30 June 2008
Photos are up finally! They're posted on the original posts. Let me know what you think.
It's hot and I try and keep biking to the cooler hours of the day but as the snow melts out of the high country there is increasingly more and more places to hike. My first day hike of the season was a mild 9.5mile round trip hike before and evening shift at work. It's gorgeous and there is lot of water for happy dogs. My friend is training to hike the JT trail so she carries a 40lb pack mostly filled with spackle containers.
This weekend found me with another friend traipsing through a wildflower strewn meadow and then up the hillside. I don't know the mileage for this one because when the batteries in my camera dies the GPS was sacrificed and we weren't exactly following known routes the entire time. We flushed a sparrow from it's nest and bend down to see four beautiful thumbnail sized, pale blue eggs with brown splotches. we come across a deer skull with blue flowers blooming through the eye socket and we get wet and muddy. We had a lovely picnic lunch along a lakeside where two pooches swim and the Parental Pooch dips her toes (she's supposed to be a water dog but she'll only get in up to her ankles).
At some point in the afternoon while we are gaining altitude the Disreputable Dog suddenly keels over in the duff and has a seizure. I catch him before he hits the ground and hold him, leaving the other dogs to my friend. The whole thing lasts about 10 minutes and I am so focused on him that I don't notice the mosquitoes feasting on me. And then he's okay and we are a bit shaken. My friend recently lost a good dog friend and I, while having seen the DDog do this before, still find it jarring and a bit scary. We take this as a sign that we should turn around. We go slowly at first as the DDog is a bit wobbly on his legs but by the end of the hike his tail is in the air again and he is happy.
Deer skull, baby deer tracks, coke kiln, sparrow eggs
We stop, on our way home, at the little cabin owned by the Original Marlboro Man and gather some rhubarb for pies and make sure that the lawn has not dried out entirely. I come home to relieve my dad from caring for my mother and she and the Disreputable Dog sleep side by side the rest of the evening.
Speaking of balance. I highly recommend the book "Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense" by Scott McCredie. I'm in the middle of reading it (if I had finished it I would know the answer to the eyesight question). Scott was one of the authors we had who came to sign and speak about his book. It's non-fiction and it is really well written not to mention fascinating because balance is really something with so many unknowns still.
24 June 2008
20 June 2008
Today is a big holiday in Alaska although it's a bit bittersweet knowing that it's all downhill from here, that winter will come, but there is still plenty of summer to enjoy and the darkness will not make itself felt for many months yet.
17 June 2008
The next day I open for the bookstore and find my boss already there brewing coffee. It seems, as the day wears on, that there was great deal of uncertainty that I would actually come back. Bets have clearly been made. Perhaps they, and you, knew what has taken me a little bit longer to see clearly - that I will be back in Alaska sooner then later.
PS - Pictures coming soon!!
14 June 2008
Montana is a memory zone...I drove through the once small town that used to be my refuge a summer when I did field work in the eastern prairie. The camp was small, the person coordinating was temperamental, and the prairie vastness rolled on forever such that I thought sometime my soul would roll out and away and I'd never be able to reign it in again. I could understand how those prairie wives who were stuck in one place and could not travel like their menfolk might lose their minds. I spent the 4th of July in this town, alone. I attended a bluegrass festival in the local park and then camped by the river, lighting a lone sparkler by myself at twilight.
Idaho is a short portion of our drive but we are back - or is it still - in the mountains. I've spent time here too and I watch for the pronghorns and the coyotes.
We hit the heat in Utah - we forgot about heat and it was stifling. The poor Disreputable Dog was panting heavily and the rivers we stopped near for him to swim in were lukewarm and didn't cool him very much. Utah was full of more road construction then the entire rest of the journey - and I had thought it was bad in the north. I almost got lost a few times with the detours. Utah is another memory place, and the heat. I wonder now, how did I ever live in this heat - spending full days out in the sun with no refuge? I watch the prairie dogs on the roadside catching grasshoppers with fondness.
In Utah bright red poppies burned through the desert gardens. We stopped at a river for a swim and at a nearby gas station I jokingly asked a guy with Washington license plates "Are we there yet?" and he said not yet, took a look at my license plate and asked whether I had ferried down. When I replied no he jabbed his finger at me an exclaimed "You guys are CRAZY". Well, I've heard that before.
13 June 2008
I pass the US border in Montana, a little outpost where the border guard is mostly concerned that I might be bringing animal products in. He asks me if I'm tired of Alaska and offers me a "welcome back to the lower 48". Of course, I'm anything but tired of Alaska and I tell him I'll probably be back this way sooner then later. All the same I am pleased to be welcomed. I am taking a slightly longer route then necessary through Montana but I want to drive along Glacier National Park.
