As the skipper of the water taxi down-shifted, I could see my destination like a welcoming beacon dead ahead. The Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge, only 10 miles as the crow flies from the fishing village of Homer, was worlds away from the rat race I was leaving behind for a week. As if to signal that I was in the right place, a bald eagle with a six-foot wingspan swooped down for a closer inspection of our boat as a trio of accommodating hip-booted staffers off-loaded my luggage.
Little did owner Keith Iverson know back in 1973 when he plunked down his life savings of $5,000 for the wild and undeveloped property alongside Sadie Cove that the state would soon declare the 24,000 acres of vibrant coastline surrounding his land as a wilderness area protected from development. After going it alone for the first few years, Iverson realized that his little piece of paradise could attract top dollar from visitors looking to get away from the frenetic pace of city life. So in 1981 he opened his emerging complex of buildings—each constructed from hand-milled local spruce lumber and driftwood—to visitors as the Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge.
Today, guests at the lodge ($300 per person per night in summer, $350 in winter, including three meals) can enjoy all the amenities of home—including electricity, hot showers and cold drinks—without dipping into any polluting fossil fuel reserves. Power at the lodge is provided by an ingenious hydroelectric system running off of the rushing creek bisecting the property. Iverson says it is more reliable than the electricity grid, plus he never gets an electricity bill. Meanwhile, the lodge’s clear drinking water is filtered from a mountain spring also on the property.
The Recycling Mantra
Beyond its environmentally sensitive power and water supplies, the lodge does not use any polluting fertilizers, preservatives or cleaning chemicals that could foul the pristine waters of Sadie Cove. Also, the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) is a mantra for Iverson and his staff. “For example, we use gallon-sized milk containers for our lettuce greenhouse planters, and when the containers become so damaged by UV rays that they are no longer practical, we bring them to town where they are recycled,” says Iverson.
Old ropes from fishing vessels are used for handrails, discarded PVC pipe from Homer is split and used for rain gutters and small open boats that have served out their days at sea are retired and used for raised garden beds.