Monday, December 20, 2010

Sailboat Pictures

 Knot a Clew
The name fits for now...

The V Berth (great storage!) 
Head on the right (bathroom) & a closet on the left 
(miniature version) 

The Galley
(kitchen area, to be renovated) 
The previous owner had a fridge in the empty space and now we need more shelves and counter space!

The Salon
Nice wood table that drops down to create a bed, 
and a great bench for day sailing convenience. 

The Cockpit
The top slides back pretty far to reveal a great open ceiling. Nice for extra sun or star gazing at night!
The Cockpit has a tiller (not a wheel), so it makes it a bit roomier! Plenty of storage too!  

Jamie at Sunset, 
First night at Sea!

These are mostly the BEFORE pictures, the AFTER pictures will come soon!

Today I sailed!

December 16, 2010
Today I sailed
This is officially the fourth night on the boat. We spent two nights on the boat at it’s original docking (where the owner had it at his buddy’s place). While it was there we spent six days cleaning and fixing it up. The motor got fixed and added to the transom. I cleaned the interior a lot. Dub power washed the exterior. We fixed up wiring and added a new toilet. We did ALL kinds of other stuff that I can’t remember and don’t care to. We spent a lot of time and cash to get’er ready to live on. 
We motored out of the canals, past houses and many other nice looking boats. We watched the tide, but apparently didn’t end up on the good side of the tide. It was going out and we were sitting deep--keel sticking down about 4 feet. We ran aground. We tried to get her loose, playing around motoring to reverse us. It didn’t work. We waited about 3 1/2 hours. Low tide came and went @ 1:30pm We watched the water coming in pretty quickly. High tide was @ 7 something that night. Luckily about 2:30pm we were free. We made our way around to the channels (we were only a few hundred yards from the channel markers when we hit it was torture). Eventually we headed out on the channels West! To the Gulf! We motored against the wind and finally made our way to open water. The gulf is actually very shallow. We ran aground at 4 feet and the channel that is marked was about 6 feet. The “deeper” areas (2-3 miles out) are 7-10 feet. Not too deep. We decided to anchor up at sunset. Not a cloud in the sky. Probably the clearest sunset I’ve ever seen! It was a good night’s rest. 
We woke to another crystal clear day, which isn’t all that good when you need wind to sail. This time there was warmer weather (upper 60’s). Mother nature delivered. Only thing was, not much wind. It came and went all day. Eventually it came up quick and a bit stronger than before. I got a bit scared because the boat leans (heels) a lot and you start to go almost 5 knots (about 6 mph)---which is actually kinda fast, for a sailboat (a 27 footer, at that). Water splashing and sounds you’ve never heard before...but it was cool. 
Tonight we fall asleep a bit shy or our destination (Anclote Key). We’re just northeast of it, by maybe one nautical mile. Not too bad for crappy wind. I swear the water was like glass. 
I’m feeling like a lot of realities are hitting me. Our distance from land. Our motor (which is currently not be continued), the strength of the boat, how reliable it is (and all it’s parts, rigging, mast, sails, keel, tiller, etc.) When we started going fast I wasn’t sure I trusted her. “Knot a Clew” was roaring, but would she hold? I expressed to Dub how I felt and we pulled one sail (the jib) in a bit to reduce the speed and pull. That worked and we played with the sails a bit more. I was sailing! It felt great at a slower speed and I was excited. We switched on and off all day. Dub spending a lot of time in low wind and me cleaning the remainder of the cabin. I put our food in order and organized some things. Pretty simple day with it’s challenges and over-comings. Hell, I’m staying positive, but this is a bit scary sometimes. 
Good night. 

New Adventures!

December 4th, 2010
New Adventures Part I
It's December and we've had a huge change in plans. Since it's not that enjoyable to write about failures, I haven't written much lately about our experiences...We started off biking (full gear packed) from Dub's Mother's house. It was a good start, we rode 43 miles that day. Unfortunately, the wind and a bit of denial were against us. 20 mph winds pushed us back in time and when we finally decided to stop we were still about 2-3 hours from our camping destination for the night. We called Dub's family and they picked us up in the dark about 8 o'clock pm. Dub's knee was hurting excessively from tendonitis and we came to the full realization that this wasn't going to work.