It's a beautiful drive. All day we see more coyotes then anything else - some lit up by the morning sun, a pair running along a fence line - and the occasional pronghorn, and one lone elk with his silly little velveted antlers which are just sprouting and thus look very small on his head. We stop near the park to walk on native lands which have been burnt by wildfire. The sun is warm, the wildflowers blooming, and little rivulets of water fill the dirt tracks and the Disreputable Dog does his best to lie in them although they aren't quite deep enough to cover him.
At the end of the day we find ourselves at a KOA campground and feel like we are at a hotel. We are parked on lush grass and can hear peacocks calling in the distance. Last night a bunch of teenagers had come through my camp running their fingers along the tent and the Disreputable Dog launched out of the tent on defense barking and growling. I shouted at them and they nonchalantly pretended they didn't know they were in someone else's campsite. I had been fast asleep and my adrenaline was so high my hands were shaking - I had removed the safety off the bear spray and had my knife in the other hand. Luckily, none of it was necessary but it took a long while to get to sleep. Now at the KOA station I experienced my first darkness and had to rummage for my headlamp which had been unnecessary up until now.
As you can see I've finally found an Internet connection and so am now posting my backlog. I'm not sure I'm ready to glance at my email yet since I have been enjoying the oblivion from such real world intrusions. It's amazing how the bookstore, job worries, everything just fades away into the contentment of the here and now while on the road. A real vacation even though that is not what it was planned to be. Cheers!
12 June 2008
The Boardwalk is a picture of the famous Alcan hotsprings
A black bear & more stone sheep - geologists check out that mountain!
The Disreputable Dog and I walked longer and more frequently today after my aching hips and sciatic nerve from yesterday and we wandered through to a gorgeous mountain lake and up a hill side where the water flowed down huge slabs of rock like poured concrete and then through the woods. Interestingly, although we hiked more frequently and longer, and I started later, I made better time on my mileage then yesterday and stopped earlier too. From a bustling town I called my five year old niece to wish her a happy birthday and could hear her shouting over her birthday party to her mom "she's driving from Alaska to Colorado!". I'm doubt she understands what that means but she seemed excited nonetheless. Having cell phone coverage at that moment, I then called my mother who had eye surgery yesterday for cataracts and was relieved to hear she is doing well - the surgery had made her very nervous. Apparently the Disreputable Cat is disconsolate without us.
Moose & black bear & you guess who!
This evening Disreputable Dog and I have had a lovely camp-made super and took a walk down to a lake near our campsite where I caught a glimpse of deer mamma and her young to which, luckily, my dog was oblivious being focused on a thrown tennis ball. The wind is keeping the mosquitoes off but my battery is running low so I must go.
11 June 2008
It was an on again off again kind of day. An RV pulling a truck careened across a graveled section of the road and dislodged a softball sized rock that went through my windshield. Thankfully it went through the passenger side as glass sprayed all over my dashboard even while the windshield itself stayed mostly intact. I saw wild bison two grizzlies, one black bear, a beautiful little porcupine by the side of the road. At one point I was feeling sleepy and pulled over near a grassy river bank and slept - only to wake up and find I had rolled my legs in some sort of animal feces. I washed in the cold river. Sore from driving, my hips aching and my sciatic nerve throbbing, we took a hike off into the woods along a dirt road and came across fabulous crashing waterfalls. I made the famous hot springs in BC for the night and enjoyed them thoroughly until two local boys took too keen of an interest in me. When they inquired after my tent site and phone number I took refuge with a bunch of German tourists, asking them in their language, which the boys couldn't speak, if it would be all right to walk with them until I reached the place the Disreputable Dog was tied up. Sure glad he's along. It was a long boardwalk to the springs and he wasn't allowed. I brought him as far as I could - lots of single men in the campsite who eyed me as I went to pay my fees this evening but with the dog, they won't bother me. Little do they know that they would also have to face a full bottle of bear spray. I'm sure it would work just as well on them (don't tell the Canadian Boder Patrol - they only let it in because it is stated clearly on the bottle that it is for animals - where as the US border will only let it in if it states clearly that it's for humans!).
My lovely windshield
I love being in my little tent, my home away from home, with the Disreputable Dog next to me - just the smell of the tent makes me feel at home. I've been listening to Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" on CD and I think it has been affecting my mood. It's a very dark book. Anywho, it's late again, I seem to always get to this very late at night, and I'm too tired to write more. I hope I get to post some of this before I return home! The internet connections are either very sparse or they insist that I have a local mobile phone company which, of course, I don't. Even if I do post pictures will have to wait until I return. Good night!
