Snettisham 2015 - 3: Week #1
  June 20-26


A persistent theme...


Whew, I am tired! But, tired in a good way, not discouraged or weary. This is the first (of four) cabin trips I’ve made this summer during which I did not arrive thoroughly exhausted and not sure if I could accomplish anything. The Taku trip last weekend seemed to be a turning point…though I was tired, I persevered and, as soon as I started tramping around, quickly regained my adventure energy. By the end of the weekend (nearly three full days) I was in good adventure shape. Despite a poor start to my sleep schedule (having arrived home at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning), I feel energetic—at least for tomorrow. It’s 7:24 p.m. now on a Saturday and having Friday to prep and much of a Saturday to finalize prep work and even relax a little doesn’t hurt. Yesterday afternoon the Southeast HughesNet representative flew to town and trained us on how to put together and set up satellite internet. This was the culmination of several months of ordering, emails, and confusion about what exactly I needed. The four hours of training were intense as I helped put together the equipment (mounted on a pallet), transported it to Little Blue where we could see the satellite (too many trees at my house), pointed the satellite, and set up the modem. Most of the time I thought there was no way I was ever going to get that working down here, but by the end, I saw that (once put together) there really wasn’t that much equipment and I hardly had to take anything apart to transport it.

I timed my departure to arrive on a nice 15 something high tide at 5:00 p.m. I spent all yesterday morning running errands (Western Auto, Fred Myer’s, Valley Paint, Petco). This morning I finished setting up the large mew for Baxter the baby crow, took the satellite dish off the mounts on the pallet, took a large load of gear and gas to the harbor, and stopped by the store. Then I had a couple of hours to have tea and leisurely finish packing and cleaning the house. Chris helped me haul all the gear to the harbor. We walked the dish down together, then he took all the rest of the gear while I went in search of a parking spot, since everything was full due to the Gold Rush carnival nearby. It took a little longer to load than expected, but I was finally underway at 2:44. The breeze at the harbor had me nervous, but for once I wasn’t in a hurry and felt the pleasant confidence that the mid-summer lull brings to boat travel; chances are it wouldn’t be a scary ride, even if there were seas. The skies were mostly overcast with soft gray clouds.

There was a tiny chop in the channel, but we were able to be up to speed. Poor Cailey suffered because I’d forgotten her boat blankets (and my watch and charging cable to connect my phone to my portable charger—hopefully the only three things I forgot) and because the satellite dish in the back didn’t give her much room. At the end of the channel I finally gave in and put down one of the clean (human) blankets on pads on the floor for her, up against the edge of the dish, and she laid down on those for most of the trip. Crossing to Arden was nice, especially just before we passed it, apparently because we were in the lee from the nasty southwesterly just around the corner. The seas were no more than a foot high, but almost as tightly spaced as the northerlies that come out of the Taku. Even at the slowest speed possible I still sloshed into about every third wave enough to kick up a big spray, as we were quartering them off the starboard bow. Did the satellite get wet' I’m afraid there was no avoiding it. Eventually, we turned into them and headed for the tip of Grand Island, which made the splashing better and allowed us a brief respite in its lee before hitting the seas again, though thankfully more head on than they were north of Grand. It took an hour and a half to get to Taku Harbor, the half way point.

I was kicking up a lot of spray, so I thought I’d try raising the engine (it was down to help me push through the waves). That actually made things better and we slowly worked our way south. Round about Limestone Inlet, I could see a change in the water ahead of me….it looked smooth and, sure enough, it suddenly calmed right down and the water was terrific. We got back up to speed, very grateful for the mild day and the sudden calm. It picked up a little around Seal Rocks and the entrance to the Port, but we mostly stayed up to speed and arrived just after high tide.

I was relaxed and prepared, changing into my waders before pulling up to shore to enable easier unpacking (my boots are leaky). I didn’t want anything to go wrong with the satellite dish. It was the last thing I took off the boat, carrying it straight up the lodge and returning with the kayak. Cailey had had a rough day (actually two days, since we missed her walk yesterday on account of the errands and the training), and seemed content to stay on shore, so I left her there. She didn’t seem stressed at all. Once back on shore it took me about eight loads to get everything to the lodge. I opened up and lit the pilots, then carried a couple tubs of water back outside to rinse off the satellite dish. I figured if it is meant to sit out in any weather, it won’t hurt it to get wet, but I shouldn’t leave salt water on it. The radio, tucked between two blankets in a garbage bag, seems to have fared well and, along with the modem, did not get wet.

I was disappointed to smell mouse when I walked in the lodge and found an empty chocolate wrapper, dog treat bag, and granola bar, not to mention mouse dirt and four dead mice in the bucket. I soon discovered that not all of them had perished and I’m currently listening to and watching a large brown deer mouse running all over the place. They had chewed and/or pushed through the tin foil I’d jammed in the hole where the sink drains and he has twice been to where I re-plugged it this evening trying to get out. So, I just opened it up; that way perhaps he can just get out and stay out' It might be better to catch him and move him so he doesn’t try to get clever, but we’ll see. He’s gone around the rim of the bucket (with dog food in it) twice but didn’t go in. One of the first times I saw him he was trying to chew into Cailey’s new dog food!

So I swept and cleaned up after mice, unpacked a little, fed Cailey, and had dinner. UPDATE: Mouse is out and the hole is plugged. Let’s hope this is the end of it. Tomorrow I will get down some hardware cloth from the attic and make a more permanent solution, though I really wish I’d brought down my stable gun. In the meantime, all food is in the (hopefully) mouseproof tote.

I guess there isn’t much more to say tonight! I think it is time for me to unwind. Oh, one other thing; this mouse was making crazy, rattle-grunting sounds I don’t remember ever hearing a mouse make! He made the sound all over the place, and it was enhanced in places where the vibration could travel like inside the range or next to a metal cookie sheet. It is difficult to describe; I’ll have to look it up later.


Assembling the system in Juneau

The dish is taking up Cailey's favored spot

Trail through the salmonberries

Well, today is going better than yesterday, which left something to be desired….specifically, satellite internet. I had a cup of Russian tea on the porch looking out at a lovely cloudy day. The first step in setting up the system was to figure out where exactly on the front wall of the lodge I should put up the mounts. I brought up a step ladder, measured the dish, and set to work finding the appropriate stud; I selected the one just downriver of center. While I was there I figured I’d better just check and make sure that the dish could see the satellite, tucked under the roof as it was. I brought out the angle measure that Brian (the HughesNet rep) had left with me and raised it up to 25 degrees. It was right through the roof. I double checked a couple of times, but there was no question: the dish would have to be mounted on a pole like up the Taku.

