This is the story of our exploration of the human condition... continuing the adventures in our BattleWagons until something great happens or we decide it's a lost cause. Est. 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Big Sky Series: The Update

It's been a while since I've posted. Life takes some turns. I find myself in Belgrade, Montana, quietly waiting for a young lady to run to the bank and get a title squared away. Last night, my family sold our only car, Chandler, a 1996 Geo Prism, and this morning, I'm adopting her replacement, a 1983 Chevy Suburban named Road Kill. We've found that having a sedan is difficult when there is two adults, a toddler, a newborn, a dog, and any amount of groceries or stuff to haul. Sacrificing fuel economy to be able to put everything in one car and still have room to pick up other people could be a game changer.

Yes, I've said it. A newborn. For those who don't follow me on Facebook, our little Fidget was born March 19, joining our growing family in our new place to call home, Bozeman, Montana. We decided to move here from Ketchikan, not in response to disappointment with all of the grandeur that is Alaska, but to be closer to The Boy, my son and My Queen's step son, who lives with his mom in Denver. The community here has been beautiful, and we found ourselves hitting the ground here running with overwhelming support from friends and family, new and old. K and J, friends of friends, let us stay on their futon before we found a place. The Unitarian Universalist church here has been wonderfully supportive and intellectually challenging. Gas is a dollar cheaper per gallon. Our biggest hurdle to overcome as a family continues to be financial, as my income after child support for The Boy and rent continues to allow only a hundred dollars for food, fuel, and various other expenses.

Still, My Queen and I feel optimistic that we're going to come out on top, knowing before we left Alaska that this was going to be the most difficult year of our lives. We're confident that, in a few years, we'll be able to tell stories about how hard life was and how we got through it together, laughing about the times we had only a few boxes of store brand macaroni and cheese to last us until payday, three days away.

Life is fickle, but it is also beautiful and to be cherished. We're going to be okay. We have help, donations of furniture, money, clothes and baby gear, all thrown our way, and while we'd love to pay it all back, we're accepting that, when we can, we'll only be able to pay it forward, and we'll do that. Life may be fickle, but it's so damn good to hear The Boy laughing when I get home from work that it's all worth it. Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Kindness and Hardship, my take on 2013

Life. Life is one crazy shit storm. Life hits you hard in the face, and then watches you bleed, and in the next moment, it patches you up and wraps you in a mother's embrace.

Last year was a hard year. 2013 did not skimp on the hardship. There was plenty of anguish and strife. My son left just before Christmas in 2012 with his mom in Denver. Until just before this Christmas, I hadn't seen him since.

2013 saw me selling virtually everything I owned to stay afloat. I had a 1976 Jeep pickup, lifted, with 35s. Gone. My TV, X-Box, Netflix, furniture, Honda... all gone to make it by. I moved on to a sailboat for four months, and now I have an apartment and can't afford that either.

It seems horrible, I know, and at times, it feels horrible, too.

However, now I am simple, and I love it. I have next to nothing that is collectable or impractical, but when I've reflected on 2013, I realized that I have EVERYTHING that really matters.

2013 saw the union of my girlfriend and me. It saw the incredible trust and companionship of this relationship, and in all of the most meaningful ways.

2013 was the year that my son did get to come have a Christmas with me in my house with my new family, his sister baking in her little oven until the end of March.

2013 was the year I met some of the most inspirational people, from the kids in Ohio who belong to my lady, friends and family that have protected and entertained her for years, all of whom took me in instantly as one of their own.

2013 was the year Pope Francis came, and while I'm not Catholic, I dig the shit out of that guy. You do good work, I do good work. We'll meet there.

2013 was the year that I went halibut fishing, and it was the year I got to camp on the beach with a beautiful woman and a three-legged dog.

For all of my gripes and bickering about how hard my life is, I have to continually remind myself that I have a loving family, I have a roof, food and water, clothes, a job, and a few dollars to my name. That's good enough.

I hope that 2014 is a relief, but I'll expect it to be worse, and that's okay. I can do worse. But I'll have people in the worse with me, and that's okay. I'm a lucky guy. I'm a very simply a lucky man. I hope I never forget that.

Here's to this year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

CHRONICLES: Cold and Beautiful

It's around 20 degrees here in Ketchikan this morning.  It's chilly.  In Colorado, it's in the negatives and double-negatives.  We're having a heat wave here.
View from the top, several months ago.  I live in the red building on the far left.

