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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Pool

This summer the blow up pool in the yard has been a HUGE hit.  We fill it up with hot water from the bath inside the house using a hose to siphon the hot water.  And then the kids will run and jump into it for hours. They even do flips.  Patrick

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Audubon Hike up Monashka Mountain

Nearing the top with Monashka Bay in the background

Today I lead an Audubon hike (click here for more info on hikes) up Mount Monashka and 29 other people and 4 dogs showed up for the hike! That's the most I've ever had as a hike leader.  My previous high was 17 people for a hike up Sheratin.  At times I'd look back and see them all strung out behind and felt like the 'Pied Piper' playing my flute.  Either that or the lead bull in an elk herd.

Audubon hikes are always great because you never know who you'll meet or end up talking with.  There is always an incredible diversity of locals and out-of-town visitors on the hikes.  And everybody has a story to tell.  Today we also had some pretty good weather.  Nothing like a blue bird day on the top of Mount Monashka with the blue, blue sea all around and the green, green, green spruce forest down below.  Patrick

Cami on top

That's town in the background

The wind was pretty strong and could partially hold you up when you leaned against it

25 people on the top of Mount Monashka all at once - it's got to be a record

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Community Archaeology Goals for 2014

Next week is the start of the Alutiiq Museum's Community Archaeology dig, and tonight (7PM at the Alutiiq Museum) I am giving an introductory talk about the dig to potential volunteers.  Here are a few slides from the talk that outline what we found last year and hope to learn this year. Hope to see you there!   Patrick

Last year we found a small, late-prehistoric multiroom house right at the top , but the site turned out to be very deep and has been a place Alutiiq people visited for well over 6000 years.

Community Archaeology has focused on the archaeology of one area of Kodiak, and over the last 17 years the Alutiiq Museum has had the opportunity to excavate a great many different types of sites.

The over-arching goal of the program is to understand the Alutiiq seasonal round in one bay and to examine how it changed through time.

For the last few years the program has focused on sites at the head of Womens Bay - we expected simple late summer fish camps and found that and so much more! 

Last year we did not get down to the bottom in our main block and ground penetrating radar (Thank you Ryan and Terrasond) clearly shows the late prehistoric house's sideroom.  The house is interesting because it represents a 'type' of house - the fish camp rather than winter house

The site is HUGE and we will be testing other areas of the site to see if different activities are taking place elsewhere on the site.  How does the site differ from other nearby sites?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mount Monashka Hike

A view from earlier this summer about half way up the mountain

Next Sunday (20th of July) I am leading an Audubon hike up Mount Monashka. This is one of my favorite hikes because you get to hike through both Sitka Spruce rain forest and Kodiak's high alpine.  And then when you get to the top you have one of the best views there is of town.  The mountain is very close to the ocean and you feel right above it.  However it is a STEEP climb and there are lots of muddy areas and creek crossings - so be prepared.

Anyway, if you are interested I leave from the Visitors Center by the Ferry landing at 9:30 AM.  See hiking schedule posted below for more details or click here for more information.  Patrick

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Back and forth to Afognak

On our last trip to Afognak Erica and I took most of the gear over in a Boston Whaler.  I was impressed with how much it carried!  The trickiest and most stressful part was backing up the boat on the trailer.  The trip itself from Anton Larsen Bay to Afognak only took a 1/2 hour or so, and anchoring up the boat proved to be fairly easy.  It was also the first time I have skippered a boat by myself to Afognak.  I have made the trip countless times before, but it has always been with someone else driving.

The trip reminds me of when I was a kid and we did a similar trip in Maine from the mainland across Penobscot Bay to North Haven Island.  We had an old aluminum Mirror Craft with a Mercury 50 horse on the stern and sharks teeth painted on the bow like a WWII fighter plane.  We called the boat 'Jaws'.  No electronic navigation aids back then, and when it was foggy you'd take a compass bearing, account for the tidal current, and go.  Then when you got to the other side you had to go slow for a while until you recognized where you had ended up.  Once oriented you turned the appropriate direction and finished the trip to the North Haven harbor.

