I love you.
I love you.
One of the nicest things about buying an enormous computer with one terabyte of space is that, if you’re me, you can add every photo, music, art and writing file you own, and you will not even begin to fill up the big beast’s memory.
You can then sit back and watch its preloaded photo program (iphoto) organize your files by date. It is awfully sweet. You can then entertain* and frighten** yourself with exercises like, you know, looking up this week in history***.
This week in 2004, I was saying goodbye to my friends, school and host family in Guadalajara, Mexico and striking out on a bus & backpack trip of Mexico and Guatemala.
Goodbye, armed guards protecting the school entrance.
Hello, awful packing skills. I’m glad I have improved upon something in recent years.
(I have photos thanks to tech-savvy friends Estaci & Eveena.)
This week in 2005, I was still spurning technology and shooting pictures on film…until Christmas.
This week in 2006, I was in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho drinking beers and kicking ass at Stevie Wonder karaoke duets with two of my dear, lifelong chums.
Hello, Lauren and Garrett!
This week in 2007, I visited Omze n’ Thrillz and roamed the bars of Moscow, Idaho.
Omie & I pretend to be cool
I display my sportsmanship
Thrillahamm probably cheating
This week in 2008, I was Christmas tree scheming in the Sitka cabin. I was also tan and sassy after my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands (Kauai).
I miss you, Vitamin D.
This week in 2009, I explored a Grand ole Canyon in the American Southwest!
Mr. Holden makes photos.
I make airplane noises.
This week this year, I am in Sitka, and I took some pictures of my new Christmas shrub. In the continuing tradition of my Fantastic Zip Tie Christmas Bush, it is unconventional but festive.
But more on that tomorrow. For now I have very important photo-based cultural anthropology research to complete.
*If you like to reminisce.
**If you are gun-shy about mortality.
***History = the few years I have owned a digital camera.
Photo: renjith krishnan
I read a quote the other day by Chinese writer, Lin Yutang:
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
That pretty much summed up how I have felt upon my return to Sitka.
Perhaps it was the deep pitching of the ferry on windy waters.
Or maybe the influence of a whole load of goodies packed into my new Subaru prickled my brain. But for the first time ever, I was antsy for the ferry ride to be over. Eager to be….HOME!
What was this strange feeling, and who stole my wanderlust?
I certainly did not have an awful seven weeks on the road (and water). I had an amazing trip across 10 states and British Columbia. I explored a new-to-me chunk of the country (New England) and shared brews with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long.
What I didn’t do (minus a few beautiful days on Kauai) was relax. I bustled around, shipping myself here and there like a sack o’ salmon, and I realize now that some decompress time between intense summer work and ambitious fall travel might have been a good idea.
That schedule did, however, help me appreciate my home base. I’m very grateful to have my life, the people in it, the opportunities I’ve worked for and for this new development. A nest. A home I have been in over a year now in a town where I’ve spent much of the last three years. A place I feel comfortable and content.
And really – who wouldn’t be thrilled to come home to this place?
This view is not quite as impressive during the current 16-hours of night.
* These feelings could just mean I am now old and boring and that I have a life of darning socks and scrubbing baseboards to look forward to.
** Did you see those American Airlines deals to Europe yesterday?! Oh. Wait. I found my wanderlust!
Oh June, you dramatic bastard. You have asserted yourself soundly in just two days.
June means salmon in southeast Alaska which starts with anxious prepping and waiting followed by furious working and money making (and some slapstick pratfalls).
When I turn the lead-weighted calendar page past May, I kick into an imbedded trick calendar that lasts until the end of September when real life begins again. (This is also when I stop wearing hats and hoodies every day.) But before I say goodbye to all things social and moderately intelligent, I want to remember a smattering of wonderful things such as…
April snowflakes on salmon berries…
And whiskers on sea lions…
Veggie tortas from the taco truck…
And creative house numbers…
Wild greens that grow in my shipping crate raised beds…
(These are a few things I like very much.)
Forget-me-nots and cement flowers…
And harbor sunsets…
Views from my front stoop and slash and burning Spruce trees…
When the seiners set, when the tenders deliver, when I’m feeling sleep-deprived….I simply…
Okay okay. I will set the wine glass down and stop spinning around my bedroom like a drunken Julie Andrews in a quick-tied bed sheet skirt. But srsly – I dig all of these things very much. As for you, June, we’ll tangle again tomorrow.
