed all over—our travels, their decision to move from Juneau to this remote home to live off the land, and Aly’s schooling (she’s now in college).  Dinnertime rolled around and Mark cooked us lentil chili.  Michelle came home from work just as the sun began to dip.  We figured we should begin the hour long hike back to Skyhorse through the wilderness.  The Ziegers, professionals at this walk, trotted along in the near-darkness sans lights.  We followed, though I’m certain had it just been Sarah and I, we would have turned on lights the second we stepped out of the house.


As we walked back to Skyhorse among the shadows with wood and rock under our boots, Mark spoke about his passion for the Christmas season.  He said the Haines library had a sleepover for the release of the final Harry Potter book.  At midnight, everyone walked over to the local bookstore, bought the book and returned back to the library.  Mark wanted to have a have another sleepover to during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  His face had an innocent mischievous glow when he talked about Christmas.  We were walking downhill single-file surrounded by dense forest.  And then we all turned on our flashlights.

Aly earlier had anthropologically dissected Christmas.  She said it was a festival designed to give a reprieve from the darkness coldness of winter by adding colorful lights, gathering with other while drinking and eating in excess.

I remember how much I awaited Christmas morning to celebrate the gifts that I got.  Now the gifts that I value the most are experiences, not possessions.  Thank you Zeigers for a truly memorable gift.

walk back across the bay

To learn more about the Zeigers and their homestead check out their website: http://akzeigers.com and the blog post they wrote about meeting us: http://akzeigers.com/blog/?p=7737