Snettisham 2018 - 4: Frustrations and Productivity
July 17-21


Beach at Point Amner

Photo Album


Yesterday there was some temptation to turn left instead of right when I reached the end of Taku Inlet, heading straight to Snettisham instead of overnighting in Juneau, quite the opposite temptation from the last time! But, I was already in the chop and managing and the evening was otherwise pleasant, just showers here or there, and Snettisham sounded very enticing. But I had none of my Snettisham gear, gear I hadn't wanted to leave in a boat for two days at the cabin; and, of course, there were other, more social reason to head to town, and that had been the plan all along. Actually, the cabin trip felt awfully short and I considered staying another day, but didn't want to lose out on what I hoped would feel like a very long stay at Snettisham. This morning I picked up some copper tubing tools from my parents, bought some fresh groceries, stopped by Western Auto to buy a big cedar half barrel for planting rhubarb, stopped by DZ to saw goodbye to Ezra, and then home. I was hungry, but also very sleepy, and wound up taking a luxurious nap before eating delicious leftovers for lunch. I was glad I didn't have a particular timeline for departure, and figured that rest might make the rest of the day go better. The tide, I thought, was around 6:00, and if I left around 4:00 I'd probably get there at the peak to make offloading all my gear easier. By the time I got out of the house it was pushing 3:00 and instead of going to the harbor, I picked up my mother and we headed to Little Blue to get her satellite internet reciever. My HughesNet contact said that my issues could be bad cable, bad cable ends, or bad receiver, and I could trouble shoot the latter by using this one. It seemed like a good idea, and the recievers are easy to transport. It took us two attempts to get the right keys, but we eventually unencumbered the satellite dish of its receiver and I was on my way to the harbor, having picked up the paintbrush I needed from my parent's garage instead of the store. It was then 3:20 or so. I parked in front of the ramp, grabbed a cart from the bottom of it, and filled it up right there. Then I parked in 14-day parking, used the outhouse, and walked the gear down. It was a reasonable load, but added to the several cart loads I had in the boat house, it made quite a complicated assemblage of gear and it took a long time to fuel up, carry everything over, and get everything ship shape. I wasn't sure I should even bring the gazebo kit, but it wound up fitting nicely. We headed out at 4:15 or so and I was disappointed to see that the tide was actually at 5:37! We'd be about an hour late, but it would still be high. Although we had a load, the Ronquil was in fine shape; we were perfectly balanced right from the start and she felt like she was really excited to go. There was a southeasterly chop in the channel that faded as we reached Stephen's Passage, coming and going throughout; we finally lost it at a lovely tideline on the way to Limestone Inlet. It was such a beautiful evening; everything this week had worked out perfectly as far as tides and timing and weather, the boat seemed eager to run, and for the first time this summer I really really wanted to go to Snettisham--it felt like I was going home. What a joy.


We did have one mishap, though. Just shy of Grave Point, the engine suddenly died, not like it puttered and ran out of gas, though that's the first thing I checked. When I found that there was gas in the engine and no kinks in the hoses, I started her up again and she ran just fine. A few minutes later and it happened again. I thought it might have something to do with higher RPMs, so I kept her below 4000 until we were just past Grave Point, and then it died again shortly after I sped up. But every time it started up perfectly and ran perfectly. After that I superstitiously kept the RMPs below 4000, but it still died two more times as I crept toward Snettisham among the gillnetters. At least I had camping gear, I thought, considering all the various places I could stop on the way if I got stuck! It finally dawned on my that the battery connection might be poor, causing the spark to fail. Whenever I work with engine trouble I think about that line from Benny & Joon when Benny tellsnRuthie that an engine only needs two things: fire and gas. "You have gas" he says... So I uncovered the battery and found the connection for the negative side was loose. I was so confident that was the problem that I got back up to speed, cruising along at 4500 without concern and the engine never died again.

We pulled up at 6:40, delighted to find that we could shimmy right up to the edge of the first stone on the path, just at the log, and I unloaded quickly without ever getting my feet wet! In no time, Cailey and I were back on the boat and anchoring. I'd forgotten to offload the diesel jug, so I paddled that to shore as well. Bringing everything up the path was a little more of an ordeal, but it came easily enough and I was soon wandering around my delightfully remodeled kitchen lighting pilots and unpacking. Cailey was still a little antsy, but came in readily for supper and later as well when I invited her, though she continued to bolt when I moved and was anxious to go outside if she thought I was (though the last time she knocked to come back in while I was still packing for bed). I had tomato soup for dinner with two slices of pumpernickel bread, then picked up the motion sensor cards and watched them over a glass of wine. Now I'm in bed in Hermit thrush and Cailey appears to have relaxed, curled up next to me and no longer popping her head up to look and listen. She was so much more relaxed at the Taku cabin and I think she's more relaxed here as well. There is much work I could do this week, but I am looking forward to it. I don't really want to stain, but I will be happy to have the cabins protected for another handful of years if I'm able to do it.


