Friday, November 30, 2012

Waiting for winter

Well, in the interest of keeping this blog somewhat current, I thought I'd make a post just to let everybody know what's going on, even if there hasn't been a whole lot of note happening.
It's now late November.  We've had a little snow this month, but it has alternated with rain so there's not a lot of snow on the ground.  There's nothing worse than clearing wet soggy snow in 34 degrees and rain. 
We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving.  Feral didn't seem to enjoy it as much as we thought she would--she's not normally allowed on the table.

We did have a bat eating insects keep us entertained as he flew along the boardwalk for a couple hours.

We've had a lot of Marten activity.  This is a photo Jen took of the guy who hangs around the dock.  There are now at least three living in Christine's store (about half a mile from us).  We've been working with Keith and Jackie (the town caretakers) to try to get them out of the store and relocated.  We can't see how they're getting in, but they're having a hell of a time ripping things up in the store.
We have a room we use as a walk-in refrigerator that we call the "cold room".  It's actually a mud room that attaches to the kitchen.  There is a screen door to the outside that has sort of a faulty latch.  One evening, I heard a thump from the cold room and went in to check.  By the time I got the door open, the marten was outside on the steps looking back at me as I started picking up my leftover halibut enchiladas.  We are trying to keep a better eye on the latch, but a few days later we found 4 hard-boiled eggs missing from the carton.  A few days after that, I went to grab a flour tortilla and discovered that the whole package had gone awol.
Baking day before a dinner with our neighbors Christine and town caretakers Keith and Jackie.

Sourdough bread and rhubarb/blueberry pie.

Jen showing off her winter supply of popcorn.

This is an early shot of our woodpile....can't have too many wood photos!

This low-res photo won't make Jen the perfectionist happy, but demonstrates the technique of paddling by brail.  I've never gotten lost using this method, although the shore side paddle can get a little beat up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rick and Jen November Update

If you get our email updates, you have already seen most of these photos.  The upload changed the order, and I don't know if I'm going to take the time to reorganize them, so there might be some jumping around from subject to subject.
Jen and I are caretaking the Baranof Wilderness Lodge in Warm Springs Bay.  The bay is on the opposite side of Baranof Island from Sitka.  It's about 20 miles across the island--we came by boat, which is a 90 nautical mile trip.  Our caretaking duties run from early October until around May 1.
Baranof is a small community of cabins located near a fantastic waterfall and incredible natural hotsprings.  There is a nice boardwalk, public bath house, and trails to both Baranof and Sadie Lakes.
This is the lodge on one of our beautiful October days.  We had an unusually dry October and took advantage of it to prepare the lodge for winter and lay in a good supply of firewood.
 Towing logs back to the lodge from one of the small bays out on Chatham Strait.  Towing logs is a lot like herding cats....there's no way to tell which way they're going to go. 

 Once the logs are back to the lodge, Jen single-handedly pulls them up the beach.  We try to arrive at high tide so we can float them up as high as possible.  This keeps them as dry as possible and minimizes the distance we have to carry the rounds to the woodshed.

 As the tide goes out, I can use the chainsaw to cut the logs to size.  Sometimes I'm cutting and carrying the rounds up the beach just ahead of the incoming tide--it can really move!

It was such an unusual treat to be able to cut and split wood in sunshine!

Only with proper supervision of course......
Jen occasionally steals my old coveralls and shows me how to do it.  She'll take an hour to split a round and then go back to editing her photos inside.  She's an excellent stacker, however, and loves to carry firewood!  She really loves the wood chips that come inside with a load of firewood too!

 Jen had to finish up some flying and training in early October.  Feral and I rode over to the bay with Blain and Monique on Sailboat Bob (along with all our "stuff").  When Jen flew in a few weeks later, she brought our absentee ballots.  John waited patiently while we voted so he could take the ballots back to Sitka with him.

 We had short bouts of normal October weather.  There was one long weekend when we had almost 11 inches of rain in 4 days.  Sadie Creek provides our drinking water and power for our hydro-electric plant, and it was really running after all that rain.

 We've had a couple pretty good snowfalls already.  Baranof is known as a "snow hole" with a micro climate that gets much more snow than many other places in the area.  This morning (November 19) it's still snowing and has been for about 36 hours with snow in the forecast for the next week.

When the snow gets serious, we have two great Honda snowblowers to deal with it.
 When we start to run low on yogurt, we make up a couple gallons of it--it's really easy!

The oven here at the lodge has a pilot light that turns the oven into the perfect yogurt incubator.