In short but photo-fat format, I wanted to share my evening. I took a needed solitary paddle around my front (back?) yard after a long convoluted day. It worked perfectly, as did the fat glass of vino after.
What is this, a Russian bath house?
I even saw a couple whale spouts while I was out. What an amazing place. Have I convinced you to visit me yet?
*So it’s not exactly paint on pavement, it’s a big, blue watery road, but the U.S. D.O.T. designated the Alaska Marine Highway a National Scenic Byway, so it counts.
I f’ing love the ferry! It is the poor man’s cruise ship and my favorite method of travel. You can sit where you want, change seats, enjoy your ample leg room, walk around, drink a beer in the ferry bar, watch a movie in the theater, type, read, shower, camp in the solarium (for no extra charge), bring your car and all of this on a big ship traveling the stunning Inside Passage, the same route the Alaska cruise ships take. Perhaps if I keep going, the AK D.O.T. will sponsor me with a free season pass. Hmmmm?
Also the same route the cargo barges take
Last weekend, a couple friends and coworkers had Fish & Game reporting training in Juneau and invited me to tag along and share their hotel room. A cool $90 round trip for my ferry ticket, and I was set for transportation and lodging. Thanks, friends!
Route starting at bottom middle and following the red track
Busting upward of 30 knots, the the M/V Fairweather (known as the fast ferry) makes the trip to Juneau in 5.5 hours instead of the normal 9 to 16. Given the route, this is ballsy. From Sitka on the open Pacific, the route to Juneau first goes north through the ripping tides of the Narrows of Olga and Neva Straits. I would crap my fine Swedish rain pants if I had to take any boat through there. A hard starboard swing at Salisbury Sound puts you in Peril Strait which is oh-so-slightly-less narrow. After a good long creep through the beauty and a serious 90 degree port side turn, you have made it to Chatham Strait which is an ass-hauling freeway in comparison. Once you see the lighthouse at Point Retreat on the north tip of Admiralty Island, you’re basically in Juneau! But enough nerding out on cartography, here’s a bulleted list of things I can do in Juneau that I can’t do in Sitka:
~Rip apart some red curry halibut at Chan’s Thai Kitchen (11806 Glacier Highway). Conveniently located near the ferry terminal in Auke Bay, we beelined here for dinner.
~Admire the view from room 511 in the Prospector Hotel (375 Whittier Street). Our room was fine, but I did find the two small dogs on the main lobby counter off-putting.
Poorly lit panorama
~Luxuriate in the arms of a bagel sandwich from Silverbow Bakery (120 2nd Street).
~Pray to the multitude of brew taps at The Hangar (2 Marine Way). In an old airplane hangar on the wharf, the views of cruise ships and float planes are nice; the view of more beer on tap than in all of Sitka combined – spectacular.
~Purchase some shirts at Fred Meyer (8181 Glacier Highway). It’s a simple thing, but I haven’t found any place to buy plain v-neck t-shirts for a reasonable price in my town.
~Maintain my love affair with the Alaskan (167 South Franklin Street). I am madly passionate about the giant old Victorian carved wood bar. Built in 1913 and at times a speakeasy and a brothel, I can’t imagine a place that could make me much happier. I don’t, however, recommend the hotel rooms for cleanly or sober types.
~Stock up on used literature at Rainy Retreat Books (113 Seward Street).
~Drive to the Mendenhall Glacier and pick up some chunks of 200-year-old ice (8510 Mendenhall Loop Road). Then make a geology cocktail.
There is a season; tern, tern, tern
Nasty weather; pretty icebergs
Mix with tequila, sour & lime for a Glacierita
~Save multitudes of grocery dollars at Costco (5225 Commercial Boulevard). That is unless you misjudge closing time on Saturday and miss your opportunity to buy perishables….perhaps because you were at the Alaskan Brewing Company.
~Enjoy a Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter (5429 Shaune Drive). Just kidding – that beer tastes like sweat socks in a campfire, but I do love every other Alaskan beer. Here they give you multiple delicious brew samples until you forget all about your grocery shopping plans.
Annie appreciates a fine Campsock Smoked Porter.
~Dance with a toothless local to techno mixes at the Rendezvous (184 South Franklin Street). To be fair, I can do this in Sitka but not to DJ-spun techno dance jamz. The first time I came here some years back, our bartender jumped up on the bar and danced for us to Gunther’s Tra La La song. It was early afternoon.