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It feels like it's been a summer of failures; I'm sure I've had successes here or there, but it feels like there have been a lot of failures. Today was a day of failure. Working on satellite internet was a bit of a last minute project, but I had an email from the HughesNet that I've worked with suggesting that, if the signal wasn't changing at all (which it didn't seem to be doing when I tested it after updating the configuration files), then the cable ends were bad, the cable was bad, or the transmitter was bad. I thought it couldn't hurt to try those things, and I spent most of the day doing so. Spoiler alert: nothing worked. I don't know how many times I disconnected and reconnected the cable to transmitters and modem, but I ached to be done with it. After breakfast and a quick cup of tea, looking over a cloudy inlet, I first reversed the cables ends, but I couldn't remember which was transmit and which was receive, and one was so much shorter than the other I could only actually switch one that I don't think it was an effective test. I later realized that I had, in fact, put the receive side in the transmit side and didn't connect the transmit side, so it definitely wasn't going to work. But that's okay. In doing so I noticed that one of the cables was fairly loose on the modem, so then I hooked it all back up as it had been to see if that had been a factor. No change. Then I hooked up the spare transmitter to no end. Then I put the original back on and tried it with new cable ends on the dish side of the cable (in itself a little project, especially since the cutter is malfunctioning and not snipping off the end of the cable from around the wire as it's supposed to, forcing me to use scissors). I found a series of photos showing how to make cable ends in at least six different places, hugely redundant, in the HughesNet folder on my computer, none of which showed actually putting the end on the cable, which seemed like it should have been easier. In any event, that didn't work, so I replaced both cable ends on the modem side to the same effect. I think I also tried the other radio with these new cable ends in case both had failed. By that time I was hungry and frustrated and it was 11:30, so I broke for lunch, after which Cailey and I did a COASST walk at low tide. It had been raining, so I was suited up and quickly got overheated, shedding rain gear and sweatshirt on the way north. There is crying and activity at the nest, so I'm confident there's at least one occupant.


I made some cherry cobbler (a can of tart cherries with a little sugar topped by biscuit dough and steamed on the stove) and read for a while inside then before suiting up a second time to rinse off the cabins in preparation for clearcoating. The hose was already at Cottonwood, so I started there, rinsing the walls and then going over them with the push broom to help dislodge pine needles and cobwebs. There was the usual kinking problems, but in half an hour or so the first cabin was ready. At Mink, I used the broom before the hose and that worked pretty well. I was sad to see, though, that it looks like I did wait too long after all, as the back wall appears to pale in places where I presume the stain is fading away without protection. I will need to decide whether to let that sit untreated so I can restain, or protect it as it is. I had a similar experience at Harbor Seal where the front wall may also need restaining. Disappointing, but then I have been neglecting them, making small investigations but clearly not thoroughly enough. Harbor Seal is more exposed so I had to so more scrubbing along the bottoms of the upriver wall and adjacent corners where dirt has splashed up, as I did on the uphill side of Hermit Thrush when I made it up there. By then I was, naturally, sweaty, though I had managed to stay otherwise dry in rain gear and rubber gloves (to keep the water from running up my sleeves). I was already struggling with hunger again, so I decided to tackle that early before it overwhelmed me and caused me to eat another quick, ready made dinner. Instead I put a dish of Whiting River coho in the oven with carrots and pea pods and read on the porch with a glass of wine while it cooked, toasting a couple pieces of bread that I dribbled olive oil on at the last minute. The inlet was calm, the rain paused. When I was ready, I carried the ladder to Mink cabin with the idea that I might tackled a little task I've had in mind for a long time and perhaps gain a small satisfaction--clearing the debris off the roof. It did not come easily, though, and while I could have brought some down, it wouldn't have been a neat job. It really would benefit from actually standing on the roof, and I think I'd better wait for company before walking around up there. So I retreated in defeat and decided I may as well keep failing and, finally, close down the internet troubleshooting. It wasn't the radio, and it wasn't the cable ends (unless I made them badly, but I only had four more new ones and those I was about to use--plus I wouldn't know what to do differently, so it was moot), but it could still be the cable itself. I'd looked at as much of it as I could access easily and didn't see any issues, but that doesn't mean there weren't any. I hoped to find the short test piece we'd used when first setting it up in the attic or the shed, but found it in neither place and think it might be in town for testing the other system. So instead I added cable ends to one end and stripped the grounding wire and hooked that up to the radio. Then I measured out enough cable to comfortably get inside with some to spare and put cable ends on the other side, attaching it to the modem on the table inside and grounding the cable below the porch using the same tool I had the old system on. It didn't work. But what if, again, the radio had also failed? To fully shut down the troubleshooting, I had to change the radio out too, producing a brand new system. It didn't work and, with my stomach aching, I at last hooked the new system up to the old radio, gooped up all cable ends, and bagged the ends of the exposed pieces of the old system on the dish and the new system stashed below the porch. Someone else will have to try, but I don't see myself spending the money to bring a professional down. I'm probably doing something wrong, clicking the wrong button or something, but I just don't know what.


