By Elliot Dawes
The Yurt lifestyle, as lifestyles go, is among the finest. A yurt is a sturdy wooden structure with a tent exterior. It’s the perfect mélange of comfort, coziness, simplicity, and nature— clearly the crowning jewel of human achievement.
Tucked away in an Anchorage suburb, Bob Kaufman's yurt might as well be in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. A short trail through high trees brings you to a massive clearing and marshland. The back of the yurt faces the tree line which separates the yurt from civilization. The front of the yurt faces an open, multi-acre marshland, without a single sign or sound of civilization to intrude. And yet it’s only a short walk from the suburban cul-de-sac.
My friend Keegan and I were lucky enough to stay in the yurt for one 4-day stint after a summer working in the fisheries, and another 3 days following our hiking adventure along Kesugi Ridge. Even though it was just the two of us, the yurt could easily accommodate a large family. There are two queen-size futons, two single futons, and plenty of floor space.
In the mornings we would wake up, make our instant coffee, and lounge on the big deck in front of the yurt (and perhaps take a trip to the pristine outhouse). On cold days, we would simply turn on the yurt’s propane heating system, which would heat things up in minutes. We would muse about what to do that day, and usually relax and read for some time before getting much done.
Something about the serenity of the yurt makes you want to read and if you haven’t brought literature, the yurt has its own little library of Alaska adventure stories. We especially liked the book about the footloose Dick Griffith.
At night, the well-stocked woodpile and fire pit provide one of the best amusements ever discovered: a roaring fire with friends and loved ones. Maybe a few (in our case more than a few) Alaskan Ambers. There are plenty of chairs surrounding the fire, just waiting to be used. There are even wolves howling at the moon as you lay down to sleep. Granted (as we dishearteningly learned the next day), the wolves are from the Anchorage Zoo, a few blocks away, but still… wolves howling when you go to bed!
The best part about the yurt is, of course, its proximity to Bob Kaufman himself. In whatever context you do or don’t already know Bob, he is a man worth meeting and knowing. If you already know him, I need say no more. If you don’t, that’s just another reason to stay in the yurt. We will miss it dearly.