Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Driving. Man the US is big

Departing Denver

By golly, we are en route!

We shipped a few boxes of luxuries that we won't need immediately. Other than that everything 2 people own, as well as ourselves and a 70 pound golden retriever, are in a 2004 Honda civic. We estimate the living space in our 36' boat to be about 200 ft2. There will definitely be things we buy once we get there, once we see what we're dealing with.

We left Denver about 2:30 Sunday afternoon, and headed east on Rte. 36. Remarkably, 36 goes in a straight line from Denver to Indianapolis, where my aunt and uncle live. It took about an hour more than driving the interstate. This route, however, was really pleasant, and interesting! It didn't feel like a chore, or boring, so even though it took longer to get there, it actually felt pretty short because we were entertained by looking out the window.

The first night we stayed at Prairie Dog St. Park in Kansas, after not going 1/2 way to Indianapolis. We started late, we were tired from the stress of packing and leaving, and it was getting dark. We pitched our tent at sunset and were just breaking out some mini champagne bottles as a departure gift when the fireflies came out to join us! We each grew up in firefly country but haven't seen them in many years, since Colorado is so high and dry.

Almost firefly time!
Monday we drove across the rest of Kansas (holy moly that state is big!), crossed Missouri without incident, went over the Mississippi river into Illinois at the town of Hannibal, MO, almost missed the exit leaving Springfield, IL, had a surprisingly good dinner at a Mexican place in a strip mall in Decatur, IL, and made it to Indianapolis at 11:30 after getting into eastern time.

My aunt and uncle (Lynn and Jim) are as generous and welcoming and hospitable as ever, and was very interested in our plans and the boat. Tuesday morning Jim helped us clean up the car battery and educate us on how batteries work. Apparently some of our acid had capillaried (yup, I said it) up the posts and out onto the case, and was conducting some electricity. Not a big deal in the short term, but it would run the battery down if left alone for a couple weeks. Which is exactly what we found when we got back from Alaska. Having it diagnosed and understood was really nice. So we cleaned it all up, refilled the water, reinstalled, and were on our merry way.

Mid afternoon Tuesday we left Indianapolis for Cleveland, to visit Jenn's brother Steve. We drove through a couple of rain storms, and made it safely and happily to Cleveland.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


As Jake predicted, we didn't leave today. Sigh.... The best laid plans yadda yadda. You all knew it, Jake just said it to my face. :)

We just got the title to our Subaru in the mail this afternoon, and my motorcycle sold this morning. I have some interest in my mt bike, I really just need to accept that it is worth less than I think it is. Nobody else has all the memories of riding with Rupp, Carew, and Jake like I do. You guys make Colorado home for me.
Biking with my dad near Durango when my bike was new. I wheezed the whole way up the hill, and he kicked my ass.
Also, I support Oxford commas. And I support Weird Al's new videos. Especially the Word Crimes one. I'm a grammar nazi, and I'm not even in the closet about it. (I'm not alone. My brother had to remind me - with appropriate heckling - that I meant "commas" above, not "comma's." Argh!)

So the boxes are packed to be shipped to my dad's house in Vermont, the car is half packed with tools for working on the boat, and my clothes are in the Black Hole (I love Patagucci, that old thing is still kicking! My dad gave me that bag after he'd used it, so I got it used in 2003 for our motorcycle trip) ready to go in the back seat with the varmint.

Jenn has been consulting with the Book Face (Women Who Sail seems like an awesome group!) about what she should bring, and I'm happy to hear that they tell her to take less than she started with. I'm really glad we sold our condo last fall, and started downsizing then. We have so much crap! Having to fit everything into a Honda Civic is a good start to living small.

So, we originally intended to leave last Wednesday, then Saturday, and now I'm really hopeful we can get out of here Sunday morning. Maybe.

Monday, July 21, 2014


We are closing up our land life, and getting ready for a water life. I just made deals to sell our fancy Subaru, need to sell my motorcycle still, and my fancy mountain bike.
Fancy mountain bike
Jenn can't let go of her mountain bike, so it is waiting for us to return and/or visit back in Colorado. My road bike is sold, her road bike is given to her sister.  Our road bikes weren't valuable like the mountain bikes, just cheap bikes for getting around town and occasional real rides.

