Our trip has begun!

Yesterday we shed our foul weather gear for bathing suits and something about that gorgeous sun on our sickly white, translucent bodies just made it feel official.  Our trip has begun!  Until yesterday we had been sailing day and night fully clad from head to toe, with only a little slit for our eyes between where the winter hat left off and the collar of our fully zipped foul weather jackets began.  Unlike Erik, I had the luxury of my finger tips basking in the sunlight since I had decided on fingerless sailing gloves, but still you get the point, not a lot of warm weather on the way down.  Due to the timing of our departure, the first of February, we have had a painfully slow trip down the California coast dodging storms, crab pots, and a severe lack of wind.  The one thing that San Francisco did not prepare us for was how to sail in such alarmingly light air.  Our tried and true response to the incessant luffing of a sail has always been to turn to the iron genny, but that method is not going to work for much longer.  If we keep feeding Resolute diesel the way we have been our own food budget is going to start feeling the sting.

We arrived in Santa Catalina four days ago, after a brief stop over in the rugged, breathtaking northern Channel Islands.  At their closest point, the northern Channel Islands are a mere 30 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, however, we had them all to ourselves.  Well, not entirely to ourselves if you count the large pod of playful dolphins that escorted us both into our anchorage and out two days later.  Our first stop in Catalina was the small town of Two Harbors.  We arrived just as the sun was rising, which made a surreal scene that much more otherworldly.  Laid out in front of us was approximately 200 mooring balls with a backdrop of soaring cliffs, and a small Mediterranean looking village with skinny palm trees reaching skyward.  Our gawking abruptly transitioned to full on go mode when we saw the location where Charlie’s Charts directed us to anchor.  A tight little beauty with cliffs on one side, partially submerged rocks on the other.  It turned out to be quite spacious with the use of a bow and stern anchor to prevent any swing, however, a couple days later when we woke up to 4 other boats trying to share the 200 square foot anchorage, we knew it was time to go.

Another reason for leaving the quaint little spot came the night before in the form of harbor patrol steaming up to our boat.  We waved a friendly hello to the rapidly approaching patrol boat, naively assuming they were there to welcome us to the area similar to the gracious greeting we received by harbor patrol upon arrival in Morro Bay several weeks earlier.  As the boat pulled along side of us the man behind the wheel quickly revealed the bad news.  We had been banned from the island.  Yes, you read that correct, we had been banned….from the island.  My jaw dropped to the cockpit floor, then remembering my gullible tendencies I began to laugh, I had been duped again, harbor patrol must be having a little fun with the newbies.  But unfortunately, I was wrong, again, it took him several minutes to convince me he was not joking. I abruptly stopped laughing and he explained the reason for our banishment.  It turns out the outdoor beach showers that you see littered along public beaches across Florida and California, were on Catalina privately owned and were only to be used by people staying at the campgrounds.  Ooops!  After a long talk with harbor patrol and a couple trips to and from our boat, we lessened our banishment to only the campground itself, like I said before, it was time to go.

Following our bathing suit clad motor sail yesterday we arrived at the indescribably beautiful Small Harbor anchorage on the south side of Catalina.  There is a small campground along the beach (with showers we will not use!) and a vehicle pull out, but overall the place is pretty empty and we are the only boat for miles.  We are trying to enjoy a little of the slower more relaxed lifestyle we came on this trip to pursue, but so far has just felt like another to do item on the list.  As I sit here in this pristine cove I am reminded the daunting list of boat projects to be completed, phone calls to be made, and trip plans to be finalized, all can wait.  The sun here will set at precisely 5:56 pm and it will rise again at 6:13 am tomorrow morning bringing with it a whole new set of things to do.  I will let them wait…

Leaving Golden Gate behind on the second day.


Sailing California coast

Half Moon bay pier


Sailing California coast

Hanging by the Neptune pool at Hearst Castle


Sailing California coast

Our first overlook with lonely Resolute below


Sailing California coast

Amazing Morro Bay!


Sailing California coast

Morro at night


Sailing California coast

Sailing wing and wing in the Pacific


Sailing California coast

Santa Cruz island, WOW


Sailing California coast

Isthmus bay, Two Harbors, Catalina Island. DO NOT use the showers!