Inside, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I read some scripture, then made a cup of strong licorice tea to settle me down, followed by watching the latest Colony on my tablet Lenny. By then it was 9:00 so I bopped around a little and then came over here, where I'm back in bed getting this caught up so I don't have to think about it tomorrow. The inlet was gorgeous as I left the lodge, some peach clouds in the clearing sky, a half moon over the mountains. Lovely. I saw a fledgling varied thrush several times today; she's been spending a lot of time in the currents, perching where I can see her in the bushes and on the benches. I also ran into her on the beach just downriver during my walk, foraging among the rockweed. Upriver I saw a single semi-palmated plover in his spot just south of the grassy point. A jay scolded me half way back, and down by the eagle tree. In my gloom this afternoon, I was sitting on the porch when a hermit thrush hopped up onto the edge of the deck upriver. There was a swarm of small flies nearby, and then one large insect flew into view several feet above him. He shot straight up to it and grabbed it with an audible clack before turning and flying downriver. Wow! Wrens have been singing and a Pacific slope flycatcher has been calling to me on and off, trying to cheer me up when I am grumpy, reminding me what is important. Other small birds, some warblers I think, have flown by, but I really haven't spent dedicated time on the porch. A heron was on the flats this evening again too, I was happy to see. I was also happy to have at least three hummingbirds coming to the feeders that I put out this morning, at least one of which I suspect is a YOY. The first one I saw buzzed around me when I was on the ladder and then perched gaily just a couple of feet away to gaze at me! When I glanced at one of the feeders, another was there feeding. I got buzzed closely several times on the ladder, and one of them poked around its read top when I was on the porch.


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It was a better day and, though I was in a way loath to do the work at hand, at least it had results! Ordinarily I enjoy painting/staining, and I think my main objection today was that I preferred to do other things. I thought these five days or so would feel like a long stretch of time, but when you spend two days plus doing chores, then face another difficult chore that will probably take a whole day, and then you want to go camping after that, well, there isn't much time to enjoy the place, which I was hoping to intersperse with work this time. But I cannot complain! I was gifted gorgeous weather in which to do the quite necessary staining of my beautiful cabins. They looked wonderful this morning, after cleaning them yesterday, and even better once they had a fresh layer of clear coat on them, though I'm not sure I could have told the difference if I hadn't known. They certainly seemed a little different though. I was awake before eight, cleaned up and had breakfast, and was at work on Harbor Seal at 9:00. Though I usually start closer to home and work my way around the cabins, I chose Harbor Seal because it was likely to be the driest, being more exposed to the sun than the others, and because I thought it would be nice for both Cailey and I if I moved ever closer to the lodge instead of away. She was delightful, racing in to check on me every 20 minutes or so, lingering for a few minutes, then (presumably) heading back to the lodge. The walls needed a touch up here and there--a few pine needles, plenty of cobwebs, etc.--which I rubbed off with my sweater, soon shed in the sunshine as I started on the front wall. It was, indeed, pleasant staining weather and the little deet that I put on repelled any insects that were about. In half an hour I'd completed the front wall, then moved to the upriver wall, then the back, then the downriver wall. I was finished before 11 and moved up to Mink, I think pleasantly surprising Cailey when she came to visit again. Visits there were less frequent. Upriver wall, downriver wall, front wall, leaving the back wall unprotected as it really needs a new coat of stain. Harbor Seal probably does too, at least front and back, but it's in good enough shape that I thought coating it now was warranted, and it looks nice. Rustic, but nice. While the world was fairly quiet down on the point, I was immediately joined by a Pacific slope flycatcher at Mink; while on a ladder, movement in the limbs above caught my eye and soon he flew onto an exposed branch and I was able to watch him for a couple of minutes in silhouette until I glanced away for a moment and he disappeared. How wonderful! I especially associate him with that cabin, the central part of the property, but I don't think I've ever seen him there.


At 12:30 I left my gear at the front of Cottonwood and broke for lunch, quesadillas on the porch with Cailey. The sun hadn't yet (or no longer?) hit the back of the deck, so Cailey was laying on the front edge in front of the couch. I moved her bed there and she climbed in to soak in the sun. I didn't rest long, but took Cailey on an upriver walk, first through the woods to pick up my binoculars, then down to the flats at the rocky point. She looked happy. And I was much happier than yesterday, walking barefoot not just for the sunshine but because it is ever so much easier on that silt than boots, which are quite laborious.


