29 December, 2004

HOLIDAYS!!!

Back in SC. Finally relaxing. Family stress. Holiday stress.
Sleeping tons.

Need to make some short-term future decisions.
Some great long awaited phone conversations, and more to come god willing.
Love you all.

16 December, 2004

Good projects moving forward.
Trying to tidy up loose ends before leaving for home. I'm a little anxious about leaving the boat for a few weeks, but I am far more excited to eat and shower more regularly, go with the brothas for some sushi. Meredith - always invited.

Last night, lacking wind, but itching to get out on the water, I rowed the dinghy out of the marina into the channel. I drifted out into the dark water. The rain drizzled so little that you wouldn't know it was raining unless you looked at the water.
The water was unrippled, slowly undulating waves rolling along with the tide. I sat out there and studied the gps a bit, watched the traffic lights changed. I rolled a cigarette and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I was out on the water again!
It was wonderful. I felt so comfortable and confident. Half a mind egged me to strike the docklines and take the BIG dinghy out to Mystery Bay for the night. It occurred to me that nothing prevented me any longer.
I can go anywhere. I am free as long as I have wind and water and food. I can't say I've ever been in such a position. I can leave this computer right now, strike my lines and sail to Hawaii, to Russia, to Polynesia – whatever, wherever.
What an amazing freedom!


I have broken off my plans with Brian. It seems we have too many variant interests and aspirations. The cons outweigh the pros of a partnership. Now anything is possible. I can slow down, get more of an education. I can stop as I please – I can turn around, anything.
I feel so liberated, when I didn’t truly realize I was burdened. For me, this is an exciting revelation and change. Time again is on my side.

------------

"I may not be that smart,
but I can lift heavy things"
- quintessential port-a-potty graffiti

13 December, 2004

The day of truth – and I passed!
I sailed. At last; after all this time; I sailed my own boat!
It was marvelous. I am having trouble describing it without melodrama dripping from the letters.
I screamed regularly as we went, pumping my fists in the air, gritting my teeth as the wind passed by the beam. It was a dream.
And it all went so wonderfully. I saw a shooting star the night before we set out.

Unfortunately, the library is closing.
Let it suffice to say that I am excited and very much in the Christmas spirit. Everything happened so naturally.
Brian came up from San Fransisco – we talked about the trail and the potential future we are conjuring for ourselves. So many doors seemed to open. I have so much to think on.

--------------------

“Get yourself a girl and go south”
-My dad, the quintessential warm-blooded southerner,
at the end of our talk today. I love it.

07 December, 2004

From the Shipyard to the Marina

Wow. Funny how little steps at up over time. I have moved at last. Now my home rocks in the swells, well, what swells are in a marina anyway.
I didn't sink. I didn't wreck. This is all good.
I am almost ready for sea. I bought a dingy. Still need oars. My engine is running, how well still remains to be seen.
I am tired but exuberant. I love the work, the process, the progress. I shot take a few days off every now and again. But I don't. It is hard to stop when there is more to be done. I feel healthy, not great, but okay. The effort produces such noticeable results. I put on bottom paint before going in and washed down the topsides.
Wow. She looked so brilliant. I can't believe it is my boat, my home. How did it come to this? I am becoming a sailor. How? Has anyone in my family been a sailor? We're not sailors, we're aristicrats. These are not the same.

This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Rob Fargason and Jamie Blythe, two of my greatest friends. Widge would read it if he could; maybe Jamie will read it to him. He is included of course.

------------------

It was about time for that email, Rob.
Of course, Iknew you were well, but it is great to hear it in yourwords.
As always, in everything, you have your same passion,same drive, whether climbing ravines or plantingplums.
I love it.
Plants that fruit at different times; what a great idea!

I moved yesterday - from the boatyard to the marina!
Excellent; it is so great to be in the water at last. Two months went by in an instant. Such a simple thing, to move, but I am so so excited. One more step in the progression.
The boat loves the work. She responds so well. Every project has been fruitful; I haven't uncovered anything ugly or fatal or even unseemly.
The engine needs some work. It's old, an old Ferrymandiesel, German, 1 cylinder, 15 hpr. It didn't want to start when we hit the water, but as fate would have it, a mechanic I know, who is working in Seatle, came up to me in the marine supply store. He was in town for a day and was interested in how the engine was doing.
When the engine wouldn't turn over he swung over and got it going for me and helped me get the boat in to her slip.
Interestingly, the slips number is 128,
the same number as the address to the home of my younger days, 128 Holliday Rd.

I noticed I have creases on my forehead now – work or age??

It's blowing pretty hard out there now. The boat rocks in the seas like she’s meant to do. I love it.
Just finished installing my second solar panel. SinceI use so little energy, the two of them may balance my system. Every night I get my little Dickenson diesel stove piping hot and play the guitar and read Nigel Calder.

As in Alabama, and Alaska, life in Port Townsend is grand. Amazing how far from our one little cabin on Deep Woods Rd, one fellowship of two men, one woman and a mighty fine dog, we have found ourselves on such divergent and equally worthwhile paths, while maintaining such similar ambitions and pleasures: we all lovesimplicity, beauty, adventure, serenity, family, nature, visceral experience - yet we all make sacrifices in various places to accommodate others: Jamie and I are farther from family than Rob; Rob and Jamie are preparing themselves (possibly) better financially for the future than I am.
Yet all in all, we all have the same daily vitality, find the same pleasure in each step, as it is a crucial step in the constant becoming of ourselves.

Rob's letter brings this to mind, how he passionately loves gardening, because gardening is what he is doing. No use pondering mountains or oceans when they are not present – love what you can do and love doing it.
Excellent.
It is all the same, everything in its time.

Now, I accidentally got a bit philosophical, but I caught a hold of the memory bridge from now to those Sewanee days, I got caught up in all that has not changed and found it more interesting than what has. Both of you two, and Widge, have taught me so much.
Rob, you alone encouraged me to sail.
Where would I be?....likely somewhere less humid doing something easier. You showed me the value and possibility in taking small steps toward a goal, how daily effort and concentration are the ingredients in realizing dreams and goals.
Jamie has always been my boon, my confidence. She always believed in anything I bent my mind or heart upon.

We had so much fun. We are so fortunate to have had those days.
I still relish the tomato gravy.
Perhaps after anearly morning duck hunt we can cook up a bit, ah? It has been a while, and brief when it was.

It is fun just having one email aimed at both of you. Give Widge a belly rub (of course) for me please Jamie. Your skiing and Rob's redfishing make me jealous (an hour and a half?? holy...) (My Mom was aMaster Gardener). -

jonah



01 December, 2004

I can't remember the last time I ran in the daylight. It gets dark around four-thirty. Who's got time to stop work that early? I love running in the dark, just the corridor of trees to guide you. The surf seems louder at night, the sea more magical.

I am still eating leftovers from Thanksgiving. I stayed late on Sunday to help clean up and, under threat of the garbage can, I took thirty pounds of pie, stuffing, pie, banana bread, pumpkin bread, tatters, turkey, and more pie. My lord what a take!

Within a week the boat will be in the water. The alternator may be a flop. There may be a story there. We shall see. Now just the final preparations. I'm nervous. Everything is coming to a head, at last.

------------------

I read this somewhere:
He who goes to sea for pleasure,
would as soon go to hell to pass the time.

Something like that, by somebody.

26 November, 2004

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!!!
I am in Portland and managed one of the best I can remember. Amazing home, family, friends, food, oh my lord!, new and interesting conversation, hot tub, beer, piano, pool, family football game - and banana bread. Heavenly.

Monday I left P. T. and drove to Port Angeles and went into Olympic Nat. Park. I hikied in a ways and found the hot springs. I soked for a bit, but they weren't up to the Idaho standard, not bad though, but awfully sulphuric.
In the morning I packed up - the giant cedar trees were such amazing pillars to sleep amongst.. I hiked out and drove to the west coast. It rained pretty hard. I through on my pack and hiked the boardwalk three miles to the coast at cape Avila. Deer looked up at me as I passed and went back to there grazing.
I hadn't fasted in over a year so I decided it was time for a short fast - only a day - it was all the time I had.
I packed in the guitar and played a bit in the tent. Slept.
In the morning, in a lull in the storm, I croke the tent down and started the walk out.
To my surprise, the roads were flooding. I had a hell of a time getting through. I had a downpour half the way down to Portland, which I reached happily.

There I remain. We are heading to the Swanson's caabin in the mountains for the weekend, leaving presently.

17 November, 2004

I fixed my radio
I epoxied the two deckfittings
Roger in West Marine gave me a HUGE piece of chocolate cake
I epoxied my drop boards.
I rerouted my propane hose and learned the way I had planned to situate my tank was very BAD
I found a book with guitar chords
I bought my first sander and used it, alot.
I returned an LED light to West Marine for the THIRD time (at least I got cake)
and I got an extra-long email from Jamie, telling how great Widge is doing, chasing moose and all - how I love that dog!

This was a special fine day.
HUGE DAY!!