Well, no matter, I could still test it out. In Juneau we’d mounted it on a pallet; I didn’t have a pallet here, but I did have plenty of lumber around, so I joined a 4’ 2x12 with a long 2x4 in a cross by nailing them to a small piece that connected them. Then I unwrapped the tripod mount system and screwed it in securely using roofing screws. I managed to loosen all the appropriate bolts and secure everything together, then adjusted the length of the two braces until the main pole was nice and plumb. I dropped the dish on top and, at some point, mounted the radio in front.

Next step: power. The “power supply” that HughesNet provided had leads for the battery that were only about a foot long, wholly inadequate, so I’d purchased appropriately-gaged wire and connectors. First I thought it would be wise to make sure these connectors were big enough to fit over the terminals on the new battery I’d purchased for this system. I’d meant to do that in town, but once I glanced at the terminals and saw how thin they were I figured that surely my connectors would work. Well, one of them did, but the positive terminal was a bit too thick; my connector could almost screw its way down, but not quite. I tried several methods of widening the hole and finally wound up using a chain saw chain sharpener to file it away. This worked pretty well and soon it was sliding nicely over the terminal. Apparently I’d purchased some pretty robust connectors, though, as no pliers or other pinching devices would crimp them closed over the wires; however, a hammer worked just fine. Finally, I sat down on the couch and spliced in the extra wire. Out on the porch, I secured my new connectors to the battery; these connected to the “power supply” converter, and that to the modem. Nothing happened. I checked and tightened connections. Still nothing.

Well. The system could have failed in a number of ways. If it was the power supply, I was entirely out of luck. It could be any of the connections I’d made in the wiring, or it could be the battery. I’d been assured by the salesman at Western Auto that the battery was charged, but I hadn’t actually checked. Although that seemed the least likely problem, it was the easiest to check, so I started there. Not knowing if it was charged, I brought over the river boat’s battery (which runs the bilge pump) and hooked up the connectors to that. Blink! The blue power light went on on the modem. Only four more lights to go!

The next one was easy: I hooked up my laptop and BLINK, the LAN light went on. This was going really well! The next step was to position the satellite. I opened IE and navigated my way by memory to the “signal strength” page. It showed a strength of 29……everywhere I pointed the satellite. Hmmm……it should be changing. The dish was on the top porch of the lodge and all the way back toward the wall—maybe it wasn’t picking up satellites at all' I scooted it as far forward as I could and tried again and suddenly the numbers were changing! I found the horizontal sweet spot, then changed the angle until I got the highest number I could (about 78 I think), and then was really surprised at how much better the signal got when I rotated the dish itself. I wound up with a steady signal of 83, and felt pretty good about that. I could try for more later, but that should definitely let me try it out. Sure enough, the “receive” light was bright blue on the modem.
 
But the “transmit” light didn’t come on, so there must be another step. The web page was telling me to go on, so I went to the transmit test page and clicked on the “manual” button. We hadn’t spent a lot of time on this popup in Juneau, as it was working just fine then; I just remember that Brian said it needed to be blinking “pass” most of the time for it to work. I watched it steadily blink “FAIL” instead, and the number in the middle held at 39. I wasn’t sure if that number was related to the signal strength or not, especially since 39 was a far cry from 83 (I checked and verified that the incoming signal strength had not changed). I managed to find some instruction in the volumes of files I’d received from HughesNet and read the troubleshooting notes on site, both of which said that during the “manual” transmit test I should make fine tune adjustments to the dish in order to maximize the signal.

Still not exactly sure what I was doing, I figured I might as well try adjusting it—after all, I was confident I could find that 83 signal sweet spot again if I messed things up. So I rotated and shifted and, eventually, saw results. I got it into the 40s and 50s with the horizontal and angle axes, and again it was rotating the dish which made all the difference. I finally saw the number switch to 60 and the word “PASS” blink momentarily and knew I was at least making progress. Eventually I got it to hold in the 60s with an occasional 70 and almost constant passes. I finally remembered to click the “automatic” button which only sends one signal to test the system, and got a pass there too. And, sure enough, for a few minutes anyway, the transmit light blinked on on the modem. But there was still one light to go—the system light, the light that only comes on when all the other lights are on and everything is working. It remained off, and no web pages loaded. And the transmit signal periodically died.

It was disappointing, but not as disappointing as when I moved the whole dish system to the lower deck in case that helped (the HughesNet site was suddenly telling me that my signal strength was 0). I went through the whole process again with identical results. The diagnostics on the site indicated that the TCP acceleration status was failing, which meant nothing to me. It’s only trouble shooting ideas were to wait a few minutes for it to work and “power-cycling.” I didn’t know what power-cycling was, and couldn’t find reference to it in all my reference documents. If only I had the internet to look it up…! I thought it might mean turning the system off and on again, so I tried that, to no avail. And so I waited, and waited, while the battery on my lap top diminished along with my spirits. It didn’t help that navigating between pages on the site had become intolerably slow, taking 30-70 seconds to load. And then I gave up, totally disheartened. It was the middle of the afternoon and I had a big cup of wine and moped on the porch reading Peter Matthiessen’s The Birds of Heaven. His deeply discouraged feelings about the unstoppable destruction of the planet exactly mirror my own, and seemed fitting for my mood.  

I read for a quite a while, then decided I’d better try it again. I went through the whole process again with exactly the same results. Somehow it was even worse failing the second time, although I hadn’t had high hopes. By then it was 5:30 and we were hungry, not having had much in the way of lunch. I think Cailey fled for a little while due to my bad mood (though I wasn’t taking it out on her) while I made some vegetarian grain patties and cooked them up and ate them, slightly burnt, with half a can of cold peas. Although it was, by all accounts, a lovely evening, I hid inside trying to ignore the interesting sounds going on outside. A hermit thrush tried hard to cheer me up, but failed, and I even felt a little testy toward a ruby-crowned kinglet who was considering being alarmed outside.

I read a little more, and then fetched a piece of plywood from the shed and began working on a hand-cut puzzle my mother had bought for my birthday of an incredibly intricate Dutch painting and the pieces are a delight. Not only are they thick and wooden, but their designs are more variable than normal puzzles and completely charm me by including lots of animal and other figures. Many of the straight sides are actually in the middle of the puzzle, too. I laid on the couch with a quilt over my legs and worked on it while Cailey curled up at my feet. I kept at it until the light got too dim and I got up for some instant oatmeal and a headlamp. Discovering to my surprise that it was already 9:30, I went to bed instead.


