Friday, September 20, 2013

A very satisfying day, indeed

The mountain in the front yard: Pioneer Peak.

And, a beautiful fall day, too, the first clear sunshiny day in quite some time, perfect for one of those Alaska adventures. Snow on the mountain has been late this year.  Only Wednesday, when the sky cleared enough to see, there was just a sprinkle of white at the very peak. That's about a month late for termination dust.

Today when I looked up heading out the driveway, a good cover of snow looked like it came down to about the 4,000 foot level.  That mountain is 6,300 feet tall and it looks like the snow came down about one-third of the height.

In addition to the mountain here, for most of the trip I could see Mount McKinley resplendent in the sunshine as well; it is part of the scenery that makes life a little calmer the farther north I go.

I made a quick trip to the East Pole today to retrieve some items needed here, principal among them, the 16-pound maul I need to split the remaining huge rounds of birch.  With all the rain lately the trip got put off again and again while I tackled those rounds with a wedge and sledge hammer.  That takes about 20 or so licks just to make the first split, hardly an efficient way to do this, not to mention the wear and tear on arms and shoulders.

With the sun high in the sky I ventured onto the trail, which it turned out was not nearly as nice as the day. but the sun has a way of smoothing out the bumps. All told, 14 miles of mud,  standing water and deeply rutted, hard-packed mud. I have never bottomed out the four-wheeler more in one trip as I hit moguls, some I couldn't even see because they were covered by muddy water. The trail is taking a beating these days, what with someone running four-wheeler tours on it, and today I learned several people with cabins in the area are now using those raised, mud-bogger pickup trucks to go in and out.  They are much higher off the ground so when they spin their tires in the mud they dig deep enough to raise the center above four-wheeler level. At one point I came as close as I ever have to tipping over in one of those lakes. Thanks, neighbors.

I even stopped for a while to catch up with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in many years. He built his cabin a year before I built mine, 28 years ago. It seems like a much shorter time than that. We caught up for a few minutes and then went off in opposite directions to find more muddy lakes.

Despite the trail, I made it to the pole without too much trouble, though the machine and my Helly Hanson rain gear pants picked up a good coating of mud, not to mention the splashes on my face and glasses and just about everything else.

An hour on the trail and I was there, my one secure home in the world. I found everything I was looking for, including a blanket for Walter and even cut some firewood with the chainsaw. I had started cutting up a blowdown last time I was there and today finished the job. There's a nice pile of it now up the hill from the cabin where I can go get it with a sled once the snow flies.

Then, with all the needs satisfied in about an hour and a half, and the cabin checked out for any damage, there was none, back to the trail and the mud the blood and the beer, so to speak.  Funny how you get much more confident with the mud going out than you were coming in.

Then an easy drive home listening to softer music than usual, just feeling a sort of satisfaction with life after quite an upsetting week.

Here is a link to the Spot track for the trip.  The actual trail to the cabin is the short track off to the right at the north end.  It can be enlarged quite a bit. The longer curved track is the road trip involved. A click on any of the little flags will give a position for the signal at that moment. The black bubbles with a footprint are trail position signals sent at intervals automatically, the ones with the three curved lines are check-in points and the one toward the bottom with a text bubble in it is the message I send when I am leaving to say when I'm going and when I expect to be back. A click on any of the items in the list on the left makes the specific spot flash for a second.  The ones that say check, are times when I sent a message to my daughter that all was all right.  The ones that say track are signals sent at intervals while I am moving. That long straight line happened because I didn't start tracking until I got to the trail, so it gave a track straight from the house to the trail head as those were the only two signals sent during that part of the trip.  Some day this could all  become very important, but for now it is just fun to watch.  

Unfortunately I set it to post my check-ins on Twitter, so about every 10 items on my feed there is one that says:
7h(ours ago)  Everything OK"

I need to do something about that. Giving that feed a look a little later, I discovered the link that is attached to the feed actually opens a map with that specific spot identified.  This particular one marks the trailhead. Maybe I can think of something a little more interesting to put into the message that shows up on Twitter.  I can't change it on the go; it has to be done on the computer ahead of time.

And a result:  With all that wrenching the four-wheeler around in the ruts and moguls of 14 miles of trail I am so stiff and sore, I doubt I'll be swinging that 16-pound maul any time soon.  Still a bit of physical soreness adds to the feeling of satisfaction after a good day in the woods.


  1. 28 years, sounds so long ago, yet in my memory it doesn't seem so long. Sometimes memories make me feel melancholic.

  2. To fight off that melancholy, I pull up the line from the Jimmy Buffett song, "we did it for the stories we could tell."


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

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

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

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

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