A HARD TALE

I remembered something important today…

Chris is 28, always laughing, will give you the shirt off his back along with any money in his wallet. He is a beautiful painter. He picked it up three years ago, went from houses to boats. He gets on great with his family, talks all the time, always with his contagious laughter. He has a five year old son he loves. He also smokes meth.
He is painting the boat across the gravel from me.
We met one night when I was in bed reading. He came and rattled on my hull—the naval doorbell. I couldn’t guess who it could be, only who a few folks in town. I opened up the hatch and there stood Chris. He was trying to recruit me to go to the store with him to buy beer; I only later learned he didn’t have an id. I thought it so unusual for a stranger to walk up to me at eleven o’clock at night, that I decided to go with it, through on some clothes, shoes, and jumped ship. I spent the next few hours drinking beers on the Joker.
The Joker was hauled out so Chris could give the topsides (part of the hull that remains above the waterline) a new paint job. The weather for the next few weeks would turn out not conducive for painting and Chris would stop over to chat from time to time. He told me about the bad weather and all the lousy help he had fired—now it was just he and his brother. I said, if he needed help, I’d love the work. Deal.
Chris’ brother Jeremy, who is also on the job with us, nineteen y.o, also does lots of drunks. He told me that he used to break into lots of cars to steal stuff. He has no delusions of intelligence, which, I think, is an important thing to know. He is a nice kid though. Chris’ stepmom and her boyfriend both shoot meth. Chris’ dad died of a meth overdose. Chris’ stepmom and boyfriend are staying with Chris on the boat. They are nice. She talks a lot. He only tells stupid drug related jokes. He isn’t all with it either.
Tonight, Chris came over and sat on my boat with me for a few minutes and told me a lot of this stuff, about the drugs and his dad and family. He was so candid. He was a little drunk, but he was himself, laughing and happy. He said, when he used to shoot up, he would do it so the needle would pierce the skin—he showed his left arm—right below the tattoo of his son’s name, as close to the name as he could get. I didn’t understand; “Why Chris?”
“So it would hurt, “ he said.
“So then why do it?”
“I think I just wanted to hurt myself, I guess,” then his laughter, “I guess that’s why I don’t do it no more.” (Use a needle he means, he still occasionally smokes it.)
I thought about his family who I had been getting to know. I hadn’t known he had a son. He told me a story about a dream he had had, a terrible nightmare, something about a fire and his son trying to wake his mother up. Chris was in Kodiak AK at the time. He grabbed a bag and went straight to the airport. He spent $700 to get home so he could see his son. Just because of a dream.
He loves to paint. He knows he’s good at it. He thinks his work is beautiful. I think it is. He’s good about teaching me how to do it. I put the primer on the transom today. God, I was so excited to do it. It was great. We listened to some rap music, Too Short, rapping about “bitches” and sex. They seemed so natural listening to it, laughing, “this is a love song.”
Chris came over to borrow a few bucks until tomorrow, payday. They all ran out of beer. The talk was good though. He told me he loved me—in a fraternal way.


I remembered that maybe above all else, I feel most myself when I listen to people tell me their stories. I am a collector of stories. For me, stories light reality; they show me something tangible where I had only been able to surmise before. I know Chris. I can feel his story, but until now I had never experienced the life of people who lived in the culture of hard drugs. We like to stereotype and assume from the outside what and who these people are. But Chris is my friend; he loves to paint; he does meth, and so does his whole family. I am richer for him and his story.
My definition of life, universe, and selfhood (interesting that they can all be collectively defined), as written down by James Joyce in Finnigan's Wake:

"A Wholemole, millwheeling vicocyclometer,
a tetradomational gazebocroticon"

------

To understand this is to understand everything
and nothing.
Anti-human


Nov. 9

I’m in better spirits this evening. The last week hasn’t been my most productive.
The run tonight changed everything, cleaned out my system from the lingering cold I had. Also the ‘Joker’ is gone, which will bring a little peace (loud and drunk – but nice guys).
My fingers are a bit tired after an hour with the guitar.
This is why I write: I love the guitar more by the day.
I have lost myself a couple of times now. I inevitably play another fifteen minutes after I decide to stop playing. I only know three chords. I need to find a book in the library.


I was pretty set to call the boat “Isis” until I thought of “the Grim”. This will take a little thought. The personification of death or the sacred feminine? What is the difference? “The dark side.”


I feel great. I was thinking about how damn lucky I am. I’ve been sitting here reading, playing guitar, I enjoy my work – not bad.
It must be the fact I have no phone, no tv, -- no house, no family. The less you have….

I am the anti-human.
I turn toward my fears instead of away from them.
I avoid safety and comfort as boredom
for risk and vulnerability.
I am concerned more about the quality of life, than the quantity.
Growing old, for me, will be a privilege, not an expectation.
I choose to be alone, though not exclusively so.
From life, I only require growth to be happy.
I don’t believe in Human Rights.

Yet today I am as happy as I’ve ever been.
True, I am often cold, tired, tendonitis aching my fingers and elbow,
But my sensations are rich, my smiles deep.
I am learning new games.
I remain a child. I keep the Beginner’s Mind.
Life sparkles around me.



09 November, 2004

Still bummed.
And now my radio won't pick up NPR.
I'm all alone......and it's raining, again.
ahhhh...



oh, but the running is great.

03 November, 2004

Saddness.
Utter, complete saddness.
Right now, I can think of nothing else to say....

01 November, 2004

I wake up with the sounds of the shipyard, the travellifts, hammering, trucks driving through potholes and gravel.
I lie in bed awhile, get up, brew some hot cocoa, eat some raison bran or oatmeal.
I wear my same old longjohn top and a new pair of Carhearts.
I stare across the boat, dazed, planning the day, still dreaming, still trying to understand whatever crazy dreams I had the night before.
As my head defogs, I ease into my errands: I get on my bike and ride off to by supplies for the days work. I may do this four or more times a day.
I get to ask more questions and learn things.
Most of my past jobs are wrapped up: plumbing, electronic.
The next three days I’m helping a crew pant “Joker” a big fishing boat, but the rain has been bad and we haven’t done anything.
Later in the week I am going to cut new companionway boards (the main entrance to the cabin of the boat.)

I eat a p.b. and j. whenever I can’t postpone it any longer, anywhere between 2 and 4:30. Sometimes I make a mean tunafish sandwich – lots of relish. I eat carrots with ranch, maybe some cheese wedges.
The best bread I’ve ever had I found (in a dumpster)
They bake it on stones and it is covered with flour.
I eat it with Tillamook butter ravenously all day. Addiction.

Spaghetti and tomato sauce everynight. Try and make enough for leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and dinner.
Do dishes and huddle up with a sleeping bag on the starboard settee and read. Drink a cup of hot chocolate perhaps.
I read mechanical guides, cruising books, “The 12 Volt Bible”, I just reread “Dove.” If Graham can sail around the world, I might have a shot. (He got run over by a freighter, knocked overboard twice, ran into reefs twice in a day – demasted TWICE, once in the middle of the Indian Ocean – rode out one hurricane, just missed another. What a trip!!)

Some nights I go and walk around. I walk through the yard and look at the great ships and the 300 ton travel lift. I walk down the coastline trail, sit on the rocks and stare into the glassy water.
I walk the docks and learn for the different schooners tricks of rigging and such.
Sometimes I play the pennywhistle or sing to myself (don’t tell), mostly mantras and stuff nonsense like that.

I walk back, strip down and climb into a cold sleeping bag.
Something always wakes me in the night: did I turn off the propane, turn of the a/c power, what was that crash on deck.
I make it a point already to always get up and investigate.
Such is life on a boat. (even in the yard – I can be a bit silly)

27 October, 2004

Have I mentioned a movie called Hijacking Catastrophe?
This is one of the most compelling doctumentories I've ever seen, or imaged. Anyone interested in politics, or the state and direction of our country, would certainly be amazed by the connections that it draws.
I'll find the website where it is availible and post it.
Stu - it is a must see.
(I'm gonna see it again tomorrow night:))
This is one of my favorites.

It is a dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get. -Annie Dillard,
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, pg 15
Sunday, October 24, 2004

I am sitting by the fire, the fire! My boat is warm for a change. I got the heater going at long last. Everyday something new, something changes, I see something I didn’t see, I imagine something I hadn’t thought of. I’m still trying to re-imagine the cabin—how better to organize the space. But I get ahead of myself.

Problem solving has been my theme. It is me—there is no one else to fix my problems. For example: my sink started clogging and came eventually to a standstill. I wanted to get Jim over and say, Hey, Jim, whaddo I do about it. Jim is busy; I need it fixed; I decided to just tear it all open. If it makes a great mess—it had to be. I open it, pull the drain pipe off of the through-hull fitting in the process (if I could pull it off, it needed attention and tightening anyhow). Hey, a discovery!
After getting the pipe separated, I found that the clog was a result of particulates clogging up behind a one-way valve, a valve that keeps the water being sent from the bilge to the thru-hull from backing up into the sink. The divider had gotten clogged. I unclogged it and I didn’t even make a mess; a Tupperware beneath the pipe caught all the backed up filth. Grey water nothing, this was black.
Now, the pipes are cleaned out, I know I need strainers on my drains in the sink, I know exactly where the problem is if it happens again, I know what type of one-way valve I have so I can keep a spare, and I know that everything is tight and squared away under sink. Also I learned that that particular through-hull is not ideal and I may replace it in time. It has a spigot-type handle as opposed to a good 90 degree lever which is standard.

This all comes about because, since I quasi-finished the electrical work, I have been re-organizing the plumbing system. It used to involve a hot water heater, a head, two water tanks, a water pump. Water pumps and hot water heaters take electricity and are unnecessary. I decided to take out the head, the hot water, and the pump. Instead I would install two manual foot pumps, both for the sink. One pump would pump fresh water from the two fresh water tanks to the faucet. The other, to help further conserve fresh water, would pump salt water into the sink—this would be for things like washing dishes or the like—perhaps to be followed by a cleaning rinse of fresh water. This new system would be preserving both electricity by eliminating the electric water pump and hot water heater and water by bringing in salt water. It is economical and also systematically isolating: now, if the batteries die, we don’t loose water. It is also redundant. After staring at the sink for a long while (who needs a shrine for meditation when an engine or plumbing system are equally enigmatic), I realized that I could put a three way valve in to one of the pumps. This way, if one of the pumps were to break, which happens, I could swing a lever and switch the salt water to fresh. I am proud of this little bit of craftiness. But could I effect it?

I spent a whole day rerunning the water hoses, running to and from the marine supply store replacing joints and valves and such, finally got it all in. Now the pump. It needed a lot of support for all of the leverage it would endure and there wasn’t much beneath the sink that was up to the task. From my little garbage selection I found some old cabinet doors I had thrown out and took the jig saw and started cutting squares. I screwed the pump down securely onto two of these stacked upon each other. Then I cut another square with a v-shaped notch in it. This I screwed onto the face of the pump. In the front of the sink there is a cubby hole—there I cut a notch down to the floor big enough for the foot lever to fit through. The pump I put in the cubby hole and now, with the wooden front and base, I had plenty of material to screw into.