Over time we decided that this weather was only going to get worse, and healing tendonitis was now the goal. We focused on Florida. Back up plan #1 was to head south and buy some R & R time at our family home in Daytona Beach. So that's what we did. Here we are, over a month of rest and relaxation, still in Daytona. We've had some great experiences learning to scuba dive, play with surfing, rescuing a green sea turtle, swimming with manatees, diving wrecks and reefs, and generally enjoying the Sunshine state!

Long story short, we have jumped head first into our sailboat search. We've now embarked on another adventure of a different kind. We're going to master the wind and water.

Our search began months ago when Dub was working for the Grand Canyon and scanned the internet for sailboats. It was hard to look face to face at any sailboats when you're land locked. Now we're fully able to travel and check 'em out in person. We left out on Monday afternoon, for Fort Lauderdale. We stopped in on a gentleman from New York. He was selling a California 27 boat. The boat was in pretty good shape. Nice and clean, nice layout. Gallery on one side, benches on the other. Very, very clean. We said we'd talk about it. Asking price was $7,000, but he'd take $6,500. That’s about our limit on the budget, so who knows.

We lined up another boat just in time for the "no-see-ums" to come out and eat us alive! At dusk the guy came up and we had already seen the "Stars and Stripes" boat. Quite the fixer-upper. No thanks. That evening we dinned at a seafood place ad somehow in the commotion we forgot to pay our bill, oops! We'll be sending them an envelope with some cash. Should cover the Dolphin/Mahi Mahi sandwich, 10 shrimp and the 2 Coronas. It was good-Tack's, I think was their name.

We spent a few hours looking up a place to camp for the night...nothing. Then we thought about a hostel. Nope, $70. So there we sat on the side street in Miami Beach, trying to decide where to stay...
-Hostel and go explore the Miami Beach night life?
-Drive around for a hotel that we could afford?
-Find a cheap hotel near the interstate?
-Drive about 2 hours to the Everglades and save some money camping.

Ok, the plan was to camp, so we took Route 1 through ALL of urban Miami, down to Homestead. All the while questioning where to stay. We're poor decision-makers sometimes.
We pulled up to Lone Pine Campground at about 11:30pm. It was sprinkling. We decided to quickly put up the tent. Rain picked up and we froze still: should we put up the tent or sleep in the car--one more decision..couldn't do it! We put the tent up in the only 20 minutes of rain all night! Here we are: soaked from the waist down, hoping to craw into bed. Well, we dried up and slept soundly in the sticky humid Everglade's air.

The sun woke us up at about 7am. By 8am we need to get OUT of that tent. Humidity and dampness were not our friends with the sunlight. We doused ourselves in repellant and braved it outside. Now, more decision-making --boo. We packed up and went back to Miami and saw another boat #5 (this was the fifth boat we'd seen). A Catalina 27, 1970's or something. We got our kayaks out and paddled to the boat. Christina and her friend were whistling at us and we made our way aboard. Little did we know, she was living aboard. Kinda interesting. Boat was nice and we seriously thought about getting it. Now more it, don't buy it? Stay in the area for another night? Head home? Visit folks in the Everglades? In Tampa area? OK- We headed west to look at more boats. Stopped over at Shark Valley Visitor Center and asked for my friend Eric from Glacier. By luck, we found him - with out using cell phones or any other modern conveniences. We grabbed some beers and enjoyed the warm evening in the Everglades.

