Stay tuned (patiently) as we occasionally throw updates on here about what steps we're taking to get to our end goals, DIY tricks and life-hacks, child-rearing tactics (strategery), etc.

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.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Serenity of Community Radio

Tonight, we're going with adventure themes. I've put together a road trip/snowboarding/climbing/rafting mix tape of all the good stuff I listened to on my adventures. Tune in at krbd.org.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chores on a Boat

Today, I'm catching up on chores. I did dishes, cleaned up a little, and am now at the laundromat doing a quick load of stuff for the week. I remember posting about "soul laundry" a long time ago, living in my can and having the freedom to do what I wanted. Life is different now, and while I still have freedom, I've been forced to come to terms with the responsibility end of things. It's been rough, but it's manageable. I see how my dad has done stuff through the years, dishes, laundry, taking out the trash, and now that it's me, I empathise.

At any rate, here is a picture of dishes. Per my mom's insistence, the dishes must include cleaning off the counters, wiping everything down, and putting anything and everything away. We do what we can.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Get By With a Little Help From my Friends

Last night, my friend called me and said he was going on a weekend trip with his girlfriend. He asked me to come by and jet his dog out, do some laundry if I want. Laundry is going. Coffee is being consumed. Life is good.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Missed The Blog

The last three weeks, the phone had taken a swim and drowned here in Thomas Basin. I've been without contact.

I managed to do a bunch of stuff. I fixed the toilet, cleaned the boat, organized the aft cabin a bit, moved some more stuff from the shop, and built a flatter deck for the forward cabin so the ridges wouldn't destroy my back in the night.

Otherwise, working to square things away for the many potentialities that lay on my horizon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interior Decorating?

I had these awesome prints of various that I had accumulated over the years, and decided now was the time to use it or lose it. Here is my awesome retro Star Trek poster from the episode with Joan Collins, as well as a matching insignia from the original series. Both covered old, sticky pieces on the wall, and I must say, add a certain element of hipster class to this boat.... it makes up for the big retro Denver Bronco helmet on the door to the front v-berth.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rewards for a Fixed Toilet

The project for the weekend was to fix the head. Inevitably, as a side note, I need to remind myself (and The Girl when she gets home) that I need to out a sticker on the door to the head that says "If you didn't swallow it, the toilet won't either."

Starting at the toilet, I systematically removed, cleaned, and reinstalled each hose until I find the culprit, a paper towel from the lack of toilet paper times.

After a couple of hours of cleaning up after myself, I needed to shave my head and take a shower. I finished up to The Dog enjoying time on the deck with the rare sunshine.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

NY Police

That's the random name given to this picture. I downloaded a new app for my phone which allows me to manipulate photos. It seemed fun to go back and find a picture from the old Chronicles and play around. Here is a sunset over Mount Shavano from Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida, Colorado.

"Cascades" by Richmond Fontaine

He inherited $1400 from his mother who lived in a house in a town in the cascades. He hadn't seen her in 5 years. His step-brother drove him there, along with his step-brother's friend, who he didn't know, to get the money and some of her things, to see where she lived, maybe who she was, by seeing who she was with at the time.

The Cascades, oh, the Cascades, where the rivers are like moving lakes. Oh, the cascades, the Cascades, where it's dark and wet, and you can disappear without a trace. Without a trace. Without a trace.

And on the way back, he bought his girlfriend a camera, bought his dad a knife and them dinner and a case of beer. And in the back, he waited in the car. They sat for hours in a bar, because he was underage. Then in the mountains, they pulled off on a Forest Service road, and dragged him from the car. They took all the money, his i.d.bracelet, and all of her things, and left him there. $1400. $1400. $1400.

Oh, the Cascades. Oh, the Cascades, where the rivers are like moving lakes. Oh, the Cascades, the Cascades, where it's always dark and wet with rain. Oh, the Cascades, the Cascades. Disappear without a trace. Without a trace. Without a trace.