This isn’t how any professional would have done the job, but there wasn’t any professional around. A professional came aboard the other day and explained to me how “he” would have done it. The gist was the same, I think.

This is the good part.
So I hook it up; I screw it in, tightly. All done. I immediately start pumping……..nothing. Ah. I turn the sink on. Pump some more. Sputter…air….sputter. Nothing.
Nothing. How could this be?
Of course.
I did it. It is perfect, flawless. I think through the whole process. My mind goes to muddle. I start opening and closing valves, only vaguely aware of what I was doing or why. I was flailing. Was the through-hull fitting open or closed? I hadn’t thought about that. Did I just try it this way or that?
Damnit, the pump must be broken.
When I bought the pump, I had only bought one. I needed two, but I figured I would wait and see how the first one worked. I don’t understand the logic, they’re returnable. So now I didn’t have any way of testing the pump by plugging another one in. It was late and I was clearly not thinking clearly. In the morning I’d run to West Marine and buy another pump and tell them they sold me a bunk one.

So, in the morning, cold and cuddling my hot chocolate, I crouched down to look at my flawed masterpiece. I wanted help, but I built it—who could help me but me. I opened up the floor to look at the piping from the beginning, at the water tanks. They get hard to follow under there and I had to pull on each one to make sure of what went were.
And there I noticed. There was a twist under a shadow, a mirage for a blind man.
An Error!
A valve that was meant to divide between the two tanks and the pump, was misrun. The pump was where tank two was supposed to be—which I had off. The pump was sucking on a closed valve. Excitedly I unclamped, moved hose/pipe, reclamped, neglecting my now warm chocolate. I also now new that my previous notion of a mistake that I had redone yesterday, and was a hassle, was askew, and now would have to be redone for a second time. But now I knew I was on the right track.

Now bleeding and sore. The last corrections made—water, glorious water, flowed like glistening mercury from the palm of some Castalian nymph’s hand—oh. . . I waxed utterly poetic. I smiled in triumph. A good way to start a day. It seemed so easy.

It had to work: there is water, there is a pump, here is the faucet. We have suction, hose and valve—make the water move. It all seemed so simple, I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t worked the first time. I didn’t know what else to do; I had done it the first time.
Wrong.
I’ve already destroyed a fifty dollar solar regulator by short circuit and a forty dollar fuse by inadvertently drilling into the side of it. Oops. Live and learn. I’m sure worse lies ahead.

It is fun; it’s like solving riddles. You know there is a correct answer. So if it’s out there—find it. There is a way through the maze. Think of those little wrought-iron puzzlers, the ones with triangles and chains, and squares all tangled together, and you know they can be separated some how, but it looks and feels impossible. But it’s not—try until it happens. If someone can do it, than you can do it—it just might take a bit more time and effort.
That’s how I feel. I don’t particularly know what I’m doing. A little common sense and ingenuity get me going. When I hit a wall, I sit and stare at it until my gaze makes it crack and crumble, or until I notice a shadow, and a dip, and a cave, and a labyrinth under the wall and out the other side, then down the same road.
And again.


-----------------------

Oct 27

On the same note, yesterday I hooked up my other water pump – and again – Nothing! I couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t anything that could possibly go wrong, which made it all the more daunting. Everything worked right next door with the other pump – how could something get mucked up in three feet of pipe and one valve.
I sat baffled for some time, but having learned from the last fiasco, I decided to be systematic.
I won’t go into the details, again, but just before I tore it out of its little cubby hole, it occurred to me that perhaps THE SINK WASN’T ON (all the way. It was open, I thought, but only one turn, when it took two turns to open it.)
Holy cow! What a drama.

25 October, 2004

This is the kinda work that makes it hard to stop for things like eating lunch.

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"When I was a very young Zen student, caught up in the problem of evil, I once asked my teacher, 'Why does shit smell so bad?' He said, 'If you were a fly, it would taste like candy.'" - Stephen Mitchell

20 October, 2004

I've been journalling a bit at night. Haven't had time to get to the library during the day to use the internet.

All is good. All is great!

--------------------

October 11

Life is worth living because of days like today. It wasn’t because of how fantastic or exciting or intense or flawless or exceptional – or any other sort of grandiose ideal – the day was, but because today was a curious piece of the puzzle; it was one of those pieces that I needed to figure out so the other following more obvious pieces could follow. Today I met Eric Allen.
Simple that may sound, meaningless possibly. Who is Eric Allen? He’s a key; he’s a holder of mysteries; he’s a teacher; he’s a man who can fix my electrical problems and teach me how. But would he? Will he be distant and professional or will he be a friend and peer? Will he be available? Would he understand my project? Today answered these questions and opened up new opportunities.

I’m avoiding telling the story. I’m sorry, this must be a drag, but, you see, it is late, I’m tired and I want to go to bed really. Let it suffice to say that Eric Allen is a diverse, intriguing, able and pleasant guy. He is a patient teacher and a like-minded thinker. He and I have already begun ripping all the old wiring out of the boat. We have a plan. We ate bread and drank a growler of beer and told stories about our lives and times. They are not dissimilar. Tomorrow should be a full day.

-------------------------


Oct 14

The most amazing transformation is taking place. The boat is growing. Eric Allen (Nature) is creating something out of nothing. I don’t know what the wiring was really like – but it is totally changed – and very good, very much for the better.
The control panel Nature built is incredible, and just a quick night’s work. We’ve only been working for a few days. He’s saved me money at each corner, though I believe we’ve ‘overwired’ the boat, probably good for when I want to sell her though. A bit many lights for my liking – but I bet in the end I will totally agree with Naich (short for ‘Nature”,
He’s a hell of a guy, gets real intense when he is working. Doesn’t talk much. Doesn’t multitask well. But he does a great job and is doing me a huge service. I need to go call Rob and thank him for the connection.

-----------------------------

Oct 17 ?

I don’t even know what the day is. I guess it is Sunday. It feels like a day, just a day, it could be any day. “Nature” and I have been working day and night to rebuild my electrical system. We got in a lot deeper than I had intended. Money well spent though. I didn’t know what I needed until I got it. I am still learning – slow osmosis.
I feel a glorious sense of being overwhelmed. I am at the headwall looking up. The face is gargantuan, but I know that every move along it is life, is worth living. A climbing metaphor!
I have now succeeded at one project. The first. Now on to the second. I thought tonight, Why don’t I go out and meet some people. Then I thought, I don’t have time. Even if I met someone I wouldn’t want to hang out with them. All I care about is working. I am obsessed. Sometimes being obsessed is fun, even healthy. There is still so much to do. I haven’t finished putting all the light fixtures back in. The compass light needs to be wired. I need to re-run the propane line aft into the cockpit. I need to find a windvane and dingy. I need to install the solar panel and fix the running lights, maybe replace them. One of my spreader lights is out as well.
I need to tune-up the engine. I need to get the alternator, no, the dynamo to charge my battery bank. I need to investigate cutting a new hatch into the sole of the cockpit for access into the rear of the engine room, but this can wait. I could go on on on, but the list gets more trival, unless I’ve neglected something important, which happens. It is hard to keep it all running in my mind, hence the ‘overwhelmed’ line. I’m getting better at prioritizing.
It is such a thrill to have cabin lights. I have working lights, good charged batteries; I can hook up to shore power. All this was impossible before yesterday. Soon I’ll have a working water system. Then a working diesel. Sometime after that I will be in the water. Then my education will shift from learning the systems to learning to sail: navigation, currents, single-handing, fast sail reefing, anchoring, charting course. Can I read the compass where it is? Will I want a bimini? Where will I pick up a mooring for the next few months? Should I move to Bellingham so I can take classes at the tech school?

I did at last get out for a run, my first. I haven’t taken the time. Today was a dreary rainy day. My first day off. I slept in and lounged. Read a couple books; drank cocoa; worked on some lights and wiring. In the afternoon I drove up north to Fort Worden, an old naval base, guarded the channel in the nineteenth century against attack. I ran along the grey beach, desiccated spruces and dark sand. Families were out picnicking, not as chilled by the weather as I was. They played in the sand. A little girl with galoshes jumped in each puddle in the parking lot. I told her that there was a great big puddle just over there and pointed to the ocean.
The beach is such a change from the Carolinas. The colors are all darker. Even on wintery days, the sand, water and sky are lighter greys. When the sky and sea turn deep blues, the sand can’t follow and the dunes and grasses never feel too fearful. But looking at those desiccated spruces out on the point, the deep clouds that seem to live there, even the rocks on the shore appear to have paid a price.

---------------------------------

Oct 19

A more mello day, but another huge day forward. Installed an AC panel. I did a lot of the work. Me and EA were in good chill mood. Ran some errands. I VOTED!! An absentee ballet. I order my recepts and manuals. I don’t want to write another laundry list.
Then what shall I write?

A brief description of the boat.

The boat looks like a navy blue spaceship. Its hull is sleek, hourglass shaped, slowly tapering down to the keel. The deck is sandpapery, cream-colored, almost white. It is narrow, cockpit in the back. The cabin trunk raises up with narrow walkways around it. The mast and boom sand atop the cabin trunk. The foredeck is open, a cleat in the middle, a pulpit in the bow just in front of an anchor windlass. The deck is shaped like a great eye. The stern as well as the bow is narrow and overhanging the water. Around the cockpit are a few winches, nothing much else. The tiller (for steering) enters through the floor of the cockpit. Behind the tiller and cockpit is the lazerette, a compartment below the deck for stowage.

Forward from the cockpit is the companionway, the entrance to the cabin. Step down some narrow stairs and to your right is the propane cookstove, three eyes. I like it very much, clean and new. To the left is the sink. The sink and counter are all laid in granite. There are two ice chests for storage. On the port and starboard are two settees. Forward still is a door through a bulkhead. What formerly was a head is on the right, now a storage closet / workroom. TO the left a hanging closet. And then the v-berth, essentially the bow, it is a v-shaped bed with storage lockers underneath. At the foot of the vberth, at the very bow is the chain locker, where the anchor chain stays.
All along the way are port lights (windows), five on a side. In the v berth I have a hatch opening upward to the deck.

