How Do You Do, Alaskan How-To?

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Welcome to Alaskan Blog Cabin. My name is Cody Ledoux. I live on a remote lake in the Interior of Alaska. This lake is only accessible by ski plane or snowmachine in the winter and by float plane or the use of truck-to-atv-to-river jetboat-to-atv to lake boat-to-cabin! Logistics are 3/4 of the battle of living out here.

I have decided to start this how-to blog for those living remotely and off the grid, for those who are planning to go into the wilderness, or even just for those who want to see how we Alaskans live… well a bunch of us anyways.

I love problem solving and figuring out the best way to fix things or overcome obstacles with the tools and supplies at hand, in both a temporary “fix it until it can be fixed properly” as well as a “fix it right so you never have to do it again”. I do believe that a job worth doing is a job worth doing right, but in The Bush there isn’t a hardware store just around the corner so you have to get creative and this is right up my alley.

My older brother and his buddies who lives in the city used to call me the Redneck MacGyver because every time I’d stop by his old apartment there’d be something that needed fixing. I’d run down to my truck, grab my tools, then fix whatever was broke with whatever random hardware was in my tool bag and the contents of his junk drawer.

I credit a lot of this to growing up around my Grandfather’s small farm where the joke was if he couldn’t fix it with bailing twine, wire, and a pair of vice-grips then it wasn’t broke. My grandfather, like most farmers, held on to every nut, bolt, bent nail, and piece of scrap iron plus knew where it was 30 years later when that one piece was the exact thing needed to fix a tractor or piece of equipment.

My Grandfather is also an amazing fabricator and can create custom tools and parts from the random pieces found in the scrap pile.

My father also greatly influenced my problem solving and inventive nature. While serving in the Army my father invented an infrared light detector gadget used to test the infrared lights on Army helicopters. Prior to this it used to require dangerous balancing off the helicopter with the original, ridiculously cumbersome, heavy night vision goggles, that cost over $32,000/pair and apparently a ton of them were dropped and damaged because the Army stated that my father’s $9 gadget saved the Army millions in damaged night vision goggles.

My Dad also invented a couple things to solve problems when he worked for the Federal Aviation Administration. As a kid I would go with him when he was called in to fix things on the weekends and I would stand there holding a flashlight for him, just amazed at these rooms full of complex machinery and instruments and at the fact that my Dad knew how it all worked and how to fix them.

These skills they passed down to me have saved my butt and several other’s bacon, hundreds of times when things have broken down out here in the bush, and repairs had to be made with what tools, hardware, and scrap pieces that was on hand. Needless to say out here you never throw away anything that may save you or someone else.

As for me I worked on a couple farms during/after highschool in Vermont. After getting crushed by an angry cow I decided to go into construction. I spent a year as a commercial roofer, then a year as an electician’s apprentice before deciding to follow in my Father’s footsteps and join the Army.

I signed up for 5 years but was injured during some training and after a year and a half was medically discharged. I moved to Alaska in 2010 and have done remote part-time cabin building, remodeling, roofing, and log restoration ever since.

In 2011 I bought 9.5 acres on a remote fly-in lake in the Interior of Alaska and moved there full time. I bought a Woodmizer LT10 portable sawmill and built my cabin over the next couple years, teaching myself how to timber frame, one-handed I should add, along the way.

Woodmizer LT10 Sawmill

I spent 3 summers living on a remote river 10 miles from the lake, working for a dentist/private pilot with a float plane. I restored an antique log cabin, repaired multiple other remote cabins, and put roofs on 5 cabins for different people on that river. I also built a 16’x28′ pre-fab steel building/storage barn before returning to the lake to finish up my cabin.

Being disabled I not only have to figure out ways of doing things by myself out here, but also to do it with the least amount of upper body strength possible to reduce the chronic pain I’m in. I injured my arm & neck in the Army and have had three surgeries on them. I also had my “good” shoulder operated on in October of 2018, where 2″ of my collarbone was removed. I’m still waiting on a neck surgery and possibly another surgery on my arm.

It definitely takes some extra effort being disabled but with the right preparations almost anyone can do what I do and here I will share how I do it. This requires special planning as well as the use of levers, jacks, winches, rope-a-long, block & tackle, pulleys, as well as other mechanical tools that take the physical effort out of a job.

It can be frustrating spending half a day rigging up a contraption to lift or move something that I could have grabbed onto and thrown around in 20 minutes back before I was injured. But I truly enjoy problem solving and custom fabricating a special tool to overcome a specific obstacle and I have learned to tackle every job as a personal challenge.

I shoot and butcher my own moose, caribou, and bear. I haven’t bought beef since I moved to Alaska! I haul in all of my own supplies, with snowmachines and freight sleds in the winter and with four wheelers and trailers, jet boats, and the occasional float plane or helicopter in the summer.

A 30-06 220grn. bullet fills the freezer for the year!

Now that I have related to you a little of my hard earned qualifications I would like to take the time to warn you that some of the tools used and these techniques are downright dangerous if not done properly and sometimes even if they are. The proper safety equipment MUST ALWAYS be used!

While I may be a tough individual and some of you may laugh at “wimps” who wear safety glasses or ear plugs let me tell you this: in the wilderness there are no doctors or help within hours or days and it’ll cost you tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for medivacs, if they can even get to you or if you don’t die first.

If you get something in your eye and you’re not immediately blinded, you may be after waiting hours or days and/or bouncing down a trail the hundreds of miles it may take to get out, that’s if you can even see to save yourself. If you ruin your hearing, good luck with that bear sneaking up behind you because even without hearing problems they are as quiet as a cat.

I always wear eye and ear protection, boots and jeans, and a good pair of gloves. Call me what you will for being careful but after cauterizing a bone-deep cut on my finger, by pressing it against a red hot stove pipe in a canvas wall tent at -15*F, because the band aids and butterfly stitches were froze and wouldn’t stick, I decided I was going to play it safe no matter what. So…..

EVERY TIME YOU USE ANY TOOL, WHENEVER YOU CHOP, CUT, DRILL, SHOOT, HAMMER, WHACK, SWING A HARD OBJECT AT ANOTHER OBJECT, OR ANYTIME YOU’RE DOING ANYTHING REMOTELY DANGEROUS AT ALL ALWAYS USE THE PROPER SAFETY EQUIPMENT, USE EXTEME CAUTION AND PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!! TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS IF IT IS LOADED AT ALL TIMES.WITH NO HELP AROUND YOU HAVE TO ALWAYS BE CAREFUL AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND HOW YOU COULD GET HURT.

ALWAYS HAVE A FULLY STOCKED FIRST AID KIT INCLUDING A TRAUMA KIT WITH SPLINTS AND BLOOD CLOTTING AGENTS WITHIN REACH AT ALL TIMES, IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

THE ALASKANBLOGCABIN.COM, THIS BLOG, CODY LEDOUX HIMSELF, AND ANYONE ELSE ASSOCIATED WITH ALASKANBLOGCABIN.COM TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INJURIES OR DEATHS RESULTING FROM ANYTHING LEARNED HERE AND DONE BY YOU. I REPEAT WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS, THESE ARE DANGEROUS ACTIVITIES THAT COULD CAUSE SERIOUS INJURIES OR DEATH, SO PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

LASTLY ANYTIME YOU ARE IN THE WILDERNESS THE WEATHER AND WILD ANIMALS MUST ALSO BE WATCHED OUT FOR AND RESPECTED AS THEY BOTH CAN KILL YOU!!!!!

If you are not scared off by now then stick around and as my Grandfather tells me every time we’re done talking, “Stay safe!!”

We’ll see you a little further down the trail,

Cody