Saturday, September 4, 2010
I've been Thinking and then Some
This first picture is from the gravel bar in front of our boat landing, facing southeast at sunset. More about the gravel bar later.
It is usually trouble when I get to thinking but this time I "think" it is OK. You have heard me whine a few times about not having time to fish. Oops, sorry for whining. Here I am, sitting in my cabin in Alaska, living out a dream of a life time, and I have been whining about not fishing! Like I said, Oops. I will try to keep my head out of my back side and not complain about anything anymore.
It is a cold wet Saturday morning here. I am procrastinating from going outside to start work for the day. Catching up on the blog feels like an important thing to do at this moment.
I made a pot of coffee, put it in the thermos and set it by my recliner. Myra was still in bed (she just got up) and I have been doing emails and now the blog and enjoying a very quite and still time. Coffee, thermos, recliner, blanket on lap, laptop computer, went pee before I sat down, don't haven't had to get up for a while. Ah, Life is good.
For the last several days it has been nice weather (some evening showers only) and I / we have been working on the back porch. It is now under roof (metal roofing) and will be a dry place. We don't have any siding on it yet and have more work to do but at least we finished the roof last night before the rain hit again. Now the floor will start drying out. I dug a 5' deep by 3' wide 10' long trench under the porch when we started building it so we have access to get under it and the back of the cabin This way we can finish the pilings, dig a root cellar and insulate the floor of the cabin. I hope this pre-plan works out. We keep calling this a porch but it is really an un-heated addition to the cabin. It is 12' by 16' which is 75% of the size of the downstairs of the cabin, some porch huh. No pictures yet, either too dark or too wet when I think about taking them. (My little camera did dry out and start working again, I am trying to keep it that way.)
I have not had time to fix the ATV yet, (I could be doing it now but the blog seemed pretty important at the moment). It sets in the corner of the tarsp waiting on attention. The pressure switch on the water pump has quit working (shoot). I have bypassed the the switch for now and when we want water we have to turn on the faucet, connect the battery and hold the wire until "whatever" is full, then pull the wire off of the battery. It is a little tricky but we still get running water. I have to fix this soon. I have not finished piping in the fuel oil furnace or the water heater yet either. The porch has been priority one.
It is getting into the 30s regularly at night and is pretty chilly when we get up in the morning. It is too warm at bed time to build a fire in the wood burner and usually heats up too quick during the day to justify building a fire in the morning, so we just dress a little warmer and deal with the chill. We have built a fire a few times on cold wet days, and this may be one of those days. I need to get the Oil furnace hooked up so that we can smooth out the temperature swing a little bit. I hate the thought of using it because we have to haul the oil here and it is expensive etc. Also I don't want to get too comfortable and get lazy. The oil furnace was purchased primarily as a back up to the wood heat for when we leave during the winter, so we don't freeze the water, the canned goods and the cats. It will be nice at this part of the year though.
Well, I have been setting here drinking coffee long enough, be back in a moment.
OK, where was I? Side tracked, Myra has been chasing a mosquito, trying to clap it in her hands. She got it and is doing everything short of an end zone celebration dance. Congrates Babe, Good Job! (I could use the mosquito spray but watching her is a lot more fun, she thinks I have the automatic dispenser on, and its' just not working. I shut it off two weeks ago! Shhh, don't tell her.)
We had to put an extension on the rope at our landing to tie the boat to. The water level has dropped so far that the boat is way out from, what was, shore when we first got here. If the water level were to raise to the high point it was at a couple of weeks ago, with the rope it is tied to now, it would be in some trees down river, it would float so far. (35 to 40 feet plus)
The leaves of the under brush are changing color, mostly different shades of red, some yellow. The Birch trees just started to change, I noticed yesterday. We must get our town running done next week. Between the river level dropping and the trees starting to change we are going to be done traveling very soon. When the leaves begin to fall, we are told they will fall so heavy that the debris of leaves in the river will clog the jet propulsion unit on our boat. Even if the water level is high enough to travel, the boat will not be able to go. We do have, at least once a trip, stuff get picked up by the jet and plug it and we have to stop and clear it. One trip we had to do it about fifteen times because there was so much debris in the water during high water conditions. We're told we won't be able to make it a mile at a time when the leaves fall heavy. Can you imagine having to stop 63 times "one way" to clear the jet?
