09 February 2014 | Whangerei
19 January 2014 | Opua, NZ
06 January 2014 | Port Stephens, Australia
03 January 2014 | Port Sidney, Australia
30 December 2013 | Sidney Harbor, Australia
23 December 2013 | Port Stephens
04 December 2013 | Opua, NZ
18 November 2013 | Opua NZ
08 November 2013 | South of Denerau, Fiji
26 October 2013 | Denerau Fiji
16 October 2013 | Musket Cove, Fiji
05 October 2013 | Blue Lagoon, Yasawa Island Group, Fiji
01 October 2013 | Sawa-I-Lau Island in the Yasawa group of islands
24 September 2013 | Somosomo, Fiji
24 September 2013 | Somosomo bay on Naviti Island in the Yasawa group of islands, Fiji
12 September 2013 | Malolo Lailai
07 September 2013 | Nadi Fii
14 October 2016 | Valdez, AK
It is the middle of October. Temperatures are dropping like we are in Alaska. Even so it's not Halloween and the locals have already hibernated. The tourists have all fled south. At 8am it is still dark. Snow has fallen on top of our surrounding mountains. So what do we decide to do? Road trips. We need to see the Kenai Pennisula (Homer), the Northern Lights, and Valdez.
It turns out the Kenai pennisula has oil and gas fields, so there are relatively big cities there. And it is flat (except for the mountains that surround Seward). Homer has enormous tides and a sand pennisula that is HUGE. It also has Nothern Lights, but we slept through that opportunity.
Valdez is considerably further away from Seward than Homer and we cross the bottom part of Alaska. What did we see? Well, no cars or trucks except us. That's a little alarming when the temperature drops into single digits and you realize that if something happens you are all alone in a vast wilderness. But, cross fingers, we know that "You gotta get lucky" and we still are.
Turns out the ski areas at Valdez were somewhat exaggerated. They drive to Thompson Pass with the car and ski down to the highway below. Its a majestic run, but there is no ski lift or ski patrol. There is also a rope tow beginner hill near town. This is what a small town can muster for winter entertainment and actually I'm thinking it would be a whole lot of fun, but Alyeska will be better. We are pretty happy that we chose to winter over in Seward. Being close to Anchorage is a giant plus. And it turns out we found "work".
Yup, we are now "house sitters". We have three jobs lined up! The houses are outside of town and actually pretty typical of Alaskan homes. Our big assignment is to feed the dogs and keep the heat going even if the power fails. People don't just leave their houses here. Someone needs to pay attention because of the cold (and the dogs and bears). The jobs are short duration (a week or two at a time). We actually get paid for this! This will broaden our Alaska experience and we are making friends. Friends matter even more during long cold dark winters.
The picture shows the Worthington glacier on the road into Valdez. Note that we are mostly alone where tourists normally swarm during the summer.
The First Winter Storm Arrived
21 September 2016
We've read about this. They say, "Summer ends quickly in Alaska". I'm thinking it is true. But how it arrives,...that is the lesson.
It blows in. Last night the wind reached 60 knots with heavy accompanying rain. Fortunately we were facing into the wind and behind a very excellent breakwater. Even so, 60 knots gets your attention.
WE bounced a little. Fortunately "bounce" didn't develop into "heave". Heave breaks lines and bashes boats to bits against the dock. So, we worried but all was well. I'm told that we have this rather excellent marina because of the 1964 earthquake which included almost total devastation of Seward with an accompanying (really really big) tidal wave!
The photo shows 8 lines holding Panta Rhei to the dock. Also the dock has a metal rail to tie to and steel pilings on both sides of the dock. You might ask, "So why do you worry?" You have to feel 60 knots of wind in a moving 44,000 pound boat before you can understand. It's a lesson that will leave you, "sucking air".
Checking out Alyeska Ski Resort
31 August 2016
Winter is coming. Each day is 5 minutes shorter than the last. Tourists are thinning out in downtown Seward. It's time to think about how we are going to spend the long winter nights. Worry abounds.
But wait! We can buy ski passes at Alyeska Ski Resort. And when the light wanes, they turn on artificial light and we can night ski. Now there is an idea! So how can we check this out?