British Columbia Photos - wild bison & a black bear
10 June 2008
Mmmmm....just got out of some local hot springs near my campground here near the Capital City of the Yukon. Feeling all loose limbed and ready for sleep so this may be short. These hot springs aren't supposed to be part of the deal but some guys laying tile let me in on their secret and I met up with a local girl who was also soaking with her dog on look out.
Last night I woke to rain and slept soundly through the rest of the night and its patter on my tent. The next morning the entire tent got wet while breaking it down. Everything was wet. But no matter - we hit sunshine somewhere along the route and in mid afternoon I had it hanging from the bike on the roof of my car while the Disreputable Dog and I took a walk. Most of our drive however was in and out of rain showers. Mountains hovering in and out of mist and cloud, gorgeous light peaking up just right to highlight the still dry grasses and the new leaves on the trees. Saw some deer and a grizz all munching contentedly on the side of the road. It felt good to get into the rhythm of travel and to stop for hikes and sunshine and picnics by river banks.
09 June 2008
08 June 2008
It turned out to be an eventful day. The Disreputable Dog and I hung out with all manner of friends both canine and human - we walked 3 beaches, had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with different groups, took a hike, and then, on the hike, as we were down by yet a fourth beach the Disreputable Dog took a sniff at another human's backpack and was immediately trounced by their dog who apparently is very protective of treats. My poor pup was left with a gash in his muzzle and his ear and we spent the afternoon hunting down the vet and getting staples put in. Luckily the vet was around, he can be very difficult to track down, but he was out mowing the lawn and quipped that I didn't have to get my dog injured in order to come by and see him. The Disreputable Dog was out for the rest of the day - all drugged up and in pain he could hardly lift his tail for a thump when he was greeted. Luckily he had a nice soft floor to stay in to sleep it off on.
It's very odd being in this town. When I left it was as if I had never been there at all - like I had imagined those two years. But now that I'm back everyone (from barristas to bar tenders) acts as if I never left, as if no time had passed since they last saw me. They ask where I ended up but they seem completely unsurprised to see me. I did have a few people track me down though just to shout - it is you! you're back! And then I had to tell them it was only for the weekend. I am absolutely delighted to see friends and catch up on old familiar haunts but I know in my heart that this is only a town I will ever only just visit in the future.
06 June 2008
It's one of the good things about taking a break - it has made me realize what how much Alaska speaks to me. It reminds me of the quote "Home is not where you live but where they understand you." I have a little trouble readjusting to the long daylight but otherwise I am content. This is my turf, my stomping ground, and my heart is full with joy at being there.
I've been a bad blogger and a bad blog reader the last month. I've missed you but things have been so crazy, as much in my head as anywhere, lately that I haven't had the time or the energy to even pick up the computer. And it doesn't help that my computer and Internet access have been spotty. Every now and then I'd wonder how all my blog friends were doing, wanting to catch up but since I knew I was unable to catch up with all of you I caught up with none of you. I've even gotten some new readers who have surely already given up due to the lack of blog posts. Thank you to those of you who inquired after my well-being! I have been fine although preoccupied with decision making. My head has been spinning like the legs of an upturned beetle, my thoughts chasing each other like a fox its tail. The dust is finally starting to clear a little and I hope I'll be around a little more regularly.
But now I'm going to try and make it up to you - I'm going to take you with me on my drive south from Alaska to Colorado. I have decided not to take any of the tempting summer job offers that while putting me in the places I want to be and doing the things I want to do don't actually give my career any kind of boost and just delay the current situation until the fall. So, although it's subject to change, at the moment I am planning on spending the summer in Colorado selling books. So with that in mind I desperately need some summer things which were not packed in my suitcase. So the Disreputable Dog and I are going to drive my camping & backpacking gear, my bike, and some summer clothes down the Alcan (more formally known as the trans Alaska-Canada highway). I've always wanted to drive it in the summer, having previously always driven it in January - I don't know precisely why, it just ended up that way. The Disreputable Cat is staying in Colorado to wait for us.
I'm going to write a post every day but they will only be posted as Internet connections avail themselves (we're camping the whole way down). This means I will continue to be a bad blog reader/ friend for a least another few weeks and have decided that when I start out I'm just going to clear my reader and start with where you are then....but I miss you and do wonder what you are all up to.
PS - CAE, Doris Rose, & Silver Fox, I got your tags, I promise I will get to them!