What I have spent the last week working on is what is directly aft of the cabin and underneath the cockpit. Standing at the companionway, between the sink and stove, facing aft, beneath the companionway is a control panel. In the panel are all the switches for the electrical system that are now installed. It is an amazing piece of work. It is pretty to look at, but the backside, when it is opened, is like finely combed and braided hair, of red, black, white, bundled and coiled so neatly. Fantastic.
Underneath that panel is the engine room, where all those wires attach to the batteries. Right now this is largely wasted space, behind the engine that is. All the way from the rear of the engine to the lazarete is empty space that is hard to reach. I’m going to cut a hatch in the floor of the cockpit to gain access to it.

19 October, 2004

busier 'n hale

Been re-wiring like a madman. Learning tons.
Been writing a little at night. I'll post it all tomorrow maybe.
Almost done with the electricity, now on to the plumbing....

-----------

"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longe feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.
-Albert Einstein

11 October, 2004

Met Eric Allen today. Great guy! We are going to work on the electricity. Spendy stuff, but it is a clutter and is utterly unmanageable. We looked at the last boat he was working on and the order was 'beautiful' - 'beautiful' is the word, yes, for wiring. It was. I want beautiful wiring, wiring with labels, wiring with nice bundles.
This way I can figure it all out. Very exciting.

08 October, 2004

A truly soggy day in Port Townsend. Last night the boat shook and shuddered with gust of dry wind. I feared the boat might tip off its chocks. Then the rain started and hasn't let up.
All attempts at reconnecting my phone have failed. I went to the bank and bought rolls of quarters. If I could get to CostCo I know I could get a 3 cent /minute phone card. At least it is out of the way - on to the next errand: the stove.

Last night as I was coming back from the store, which is conveniently just across the street from the boatyard, under the empty traffic light before me crosses what looked like a wolf. Of course it wasn't a wolf - but it was a coyote. It calmly sauntered across the intersection and across the road and stood steadily near some trees on the other side. A few teenagers also coming out of the store heckled at it and then it dipped into the dark trees along the boatyard.
I stopped to think about it. It all happened so suddenly and without any great intensity. The animal was probably only forty feet away. It might as well have been a dog, but come to think of it I've never been so close to coyote (alive) before.
OCT 6, 2004

The Keystone ferry is throwing off its lines. The sky is the perma-cloud grey and the temp is a moist sixty-seven. This morning I decided to take the trip back up to Bellingham to retrieve the things that I left there weeks ago. My friends have since moved out but it was refreshing to see Nate, their roommate and my new friend, and his dog, Molly. We chatted and he told me about some climbs he had done recently. I was/am jealous. I wish I had the opportunity / I wish I had had the opportunity to do fun easy alpine routes like him. It seems Washington has so much to offer. When people talk about mountaineering, they generally aren’t talking about Montana or Colorado, more often Idaho or Utah – but mostly it is the Cascades. The Freedom of the Hills is published by the Mountaineers – a group of climbers from Seatle. Rainer is such an aesthetic mountain. I could probably go on and on. I am inspired to live here. I even like the weather.

I haven’t been struck by the aloneness yet, not like I expected to be. I have had too much on my mind, too much to get done, always a bit more than I was capable of. That may be the trend for a while to come. I have a new home, one that is in transition, one that is still slowly opening itself to me. The boat and town still carry mystery to be uncovered. Sometimes, for no particular reason, I will be walking down the dark, quite street or sitting on deck or biking through the shipyard, and everything becomes instantly lucid, time stops, eternity is revealed: Look where I am; this is my home, my life, my future—It’s incredible! I feel like I have to scream out. I need to relieve all the energy that is suddenly welling up at the instant.
I don’t.
I will soon. I am still new to this jungle and don’t yet want to proselytize my small existence to the world at large for fear of being eaten.

Tomorrow I call Eric about electricity, Bob about diesels, the university about classes. Then to the debate. Oh, such fun.

06 October, 2004

NEW ADDRESS:

P.O. Box 1531
Port Townsend WA, 98368

----------------------

I love it here. I am making progress, though slowly, everyday. I'm buying some necessities: buckets, rags, drill, shore-power cord; I borrowed an extension cord from Jim. I rented a storage locker today and cleaned my car and boat out. All the sails, anchors, books, climbing gear, skis, all extranious stuff not used daily - it's all in storage. Now the boat is gutted and ready to be cleaned, then de-wired, then re-wired. Today I got the gas/water/oil out of the bilge - the fumes were erking me.
Tomorrow I'll get......no - tomorrow I'm going to Bellingham to get my pack. I left my pack from my last trip there when I unexpectedly found this boat. My lamp, my phone, my hat, my camera - lots of goodies are there. I found out that I could do a pre-pay plan for $15 / month with my phone - much simpler than the pay phone.
The library is great. Good computer access. Good books. Some folks have made some good recommendations to me.

How 'bout these debates........

05 October, 2004

MISSOULA - Already there and gone. Spent a fine day with Stu, Wendy and Chelsea in Kooteni Canyon hiking about. Ate some great sushi at B's. Dined in the China Buffet with AJ. Hotspringed with Wendy. All in all a great stay.

BUT I HAVE NOW ARRIVED. - I drove Highway 12 all the way and it was wildly long, but it was beautiful: rivers and curves and grand conifers all the way. I saw the finest view of Mt Rainer I've ever seen. It just appeared. Out of nowhere there it was, standing in the plain. amazing that something so great can just sneak up on you like that.

I drove past Mt St. Helens. Nothing was happening though. And now I am here. I slept on my boat last night for the first time. Today I drove about organizing, trying to find something, somewhere to get a start on. In the midst of so much work sometimes it is that first effort that is so hard.

It is coming. I am not so scared as I was. One day at a time.

Oh, and to all of those who doubted, who downright disbelieved in the ole Dancer's ability to make it. Believe! She made it. We only had one blown tire. The brakes needed replacing, normal. And on the last day my taillights gave out, a police officer was nice enough to point that out to me. So I've been using my hazard lights instead. No biggy. Running like a top. Better than my bicycle - both tires are flat - and it's almost five. If I'm gonna fix 'um it had better be now.

26 September, 2004

AT SEWANEE LIBRARY

So amazing to see the old place again.
The sun is setting and I want to make it out to the cross to see the view over the valley.
The journey has begun.....

20 September, 2004

Burwell Manning Dove Hunts

Spent a breezy day out near Heathwood Hall, absorbing the cool wind through my pores. The sky was deep and without cloud - more autumn than summer now. I saw lots of family and got to catch up with a few of them.
The atmosphere always sounds like a battlefield, volleys of gunshots coming from all sides and distances, but the doves still fly like gangbusters, everywhere and all at once. I can see parts of people, mingled about cornstalks, hedgerows and sunflowers, generally in the sparse shade. Dogs pant with great canine smiles, some looking skyward with anticipation.
I love the sunflowers best.
But the rows of pickup trucks and all the men in kaki pants and camo tops, shell bags and ballcaps, most with a little paunch - this is why I love SC. Young and old, family and friends. Most I really hardly know, but the idea of it represents what is "good" about the south. Burwell has been having these shots longer than I can remember. A hundred people sometimes, all excited to come. Arguible some of the best dove hunting anywhere in the south. But still it is mostly family: Kaki, Belton, McLain, Deas, the Boyd's, Walker's - it's all family. What's the difference.

I feel different, like I don't fit in anymore if I ever really did, but something about it is so refreshing, so revitalizing, grounding - I feel like 'I just needed to be there', regardless of any conversation or tangible happening. I love these people. They represent what is real and what is good about my home, my past, and my family. It is something that I know to be real. It is a rock of calm certainty in my sea of constant challenge and change.

17 September, 2004

A Response to my sister, Eliot: "What is your relationship to the Whale?"

--- Spinner
Ahhhh, the whale. (This is impromptu, and I am in the library, so I must be brief, unfortunately.)

The whale is Dante's inferno, Joyce's Ulysses, Eliot's "Wasteland", winter, Mordor; but it is also the Yin, Plato's cave, Freud's subconscious, the Anima, Shakti - my mind runs short. These are not 1:1 correlatives. The whale is "the dark side of the force"; it is the underworld; for a man it is also the feminine.
It is otherness.

For me, for better or worse (sometimes I fear it will be my demise), I enbrace it - both femininity and darkness / Hades. The whale is where I commonly go to gain perspective and insight, often inspiration. I am humbled by it, lifted from the banality of the microcosm and enlarged into the macrocosm of things. Suffering refreshes, revitalizes and reminds me of my innate and present mortality.

Femininity is a risk for men; it is a self-awareness that runs directly counter to our culturally and biologically defined self. The assent to a femine side is analogous to self-annihilation. This is how it can appear: I am a man if....(I fight, I have a large penis, I don't cry, I am stalwart, ect). This is "masculinity. To accept a feminine portion in the masculine self necesitates a total re-imagining of the self, one which is presently culturally absent. And this is challenging and frightening work - with few roadmaps.

Hell is a clear threat. We are taught to avoid fear, suffering and pain. We construct lives for ourselves that are essentially "safe" ones, not necessarily successful ones. They are successful at being safe, but they may not achieve happiness which seems to be most people's supreme metaphysical goal. Yet, literature and history teach that the people we admire and wish to emulate led far different lives - they often suffered immensely. All the great classical heroes journeyed through Hell in their quests - it is part of the archetype of greatness (hero). We see it in microcosm: doctors have to survive the dark depths of med. school, ect. The goal justifies the path. But modern suffering lacks much mortal risk and therefore doesn't teach the same lessons of mortality and existentiality. It is good to know how small we are and how short our time is - it is very relaxing and soothing.

So, Eliot, to me the whale is my shadow, my seasonal home. It is my dialectic. The mythic Jonah, stewing in the belly of the whale, reminds me a bit of the strange comfort I experienced meditating in my bathtub in Missula - I called it "the womb".