My bag of hockey pads is under there too
This is the pile of my clothes that are going to Goodwill. I guess most of it is going back to Goodwill, since that's where I buy most of my clothes anyway. I can always buy more at another Goodwill or Salvation Army when I need something new. It feels good to purge the wardrobe, make space for something new. And, of course, not spending lots of money on clothes makes me really happy. And that's how this whole thing works, of course. We needed to not spend money for some time to be able to afford this, and we need to continue not spending money to be able to sustain it. What a great feeling it is to not spend money. I love the self sufficiency.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Double Hugs

As our lives become simpler in quantity, our hearts feel weighted as we prepare for our departure and spend time with family and friends while finding extra hours in the day to transition our lives for 200 sq. ft of living space. We've been having a wonderful, quite busy, and bittersweet time after arriving home from Alaska. For the last two weeks we have been indulging in food, drinks, tears of joy (and sadness), extra long hugs and laughter with humbling friends and family.

Upon our return Mom hosted an amazing and "Sail Away" Party. Sailboat balloons, festive decor, tuna and roasted red peppers in the shape of a livesaver, a watermelon fruit boat complimented with a red mainsail, clam chowder, salmon patties, "quicksand" hummus, fish sticks (yum!) and chocolate pretzel rods finished off with a fishing line & bobber, no details were spared! With the help of Lyndsi and Aunt Bev, our party was beyond our expectations and to say thank you would never be enough. Friends and family made it so very special to celebrate - we took it all in as we surveyed the love and support that surrounds us - we are so very lucky! This experience has already turned me into somewhere of a practical cruiser as I cried opening a 60-pack of rags (multiple beers were consumed in the making of this emotion, but nonetheless, rags - what a thoughtful gift!) 

Where does she find these things?!

For the record we have the most generous friends that truly make us feel loved and assure us there is always a spot at their dinner table when we return. A dinner party for 8 and a birthday celebration was a must! Our traditional Thursday night trivia turned into a reunion of sorts where friends stopped by to bid us so long. A short-lived adult sleepover tradition with Cory and Jess was a necessity. Our theme this month: Captain Ron and Mojitos!

Jazz in the Park, last minute happy hours and family dinners with mom will polish off our last week here in our landlocked state before heading East to our boat. While all these faces I will miss, we each have our own adventure to live and in return, we get to share new stories, live with greater compassion, find new opportunities, and become moore better people in the making! 

For today,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alaskan Breweries Are Proud

"Someplace warm, where the beer flows like wine".  -Lloyd Christmas (Dumb & Dumber)

Ok, so we're not in a "little place called Aspen", but it's just as beautiful! We come from the land of craft beers, one popping up almost weekly. Breweries in Denver are the new Starbucks, except much tastier. We enjoy flavorful, high quality local beer as well as the individual ambiance and flare of each brewery. Each one is unique in their own right and it's fun to see how each brewery brands themselves with logo'ed t-shirts, koozies, stickers and even with funky beer names. We thought it would be fun to check out the local brew pubs around Alaska. We love and appreciate experimenting with a bit of the local flare:

King Street Brewing Company (Anchorage, AK)
What else do you do on a rainy day with nothing but time? Check out a local brewery to indulge in a Black IPA (1/2 Stout, 1/2 IPA) and the King Street Amber. Prices are $3.75/pint as of this writing. We got a quickie tour of the brewery which has only been in existence for a little over a year. They open at 3PM and have a simple tasting room to enjoy tasters and pints at a very reasonable price. Free WiFi and popcorn makes the world go round at this place! 
Chalkboard at KSBC

Denali Brewing Company (Talkeetna, AK)
On our way into Denali National Park, we swung by this little gem for a stretch and a pint. Prices range from $5/pint. I enjoyed a Twister Creek IPA while Nate savored a Mother Ale. The tasting room is quaint with outdoor tables and chairs to enjoy the peacefulness of beer sipping under blue skies. The Denali Brewpub Restaurant, about 10 miles North of the tasting room, sits among fresh spruce and crisp air in downtown Talkeetna where we stopped for lunch and a second round of beer tasting. Can you blame us?! Downtown was bumpin' with Princess Cruisers, and seems this time of year is the only time of year to bring in tourism dollars to boost the local economy. I don't think much happens outside of the 2 or 3 months of summer so I feel lucky to have been here on a beautiful day. 