On the way back I stopped at the Ronquil and put five gallons of gas in the tank. It was 1:30 then, and I got back to work staining Cottonwood, again leaving the back wall, at least for now, in case I want to stain it. It seems to be well stained in the center, but quite pale on sides. I wondered if the devil's club growing along it could possibly be protecting a streak down the middle. It was after 3:00 when I finished and, rather than forcing myself to paint a fourth cabin I decided it would be better for me to do something else with the rest of the day, much as I wanted the task to be complete. I had thought about promising myself a movie and popcorn tonight if I finished all the cabins, but...I am trying to do things right as I go, rather than always waiting for that moment when the work is done. So I had a beer on the porch, read a couple of books (finishing my novel), then hauled all the nordic stove parts to Hermit Thrush. On the second trip I was carrying the four stove stacks with the plastic bag full of fittings, parts, gloves, etc. Half way down the boardwalk I was readjusting the awkward stove pipe and slipped off the boardwalk, tumbling on the ground and badly skinning my knee on the way down, probably on an asphalt shingle judging by the scrapes. The sun had been full on the porch during my break and, having spent most of the day in the shade, I took off my pants and soaked it up in only underwear and tank top. I didn't see any reason not to haul gear that way (with the addition of socks and shoes since I wouldn't be able to see where I was going), but I guess there was another reason for pants after all. After that load I put pants back on after cleaning my knee and taping some gauze to it and finished hauling. Then I sat in Hermit Thrush for a few minutes sorting parts and screwing on nuts where they'd go. That's when I discovered that I was missing the flare nut connection to one end of the fuel filter. It didn't take me long to figure out that its most likely location was where I'd fallen off the boardwalk. On the way back I scoured the area to no avail, walked back down the boardwalk, then tried the area where I'd fallen again, realizing that the bag was closer to me than the boardwalk, and found the bronze fitting in the leaves. Whew! That would have been a deal breaker. There are plenty more potential ones out there, but at least I'll progress a little farther!


By then it was getting on toward dinner time and I was peckish, so I returned to the lodge and started making tiki masala with bison streak strips, carrots, and cauliflower using a Tasty Bite mix of spices, marinade, and simmer sauce. It took a while to make, so I puttered around, gathering pillow cases for the cabins and washing the dishes. Dinner, enjoyed on the porch overlooking an utterly serene inlet, was delicious. Even Cailey was impressed, waiting patiently in her bed while I ate, several strands of drool dripping off her lips, which is rare for her! After dinner I read a little more, then started hauling items to make a temporary platform for the stove's fuel tank until I build a permanent table (something I don't want to take the time to do now). I carried over the wood box Rob made, four 6x6s, and some 1" cedar boards, along with a bag of more tools and my backpack for the night. It was 7:00 and I thought I'd hang out in the cabin and do some preliminary work on the stove system before bed, and Cailey could snuggle in where she was comfortable for the night. She followed me back and forth a few times, then climbed on the bed and I was able to leave her for the last trip. I started permanently screwing things together and immediately ran out of hose tape, so I make one more trip to the lodge for more of that and my leatherman, picking up Joanie on the way back, since I'll need it to cut holes in the wall tomorrow. I screwed in the outlet/valve onto the fuel tank, put the flare nut connectors onto the fuel filter and placed them outside to see how they'll fit together on my makeshift platform. I also put my stove where I think it will be and put on the T pipe and kind of played around with the stove pipe. I still don't remember how I envisioned all the pieces fitting together, but we'll make something of it work. I finally cleaned up a little, brushed my teeth, and joined Cailey in bed to catch up on the day.


Oh, now I get to write about the birds. I didn't spend a lot of time on the porch, but I did have a couple of neat encounters. I've seen the young varied thrush enough times now that I've given her a name--Patricia. Once on the way to the boardwalk I watched her forage on the ground as I kept pushing her down the trail a few feet at a time; once she did a little sideways hop to grab something on the dirt. It must be a good time to be an insect forager. I've been watching the hummingbirds (there are at least four now) and dragonflies eating insects in the air. And once today, a bird flew in from upriver onto a bare current and it was my flycatcher friend, little crest and white eye ring! And before dinner, about 25 ducks paddled together on the river; I assume they are mergansers, but I could only see vague silhouettes. As I watched them, they ran-paddled together farther out into the river, evidently not trying to fly, just paddling fast.


