Each summer for the past five years, I’ve been going with family and friends to a modest vacation spot, a short boat ride away from my home in Homer, Alaska. One of the fulcrums of our summer, it’s a bring-your-own-sleeping-bag kind of place, and we stay in simple, plywood-floor cabins, sharing a common bathhouse with hot showers that cost a few dollars extra. We throw together enormous communal meals in a kitchen cabin at the top of the beach, taking turns cooking fish tacos, burgers and dogs, or big spaghetti dinners on an outdoor deck, and then doing dishes in a sink filled with cold creek water.
We pack wetsuits, paddleboards, kayaks, and fishing rods, and we bring our dogs. As we’re hauling hundreds of pounds of gear and food up and down the harbor ramps, we joke that all good Alaskan adventures begin with a schlep. The kids love having the run of the place, launching themselves off a long dock into the cold water of Kachemak Bay, where they wrestle each other off paddleboards and coax the dogs to swim out to meet them. The place is folded pretty well into the area’s wild lands and waters. We’ve seen black bears there. Sea otters frequently swim nearby. And one summer, during a short afternoon ride, with my husband at the helm of our skiff and half a dozen kids aboard, an orca swam right beneath the boat. In the evenings, we have bonfires on the beach as the summer sun hangs late into the sky.
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