For those that don't know about jet propulsion on a boat, instead of using a propeller to move the water and push the boat, a Jet unit is a bit different. It sucks water in through a grate at a very high rate of speed and pushes the water out a tube in the back. This water pushing out of the tube is what moves the boat. The reason to use a "jet" unit is because it won't get damaged by all the rocks in the river or from hitting a sand or gravel bar, unless you hit really hard, directly on it, at high speed. Unlike a propeller which is revolving really fast and if it hits a rock it breaks. The intake grate on the jet unit is what becomes plugged with debris because it is sucking so much water it is like a vacuum to floating bark, sticks, leaves, cottonwood clumps etc. This is the downfall of the Jet.
Speaking of Cottonwood, you would not believe the quantity of cottonwood trees up here. There is so much cottonwood in the air it looks like snow, most of June and July. We actually had a "tourist" at a gas station ask us if we seen the snow a couple of miles back and we just laughed and said yea, you never know what the weather is going to do around here. The cottonwood gets so heavy in the river it creates balls the size of bowling balls in the eddies, then floats down the river. Every once in a while the Jet will grab one of those and we stop in a hurry. It is like you shut off the motor from full speed and the boat just stops going. To clear it we have to coast to the stop, shut off the motor, raise it out of the water and re-lower it. It usually falls off the grate and we start up again. To do this 60 times a trip because of leaves would really suck.
You have seen pictures of the river and the gravel bar out from our landing several times. Here is another new prospective.
I took the dogs on the boat and went out to the gravel bar the other night and went for a walk. The gravel bar which you have seen completely submerged now has 10 foot high edges at some points, it is over a quarter mile long and a couple hundred yards wide. Walking around on it was a very good learning experience. At the up river end of it, it is all gravel and rocks. It is very hard surface and easy to walk around on. All along the edges of it from near up river to the down river end you must be very cautious of your surroundings and the conditions. There is some muck areas that are dry enough to walk on. Then there are areas of sand, just like a lake Erie beach, a lot like masonry sand, not sugar sand like lake Michigan. The edges of the bar go up to as high as 10' (today) above water and some areas slope gently down into the river. The caution comes from never knowing what is under your feet. The areas down close to the waters edge can be like walking on any beach where your feet just sink in a little in the sand and water, to sand over muck and you drop into it instantly. Even up on the high part of the bar I walked into areas where it looked very dry and solid, and it was one step, then the next step there was no bottom. It would be a couple of inches of sand over muck that I went to my knees in. At one middle height area on the bar there is a water hole Hans walked up to and got a drink. He did not sink at all. Hans turned and walked away, Jeff walked up, vertually in Hans foot steps and Jeff dropped to his chest with no warning. You should have seen the look on his face. In another area I was walking the high part of the bar, I could see cracks in the sand a few feet back from the edge so I was walking about 10 to 15 feet from the edge. I heard a rumble behind me and turned to look just in time to see about 4 feet of the shore about 20 feet long fall into the river about 10 feet down.
For what it's worth, I had no idea what to expect and I have never talked to anyone up here about walking around on these gravel bars, I just wanted to explore. I had put on my waders, kept on my life jacket and was carrying an oar for a walking stick. I knew I was going to walk some of the edges of this gravel bar and a lot of people drown up here from not being prepared. I tried to be prepared, and I am glad I was.
I think Hans is going to be much better off in the snow than Jeff. He has the webbed feet of a huskey to support him and Jeff does not have that. The evidence was very clear by that water hole.
Oh, it is really a rainy cold day out there today. I have to stop typing. It's Saturday, do I have to go out and work today? Yep! First I think I'll build a fire in the wood stove.
Another Sunset, this one from on the gravel bar.
Talk to you soon.
See ya, Roger