23 aug 11 north granite bay

A small craft advisory delayed our departure to Whittier and then kept us in the harbor for a day while we waited for the winds to die. The irony of this situation always occurs us – the wind is too strong for our sailboat, yet once the storm passes, we might not see more than a breeze and not sail at all. As always, we hoped that the wind would decrease from 25 mph and settle somewhere between 10 and 15 mph long enough to get us where we wanted to go.

Unfortunately for us, the wind settled at 10 from the East, the direction we have to go to leave Passage Canal and access Prince William Sound. Unless we wanted to spend hours tacking upwind, the motor would be required to get to an anchorage before dark. As we left the Canal, the wind had a northerly component and we raised the sales. The storm remained in the waves, however, and as we moved out into Wells Passage, the chop increased and it was too rough to keep wind in the sails. So we dropped the sails after a while and motored up Port Wells to North Granite Bay.

We hadn’t been to Granite Bay State Marine Park before. The clouds were low but we could appreciate the steep granite walls all around the bay. We’d been mentally prepared for a rainy weekend and thought this anchorage looked as good as any other to hang out, read, play games, and sleep late for a couple of days.

When the skies cleared the next day, we decided that it was also a good place to hike and explore by land and hang out in the sun. We also picked a couple of quarts of blueberries, and I kayaked around the island at the bay’s head. We had a beautiful day-and-a-half exploring the head of North Granite Bay.

The relaxation may have helped us to weather the mechanical storm that battered our return to Whittier. A few minutes after we started motoring away from our anchorage, the motor stalled and wouldn’t restart. We didn’t leave Granite Bay for another two hours while we considered every part of the fuel delivery. We dropped the anchor again and ate lunch half way through the process. Paul replaced the fuel filter eventually, a difficult task with the mount of the motor, and the motor started up again.

Another irony with sailing – the winds were good for a broad reach out of Port Wells but we didn’t dare turn off the motor. Paul did raise the jib to reduce the bouncing from the chop.

We were an hour out of Whittier when the motor stalled again and wouldn’t restart. Now Paul suspected water in the gas. He replaced the fuel filter again and stuck the fuel hose in the spare tank of gas. It took about an hour of starting and restarting the engine to run all the old fuel through. Then the motor ran strong back to the harbor. During that hour without a motor, an east breeze kept us in deep water in Passage Canal and we even raised the jib for when we could think about anything but the motor.

We’ve come a long way with this boat, especially this motor. No panicking this year (though strong language still has a role) when the motor stalls. No marital discord sparked by the frustration. Just calm problem solving and patience to find the problem. As the previous owner predicted, owning a boat has moved us beyond being a family to being a crew.

Here's the only other hiker/berry picker that we saw

12 aug 2011 biking smile

If only the cars got the same sign at their stop sign

A state advisory council that I used to be on had a 20 year reunion lunch at Kincaid Park on Friday. I was only working half a day so I decided to bike across town to the reunion. I could only weave a small portion of the Campbell Creek Creek greenbelt into the route so I hoped to link neighborhoods together and avoid the major arteries as much as possible.

Unfortunately, the Seward Highway forces bikers on to major roads to cross it here on the south side. As I pedaled along Dimond Boulevard, I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh's advice for walking meditation - smile slightly. I thought I'd try to be 'mindful' on my bike (could save my life) and I'd try to hold a smile (could reduce my stress on the busier streets). A couple of minutes into my biking meditation, a truck decided that he could wait for all the cars to pass before turning left but not for me. I didn't exactly grin at him, but my response was a little more low key than usual. I was similarly cut off another two or three times in the 25-mile round-trip, and each time I tried to channel TNH for a calm response.

During the garden tour, we happened upon a little greenbelt dedicated to Kathleen Joy Lowry and I was happy to incorporate that into the route. The gravel path follows a grassy drainage ditch between two neighborhoods and passes a small lily-covered pond with a covered observation deck. I pedaled through several neighborhoods that I'd never been in before.

a break at the deck in the Lowry greenbelt

The highlights of the trip were the usual for Anchorage town rides. A sunny summer day that seemed like heaven after a few days of August rains. A moose that just had to cross under Minnesota and would not be deterred. Smiling people walking and biking along the greenbelt paths. Nice, considerate, alert drivers who waited for me at cross walks. Despite the impatient drivers, I couldn't have picked a better way to spend half the day.

I felt marginally safer behind a clump of cow parsnip and a sign

31 jul 2011 bloomin' anchorage

Our tradition of biking the Anchorage Garden Tour on the last Sunday of July wasn't deterred this year by a little rain. Pam and Roger joined us for a third tour, and Rose was properly baptized by Mother Nature on her inaugural tour. The quality of the gardens was especially high this year, and the biking was as rewarding as ever. Five of the gardens were somewhat clustered near us on the south side of town. One outlier in Spenard had us hustling north to catch the last -- and best? -- before the close at 5:00. Instinct and Rose's prior residence in Spenard helped us to navigate several neighborhoods so we could avoid the larger roads most of the way. We ended the tour with a picnic in Spenard on a dry patch of grass under a spruce tree.