The system set up on the porch

And then down on the deck

Transmit signals PASSES....

...but my TCP acceleration status fails...

And managed to sleep pretty well, dreaming that an old dog walking friend was coming back to town for 18 months of the year (I puzzled over that in dream land too). It was a perfectly lovely day when I finally stirred at 7:30 and I couldn’t help but feel better. In fact, despite the setbacks of the day before, I still felt better than I had on my previous trips here this year. So much so, in fact, that I actually fell back into my usual MO of grabbing a quick snack (a banana in this case) and getting right to work. In this case, I finished fixing the water pipe between the filters and the sink at Mink cabin. Discovering that the fitting I’d brought over was the one that broke the last time I was here, I returned to the lodge and picked up blankets and paper towels for the cabins, delivering those afterwards.

Then I really got to work. I’d finally bought clear coat for the outsides of the cabins, it being three years (') since the last coating. However, the helpful guy at Valley Paint said not to cover them again if it hadn’t worn off or it wouldn’t adhere (not to mention that it wouldn’t be necessary). So, the first step was to rinse the cabins off, not just to clean them, but to see where the water beaded up. I carried the hose from under the lodge over to Cottonwood and got to work rinsing and checking. It turns out that they’re in pretty good shape. Only the bottom logs on some of the walls of Cottonwood need a recoat, and the same was with Mink. While at Mink I noticed all the algae growing on the front porch and, since I had the hose right there, went back for a scrub brush and some simple green to clean it up. I did the same at Harbor Seal and Hermit Thrush, also cleaning off the dirt splatter on the latter two. On all cabins except the back wall of Hermit Thrush, no ladder will be needed to clear coat where it’s worn off. This is good fortune!

I had another snack at the lodge and went into the attic to retrieve some hardware cloth to more permanently close up the sink’s drain hole where the mice are coming in (last night a mouse tried a couple of times to come in, but failed). Now I want to close it up from the outside so he can’t get in the walls. Then I did my COASST survey, again noting a lot of eagle activity. Friday night I watched a lot of commotion down river, which I didn’t fully understand. An immature eagle wound up perched low to the ground 50 yards downriver and was attacked by a diving adult. That made sense, but another adult came in from behind the lodge, which didn’t seem to be one of the residents, and flew under the nest. There had already been a lot of squawking and other adults around, and earlier I’d seen an eagle swimming under the nest. Maybe there was prey attracting them. Last night there was a lot more commotion, and this morning, I flushed a juvenile from under the nest as I walked by, which perched on the next point down. An adult from the nest flew after him and pulled up just before reaching the point; another adult followed and dove on the immature, but pulled back before contact. I thought there was a third adult there too, just to confuse things, but it’s possible I misunderstood that, as I was looking at the nest with binoculars to see if one landed back in it. Instead, both adults landed side by side on a perch nearby and called together. An immature was riding the thermals above them. I am heartened by the continued use of the nest, hoping that there is at least one nestling in there.

The seals have also been very active. Friday night I kept hearing loud banging noises while lying in bed, which might have been splashes, so dramatic that I finally got out of bed and walked down to the point (in my underwear) to check it out. Sure enough, there were splashing seals on the river. This morning at low tide they’ve been resting on a submerged sandbar across the river and making very loud sounds. There has also been a whale or two in the inlet every day I’ve been here, which is always a joy. I hope to go kayaking at high tide tonight. The inlet was flat calm this morning…such a joy to see that in this windy summer, but I opted for work (and I like to kayak when Cailey is worn out, rather than first thing in the morning when she has lots of energy).

Other bird life has been fairly quiet. Here are the folks I’ve been hearing regularly around the lodge: hermit thrush (one downriver, must be another I hear in my cabin, and some are coming through the salmonberries that might be fledglings), varied thrush, orange-crowned warbler (downriver to in front of the lodge), Townsend’s warbler, crows, jays, Pacific-slope flycatchers, and at least a half dozen hummingbirds if not more, some fledglings among them if their friendliness and curiosity here and everywhere I am on the property is any indication. Friday night both at the lodge and at my cabin I heard a Swainson’s thrush like song many times, the only unusual thing being that it didn’t rise quite so much but sort of spiraled on the same pitch. It made me wonder if the one I thought I might have heard last year was the same sort of song. I don’t know what else it could be, and I haven’t heard it since. It’s not nearly 1:00. Not sure what’s next!

Well, what I wound up doing next was cleaning under the lodge. This was unexpected, though something I’ve wanted done for some time, though never articulated. The area under the lodge is a great place to store things—and not just kayaks and firewood, but tarps, and even lumber. But the tarps started to stick out, and there was all that cardboard I’d saved for outdoor fires that had decayed and possibly been chewed up by wildlife. Long story short, I started cleaning it out, first pulling out the cardboard, then the plastic paint drops nearby, then other sundry items, until there was just the old rubber inflatable raft I’d entirely forgotten about. It might even be watertight for all I know! I wound up shoving the tarps farther up under the floor and over the raft, moved the metal flashing and peak caps under (they’d been laying on the ground next to the building), and moved the black plastic pipes that had been clustered at the edge of the deck up below the raft, which should make more room for the kayaks. I also crawled under the porch and shoved out all the foam pieces that had broken up down there (I think they must be meant to go under corrugated roofing, but I don’t remember anything about them). I then organized all the plywood and other wood pieces under that side, eventually pulling the kayak Kooshdaa onto the deck so I could work (and so I could later clean it). Long story short, I moved the huge 6x8 under the lodge and out of sight and moved the full piece of plywood that has been leaning against the building for ages under the porch behind the firewood. I also removed the screws and nails from several pieces of plywood that had been shoved under there or leaned against the side and stacked them all neatly. By the time I was done, I had nothing leaned against the lodge for the first time since it was erected. I’ve always been disheartened by all that leaning wood along with the green garden fencing, the ladders, the grill, and the 4x4 concrete foundation post. Now all of that is tidied up.

This was a time consuming process and it was already 4:00 or so. I walked to the freshet for a beer and drank it on the rocky point, wondering whether the wind was going to die down for a kayak at high tide in an hour. I went back to the lodge and finished the puzzle (so much fun!), then fed Cailey and left her in the lodge while I paddled and drifted around the inlet for a while, alas with no whale, but with such an astonishingly beautiful view in all directions. Early summer calm, flat water on in the inlet, warm green folds in the mountain, three different hermit thrushes singing from shore. Seals watched me.