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This trip reporting in the evening before bed seems to be working out on these busy days, but here I am looking back on another day of frustration and failure that I don't wish to remember. If I write it now, though, I won't have to think as much about it later! That said, I've had a pleasant couple of hours and enjoyed the evening. The hot and sunny day (95% of which I spent in the shade of the woods) feels like it got even hotter tonight while a vibrant southeasterly front moved in. The sky is still clear, the moon hanging high over the river, but the boat was rocking and rolling from the little seas and the shutters on the lodge were banging. Meanwhile, having just washed up and put clean clothes on, I sat down and found my face wet with fresh sweat just from sitting there. Here in my cabin I have only the sheet over me, and that just to keep my laptop form sticking to my legs. Puzzling.


I got up before 8:00 and was staining Hermit Thrush at 8:30, first the river side since that's where I was going to work, then the front (despite intense desire to work on other walls first), then the mountain wall, then the back wall. It was done at 10:30 and I immediately started on the stove system. Once I settled on where the stove was going to be, just a couple inches shy of clearance to the walls, I measured the distance to the roof from the exhaust vent and started coming up with possibile stove pipe scenarios. I had two four foot pieces, a two foot piece, and a two foot and one foot piece so tightly fit together that they can't be parted. In the end, the math worked out (accidentally) quite well. Four feet inside, then three feet horizontally (which puts the end two feet from the cabin), then four feet up puts the top two feet above the roof, which is evidently what is needed to help air flow. That only left the two foot piece behind, so not much waste. By 11:00 I was hungry and ready for a break, so I had a quick lunch of leftovers while I let a fresh cherry cobbler cook on the stove. This forced me to stay on the porch for a few minutes longer rather than going straight back to work. When I stepped inside, however, I found the burner had gone out--I was out of propane. Perfect! So I changed that and, while the cobbler started simmering again, clipped most of the cow parsnip from around the paths so I wouldn't wind up weed whacking them (which actually helped the view itself), then climbed through a tunnel in the berry bushes to the base of Nigel Cottonwood and cleared the vegetation that was potentially blocking some of its lower sunlight. The base is huge, and there are so many branches with branches, I'm so thrilled.


When the cobbler was done I returned to Hermit Thrush. The first part of the work actually went pretty well. I scooted the stove to the wall, leveled the stack, inserted the wall thimble, and drew a circled around it. Then I drilled a starter hole with a large bit, put a new blade on my jig saw, and cut a circle, adding a couple more starter holes to help. It worked beautifully and the thimble fit perfectly. However, I realized that the other side of the thimble should be on the inside, which is the larger one (the other one fits inside) so I awkwardly enlarged the hole, eventually shoving it through. Unlike the wall thimble at the lodge, the outside fit into the other one so snugly and perfectly that it doesn't seem to need to screw to the wall (or, in this case, a brace sticking out from the wall, since it's made for a thicker wall), but stays sturdily in place as is. So suddenly I had a very cute stove with a stove pipe going out the wall. I followed a similar procedure for the vent pipe, though I was loath to take the stack off to cut the hole so it was a very awkward endeavor maneuvering behind the stove. But it, too, worked out okay. At some point early on I finally tore myself away from the beginnings of productivity to investigate some strange bird calls. There had been some eagle drama as I left the lodge, screams, chases, branches crashing in the woods behind the lodge. Some of the screams were different than usual, like an eagle, but more like higher pitched clacking. It was that sound I was hearing, on and off, and I finally went to see what I could see. Thankfully I heard it again soon and tracked it to the woods behind the nearby outhouse. Something was in the devil's club there and, when Cailey approached, two adult eagles shot out and scurried to the path I'd just left. One quickly flew weakly away, followed a few moments by the other, considerably smaller. The area they'd left was torn up. I believe they'd gotten their talons locked in their aggression and fallen to the ground; in fact, one of the times I'd thought I'd heard a branch crash may have been them. I suspect that they'd been trying to pull away from each other and, when approached by a threat, they may have been able to disentangle by both pulling in the same direction. Ezra's parents have a video of a similar thing happening, two eagles exhausted and locked together, suddenly parting when a human approached.