Outside Denali Brewing Company
Arkose Brewery (Palmer, AK)
After Googling the nearest brewery on our way South from Denali complete with an entire day of rain, we came across this small and quiet brewery. Nestled in an industrial park, the location wasn't ideal, but the beer was flavorful. We each tasted a rich High Ridge Double Red. Too bad I wasn't able to swindle this beer into my purse-Yummo! A small brewery with not much seating room, we drank our beer in solitude and continued our way south into Anchorage.
Almost done - perfection in a glass!
Bear Tooth Theatrepub (Anchorage, AK)
After a quick stop at the Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking shop, we settled here for dinner on our way home from a 750 mile roadtrip to Denali. I indulged in a Bear Tooth Ale. If a Brown Ale and an IPA had a baby, this is it! It was delicious so I had 2! The restaurant has a threatre attached that shows second run movies. Currently, the theatre is streaming the FIFA World Cup which seems like a fantastic idea to bring people together for the World's Game!

Midnight Sun Brewing Company (Anchorage, AK) 
After a 7 mile run along part of the Turnagain Arm through Potter Station, we deservingly made our way to the industrial brewery for dinner and beers. Dedicated to the Alaskan nickname, Home of the Midnight Sunreminds me fondly of Denver's Vine Street Pub, our local hangout which makes delicious beers and markets themselves as a local, hippie, all-natural establishment where employees share in the roles as waitress, bartender, bus boy, hostess and possibly brewer. I sipped the Pleasure Town IPA and decided to bring a few bombers back with us of delicious treats. Mom - you'll love what I picked out for you! I could call Midnight Sun a trusted place to meet co-workers or good friends after a long week at work. Really yummy food, although not enough deck space. Alaskan breweries (not bars) are legally allowed to serve up to 36 oz. per customer so select your pints wisely!

Homer Brewing Company (Homer, AK)

After watching the Germany-Brazil semi-final game, we decided to soak our sorrows in local brew. Supporting the local businesses, we biked to this lovely space overlooking Beluga Lake, where seaplanes commute. Beers range from $5-6. I savored a China Poot Porter while Nate tantalized his tastebuds with a Black Abbey. I almost won at a game of Dominos, however, my opponent was fierce! This was a great little hangout and conveniently located in central Homer, just minutes from the Homer Spit.

Checking out breweries is a great way to indulge in the local scene, meet new people and feel at home. Along our journey, we look forward to exploring local breweries and sharing our favorite beers with you!

For now,

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 4th Celebration

Life is Grand, Love is Real, Beauty is Everywhere! ~Roger Clyne

We just polished off a wonderful 4th of July weekend celebration in Seldovia, AK with our entire Alaskan family. There are so many cool things in Seldovia, least of all the seclusion-no roads connect Seldovia to other towns, so we took a ferry ride over for our visit. This place is the quintessential summer destination to celebrate a long-lost art: Community. OK, so not everyone I came across this weekend actually lives in Seldovia. There were tourists, us among them, but locals, renters and second home owners happily filled the streets on a perfectly sunny July 4th morning.  
Thursday coming in the Seldovia Bay
We began our July 4th celebration with the Seldovia Salmon Shuffle 5K that wound its way through small town roads, out to the airport, and up multiple hills that surprised me! The whole family participated in the race. Nearly 150 runners, the largest shuffle to date, came out to run and support the local arts program. I came in 4th place at 24:01, almost beating my time!

