Saturday, May 30, 2015

Family Affair

The last time we picked ice out of the water was in the very first two weeks after we left Kodiak - perilously close to eight years ago. Someone gave us the local knowledge to get through the sill into the upper part of Northwestern Fjord in the Kenai Fjords. What did we know back then of using a laptop as a plotter? In front of the glacier, I used our landing net to pick some ice out of the water for G&Ts that night. Elias watched from the cockpit in his snow suit, gumming on the end of a sheet.

We just spent two days knocking around the floating ice of Estero Peel. This time there was no need for me to do the ice netting. Elias was mad for the sport - patiently waiting on the bow with his net, and then charging along the side decks to chase down any small piece that came alongside. He and Eric ate the stuff - bit right into it and chomped it on down. I couldn't watch. They also had some glacier ice in a celebratory juice, and Alisa and I had scotch on the rocks for two nights in a row.

Not incidentally, both boys were ecstatic with our experience of being around the ice. "This is the best day of my life" has a certain honesty to it when it comes from the mouth of a five-year-old. They can presumably remember most of them at that point.

Many of the anchorages so far have offered zero walking opportunity. The terrain is too steep, and the forest too thick - this is something that we expected based on our experience with fjords in Alaska. But enforced time on the boat has really weighed on the boys over the last few weeks - especially Eric, who has a younger kid's need to run and scream, and less of an eight-year-old's ability to cerebralize his way through a day spent inside.

But when it's good for the kids - when there's ice in the water, or when the clouds part to reveal glaciated peaks above us, or when Caleta Tilman gives us the terrain for a walk - at those times, near-freezing rain is no barrier at all to their enjoyment. The revel in the moment, they scream out the news of their happiness. After Estero Peel we came into Puerto Bueno, which gave us our first taste of real upland walking, a close view of culpeo, the fox, and our first taste of centolla, the king crab of Patagonia. (It was a female and we ate it anyway. Standards are slipping.) We seem to be on an upwards trajectory in terms of getting off the boat, and we expect that to continue all the way south.

And, during all the long days that we've spent together, we've hit a certain sweet spot in family life. Lots of games of Uno while the diesel stove heats the saloon, lots of time for me to listen to Elias go on and on about his make-believe world, No-Cars Planet, time for me to look at Eric across the saloon and to notice how his face is maturing and how tall he is getting, and to remember how recently it was that I was telling Alisa I was enjoying the experience of having a three-year-old again. Except that now he's five.

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We got no internet, no no.
We're as out of touch as we can be,
Yes, yes.

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