WinterCabin, a summer or winter getaway, where the stars sleep beneath the northern lights.

History - Donna Blasor-Bernhardt


       Much to my lifelong dismay, I was not born in Alaska.  My dad said he'd always wanted to come to Alaska, but every time the thought seriously presented itself, something happened to prevent it.

Pilot, barnstormer and stunt flyer in Pittsburg, Kansas, Don Blasor.

My Dad (right) with student.

Soon to be Alaskan's, The Blasor's, both flyers, in Kansas.

My Dad and Mom.

   He had flying in his blood. Daddy was one of those daredevil, barnstorming flyboys of the 1930's and 40's. He was an ace aircraft mechanic and instructor. He could fly by the seat of his pants, land in a hayfield, repair the plane with a piece of baling wire and safely take off again.  Happy in what he was doing, he met and married my mom, who, while pregnant with me, soloed under dad's tutorage.
   I took my first plane ride at 6 weeks old, cut my teeth on aircraft fabric, recovering dope and pinking shears, and spent most of my first 5 years out at the airport chasing grasshoppers and crawdads in our hometown of Pittsburg, Kansas. Daddy, at my insistence, would strap me into a biplane and we'd spend an afternoon doing barrel rolls, loops and dives.

That was the good part of living in Kansas.  The bad part, for me, was the infernal heat. Redheaded and very fair-skinned my skin quickly burnt, blistered, peeled...then freckled.  Even as a small child, I hated the heat of the Kansas plains and cornfields. But then something strange and marvelous happened.  A great depression settled into the midwest. The flying business sagged. Daddy was unable to make ends meet. For my parents this was disaster. But for me, it proved to be the catalyst which would change my life forever. My dad and his cousin left Kansas for Alaska and the promise of high-paying jobs.

I cut my teeth on airplanes, barnstorming and flying in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Early childhood - barnstorming with Dad.

Pre Alaska, the Alcan, and northern lights, still in Kansas.

Me, my little sister, and our dog, Zipper in Kansas.


       After nine months of sending home his paycheck, he returned for R and R...and the rest is history. We packed up everything we could heap on an old Dodge pickup bought from a Kansan farmer. I remember asking my redheaded grandad, "Grandpa?  Where is Alaska?" And my grandpa, not happy at losing us to this far-off land replied, "You're going to the end of the world!" At the ripe old age of six I arrived in the territory of Alaska  with my parents, little sister and the family dog.       

It was January, 1951. The Alaska Highway, barely more than a trail then, had been open to the public less than a year when we traveled it. I had never seen snow and was deeply inspired on that trip while watching the snowflakes brushed away by our old truck's windshield wipers or catching the vapors of my own breath at fifty below zero. Through that same old windshield, I watched the northern lights dance around a star-studded winter sky, climb into the heavens and at breakneck speed, dive into the mountains below. I was awe-struck. I fell in love with Alaska before we ever reached Anchorage.

Newly arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, soon-to-be sourdough and Alaskan poet.

Me and my sister in Anchorage.

Big damage in Anchorage from the 1964 Alaska Earthquake.

The Alaskan earthquake demolished homes in our neighborhood.


       I grew up in Anchorage (population when we arrived was 25,000). I endured its mishaps and misadventures....the year Mt. Spurr erupted covering the city with ash, Alaskan statehood, and the Great 1964 Alaska Earthquake...right along with my mom and dad, little sister and brother.  My parent's home was built in the hardest hit section of Anchorage.  It was spared, but many of our neighbors were not so lucky. And it was in Anchorage that I met Dick, the love of my life, married him and started my own family. By the time we decided to move from Anchorage, it had mushroomed to a city of 200,000 and Dick and I had a son and a daughter we wanted to raise back in "the real Alaska."


       We weren't sure where we would find the "Real Alaska." We just knew that we didn't want to raise our kids in a city. Finally, in the spring of 1977, Dick, the kids and I, toured the entire state looking for land to re-establish ourselves on...someplace we could set our roots, building a life for ourselves and our  kids. In Tok, Alaska,we found the real Alaska, bought land and began building our log cabin.

The Tent In Tok, MASH tent, home of a poet laureate and Alaska links.

Home to us for 13 months.

Cabin building leads to WinterCabin, Alaskan writers and Alaska links.