An annual chainsaw competition leaves artwork on display

The evening Seldovia Slough
The 4th of July celebration was super cool and the entire community was involved in some way. A wonderful parade kicked off the day through "Main St", costume contests and local vendors sold wares and homemade foods. As the sun continued to shine, a traditional egg toss and salmon toss brought the entire community together for endless entertainment! Nate and I participated in the Salmon toss, but didn't make it far into the competition. I was rather disappointed I wasn't able to throw a fish at my husband more than a handful of times...slippery little suckers!

Kids winning carnival prizes, parents enjoying some adult conversations, beer and ice cream warming too quickly by the sun, the day continued with a canoe jousting competition. It is what you think, standing up and jousting from a canoe. Nate participated, but ended up cooling off in the salty bay!   
Silver canoe - Nate at the helm!
Nate & partner in the bay!
We enjoyed some low key sea kayaking the day we arrived and a group of sea otters welcomed us to Seldovia, included a mama and her pup! Mother Nature and Uncle Ted gave us the wonderful opportunity to experience sailing their 20 ft. Flicka sailboat both Saturday & Sunday out and around the bay. On Saturday, the winds were strong, dipping our starboard rail into the water, we clocked b/w 5.5-6.5 knots. Sunday we were becalmed and had to start the engine to get us back into the harbor. I ended up steering us back into the marina before Uncle Ted took the helm to the boat slip. Thanks Uncle Ted for letting me drive through the narrow channel!

A boardwalk once lined the Seldovia waterfront, but after the 1964 earthquake, the contours of Seldovia changed. Higher tides became common, and houses and businesses needed to be rebuilt due to flooding. The small town feel still remains and we hope to revisit Seldovia in the future!

Spending a couple days in Homer with cousins and looking forward to biking, the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitors Center and visiting local spots before thumbing it back to Anchorage on Wednesday!

For now,

p.s. Don't worry mom, we're not hitch-hiking back to Anchorage, just wanted to see if you were paying attention!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A to the K: Gyre Exhibit

Despite the rain, we don't really think about NOT going out to explore, but we do carry a dry pair of socks with us. Although I do miss the sun a bit, the landscape is still beautiful under the clouds. It's like being inside a snow globe at times.

We walked down the trail this morning and enjoyed a leisure breakfast at Elfinwood. On this rainy day, looking for something to do, we visited the Anchorage Museum and the Gyre Exhibit that will be on display for the next 2 months or so. The exhibit displays trash, in art form, found on beaches, awash from rotating ocean currents, stunning the visitors, myself included!  

This was a very powerful, sad and critical exhibit of how, as consumers, we're burying ourselves in trash, specifically plastics, and unconsciously destroying our existence. The things we consume and throw away have an incredible impact on our planet and its inhabitants. It's scary the things that man has created are also killing us! 

I shamefully admit, I recently purchased a Vitamin Water bottle. Then I lost sleep over what would happen to it after I threw it away or even recycled it. Where would it fall and remain? Three days later, I'm still using it and afraid to get rid of it. It's not that I cannot or should not use resources available to me, but I do know that using consumables wisely will reduce the impact on the environment and help my conscience feel more pure.

There is a documentary coming to the big screen that shares one species' story of The Pacific Gyre and how what people throw away is affecting the lives of Albatross birds - if this doesn't scare you, I don't know what will.

View the trailer: Midway - A Message from the Gyre 

A to the K: Day 3

Awaking to a second day of clouds and rain, we borrowed the family car and headed into downtown Anchorage for brunch at Gweenies.

The Sun (to scale)

We've also decided to make breweries part of our experience, so we located our first, King Street Brewery, for a local pint and filled a growler to take home for happy hour. The one server we met was really friendly, the beers were tasty (and inexpensive). We certainly recommend King Street Brewery for a pint and who can resist free popcorn!

We did our first Orienteering race at Ruth Arcand Park in Anchorage. It was a really fun (and very wet) experience for the both of us. We located 16 "controls" on a map and even came in first place in our category! Our names were in the local paper the following morning. Once home we warmed up our innards with lemon ginger hot totties before dinner - so perfect!

For now,