When I got back I decided to clear coat the cabins, as they were dry and I’d been gifted more rainless weather (which could change at any time). I took a little bucket of stain to Cottonwood along with my drawing showing which sides needed what covering, and got to work. Two more trips for stain and an hour and 20 minutes later and I was done for this year, at least for now. It feels good to actually work on the cabins, staining, scrubbing the decks, etc. I never realize until later that some of my stress here is guilt about their neglect, but working on them alleviates that and makes me feel connected to them and to this place in a wonderful way. In less than a month I am scheduled to have nearly a full house again, so I am happy to get the place more visitor-friendly. By then it was 7:30 and I quit for the day, frying up several slices of the bison roast I’d brought along for my protein needs. I ate it with red wine on the porch overlooking the stunning, serene inlet, then retired inside to finish The Birds of Heaven.


Functional water system at Mink

Toast!

Yarrow and muched grass

Near the grassy point

Tidy under the lodge

Nigel Cottonwood

Nigel Cottonwood is beginning to put out branches!

Hermit Thrush after clearcoating a little

Puzzle!

Kayaking

Serene inlet

Makeshift mouse barrier

It’s a day later, a day of small chores, and it doesn’t feel like I accomplished very much, though surely I did. I continued checking off small tasks that I never commit to while here for short weekends starting (after a breakfast of instant oatmeal and toast) with replacing or repairing the asphalt shingle squares on the boardwalk by the lodge. Two were broken and replaced entirely and a third had pulled loose from its nails and was renailed to the boardwalk. I’ve been meaning to do that for some time, and found the spare shingles under the lodge yesterday.

While reading last evening in the lodge, I heard mouse feet on metal nearby and looked up in the unlikely chance that he was actually trying to get into the lodge from around the chimney. Sure enough, there he was standing on the stove pipe! The little devil! I clapped my hands and startled him outside again, then promptly got to work covering the opening around the pipe inside (the throughput fitting is meant for an insulated stove pipe, so mine is too small to fill the gap). I should have known, given that I’d seen a gap in the insulation stuffed inside earlier in the week. I even saw him standing outside as I started work! I cut a piece of hardware cloth awkwardly and fitted it over the opening, securing it and closing gaps with masking tape. It was getting late and that was the best I could do. It looked pretty secure. So, I was a bit disappointed this morning when I saw that my fastbreak bar and my fancy chocolate bar were nibbled. So my next task after working on the boardwalk was to close up the hole from the outside. I pulled out the last piece of hardware cloth from the attic, cut a circle in the middle for the stove pipe, and set up the ladder to fit it. I did a bit more trimming, then taped it on with duct tape and filled the tiny gaps (surely too small for a mouse, but best be careful) with smaller pieces of hardware cloth and more tape. It looked pretty good and I was hopeful it did the job. I also put a tiny bit of spiky hardware cloth in the one possibly entrance to the hole where the propane enters the building, just in case. Other than the drain pipe, which appeared undisturbed, it was the only other opening I could come up with.

And with that it was time for more hose action. I retrieved it from Hermit Thrush and hooked it up at the lodge, using it first to scrub the back porch and the bottom of the lodge walls nearby, both of which were quite green with algae. Then I moved to the front porch where I pulled out the other two kayaks (Keet and Taan) and scrubbed them all. Some of the dirt was from sitting under the lodge, but a lot of it was silt from previous adventures that had dried and accumulated in wet pockets. After they were all clean I installed a second seat on Kooshdaa, put together the replacement paddle that Myron gave me last winter, tied a rope onto Kooshdaa, and put them (easily) back under the lodge with the appropriate contingent of paddles. All scuppers are in place, and they are now clean and ready for guests. Later I hauled the hose up to the outhouse and cleaned the two small sections of the front wall inside that have never been painted—another long postponed task I might yet accomplish this week.

The day was clear and hot. Just yesterday I was considering how I enjoyed the fine weather, but that it must be slightly overcast or something (though not noticeably) because I wasn’t numbed by the bright heat. Well, today was a bright heat day. As has been the case every day so far, the morning was calm, following by a breezy day, which died down as the sun dropped behind the mountain around 5:00. In the meantime, I wandered downriver in the sun and selected the place to plant my latest cottonwood start which overwintered in my garden in Juneau, and which was cut late last summer from my friend the cottonwood at Taku Lodge. The location is just downriver of the Sitka alder nearby and seemed to be an area of less dense vegetation which had a rise of bare ground beneath the branches of salmonberries and gray currents.

Which brought me to an early lunch of quesadillas on the porch, still thankfully in some shade. The bugs had picked up enough in the morning to warrant a little off while I was cleaning the kayaks, but apparently the wind dispersed them and I needed no more the rest of the day. I rested a bit after lunch (enjoyed with my second Molson golden of the trip). Before I coiled it up, I used the hose for one last thing: cleaning the plastic paint covers I dug out from under the house and rinsing them off for future use in staining the inside of the cabins. I laid these on the front porch to dry in the sunshine. I also finished clearing the downriver side of the lodge, which was now free of plywood and other sundry items. The only thing that remained was an old cut log that was rotting along the front half. I drug what came off into the woods, then removed the rest of the rotting pieces by hand until at last the area was clear. No one else will appreciate this, but it finally looks civilized! Then I returned to the cottonwood planting site with clippers and a trowel and cleared the area, with what I hope is minimal impact to the native inhabitants. It seems like a good area and now has plenty of sunshine. My biggest fear is a bear trampling it, as there seems to be a natural (or perhaps bear-created) gap in the edge of the currents there, which is partly what led me in that direction. I returned shortly thereafter with the cottonwood and a cup of water and planted it.

Sweltering from the heat, I headed inside and read a little bit on the couch. All day I’d been feeling a little off and not at all like working, so I allowed myself a little indulgence. After all, I was on vacation. I’d started reading Silent Spring last night, and today added The Barrakee Mystery by Arthur Upfield to my reading options, the first in the series about an Australian Aborigine which inspired one of my favorite authors, Toni Hillerman, to write his magnificent mystery series set on and around the Navajo reservation. While doing so I was grimly disappointed to hear mouse scamperings and to presently see Big Brown scittering around the room. I didn’t see where he came from but, if my efforts had been successful this morning, it meant that he’d overnighted inside, possibly behind the siding in the walls. After he retired into the range I finally tackled a task I’d been putting off and putting off, to my increasing stress and annoyance: I would have to wash every dish in the lodge to ensure that I wasn’t eating something contaminated by mouse. His highway went right through the dishes and over the silverware and I’d first caught sight of him while munching on something (which I’m pretty sure turned out to be granola bar) in the desk which holds the dishes.