My Noble Mutt

Today, I have a serious project ahead of me. I'm going too unclog the head on the boat. I had to clean stuff up to make an easy path from the head to the outside, where I have a large bucket waiting so I can dump my $#!t appropriately. It's going to be interesting. At least Dash, The Dog, is waiting patiently.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Wonder Dog and Other Shenanigans

This morning, I took time away from work to spend with The Girl as she packs and gets ready to leave for weeks doing her part with kids on a canoe adventure over on Prince of Wales Island. The program she's working with is designed to take troubled youth and teenagers. She loves it, and is gone most of the summer doing it. I'm actually excited for the time I'm going to have to get to know the boat, and to do stuff like play with my three-legged wonder dog.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Samsung Galaxy II and GCI

Let me tell you all a story about electronic equipment and wireless providers that fail.

I have a Samsung Galaxy II. I love it. It's the means by which I update this blog, get in touch with family, etc. Small, thin, fast, bright, it's a great phone.

At least, it was. The swype started failing on it. I went in to GCI, and the customer service rep looked at it, played with it a little bit, and then downloaded updates for the apps I downloaded (totally unrelated), and told me that my phone was just fine, only I souls use a regular keyboard, not swype. Seriously? Basically, nothing changed.

I took it home, frustrated, and called tech support. I waited on hold for almost half an hour before I was told that the contract I've been paying for every month will cover it... with a $200 deductable.

So now the phone has a deteriorating condition. The voice command program just opens when it feels like it. It shuts off on a whim. It interrupts phone calls and basically just sucks.

I went in to GCI again, talked to the manager, who was preoccupied. He called my phone from his big iPad like device, and apparently, if my phone can receive that one call, it's all in my head.

Then, while still distracted, he hands me one of the brochures there in the store... for the tech support number... and the insurance claim info... with the $200 deductible.

Oh, how I miss T-mobile, where I would walk in and say, "hey, I have this problem with my phone," to which they would respond "oh, no! (with genuine concern) let's see what's up?" They'd dig, they'd make my phone do things that I'd never seen, and they'd either fix my problem or replace my phone. That's it. One visit, maybe half a hour invested. GCI, while I'm forced to continue using you for lack of better options, this has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dogs on Boats

I was nervous at first to be moving onto a sailboat with my dog. I didn't know if my dog was going to do alright with the close quarters, the jumping and climbing around, the docks, all that stuff.

First off, Ketchikan has very drastic tides. The average difference between high and low tides is something around 16 feet. That means when the tide is low, the ramps leading to the docks are very, very step. One half of any ramp here in town has these pseudo steps built in so you can climb them like stairs when it's steep.

The dog struggled at first. Some of the walkways are metal grates that you can see through. I image he was either scared or it was painful to walk on. But, with some gentle coaxing and bribery, the dog found his way.

Down the ramp and to the wooden walkways of the docks, he's now good to go off leash for the entire experience.

Getting into the boat was scary at first, too. He couldn't commit to taking that first step. It took him a couple of weeks to figure it out, but he got there.

Here he is on the dock just hanging out.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday Night Lights

Tonight, Joey and I went with the theme of colors on the radio facsimile of the blog. I've been volunteering for KRBD for over a year now here in Ketchikan. I've never really had a set style of music that I've played, so it's really fun to see what other people bring to the table.

Tonight, we played an eclectic mix, stuff like Coldplay and The Old 97s, Incubus and Bon Iver, M83 and Jimi Hendrix, and all of the on air antics... it's awesome.

Always a good time on community radio, and KRBD is the best outlet for that sort of creativity that I've ever been a part of.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Joe Island Camping Trip

Saturday afternoon, we decided to take the dog out on a conoe. We wanted to see how he handled the ocean in a small, wobbly boat. We rented a canoe from the wonderful people at Ketchikan Parks and Recreation. If you're ever in Ketchikan and looking for stuff for cheap, rent a canoe from the rec center. $15/day or $25 for the weekend, which starts Friday and ends Monday. Hell of a deal.

Anyway, we rented this canoe and took off around 4. Destination: a beach on nearby Joe Island. We paddled across the calm water and got there as it had just started to rain. Our friend who came across with us in a kayak went back to the big island, and we started setting up camp.

The nice thing about Alaska is you can camp just about anywhere you want. We climbed up from the beach a little ways, find a nice moss bed with some wind protection, started a fire, and got settled.

We let the fire make some good coals, and went for a short walk before deciding to go back and have the good conversation that always comes before sleep while you're camping.

The next morning, we got up, and I walked to the beach to find a seal close by snacking on some of the tiny fish that were eating bugs in unison on the water's surface. About 50 yards off shore, a couple of humpback whales were spouting.