Sailing California coast

Remembering friends and good times with a little taste of Alameda


Sailing California coast

What we have been searching for. Remote anchorages with breathtaking views.



Buying a boat and other setbacks

Sooo, Meagan and I have been keeping quiet lately but for good reason. We have had a lot going on. It’s a wonder we have any hair left on our heads and that not all of it is grey yet! Not all of it anyway.

Over the last few months we have made a lot of changes. Getting accustomed to the fast paced, traffic dominated lifestyle of the Bay Area, not the least of them. After the holidays and the many great visits with family and friends we had early in the new year, we faced our first major setback. What felt like food poisoning soon revealed itself to be something much more sinister. After seeing my text, “I Need Help. In  Bathroom”, Meagan ran to the Marina’s men’s restroom and found me nearly incapacitated on the shower floor.  Even without health insurance it didn’t take us long to decide a visit to the nearest hospital was in order. Especially when the symptoms I relayed to Meagan matched word for word the symptoms of appendicitis in her trusty WebMD app.  A short but excruciatingly painful car ride and a few tests later we were prepping for surgery. It only took a whopping six hours from the first grumblings of stomach upset to laying on a gurney counting backwards to oblivion with a tube shoved up my nose.


When I woke, we knew we were in a world of hurt (financially). Luckily I now had my health back and that was a relief. Our healthcare system being what it is, we had to wait several weeks for the multiple bills to start circulating in. $1668- surgeon, $632- ER doctor, $570- lab work, $1620- anesthesia, $35,000 hospital, wait, WHAT!! Yup, in all the total bill was looking like it would be near the $40,000 mark. Hmmm, Fuck. So began the work of finagling with all the billing agencies, pleading for assistance, and luckily receiving some. In the end our bill appears as though it will be significantly reduced, but still enough for a down payment on a modest home. Below is the inside of our MacGregor during some tiring evening trying to figure out how to not end up in the poor house. (Or are we already there?)

20140301untitled shoot7028

The more exciting news is that we have taken this time to buy, yep I said it, buy, another larger boat and fix it up. In the mean time Meagan has successfully landed a project geologist position at a localish environmental engineering firm and I have begun recovering physically and am currently looking for work while doing all the prep work on the new boat. Life sure keeps us on our toenails!


Spoiler alert, the new boat is below. It’s a Cascade 36 cutter. More to follow…



Windy Mountains to Windmills

Driving all the way down from Alaska to Florida in nine days is a form of time travel. In the beginning we found ourselves in the middle of the winter’s first snow storm. And at the end we had successfully navigated through all the stages of fall and into the perpetual summer of Florida.

One thing I have heard said a lot and never agreed with is that wind generators are ugly. Hopefully this image helps to change people’s minds and shares the beauty that I think wind farms create. Taken around sunset somewhere in Kansas.

wind generators at sunset

A beautiful promisealaska mountainsWinter is comingsnow on the spruceSnow between spruce

Nissan Xterra rear sleep platform

“I’m too long, can’t we just chop the lower few inches off my legs?” I said exacerbated as I lay cramped and contorted in the back of a fully packed Xterra. “Quit being a baby!” is Meagan’s quick response. This conversation is visited and re-visited during our long adventures into the backcountry, trying to stealth camp in illustrious locations such as: the Wrangell Mountains, the Dalton Highway, and dimly lit corners of Wal-Mart parking lots. I find myself too tired to keep driving and Meagan uses the wonderful excuse that driving at night “makes my eyes hurt”. In the end we are forced to push all our stuff to the front seats and side of the car, lay out our sleeping bags and pads, jump in and try and get situated before calling the dogs up to come lay on top of us. All this in the space that is usually reserved for ones yoga mat.

In an effort to avoid these uncomfortable situations on our future journey, we came up with a solution. Albeit stolen heavily from others’ internet posts and forum discussions. The idea is to provide an elevated sleeping platform which can be folded out once  parked to provide a full 6 ft 3 in bed. On top we would have our refrigerator, dog bed, and people bed. Underneath would be adequate storage for most of our belongings. Simple, cheap, and effective. Just our style. Below are some images of the sleep platform right after construction. And one on the trip down south from Fairbanks all the way to Florida! Notice the outboard on the roof. You never can be too prepared…