So, three or four tea kettles of boiling water later, I’d washed everything. Despite my turning on the oven, Big Brown remained inside until I was nearly finished, then retired to the wood stack. More determined to catch him than ever, I again resorted to the bucket. Perhaps he, bigger than the other four that died, could jump out of the bucket' The solution: water. But how do you seed a soggy bucket with food' I put a rock in the middle of half an inch of water and sprinkled it with some dog food, chocolate, and peanut butter. I also put peanut butter on the edge of the bucket. Before I’d even settled into another task, Big Brown was scampering around again. I was initially disappointed to see him hardly stop at the bucket, but he was soon back after running through the food area and seemed keen to find something, probably the peanut butter. Finally, he scurried to the top of the bucket and plunged in. I was there in an instant, covering the top with a cutting board, and hustled out the door. Well across the creek I removed the lid and found him looking at me with those unnervingly huge, black eyes from the rock in the middle. I released him, dropped off the food, and returned to the lodge. At this point he could easily jump the stream, but hopefully he won’t, or my ministrations will be sufficient to keep him out. As I’m writing this I keep hearing terrifying sounds from above, but so far there has been no mouse peering out. Squirrels I hope..'

I did read a little more after that, I think, then did a few other tasks, including adding a handle to the top of the shed door where I pull it shut (I found the handle while looking, unsuccessfully, for a latch to add to the lodge outhouse door), took the plastic drops and the polyurethane to Cottonwood and moved everything away from the walls in preparation of painting tomorrow, and raked on both sides of the lodge. I also nailed in the “triangle deck” which is the upriver section of deck that I added after the main rectangle of deck was complete, but apparently never fully nailed in the boards. I also stripped and took a quick bath in the calm bathing pool (currently sporting no upstream waterfall due to the low flows) and dried out in the last of sun next to the river where the little seep comes out. Finally, I lit the cardboard in the fire pit on fire, the cardboard which I’d stashed under the lodge years ago. It was so pleasant I decided to add some of the boards I’d found which are too long for the wood stove and cook some bison over them. I made sticks from some of the currents I’d cut for the cottonwood, then squewered bison chunks and zucchini and cooked them over the flames while I drank red wine. The process was more fun than the results were delicious, but it was overall enjoyable, and the evening was fine and calm and the bugs hadn’t really returned yet. I left Cailey inside to simplify matters! And that brings us to now, as I sit inside on the couch listening to the hermit thrush downriver serenade and strain my ears to detect the tiny scampering of mice.

It’s 8:15 p.m. and I’m sitting on the porch wondering if the mysterious wildlife experience will continue. I’d been sitting out here reading after dinner when it slowly dawned on me that the squirrel incessantly chipping over by the shed might actually be alarming at a predator (as opposed to the myriad other reasons that red squirrels go on chattering about….which, of course, I love about them'). It might have been Cailey’s quivering interest that aroused mine. I got up and started to try to put her inside, but she’d have none of it. I did peer over there in time to see a black mammal hunch and disappear upriver. It seemed more river otter sized than mink, but it was likely the latter. Or maybe something else entirely. Whatever it was seemed to have been there long enough to make the squirrel and Cailey interested for some time. I just snooped around over there and didn’t see anything, but I wonder if he had a crab or something' I found a new crab shell by the lodge this morning and wasn’t sure if Cailey had brought it up or maybe something had dropped it there. I headed down the boardwalk and stopped at Cottonwood listening to a Steller’s jay rattle repeatedly by the river. As I listened he started whisper singing! I slowly walked over to the big tree across the path and saw him picking at some moss on an alder branch. Then a squirrel in front of Mink cabin started scolding. I hoped it was scolding another critter, but it appears that it was me, given that he darted from branch to branch until he was right above me and then started descending the tree head first, chipping with each movement of his body. I moved on and walked to the point while the jay continued its vocalizations and wound up startling an immature eagle a few feet away perched in front of the main cliff on the rocks, below the usual perch. There’s been more eagle drama with both the immature and, once, four adult eagles flying around the nest. One was chased into a tree just downriver and I watched him clean his beak repeatedly on a mossy branch. Are these eagles stealing food from others, or vice versa' Probably both! This weekend I’ve seen them carry a flounder and a trout-sized fish to the nest and tonight I could see that an adult was in the nest from the point. On the way back to the lodge I saw a different jay near the bridge bopping around in a tree, which vocalized with the other as I walked beneath. And, along the boardwalk, I finally had a good look at one of the birds that is constantly aflutter in there as I walk by, a lovely little bird that appeared to be a juvenile hermit thrush. I’ve been seeing quite a few hermit thrushes flying back and forth in front of the porch and hanging out and cheeping from the bushes along with fledgling varied thrushes.


Prolific salmonberries

Upriver lodge cleaned up

Kayaks before

Kayaks after

Downriver lodge cleaned up

The ill-fated lodge cottonwood cutting

Sleepy Cailey

Evening sun on the mountains

I started off the day with another attempt at satellite internet—it seemed like I should try one more time. The test went off very well. I already had a good signal without even moving the dish, and managed a signal strength of 87 by barely moving it on the horizontal and angle axes. With that kind of signal, I didn’t even bother rotating the dish. In fact, after I tested the signal, I was surprised and pleased to see both the receive and transmit lights on the modem! Nevertheless, I tested the transmit and it was in the 70 and had a passing number immediately. But, the TCP was still broken. I searched for those letters in the HughesNet files and found one entry from a document titled “Install Notes 2008” or something like that, which seemed to involve entering the IHP address. That seemed a bit over my head, but I did make a cursory attempt to find the appropriate screen without success.

From there I got to work in Cottonwood with the polyurethane, beginning along-awaited project to protect the inside of the pine walls. It was a bit awkward working in there with the furniture and I was really not in the mood to paint, but I bullied through. I started painting everything I could reach, covering the front wall, the river wall, the mountain wall, and then the back wall and all the windows. I felt bad for Cailey and set up both her bed and the pad to the cot (which I’d put outside) for her to lay on on the porch; she spent some time on the cot pad, but mostly was elsewhere (I didn’t want her inside). It was sunny again, the morning calm having given away to more wind. By that time I was done with everything in reach it was 11:45 and I’d been working for two hours, so I stopped for a scrumptious snack lunch (smoked hooligan, sugar snap peas, almonds, an apple, and rice crackers). I didn’t break long, but got right back to work from the ladder. It really wasn’t as bad as I my dread made it out to be and in an hour and a half the whole cabin had its first coat. I’d been disappointed to read that the company recommends three coats when first covering wood, which I’d not expected. After seeing how the first coat dried I could see that I would definitely want a second coat at least, but I made myself feel better by allowing the possibility that the ceiling might only need one. After all, it was unlikely to get dirty or dusty.