The next day started with a great breakfast of Bagel with Peanut Butter, Fruit and nut muesli with Pineapple, Banana dried cranberries and dried apricots with Pine nuts. TASTY! We made our way west towards the Gulf Coast. We zig zagged up to Fort Meyers and dodged a closed Interstate. We were headed for Boca Grande. We heard through the grapevine from some folks up in King’s Bay that there was a man by the name of Danny who had a nice sailboat for sale. They told us... “Oh just ask for him at the Hudson’s General Store.” So we risked embarrassment and asked for him. No Luck. Then we went looking for a marina. No luck. We found some parking next to a few private docks and saw about 6-7 sailboats anchored out in the channel. We parked across from the Pink Elephant Restaurant. They allowed 2 hours for parking. Dub got his kayak off the car and went to ask if anyone knew Danny. Jackpot! We found him-- I call it luck, for sure! Dub climbed aboard to look at boat # 6. No thanks, but it was a fun man hunt!

We wandered north through marinas and small waterside towns, headed for Seminole, Florida. We arrived to Brooke and Mike Certa’s house at about dusk. Nice place! We met the new baby, Eddie! We went out to eat at this amazing Tapas place (not to be confused with topless). Lobster, humus, smoked artichoke hearts, ceviche, and lots of wine--even a bottle hand picked from Napa Valley. The corking fee allowed us to BYOB. We stopped at Sloppy Johns’s Bar on the way home- crazy place with a lot of junk- even a mountain goat on the wall. They had a fire going inside too- crazy! We enjoyed ourselves!

The next day we got up, headed to an open market, with arts, crafts & food and visited Tom Whitworth. It was nice catching up and then we headed to see our next boat, #7. One hour north to Hudson, FL. Found our way to the place, checked it out (Catalina 27, 1974). It looked good! An interesting owner who’s Austrian and living here in the U.S. Good guy, little paranoid. He’s our age, so it was neat to see someone who could afford a sailboat. So we left to head back to Daytona. We made it home in the evening and talked about all the boats we saw. #7 will do! Needs some cleaning up, but we can do it!

New Adventures Part II
Reality Sinks In

We decided to “celebrate.” In a way we were really excited about the purchase of a new sailboat (only new to us, not really new). Then we started to realize what this meant. The cost, what to do with it when the summer season came along, where we’d go, how much we knew, etc. Let’s face it, our experience level is Novice! We’re definitely the newbies and we’d be happy to admit that. So, we ourselves. Then we got scared. A light bit of regret came along and before long, we were coming down from our celebration high. We continued the mantra...We can do this, right?

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Great Divide

Today I sit here, looking out my window, green fills my view. I've waited patiently for summer's peak to arrive. I sat here months ago and viewed colors of grey, white, brown and black. The plants have quickly grown and burst into color. The wild rose is in full bloom next to the black cottonwoods in my backyard. The grass is still un-mowed and is gaining height. Summer is here with it's full blown strength. Life and death is now apparent on the landscape, as the spruce budworm fills the Douglas Fir trees and threatens their life. Life is evident in the new shoots of the chokecherries outside my door. Green is everywhere.

View from Divide Mountain

The next month or so, here in Glacier National Park, is the best time of the year. The mountains are shrugging off the remaining snow, glaciers are being discovered as the snow from last winter is melting, and mountain passes become accessible for hiking.

Tiny alpine plant: Purple Mountain Saxifrage (a new flower for me!)

I took the opportunity, a few weeks back, to climb a mountain. I became a mountaineer for a day. I risked scuffing my hands, a few scrapes, and gained everything. On June 27th, I left work on time...which was a feat in itself...! At about 6:15pm, I was starting my climb up Divide Mountain. Some Blackfeet tribal members say this peak has more significance than the sacred Chief Mountain that is well known for its spirit quests and spiritual values to several tribes. I agree that Divide has more significance than Chief, especially for me.

Sunset in the St. Mary Valley from Divide Mountain

I view Divide Mountain as a very real dividing line between the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. I view the mountain as a strong hold of the edge of the mountain range (as it sits the farthest east in a chain of mountains in the St. Mary Valley). I view Divide as a separation between waterways, as it starts the Hudson Bay Divide and sends water to the Gulf of Mexico (to the south) and to the Hudson Bay (to the north). I also view Divide as a comfort of coming home. It welcomes me from afar and I can see it for several miles before I actually reach Glacier. In the begininning of my season, upon arrival, I look for Divide to mark where I'm going and it calls me in.