~Soak it all up with Pel’ Meni (2 Marine Way). At about 3 a.m., the bar-expelled population makes its way to this little Russian dumpling shop. You will burn your mouth, you will spill butter, sour cream and cock sauce on yourself and you will rejoice the next day if you have any leftovers with which to treat your hangover.
And that concludes our little jaunt to Juneautown. Despite very little sleep before the return ferry check-in at 7 a.m., I had a damn fine time. I slept off my hangover in a comfortable ferry recliner and finished my potato Pel’ Meni, concluding the weekend’s to-do checklist.
And as with all my writing:
More info here (Surprisingly safe for work).
I don’t care much for gym exercise. If exercise and I (me, we?) are to get along, it needs to make itself entertaining and engaging like kayaking or sex.
That said, regular exercise does help one fit into a kayak and more easily find a sexual partner. Touche.
A friend set herself a minimal goal of moving around outside in an exercise-like fashion for 30 minutes per day for 30 days. Thirty minutes being pretty easy to fit in and not being correlated with any pounds or pants measurements dropped.
I liked her idea and felt energized to get active outside on a semi-official schedule. It’s interesting what happens when you set a small goal like that. I found in the last few days that once I’m already out walking/jogging/kayaking/nature sexing, I’m much more inclined to continue for a bit longer than one half hour. If I had initially told myself I was going to run about for an hour, however, I might never have made it outside.
This was the case this weekend when I tucked my phone into my hoodie pouch and ventured out. With a couple fresh NPR podcasts to listen to, I semi-consciously turned up the hiking trail right by my house. As a true lazy exerciser, I wanted as much benefit out of as little time as possible. I figured what better than walking up the side of Mt. Verstovia?
Wrapped up in my stories, the half hour went by quickly. I knew I wasn’t too far from the viewpoint, so I pressed on and ended up making a much longer, more intense hike than I planned. Despite my jelly legs on the way down, it felt good.
The moral: Set your goals low, kids, and you just might surprise yourself.
I like this because it makes this trail look super extreme.
Sitka from the viewpoint. Success!
alaska, ancient burial mound, beer, booze, fish tacos, flowers, food, friends, garden, gardening, hobo day laborers, life, nature, ocean, octopus hunting, photography, plants, sitka, spring, upcycled pallets, upcycled shipping crate, veggies, windowboxes, woodworking
Growing plants seems a simple concept. You take some seeds, stick them in dirt and things start happening. For a long time, however, I was under the impression that plants were a chore to be avoided, like window washing and bathing.
In a frightening shift of all things familiar, last Friday I discovered that chores can be enjoyable if you follow this simple equation: Good friends + beer = happy sunshine work fun day. (Replace “good friends” with “handsome strangers” to apply equation to showers…)
Shipping crates and fancy dirt.
In each crate we put a layer of stabilizing big rocks, fill gravel, clay dirt and fancy potting dirt. Ashley descends the front yard in search of marine life, particularly octopus for supper.
Foreground: A taller dirt box we assumed we placed on an ancient burial mound. Background: Szack and Kristaff – hobo day laborers.
Ashley continues her hunting expedition.
Ocean front veggie beds.
Meanwhile on the other side of the lawn, we worked on another project one might consider a shitty chore – woodworking. We saved some off-size shipping pallets that were marked for annihilation in the burn barrel at work. With some clever deconstruction and reconstruction and a $10/gallon of mistake paint from the hardware store, they became window boxes!
Szack gently destroys a pallet.
Not shitty! Fun!
Okay…there was one unfortunate choreish part. Being a whole contingent of supervisors, not one of us cares much for cleanup, and we made a fantastic mess.
Ashley keeps laboring with Szack as Project Manager and Kristaff as Project Supervisor. I run away and snap photos.
Cleanup really wasn’t so bad. We put our heads down and powered through it with beer, music and friendship. Beer and teamwork were also key in our rock fish taco production line. Deep fried by Kristaff and served with my garlic aioli and Szack’s cabbage & cilantro slaw, we quickly shoveled them into our starving yard worker mouths. They were pretty sublime.
A post-dinner bonfire and trip to the bar completed a very productive and surprisingly enjoyable work day. Thank you, friends. Coming soon – my first ever veggie planting jamboree! I wonder if my landlords will accept one head of cabbage in lieu of 10% of my rent.