Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mt Healy overlook trail

We took a Sunday hike on the Mt Healy overlook trail in Denali National Park.

We were already in the Denali Park area, and wanted to do something a little, but not too strenuous, with options to high tail it back to shelter if showers came up. The up and back Mt Healy overlook trail seemed about right. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Perfect Boat

The wrong time.
July 29, 2014
While slowly coming to the conclusion that a Freedom 38 was the not the perfect boat for our cruising plans, and because we just like looking at boats, while in the Pacific Northwest in July we looked at a couple of boats, some in Victoria, none of which really picqued our interest. We arranged to look at a Sceptre 41 at Elliott Bay Marina, we had purchased Cirrus through Paul at EB in 1997, and had a really good feeling about him as a person and a broker. When we sold Cirrus, we had cut him out of a brokerage fee -- an aggressive broker had brought a buyer to the dock in San Diego as we arrived from La Paz. I hadn't had time to rinse the Baja Bash salt crust off the deck or rigging before a "take-it-or-leave-it" attractive purchase aggreement was profered -- completely leaving Paul's brokerage out of the deal. We were desperate to sell Cirrus so what could I do? I when I contacted Elliott Bay to ask about seeing this Sceptre 41, Solar Wind, Paul remembered us, but without any mention of being cut-out of the brokerage fee, but he remembered the search for and discovery of Cirrus and the part that he played in enabling our three-year family ownership and adventure on her.
We arranged to view Solar Wind during a six hour layover In Seattle between arriving on the Victoria Clipper and flying back home out of SeaTac. What could go wrong with that plan? I had worked out the schedule just right with transit on light rail, and we had plenty of time...we didn't count on baggage taking so long to transfer off the Clipper, so instead of the bus and walk, we grabbed a cab to Elliott Bay Marina. We met with Paul and the new owners of the EB brokerage, a really nice retired couple that had been former customers of Paul. Paul had to attend a sale closure, so the husband took us down to Solar Wind, the boat showed well, despite the huge complex radar arch on the stern that supported radar, antenaes, multiple solar panels, wind generator, and a slick gantry style dinghy davit.
Inside the interior was very well maintained and outfitted with all the great electronics, watermaker, and heating system that one could want. The details even came down to an eye dropper, calibrated to the exact amount of bleach to add to each water tank, having a special storage place in the galley. The deck gear was perfect, all lines led to the cockpit, great furling gear, carbon-fiber retractable reaching pole, good ground tackle, life raft, etc. 
In short, Solar Wind was ready to go, and the owner had spared no expense or attention to detail. Unfortunately we couldn't spend much time on her because we had a train and plane to catch.
I was talked out of the transit system to get to the light rail, so we tried calling a cab. What we didn't count on was that it was Friday afternoon, and Fleet Week was just starting... Three were thousands of sailors disembarking for shore leave ona Friday night from all the ships that were moored and anchored in Elliott Bay; there was not a cab to be had, in fact we could not even get a cab company to answer the phone.
So the brokerage wife said that she would take us to the light rail station, she was not sure about where the light rail station is, so I put my trust in Google maps...long story short we spent an hour and a half lost in northern downtown Seattle traffic going less than four miles, eventually thanks to the broker wife's navigation, we got to the light rail station just in time to catch a rush hour train to SeaTac. Little did we know, but added to the Friday afternoon rush hour there was a Beyoncé (or someone like that) concert at the stadium that evening, so the train was as packed as I've ever seen a commuter train and it was running late. We rushed to the ticket counter and got checked I. With 90 seconds to spare before the flight was closed out. Phew.
Well, that's way too much information, but the point is, we started to like the Sceptre 41 with it's more modern hull, but still skeg-hung rudder, swim platform and walk through transom, pilot house/deck salon with the world in view from the galley, nav station, and salon, it began to seem like a good boat for our purposes. Unfortunately, the price for Solar Wind is 60 percent more than what I thought we should spend on a boat and more than three times our easily fungible and available assets, plus we still have a year of work ahead of us before we can consider leaving our jobs. We chose to wait, watch, and hope that the market was still stagnant.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The hunt for Das Boot

Let it begin, in earnest anyway! Ever since we sold Cirrus in May 2000 I've been obsessed with boats, some more than others. In 2006, we actually had an offer ready to go on a very affodable San Juan 28 in Seward, as a Prince William Sound escape -- but work had just changed. Subsequently, during the last 8 years my summers have been occupied by beating on rocks and helping to map Alaska's geology and mineral potential. The boat would have mouldered in the snow, glacial silt, and transient moorage in Valdez. In this case hindsight caught up just in time.

Now, however, retirement is looming; over the horizon we can see the beacon's flash, and the Pavlovian urge has grown stronger than ever. From 2012 until just a month ago, I was convinced that a Freedom 38 was the perfect boat for our cruising plans for the west coast of North America. 
In particular I had fixated on one particularly well maintained, well sailed, and very loved hull. It was said to have been the last hull of the model built by Tillotson-Pearson. The owners and I started communicating and we had a phone call or two and many email/blog chats. 
The owners ended up passing Das boot on to their son and his family; who can argue with that? Then the owner went out and bought a new smaller racier model...well, who could argue with that? All in all a very happy ending! Except we are boat less...