The fuel system didn't work as well, in large part because the copper tubing is not nearly as flexible as I thought it would be. The tower I built for the tank allowed a convenient spot for the fuel filter, but only a few inches away. I can't say how many times I moved it around, adjusted things, and bent tubing, desperately trying to figure out a way to connect the two fitting so close together. I ruined a couple pieces of tubing by kinking it. It also took me a few minutes to figure out how to use the copper tube cutting tool at all, crimping the first piece before I realized that it needed to spin around the tube like my coax cable cutting tool (but thankfully more effective). By the end of the day I had a little collection of short pieces of copper pipe I'd cut off for one reason or another. Eventually I managed to connect the two pieces and secured them with some anti leak goo that my boss gave me. I thought the next step would be easy--one lone piece of copper tube all the way to the other end of the building. I drilled a hole in the decorative ends of the cabin logs that stick out for the tube to go through directly from the fuel filter, which was practically against it, and another four inches away in the similar piece sticking out at 90 degrees from the first. But, there was no way to make that bend through the second hole with the tube already sticking through the first and a pre-bent piece won't go through at all. Anyway, I was able to use the hole leading directly to the fuel filter, but abandoned the other hole to just take the tube around the decorative end and bend it back to the wall. Not ideal, but it'll have to do. I used one of the hooks from the propane hose to help hold one end down. I bopped in and out a few times to figure out where the inlet should be for the end connecting to the stove and eventually drilled a hole diagonally through the wall toward the back wall. Again, it took quite a lot of finagling to push it through and then to bend it to the stove. I had a vision of bringing a lot in and making nice curves to bring it to the stove but it is just too stiff. Eventually I managed the right angle and flared the end with the flaring tool. This is the very archaic looking tool that puts a tiny trumpet flare in the end of the copper tube. It took me a little while to figure out how best to make it work and, though it was never much fun, it had been mostly functional. Until this time. It took me three tries to get any kind of flare at all...because the first two times I was using the wrong side, which has no flare mold... All of this done while crouched awkwardly in the corner of the cabin on my skinned knee.


Man, it is painful to write about this, and it's not even really capturing what's going on. Let me hasten this along. Now I had two ends of a long copper pipe hooked to things, but the middle was bending way out from the building so I installed a valve shortly before the tube enters the building to take up the slack, trying to leave enough in the system in case I have to recut anything (which I immediately had to do as the pipe where I cut it was not straight enough to take the flare nut on it, something that had happened a couple times before). when that was done, I put the sealant goo on the four pieces I hadn't done so on yet and screwed them in. That might have been when I broke for a beer and some cobbler in the sunshine on the porch. But it didn't last long, as I desperately wanted this task to be done. At that point (I think, it's all kind of a blur), I needed gas. I'd carried the diesel jug over already, but went back first for a funnel and, when I realized that there was no way to use the stupid new nozzle with a funnel, went back for a tub to pour some in first, but brought over a broken one, so then I rinsed out and used the coffee can here, naturally dripping a bunch of diesel on the porch since coffee cans are not meant to pour fuel. Anyway, I put a couple coffee cans full in the tank and turned the valve, which made a faint hum for a little while. Nothing else seemed to be happening, no fuel in the stove. I read the instructions on the fuel filter which suggested that I needed to unscrew the vent screw, which I did until diesel poured out, then screwed it back in. This time fuel made it to the second valve, which leaked on one end. Using two wrenches I fixed one side, but the other has a tiny fizzy leak that I can't tighten, so it'll need to be replaced. I hope there's enough tubing for it, and I hope the next section back is smooth enough for a flare nut. So that's where I left it. The cabin is more or less tidy again. I tried and tried to get diesel to run to the stove, but I think it may be broken. The first step is to put a lever in the up position to allow gas to go through the regulator but, though I can flip it up, it will not stay there so I fear that's why nothing is coming out. I'd google it, but of course I can't do that either. So, at least the project is behind me.


I had soup and bread for dinner, needing something quick, then soon got up, determined to do something else with my day than an irritating failure that had no chance of success to begin with. I weed whacked, threw a ball for Cailey a couple of times, which she seemed to love, then put on leather gloves to work with the broken windows near my future gazebo spot (which probably won't happen this year, as it would not get used, since I have no time on this trip and likely won't be back but twice, once with a huge group of people and once to close up in two months). I first moved the tarps stashed there onto the logs staged by the shed, then pulled out all the loose broken glass from the two window panes and moved the panes behind the shed, then repaired a small cardboard box and started putting all the glass shards I could dredge from the ground into it, which turned out to be rather too small. I think I got most of the glass up, but I'll rake through it a little more later. That was a project I was looking forward to doing on this trip, so that's a little something. I also trimmed the area in front of the outhouse with clippers and set up the downriver motion sensor camera in a different spot, checked on the carcass (it's gone), cleaned up, read a little bit with some licorice tea, and here I am. I am, actually, quite pleased with how the stove looks and how the system is coming together. It would just be nice if it worked. Trouble shooting is awfully hard when you don't know anything about what you're doing, no one else can see it or work on it, and you're only at a place once a month. Wow am I discouraged and tired. I really thought this was going to feel like a long, luxurious stay at Snettisham with plenty of time to do all the little projects I want to do and all I've done are tasks I don't enjoy and failures, and I've been working all day with very little time for anything else. Am I feeling sorry for myself? I shouldn't be. I am exceedingly lucky, and I am often successful. And, really, I had such sweet Pacific slope flycatcher calls to encourage me all day, along with the neighborhood wrens. Not to mention more appearances of Patricia, once foraging along the outhouse path as I climbed it. And we were up to five hummingbirds by day's end. Much to be grateful for just today.