After a brief and vein effort to hop in the boat to catch up with them, we decided to paddle around our tiny island and check it out.

About three quarters of the way around, we decided to pill up on a beach and hike up to the top of the island. After getting immersed in the unending mossy green of the forest, she turned to me and said "Narnia". So beautiful.

We hiked back down, grabbed a quick snack, and paddled back home, another beautiful Alaskan weekend in the books.

Three Sheets to the Wind

May 15th was the day. The down payment was transferred. The keys were exchanged. I moved onto the boat.

Getting used to the quarters were the hardest part. I only hit my head twice, though. Next to the first BattleWagon, this place seems palatial.

What I am living on is a 1972 Hallberg-Rassy yacht. Made in Ellös, Sweden, this model was one of the first to feature a glass wind screen on the pilot house, a feature that now comes standard on almost every cruising sailboat in the world.

In the bow, there is a v-berth which I leave concerted to a single bed. There are shelves on either side, storage underneath, and a couple of small cubby holes with lights and an electrical outlet nearby.

Behind the front berth, on the port side, there is a head with a toilet and a sink who's faucet detaches for showering. The floor has a pump below it to get the shower water out. Across the small hallway, there is a small closet and the water pump and point-of-use water heater are located in there.

Moving backwards, there is a big dinette on the port side, which also folds down into sleeping space. On the starboard side, there is a gallery with a sink, fridge, and propane-powered oven and stove, as well as a gaslight and plenty of storage for stuff.

The door seals all of this in, keeps the heat really well. Behind the door, there is the pilot house, which has the controls for the diesel engine, the wheel, and all of the navigation equipment, from radar to GPS and old fashioned maps. There is a built-in cooler out there for drinks under one if the seats.

In the stern, behind the wheelhouse, another v-berth is just hanging it, waiting for guests to visit, and guarding my outdoor gear until that happens.

Her name is Three Sheets to the Wind, and she is spectacular.

Friday, April 5, 2013

CHRONICLES: The Pain of Beauty, The Fragility of Sorrow

I have seen and personally witnessed some pretty horrible things in life.  I've had friends pass away far too long before their time.  I've received frantic phone calls in the middle of the night from people who I wouldn't expect to hear from, describing scenes of blood and razor blades and shock.  I've tried to convince a man who did everything he could that the death of my son was not his fault before I even got a chance to see his body.

And while I don't suffer from a diagnosed mental illness like depression or an anxiety disorder, I realize that a large part of that is simply due to the fact that I haven't had the ability, time, or personal motivation to address that, because, like everyone else, I have my days.

But I don't have them regularly.  I'm blessed to have positive people in my life, to be generally happy in my place in life, my job, my relationships, my family.  None of it is perfect, but some of it is life-changing and positive in its own right, and I cherish it sincerely.

A few days ago, I had a chance to help some friends of mine set up their exhibit, La Folie Circulaire, at the Main Street Gallery of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council.  The pictures weren't all hung yet, but still, walking into that room, a wave of hope, joy, suffering, self-loathing, despair, depression, love, so much love, SO MUCH LOVE, that painful love that you give or receive when someone you know is hurting and all you can do is hold them.

It brought me to tears.  Not heaving, doubled-over crying, but tears, my subconscious and it's tiny, salty, wet tributes to those who are fighting a battle every day in their heads.

The exhibit features graphic images depicting the struggle with bipolar disorder.  It has shocking and beautiful portrayals of being at the highest highs, the lowest lows, the fall out of both, and the ever-present feeling of desperately wishing for an easier path, whether that be a change in meds or the pull of a trigger.

The shocking reality of the struggle that people who have bipolar disorder is something I am relatively familiar with, having spent years with people who are diagnosed, so I'm very familiar with the effects that the ups and downs can produce in life.  However, seeing it up on the walls here in such a way.... it's powerful.

So, if you get a chance to check out the opening, swing by their website, stream the opening tonight at 5:00 Alaska Daylight Time, you will be doing yourself a huge favor in sharing in this very difficult voyage.  I hope you take the time.  It's just... amazing.






Monday, April 1, 2013

CHRONICLES: The Struggle, The Comeback

These days, not much can be done except trying to cover your ass from all of the shenanigans that go wrong in life.  That's how it feels to me.  I often wonder if my cell phone will still have service at the end of the day, if my lights will be on when I get home.  It's a weird and difficult time.

