You get into things you don’t know how to do, and you just learn as you go. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re not going to survive out here.


Building is what brought Karla Freivalds and Martin Morrison together.

Karla worked as a television producer on a show called "Building Alaska." Martin was on the show. Two years later they're still together, and they're renting the log cabin Martin helped build for the tv show. 

But they're not going to stay there forever. They want to try their hands at building a cabin on their own.

"It's kind of like a right of passage," Martin said.

The turn of a faucet, the flip of the switch, the drive to the grocery store: things we take for granted. But out here, you have to build it all from scratch: the cabin, the road in, the utility systems, the knowledge base that comes with off-the-grid living.

And a lot of people who come here, have no idea where to start.

"Everybody's always worried: How am I gonna build this house? I don't know how to build a house. And you're like, of course you don't know how to build a house," 35-year resident Malcolm Vance said.

"It's just a lot of mini-failures."

On this episode of Out Here: stories of building a cabin and a life in McCarthy.

Because there's a lot of different ways to go about it. And you have to get creative when the nearest Home Depot is an eight-hour drive, and the only person providing your utilities is you.

Music from Galen Huckins and Blue Dot Sessions / Ultima Thule, Valantis, Burrow Burrow, Club Count, Swapping Tubes, The One Shot / Episode artwork from Ian Gyori / Financial Assistance from the Duffy Fund and the University of Missouri / Guidance and support from Scott Swafford, Sara Shahriari and Dr. Cristina Mislan / Featured in this episode: Martin Morrison, Karla Freivalds, Greg Fensterman, Greg Runyan, Ian Gyori, Stephens Harper, Tamara Harper, Mark Vail, Carole Morrison and Malcolm Vance