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D is for a Dry Cabin… this is how I roll in #Alaska – #AtoZChallenge

D-is-for-Dry-CabinDid you know that over 40% of the people who live in the Fairbanks and Ester area have no running water? Those that have taps and some heaters also still have to haul it in because they basically just have a water tank and a small water pump with a small heater. It is more convenience than anything but it is better than what I have. We have what technically is called a grey-water cabin because we have a sink which we drain our wash, pasta water etc… into a five-gallon bucket that we dump into a our grey water drainage tank (one of our two tanks, outhouse and grey-water which we have pumped). It is a real cabin too! With logs and everything! Don’t worry I will include photos, but first…. lets talk about being dry!

water wagonBeing that we are a waterless cabin, the main focus is water! So the questions are usually, where do you get water? How do you do dishes? How do you shower? Do you have an outhouse? They are pretty easy to answer. Conservation is the key here. We haul our water in from The Water Wagon

We have three five gallon water cooler jugs and six blue camping containers so we have up to forty-five gallons when we are full up. The three water cooler jugs are used for our cooking and drinking water. We have a hand pump that makes life a bit easier. The water in the blue jugs is used for cleaning and bathing.

So we have established where we get the water, how about the next question, how do we do dishes? Believe it or not people ask this before they ask how I bathe! It is pretty basic, but it is a process. I have a thick pair of rubber gloves because I boil water in my large stew pot so I can fill each side of the sink with water. One side I add bleach and dish washing soap. The bleach is to break up any grease and bacteria. The water is boiling hot so at first it is very uncomfortable. I really am bad at doing dishes, I have to force myself. We have very limited counter space and again it is a pain. The water is then drained into a grey water bucket, a five gallon paint bucket, under the sink. The grey water is emptied into our outhouse tank which is pumped so the bleach does not leech into the land. It is a pain, but the dishes are very clean in the end and I am usually collapsed on the couch with a cold drink and the PS3 or 360 controller in my hand. I do not even have the energy to read at this point! Bloody Mary anyone?

Showering is the next question. Interesting enough, most of the Laundromats in the Interior have showers in them. So whenever we do laundry we are showering.  Most people with water have either lived in a waterless cabin or understand our position. When we need to shower and do not have time to run to campus or the Laundromat we wash up at the sink in two ways. One is the quick and easy PTA (Pits, tits and ass) wash. We heat water on the stove and we scrub away at the vital parts of our body. Usually I wash my hair too. The other is with a large Rubbermaid storage bucket and I take a bath. There are of course the occasional massive rain showers in the summer evenings that I throw on my bathing suit, at least most of the time, and run out and wash up in the rain, it is liberating! We also use camp shower kits, so it is great in the summer, winter time is when it sucks!

See... outhose!

See… outhose!

Outhouse, yes we have one. But since I am a klutz and have fallen and been seriously injured in the winter going out to it, we have an inside unit that Geoff dumps in the outhouse, which is nice for those cold winter nights when it is -50` out!

If we owned the cabin I would have a 100 gallon water tank that we could fill every other week and have a small water pump set up and also a small 5 gallon water heater too. It would make life much easier in the cabin. Many houses that have indoor plumbing all around still have to have their water delivered or they port it. They have much bigger containers. They are able to have indoor toilets and even full size dishwashers. There are counter-top dishwashers we could have now, but with the limited counter space we have opted out.

It is a pain, it is tiresome, but it is the way we live and have lived since February 2005. It is probably at the top of my HATE list for living here and at the same time when I wake up in the summer and I see the gorgeous sun lighting up behind the trees? Well I remember why I live here!

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If you didn’t have running water what would you miss the most, your indoor toilet? Your showers? Running water for your dishes??? Do share! What do you think is the hardest part about this?


D is for a Dry Cabin... this is how I roll in #Alaska - #AtoZChallenge


  1. And I thought it was rough when just the water heater went out and only had cold running water for a week! That would definitely take some getting used to. Something I never would have thought about in regards to Alaska even though it makes sense.

  2. Amazing…love the view from the outhouse. I don’t wash dishes or drink water (Diet Coke or beer for me please) but I don’t even go camping because I can’t take a long hot shower (or have AC and don’t get me started on the bug issue)so I can’t even imagine this. Kudos to you!

