Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Barky move

Our planned two months afloat are coming fast upon us. In less than a month, we plan to be ready to cast off.

Less seasoned salts might faint at the prospect of having Galactic ready to go, after she spent a listless winter at the dock and we spent a far-from-listless winter, doing everything except boat maintenance.

Well, in some of my less seasoned moments, I have come close to fainting at the idea of having everything ready. But then I reminded Alisa that the dang boat just sailed safely from Hawai'i, for crying out loud, so how could she not be ready for a little jaunt around Alaska?

And then, with the happy excuse in hand of a visit from our good friend Mary Anne from Tasmania and her new-to-us beau Stu, we executed our long-adivsed plan for anyone finding themselves overwhelmed by insurmountable problems of boat maintenance.

We went for a sail.

It was great. We had a cracker of a day, and all us Galactics felt some of the old magic of being under way. Stu, who is a sailmaker and a racer, kindly kept all opinions concerning sail trim to himself unless he was presented with a direct question.

So now, though the job list is just as long, it feels less weighty.

And, point of order - I did sweat to get a new set of injectors into the engine just before we went on this daysail. Worked a treat for the great billowing clouds of smoke that had previously attended any use of the donk.

Summer awaits.

Good sailing writing should make you do what?

Wet your pants with laughter, that's what.

At least, that was the reaction that both A. and I had when we read this reflection on a dream well lived, written by our good friend Melissa Beit.

Extra credit: explain why these kinds of shenanigans, in the company of children, are a fine idea.

If you can't, you're likely a Dock Queen, or a landlubber, or are simply cursed with more good sense than our favorite sorts of people seem to be.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Snow Cave #1

Winter ecstasy
This week is spring break for Kodiak schools.

Waaaay back in the 20th Century, spring break trips to the mountains were a big part of my time as a student at the University of Alaska.

This year, Elias and I revived that tradition of spring break trips to the mountains and made our long-planned foray to Cope Mountain to spend the night in a snow cave.

In Kodiak, the way to find winter is to walk uphill. We made it up to about 500 m to get to decent winter-ish conditions. Still, the ceiling of the cave started to turn to slush while we were cooking, and the water that I left in our cook pot didn't freeze overnight. Those are two signs of warmth that I never experienced in all my snowcaving in the Alaska Range.

It was great to be reminded of all the old things - the smell of sunscreen on your face while covering ground in a snowy landscape, and the way that light scintillates off the crystals of ice kicked up by your skis. The sound of each sushing slide of a ski forward, step after step, against the profound quiet of the hills.

It was a great trip for finding out that Elias is able to carry a very light pack in the hills (basically just his sleeping bag and spare clothes), and I am still able to carry a light-ish pack (basically, everything else). My knees still feel it, a few days after the trip was over, but for me backpacking in the mountains of Alaska is exquisitely worth it.

Elias was giddy throughout our night in the cave, and the long process of melting snow and drying out our gear with hot water bottles. (I'm occasionally astonished to see people attempting to cook outdoors while winter camping. In Alaska at least, winter camping means cooking inside your shelter, be it snow cave or tent.) And Elias was, well, pretty tough. Few complaints, and he saw the joy of the thing quite easily.

He was particularly enamored of the realization that his mom has never slept in a snow cave, and that he now has one up on her in terms of camping experiences.

Here and below: the view outside the cave.

In the morning, Elias tried to collapse the cave. But it was plenty strong to hold his weight.

I found 7000 Chilean pesos in my parka pocket - about $11.50 US.