Into the Beautiful North!
I went to a party the Pit last Friday. It’s a bar (aka the Westminster) with an illegal mine shaft under it, dug by a former gold seeking owner. They held an auction to raise money for music scholarships and an item came up, “Tea with the Caveman”, that was purchased by writer-in-residence Tim and the local part time doctor. This evening I went with them to meet Caveman Bill.
This is Bill Donaldson, on his bed with his 16 year old dog. He has lived in this cozy cave for 16 or so years. They must have moved in together.
The front door to the cave was replaced last October after a stove fire, when a friend visited the cave while Bill was out. The previous door was a piece of plywood. A solar panel above the door runs Bill’s laptop computer (you can become friends with Bill on Facebook) and his tiny television.
Bill finds or salvages most everything he needs. The kitchen windows in the front of the cave are glass that was pried from oven doors. Besides the main cave that contains the kitchen (shelves above), wood stove and bed, Bill has another cave for four chickens and a rooster and a third cave for his generator and storage.
Bill is a local celebrity and is often interviewed and sought out by tourists. There is a recent article about him with a video interview in Eat Drink Travel. He is a very talented wood carver and carpenter. Bill made these lovely dovetailed boxes out of logs and he does all of the planing, jointing and carving by hand.
We had to hike along the frozen Yukon River to get to Bill’s place. It is tucked into the rocks just above the river and I never noticed it when photographing the ice bridge and the cars on the race track. In the summer, a paddle wheeler and tourist boats go right in front of his door. Bill has to paddle across the Yukon to get to town after the Spring thaw. He promised he would come into town for my show at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival on Sunday.