I am still a fan of the owner's blog posts and stories of coastal club racing in Southern California -- perhaps we'll have chance to meet face to face soon!

As a post script, Madame Commodore and M looked at another hull of the Freedom 38 model, there were some particular deficiencies to the particular hull, and in general we started to come to our senses that the North Pacific and the log and ice strewn waters of coastal Alaska might not be the best place for a high-aspect fin keel and spade rudder.

The holiday letter meets the 21st Century

Over the last 31 years together, we have developed an extended family in Fairbanks; it is delightful to come together with many generations around the table at the holidays. We are part of a big circle.  And we are always delighted when MELT are together – wherever we are. We were together many places this past year.
Last Christmas we celebrated the holiday with Tyler and Michael on the shore of Tomales Bay CA, enjoying sunshine, sounds and smells of the sea, and family spirit; then we went off to Yosemite for some warm-winter hiking. New Year’s Eve found us in Bellingham and Tacoma with friends and Larry’s sister Janet and her husband Larry. Six months later we were all together again to celebrate Michael’s graduation from Oregon State University. In July E & L joined family to commemorate Janet and Larry’s 50th wedding anniversary, then snuck off for a few days alone in Victoria, BC. We squeezed in a few Alaska adventures this summer. We spent a day fishing for halibut outside of Seward. Along the way, we had a narrow miss with a mama moose and her new calf in the woods near Hatcher Pass. We love weekend trips to day-hike in Denali National Park and raft the Nenana River, the only white water within hours of Fairbanks.
Tyler joined us and a few friends on a 4-day raft and kayak trip on Alaska’s Tazlina River in August; we had a great time appreciating campfire camaraderie, solitude and autumn beauty along the river. Tyler is currently taking advantage of the mobility of a web-programmer, being able to run projects and servers from any network connection in the world. After spending a couple of years settled in Oakland he hit the road this fall and has traveled between Fairbanks, Portland and St Louis, carrying his office in his backpack.
Tyler and Michael enjoyed 2 weeks of Alaska in July; Elizabeth had a great time with them but Larry was in the field! Michael then tacked on a wilderness adventure on the Tatshenshini River. In August, Michael began work with Glosten Associates [a naval architecture firm] in Seattle. He and doggie Max found a home with a yard and nice human and canine roommates. Michael continues to kayak often with his girlfriend Anna and Corvallis friends, and is broadening his circle to include local Seattle boaters and rivers.
Elizabeth is transitioning to a new grant project for her last 9 months of employment at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and is reducing her work schedule to part time until retirement on September 1st. She is still involved in several non-profit organizations, but is slowly removing herself from leadership roles. She spent time with family and friends in the Lower 48 this spring and fall, and is looking forward to more time for that.
Meanwhile Larry managed to shed the yoke of ski patrol leadership, just as he was promoted to Mineral Resources Section Chief in the Alaska geological survey. The new position is both taxing and engaging, and requires a lot of travel, schmoozing and public speaking. He still enjoys fieldwork on geologic mapping projects; last summer he was in the Talkeetna Mountains with challenging weather, rocks, and terrain. However, the call of the sea is strong… he will probably follow Elizabeth’s retirement by a few months.
The search for our next sailboat is picking up momentum. We have made first-pass inspections on several boats, eliminating a few from Larry’s nautical-obsession list. We are looking forward to returning to the cruising lifestyle upon retirement. We are grateful for health, comfort, family and friends – we wish the same for you and your family. With the coming Solstice and the renewal of light we wish you, your friends, family and community all the best for the coming year.

Submitted with love and fondness -- L & E

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rhubarb-raspberry coffee cake for the secret society

It's my turn to provide nutrition for a secret society and the manager of the household provisions commanded "Empty the freezer!". So this is what we ended up with for the secret society, will they approve?
Credit goes to the original "Bun on the Run" sisters, but also to the famous night baker and the new Bun Runner for the idea to press the streusel into the cake before baking. We'll see if it lasts till morning.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another morning like this...

Today I started back in the regular routine of bicycle commuting. Either through good planning or by luck, it's only five miles by road from home to office, short sweet exercise, a psychological air-lock between home and work. Even better though, there are seemingly infinite options to stay off the road by taking an anastomosing network of ad hoc and official trails of all sorts. Today the sunrise at a little duck pond caught my eye. 
Another cure for the terminal cynic.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mornings like these...

... Remind me why I live and work in in Alaska. Our crew has been fortunate to have summer return to the western Alaska Range for the last few days. So far our mapping project has gone well, we are having healthy geologic debates and making substantial changes to the existing geological map of the Upper Styx River area. My tolerance and sense of balance for steep terrain  is coming back, a little. How can one help but enjoy ones self here.
Puntilla Lake -- Rainy Pass Lodge