rockin the dock
Rocking the dock around five years old, Taku Lodge
Constructing the bear proof box, Snettisham Homestead

I was born in Juneau, Alaska, and raised at the edge of the Taku River. My mother, Kathy (Gilbreth) Maas, arrived in Juneau from Flagstaff, Arizona, to teach elementary school at the age of 20; my father, Ron Maas, was  raised in Watertown, Wisconsin, and moved to Alaska in 1960. Both musicians, they met in the Juneau Symphony. By a lucky chance, the Taku Lodge fell into my dad's hands in 1972 when the bank asked Maas Realty to help sell the property after the previous owners went bankrupt. My parents were married at the lodge and opened it in 1979 as a cruise ship attraction; tourists flew in over the Juneau Icefield, then landed at the lodge for a homemade salmon bake dinner and a stroll around the picturesque property. I was two when the lodge opened and spent every summer there until I was fifteen and the lodge was sold into other hands.

My summers at the lodge were...well, indescribable.  A thousand tourists told me how lucky I was to live there, but I didn't really understand that until my last few years there, and then not fully until it was gone. But I did thoroughly enjoy myself! I was happy, raising Canada geese, getting to know black bears, feeding squirrels, exploring the woods, sitting in endless contemplation on the riverbank, watching the world go by from the branches of the cottonwood tree, canoeing through the sloughs behind the lodge, picking strawberries and blueberries for my shredded wheat in the morning, (when I didn't eat fresh oatmeal-raisin cookies), flying onto remote mountain lakes where I swam in cold, clear water, fishing on Johnson Creek, reading by the wood stove at night while the mice scampered across the floor. All nostalgia aside, I was happy, if somewhat melancholy, with few exceptions.  In the fall, my family moved back to our house in Juneau so my brother Michael and I could attend school. The transition from living in the wilderness without my peers to school life was always difficult and I felt the same confusion in reverse each spring.  As I aged, the fall transition became easier and the spring transitions harder (though I was always grateful in time).

After I started my sophomore year of high school, my parents sold the lodge and built a cabin on their property at Bullard's Landing three miles south of the lodge.  I spent much of the following summer there, but less thereafter. After graduating from Juneau-Douglas High School, I was lucky enough to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. I moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where I spent three semesters immersed in classical music, but generally miserable. I finally realized that living in a city, or living outside of Alaska at all, was not worth anything, even playing the trumpet for a living, so I moved back to Juneau. After working at a plant nursery in the summer and in respite care during the winter for a few years, I returned to school at the University of Alaska Southeast where I discovered that I needn't have left Juneau for brilliant, stimulating professors and life changing classes. I graduated with a liberal arts degree in social science (emphasis in anthrolopogy) in 2001.

Since returning from Ohio, I had reoriented on the wilderness and on tourism. During summer breaks I worked on tour boats narrating about local history and wildlife, including on short wildlife trips out of Auke Bay and day-long trips to Tracy Arm and Gustavus/Icy Strait. The ocean seeped into my bones in an unexpected way (for a girl raised on a river) and I began to spend more and more time on it and under it (with a sailboat (now sold), skiff, and SCUBA gear), not to mention cultivating a deep appreciation for orcas particularly, but pretty much every other marine animal. For many years my vacations were almost entirely taken up by diving. After I graduated from UAS, I took a job with the State of Alaska where I still work, today with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In 2002 I began building an eco-tourism lodge in Port Snettisham with the hope of one day making a living sharing this place with visitors. 

Today I spend my summers continuing construction at Snettisham, visiting Bullard's Landing, boat camping, fishing, and otherwise adventuring to the point of exhaustion. Winter months are more social and less exhausting and I spend considerable time each fall and winter recovering from the summer and preparing for summer. I am the caretaker of two education birds with the Juneau Raptor Center (a red-tailed hawk named Monalisa and Bebop the Steller's jay) and friend to a cadre of wild porcupines, not to mention the fish, frogs, and dog. I love watching birds (and other wildlife) and ballroom dancing. My parents live in Juneau as does my brother with his wife and two awesome kids.

New Year's Letter 2003
New Year's Letter 2004
New Year's Letter 2005
New Year's Letter 2006
New Year's Letter 2007
New Year's Letter 2008
New Year's Letter 2009
New Year's Letter 2010
New Year's Letter 2011
New Year's Letter 2012
New Year's Letter 2013
New Year's Letter 2014
New Year's Letter 2015
New Year's Letter 2016