I haven't updated this blog in a very long time, and I apologize for that. My aunt was so kind as to point that out when we spoke on the phone last weekend.  Well, I suppose it's time for an update.

The dream of the boat is breathing its last breath.  It turned out to be a very impractical way to live, especially with the news that the girl and I are expecting a little girl at the end of March/beginning of April.  So no boat.  But a baby girl will be here, and in the long term, that is going to be SO MUCH MORE fun!  The little boy will have a little sister to take on adventures with us.
We have the coolest shower in this apartment!  Random picture, but i'm excited about it!

Speaking of the little boy, he'll be up for Christmas.  We're going to take the ferry up, and I'm really excited to see how he does on the big blue boat!  If we're lucky (or unlucky, depending on how things go), we'll be taking the train to the ferry terminal from the airport.  The little boy will have been on a plane, a train, and a boat in one day!  How many three-year-old kids do you know that are that lucky?

The Three-Legged Wonder Dog
Here at home, the new home, the new pad, the three-legged dog is sleeping quietly on the couch, the cat is on her towel on the highest shelf in the bathroom, and the girl is sleeping quietly, keeping a cozy baby warm in her guts.  ;-)

Today, I hope to get back down to the boat and pick up a few odds and ends, pack, unpack, move stuff around, and get all cozy here in the apartment.  We've been here since the middle of September.  Yes, far too skimpy on the blog lately.

At any rate, speaking of being proactive, I'm going to get on with this.  Thanks for reading!  Feel free to throw a topic my way.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lost In The Fog

There are so many things going on in life. The past two mornings, I've been woken up by the sound of the fog horns on the big cruise ships coming in. The horns are blaring around 5:45 every morning. It's pretty obnoxious, but when I get up to let Dash out, I realize why. The fog has been so thick, I can barely see across the harbor.

I posted on my Facebook a few weeks ago after a similar foggy morning that fog was a great analogy for life, how it shrouds everything, even the familiar things with mystery. It's scary, sometimes, not knowing what is just beyond our sight, and we sometimes feel very foolish when it burns off and we see that there was being to be afraid of. Yet that anxiety is there, bred into us after thousands of years of being scared of the potential predators lurking about in there.

Maybe the point is simply to embrace the mystery. There are always things that are just beyond our control, and not a whole lot we can do about them. It's admittedly an uncomfortable amount of trust that we invest into that unknown, hoping that nothing does come out and bite us. But the trust usually pays off, when good and beautiful things come out of the fog with greater frequency. Art, nature, friends, familiar sights, they all get clearer when we get closer to them from out of the fog. You just have to get through it to get there.

Food for thought.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fall Is Coming

Today is the first day that it's felt like fall. The sun is bright in that unusually "dry" way. The colors are crisp, the air is cool, and the breeze is light.  Fall is my favorite season, and I'm glad it's here. Bring on the season of gluttony and massive amounts of food consumption, of sideways rain and howling gales. Life is good. We'll use this time to catch up on television shows and play cards. Welcome back, fall. Please stay a while. I know you have real commitments in other parts of the world with leaves that actually turn colors, but I'd appreciate a week or two of your company.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Breeze

Today, I'm working on getting caught up on chores. I have mail to sort through, a wrecked aft cabin to organize, a water tank to fill, and whatever else may fall into my lap. I was looking at climbing Deer Mountain today, but I hate rushing to put stuff together last minute, and Joey will be staying with me for a couple of weeks, so the aft cabin needs straightened out. Period.

Still, on my list of things to do is go outside, reorganize my stuff, and avoid the tourists at all costs. As I write this, I'm looking up and seeing the Disney Wonder roll up, and that is one big cruise ship. I'd hate it, being on that size of boat with literally thousands of people I don't know doing these half-ass "adventure tours" that don't really give you a feel for the town. If I give any usable travel advise on this blog it's this: if you want to see southeast Alaska, don't take a cruise. Take the ferry. www.ferryalaska.com You don't even need to get a room. You can pitch a tent in the back deck. You can get off at any port, stay as long as you want, abs catch the next ferry. And when you get to these little towns, all any cool local hippie where a good beach to camp out on exists. Trent kayaks from the rec centers. Go explore on your own time. You'll get a much better taste of what Alaska is. If you're lucky (and it won't take much because these salt of the earth people are super nice), you can meet someone to take you sailing or fishing. My, my, my, it's a beautiful world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ramblings of a Drizzly Evening

The rain has come back to Ketchikan.  We had such a lovely summer.  So many hot days of sunshine and warmth.  So many sunny evenings and bright, early mornings.  The rain has returned, and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't go away until February or March.  But without the rain, the trees wouldn't grow to be so big, and a treehouse sometime down the road would be out of the question.