Jake and Michelle on top of Divide Mountain, taking it all in!

The view at the top is perfect...I only wonder what it looks like during the day. We hiked up, leisurely, on the western slope or the "scenic" route.

Stopped at the old fire lookout on the shoulder of the mountain. Then made our way up, up, and away.

We watched the sun set and let our eyes grow accustom to the darkness on our way down. We safely arrived at our vehicles at about 11:15pm. What a trip! The photos speak for themselves. I plan on hiking this again, several times! The scrapes and torn up hands are worth the reward.

Me, on the top of the world!

View to the north

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brutal Blessings

I don't have much to say, just a few quick thoughts about Glacier and it's blessings and hardships. It can be beautiful, breathtaking, bountiful and blessed. But it can also be brutal, bruising, and breaking. When you're here, you walk a fine line. I feel strange every time I have to talk to a group of visitors about to deal with bears, how to walk on a trail that's uneven, how to stay away from slippery rocks near waterfalls, and to watch every detail possible. I also feel wonderful telling visitors how the park's beautiful and amazing. Fine line that you could cross. Are we destined to break all the rules we set for ourselves? How do we straddle that line and not fall over the edge? It's a wild world out there and we want to explore it...How is it that I'm lucky enough to survive through the brutal Glacier and view the beautiful Glacier?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Series of Short Stories

I would like to share with you a few short stories. Each story has at least one photograph that relates to the story. My no means have I planned which stories to share's by chance. A chance of actually capturing these photographs in the first place. A chance to share the short stories of how I was lucky enough to get the photographs. And a chance to share them both with you.

1.) The first story is one of pure magnificence. As I traveled to catch a flight in Kalispell, I hurried along Highway 2. I speedily passed cars and zoomed around them...silly slow drivers. After passing Essex, I came upon a section with Lodgepole Pines lining the roadsides. I saw a swoop of white dip down and then back up again. Oh my god! That was an Eagle! SCREECH! I stomped on the breaks and even backed up a little bit to get a view. The majestic Bald Eagle sat on the top of a pine. It looked around, as if oblivious to my presence. I decided to take a risk. I got out, grabbed my camera (all while still on the side of the road), and changed out my lenses. At that time, the cars (I had previously passed) came zooming by. I crossed my fingers, hoping that the Eagle would stay perched. It did. I snapped. And I snapped. And I snapped. Oh what pure luck. I watch him through my camera lens and soaked it in. And then swoop--I snapped.

Thee most majestic photo I've ever taken!
Bald Eagle near the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Bald Eagle perched near the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

2.) The next story brings out the wild north if the Bald Eagle didn't. I was paddling on the Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier Valley. A cool day, a light breeze passing by, and the sun peaking through the peaks and passing clouds. I took my time paddling across the lake, knowing that it might not be possible to go beyond the stream outlet and up to Lake Josephine (it wasn't). Not paying attention to the main part of the lake, I paddled along the shoreline, exploring every nook and cranny. I noticed a few small flowers in the shoreline grass. I noticed moose tracks in the sand and rocks. And finally, as I turned my boat towards the Many Glacier Hotel, I noticed a black bird floating on the water. It was a LOON! No, not a crazy person. A Common of the most iconic north country waterfowl. CRAZY! I have to say, I love Loons. They are so amazing. I also have to say, I had NO idea it was Loon Day in Glacier. But, my luck, I saw a loon on Loon Day...unplanned. It dove down and I'd paddle a little closer. It surfaced and I sat still. This process repeated itself over and over. At one moment, the Loon dove down and I thought for SURE I was going to surprise it or something. When it resurfaced, I was almost 25-30 feet away---eeek! I was also surprised. So much that I didn't even take a photo. I looked at him/her, and it looked back at me. I felt like I was looking into the soul of an ancient, wise creature. And I was.

The Many Glacier Valley on May 15th
The beautiful Common Loon, seen on "Loon Day" in Glacier!

Everyone gets a little Loony! I love Loons!