I will likely name my sailboat, "Isis" - an idealization of the sacred feminine, but I really wanted to name it either "Ogygia" or "Omphalos" - both mean "naval of the world" (sort of). Ogygia was the name of the island of the goddess (either Calypso or ???) and omphalos is literally naval I think - what Eve didn't have.

My time in the Library has expired - 5 minutes

13 September, 2004

THANKS

I apreciate all the kind thoughts. Nothing quite like a sad or tempermental email to get friends to write. I love it.

"Become who you are" - Pindar ( and then Nietzsche)
"I am that I am" - Yahwah to Moses in Exodus
Et Tat Tvam (sp.) - Sanskrit (from the Vedas) "I am that I am" (well, sort of)

12 September, 2004

Teddy Roosevelt

"The credit belongs to those people who are actually in the arena. . . who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to a worth cause; who at best know triumph of high achievement, and, who at worst, fail while daring greatly. . . So that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
The Wayward Treatise


All those little whispering I've had for years are finally taking shape. I have an idea, a rudimentary plan and I'm gong to wage everything (most everything) I have on it. This treatise is not a description of that plan - that has been written elsewhere and is still liquid - but a defense of it.


I love to travel, climb, sail, write, and teach. I'm trying to incorporate all of these into a lifestyle, a sustainable living that I can carry with me. This week I took the first step.
Tuesday morning I bought a cheap sloop. It is strong but unfinished. It is a boat that can grow with me and my plan. In a week or so I am moving to live in it in Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is an amazing old maritime town. The people I’ve met there have been very supporting and beneficent. Several folks have offered to help me (teach me to) rebuild the engine, rewire, ect. There is a lot to do and I’m stoked for each rung on the ladder. There are a few classes I want to take at the tech school and I will get whatever day work I can find around the boatyard.

I have no cell phone, but access to a pay phone. Right now, my address will be General Delivery, Port Townsend - but soon I will have a PO box. I reckon I will be there at least through mid Dec. I hope to spend a last Christmas at home before being away for some time. January, or perhaps later, I am going down to San Francisco to pick up my friend Brian who is going to be my travel partnerfor the next three + years. Our goal is a circumnavigation by sail.

It all starts here. I feel somewhat electric. This challenge dwarfs anything I have ever accomplished, tried, or conceived. Nothing I have ever fought through, endured, suffered, will compare to what I may find in the next few years. We may sink our ship - but if we do, I’ll come back, start working and saving money again - and do it all over. This is what I want, and I am willing to give everything for it.

I’ll never be a rich successful businessman; I can only hope to sustain. And it will take some serious creativity and certain good fortune. I can teach; I hope to write. I am going to learn mechanics; in time I will gain my captains liceanse; I've thought about charity work and expeditioning. There are so many ways - if only I can make enought of them to work so I can maintain and continue.

What I sacrifice is my closeness and connection to those I love. Indeed it has already long started. It hurts. I’ve been home weeks and no old friend has called (except Shannon, of course - thanks). Everyone leads different lives. I don’t fit in anywhere anymore not Missoula, not Columbia. It has been too long here. Amazing how fast some in Missoula have let go. Is friendship no more than utility? I hope not. I chose it; I left - but I still feel the loss, the disconnection to many whom I care for deeply.

Of course love should, and does, supercede utility. We can love spirit. Sometimes it doesn't feel so. Perhaps some relationships aren't true friendships - and I haven't distinguished. This point is not the issue to be pursued and I am not in such a cynical mood as all of that. It is that I feel my friendships (relationships) pulling back and I don't think it is entirely because of my absense. I feel, and fear, that no one understands. They think: He is exercising the romantic notions of privilege. He's na├»ve and does’t know what he's doing. He's avoiding responsibility and work. I could go on.

I don’t deny that much of this, except the last, is true. I am extraordinarily fortunate - I know it - everyone knows it. Bootsie raised me! So isn’t it my inherited responsibility to use what gifts I have, not squander them or fail to recognize them? There is a romantic tinge to the idea of “sailing around the world.” But this “idea” is mostly an idealization. True sailing is being alone, being isolated, being vulnerable; it is having nothing other than your own wit and cunning to stave off the inevitable dangers of the sea. In my experience, most who come from privilege are not nearly so willing to risk their mortality, their comforts, and aren’t nearly so accustomed to the daily simplicity and suffrage. It isn't that those criticisms aren't true, but they aren't the heart of the matter. I feel that people write me off because of my inherited privilege, disavowing the effort and vigor with which I live my life.

If I sound defensive - I am. I mourn being misunderstood. “Avoiding responsibility” - Lark! What I am attempting, for me, is the epitome of responsibility and effort. This is my highest good, the ultimate pathway and expression of who I am and what I have to offer. I would be selling out myself, and all of those who wished for the opportunities and privileges I have seen, if I were not to use them, or worse, deny - and worst of all, be ignorant of them. If you think I aim toward the hedonistic triumphs and experiences that lay along the path of travel - you entirely miss my point. (Not that these aren't great things!!! "Hedonism is the first step in becoming a mystic" - Hesse) I live for Blonny; she, not happiness, drives me - and all those who have supported me and NOT had my opportunities.

I am stepping into the black. It is true I don’t know what I am doing, specifically, in that I am hardly a sailor, hardly a mechanic or an electrician. But I do know that I must learn. I know exactly what I have to do. I know how to travel. Is learning mechanics beyond my capability, learning currents, gps, maritime law, trade? I’ve been working toward this my whole life. Everything I have ever done is a step nearer the center of a spiral (which has no center or end).
So, now I realize that this has become a treatise in defense of my path, my ideals, and myself. I love you all very, very much and am so thankful for all of the small gifts I have gleaned from your smiles, criticisms, and cheers. But I’ve never felt quite as alone as I do today. I am not sure why I write that - honesty, confession, full disclosure - Wendy would know! Perhaps I feel that my vulnerability will make this more real for you, as it does for me. I am really going away. I have kinda gone away many times before, many short excursions into darkness, but perhaps they were all preparatory. I have bought a home, a boat (for less than many/most new cars). My journal remains. The story of how I discovered and bought the boat is on there, but it will be behind this letter; it is titled, Port Townsend. My journal will perhaps be my only regular form of communication and connection. Please write a note for me in the “Comment” boxes above the entries if you ever do go to the site. (Thanks Megs.) But I am not going to have access, as far as I can tell, on my boat for a while.

I’ll cut off now. I am still in SC with my family. Give me a call. I’ll be packing and heading west in a week or so. Probably will head through Missoula if I can. I miss you all. I wish you my best.

Namaste

10 September, 2004


PORT TOWNSEND

Tuesday I had a beautiful story in my mind of the last week. Granted, it was 2:30 in the am on a plane to Chicago - always the time for lucid stories. But now I am back home and the euphoria of the last week has slowly leeched out of veins.
Wow!
In Columbia, as ever, I have felt out of place. No one ever calls me. I feel as though I have gone too long. I have lost what place, or no one keeps up the facade that I had one. ( I think it is likely my insecurity that has crreated this reality.) ((I am a little down on Cola.)) I have been a hermit and not called a sole. I have been questioned and doubted. I don't think anyone believes me or in me.
So when I arrived in Bellingham, there to look at a beautiful schooner, I was warmed and pleased to be taken in so kindly, first by my friend Megan and her boyfriend Mica, a stranger until then, and their roommate Nate - a good mountain man. they made me feel so welcome in there house and went out of their way time and time again. bellingham was beautiful. But the greatest surprise came from the sailors on the docks. Everyday I went down and walked the docks. It was refreshing to be out again - I remembered Palma and Antigua - places where I had been so close to my dream. Bellingham smelled like a sea port: salt and musk; the gulls laughed and the waves gently lapped against the wharves. It seemed to me that I was greated as a prince by every stranger along the way. Everyone had a story or a tip for me, and always their encouragement: "just get a ship and go son, trust me, just go; you'll learn along the way." A man working on his jib sail saw me slowing easing up the dock staring at each boat along the way. "What boat are you looking for?" he asked. "My dream boat," I replied. He called me over and explained how he had seen a family of four living well enough in a thirty-footer like that one across the slipe from us. "You can do it."
I was looking at a steel replica of the Spray, the first boat to make a solo circumnavigations. A man came up and asked me if I were buying or selling. Somewhere in between, I said. He was a shipwright living on a boat next door. He told me all he new about the ship, a lot more than I had been told, and a great deal I didn't know about steel hulls in general. He asked me to come aboard his boat when I was finished up.
We talked for several hours. He explained how he had bought his boat and built it up, the genius of the various systems he used - all as he prepared a mixed salad to take to a yacht club pot luck. This sort of thing became my standard day while I was in Bellingham.
Eventually, all the boats I was interested in fell through: prices too high, not the right boat, or what I was learning day to day newly shaped the idea of what I wanted to sail. Now I wanted a strong fiberglass sloop. But it looked like me boat shopping was about through, and I planned to go with Megan and Mica up to Squamish to climb a classic line called "the Grand Wall," a seven to seventeen pitch route, but supposedly spectacular (one of the fifty classic climbs).
Sitting at home alone, ever dillegent, I picked up the brand new 48 North magazine and started looking for 34" sloops for under thirty grand. I was again starting from scratch. After half an hour I had a good list and realized that more than a couple were quite nearby. Hey, it's worth a try.
I got out the calling card and went back to work. Too much renivation. Wooden hull. No answer. No answer. Then I got Jim in Port Townsend. A real salesmen this one, but a hell of a nice guy. He was a shipwright, young, engauged, wants to buy some land. We laughed alot and he gave me intricate info on his sloop. What I couldn't understand was why he was dropping it so cheap. He said it had significant electrical issues - old basically - needing a complete refit, and that it still was unfinished in spots - but totally sailable as is.
Port Townsed wasn't far off. Robin told me I had to go there - I hadn't. But I was going climbing the next day. But that was for fun; this is business. It was Sunday afternoon and I was flying out Tuesday night. Maybe I would run to the bus, bus to another bus, hitchh-hike to the ferry, and ferry to Port Townsend. I'd see the boat, not be sure, talk to Jim some more, then hope on the afternoon ferry back toward Bellingham and hopefully be back in time to climb.