We have lots of other chores to keep us busy--burning trash,

putting a new hand line on a steep section of the trail up to our hydro intake (note--this isn't the steep part!),

one of my favorite projects--putting up lights on a steeply pitched roof!

Getting in that "Redrum" frame of mind......

Our neighbor Christine flew out for a visit with her daughters in Oregon.

When the plane comes in, we get a chance to pick up supplies from Sitka.

This was our haul, along with some trash from town to burn in the wheelbarrow.

We did hike up to the "overview" up by the lake.  From this spot, you can see Baranof Lake, Warm Springs Bay, and Chatham Strait.

Feral Bueller, waiting for something to move in the grass below the boardwalk.

She has very sensitive paws, so she likes us to shovel a path through the snow for her.

Halloween.....Feral's favorite holiday!

OK--maybe she's not too happy with this outfit--just keep your fingers away from her claws!
Feral the Meowmaid

On lookout duty!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back to Baranof

Jen and I are caretaking this winter at the Baranof Wilderness Lodge in Warm Springs Bay.  Jen tells me this is our 6th winter caretaking here in the last 9 years.  Where does the time go?  We are on the east side of Baranof, Sitka is on the west side.  Although it is only 20 miles as the crow flies from Sitka, by boat it is a 90 nautical mile trip up the outer coast, into Peril Strait, and then down Chatham Strait to the bay.
 We're here for about 7 months and we try to bring all our supplies with us as it is expensive to have groceries delivered by floatplane and even then, the floatplanes frequently can't get in because of weather, usually when we have groceries in Sitka waiting to come over.  So, here we are in the parking lot of the North Seattle Costco, loading the latest batch of supplies into the trusy Town Car.
 The supplies are then air freighted to Sitka on Alaska Airlines.  Jen gets a last chance to frollick with her "stuff" before loading it into boxes for the trip over.  Once at the bay, we usually can't find anything anyway.  We've been looking for a 10-foot curtain rod and a camera strap that somehow disappeared between the Condo Nasty and the lodge.
 Jen's personal assistant loads then the stuff into the Bobmobile for delivery to the harbor.  I have to admit that the Diet Pepsi is for the personal assistant.  It's actually not our Bobmobile anymore, but Blain and Monique made a serious error in judgement in allowing us to borrow it. 
 They then compounded that error by agreeing in a moment of weakness to transport all our stuff over to the lodge....a long day on the water.  We loaded the boat for about a week while Blain and Mo were trying to live on it.  The last minute stuff came on about 4 AM on October 5.  Jen had a few more trips to work, so Feral and I were the only passengers.  We had an ontime departure of 6 AM.
 Did I mention that Feral doesn't like dogs?  Luckily, she and Chance got along alright once it got light.  She's trying to sneak away while Chance smiles for the camera.
 Feral likes to navigate and do radio watches.
 On the other hand, Blain likes to practice splicing double braid line.  This splice took him about 3 days, but he saved the $9 he would have had to pay to have a professional do it.
 Mo trying to get some work done for her day job, hemmed in by all our designer boxes.
 Coming into Warm Springs Bay around 4 PM.  You can barely see Baranof's famous waterfall on the right side of the photo.
 Tied up to the lodge dock the next morning.
 We had a fantastic stretch of weather--so good Sailboat Bob had a perfect day to dry the mainsail.
 Mo and Sally fighting over can see we're going to run short!
 Mike was more interested in the last fresh Dungeness crab he'll have until he comes back in the spring.
 Our friend John has a cabin in the bay and came over to help me take all our stuff up to the lodge.
 Luckily, the tide was high and the boardwalk dry (not the normal circumstance for loading or unloading).
 It took a day to get all the boxes up to the lodge and get them organized, then I was able to take advantage of the relatively high tides to tow some beach logs back to the lodge for firewood the next day.
 Speaking of tides, we have a range of about 25 feet on the maximum tides.  Note the level of piling here at high tide.
 Now note the level of the piling about six hours later at low tide.
 Feral enjoys one of the best scratching posts in the world!
 Another example of high tide along the beachfront.  The first building is a greenhouse and some of the guest cabins are visible in the background.  Several of the lodge's skiffs are also beached for the winter.
 Here's the same beach at low tide--lots more ground to roam.
 Jen arrived on the 17th of October, a little behind schedule.  She had to make an emergency run to Seattle to see her dentist about some cracked teeth, before flying in by floatplane.  She is considering another part-time job as a fashion consultant.
She gets so angry with a maul in her hands.....I usually stay safely up on the boardwalk until she cuts, splits, and stacks all the wood.  She's always asking the question I haven't figured out the right answer to, "Do these coveralls make my butt look big?".