By that time, the usual mid-day wind had become something more ominous, and had all the appearance of a southeasterly front moving in. I had a cup of Russian tea on the porch and watched the waves rip into the inlet and the berry bushes sway in the wind. I felt the first drops of rain. Then I got back to work, fixing the single puncture hole on the water hose that crosses the path to the cabin outhouse that I’d tried to stop last time with a garden hose wrap. It was still letting out little drops and, over time, was keeping that portion of the trail very wet.  Since I’d spliced the hose just a foot away, I determined that the line had enough give, poured hot water over the splice, pulled out one side of the hose, then cut off the section between the two, and put them back together. On the way back from the valve to turn the water back on, I discovered a blueberry bush covering in nearly-ripe berries! A secret bush! I’ve never seen so many berries of either salmonberry or blueberry here before; so many more salmonberries are producing berries in the woods than I’ve ever seen.

On the way back to the lodge I carried the two buckets of clear coat, the bucket of stain, and the bucket of stain remover from their storage under the deck of cottonwood with the intent to take them back to town and dispose of them (hazardous waste), as they’ve been there for too many winters to use again. I did open the stain bucket in the hopes that I could at least stain the new window trim on hermit Thrush, but it was the consistency of a sponge and seemed hopeless.

At some point in the afternoon I found the can of paint in the shed that I’d marked as “beige, lodge outhouse'” and opened it up, only to find that it was quite obviously white and probably primer. Puzzled, I found another can that claimed to be beige outhouse paint only to find that it, too, was white primer. I don’t know whether it had been really dark in the lodge when I was sorting through it or if I mixed up the labels. In any event, there did not appear to be any beige paint of any kind, so I decided to go ahead and use the primer since the wood was already cleaned and prepped and would probably look better with any paint on it. I think it does, though the white is a bit bright. In the lodge, I cleaned up the cardboard and newspaper/grass storage behind the stove and sorted through the stack of pillows and blankets to pull out those that need to be washed (from mouse activity). I think that’s when I took a break and had a snack and read for a bit inside the lodge while the wind continued to kick up outside.

Around 5:00 I returned to Cottonwood and bullied through another coat of polyurethane on all the walls, windows, and door, but not the ceiling. We’ll see how that looks! The only thing left to do on this trip is remove the window crosses and coat those (easier than trying to avoid the window or ineffectively taping it). I’m fairly pleased at how many little tasks I’ve done and look forward to a partial day of leisure tomorrow. Not leisure because I’m too tired to do anything, but leisure because there is little else to do with the time I have left so I can, perhaps, actually enjoy the place a little. Of course, by the time I paint those windows, dust all the cabins, replace the handrail on the bridge, sweep the outhouses, and finish cleaning the shelves in the lodge, who knows how much time or energy will be left!

When I finished painting at 6:30 I was pretty hungry. I pulled out the rest of the bison roast and cut it into thick strips, braising it in a mixture of red wine, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and pepper along with a zucchini and some pea pods. While that cooked, I continued to remove food items from the shelves in preparation for cleaning them and found a bag of Bob’s Red Mill biscuit mix, so I mixed some of that up, determined that it wasn’t too stale to eat, and cooked it in a tiny frying pan, kind of like a Dutch oven. The results of both pots were amazing! Later in the evening I again heard mouse scampering, and again it sounded like it was coming from directly overhead in the attic. But, as the night before, no mouse appeared, and the sound never got closer. When it persisted, I thought it might be coming from the outside wall, though I couldn’t think of a ledge that would allow a mouse to move that quickly. I snuck outside and peered around the corner, seeing nothing. I stepped off the deck and walked up along the building, inspecting the soffits. There’s room for a mouse to run along the top of the wall, but interrupted by the ceiling joists. At the far end, I saw something whitish that might be a hornet’s nest or a mouse nest or something so I looked at it with binoculars. What I saw looked like a dead weasel slumped over the side of the wall! Without binoculars it turned into a mouse which looked back at me before it slipped around the corner. So, mystery solved! Why it looked like a dead weasel draped over the top of the wall through the binoculars I don’t know; in my defense, I don’t usually look at things with binoculars quite that close.
 Today started early, around 12:40 a.m. I think. I awoke to a soft thump, from the porch I think, following by mouse scitterings all around me. They were so continuous and close that I finally shone my flashlight around the cabin to see if he was inside! Thankfully, he was not, but the sounds continued.


*sigh*
\
Lunch

Staining Cottonwood

Spectacular tree

So I would up sleeping in a little longer than usual, and even had a cup of cider on the porch with the rest of the biscuits for breakfast. The wildlife was rewarding as I sat there (then and a little later). There were two whales in sight, one in Gilbert Bay and the other close to the edge of the sandbars on the other side of the river. I saw a Wilson’s warbler in the bushes, a bird I’ve noticed the absence of all summer when usually he is a common sight (I still haven’t heard him sing). The thrushes continued to call from the bushes, and one varied thrush landed on the edge of the porch, hopped down the stairs, picked up a salmonberry from the ground, and disappeared for a moment. When he reappeared (for it was an adult male) he flew up, grabbed a yellow salmonberry, and headed upriver into the bushes. There were also birds on the water. In the calm, I heard a lot of splashing coming from out of sight upriver and, getting up to peer around the bushes and seeing a “V’ of white reflecting off the river, I could guess what was causing it, which I soon confirmed with binoculars: it was that huge flock of male mergansers that often hangs out in the inlet. In fact, it had occurred to me that I hadn’t seen them yet this year. Later I heard a drawn-out patter of feet on the water and looked to see a bird slowly taking off from the water; sure enough, it was the loon I expected, and another was nearby. I’d heard a loon call earlier in the still of the morning.
A little later on, an immature eagle which had been perching downriver flew to the edge of the water and disappeared behind the mound of grass there. A little later, I saw his head appear and stood up to look, finding him thoroughly wet. Had he actually landed in the water' As I watched him, a second immature eagle with a very white back flew from the same location and perched below the nest tree, and later the other one moved farther up the rocks. Another time, I looked up to screeching and again saw four adult eagles flying around the nest. On different occasions, an adult dove into the water below the nest, then flew away (out of the water) empty handed, and an adult flew to the nest from upriver with talons full of moss. There were also the flies. In the calm of the morning I was alarmed by the sight of small flies (white-socks size or a little smaller) around my ankles. But these flies seemed oblivious to my presence and instead were intensely focused on the tennis ball on the bottom of one leg of my chair! By the time I got up there were probably 20 flies swarming it.