Oh, but no; this isn't how it would be. It was here that things went totally out of control, when fate, destiny, inevitability - take over and you just follow and try to keep up.
It was 4:10 (I thought). I had an hour to catch the bus which was at least 3 miles away. I would have to run. I packed only a light pack and switched my flip-flops for sneakers. I started running through the neighborhoods with my thumb out. It didn't take long to catch a ride. "It looked like you were in a hurry," the girl said. The bus stop wasn't far out of her way. She said she would take me there. Yea, I'll be early (I thought). In the back of her car I saw two sets of extending tele poles. "Are you a tele skier?" I asked. "No, I don't even know whose those are. I went up to Whistler once....yadda, yadda.....You can have them if you want." I've skied with bent and mangled poles for years (though I just bought a good pair, these were far nicer, $80-90). "Yeah I'll take um." Holy Shit!
So now I am at the bus stop with a backpack and two compacted ski poles. Instead of being forty-five minutes early, I am fifteen minutes late. Don't know how. It was 5:15, not 4:15. There would be another bus.
I caught it. Then another. I was the only passenger. The driver and I talked about Kerry and Bush, his personal experience in Vietnam - it was the first in depth conversation I've ever had with a vet of Vietnam. What he saw was moving and terrible. He knew I still had fifteen miles to go past the last stop and that I would have to hitch or get a cab. Insteed he said he was getting off and he lived that way and wouldn't mind giving me a lift to the ferry. It was against policy, of course, but he didn't mind. The conversation continued late. I was just going to catch the 10:15 ferry, the last.
Nope. The last was at 9:15. the terminal was dark and deserted. What now? There was a hotel and bar a few miles back. Jon, the driver, said there was a free bus to the terminal in the morning. He dropped me at he hotel and wished me well.
To the bar.
Rooms were $78. Just a hair out of my pricerange. I was thinking $35. Wishful dreaming. I guess I will have yet another urban bivoac. I figured on closing the bar down then huddling up in the woods until dawn.
If I was gonna sit in the bar and shoot pool, I might as well have one drink. A white russian. I lost my pool game, damnit. Open very well, lost it down the stretch. Oh well. But the atmostphere was hilarious. I felt like a cultural anthropologist. This was the middle of nowhere. I made friends. Laughed. Some guy offered me his couch. I checked him out. I was armed with a knife and two ski poles. He lived only a few miles from here.
His house was a royal shithole. A dirty bachelor (sp), but a nice guy. Doesn't drink. I looked around for any possible threats, moved a giant pair of scizzors, and kept a weapon in hand under my blanket. The humid night air was cold, low fifties; I was glad for the blanket. I slept for a few hours until five, put on my shoes in the dark, and headed for the door.
It was still dark and cold. It was a good thing I was stone sober last night so I could follow the directions we came so I could get back.
Of course it didn't work anyhow.
I did well for a little while. I walked through the dark. I couldn't read my watch and decided to run again. I didn't want to miss the first ferry and I didn't know what time it was anymore. Maybe it was six? When the sky started to show color, I knew I needed to take a left. i thought it was the first one, which I took. I felt great. The air was still cool, but I was running and felt the cool air in my lungs. Until the road came to a dead end.
So maybe it was the second left (or the third); I was a little hazy there. Bold as ever, as I backtracked east, there was a left turn, north, that I thought would be a short cut; it would take me up to the next road with out all the backtracking. So what. It looked like a pretty road.
The sun was coming up in earnest. The chickens were going off. The hills and cut fields were lovely, no cars or noise, only a bit far off.
I ran for miles, never really hitting the road I needed, but I felt that I was heading right all the same.
And then I could see it, I thought. There it was, on the point, I had been there the night before. Another half mile and there was the road, no the road I had been trying to get on, but the next road after that, the last road, the ferry road. My short cut had taken me straight there. Normally my shortcuts take me to some beautiful, however unrelated and distant place, where something profoundly strange happens. But this wasn't the case this time. I had about 35 minutes to wait for the ferry.

On arrival I stopped in a dinner, ordered a pancake and called Jim. I hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday and, unfortunately for me, Jim was already in his truck and "would be there in just a minute." He arrived at the same time as my pancake. Oh well, the oj was good.
What a guy. Hilarious. Drives a sixty-seven (I think) Chevy pickup. Thirty five years old. We weren't all that different.
And there it was.
The hull glowed navy. It was up on blocks in the boat yard, surrounded by giant old schooners and junk - a little of anything and everything. People worked and hustled everywhere, sanding, painting, hammering, moving boats to and from the water. I was like a kid staring a "moo-cows in the lard" (family joke, sorry).
Everything was right. A fiberglass sloop, built in '68 before they really trusted fiberglass, so they layed it thick. It was thick enough when a .45 cal pistol wouldn't penetrate. Much of the rig was new, and strong. Jim himself was a shipwright and had put $8000 in hardware alone into the boat in the last year, not counting his labor. Yet there was still plenty to be done. the cabin was still unfinished enough that I would have the freedom to design and build it to my own specifications.
I looked for a way out. I looked for a flaw. Half of me, the rational, or trained half, thought that I should weigh - look at fifty boats before you buy. But the stronger part of myself, my intuitive half, knew that one looks at fifty boats only to learn what to look for, and the goal was only to know it when you see it. There is no guarentee to whether it will be the second boat, fifty-first boat, or no boat thereafter. If you want a good deal, a good boat - you have to act immediately when that time comes - just like everything else in life. Take your oportunities now. Again, I looked for a flaw, weaknesses, problems. They were all manageable. What was more, was the situation in which I would find myself in Port Townsend. Everyone I met supported me, taught me, and wanted to teach me more. Everyone was behind me. If I bought this boat in Charleston or elsewhere the deal wouldn't have been so sweet. Port Townsend has everything I need.
That night I stayed with Jim and his fiance, Nicole. We suped and talked thinks over and over. He took me to his shop; I met his partner and talked with him a long while. Jim gathered a bunch of tools he had bought newer models of and gave them to me. He offered me his boat-builders discount at the marine supply store for a month or so. And he wants to help me get started. He loves the boat and had just refused to sell it to a man because he was basically an asshole.
Jim had numerous appointments that coming weekend. Port Townsend was having their annual Wooden Boat Festival. Jim had just put his boat up a week ago and the calls were coming in. I new it. I knew it was a steal. I took it.
The next day we went to the bank and finalized everything. I talked to Bob, a diesel mechanic, about teaching me engines while rebuilding it. He said he wouldn't have it any other way. Jim knw Eric, a friend of Robin's, and had already shown him the electric work that needs to be done. That would be my next task.
The list goes on.

In short, I bought a boat and I am moving into the shipyard in Port Townsend. I am going to rebuild the boat and learn that process before launching it and learning how to sail her. I promised Jim and Nicole a sail to the San Juan Island's between here and Victoria.
Nicole drove me to the ferry that would take me to Seatle. I called Megan and Mica and asked them to please stow the rest of my gear in Bellingham until I got back, probably about a month. They said the climbing trip didn't go all that great. Nagging injuries.
Now I'm back, after an all night flight to Charlotte. Need to see the eye doctor and get in order, pack the Dancer and drive west once again. I always think it is the last time. I'm always wrong.
This one, at least, should be a great deal more powerful than all but the first.
The land ends at Port Townsend.

02 September, 2004

BELLINGHAM

Hard to explain how good it feels to be out walking the docks again. Everyone talks to me like a friend. I have learned so much from strangers, and treated so kindly.

I came to look at a boat, a beautiful, strong schooner. It didn't work out but it doesn't matter. I have climbed with old friends and seen lots of great boats. I've learned tons. Wednesday I head back to S. C. with a lot more than I left with. The search for a boat will continue. My research will continue. I hope to see some friends and catch up - a point that has been a bit sad for me up till now. Where are my friends? Has so much time faded the meaning of of memories together? I feel invisible in Columbia. Perhaps that is the way it has to be and will be. I chose it for myself and now complain about the results.

Again it makes me question the nature of human relationship, like I did after Bootsie died. This line of curiousity will have to wait for my next writing - the library is closing.

In Bellingham, visiting my friend Megan Polk, I have been treated with incredible kindness. It warms the heart.

18 August, 2004

All sorts of nonesense....

Netscape on my bro's computer is a bit finicky. It took me days to figure it out - all my yahoo and blogger cites have been funky as hell.
Anyway...
I'm busy studying boats and finance. Each day is something new. I may leave and move to Charleston soon. A friend offered me a job cleaning boats for the Ocean Sailing Academy. Bottom of the food chain. At least I'd be back in the realm again. Breathe salt air.

I'm happy
I'm excited
I'm allergic
I'm lonely
I'm busy
I'm relaxed

All in all - life is great. My fingers are crossed.

09 August, 2004

MY HOME DIGITS

I am now John, again, being that I am at home in the south where people don't name their children names like Jonah - John or William or James or any of the names of the disciples is a much safer bet.
So now anyone who knows me as Jonah better call me soon because I will miss it. I'll have an identity crisis or something.
It's not true. I'm moving forward nicely. I'm getting a lot done. It's real exciting actually. Things are going so well. My Dad is great. I had a nice talk with my brother Dibble today. I've been a bit of a hermit - but I've gotten a lot more done than I would have expected.
So I'm still Jonah.

My Digits:
128 Holliday Rd.
Columbia South Carolina
29223
803. 788.5052
my cell is history, for now
don't call too too late - but call, I'm alone out here for god sake....
IT'S ALIVE!!!!!

The Dancer is back. She revived by her own incentive...mostly. Hard to explain. Beautiful days spent cleaning the house, trashing old relics from childhood, uncluttering closets and cupboards.

NUP, SHE'S DEAD, again.