rear vehicle sleep platform

rear view with fridge and water jugs

homemade sliders

close up of homemade fridge slides


fridge slid out


tie down points


fully loaded with gear


all dirty with outboard on roof

A weekend in Talkeetna, Alaska

Small-town Alaska can be a strange place. Despite Talkeetna’s high rate of tourist turnover, they have still kept, if not increased, their strangeness. One thing they have in spades, though, is hospitality. Where else would more than one person offer an unclaimed mattress laying out in a back alley to a weary traveler? I wandered the (street)s of Talkeetna for a day after my field season ended and crew had left town. I was waiting for my sister and her husband with their band, St. Animal in tow, to come down and play at the local Mountain High Pizza Pie restaurant; a great way for me to unwind after a busy summer. I split most my time between staring at the wonderful view of Denali from the junction between the Susitna and Talkeetna rivers, and making a name for myself with the locals as the guy who sits on all the business porches for hours waiting for something(?) while watching all the tourists walk down the middle of the streets lost in either Disneyland flashbacks or doing an excellent job of recreating a Hollywood zombie movie. When not doing either of these things, I found myself trying to fill a void in my stomach at many of the excellent local eateries, (OK, mostly pubs) after too much hiking . I must say, not a bad weekend…


Denali peak with beaver swimming in the Susitna River

Talkeetna river bridge

AKRR Talkeetna river bridge


Conscious coffee house in Talkeetna

Spinach Bread

Best food in town- Spinach bread (get the daily special!)


Saint Animal in concert at Mountain High Pizza Pie

Lone guitarist

Late night guitarist serenading Denali

I crossed the River Styx, and lived…

For me, summer is a time of chaos, long hours, travel, and moments of serenity found in nature. These are a sampling of images that tell a story of the first half of my summer field season. As a geologist for the State of Alaska I was fortunate to explore the Western Alaska Range’s Styx River and Kuskokwim  River regions by foot and by helicopter. There really is no better way to see the state. We were based out of the historic Rainy Pass Lodge, one of the oldest lodges in the state and also one of the first checkpoints on the iconic Iditarod dog sled race.


surreal lake

glassy puntilla lake


long exposure puntilla lake

Long exposure of puntilla lake


4th of July Fireworks

4th of July fireworks at Rainy Pass Lodge


northern volleyball

Volleyball at Rainy Pass Lodge


Puntilla lake float plane

Float plane taking off out of Puntilla lake


radio repeater setup

Radio repeaters and solar setup


Rainy pass lodge

Rainy Pass Lodge looking South


glacial lake swimming

Glacial lake swimming


GoPro selfie

Solo morning traverse



glacial geology


Steep slopes

Any sheep?


never ending mountains

Never ending mountains


rock and ice

Brightly colored slope


scree slope

The beckoning slope


colorful ridge

Ridge worker


helicopter pilot and view


women looking over ledge

The ponderer


summer slowers

Alpine flowers


sunny slope

Sun spot


narrow landing

Tight landing


helicopter fieldwork

Helicopter fieldwork


glacial recession panorama

Glacier recession


Foggy Morning

Foggy morning


Puerto Rico- a tropical escape

sailing boats in Ensanado Honda, Dewey, Culebra

Over the Holidays Meagan and I were fortunate enough to travel down to Puerto Rico and sail around the tropical waters on my parents (retirement plan)  sailboat “Azaya”. We spent 9 days sailing around the eastern waters mainly near the island of Culebra. The water temps were a near constant 82 degrees and we were able to swim off the boat nearly every day. A luxury that does not go unappreciated by two frozen northerners!

Another post will follow this one with a video of our trip taken mainly from footage using our new gopro hero 3 black edition. So keep an eye out for that, and to save you some hassle don’t forget to sign up for our blog updates via whatever method you choose on the right of the screen.

bio luminescent bay

The image above of the blue swirls is actually a long exposure image of a bio luminescent bay on the island of Vieques. The yellow in the upper corner are city lights from the island. Bio luminescence is a natural wonder that rivals that of the northern lights in my mind. We spent nearly 3 hours mesmerized by the glowing of fish as they swam in the dark water bellow us startled into motion by unseen dangers.

amarillos or fried plantains

One of our new found delights were amarillos or “yellows” for us gringos. They consist of sliced plantains fried in coconut oil and served hot. After my first taste I found myself searching for them on every menu we passed.