Monday, July 13, 2015

Meyers Chuck

Cabins at Meyers Chuck
The village of Meyers Chuck is one of those special places that defines Alaska – quaint, self-sufficient, remote, and friendly.  This well-protected harbor located on Cleveland Peninsula is a refuge for boats from the stormy seas off Clarence Strait.  We motored into the bay with its natural breakwater and tied to the community docks.  Meyers Chuck is one of several places where you can moor your boat at no charge and where you won't find a long list of rules.  Houses and cabins on pilings line the banks around the oval-shaped harbor with a well-worn foot path along the shore connecting the community.  
The Chuck on a Rising Tide
When walking around the bay, you need to keep an eye on high tides or you will find yourself stranded on shore in some places soon to become islands.  Using a dinghy is another common form of transportation around the community, including visiting neighbors and the Post Office across the bay.  

The tiny Post Office at Meyers Chuck
At low-tide, homes lying further out from the center of the community become accessible by land once again.  The word ‘Chuck’ is thought to originate from the Nootka word ‘chauk.’  Chuck is jargon for a saltwater body that fills at high tide – extreme tides of 20 feet surge every six hours and at low tide the central bay essentially becomes a saltwater lake, hence the name Meyers Chuck.  
Red Current Bushes, Meyers Chuck
John and Java starting along the Trail
European settlers began living here year-round by the late 1800’s and today the community has a population of approximately 16 people.  It was claimed by Leo “Lone Wolf” Smith of the 1920’s that the community was named after his Uncle Meyers (Myers).  Salmonberry bushes, Red Current bushes, and mature fruit trees are found among older cabins from the past.  After World War II, Meyers Chuck was active with fishing boats whose surnames ended in –son or –sen; everyone owned a boat in those days of one sort or another.  
Driftwood Shorebird Art
Hiking the Trail (John and Java)
One of the most interesting aspects of Meyers Chuck today is the collection of art found in the woods along the trail, including a shore bird shaped from driftwood and a large spider web found in the forest in addition to other humorous and creative pieces.  
Spider Web Art
Also found in the forest is the only shop in town, “the Gallery,” a collection of very nice hand-crafted wood bowls and Native art pieces, jewelry, books, and other select items.  
Oh no, the Shopping Temptation!
Of course there are no specific hours of operation; instead a phone number is posted so visitors can call the shop keeper to open the store.  I peered through the windows admiring the beautiful pieces, should I call?  In which case I would feel obligated to purchase something; there were a number of things I certainly would enjoy as a keepsake or as a useful utensil, oh the agony of resisting shopping!  In earlier times, a school house was in session at Meyers Chuck but the children have all grown.  
John on the Forest Slide
We found remnants of this playful past in the forest – a rope swing, slide, and monkey-bars, and no doubt children engaged in creative play at the beach.  
Beach Teeter-Totter
Perhaps they made a teeter-totter out of drift wood as did John and Leonard, or walked across logs in a balancing act.  One of the latest additions at Meyers Chuck is the home-made cinnamon bun service, you simply call the phone number posted on the community board and place your order; buns are delivered the following morning, what a treat!  Like so many small villages in Alaska, Meyers Chuck is a place where you come to appreciate its special appeal after spending time with the locals and discovering its secrets, we certainly had fun doing so.

John and Lorena exploring The Back Chuck

Got d' Fever at Meyers Chuck

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