My first task for the day was here inside the lodge where I finished removing all the food and sundry items from on and under the shelves, sanitizing them, and returning everything back to its place. I also cleaned the stack of games under the end table and left them and everything else from the floor all around while I let the sanitized floor dry. I also moved all the dishes and silverware back to their regular places and tidied up a bit. After a brief break, I headed around to all the cabins with a rag, pledge, and broom. I started with Cottonwood, which required putting everything back together again after yesterday’s staining. I dusted the bed, the shelves, the windowsills, and the vanity, cleaned the basin of the vanity, and swept thoroughly. With the art back up on the walls it looks great. I did the same with Mink, then with Harbor Seal, removing a few vestigial items not appropriate for a residential cabin (like duct tape), and swept the inside and outside of both outhouses. Finally I quickly cleaned Hermit Thrush, then swept the forest stairs and bridge before breaking around 1:45 for a well-deserved lunch (leftover bison strips in warmed tortillas with Havarti and peas).

I didn’t relax long, as I realized that it was nearly low tide, and such a high low tide that there was no time to lose. I’d committed myself to shooting my rifle that day, and there was just enough beach to do so. I went inside, got out my cleaning gear, and was just about to clean out the oil in the barrel when it occurred to me that I should find shells first, just in case. I was sure I had a bag of them there, but let’s just double check. Well, I had plenty of shells, but they were all spent! How it’s possible I took my rifle down there without any ammunition I’m not sure. Actually, I have a pretty good idea. I did have two boxes of empty shell casings, which I’d probably brought down in the spring thinking they were full. That’s a lesson I’ll remember! Somewhat relieved, I instead went on a COASST-type walk upriver. Cailey seemed very happy to come along on a walk; I always think she can occupy herself perfectly well down there, but she’s not going to adventure this far on her own and obviously is antsy to get out.

I'
d put a rain coat in anticipation of a wet walk, but it had stopped raining by the time I got underway and didn’t start again until we were on our way back. This time I really did take a break on the porch. The inlet was calm, the clouds forming a low overcast, and the scene was utterly serene; it was a stretch of perfect moments. The rain and wind came and went, not quite as strong as the day before, and following the same pattern all week of kicking up during the day and laying down again in the evening. The whales continued feeding.

At
some point I finished putting things away in the lodge, pleased at how tidy it looked again. Then I headed over to Cottonwood with a mind to stain the cross pieces in the windows so they matched the rest of the cabin, and also the edges of the windowsills themselves. I found the proper square driver still in my nonfunctional maquita and carried it to the cabin, using it like a screwdriver to unscrew the cross pieces from the window frames. After about five screws it finally dawned on me that, unlike last fall when this was an ingenious solution, I actually had a working maquita which I quickly fetched. Once all the pieces were down off the windows, I laid them on a plastic drop between the cot and the bed and gave the inside and the edges a coat of polyurethane, and then treated the windowsills very carefully with a foam brush, perfect for the job. It was then 4:20 and I decided to see if I could quickly fix the bridge. All of this for my impending guests, of course! The bridge was the last thing on my list. I looked first in the main stack of lumber under the tarps for a replacement 2x6 and found one or two, both of which were water soaked and covered in white fungus. But the deal breaker was that they were the good kind of pressure-treated (ground contact) rather than the cheap stuff that Home Depot sells, which I’d used to build the bridge. The colors of the two are rather strikingly different (dark red-brown rather than orange-brown) so I decided to go to those stashed under the lodge thinking they might be extra pieces from the original bridge work.

So down I went,
moving quite a bit of lumber stacked on top to reveal the 2x6s, which turned out to be not only ground-contact themselves, but also possibly 10’ pieces. I returned to the wet one and carried it and a handful of long screws and a small drill bit to the bridge. Alas, the board was too long! I’m not sure if the gap is actually less than an even eight feet or whether my selected 2x6x8 was rather generously cut, but a few inches would have to go. I mulled about it and decided that I could display my bridge with a missing handrail rather than go through the trouble of measuring and making the cut (and starting the generator, getting out an extension cord, etc.). But I did get the maquita and fixed the loose handrail across from the missing one which had been popped out of its holes by a falling branch. The screws on one side had been broken inside the board and only the tops could be removed, but I added two new (longer) screws on that end and replaced the ones on the other end so it’s now secure.

I
was getting pretty worn out by then, more so than on previous days. My day of leisure hadn’t had much leisure in it so far and I’m pretty sure I’d spent less time reading on the porch than I had most of the week. So I collapsed on the couch inside while it did cool and rainy things outside and read a bit of my Australian outback mystery from the 1920s, then had tomato soup and bread for dinner.

A
t 6:30 I went back to Cottonwood and put a second coat of polyurethane on the cross pieces so I could put a coat on the other side of them before I went to bed and it could dry all night before I reinstalled them. When I got back to the lodge I saw that Cailey had (apparently guiltily) taken my spot on the couch, the downriver side, when she is usually relegated to the upriver side). I reluctantly did the dishes, made enough hummingbird food for one of the feeders (the other was still mostly full, as they apparently preferred this feeder or its location), and added duct tape to both the chimney opening and the drain opening in the hopes that Big Brown and/or his brethren will remain out of the lodge. Now deep into the mystery novel, I indulged in a little more reading on the couch, hearing the mouse make a short-lived run of the walls (compared to the nights before), which I hoped was a good sign. He did come to the window of the kitchen, though, and ran around the edges of the screen for a good long while! At 8:45 or so I headed to Cottonwood and treated the back side of the cross pieces, leaning them against the bed and the cot so both sides could continue to dry. I did a few more closing up errands (getting a spare jerry jug of gas from the shed, tidying up the shed, putting the hose under the lodge, gathering the recyclables in a plastic bag) before heading to bed to continue the mystery. It was raining when I closed my eyes sometime after 10:00. I probably drifted off for a little while and was awakened when the rain became a torrent, pounding against the metal roof. I normally find this quite cozy once I’ve run through all the possible things I could have left out or that could go wrong in the rain!

