It’ s not easy writing about yourself. But, here goes. I was born on the coast of Washington in Aberdeen. It was raining on the day I was born, and all these years later it’s still raining there. I grew up on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula in the Axford Prairie, Humptulips, Lake Quinault areas. As was customary in those times, my family made their living in the logging industry. My dad drove log truck for 35 years in this same area. My Grandpa owned and operated as many as seven mills cutting lumber and railroad ties.
It was a different time back then. Simplicity along with self-sufficiency ruled. We simply didn’t know any other way. The first six years of my life we didn’t have indoor plumbing. My mom dipped water from a well with a bucket that had a rope tied on the bail, and then carried it to the house several hundred feet away. We had an outhouse out back. I remember it was a two holer. Mom bathed us kids in a number two washtub on the living room floor.
I use these examples to illustrate the simplistic and self-sufficient lifestyle that not only us, but all the families in the area lived. Wild meat was often the fare on the supper table.
When I was six years old, we moved to Railroad Camp, one of the last logging camps in America where steam locomotives moved log trains from the woods to town. We actually had indoor plumbing at this house, which was company housing where my dad worked. Though we had to fill the toilet by hand to flush it, it still beat going outside to do your private business.
Eventually we found ourselves at Lake Quinault because my dad wanted to be closer to his work. At that time in my early teens, I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me. The lake, and the myriad rivers and creeks, and mostly those awesome mountains to explore were wonderful. I grew up on the books of Jack London, James Oliver Curwood, Jim Kjelgaard, and later Louis L’Amour. The Quinault area was the ideal place to experience the adventures I was weaned on.
At fourteen, a friend and I were backpacking into the Olympics for a week at a time during summer break from school, and occasionally in the winter during Christmas vacation. We fished, hunted, and hiked. It was a good place to grow up.
We all come of age at some point, and make life decisions on what to be or do “when we grow up.” During and after a stint in the Air Force, I accomplished a lifetime dream. Although I didn’t realize it back then, ever since I was a young boy I had a goal to see Alaska. Once in the Air Force, I volunteered for Alaska. Less than a year in my enlistment, my dream happened. I was 19 years old when I set foot on the tarmac at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. I should say the snow covered and frozen tarmac. It was March and still winter that far north.
Alaska for me was a dream come true. The vastness of this land was awe inspiring. The mountains, rivers, bays, inlets, coastline, I had never experienced anything like it. I immediately found my new love. Every break I got from military duty, I was out exploring this land that was my new love. After my hitch was up, I stayed there in that land of extremes. Alaska made the Olympic Peninsula seem tiny in comparison.
I still loved and appreciated the Olympic Peninsula and all it did for me, but Alaska captured my heart. Even after I left a few years later to pursue other venues, Alaska remained the highlight in my heart. It still does today.
I learned how to fly airplanes in Alaska. Had it not been for this great land, I may have never learned to fly. I had adventures up there that only Alaska and its extremes could produce. There’s always a special place in my heart for Alaska.
I talk about these formative years because it is what made me who I am today. These years formulated the writer I am. From reading London, Curwood, Kjelgaard, and L’Amour, to the very rural lifestyle, and then wanting to write about it, I am who I am. From age six when I started to read, I knew I would be a writer. Many interests have come and gone in my years, but writing, and reading, have always stayed with me.
Eventually we ended up in the mountains of rural Idaho, another land I love. It is a land of rugged history, rugged country, and even more rugged people. The same breed that I grew up with on the Olympic Peninsula. My heart has found a new home.