Even the Barrow's Golden Eye looks a bit Loony!

3.) This story begins with text messages.
EB: "2 Dog Flats. u k now ur welcome 2 join me on lake if u want u can find somewhere out there..." Meaning: Wanna paddle, meet you there, somewhere!
Me: "Where do u think u will paddle?"
EB: "Thru narrows then follow shoreline round n right."
Me: "Cool, I think you've inspired me. I'll pack up quickly & c u out there!"
I quickly packed up the car, and headed west up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The St. Mary Lake was calm and clear. I paddled out and I soon saw a long yellow kayak paddling my way. It was EB! We met and headed towards Wild Goose Island, one of the best paddles in the whole park! We decided to paddle around and then dock on some rocks. As we looped around---HONK, HONK, HONK! A Canada Goose comes rushing out, honking. And what do ya know, it came off of a nest! Geese are nesting on Wild Goose Island! AWESOME! We cheer out loud and continue paddling around the island. We dock up, get out and head for the "special" place to snack on the FIRST Glacier Lilies of the season. As we walk up the rocks---HONK, HONK, HONK!! Oh My! ANOTHER Canada Goose! And what do ya know, there was a ANOTHER nest! Not only are there Canada Geese nesting on Wild Goose Island--There are TWO nests! We snuck by and snatched up a few Glacier Lilies, enjoying the sweet goodness for the first time this year. It's gonna be a good year.

Paddling at Wild Goose Island at Sunset, Priceless.

4.) AP and I decided to go into Kalispell early Saturday morning. We even got up early so that we could catch Ironman 2 at it's first showing, 12:15pm. It was great. We went to the grocery store, McKenzie River Pizza, and then to the movie. Thoroughly enjoyed the "city" life. Then we turned our attention to the wilderness. The great wide open Glacier National Park. We headed to the North Fork area of the park. Complete with a back roads drive down the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls. The dust kicked up and luckily the rocks stayed away from my windshield! We made it up to the Polebridge Mercantile. Our eyes were set on the gooey goodness of Polebridge cookies! We went inside and got the usual, Baker's dozen, random choice of the attendant...with special emphasis on the Mocha white chocolate cookies! We added a tasty beverage to the order and we were golden. With a long road ahead of us, we decided to enjoy the classic river's edge and then head back home for the night. We savored the flavors while the wild river rushed by!

The Polebridge Mercantile with my Subbie out front!
She Christened the North Fork road!

The North Fork of the Flathead River and a Waxing Gibbous Moon

5.) A bit of freezing ice crystals can build up rather quickly, in these parts.
And so it did, last night.
Snowfall in the Springtime

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hit the Ground Running

I was able to enjoy the beauty and power of Glacier today. Partaking in the second hike of the season (I know, I haven't been out much...I blame the weather), Sun Point to Virginia Falls, in the St. Mary Valley. It was breath taking and full of it's own breath--wind!

Sun Point
The weather was in the 50's, partly sunny and winds gusting to 25 mph. Sun Point was amazing with clouds and squalls moving through the valley.

St. Mary Falls

Myself and four other rangers hit the trail early afternoon and enjoyed several wildflower species blooming: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Mouse-eared Chickweed, Shooting Star, Glacier Lilies, Indian Paintbrush, Clematis vine, Oregon Grape, Serviceberry, Red Twinberry, Calypso Orchid and several others.

Glacier Lily

Virginia Falls

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

I let Glacier soak into my stressed body and it relieved me. I was relieved of my worries, stresses, and lack of hiking lately. When I returned home I actually forgot my worries. It only took one phone call to bring back reality. Reality that the season is starting in FULL force!

Next week our new staff members arrive and I will get to meet the people that I hired. It's very interesting to see the process in action: resumes, reference checks, paperwork, and finally meeting the person! I hoping there will be a great sense of relief when my thoughts are redeemed: These people will be awesome interpreters and rangers!

Almost everyone will be arriving for their new job on Thursday morning. We'll have an exciting "orientation" of the administrative area and then hike to St. Mary Falls in the afternoon. Friday will be more of the same. In fact, hiking is planned for several of our training days. I'm happy to see that!