T
he only thing I could come up with was that I’d left the windows open in Cottonwood to help the wood dry. I didn’t think it would be too bad, but didn’t like the idea of driving rain making it inside, so I put my robe and rain jacket on and went to close them. While there, I glanced downriver to see a very high tide, high enough to reach the grass. This puzzled me, as I thought the high tide was already well past and not particularly high. Curious about the time, I turned my phone on and saw that it was only 10:54 and two hours past high tide. I’m still puzzled. Maybe my eyes deceived me in the half-dark and rain.

I
t took a while to get to sleep in the downpour. Added to the loud roar of rain on the roof, to which I was unaccustomed as this was the first hard rain I’d had at Snettisham this year, there was the arrhythmic ping of rain hitting the metal flashing on the outside. Both Cailey and I startled when we first heard it…it’ll take a little getting used to. There was also the scurrying of mice again, so close I again turned on a flashlight to ensure one was not inside.


Cottonwood post-staining

Corvid tracks

Staining the window cross pieces

My plan was to leave in the morning before the wind kicked up as it had all week. So when I looked out the window to see the tips of the hemlock boughs waving in the wind, I had to laugh to myself; naturally the day that I chose to leave would be the day that the pattern of the wind would change for the first time in a week. So I didn’t hurry myself too much. As planned, I stopped by Cottonwood on the way to the lodge to install the cross pieces. I managed to get four of the five in, but the fifth would not fit, presumably because I had put some stain on the ends of the crosses which had widened them too much to fit (and on the edges of the windows too). I headed to the lodge, fed Cailey, and grabbed a broom and sandpaper, the latter of which eventually reduced the crosses enough to fit. I swept up and locked the door. Then I returned to Hermit Thrush to sweep it and gather my clothes and other items, leaving the sheets on the bed just in case I decided not to go. There were nice little seas coming in off Gilbert Bay that I did not like the look of, though they were not wind-whipped so I hoped they were the remains of a blow and not the beginnings of one.

At this point I was thinking that my leisurely morning wasn’t feeling so leisurely! It didn’t help that I was hungry. I ate some instant oatmeal while heating up water for Moroccan mint tea and making toast, which I ate on the porch while watching those seas slowly die. In fact, it looked like it might turn out to be a fine morning, still, overcast, and lovely. I was almost startled by the explosion of breath from a whale that was just coming into sight from behind River Point, this time in the company of another whale who did not exhale so dramatically. I could hear them inhale, which means it was quite quiet.

As the seas continued to die down and the leaves didn’t seem to be much disturbed, I finished getting ready to go, which felt very labor intensive. I was glad of all the little chores I’d undertaken the night before. Eventually the shed was locked up, the propane off, the blanket on the couch shaken, the floor swept, the gear staged on the porch (I’d already carried half of it down to the shore), the motion sensor camera set, and the windows papered over. I’d even visited the new cottonwood tree to give it one more drink of water before I left, despite the heavy rain from the night before. It still looked in good shape.

I put socks on for the first time since I’d landed on Saturday in order to don waders to load the boat on the falling tide. Cailey and I kayaked out and brought the boat in. I hauled the kayak up to the lodge, found it a spot between two others (I’d forgotten to leave one when I put them away after cleaning them) and loaded the boat. The four buckets of paint went in the bow along with the lodge garbage and the rest went in the back. At one point when I was heaving a load into the back of the boat, I shoved the end of the boat hook (which was sticking up the side of the boat at an angle) into my left breast—or, rather, I hurled myself against it. It hurt and I swore and Cailey jumped into the bow of the boat and from there onto shore. This made me madder, as I was almost done loading and she’d stayed onboard the whole time as I like her to. I made her jump back on herself, which she did easily on the stern. But I’d lost my temper and it sullied my departure a little. I vowed to regain some of the composure I’d earned this winter/spring and not let the hecticness of summer steal my resolve.

We pulled away from shore, added 10 gallons to the main tank, and got the boat ship shape. This time I had the wool blanket I’d used as padding for the satellite dish for Cailey to sleep on, which was good because the going outside of the inlet was tough. I was optimistic, though; it wasn’t so bad that I was inclined to seek the lee of Mist Island, which I think I had both previous times this year, and we were in no hurry. I was confident that as soon as we rounded Seal Rocks that we’d have a reasonable sea to take us home. In fact, I was pleased because I was afraid that the dying southeasterly that morning might be in preparation for an impending northerly, as the sky was brightening.

Well, we made it around the rocks and the seas still didn’t follow us. It was a southerly (at least in that part of Stephen’s Passage), so we were quartering the seas on the port stern, if you can say that. I wished I could go with them, but they would have taken me obliquely to shore. I hoped they might shift as I got further north, but they didn’t. It was a very annoying and very rough ride. It wasn’t bad sliding over the smaller swells, but when I came into the trough between a pair of three footers at that angle, it would drag me sideways and tilt me into the swell to starboard by the friction of the water on the hull, just as the next one was coming down on me. If I didn’t see it coming, it meant slowing way down and riding it out before turning once again and heading north. If I saw it coming, it meant turning to shore and passing straight over it. But that also meant going in the wrong direction!

Anyway, the seas didn’t get any better or come from a better direction as I went on. They were pretty bad south of Taku Harbor and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it around Grave Point, since it was very difficult to turn against those swells and make any headway west/southwest. But I bullied through in the hopes that it would be better on the other side. It wasn’t and once I was genuinely scared (briefly) as I got caught sideways in some larger seas. In fact, I didn’t like it at all out there. I finally hurried as quickly as I could off course to get in the lee of Grand Island and rest and reassess. I tried to get a marine forecast on my handheld, but it kept breaking up and all I kept hearing was “small craft advisory.” Now, I wasn’t in anything that would warrant a small craft advisory, and the warnings were probably for places closer to the outer coast, but I decided that I’d better not linger there any longer than I needed to, so off we went toward Point Arden. It was pleasant for a few minutes, still somewhat sheltered by the island, then it got ugly and jumbly as, presumably, seas from either side of Grand Island collided. And getting past Arden wasn’t that great. I really thought the seas would slowly diminish from there, but they didn’t. They were never anywhere as bad as around Grave Point, but I never really escaped from swells, even all the way up Gastineau Channel. Poor Cailey had a miserable time of it on her blanket all the way in the back. The engine slowed down twice in the channel, once after a big bang from an unexpected swell, I’m still not sure why. I decided I’d better concentrate on a smooth ride, which eventually got us, gratefully, to the harbor, after a ride of two and a quarter hours (not much longer than usual). 


Evening on the inlet