The sun is trying to fall asleep.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I started this blog.  It was my intention to show people why they don't have to be scared of being different.  I wanted to live in a van.  I wanted to push the envelope and take the extra money I had and travel around the country.  I did some of those things.  I travelled.  I pushed the envelope.  I went on climbing trips in Utah that many people dream of.  I bought gear.  I had passes to ski areas that I wanted to ride at, and I could always afford to ride at a place I wasn't covered at.  I went as far east as Orlando, Florida and wound up as far west as Ketchikan, Alaska.  That's kind of where I dropped.

I was lucky enough to have spent some time in some stellar places, cool and trendy apartments in the cool neighborhoods, cozy dwellings, like where I am now, in a beautiful spot on the map.

I've fallen in love with this spot on the map, and some of the people that have come along with it.  But these people are also the ones reminding me that my lifestyle isn't as simple as it should be.  A wonderful and inspiring family I've met, they're moving up north so they can more/less homestead, raise chickens and goats and have a garden and live simply.  My own to-do list has "ministry" and "yurt" on it.
The fire keeps us warm as we tuck the sun in.

But getting there... I've been putting in so much unnecessary bullshit into the ideas that there has to be a certain lifestyle that one has to lead to be considered successful, when really, I never met quite as many great people as I did when I lived in a van, even when I never went anywhere.

The comeback lies in the Pacific Ocean.  Specifically, the Tongass Narrows, or even more precise, Thomas Basin harbor.  Next month, if everything goes to plan, I will be moving onto a 32 foot sailboat, and the adventure will continue.  It won't be the same, but it will continue.

Part of the reason I wanted to share this with you all, is because I was at the beach yesterday.  I had to decompress, and I wound up just looking at the sunset.  I just looked at it.  I remembered the sunset from the deck of the cabin a couple of summers ago.  I remembered the sunsets in Moab, in Salida, in Clarksville, in Kansas City and Yakima, on the M/V Malaspina, and I remembered how free I felt.

Freedom, I've missed you.  I'm coming home, and I'm bringing friends.

I'm coming home.  I'm free.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

CHRONICLES: The Aurora Borealis and the Plans

Last night, out of random happenstance, I was awake at 2:30 in the morning.  Lately, this hasn't been a wholly unusual experience.  Typically, the time has been closer to 4 in the morning.  Either way, it is what it is.


I got dressed and went outside for a cigarette, when a simple glance upward showed an extraordinarily large display of the aurora borealis.  Jackets were grabbed, collars put on and leashes attached.  Totem Bight State Park is the destination, only a few miles from Schleicher Pad North.

We got there, and the tide was coming in.  The sound of the small waves slapping the gravel beach added a perfect backdrop to the exquisite green cracks that seemed to be threatening to swallow the night sky.  The aurora directly overhead was streaking out vivid greens, almost like clouds but so much more vivid and wonderful, and all of it seemed to be coming from this point just over the northwestern horizon.  At that place, what seemed to be a giant and slowly morphing green nebula just opened up in the sky.

Pretty amazing.

The next few months are going to be tricky.  I'm going to be getting out of the Schleicher Pad North and onto the sailboat, where I can hopefully live the type of simple lifestyle I want to live without the expense of an apartment and all of the bells and whistles.  I do not know yet what the boat is called, but it's a 32' Hallberg-Rassy, which I believe to be a Swedish company.  (Is that the blue flag with the yellow cross?)  At any rate, it should be more than comfortable for the boy, the dog, the cat, myself, and anyone else who fancies an adventure.  Stay tuned, and don't forget to listen to KRBD if you get a chance.  Not only is krbd.org a great source for Ketchikan's local news, but, of course, the BattleWagon Chronicles!

Monday, February 25, 2013

THOUGHTS: On Astrophysics, God, and a Beach

I recently saw an interview of Doctor Niel deGrasse Tyson in which he said one if the most beautiful things in science. To paraphrase, he said that, over billions of years, giant clouds of dust formed stars and planets, and that, of the very same atomic particles which make up everything in the universe, we are made.

Leaving absent any concept of "how" this happened, the idea that it's true is simply amazing!

The amount if personal conviction it would take for someone like me, someone moderately scientifically literate, a huge fan of science fiction, and relatively intelligent, to put that on some sort of rational proportion in my head... it's nearly impossible.