The Dancer fell back into her coma unexpectedly, as unexpectedly as she had awoken from it.
Oh well.
My room is about finished now. I have a few more pictures to hang. Tomorrow I will start on the project of creating a "gear room" out of the muck of what is now the "storage room." It is a black hole but has great potential. If Will gets into it we could do some real positive damage....

06 August, 2004

THE DEATH MARCH

I just tragically lost my whole story about the last leg of my journey and haven't the energy to rewrite the entire thing.
Sorry.

The Dancer died. Just 100 miles to go. It died in Spartenburg. I friend in Greenville picked me up and let me borrow her car for a week or two - she went out of town to the Bahamas.
Charles and I are going to pick her up, the Dancer, this afternoon with a tow dolly.
So close. Pretty funny really. Lucky she died within rescue range. She actually had died the day before in Knoxville, but I had been able to get her fixed. But it wasn't enough to get her home.
I'm sorry I can't tell the story. It was so funny, and now it is gone forever. Alas!! The irony is that I lost it while I was trying to save it. I was highlighting all of the text to copy it as a backup when instead it all disappeared. I hadn't hit a thing. Vanished. I couldn't undo it; I couldn't retrieve the last page - nothing. Alas. If I had just hit the publish button it probably would have been fine. Damnit all!! That's the risk we take. It was bound to happen - just as the Dancer was bound to suffer.
Just as I'm bound to have allergies..............
MICHIGAN BLUEBERRIES

When I arrived in Chigago, I drove through downtown toward the waterfront. There was no parking and people walking and shopping everywhere. Awesome skyscrapers. The traffic was rather knarly. I saw on my map that there was a planetarium and a museum near the Lake. I still hadn't gotten a hold of Elle or Jamie R so I thought a planetarium show would be a nice way to spend the day. Since I was a kid I have always loved star shows.
I saw a show called "The Stars of the Pharaohs." Still no calls and the day was starting to pass away. I napped by the Lake and read Eco. When evening came, I realized that Chicago wasn't the place I wanted to be driving around in at night. Two choices: wait here forElle to call or start driving up towards St Joseph and hope Jamie calls. At least the second option would get me out of the city and back on the highway. Also Jamie had called me two days ago and left me a message, so I had more faith that she was actually around.
I hadn't kown at all when I would be arriving to Chicago, so I didn't tell them I was coming. I had no way of knowing whether they had any time at all. It was just chance. So, I decided to drive norht. The sun started setting behind me and my condition didn't improve. In two hours I reached St. Joe but still had no where to go. I bought some fastfood and resigned myself to a night on the beach, if I could find one. As I drove looking for a park of some kind - the phone rang.
Please be Jamie, Please be Jamie....."Hello."
It wasn't Jamie. It wasn't Elle either. Unexpectedly, it was Anne Presecan. I haven't mentioned Anne because I myself had sort of forgotten her. Months ago we realized that we may be in the Michigan area at the same time, but the last email I recieved from her led me to believe that I would miss her, and the phone number she gave me didn't work. She had been staying in a family cottage on Lake Michigan and I had been looking forward to seein her, an old friend from Missoula, but oh well. Now she was on the phone and I wann't sur what to think. "Where are you:?" I asked, not sure whether she was back home in California now, calling to see why I missed her.
"I'm in Michigan," she said. "Where are you?"
I smiled. What a coincidence. I hadn't seen this coming. "Well, I'm actually in Michigan too."
"Really? No really, where are you?"
"Well, I am just passing through St. Joe's." I couldn't believe it. She felt so close. "Where in Michigan are you?"
"St. Joes. Oh my god! I am just up the road. What are you doing here? You've got to come over. Like right now. You're just down the road...."
And so I was. About twelve miles. She was staying right off the road on which I was already driving - one turn was all it took. A beautiful little cottage in the woods. Was her grandmother's. Amazing view over Lake Michigan. Private beach below.

I stayed with Anne for the weekend. The blueberries were in season and we ate approximately ten pounds of them. I sat on the porch or by the Lake and read. It turned out that Jamie was out of town at a music festival and didn't get my message to her until she got back - a day or two after I had left. Elie's family had arrived the same day I had. She took them to a ball game and then had to work on Sunday. I didn't get to see her either. That's how it goes. Me and Anne - we ate with some relatives, walked along the beach, danced to some bluegrass - I evn went for a swim. Great fun, and not what I was expecting.....

04 August, 2004

Home, but......

I'm home at last, but the story of how I went from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan to Knozville to Spartenburg and at last to Columbia is not normal, full of irony. ....but I am tired and it will have to wait. I made it safely at least, and it was a great ride. Loads of fun. I miss everyone.

29 July, 2004

Lake Superior

My car has been great (did spring a minor oil leak). Northeastern Montana was so beautiful. I was so lucky to be there during harvest - all the wheat and hay bails. A lot of thinking.

I reached Lake Superior this afternoon and decided not to spent too much time here: too much in the car to leave for too long, some things that will fry in the heat. So I decided for a long run instead.
Timewise, it was long. Lengthwise, it was short, or not tooo long. The trail was real 'rooty' and curvy. It was very steap, but required constant attention - not much for meditation. The few views I got of the Lake from the ridge were awfully fine though.
After an hour and forty-five minutes I turned around. The backtrack turned out to be much more pleasant than it was origonally. I think the slight downhill grade was a bit more runnible and perhaps I had grown more accostomed to the terrain. I got back to the car much faster.

Tomorrow I should make Chicago and see Ellie. Take a day off. Then the push home....

27 July, 2004

Spent a week and a half in Missoula,
lounging by the Blackfoot river.
Stu and I went up Greywolf Peak and did some fun sport climbing.  It was a great stay.  Today I am heading out for the Great Lakes.  Then to Chicago.  Then home.  My car is loaded to the hilt.  I am in need of prayer to make it home.
God help me.

20 July, 2004

RETURN TIDE
 
Home at last.
Even after a place that effected me the way Alaska did – Montana is still home.  “Home” is not such a clear distinction for me anymore.  After all, I don’t technically have a home.  Home is where my heart is – that’s how I define it, and my heart is certainly tied strongly here.
My family is in S. Carolina.  I am from S. Carolina.  My roots are certainly southern and that, in a way, makes Columbia home – but in a very different way.  Columbia will be a place that I forever return to.  I need the re-nourishment of family and the farm every so often.  But it isn’t a place I live comfortably, healthily, productively.  So for me home is not a singular definable place.
Driving back into Missoula was rather invigorating.  So many people I love here.  I’ve been anxious to sit on Stu’s back porch and eat some of Bethany’s salmon.  I missed Wendy.  It feels great to be on such agreeable terms with her again.  It means so much to end well.
Heidi’s not in town, but I hope she comes back before I leave.  It will be close, but it’s important to see her.
 
So now the organization begins….. I have to see what will fit in the car.  I have close bank accounts.  I have to tie up loose strings.  I have to say all my goodbyes.  I have to have fun…. Ah, and there is a little story:
 
When I arrived in town I drove to Stu’s house and found it empty.  I wanted some ice cream because it was damned hot out and I was in a celebratory mood.  Stu walked in about ten minutes later and said that he and B and some others were about to go ~ kayak down the Blackfoot.  “Come on,” he said.  “Why not?”  I was a bit tired and kinda wanted to do nothing, but this was a poor excuse for not going on the river.
IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!  Hours we floated through rapids, losing beers and laughing all the while as we continually flooded our boats – no skirts.  Bald eagles flew about, good company great sunny weather.  I couldn’t have been happier.  We decided to go back to the river again the next day with tubes.
 
That was Friday.  Today is Monday, no, Tuesday.  It is time to get busy with errands.  So I hope everyone is well.  Send me a line.

08 July, 2004

NEARING THE END.....

Maybe my final camping trip.....ah! Jeremy and I went way light up the Little Susitna River 8 miles and staid in the mountaineers hut with a sixty year old Yosimite-ite named Tom. We ate Bush's baked beans with couscous. In the morning we climbed up into a saddle called Frontdoor Gap (as opposed to Backdoor Gap). It was a rock scramble but rewarded with great views and little spires to climb up and scream. From there we jumbed down onto Penny Royal Glacier and glissaded until the snow rain out - which was soon - and then scrambled along the glacier until we reached the "snoot" and then hiked along the stream, crossing on boulders as the valley opened into meads fields with thick mosses and grasses. We did a few handstands and carwheels and discussed elves - glacial elves - no, faeries, glacial faeries. Rather solitary creatures. The valley rolled down and we saw a black bear in a wide stretch near stubby willows. He scrambled up into some talus as we went around.
At a confluence, we turned up the ajoining valley and headed up toward the glacier at the head, the Snowbird Glacier. There was a hut on the moraine on the north side, our side, that we wanted to stay at. The valley was as amazing as the last. No trail, just easy skipping along, viewing the distance and guessing the way.
Up up up, but seemed easy, too taken in with the surroundings. We reached the hut by five. Tomorrow we only would have to climb to the top of the glacier where the rock came down in a low saddle. From there it would be easy downhill four miles to the car.
We ate a good meal of falafel mixed into olive oil, balsum, and tamarind nootles. Good but spicy. We ate a Reece's cup apeice. It was perfect. We cooked outside on the porch, shirtless and burning and watched the sun not set behind the mountain, but rather follow the ridge north-westward. I smoked a cigarette.
Up early. No breakfast. We booked up the slippery glacier and hopped the ridge and skiddadled back to the car. More beautiful weather: perfect high skies. this new valley was smooth and fast. A trail fell before our feet and we ran it home. We were back cooking egg's at the Bradley's, hoping Jamie would still be home, by 11:05.

05 July, 2004

I think I should remind the world that Wendy is Great and that I love her dearly.
BERUGI RIDGE AND THE HAEUSSLER HOUSEHOLD.