Baring Falls

Soon our returning staff members will arrive and help us staff our busy (ha!) Visitor Center. We did get over 200 visitors on Saturday! So, it goes without saying, I'm hitting the ground running. Here goes! The 2010 CENTENNIAL Season is starting!

Best of luck to everyone and Here's to a great Interpretive Season! Be Careful out there, Everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Full Circle

I moved in on a Friday night, late and dark, and climbed into my bed. I felt comforted by something that allowed me to lay flat, still and calm...anything that wasn't a car or moving. When I awoke, the wind was howling outside...another day with a wind advisory. No problem, I'm used to that, right? I decided to spend the morning preparing the house for "moving in." I cleaned for almost 3 hours and got the place good as new. With new wooden, double-paned windows, new doors, a new kitchen counter and sink, and new bathroom necessities...I did feel like it was new. New to me, anyway.

St. Mary Valley in the Afternoon, Glacier National Park

In the afternoon I went for a walk in the woods. I took my trusty bear spray and headed west. I hit the trail at a brisk pace and quickly sunk into rough snow. The freeze and thaw had created a hard bit of snow to walk over. But it was comforting that I had snow at all, being that the snow pack is so much less than average this year. I hiked fast over the snow and felt my knees slowly give in to the tenseness of hiking over an uncertain surface. I would probably be sore the next day, and somehow that was comforting. I passed by meadows with dormant flowers, into forests that are nearly 500 years old.

Douglas Fir Cone

I saw many elk paths weave through the forest. I'd never noticed them in that area before...interesting. I continued hiking, calling out "EEEEoooooHH!" and "Cooooomin' Through." The instinct of calling out for bears came back instantly, as did the fear of seeing a bear when I was by myself.

Beaver Pond

I tromped through forest, prairie, and burned areas. I passed the "Beaver Pond" and for the first time I had seen it, it frozen over. I usually sneak up on this area, preparing myself for viewing Mergansers or Barrow's Golden Eyes. But nothing was stirring and I continued on. At the trail intersection (where I was to turn back on another trail), I inspected the bear "Rub tree." Last year they put up barbed wire to collect the hair samples that would tell us "who was who." I didn't see any bear hair snagged on the wire, but I slowly traced the five scratch marks that adorn the guessed it, bear claw marks. The bear permanently left it's mark on the tree.

I turned back east and looked down the old road bed. This road bed tells a story, a story about young rugged rangers and fire fighters traveling back and forth. There used to be an old fire tower that sat on an open bald. If you hike out to it, you can still see the foundation blocks. Near the end of the road there were a few cabins. I've heard that you can still find it today, if you know the old trail. At the beginning of this old road was a ranger station. It was one of the first staffed stations on the east side of the park (probably second to East Glacier's Ranger Station). Now called the 1913 Ranger Station, we've decided to dedicate a restoration project to it, as well as exhibits and programs about the Good Ole Ranger days. Days when families were practically on the payroll, and days when horseback was the way to travel.

I turned down that road and headed towards that cabin and saw three white-tailed deer. Their tails went up immediately, but then they paused. One took extra care to watch me as I approached, closer and closer. The others had already run away and it still stared me down.

White Tailed Deer

I walked around a grove of Douglas Fir and spotted them again. This time they didn't mind as much and let me walk by slowly, at a distance of 30 feet. They used caution as they nibbled on grasses and watched the horizons. I used caution not to fall as I took photos, zoomed in. It was interesting to watch them, as they watched me. It was like we had an agreement, an understanding, and we did. I left them alone.

White Tailed Deer

I made it back down to the lake's shore, where I found willows budding out, in all their fuzzy glory. The beautiful red and yellow stems of the water’s edge intrigued me. I took some more photos.

Willows Bursting out with Buds

I completed my loop and made it back to where I had begun, both on the trail and here at Glacier. Full circle, and better for it.

St. Mary Lakeshore, Red Eagle mountain as the most prominent peak.