In the summer of 1983, just after I turned 15, I decided it was time to move out on my own. I had the help of Filbert (name changed). Filbert was my uncle, the brother of my step dad. So it is fair to call him a step uncle. He and I burned around town in his Buick 98, talked about the cosmos, dealing pot and LSD, and staying high through 1982. He gave me a copy of the Bagvad Gita and Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. We listened to Pink Floyd and dropped acid together. I loved Filbert.
My favorite book of all was Marijuana Botany, the encyclopedia on growing good pot. In one of our altered states I had an epiphany: “I can grow enough pot to stay high and get rich!” I had tended my own greenhouse in the summers and kept a grow room through the winters since I was 12. After a lot of dreamy discussion about how great it would be to have an endless supply of Alaska grown buds and such abundance that we could sell the shake from our harvest to buy a corvette, we decided to go for it. Filbert thought I was ahead of my time. He loved me.
So we borrowed money from my high school friends, enlisted them for work duty, stole mercury vapor and halogen street lamps, acquired a 12 kw generator to power our operation. I can’t remember how we got that. One night we were out to steal a spool of heavy-duty wire to run 220 volt lines from the generator to our grow room. When a security guard at Golden Valley Electric Co. heard us rolling the thing towards the fence and patrolled the area, we decided to find another source of power lines.
We rented a one-room log cabin 1 mile down the road from Skinny Dicks, the watering hole that sits between Fairbanks and Anchorage on the Parks highway. After adding on a room with peeled logs and a chainsaw, we took the floor-boards out, set up a wheel barrel causeway through the door threshold, and dug four feet into the earth, propping the cabin structure on upright logs.
We set up another ramp to the roof and put 1 foot of saw dust on top of the existing structure that would serve as insulation. This would keep heat from the 4 street-lights in. But another concern was to hide our heat signature from the cops flying in light planes. They had infrared equipment out scanning the last frontiers for growing operations like ours.
The day after I moved my stuff to the cabin my mom and step dad drove out to see me in their silver Monte Carlo. I was in the front yard practicing with my nun chucks and throwing knives at the front door of the cabin. I was a ninja. Mom stepped out of the car in tears and begged me to come home. “Son, you are only 15 years old. You can’t move out!” I told her that I am on my own now and I wasn’t moving back to the trailer on Gilmore trail. I also added, “I will get rich and supply you with piles of marijuana!”
Mom hugged me, again in tears, and said I must remember to come and visit. To support the effort my step dad pulled out a quarter ounce bag of weed and gave it to me to tide me over until harvest. I thought, “What a great dad.”
That winter I was the only guy on the parks highway who had a tan. Each day I tended my plants with diligence, and then sat on a makeshift lawn chair with my sunglasses on, book in hand, dressed only in my shorts. It was dead winter outside, 30 bellow zero, and I was in my own little Hawaii listening to Yes.