"Donna Blasor-Bernhardt, Alaskan through and through..."
   Paul Ryan, PBS-TV "Experience America"


       There were no roads, no neighbors, no phone or electric lines into our land. We cleared our way into it, setting up a big 16' x 32' army tent which would house us and our belongings--becoming our temporary home. When we weren't able to complete the cabin before winter set in, the four of us were forced to call that tent home for the next 13 months. The story of that winter (with photos) is on the Tent page.
       I began writing while in the tent. My
first poem appeared in the local paper and it started me on a writing career that began first as a hobby. Paul Harvey got a hold of our story (while we were still living in the tent) and aired it both on his radio show "Paul Harvey Comments" and in an excerpt on television. We finished our cabin in the fall of 1978 and moved in. While in the tent, Dick and I both fervently hoped that by the next winter we would have a "cabin for winter"...a winter cabin.


       And we did. Our little WinterCabin...we christened it. One room with a loft. Our palace. Built by our own hands, with our own trees for logs. I self-published a small book of poetry titled "A Tent In Tok" shortly thereafter. We couldn't have been happier.


       Ten years later Dick died, leaving me with our kids to finish raising. I self-published several more books, our big "M*A*S*H" tent was resurrected at a local theme park as a tourist attraction and I began doing shows and selling books. In this way, I was able to get the kids started on their own lives. Word spread about me and the tent. I appeared on CBS - TV's "Nightwatch" with Charlie Rose and did numerous radio/newspaper interviews. Charles Kuralt's crew interviewed me in front of my cabin for his Sunday morning show.

In Gettysburg with musicians, women writers, television crews and journalists.

In studio recording "Gettysburg" w/fellow artist, Mary.

This redhead met the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Charles Kuralt, Paul Harvey and Charlie Rose.

A crew from Anchorage came up and filmed me and the cabin for a made-for-television special that same year. Journalists from all over the South 48 came to Tok, stayed in my cabin and my guest cabin, wrote their stories and returned to their respective newspapers and magazines. Read articles appearing in Alaska magazine and the Fairbanks newspaper. I expanded my own writing, traveled to Gettysburg with a co-writer where we wrote, performed and produced an audio tape of the battle there. Involved in other media-related activities, I helped set up the interior portion of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Alaska tour and the resulting TV special "Northern Circle: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in Alaska."

Me with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member, Jimmy Ibbotson.


       The guest cabin served (and is still used) as home base for television crews, journalists, and even a few celebrities. The idea of a bed & breakfast evolved through those years. I built two more log cabins, using them and the original guest cabin as part of the B & B, and built a modern bathhouse for the comfort of my guests. (See the cabins page for photos of the B and B and online reservation form.) The B and B is called of course "WinterCabin."

Alaska magazine came to WinterCabin on the Alaska Highway in Tok, Alaska.


       In 1993, I made a trip back to Pittsburg, Kansas. (I still have a few living relatives there, and the cemetery has quite a collection of my ancestors). While there I presented the library with a collection of my books and tapes. And a couple of years ago I signed with an agent. This allows me to write in the peace and quiet of my log cabin during the long, cold but beautiful winters, of interior Alaska. I no longer have to worry about marketing the stories and screenplays I write. My agent does that for me and I love it.  I've found I love photography and enjoy taking pictures of my beautiful state. Some of those I sell as photo notecards. I still freelance, have a column in the local paper and write poetry (that's how I acquired the title "poet laureate of the Alaska Highway"). And I dabble in writing music. I've written a full-length manuscript (not in print yet) detailing the tent winter.


       Who knows? It's difficult to predict the future. Perhaps a movie of our "tent" winter?  The manuscript itself was optioned once as a movie but is now out of option. Recently I wrote it in screenplay format and my agent is shopping it, along with others I've written.  Maybe it will become a book first. Or perhaps one of the other screenplays I wrote will see the big screen first.  Whatever the case may be, I'm enjoying the journey.

Alaskan writer, poet laureate, redhead, author of books and tapes, photo cards and screenplays.
From biplane to northern lights, outhouses of Alaska to cabins of Alaska, Gettysburg to MASH tent, I've done it all.

Me with my kids, grandkids and kids-in-law.

Me - (yes, it's a recent photo!)


       Several things I know for the fall you'll find me out cutting my own firewood as I heat my cabin exclusively with wood. And in the winter you'll find me happily ensconced in my cabin working at my computer on another writing project or two (or ten!).  Or having dinner with my kids and grandkids who all live nearby. It's a great life! I will forever bless my mom and dad for bringing me to this wonderful Alaska...I will always love this land and its people.