Travel Alaska | Quiet Adventure: Two Renegades, One Alaska Island

Yeah, this is my special spot.

I don’t know, comfortable seating arrangements.

It’s in the middle of nowhere.

And it’s so quiet that it’s loud whenyou’re up here by yourself.

It’s a good spot.

So it was called Birdie.

We did four services a week.

Only 56 covers for the entire week.

And we were your waiters, and we had a littleturn-table and I doubled as a DJ.

We changed the menu completely every week– in 17 months we did 500 or so dishes.

I had 75 employees, I was running three restaurants.

It just took its toll after, you know, eightyears.

Every day was chaos.

Eventually I just, over time, broke down, burnt out.

And I left.

I needed to get out and figure out how tostart over and what I wanted to do next.

I’ve had some good thinking here, yeah.

Well I think he was looking for a couple ofthing.

I like to say he was looking for healing, primarily.

Rockwell Kent, who was born in 1882, was anAmerican painter.

Probably one of the most famous graphic artists.

Early in his career, he came to Alaska inAugust of 1918.

He came to Alaska to create a body of workthat could attract attention.

And he eventually settled on Fox Island inResurrection Bay.

About 12 miles south of Seward.

He was there with his 8-year-old son and hespent the winter.

Oh he was wrestling with many, many demons.

First of all, his career- where was it going? How was he going to earn a living in art? For him, it was either become an artist ornothing.

But mostly it was his love life that was fallingapart.

His marriage had been in trouble for a numberof years.

His wife Kathleen wouldn’t come and didn’twant to have anything more to do with Rockwell Kent in the wilderness.

So he really came here to get away.

That solitude was part of the healing.

He had an idea of wildness, but not quitethe wildness that he was going to experience here.

What a scene.

Twin lofty mountain masses flanked the entranceand from the back of these the land dipped downwards like a hammock swung between them, its lower point behind the center of a crescent.

A clean and smooth, dark-pebbled beach wentall around the bay, the tide line marked with driftwood, gleaming, bleached bones of trees, fantastic roots and warm and shredded trunks.

Above the beach a band of brilliant greenand then the deep, black spaces of the forest.

And we leapt ashore, and followed thebeach on the level ground seeing and wondering, with beating hearts, and crying all the timeto ourselves: “It isn’t possible, it isn’t real! So he’d come to places like Alaska to experiencethe real wild and furious nature.

And realize that there are forces bigger thanhim.

And I think that made him feel more secure.

It’s absolutely why I’m here.

I read, I draw.

I have definitely responsibilities and I playa major role in the success of the operation.

But it doesn’t seem so earth-shattering.

And I am just more relaxed.

I think everything slows down.

There’s a lot of improvising, as far asif I ordered something and it didn’t show up.

I’m able to make use of what we have.

I can’t just run to the grocery store andpick up something I forgot.

Yeah, cream cheese! You know, from a food perspective, tryingto figure out how to work things into the cuisine that, you know, speak to place isimportant to me.

So using these foraged things like beach greensor spruce tips or blueberries trying to give the guest an experience, something tangiblethey can hold on to “Hey, this is Alaskan.

” That’s my angle of creativity.

I’m cooking for 20 guests at the most perday.

And I have three employees in the kitchen.

And it’s just so quiet.

Thursday, October Third.

Today was fair at sunrise, cloudy at nineo’clock and showery all the rest.

We worked again with the beloved cross-cutsaw, setting ourselves an almost unattainable task – and then surpassing it.

And I cleared the thicket for a better viewof the mountain to the south; and in the afternoon felled another large tree.

Stretched canvas for a while, and paintedand drew, and felt the goddess Inspiration returning to me.

He was on a mission.

As he wrote in one of his letters, “thisis no artist’s junket”.

And that experience produced a body of workthat finally gave him the fame that he was looking for.

He left in March of 1919, went back to NewYork and had a very successful show of his work.

I feel like I have nothing but space out here.

I mean, look around.

It’s just vast expanse everywhere you look.

Even 100 years later, you can still escapethe chaos of modern day society.

That’s one of the huge draws of the islandfor me.

It’s been a very cathartic experience.

I think too much adventure today is a distractionfrom the inner life.

And see Kent was saying “there’s an innerlife that’s just as adventurous as the outer life”.

And that’s what the adventure is.

The adventure is delving inward.

That’s what Kent says – the wildernessis ourselves.

And he was really thinking about who he was, where did he want to go, who did he want to be.

I don’t think he completely solved all ofthat here.

I don’t know if we ever really solve it.

But I think he was just searching.

Fox Island will soon become in our memorieslike a dream or vision, a remote experience too wonderful, for the full liberty we knewthere and the deep peace, to be remembered or believed….

It was for us life as it should be, sereneand wholesome.


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