But, boy, this summer has been hard. I guess it's the flip side of the fun I've had (because of the time I've had) in town. This trip was supposed to make me feel like I've spent quality time here, but in that it has failed because of all the work. I should enjoy the moments, I know I should, and I did here and there staining, and even today bopping around with the stove pipe and fuel line, but a person also wants some satisfaction in the end. What am I going to do with a broken stove in my cabin? I should say that Cailey was very sweet, sticking around much more this morning while I stained than yesterday and sleeping on the bed most of the time I futzed around with the stove system. We didn't go on a walk today, but she seemed okay with that.


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Saturday, my last day at Snettisham at the end of what felt like too short a visit, I slept in, not waking up until after 8:30, but after all the hard work I'd done, I think I needed it. After my frustrations and grumpiness of the last few days, I did feel more relaxed that morning and enjoyed a few minutes on the porch knowing that I didn't have too much I had to do that day, and some time. I ate the rest of the cherry cobbler and "frozen yogurt"--accidental--which prompted me to turn the fridge off early. It was still well shaded on the porch when I did descend to do my first task, simple but long awaited, the one task I was really excited about doing, transplanting the rhubarb. After trying a few different places, I decided to place the new cedar pot between the ends of the two benches near the fire pit. I unearthed the wheel barrow and started filling it with dirt from the new gazebo area, making an effort to skim dirt off the top to make it more level. Before long I'd taken my shirt off. I lifted the wheel barrow onto the porch, then eased it down the front steps and shoveled its contents into the tub; when I went back to repeat the process, I ditched the pants as well. It was a hot day in the sun, or doing any kind of activity. To my surprise I found two different rhubarb plants in the bushes nearby, and both had big leaves and stems, one considerably larger than the other. I transplanted both and was really pleased with it. Then I did the rounds on the cabins. My intent originally was to stain the insides of the windows after cleaning them up (since they tend to accumulate silt and dirt and I didn't wash them off well enough with the hose to stain them the first time around), so I took a soft hand brush sweeper and walked around all the cabins brushing the windows; I think I locked up at the same time. I also made the rounds with a broom, sweeping not just the porches but the stairs and, most importantly, the bridge, with its winter accumulation of pine needs lining the edges. I was amazed at how much better and classy it looked afterwards and vowed to remember that, with just a little effort, it really does look a lot better.
At Hermit Thrush, I finished cleaning up, covered the end of the smoke stack outside with hardware cloth zip tied on, and stuffed tinfoil into the inlet pipe and tinfoiled over that top of that. While there, I peered into the nordic stove and was astonished to find the bottom covered in diesel! At some point, gas had finally started to flow, how or why or when I had no idea. But that meant that the system at least could work in theory.


At that point I probably had lunch. My plan was to start packing up around 3:00, having already done most of the lodge clean up that morning. The boat would be dry and then I could load from the flats and leave when it floated. I stowed the kayak back under the porch, having plugged its last leaky scupper with the plug I'd found in the cabinet (though what happened to the ones in it last year remains a mystery). With no more immediate tasks, I thought I'd take a gander at fixing the leak in the fuel line so I could at least not have that problem to tackle on the next trip. Using two wrenches, I was able to tighten the leaky nut and stopped that leak, but the nut on the lower side of the valve had a tiny bubbly leak that I could not tighten enough to fix. I had a feeling it had to do with the flare on that end, which I'd struggled with and might have been a little too large. I unscrewed it and was pleased that at least the nut was able to slide back down the tubing several inches, giving me some flexibility. I cut off the end of the tube and secured it back in the flaring tool, only to have it repeatedly slip out of its grip every time I tried to flare it, though I was tightening the vice as tight as I could both with fingers and with the aid of a wrench. The little washer between the nut and the vice was sticking and I think not letting the nut tighten enough, and the tube was not perfectly circular. I cut the end off again hoping for a better shaped tube, if nothing else, with the same result. I even tried wrapping the tube in a rubber glove to increase the grip. I finally decided that I really needed to be able to tighten the flaring tool tighter for this to work. At least this was all done with less stress and in the warm shade of the forest, so it was frustrating but not as much as the day before. I carried the flaring took to the shed and shot it with WD-40 and worked to loosen the nut and washer as I headed back. It seemed to work better. With the help of a wrench, I was finally able to flare the end of the tube and this time there was no leak. Whew! At least I had a leak proof system! By then it was about 2:40 and I thought I'd tool around on the stove itself before heading back to the lodge. First I dried the inside of the burner as well as I could with paper towels to remove the excess oil (thankfully I'd closed the valve when I'd stopped working, so not very much was in the system). I also discovered something very important. I'd been really confused and irritated by the regulator knob, which is supposed to start on the "O" or closed position. For one thing, it was hard to tell what part of the square knob was supposed to be pointing at the different positions, partly because the little arrow I did find did not ever reach the "O". But that was my mistake. It took extra pressure, but somehow I managed to turn the knob to "O" and then all the directions suddenly made more sense. It was evidently not shipped in the closed position, or maybe I'd already moved it without realizing it. I still didn't know what to do with the little lever that was supposed to be raised but wouldn't stay raised. Maybe you do that once in the life of the stove, maybe you do that every time the knob is on "O", I really didn't know if it was doing anything. But I raised it a few times and then turned the knob to the correct position, peering into the burner to see what would happen. It did take a minute, but darned if a bit of oil didn't start leaking out! I shut if off as instructed, and then broke off a piece of waxy paper that I suspected might be the "starting paper" that the instructions mentioned. Sure enough, it lit up and I dropped it in the stove, hoping it wouldn't explode! It didn't, and I turned the fuel back on and before long I had a little fire going. It was amazing, and I was so proud of the little smoke coming out of the stack outside. I put a little water in the tea kettle and placed it on top, though I only let it burn for about ten minutes before shutting if off, watching closely until the last ember burnt out. By then the water was hot, though not yet boiling, and the stove pipe was hot. Yay!!