It's almost as much of a leap of faith on my part as, say, accepting that over the millennia, people around the world have been writing volumes about the same diety, the God of the Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha'i, Mormons, and the thousands of denominations therein, and that all if these stories are, more or less and before their translations and edits, differing yet consistent enough to be an incredible epic, an easy enough concept for almost anyone to grasp.

However, I've noticed something much simpler and far more grand than either is these concepts.

Last night, I walked on a beach at sunset on a rare, clear, spring evening. The simplicity of it. Me. Another person to share the experience. And a dog. The random stranger. And all the while, across the water and above the mountains, a bright explosion of atomic energy is burning so hot that we can see and feel it from millions of miles away, through our atmosphere even!...

But I'm getting carried away. Simple. Me. Cool, damp, crisp air filling my lungs. The gentle slapping of our tiny waves on the gravelly beach. The fading light.

The color of the sky above the sun.

The warmth of other people sharing the experience, even if only for a few seconds as they walk by with their dog.

The point is that, whether it's a beach in Alaska, a mountain top in Colorado, a desert in Egypt, Mecca, some little used campground 40 minutes from anywhere, wherever, there is a place we all have been where we don't care about what or how it came to be, we're happy. Safe. Comfortable. Humble.

Some of us have more than one of these places. Some of us have a person, a mentor, a role model of sorts. Some of us have a car.

Going with the car, say you've got an old Chevy Corvette you've between meticulously restoring. You nay know who built it, and you may know exactly how they did it. But when you restore it, you put all of that work into it, time and money, and you take it on its first drive... do you think of God? Sure, I would guess some people do. But for some people, there is simply joy. Unexplainable happiness, which followed anticipation and preparation, consumes you, and you know that the work you've done had led you to that place.

You're experiencing what I would loosely call "God", but it's a horrible blanket name for the feeling that is so much greater than what one typically experiences when they think of God.

Maybe a new phrase is in order for this experience. I submit "spiritual gem". I had a high school teacher, Mr. Edward Lambert, who spoke to us about literary gems, those almost perfect phrases in literature that could tell a story and break your heart in one sentence.

Such as my sunset. I can think of the many times I've experienced "spiritual gems" of my own. Seeing Lily Lake for the first time. Standing on top of The Owl in Arches National Park. The birth of my first son. Watching Raiders of the Lost Ark at Red Rocks Amphitheater with a thunderstorm in the distance. The way my second son tells me he loves me.

The way I said goodbye to my first son.

Not all of these experiences were amazingly positive, but all were profoundly life changing. I'm fortunate to have had as many as I have, and, oddly, mostly outside of the places I feel most open to receive then. However, going to these places helps me connect to them, a sanctuary of sorts.

I encourage you, if you're someone who seeks either faith or knowledge, to find and exist in the places with the people that you feel any hint of pure joy with. Cling to the things that make you happy for no apparent reason. Don't walk away from then, and don't label them as nuisances to your "real" life. I'm a firm believer that they're more real than anything else you'll ever experience.

Find your beach, your rock, your campsite, your soul mate, your dream car, your mountain, your baby, your dog, whatever... Find them and love them. Keep them. Don't ever forget them. It may be a picture in your head if a place you saw years ago and never forgot.

The trick is that, when you think of these things, when you remember how happy you were, that you don't forget the happiness. And if that place or person is gone or forever changed, the fact that they existed at all, and out of the billions of people in the world, you got to experience that yourself... you do it a disservice when you focus on the sadness of missing it. You're burying the.happiness of the memory. You're taking away its power.

I suppose, in closing, I should apologize for following a tangent of preaching love and happiness. But I don't think I'm going to. Our time here is far to short in this universe to not find the simply joy in things. I challenge you to share this with your loved ones, to find and share your happiness with anything and anyone. The clock is always ticking. Don't let time run out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

THOUGHTS: Of Life and Death and Life

Today was a very liberating day in lots of ways. Today didn't mark any big anniversaries for me, maybe the beginning of a new one, a date to remember, as a day one remembers simply for having their epiphany in such a way that changes or at least sticks in their life for its remainder.

