Sorry, I haven't quite figured out how to actually link to the news story or photos, but word that Mount Redoubt in Alaska is about to blow brought back amazing memories. I was living in Anchorage in 1989 when that volcano last erupted. Old timers warned me not to plan on driving when ash was in the air as it will damage your engine when it's pulled into the vehicle. There was no way I could hole up in my apartment for however long this was going to take...so I took some pretty drastic measures.
I shared my apartment at the time with my kitty Raoul, a big white character that I had rescued the winter before from under a porch in the dead of winter. He was a mess when I found him then but had come around really well. In fact, he was becoming a huge, magnificent feline. But as I was making plans to go camp out in my studio, he had to come along. So I packed him up together with food, sleeping bag, camp stove and other gear--pretty much as if I was going camping (which I did a lot)--into the back of my Toyota pick up. Then I drove across town to the studio.
The studio I had at the time I shared with 3 other artists. It was an old industrial building, down by the creek that cuts through the northern edge of the city. It had 3 bays and was pretty darn spacious, even if it did have damage from earlier earthquakes. It also had huge roll up doors. I pulled the truck into one of the bays, then battened down the hatches and prepared to stick it out there in this rough old studio....why so I could keep working, of course! None of the other 3 artists who had studio space there was nutty enough to "go camping" so I had a nice quiet, peaceful stretch ahead of me....
In fact, at the time, I was deep into the fabrication stages of a huge installation that would be going up the following year, 1990, and with the hand paper making process, there are typically specific "stopping points." And I was no where near one of those! I was under an intense schedule because "The Last Stand" was going to open at the Leopold Hoesch Museum in Duren, Germany in May of 1990-but I wasn't finished building it yet.
So Raoul roamed that big old building and I kept working through the eruption, the ash fall out, all of it. When it was time to sleep, I crawled into my pickup bed which was fitted with a thick foam pad, got into my sleeping bag, and slept. When it was time to eat, I cranked up the Coleman stove and cooked. And we did have a fridge in the studio. Also a telephone and a radio, so I could follow all the progress of the volcanic event on NPR.
I can't for the life of me remember how long I stayed in this mode before the word on the street was it was OK to drive again. I do remember peeking out the doors (there were no windows in this building, except in one of the man doors) and seeing huge gray clouds moving in. So I knew it was really happening. I must have camped out there at least a week before the OK to drive again was given. Ahhh, the grand Alaskan adventure...except for me, it lasted 8 years from '85 to '93. Lots of tales to tell, but not all at once!