The GPS gear on the whaler we took to Afognak took all the guess work out of it.  The GPS shows all the rocks and a map of where you are going.  And it was sunny and clear anyway.  However, I still found myself staring a little too hard at it, and not watching where I was going!  I think I preferred boating without the gadgets, but I also realize that for safety reasons there is no going back to those days.

Anyway, the whaler is too small to take the whole family and gear over to Afognak.  But it does lighten up the plane load, and a lighter load is a cheaper floatplane charter than a heavy load.  Funnily enough we also looked into boat charters over to Afognak and the floatplane costs about the same as a boat charter!  The floatplane also carries more, and is way, way more convenient.  Patrick

Taking the kids out for a joy ride in the whaler out at Afognak

Load of gear for the whaler on the ride home

Willy and the beaver floatplane took 6 passengers and personal gear

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lovin' on the beach

Our July trip to Afognak held the warmest weather we've ever had for a remote trip. The sun was blazing for 2 days and the dark sand on the north beach was too hot for the feet.  

On a warm beach day you'll often find me laying upon a piece of driftwood with my arms to my side soaking in every ray. Or tracing pictures and patterns into the sand. Or just watching the kids tidepool with the never ending curiosity about their findings and desires for a hermit crab pet. 

 Out on Afognak, I truly take advantage of the beaches. Laying my head against driftwood, tracing pictures into the sand with my finger and watching the kids so enthsiastically  explore the tidepools -it all recharges the soul. Here in town we live a stone throws away from a beach and I go there so infrequently. That behavior pattern needs to seriously change! 

Doing the dishes-a favorite camp chore of mine. I meander to the ocean front-balancing a tall stack of cups, bowls, plates and sporks precariously. Arriving at the shore, I use the pebble and sand along with seawater to scrape, rinse and swish out the food and oils. The water laps at the beach, seaweed swirls around. The ocean always feels surprisingly warm to me during this routine chore. The word chore conjures up an activity that is unpleasant, so I can hardly use that term to sum up my experience of washing the dishes in that gorgeous sea water! 

Innova inflatable kayaks on the beach at Old Afognak Village

hours of fun in the mud!

My neice, Cami, kayaking solo 

Nora adores every chance to roll up her pantlegs and wade, wade, wade. :)

Group kayak outing!


Friday, July 11, 2014


There are several authors in my writing & reading world who have recently inspired me to be less *shy* about my writing and to get my pen moving on the paper.

One is our next door neighbor, Leslie Leyland Fields. She is  a well known author, long time Alaskan fisherwoman and has a blog. She did a recent post which I particularly enjoyed...
Leslie fields blog link here

The post I linked above was one she did earlier this summer about the challenges of writing. And a reminder that there are times of discouragement, self-doubt, criticism form others as we share our work with others.  In Leslies words, from her blog:

"In all the betrayal, admiration and lights, here is what you do:

You work at loving them all, and you keep on writing (or singing or sculpting or knitting or designing).

You will not be hushed, not by hurt or by hate; you keep on writing.

You will not keep trying to satisfy insatiable people; you keep on writing.  

You will not listen to critics in the shadows afraid of their own lives; you keep on writing.

 You will not let praise erode your stability; you keep on writing (and rewriting.)

Don't let anyone shoot down your moon. Tell the truth. Please God. Love your neighbor. Love your enemies. And for the sake of us all, 

keep writing." -Leslie Leyland Fields 

Another fellow blogger wrote on a similar vein in her blog:

Life Goes on I think Blog Link Here

The author, Paige, attends a talk by author Jennifer Weiner and during the talk Jennifer gives a piece of advice to the group which  particularly resonates with Paige. She says, "You sit in a chair and you write. You can't wait for inspiration."

I'm hearing a similar thread of writing wisdom from my writing teacher Marilyn Bousquin Webpage Every minute of writing counts. It doesn't have to be perfect, pretty, refined. It just has to be. And I have to let it become what it is. Moving the pen  stirs the subconscious and brings the words to the page.

The most important thing I'm learning from my writing class is to put my writing first. Because putting my writing first, is putting myself first. For so many years when I've wanted to write, I haven't. There is always a floor to be swept, clothes to be folded, kids to be tended to, e-mails to be written.  Those things will always be there and I'm beginning to see theres no time like the present to write and get the stories and thoughts down on paper.