Today I went to a scary place in my head. It's the scary place in all of our heads, the place where we take all of the bad things we've done, the bad things we've experienced innocently, we wrap them all up in nice little boxes and we keep them there. We don't acknowledge them except in very general and vague terms. When people ask us about these things, we brush off, redirect, or, at most, simply state that they're here inside, locked up.

Today I went to that place. For done reason, I knew it was time. It had to be time. It had to happen, and I was ready.

What happened, what's happening now, what will likely be happening for a while, is most unexpected. It's like a reorganization of faith.

Up until today, I had a good idea about what I believed in, where God fit in, any church, any theological or philosophical proposal, I could give anyone a good idea about how it was all connected. I had no idea that by acting on those principals, that it would cement these fluid beliefs into a certain unique faith.

I actually believe in certain things.

I believe that love is rare, can change lives, and doubles in potency when shared with someone else, be it a dog, a stranger, a kid, an old man.

I believe that there is universal salvation, that nobody will ever suffer more than they do here on this point in space and time.

When we finish with this life, I believe we are present in those who miss us and choose to share our lives with others, that, especially when our life was one filled with love and forgiveness, that the ripple effect our rocks of life have in the ponds of existence will resonate long after we've dropped below the surface.

I believe that God is this simple, a ripple effect in the background, the tide, gently coming and going, reminding us how small we are and how big we can be.

I believe that God isn't always manifested in obvious places. Sometimes God is in a tree, a smile, a hand on your shoulder while you weep, a pain in your abs after a long laugh, a set of eyes your seem to be memorized. Holding a baby. Letting a dog lick your face. A long hug. Saying goodbye. Forever.

Call it what you will. I'm sure there is a proper title for the philosophy behind this, but regardless of what it is, to me, it's something to believe in, something I can see, tangible. I can kiss it, I can touch it, I can laugh or cry or remember what's in my little boxes, or remember what life was like before the boxes.

The key is trust. Faith. Belief. Forgiveness. I said "key" and said four things... They're the same, and it's essential that you have all of them. The hardest part for me was forgiveness. Forgiveness of myself. It's the part that's taken me years to get through, and will likely take new years to complete.

However, I saw it today, the potential, the actual light of having that forgiveness, and it was amazing. Indescribable. Beautiful. Symphonic. Eloquent. Simple.

And so, I share this with love and joy in hopes that it may help someone share some of this love with me.  Throw your boxes away. We're here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CHRONICLES: State of the Chronicles

Lately, life has been a crazy mish-mash of insanity.  In the span of a couple of months, I've found myself both hopelessly alone and incomparably content.  The heartbreak of close people leaving your life and the joy of finding new people to share it with have been inexplicably hand in hand, and I find my mind clearing itself from the fog that it seems to have been shrouded in for far too long.  I feel like the clouds all around me are lifting and the possibilities for the future are starting to reveal themselves like mountains after a snowstorm, pristine, sparkling monoliths reaching towards the sky, sharing and inspiring a limitless potential.

With any luck, in the coming months, there will be a sailboat/home in my future.  In relation to my son, the boat provides a comfortable, if not unorthodox home for us.  Cozy.  Warm.  Inexpensive.  Mobile.  Docked at a city float with all of the amenities of a small apartment.  Learning how to sail with him years from now will be joyous, and hopefully, it'll provide him with a life experience unlike many of his peers.  With his mother living in our home state of Colorado, he'll be able to see cultural and intellectual things that he can't have here in our isolated corner of Alaska.  But with me living here, he'll be able to see a natural beauty that even Colorado rarely compares to.

The future is a bright one if we can remember to remind ourselves about it.  Try not to get lost in that fog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CHRONICLE/PROPHESY: It's Better to Have Loved and Lost...

I woke up this morning around 5.  I don't know why, but I couldn't fall back asleep.  I know I must have had some sort of bad dream, but I don't remember what I dreamed about or how it put me in this mood.  I can deduce that it's a bad dream, because when I dream a good dream, it's easy for me to smile in that foggy state, roll over, and fall back asleep.  This morning was different, though.


I finally crawled out of bed after 6.  My alarm clock made it's first and only reminder that there is a necessary and productive day ahead of me.  I rolled out of bed, and I made a cup of coffee, fed the dog and the cat, and just kinda chewed on things for a while.  What did I dream about?  Why can't I remember?

