Tuesday, July 09, 2013

2013 summer - part I

Well, I've been here since May 31st when I got picked up at Reagan National airport by Molly and my parents.  I was glad to be done with traveling for a while and I think katja would have agreed with me.

Molly, my folks and I got to spend a couple of days together before Molly had to head back to Anchorage and back to work.  We did have a very interesting two days keeping the dogs at peace.  Katja was surprisingly at ease with everyone, but my parents dog, Molly, was not so easily relaxed.  She had to establish her authority several times and each time the situation had to be broken up.  Even after Molly Cobbs and her dogs left, Molly, the dog, was on edge. (Yes I realize that between my girlfriend and my parents dog, my descriptions may be confusing).  Molly (the dog) and katja actually had some altercations of their own, but after the one, katja submitted and they have been great ever since.

Almost immediately after Molly, Scout, and Cooper headed back west, I hopped on my road bike and started getting into shape.  My goal for the summer was to get in at least 500 miles on the bike before I headed back west.  That goal was reached with a week and a half to spare.  I did a lot of riding with the crew from Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle.  I also got to ride with my buddy, Scott Gordon on one of his "recovery rides."  And of course, I spent many miles by myself reaquainting myself with Washington County roads.

Other highlights and events include fishing on the river.  Molly,  Dad and I started fishing the river by running up to Dam #4 and got into some feeding small mouth bass.  Molly caught her first couple of smallies on the river.  She also got to experience Beaver Creek and Antietam Creek.  She caught her first couple of trout on Antietam.  There will be many more to come.  Dad and I continued to fish the river by riding the bikes to specific walls and ledges on the river and fishing them in the evenings.  Some nights were a little slow and some evenings were outstanding!  We never did get to the big Pennsylvania trout streams.  We did get up to the Savage River for a morning.  Most of our fishing was definitely spent right below our house on the Potomac.

I also had an opportunity to work with DNR and do a fish shocking on Beaver Creek.  I kind of want to go back and fish that a few more mornings, but there is not enough time.  There are some fine
brown trout residing in that spring creek.  I volunteered collecting and recording measurements for the trout in the creek.  Very fun!

The last part of my summer was spent down on the Eastern Shore in Kent and Queen Anne's County visiting my friends (and 2nd family) from Echo Hill Outdoor School.  I met up with many people that I have not seen in many years.  I also got spend a little time on the Skipjack Elsworth helping Capt. Nick and Capt. Andy put the boat away in its slip and secure it safely for next weeks group of young explorers.  Thanks to Michael, Beth, and Everett (and Boe) for hosting me once again.  Thanks to Rob Comfort making our annual ride to Rock Hall happen.

And now, it's time to clean up, get organized, pack up, and re-boot for the 2nd part of my vacation with Molly Cobbs.  Molly and I, with all three dogs, are exploring WA, MT, and ID for a couple of weeks before we venture back up the ALCAN to Anchorage again.  Looking forward to it.

Driving the ALCAN - south

My vacation started on May 25th when Katja and I hopped in my car and drove out of Anchorage towards Tok, AK.  I chose to take a short day and do a little more research on the roads through the Yukon and BC.  After that first day, we tried to cover at least 450 miles a day.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but you have to understand, the road conditions are equivalent to serious road construction that most of us have experienced in the lower 48.

Katja and I ended up camping out twice, once at Squanga Lake and again on the Sikanni river.  Both offered fishing, but conditions did not produce successful fishing.  Katja had a great time non the less.  She is always glad to spend time outside of the car and her seat (aka her kennel).  Hopefully, the fishing will be very different and much more productive on the drive back north.

We got to see an abundance of wildlife on the drive.  Thankfully never too close.  I was amazed at how many bison live throughout the Yukon and British Columbia.  I also didn't expect to see Dall Sheep, which are more often found high in the mountains, climbing the treacherous cliffs with ease.

I did stop at Fort Nelson along the way to purchase some miscellaneous fishing gear and contact some people to let them know how the trip was going.  I went to the local library and got online to touch base with Molly and my folks.

Some other highlights of the trip down were driving along the Frazer River.  We also stopped in the small town of Clinton, BC (not even marked on my map) and got in touch with some people while enjoying a wonderful Dirty Chai.  Shortly afterwards, we turned onto Rt. 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway.  This was probably one of the most amazing roads I have ever driven in my life.  It included some extended ascents and descents sometimes at 13-14 % grades.  My little Subaru loved it!  Katja probably did not, due to the windy road conditions.  It had spectacular scenery!

It was only when I started approaching Vancouver that I realized I actually missed my last hotel stop, so I just kept going and finished the drive a day early by driving on to North Bend, WA to visit and regroup with my northwest friends before I finished my trip home by flying into Reagan National airport.

It was a great trip and I'm looking forward to the return trip with Molly and two more dogs.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Another Contract, Another Year!

So it is done!  I've signed my contract for another teaching year in Eek, Alaska.  I know...I know, I told many friends and family that this last year would be the last year.  Believe me, there is much thought and deliberation that goes into deciding each year whether or not I will return.  This year, I was thankful that I had Molly to bounce ideas off of and after careful consideration of where we are in our relationship and where we are personally, we decided that me staying in the bush for another year, might benefit us in the long run.  Either that, or she is trying to keep her distance from the crazy bush teacher and his semi-feral dog!  Katja is healthy and energetic as ever, always excited for our next adventure.

I've come to terms with my decision and feel pretty confident that it was the wise choice for me right now.  I would like to tend to some unfinished business, particularly another Cross Country & NYO season, and perhaps re-starting our Future Educators of Alaska program at Eek.  Maybe I'll even start playing some basketball with the adults.  Probably not....
I just finished a visit to Anchorage over Easter.  Molly and I got to enjoy another trip down to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK for some more tele skiing.  The weather was very warm and there was plenty of fresh snow which made the skiing spring like.  We also got to ski with some other great people that will hopefully ease my transition into a healthy social scene when I do eventually move to Anchorage.  It was a very good visit.  Previously in early march, we finished the Tour of Anchorage 40K freestyle ski "race."  It is the farthest ski either of us have done in one outing, and we both finished wearing
smiles on our faces.
We are also starting to get our summer plans more finalized!  Quick visit back east together, then meeting up again in WA or ID for a little fishing and back country adventure, and finally making the drive back up to Anchorage together.
So I guess I can say congratulations to all of you out there, because you get to live vicariously through me for another year.  Despite the long intervals of blogging inactivity, the blog is not dead yet!  I'll keep writing if my followers keep reading.  I will try to include more pictures as well.  Until next time, enjoy your spring.