Back at the lodge I immediately grabbed a load of gear and walked down to the boat, moving the anchor up on the flats toward the lodge. I finished cleaning and closing up and took another three or four loads down across the slippery mud, staging everything at the edge of the mud so I could load it all barefoot at once, having no waterproof shoes on me. We stepped on board as the water was approaching the stern and hung out while the tide rose, setting us free at about 4:30. My plan was go straight to Point Amner and camp for the night, leaving around high tide at 10:30 the next morning. It wasn't the perfect tide conditions for it, as the 9:00 pm tide was three feet higher than the tide the next morning, so I'd have to make sure the boat was floating well off shore that night at high tide. I didn't have a second anchor and I didn't have a tender, so I tied two lines together and tied one end to the top of the anchor so I could tie that to shore while anchoring normally, and still be able to pull it in. There was, for the second day, a brisk breeze coming in off Gilbert Bay so I was expecting a southeasterly swell. Thus, as I cruised the south side of the entrance to the port, I was surprised and a little alarmed to feel a swell come more from the west. By the time I passed my parents' property, it was clearly coming down Stephen's Passage and we saw some swells as we curved around toward Amner. The beach certainly looked beautiful, but the steady swell hitting it dead on when I would need to keep the boat off that night decided me against it. I had noticed how lovely the beach at the cannery was, though, and it looked more sheltered there, so I turned around and headed into that beach. As I got closer, though, I saw that, though moderated somewhat, the swell was also coming straight in to that beach. I thought I might walk around a little anyway, even if I decided not to camp, but just drifting into the beach had us pushed against the cobble rocks so hard that I genuinely struggled to push us off and back into deeper water. If I was going to camp, it would have to be in a cove sheltered from the north and west. I considered Swimming Eagle Cove, the one just south of Limestone Inlet, but by the time I was there it was mostly shaded and I decided it might be best to just head home. It was getting on in the evening and I my enthusiasm for camping was waning. I did dig out my handheld radio and managed to catch the forecast, not available until I was well into Stephen's Passage, which was calling for seas to two feet that day and the next. That made me hopeful that I could get across Taku Inlet that night. Going up the passage was a slow affair against a steady sea, It died down a little in the lee of Grand Island before building again crossing Taku Inlet. Poor Cailey had been on board for an extended time what with the futzing around looking for a camping spot and I felt very sorry for her. I fed her half way through the trip and gave her water. It was endurance for both of us. The channel was relatively calm, though there were plenty of boat wakes to slow us down and bounce us around. Ezra came down the ramp to meet us just as we were pulling in, bringing a cart along, and neatly tucked all my gear in the boat house while I tidied up the boat. Between us and a cart, we carried everything up to the top in one load and headed back to my house. It was after 9:00 when we arrived, to my surprise! All in all, despite the frustrations at the time, I felt very good about the trip and wish I had more time there this summer. The only regret I have is about the poor rhubarb; when I'd left, I'd expected it to rain a day or two after the end of the trip, so I soaked it well but didn't take any other precautions (like partially burying the pot in the wet ground), mostly because the obvious choices would involve moving the pot, which is now quite heavy. To my surprise, there was no rain in the forecast and it's now been a full week in the searing sun (two days of clouds) with no end in sight. Fingers crossed it is hardy enough to withstand the drought.



Transplanting rhubarb