It turns out that the resort is open year round and in the summer it is busy with hikers and mountain bikers. That turns out to be a community that is much younger than we are. We rode the tram to the top of the mountain and walked down. Sounds like a good plan, right? The scenery was utterly breathtaking, majestic. The air was cool and crisp and invigorating. And we were with our friends Paul and Louise Albert. We hadn't planned on the walk down being so STEEP. Before too long our quadriceps began to loose strength. We rested, and then moved on. Each time we moved we went a shorter distance. Before long we were near to our limits but still there was more down to go.
Fast forward to the restaurant; we all were laughing hysterically at the memory of Paul trying to keep walking but without working quadriceps and eventually falling over. But we learned that after a while we could get up again. And so it shall be when we ski.
WE also found out the resort has a salt water swimming pool and a hot tub. This is sounding like a very good plan!
We are becoming residents of Seward, AK
05 August 2016 | Seward, AK
It is common in the sailing community to "dis" cold climates. This is also a common occurance in the retirement community. But there are times when the road less traveled looks pretty good. We just spent the better part of a year in an oppressively hot environment just north of the equator where to live you needed to be pretty much naked. Shorts and T shirts, the retirement uniform, were soaked in sweat.
But then we took a really big trip and ohhhhh what a change. In the middle of summer everyone was wearing coats. Rain felt like liquid ice cubes. And everything was green. The weather is good now, but winter is coming. We have time to go south and in fact most our friends that traveled here are going on to Seattle. But not us. Not yet. We are going to see this place including in winter.
To winter here you need a safe place. The weather isn't just cold, it gets stormy too. So we have found a dock behind a breakwater with power and water. And we are in a town with a good library, pool, restaurants, acquarium, grocery store .. We are enjoying being fully back in the USA. What we needed was a car, so we bought a new one!
Its a Chevrolet Equinox and it is a marvel. We are so loving it even as we struggle to learn how to operate it. This isn't your 1950's chevy. All new cars have improved and we are totally enjoying the improvements.
Before the snow comes we will take a road trip to Denali and Fairbanks where there are hot springs and vistas. The picture shows our new silver ice metallic car.
What is Panta Rhei going to do next?
26 July 2016 | Whittier, AK
John and Marcy and the grandkids have completed their vacation and are headed back to work. It was a grand vacation for us all. And it all happened at a pace of a young working couple. Now we go back to a retirement pace. We started that process with a nap.
This retirement is a strange thing. There are so many choices. It isn't really clear which is best. We are headed into fall in Alaska. Already we have rain and more wind. Do we stay in Seward or Cordova or Valdez or Sitka? We have friends coming to Seward (Rod and Elizabeth) and friends who live in Seward (Paul and Louise and Samantha and Jesse). We know very old friends (Fran and Jim) who are living in Sitka. We don't have friends in Cordova or Valdez yet. They appeared to be friendly cities. There is a decrease in the infrastructure in the smaller cities and the water at the docks gets turned off during winter. We can get water, but it may be an effort. Probably in Sitka it would not be quite as difficult due to their more southerly and maritime weather. We are studying this situation and trying to make a decision. If it is Sitka, there appears to be a weather window developing about the end of this week. Hmmmm? Big decisions.
I posted a picture that explains some of the inputs we are getting. (note, I couldn't actually post the picture due to website difficulties. The picture reads: For your safety because of Whittiers severe winter conditions, please wear ice cleats when walking outside)
Prince William Sound with John and his family
19 July 2016 | Valdez, Alaska
Our son John and his wife Marcy and their two children, Zee and Olyn have visited us. Yay! We are trying to show them all of Alaska in only a few days. So far we've been to two tidewater glaciers and a waterfall anchorage and a grassy meadow anchorage. All beautiful, including sun, calm wind, and warm weather. So what was their reaction? John wants to sail more! I keep telling him the wind will come. And in the meantime, we have glacier ice for our drinks.
John wants to see Cordova where we are considering spending the winter. They have a ski area that is basically in town! It is a small town, but it has a swimming pool across from the marina and the marina has full hook ups. Today we are in Valdez (also a nice town that is a possibility). Tomorrow we will go to Cordova (Its a two day trip).
The picture shows John on the bow where he was scouting for ice on the trip to the face of the Columbia glacier.