I spent a great day working in the yard. I helped lift a barn; I chainsawed and weed-eated through a bunch of devil's club and elderberry. I figured I was earning my room and board. When I arrived in Eagle River, just outside of Anchorage, Jamie was housesitting for the Haeuslers, friends of her boyfriend, Jeremy. I stayed here on and off with her in between hiking or traveling. The Haeusslers were off sailing for three weeks. They walked in unexpectedly one night, a day early as I was reading and everyone else (Jamie and the Haeussler's mother-in-law) lay in bed. All five of them and a terrier walked in at twelve o'clock. That is how we met.
I had heard awesome things about them. Peter, the dad, is a geologist and is Jeremy's climbing partner. He owns a small sailboat and lives in Alaska - these are all good things. His wife, Katie, is a light. She is just all-around wonderful. She's got horses in the yard, is a great mom, loves to travel - I taught her how to sharpen her chainsaw and she was so psyched and she's got great rubber boots - a good homesteader's wife.
Since we've met they have shown me the most amazing hospitality. They feed me and give me shelter. Jamie has been off fishing with her godfather. I went down to Homer and then came back here. This is where I recuperate. When Jamie and I were first here, their house just had the most comfortable feel to it.

On Friday I decided to go up to Denali. I was a little foggy in the head, but I felt I needed to get out of the house. I don’t know why I went; there are fires galore up there – lots of smoke. I wasn’t thinking clearly.
I wasn’t really enjoying the drive. I was a bit grumpy and down, not really wanting to do anything at all. The farther north I got the smokier it became. What am I doing? I thought. I pulled over to gather myself.
Then I had a great conversation with some old guy at the roadside bar. He told me exactly what he would do if he were a young man in Alaska. I won’t give the details, but it involved buying a Ally-pack canoe: it’s a alluminium, packable canoe. He said you could get flown into the bush and then float for weeks downstream, hunt, fish, whatever, and then get picked up again.
I thought it sounded great and seriously thought about moving up here. (Still am…) The old guy got my juices flowing. I started getting fired up about all that I could do. My head started to clear. I sat back down and got my cogs spinning.
I opened up Jeremy’s Hiking Alaska book and looked for things closer to home. I was close to Denali “State” Park and there was a good run around a lake. Then I noticed what looked like a great ridge hike, only about thirty-miles. I had plenty of food in the truck.
It was Friday of 4th of July weekend. All the campgrounds around the Park would be full anyhow. Why not get up in the mountains? I had taken a few rest days. I was ready to get my legs wheeling again. It was about eight o’clock. I could start up and get up on the ridge and camp and then spend the next few days doing easy alpine miles.
I drove to the trail terminus, packed and parked. I walked back out to the road and hitchhiked north about thirty miles or so with a couple of hippies smoking dope in front of an eight year old kid. They dropped me off and I started up a nice gentle hill.
Everything was perfect. Great walking. The ridge looked great.
That night the rain set in and didn’t stop for twenty-four hours. It didn’t matter. As I gained the ridge in earnest the next morning the landscape was surreal. It was like the Scottish Highlands: gently rolling alpine tundra. The clouds nestled the ridge on all sides, occasionally breaking to grant the lichen color and contrast. The rain was no deterant: it was preferable to the mosquitoes.
At about seven that night, as I contemplated the trail the clouds broke and the rain conceded. All the rain had filtered the air clean. For now, all the smoke was gone and Denali shown clear for the firs time. I stopped early and pitched camp, thinking perhaps the breeze would dry out some of my gear.

The next day was sunny with blustery clouds. The trail was like the Mahusics (sp) in Maine – great granite plutons exposed above scraggly spruce and alder. I took a long lunch and celebrated such good fortune. Everything felt right and magnificent. I felt like myself again, happy and vibrant. There was nowhere else I could have imagined being.

Katy and the two Haeussler girls, Hanna and Kara just walked in the door. They extended their family to two ruddy ducklings, a few bobwhites, and a dozen chicks. The two ducklings belong one to each of the girls.
I got back here last night to a hearty welcome. I helped the mother-in-law cook her steak and then Katy and I stayed up a couple hours after everyone went to bed to talk about, what else, Christ, religion, parenting, culture, and attitude – among other things. Peter is out of town and not available for philosophizing.

02 July, 2004

BACK IN EAGLE RIVER

I had a fantastic dream last night. I don't regularly have "happy" dreams. This dream was like being in a circus. I was toting a girl around whom I was inamored with and a buddy. And we faked, he and I, being clowns. Riduculous things kept happening: falling into holes, getting spooked by things laughing histarically. We ran about and forded rivers as if we were being chased. There was a show of some sort going on.

Anyhow....

I just came back from the Russian River, one of the great king salmon runs in the world. We were a little late for great fishing. I wasn't much interested - too many people. Jamie and I slept in the back of her truck while her godfather and son fished all night. They caught three.
At six in the morning, I decided to leave them all and drive down to Homer at the end of the Kenai Penninsula. I didn't realize how tired I have been. I knew I was tired - but I set up my tent on the beach and went to bed at seven o'clock and didn't wake until eleven the next morning. Wow! Sixteen hours. I feel much better.
Yesterday I drove back to Anchorage (Eagle River) through fog and a light rain. I arrived back to a good meal and a warm bed - and internet.
Today I am planning on driving to Denali N. Park. The weather is still heavy and the smoke is supposed to be thick in the north due to a big fire. (Big fires are rare up here.) I wanted to drive up to the Brooks Range way up north, but with the smoke, battalions of mosquitoes, and a reticence to drive any more, I may bag it and start heading back south. Also I have a friend who just moved to Bellingham - maybe we can go climb.
Otherwise, I am winding up. I look forward to being back in Missoula when the time comes and Chicago and the Superior Trail as well.

28 June, 2004

KING SALMON

Spent part of a day salmon fishing with an Alabama friend of Jamie's who came up for this purpose.
Didn't catch a damn thing outside of drowned logs - with which I continually had to wrestle back my "one" lure.
I really couldn't get into it and spent a lot of the day reading. People lined the banks every five feet - "combat fishing" it's called. The salmon seemed to simply disregard the rain of lures over them. I saw a few catch. I'd saw the fish won the day. I'd watch eight people fishing and a giant king jump right over their lures.
I thought it was great. The triuphant fish I mean.
I couldn't abide the fishing.

Beautiful relaxing day for a change. Lots of clouds - not so hot. Widge did some nice swift water river crossings. Widge and I were the only folks out without waders and massive gear vests. I don't think we caught that much less than most. Widge actually found a nice salmon head and ate it on the spot.

We drove down a long and high dirt road after fishing and saw a black bear up on a mountain ridge. Saw a paraglider take off and fly down to the valley floor. Came home to some good southern cornbread and my book.
I'm reading Umberto Eco's Foulcalt's Pendulum.

26 June, 2004

TWIN PEAKS TRAIL

Another amazing day walking through hillocks and bunchberry blooms - everything is in bloom. If you look up at the sky, it looks like it is snowing for all the cottonwood tuft that drift and dally in the breeze.
Widge and I woke up early to try and climb another peak - actually I knew better this time. The trail climbed up the ridge to the peak, but the peak itself is crumbly and dirty. I've had enough climbing that sort of thing. I thought I'd at least give it a look. We went off trail and idled through the thick valley. I don't know what all the shrubs are called. They're low and spongy - some thick like heather. The going was slow and steep. I could see dahl sheep grazing on the side of the ridge, like small remnant snow patches against the dirt and shale.
The climb took several hours and I felt tired from the previous days. I could help but feel "present", somehow aware that "the time is now." I smiled and laughed at myself as I sang silly chants loudly for noone to hear. Widge sat down in a muddy creek to alleviate the heat. It is damned hot for Alaska - in the eighties anyhow.
Sure enough, the rock was crappy. I climbed up scree shoots until I decided it was ridulous - I just wanted to see. I rode a scree landslide for almost twenty seconds. Widge was waiting patiently on the ridgeline below. We sang our way back down the trail and then home to some good leftover pasta.

By the way, I am in need of a good book to read. Any suggestions would be lovely...

24 June, 2004

ALASKA - Little Sustina River and the Mint Glacier Valley

I feel much like I did when I first moved to Montana: I am awed; my eyes feel wide open all the time. I don't feel like I've ever experienced a place like this before - a mix of the Scotish Highlands and the Alps.
Everything is amazing: the water, the color of the alpine grasses, the expansive views in all directiions. The mountains are all so steep but the most rewarding panoramas continually baffle me. I really can't believe this place.
The mountain climbing is also so far from anything in Montana. Point and shoot! If you see it you can go and climb it. And odds are that it will be great. I've gone hiking almost everyday. Widge is in love with the pikas, marmots, and ground squirrels. Last night we hiked up the Little Sustina Valley to the Mint Glacier. There was a cool mountaineering cabin there, outfitted with tons of climbing holds screwed into the walls and ceiling.
The sun never sets, of course. The solstice just passed. Widge and I walked around the desolate lakes until we just assumed it was probably time for bed. There is no need for an early start when you can climb all night.... Widge stayed at the camp and I scurried up a few snowfields and made a summit of jagged black peak. The glacier behind it, the Bomber Glacier was like looking into another world, like the glaciers behind Mount Blanc and Chammonix. It went on forever. How I wanted to ski it. I thought about simply running down it (but I wasn't sure if I'd be about to re-surmount the ridge.
The rock was real crumbly but the climbing was incredibly rewarding. This is what I came for. I had no route, no team. It was just me and I found a way to the summit and back down again. it was scary at times. But now I feel so much better, free somehow. I wanted to eat Mcdonald's. Why?...
I met Widge at camp and packed up and headed back down. We had eight miles of valley hiking to do. It was already five-thirty and I didn't want Jamie to worry about me. The river is turquoise - probably the most amazing river water I've ever seen. Something to do with minerals and light.

Anyway - Alaska is amazing. Living just outside of Anchorage, there is more to do than could fit in lifetimes. I haven't gone more than fifty miles from here yet (that I think is a lie). I love it. I feel changed, like I wan't really me before seeing AK, or I am more me somehow. THis place is very close to my heart and I have only known it for a week. Next week Jamie has off and we're going salmon fishing with her godfather.