Pieces started falling into place.  I remember a dark hallway, walking down it.  It was like my old high school, a building that no longer exists.  Things were different, of course.  It was dark.  It smelled moldy.  Ceiling panels had fallen to the floor and wiring dangled haphazardly from above where they used to be.  Lights flickered, struggling to stay alive, struggling to help me find my way to some place important.  I carefully made my way around all of the debris on the floor.  Contents from lockers were strewn about with things foreign to any high school.  Old barrels with fires burning.  Tires.  Clothes.  Rats.  Shopping carts.

When I had finally made my way to what used to be a library, I found a bright light emanating from all around the closed doors.  I knew I had to be there, but I couldn't get inside.

I pause to sip my cup of coffee and answer a phone call from an old friend.  It's a brief call.  Not a lot of time.  He says something that triggers more memories of my recent dream.

I searched frantically for something blunt.  An ax or a hammer would be ideal, but I settle for some conveniently placed aluminum bat.  I begin beating at the door, specifically at the padlock on the chain through the handles.  As I labor to open this door, I begin to hear voices and an icy blast of air rushes down the hallway, stirring the smell of the empty building and it's recent inhabitants.  The voices tell me that sorrow lays behind this door, but for some reason, I can't stop beating the lock.

The tears start coming now, as I remember them falling in my dream.  My recollection is trying to break down a metaphorical door of its own, and I knew that I had to work together with my subconscious.  I get sucked into the imagined memory once more.

Sparks flew from the pad lock, flecks of metal stinging my skin with every swing.  My arms grew tired.  At this point, I've almost immobilized myself through tears.  I stop, yielding to the immovable door.  I feel like I failed.  Like I failed everyone.

Suddenly, everything gets quiet and I hear noises on the other side of the door.  I hear kids playing.  Little kids.  My mind keeps trying to force me outside to a reality where a cup of coffee, the sound of rain, and a cozy apartment exist, but I'm pushing now against this door with everything I have, pushing against my brain, trying desperately to cling to this memory before it vanishes forever.

Suddenly something shifts, and the door falls open, and I stumble into this world, where there is nothing but white light.  I actually remember in my dream wondering if I was dead, wondering if this was the cliche of the white light, the afterlife, the gates to heaven and all of that bullshit.  I could make out two figures.  One was small, and I recognized him.  It was my boy.  My younger boy.  He was so happy to see me, and I hoped and prayed that he hadn't had to come the way I did.  We ran towards each other, hugged, and looked at the second figure.  He held my hand, and then he told me that he had to go now, but that I needed to stay.

Another pause in the recollection as I receive a skype call from my boy, who didn't sleep well.  I wonder if he was actually there.  There.  That's where I need to be.

I remember my boy disappearing, and being left in the room (I call it a room, but it was more like a bright void).  There, in front of me, after my eyes worked to adjust, was a boy.  Red hair.  Looked to be about 7 or 8.  He looked so familiar.  I couldn't place him.  And then, with a word, my whole reality, my whole world, all of the light, all of the pain, all of the joy, everything came crashing down around the two of us, me and the boy.  The light started spinning around us.  The walls and ceiling and everything, obliterating itself and whirling everywhere.  It was just me... and him.  I looked at him, I cried.  I wanted to hold him, but I couldn't.  This boy.  This beautiful boy.  The boy who had grown so much since I'd seen him.  The boy who would have just turned 7 in November.  The boy who had just seconds before smiled at me and said, "Dad".

Things started spinning faster.  I felt myself getting more and more weightless.  I reached out a hand, trying so hard to hold on to the moment, to what I was looking at, to WHO I was looking at.  I hadn't seen him in years.  I didn't want to lose the moment.  But, as quickly as it happened, it was over.

It was all over.

Everything.

Over.  The wall had been put back up.  And now I'm just hitting keys on my keyboard, drinking my coffee, and letting the tears quietly fall down my cheeks.




Saturday, January 12, 2013

CHRONICLES: A Recap of Getting Here

Here is a series of videos getting on the M/V Columbia... old school.  Nice to revisit the past sometimes.  Have to love the pre-editing time.  Here's to more adventure like that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec9YveOw0KQ&list=UUSTFTWxPv_xYnj-woSdszsw&index=8


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMYWwiKCbk8&list=UUSTFTWxPv_xYnj-woSdszsw&index=6

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux2rL71QHqM&list=UUSTFTWxPv_xYnj-woSdszsw&index=7