  3. This is fascinating!!! Two of my uncles “lived off the land” in northern California when they were younger and had no running water, and I remember visiting their dome when I was a little kid. But to have to deal with the cold as well, WOW! Your cabin is super cute, and I even noticed a little kitty who perhaps keeps you warm occasionally. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • BUWAHAHAHA little? that is UBER kitty and she actually is no longer around. We are pretty sure wolves got her. 🙁 She escaped and that night we heard them. We do have another cat and we have to tell folks she is not a child when I am on the phone and she meows. HUGE cat who also is 21 years old! You can see pretties here – Asrielle

      • Oh, poor UBER kitty! I think coyotes got one of my mom’s cats a while back, so sad. Asrielle looks so beautiful! Thanks for sharing a picture of her – it looks like she’s a tortoiseshell? They are pretty feisty and demand things their way! 😀

  4. Just happened on your blog site. Great postings! I spent a long vacation in Alaska with my husband and kids years ago and fell in love with the place. However, I’ve become a Southerner (you can read all about that with a link on my blog site)and can’t handle a lot of snow. Lovely, but my blood’s gotten thin. Looking forward to reading more.

    • Sweet going there now Noelle! My husband is a southern boy and he was forced to move here when he was 12, he still hates cold and heat…

  5. We live in the country and have a well. Every time a storm comes and the electricity goes out, we lose water. It is a huge pain, as we haul water up from the stream to flush our toilets, etc. I feel for you, and yet I also understand how it just becomes a way of life – something you put up with in exchange for peace and beauty. In my opinion it’s worth it – even if just barely on some days 🙂

    • I grew up with a well also. My dad set up a generator that was emergency backup because we had four houses on the well. It ran for only 6 hours for back up but what helped is if we knew how long the power was expected to be out we can have about two hours a day to do everything. Or haul water.

  6. I think I’d miss showers the most. Although, I’m not a fan of washing dishes so anything that made it more annoying I would probably miss as well.

  7. Love your cabin, Kriss. Very functional and has all you need. Dry cabins are in the more remote areas of Colorado, too. And I’ve never heard of Laundromats with showers before. Smart idea.

  8. I can’t imagine I could ever live that way, but you make it look so cozy! I love all the wood paneling, and the books make it homey. Thanks so much for sharing this; I’d wondered in another post what a dry cabin was, and now I know!

    • BTW that is not wood paneling. Those are called 3/4 logs where they are flat on the inside. The logs are chinked to keep it tight and free of leaks and insulated. *smiling* which is why I posted about a dry cabin!

  9. I’ll be honest: I have indoor plumbing and I still don’t shower daily, because for one thing I’m lazy, but also because I find it a huge waste of both water and time. Americans are so germ-phobic! I typically do your style of bathing {PTA} — or what my mom always called a “cat bath” when we were growing up overseas. My dad was Air Force, stationed in Southern Italy, and we had to walk quite a distance to obtain clean water from a huge flowing fountain. Maybe that’s where I picked up my odd European quirks insofar as hygiene is concerned. What’s really funny is that, although I use no products and only wash my hair maybe once or twice a week, my tresses are long and voluminous, and nicer than any other female in my family. Yet, even as they comment on how much they love my hair, they chide me for not showering or washing my hair more often! Their hair, meanwhile, is extremely thin and brittle from constant washing and blow-drying and styling and products. I think I’ll keep on with my heathen ways… A minimalistic life, while often difficult, can also be quite rewarding.

  10. Fascinating! I live in Sydney, Australia. We do have snow in some parts of the country, but never where I am. I can’t imagine this style of living, though it does look so peaceful and conducive to creative pursuits. And laundromats with showers, how fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  11. You need to move to civilisation woman

  12. If I didn’t have running water, I think the inconvenience would be a toss-up between the outhouse and washing my hair. I am glad it isn’t an issue for me though. Roughing it, to me, means using Greenpeace t-paper!

  13. Although we have running water most of the time, we are on a well. When we lose power, we lose water. There have been two storms that knocked power out for a week. In both of those cases, we filled water jugs like the ones you used every couple days. Fortunately, during both of those storms, there was enough ground water in the creeks for the cattle. I can tell you, the thing I missed most was bathing, but only flushing when you really need to was also inconvenient.

    We also end up carrying water to the cows when the outside spigot freezes. This winter, we had quite a bit of stress because the indoor and outdoor water was frozen, so we set up a fire to melt the outdoor water.

  14. I am so glad I found your blog today! I find your lifestyle fascinating. It must be amazingly beautiful up there. My husband and I have talked about visiting Alaska several times. He tried to convince me to move there when we first started dating. The dry cabin life seems like quite the challenge. I’m not sure I could be up for it long-term. I’m FAR too lazy to wash dishes by hand that often and walking outdoors in the winter for the bathroom would be a definite downside. I look forward to reading the rest of your A to Z! Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

  15. I have a real appreciation for running water after spending 7 months in Africa. I have never taken water for granted since. I admire you. I’d need that Bloody Mary!

  16. Through your blog I can imagine the situation of human beings who saves a single drop of water for their future. I think where there is plenty of water they have learned from you and respect the nature too. When I read thoroughly your blog I understand the importance of water. In my country there are many places where clean water is not available and I think for its answer is the same conservation. Thanks a ton for sharing this article..


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