Tonight, Joey and I did the radio show on KRBD.  I played some music I hadn't really listened to in years.  Some of it got me really excited.  Some songs remind me of bittersweet things from my past.  The interesting thing about getting older is that so much time winds up between you and all of these very fixed points in your life.  I was talking to my mom today, and we figured out that when she was my age, I was 6.  I can't imagine being my age having a 6 year old and a 2 year old.  They had just moved to Salida.  My hometown was brand new to them.  And now, 31 years older, and to me, that's a whole lifetime.

These songs we played followed the theme of adventure.  Some of the music I chose followed me on road trips across the American west with some of my best friends.  Some was pouring from the speakers in my old Toyota pickup, driving through the Sawatch mountains in the moonlight, through the snow, following my buddies in their own trucks, stopping at the end of the road.  We turned the trucks off and had a beer.  We talked about aliens, looked at the stars.

The next song took me to a seedy dive bar off Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado.  This place was disgusting.  About as much room as Three Sheets (my sailboat), but packed full of dirty, rough-neck drunks.  A local band was playing, awesome now-defunct (if I heard right) Dr. Neptune.  Great band.

Suddenly the music changes, and I'm riding in an old Ford Escort station wagon.  I don't know which way I'm going, because I'm in Maine, and I don't have any mountains to the west at any given time.  It's constantly overcast.  I could smell something in the air.  It was like a sweet smell.  Like a cologne almost, but less... anticeptic.  Moments later, we got off the interstate and pulled in to York Beach.  We stopped and got salt water taffy, met up with the cousin of this wonderful young lady I was seeing (I guess that's the term I can go with) at the time.  He was from Boston.  I remember asking him if a particular ice cream place was any good and his response was, "yeah, if ya like shit in ya mouth."  Perfect.  The whole experience, listening to the waves, jumping into the warm ocean for the first time in my life, having late night discussions about "the DaVinci Code", doing the things kids do when they are still liberal, anti-establishment, outdoorsy, hippie Howard Dean fans from Vermont and Colorado.

The next song comes on, and I'm driving across Utah in the middle of the night.  My two friends, brothers, and I are on our way to Dayton (I think), Washington to see another good friend of ours get married in his hometown.  We left Salida around mid-day.  We went over Monarch Pass, hit Grand Junction and then crossed the desert in Utah through Green River.  We drove through Salt Lake City in the middle of the night, and I remember seeing how beautiful the Tabernacle looked all lit up. We drove through the night, and by the time we got to Walla Walla or closeby, we found some state park on the Snake River, right at a super wide, slow bend in the river.  There was a huge railroad trestle above us, and, right below the parking lot, there was a huge beach from where the river would rise in the runoff months.  Nearby, there was a Lewis & Clark park, some sort of heritage site.  I was so tired, I don't remember.  But we all went swimming in the creek, just like boys do when they're kids.  No shame.  Dirty hippies.  Then we wound up napping on the beach under the train tracks.  Slept for hours in the warm, August, Washington, afternoon sun.

The list goes on.  What I realized as I started writing this blog, however, is that life has interesting lessons hidden in our heads.  The theme tonight was "adventure".  I picked out songs made me think of adventures I've had.  i didn't realize listening to them would make me remember so many vivid details of what else was going on in my life.  I was learning lessons about honesty. (Giving it out and accepting it genuinely were not easy for me.)  I was getting my heart broken, and I was breaking hearts.  I was experiencing monumental joy, and suffering tragic loss.  I was in the best shape of my life, and I was the most irresponsible man-child.  I realized that, in my search for inspiration for adventure, that the biggest adventure I've had so far was MY LIFE ITSELF.  I've had incredible experiences with incredible people, stories to tell my grandchildren someday.

Just a thought there... maybe it's just the fact that I'm over-caffienated and it's almost half an hour after midnight.