Sunday, June 9, 2013

It was time for an Alaska adventure anyway


The road less traveled indeed.


Two roads diverged in the woods, and I (sigh) I took the one less traveled.

But, after all, the SPOT worked. The unit sends a signal every 10 minutes.
That's why there's a diagonal from 4 to 5.  The actual trail is between 5
and 6. That's the Knik River where I was headed in the lower right.
For the past couple of days the weather has been so nice, I decided to get better acquainted with the SPOT Locater.  Two days in a  row, I fired it up and took a ride down to the river, hoping to document that little jaunt for some as yet unknown future reference.

Both days the thing didn't work.  I came home to a blank map that should have had several positions on it but didn't.  Every time I looked at it, given the flashing lights, it should have functioned.  And at home, positioned in the driveway it worked fine. 

Thinking always produces a new plan and sure enough one popped up today.  I decided carrying the unit in a buttoned up pocket might not let it receive or send a signal and I could not remember if had positioned the antenna facing in toward my body or outward. It had worked before from a backpack on the trail to the East Pole.

So, today, I strapped the SPOT to a backpack on the front rack of the four-wheeler facing upward toward the satellites. In addition I took the iPad carefully cushioned inside the backpack so I could check along the way if the unit was sending a signal and the computer was receiving it.

Knee deep in the big muddy.
Off I went down the driveway and down the road where I came to that divergence.  There's a long straight trail that goes directly west and another that I usually take that goes west and then south.  That trail was full of people on a sunny Sunday and as I looked down that long, straight one, it looked very passable At times I've encountered huge mud puddles on it, but as far as I could see there was no water on the trail so I headed down that trail less traveled.  For maybe half a mile hard-packed, dry dirt was what I ran over. Then came the first mud, almost dried up and easily passable. Beyond that the puddles grew increasingly wider, longer and deeper.  But nothing seemed insurmountable, at least until the last one, not the last one on the trail, but that last one I was going to try.

When I went into it, it felt like the four-wheeler fell off a cliff.  Before long water was over the wheels and mud flying everywhere where the wheels kicked it up.  I tried to get to the side for some traction but that didn't work.  Flashing through my mind as if in bright neon were the words "momentum is your friend."  No stopping,  that finishes it, just keep those wheels churning and no matter how few feet you gain it is better than stopping.  Maintain the momentum."

Then the water deepened.  Sitting on the machine it came up to my knees, my shoes were full but I still had a bit of that precious forward progress.  My mind went through quick inventory of all the equipment I carry on a trip to the East Pole.  Rope, the come-along winch, spare parts, heavy boots, rain gear, tools, ax, hand saw, none of which were on board during this short jaunt from the house, not even my cell phone.  The machine slowed to a crawl but I kept the throttle pegged and it slowly dragged itself toward the far shore.  In time a low part of the bank gave it purchase and gradually it rose out of the muck like some monster emerging from primordial ooze, flinging water and mud as it did.

Once out of the water, I stopped to take inventory, and dump the water out of my shoes.  I looked ahead down the trail and could see an even bigger lake out there.  Quick decision.  I could make it if I had to, but I don't have to, so, better part of valor, I turned around.  That was when I discovered some folks had pounded a trail through the woods around that puddle.  Of course that was the way to go.

Among other things remember to wear boots.
Shortly I came to a shady spot and stopped.  I brushed a bit of mud off the SPOT, but decided to wait until I could clean it with alcohol to prevent any water or mud from getting into the case.  I pulled out the iPad to see if the thing was tracking.  Guess what.  No 4G signal.  Life in Alaska.

Having decided that was enough adventure for one day I headed home.

On the way home I argued with Robert Frost.  Robert, sometimes there's a reason the road less traveled is better not taken. You can have an adventure in any way you choose but sometimes it is better to learn the lessons from other travelers and take the trail that gets you there.

Robert Frost -- The road not taken


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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve