Home sweet home.

     All work and no play makes Ronjohn a dull boy. Aside from my weekend reprieves at shelf road, and my week long hiatus for thanksgiving in southern Utah, giving up my time for money has dominated my life. Time is in fact the most important and precious thing we have, yet how often we think nothing of giving it away. I can’t wait to have my time back. In an effort of foresight, I am trying to set myself up a space where I don’t have to worry about how much money is coming in, therefore freeing myself of this burden if giving my time away. For five days, my dad came and slept in uncomfortably cold conditions so that he could help me build a nice shed to live in.

     Knowing my dad as I do, I can also say that he had some joy in the creation of something. What is more enjoyable than taking a blank piece of land and erecting walls to hold the heat in, and windows to frame the mountains. It was nice to create with him, even though there were points of frustration, usually miscommunication. Since he’s been building or reworking a structure every couple of years ever since I can remember, my dad knows framing. Usually when we argued about how to do something, we were trying to say the same thing, but couldn’t communicate it. It’s funny sometimes the Father son dynamic. I had to convince him that my thirty-three years on this planet has bestowed on my some knowledge. In general, fathers expect that they will always know more than their kids, so it makes it hard for them to listen. We got better and better as a team each day, and once the stress of a bare plot of land was turning into the last few OSB panels on the roof, we were flawless communicators. I learned especially that Dad has to see things visually, while I like to imagine it in my head and describe it.

     Unfortunately, we ate at about a third of our meals at fast food restaurants, and another third were turkey or ham sandwiches. Both of these have the benefit of no preparation time, so we could continue working. Is that how the rest of society regularly operates? So maxed out in time that the easiest thing to do is go buy a few things on the dollar menu. The problem of cooking was compounded by the fact that my van ran out of propane on the first day. Though I knew it was coming soon, it was very inconvenient. Still, I was able to cook a few meals on my whisperlite camp stove, usually late breakfasts with potatoes or yams, and eggs. Oh how I can’t wait to do dishes in a sink, and not squatting!

     As far as the building is concerned, it is very tall. Disproportionately tall for its base. My dad had previously built a tiny home in Grand Junction, and I didn’t really want to use his previous specifications because the loft, to me, felt really crowded. My idea was to build a four foot wall on top of the first. And so we did. This extension, along with the barn style roof created such a high volume upper level that I had trouble going to sleep thinking, “I’m going to have to buy a ceiling fan to push all the heat that is going to get trapped up there.” Once we covered the roof however, the space seemed a little more reasonable. My goal was to store my 9’6” surf board suspended from the roof, which is certainly possible as it’s built. I may even have to use a step stool to slide it into place, which is good, because it will still be well overhead when I’m standing in the loft.

     It’s getting colder now, and I still have to lay the shingles when I  get back. I had to drive my dad back to grand junction after he delivered me a trailer and van, so while I’m here I’m trying to give back to a few of his reparation projects; he is replacing single paned windows and siding on a rental property he has. Our ability to work together has only strengthened. As my granny Jo has recently passed away, I also find myself cherishing these moments with my dad, since in twenty years I’ll probably be losing my parents as life guides and friends. Time seems to move faster when your older due to each year being a proportionally smaller fraction of your life. This opposed to when you were five and a year was one fifth of your total existence. I can only hope that I make the most of it.

 

 

 

My assimilation into Texas,and why I fly the flag union down

     I have been here in Rockport long enough to fill my gas tank twice: about a month and a half. The life is enjoyably slow, with no hustle and bustle whatsoever. Any work that gets done doesn’t need to start til around ten o’clock, and the few cold snaps that came through were cast off as workless days. My neighbor to the south, Tom on the “Tomandra”, has been allowing me to use any tool that I need, for which I am eternally grateful. He hurt his back last week, and I was lucky enough to be able to return the kindness by taking his dog for a walk while he was in recovery, staying on the boat. Craig, my neighbor to the north, on “Cat Man Do” has also allowed me to use his wheel and palm sanders, and when I needed to clear the zinc blockages from my raw water system, he had a tub of muriatic acid at the ready to do the job. All the boat owners around are full of endless advice, and are a great bunch, despite their tendency to start drinking well before noon.

     Muddy is adjusting well to the routine, often with a morning walk and ball chasing in the shallow salt water bay. He spends the hotter time of the day under vehicles, as the combination of shade and concrete provide the cooling he needs. Certainly he is missing playing in the snow, as am I, but there will be time for that another season. Muddy will often take off when I’m down below not paying attention. Usually he heads straight for the cement tables which are on the waterline a hundred yards away. He can nearly always find a crumb or scrap of food there, and the locals which hang out there have taken to him. Muddy is a people puppy.

     Yesterday I raised the American flag on my boat, union down. I have never seen a time in this country that we were in such dire circumstances, and feel that we are certainly under duress. The corporations which have inundated this country’s law books are out of control. They have been out of control for a long time. Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex. Today we tear countries apart, often using private contractors, mercenaries, then build them back up (government contracts for Halliburton and Bechtel). We have allowed a corporation to be a person, giving them infinite donation capability, and effectively destroying the democracy we thought we had. In fact we live in a kleptocracy. Members of the house and senate rely on donations from profit making corporations to get the advertising revenue they need to be re-elected. Congress members also have a disproportionate success rate in the stock market due to inside trading. Yet we all continue to go to the ballot box misguided, disillusioned, and disenfranchised. Only once we figure out that our success as a country comes from our ability to work together in harmony will we “make America great again.” We are in fact a republic. We were built from the ground up, and should be ruled from the ground up. Local decisions should be made locally: decisions such as whether or not to frack upstream of organic farms as in the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison river, or if we want another pipeline running under our water supply as in North Dakota. The fossil fuel paradigm must be changed. Not by mandate of the government for better fuel mileage

or electric cars. Not by government mandate that oil companies produce less oil, or natural gas companies cut production. It must be from the ground up. YOU have to want to see the change, even if it means drastic changes in your lifestyle. Maybe don’t drive three hours to the mountains this weekend. Instead of flying to Central America or the Caribbean, try going to visit your parents around the block. I may be shot for flying a flag upside down in south Texas, but we should be ashamed of ourselves for how far we have let this country fall off track.

      Well, off today to plant some trees and flowers at Wayne’s house. Just something that I can do today to help the world be a more beautiful place. By now you probably understand my opinion on gardening and self sufficiency as paramount to the changes that need to take place. We can rebuild this country from the ground up.

     As far as the boat goes.  My head is in shambles as I fiberglassed in some supports for a new waste tank.  I can’t figure the wiring for the refrigerant compressor, so we may be eating canned goods and coconuts the whole trip.  Some of the fire extinguishers work (we have six but only are required to have two).  The cut I got on my foot over a week ago putting the zinc on and scraping the bottom has just barely started to heal itself.  Overall a little closer every day. 

I sure do hope my keel stays attatched…

     I have a laptop once again, and one that may be better overall for all the editing of videos and music that I will need to be doing while on the journey. It still feels a little unbelievable that we could be embarking by the end of next month. After close to three weeks of having no laptop to write with, it will be a slight effort to get back into the routine. So many things have gotten a little closer to being ready that it would be impossible to list them all. The new toilet is installed in the head, though we are still waiting on a waste storage tank to plumb her in. I have been varnishing a lot recently, an inexpensive way to kill time and make the boat look better by ten fold. The engine is all but properly tested (I was recommended to run it under a load, here at the slip, for six hours to ensure that there aren’t any surprises later on). The whisker pole, which had a jammed and corroded pin, is finally mounted on the deck once again. My van had a pivot joint that rusted beyond operability in the dense foggy climate, and so had to be disassembled and repaired. I took off the cover to the water tank, cleaned and inspected it. Potentially some cracks, but don’t think that it is leaking. There is a bit of standing water in the bilge, but from all I can determine it is from the melting Ice in the ice box that is failing to discharge into the aft bilge, and instead seeping through the wood more forward. I still hate electronics, but was able to wire in the two batteries that we got from my ranching friend, Wayne. I have yet to discover why the compressor for the refrigeration system on board is not operable, but maybe with a little time chasing wires I’ll be able to figure it out.

     There are a few more crucial things to fix before setting off, most importantly being the backing plates to the keel which are all but corroded into a solid mass of Fe 2+ and Fe 3+. We are going to have a guy on board to take a look who knows metal, an artistic welder type, but I think from the core j-bolts being charcoal grey we may have some structural integrity issues with the keel staying on the boat. The ballast of the boat, which balances the sails, is about 8200 lbs, a large majority of which being the lead keel bolted to the bottom of the boat of which we are speaking. You can look up pictures and videos of what happens when a keel falls of, but the short story is that the boat capsizes immediately. Perhaps this is the reason that many sailors would think myself a little on the crazy side for taking this boat into the gulf. The good news is that there is not a constant seawater leakage into the boat at this point, so the keel is not departing. Everything is stable now, safely in the slip, but as we hit heavy seas and are bouncing about in the gulf, or if we run aground while we are trolling around the cays in Belize, the keel may show it’s weaknesses instantaneously and more or less ruin our day. In order to feel somewhat secure out there we will have our rubber dingy with a dry bag loaded with all of the essentials for open ocean survival, along with an Epirb GPS device. We will also be making amendments to the keel stability by adding additional backing plates in between the old and corroded ones. As well we will be painting some anti corrosion paint on the top of the old backing plates in order to prevent further degradation.

     The last couple of weeks I had another guy live aboard in exchange for buying food. He has since left for Cancun, and we are going to try and meet up with him on our way to Belize. Robert apparently has a few properties that he is renting out in Idaho, so has little need to find work, a great person to have on board when your keel falls of in the shallows of Belize. I know for sure that things are going to break as we go along, this boat being over forty years old, and having somebody who would willingly help fund fixing a few things may be crucial to the trip.  Robert may be slightly off his rocker, but one think I’m sure of is he has no desire to murder me, he has a good heart.  

     Since it is a little uncertain how our auto steering system of surgical tubing, pulleys, and line will manage the boat, and in light of the fact that she will still need a watch stander to make sure all is right, I recruited a crew member who was walking the docks one morning. Randy, who knew nothing of sailing until we sailed around the bay recently, is stoked on the plan to sail to Belize. He is currently collecting alimony, and also has no financial obligations. When the seas are rough, and the winds are high, it will be randy and myself who are taking turns at the helm.

     Being the captain of a boat is a big responsibility. I am responsible for the knowledge of all parts of the boat. I am the navigator, though I’ve never navigated on the open seas. When we have water coming into a broken through hull, or when the head starts syphoning water, I am the guy who has to come up with the solution to fix it; ever the more so difficult at sea when you have only what you brought. Overall it is my responsibility for everyone’s safety. I made Randy well aware of the potential for calamity with the keel, and the fact that he is still excited for the journey brings light to his willingness to adventure. Probably the most important necessity of crew onboard the flying cloud is their willingness to adventure.

     In other news….Trump is ruling as dictator by executive order. All my biologist friends are out of work for the next four years due to Trumps stance on the environment (certainly he will stop funding any research that conflicts with his world view). Oil pipelines will be fast tracked, federal land is going to be leased or sold to petroleum companies, and environmental protections such as the endangered species act are going to be subverted. I think it unlikely that our differences (red and blue, left and right, environmentalist and corporatist) can be resolved without civil war.  All the more reason to leave the country via sailboat. At least I have the ability to quickly set up my silks and enjoy some playtime in the sky. I am counting on them to stave off boredom while at anchor in paradise, along with books and guitars of course.

Coffee is acidic, the solder on the motherboard of laptops is not

    I am at the library now, a short distance from the boat.  A lot is getting done on the boat, but as you may read by the headline, I spilled coffee and my laptop absorbed it like a sponge.  I will be getting back to a regular writing routine once I am able to procure another laptop.  Which shouldn’t be too much longer, since it is such a vital part of my life, and is hard to live without it ordering and researching so much online.

     As far as the boat goes, I have been trucking along.  Took it out three days ago (without much exhaust in the cockpit) and had a swell time on a light wind day.   We did however manage to hook our danforth anchor on the starboard bow railing as we backed out of the slip, lucky it was ready to be dropped and just fed out chain.  Quite the hilarious event after the fact.  The engine is up to par for the trip, the fresh water tank is bleached, some of the woodwork is being varnished day by day, anode and head are ready to be installed today, I got a few light wind sails and a storm jib from the neighbor, and I’m scraping the bottom a little at a time.  Still a lot to do, as always on a boat.  A waste tank, installing solar panels, a second bilge pump, and a bimini for the cockpit seem to be the last of the tasks to really have the boat ready to sail away(more will arise surely).  Wish us luck!  We will be keeping a close eye on the backing plates which support the 9200 pounds of ballast in the keel.  Hopefully it is all sound.  Love and light from the wonderful climate of Rockport, TX.

Eating my elephant one bite at a time…..

     The masses have gone back into their weekday routine: work, drive, drink. Not necessarily in that order. I heard them all early this morning, the rumbling of engines on 35 a few hundred yards away. The lawn maintenance guy is trimming the already weakened winter grass, and there are surveyors about for who knows what got awful structure they want to build next to the beach for a hefty profit. I have much to get done too, since the cold front put a halt to all work outside for the last two days. The fountain even froze to create a precarious ice structure that kids were later kicking at in their inquisitive way. It was nice to have a break to read however. I picked up “Bowditch’s Coastal Navigation” from the library, and find his experience, especially in regard to the mathematics describing celestial navigation very intriguing. I also finally got a hold of the previous owner in order to write a bill of sale that the coast guard demanded, USCG 1340, in lieu of our notarized hand written one (oh bureaucracy!). I was starting to get worried as the guy wasn’t answering his phone, and I had no other ways to get in touch with him.

     Now that the cold front has passed, I will be taking the sailboat out. It will probably be tomorrow or the next day, since I’d like to have the Lazarette hatch that I’ve been working on installed. It will probably be a long an arduous task, me refining the tensions on all of the standing rigging that I have made adjustments to. Oh what Joys it will be to finally take her for a ride though! There is not much on board that is “stowed for sea”, but with a quick run around the cabin I’ll be able to take care of most things, undoubtably missing one or another which will fall from a precarious perch. I’m curious what the coast guard will hit me for, if they do end up boarding. Likely there is something that I will be missing. I have life jackets, sound horn, fire extinguishers, passive ventilation that I think meets requirements, and I’ll be sure to remove the propane tank before I go out (since it is neither secured nor does it have an emergency solenoid cutout or pressure gage – I’ve been bleeding the line every time I use her.)

     The starboard side Lazarette and the front hatch cover have been my main points of focus as of recently. I took the advice of a friend and made an attempt to partially salvage the Lazarette hatch in which the wood that the hinges were going through had rotted out about half way to centerboard. I took a skill saw and cut across the board, carful not to disturb the fiberglass on the top side. I then glued a piece of plywood, and roughed up the surrounding wood in an attempt to give the glass something to fix itself too. Finally I layered composite fiberglass and a weave fiberglass matt that I hope will be strong enough.  I’ll never have to repair it again as long as I own the boat. The front hatch had a rotting piece of wood covering it, so I ripped it all out and replaced it with Luan, the flexible board for exterior doors. With A little paint and some NP1(the king of all sealants/adhesives) I will be sure to have a solid front hatch for many squalls to come.

     I had the pleasure of a visit from two good friends as well, who stopped by on their way to Portrero Chico in Mexico to go climbing. It worked out well that they arrived during the cold front, as their tent was more in line with the moderate temperatures they expected and not the horrifically cold and windy weather that arrived for a day or two. We heated the boat with the oven, a lasagna, and I made a batch of hot wine that we savored while playing hearts.  Let the good times roll!

Rockport, TX

     It has been a few days since I arrived at the boat, but my decision to see if I can’t sell her has lingered on my mind. I am putting her on Craigslist today to see what options are out there. If nothing else, I think I will come out on top financially. It is easy to write when things are going really well, but a little harder when times are tougher. Isn’t that what builds character, the hardships in life? I have been overwhelmed by all that there is to take care of on the boat. I raised all the sails to see how they look, just a few pinholes to be repaired with sail tape. The engine we got running with some starting fluid, though it had a knock and a seawater port which is clogged. The extra sails were damp from the leaking forward hatch, so needed to be aired out and refolded. It is almost impossible to get anything dry in this climate, since a misting fog covers everything in the morning. On many days the sun comes out and will temporarily make things dry. I lost another half of my potatoes to mold(should have been better about cleaning the dirt off thouroughtly). There was no propane tank or regulator, so still haven’t gotten the inboard stove working. It is hard for me to want to spend money on such things, since my income at the moment is zero (vanagons stove works just fine). I hope however to remedy the monetary situation by boarding one of the boats that takes off looking for oysters daily, and take in a small cut of the forty bags weighing ninety pounds that they are allowed each work day. The work is possible only if Muddy can come along: the crux of any work I get here. In general, boats are hole into which the amount of money which can be thrown into it is unlimited. I am getting so used to the boat, that I actually had the sensation that the van was rocking back and forth this morning while I was cooking my breakfast.

     There is a brighter side to life here: mainly the comfort of wearing shorts and a T-shirt all day long. I even find it hot during the portion of the day that the sun does decide to come out. Muddy may find it hot most of the time, since he’s got such a winter coat. Right now he is panting in order to cool himself off, which is his modus operandi most of the day here. I also get to go surfing and kite boarding on the regular, a consolation for not being able to ski or ice climb this year. I have had five good winters of skiing however, so it is a nice change of pace to be chilling in the warm climate here. The forcast is for a slight wind this afternoon, which will hopefully burn off this fog that has settled into the harbor. If I am lucky it will be strong enough for me to launch my kite again, and be pulled around the shallow beachside just a walking distance away.

     The birds that are around are my sole ecological companions. I was watching a great blue heron catch fish last night, standing on the edge of the pier peering into the water, then pouncing head first and arising with a fish three times the size of my thumb. He then oriented the fish in a head first manner to the back of his throat, and down it goes. I have also seen cormorants diving, and common loons. The brown pelicans are sitting at the end of the jetty where I go surfing. Grackles are continuously scouting their next meal around the van, and seagulls, which outnumber all the other birds, are similarly cruising and scavenging, often battling with one another for a coveted perch. There is a tower like fountain across from the boat which many birds frequent for water.

     If you ever wondered where the cotton for your T-shirts came from, you can bet it came from central texas. I saw plenty on the drive down to clothe the country for a decade. I also have found everybody to be quite friendly here, especially among the boat owners. I have had no shortage of advice on what to do next. I will continue to tinker, and fix things until the next stage reveals itself.

     The problems of the world persist, despite my losing track of them.  Oil money and the opinions which favor it are prevalent down here. I saw a kid, a twenty-five year old, throw a beer can into the water because “the harbor was full of junk already.” He grew up here and has the mindset that it doesn’t really matter anyhow, it will always be all polluted and junked up. He has worked on oil rigs in the past, but has also worked on fishing charters. He, and the rest of us who consume goods, are part of the problem. In the navy we threw aluminum cans overboard in burlap sacks with reasoning that the oxidation-reduction reactions with the saltwater would decompose them in a reasonable amount of time.  When far enough out, we also pumped radioactive water overboard.  Dilution is the solution!  Fukushima is still emptying into the pacific anyhow…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family time and preparation to embark

 

     “the world” seems as artificial to me as if I was in a play with a bunch of bad actors and an unruly president who doesn’t stick to the lines. Though not confirmed in the senate, the CEO of Exxon, the oil company, was nominated to be secretary of state. Grand Junction’s newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, was littered with articles that touted the rise of fossil fuel production and exploration they expect from the new president. Donald Trump continues to avoid the pathways of press conferences and news releases, opting to communicate with the public through the prescribed number of characters allowed in a Tweet, the media on both sides covering them extensively.

     The thing that is most perturbing about the state of the world is that the social paradigm is in such a fossil fuel rut that it seems impossible to pull out. On friday my mom and stepdad were driving four hours to Boulder to see a lyme’s disease specialist, after which we went go to visit my sister; the very reason that I went along for the ride. Climbers will frequently drive six hours for one route, my mom will drive six hours for one evenings visit. Who can blame her? My sisters kids are probably the most adorable pair in the world. The real problem is that all the loved ones have scattered themselves across the map, far away from their inception. Reasons such as a good job, a mild winter, a distant lover, or pleasant climbing temperatures scatter the masses, only to be brought back together by the breaking of carbon bonds in the engine of a car or airplane. We need systemic social change, in a community focused direction, I believe. Bring on the Permaculture!

     It feels great to be master of my own time, a condition which allows me to go on single day journeys such as the aforementioned.  Last night I racked the peach and concord grape wine that I made from grandpa’s fruit in order to ‘get it off the lees’, the yeast giving the wine an unpleasant bready flavor.  I’ll bottle it when I return in the spring. Thursday I dug the remainder of the potatoes I had in the ground, about fifteen feet. I lost a third of them to the cold, having a spongy side as a result of a freeze. The potatoes at the base of the plant however were still in fine form, and I look forward to supplementing my diet over the next few weeks with them. I still have a formidable pile of dried pears, peaches, peppers, and tomatoes along with a pile of australian butternut squash. Going to have to get the oven working on the sailboat quickly so I can do some brown sugar baked squash. One of the first news items I got on the radio was an industrial chemical spill in the Corpus Christi municipal water supply. Luckily for me the city of Rockport gets its drinking water from a different source. A reminder of the perils of the industrial age; rampant water contamination. Just because we can make something with the parts found on the periodic table doesn’t mean we should.

     Just about everybody I know is traveling by airplane somewhere for the holidays: Hawaii, Texas, Some other week long holiday. Will next year be different? Will the masses change their ways in the face of an extinction (this era is being geologically recorded as the sixth great extinction)? No, probably not. Well, got to go change my oil. Vanagon is going to south Texas in the AM: yeah I’m embarrassed by that, and you should be too in regard to your own fossil fuel squandering actions.

     I had two things I wanted to do this morning, finish this write-up and head for Texas. I can at least do one of those, but am in no state to travel since I got a stomach virus from my sisters kids and have been dry heaving bile once an hour since ten thirty last night. Still worth it to see the fam.  I’ll continue to fight the nausea with tylenol and sips of mountain dew.

Expending fossil fuels to amplify climate change

     Day by day the tasks ahead of me fall to the rear. This weekend my dad and myself completed the monumental task of moving everything I’ve ever collected into a storage unit, or as for gardening stuff, to my old hunters cabin, which is on the land I bought in a kind of mid-life crisis while going to 20161007_183928school. I need to get some rain barrels, but I hope that place will be a great spot for me to build once my wanderlust has subsided into the ever present aches and pains of aging. I surmise that if I go to the property to post up for the winter, it would be possible that I would become comfortable and never leave on a sailing trip: Hence my persistence to run to the ocean. The most interesting thing that I saw on the drive was certainly a red motorcycle, a crotch rocket, which passed us three times while we were driving, at twenty-five miles per hour up monarch pass. The first time we had just started up the pass, and he passed us going down, knee out and leaning into the curve. The second he was unnoticed until he passed us at probably sixty miles an hour heading up the pass. Before we could make it to the top, again he was screaming downhill for another go at the curves. What a way to risk it all! Sheer cliffs on the south side if ever a tire should slip loose from it’s grip would deter me from ever making such a bold statement of my motorcycle skill. On a track is one thing, but WOW!

     I harvested all of my squash in the garden including pumpkins, australian butternut, and a few patty pan. The garden is barely alive after many of the plants were wiped out by the freeze. There is a low spot at the bottom of the20161007_110236 hill which allowed for some air movement, so that the tomatoes I have in the upper part made it out alive, this time. Even though my weeds have been neglected in the garden since the end of the peach season, I am sad to see it all go. I will certainly need gloves to get at the potatoes when I dig them due to all the sharp weed capsules. I hope I can roast a few of these squash over the campfire for dinner, perhaps in the deep red desert of Utah.

     I am embarrassed to say that I saw the presidential debate on monday night. The presidential election has turned into a blatant entertainment event. Neither of these people are worthy of the presidency, and the country should act accordingly. The revolution does not start at the poling booth, it starts when the people refuse to submit to the tyranny that has crept up on them over the last two hundred years. Its YOUR job to fight it citizen.

20161011_153328     I changed my timing belt on my truck yesterday, having a few loose ends to finish up today: a gasket for the radiator hose, and tensioning all of the belts. I have always been fascinated by mechanical things. What genius to control so much by gear ratio’s an20161011_153304d spinning pulleys. Working on cars feels like a fun puzzle. You take it apart, with a wrench here, or a socket and extension there, all the while keeping careful track of your sequences and parts. Unlike taking something electrical apart, you get the gist of the way something mechanical operates.

     Since this is the first time I’ve talked of mechanical things, I also have to address climate change. Yes, it is a real thing. There are three facts that show the peril we are in, and each of these can be validated by a quick google search. Remember that it is your job to educate yourself ever since the internet made all information available to anybody and everybody? First, global temperature follows atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Second, the historical atmospheric carbon was cycling between 250ppm and 280ppm(by measuring the gas proportions in ice core samples way back). Our current ppm CO2 exceeds 400ppm, and in my lifetime atmospheric carbon will never be less than that. Third and finally, we have not slowed down the amount of CO2 that we are spewing into the atmosphere, and at the same time continually destroying our carbon sinks in the amazon and boreal forest. Four hundred ppm was a theoretical tipping point, at which some of the earths temperature mechanisms exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it. Permafrost, frozen for centuries, will thaw and release vast amounts of methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. As well, the melting ice caps will reduce the reflectivity of the planet(less reflective surface) causing more energy to be absorbed. As atmospheric temperature rises, so does the air’s ability to hold water(physics). We can all expect stronger storms(more thermal energy-enthalpy), localized droughts, flooding, sea level rise, and loss of habitat for many of the plants who established themselves hundreds of years ago. If you look at the forest service map of projected habitat change (temp and precip) it becomes readily apparent that long established trees are going to find themselves without adequate precipitation in the near future, needing to become higher in elevation(precip and elevation are correlated) instantly, but being rooted in the earth, unable to move. Sudden aspen decline is an example of this in Colorado.

     The changing climate may be in a battle against capitalism. Both cannot continue to exist in my opinion. It is up to YOU which comes out on top. It all starts with your daily activities. Are you flying to LA again this week? Maybe give that job up. In reality, it will take system wide social changes to actually combat our problem, yet those changes would be considered fringe by most. I’ll try not to be despairing about our plight, but it sure is hard to watch the bleaching of coral reefs(CO2 absorbed by the ocean is one of the largest carbon sinks) and the die off of our forests.  We certainly are not on a good path.

co2-vs-temp

Retreat to the mountains, and goodbyes

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Well,I just got back from being on the road again, always looking for adventure. I guess some people would say that I have a problem, an inability to settle in. My Vanagon is as much a self sufficient domicile as any sailboat, with stove and fridge built in at the manufacturer, westfalia in 1982. She is a Diesel, and she is slow. Taking her around is a constant reminder not to be in any kind of hurry. Experience the now. This is exemplified when I’m going up mountain passes at fifteen miles per hour with the most delectable views as people pass me at, perhaps, an unsafe speed. The fall colors are coming out now. Many people will be driving vast distances to have the carotenoid wavelengths directly contacting their cones at the back of the eye. I have fallen in with them as a driving enthusiast. October fourth was my birthday and I am one year, one day, further along the path that I’m on.

I find it easy to get out of the practice of writing when there is so much to take on. The last week I have been packing all of my belongings into boxes with a destination in mind: storage shed or sailboat. It has been an overwhelming task; and the four day break I gave myself around my birthday was well deserved and needed. Tomorrow my pops will be helping me move a trailer full of my belongings to Salida while we also take advantage of the weekend to camp and hike together in the mountains. My body feels well used with the few bits of adventure that I got the last few days, though my climbing skills have waned since I have not used them this summer. I have an itch in the back of my mind to disappear to Indan Creek, the climbers mecca, for a few weeks before my sailboat endeavor. The laundry list of things to fix sits on the back of my mind always, with the most concern being the standing rigging, and my ability to have a few bucks left over after fixing it all. The dream will have to be kept alive as a work in progress as I enjoy the last remnants of the fall here before heading to the nearly tropical, in my humble opinion, Rockport Harbor. We camped a few nights at higher elevations and even got snowed on last night, two inches or so. Those cloudy nights tend to be warmer anyhow. We met a Texas gentleman by the name of Stephen Ashworth who identifies himself as a through hiker. He was currently hiking a route that took him from the Delaware to San Francisco. He had hiked the Appalachian trial and the Pacific Crest Trail already and had been on this journey since January, ten months ago. He was excited to have somebody to chat with, and told us this route was much different than many of the other through hikes since it had much less day use traffic. He certainly was very remote when we met him; soon to to wallow through mud, and whatever storms drop more snow for the next week as he makes his way to Grand Junction. Meeting Stephen is a reminder that we all need a goal to focus on, even if that goal is just to walk fifteen miles today. With time the overall objective is slowly eaten away, and a fleeting sense of fulfillment arrises. Until the next objective! I have been inspired toward my goal in the evenings by reading Bernard Moitessier “The Long Way”, a story about one captain in a three boat single handed race around the world, who when he crossed his own track continued on to Tahiti without finishing the race. He has a great love of the sea, and mastery of the sextant; Something I hope to master in the not too distant future. Thank you for endless expanses of information world wide web! Maybe one day I will be as salty as Moitessier, who when his shrouds get clipped by a passing boat(to which he was delivering a message with a lead weight and a slingshot), he simply goes hove-to on the opposite tack and makes the necessary repairs. Well played sir. I will need to brush up on recognizing my seabirds, but am looking forward to watching the daily business of the many shorebirds in the coming months.

20161006_073710Hanging out with my good friend and longtime climbing partner, Jeremy Joseph, around the campfire and at the crag was a joy and worth the drive itself. Being in so many life or death experiences together really grows a bond. There is no closer friend that I would have wanted to spend my birthday around, which says a lot. Jeremy will be venturing to Ecuador for some mountain climbing and backpacking in two weeks time, so we will see when our paths cross next. Our campfire talk hit the full spectrum of conversations ranging from women(of course), to global warming and the decimation of the planets resources. There is much that can be done to combat our social momentum in the wrong direction, starting with gardening. We ate a few meals of potatoes, onions, chard, carrot, tomatoes, and squash from my20161004_160551 garden supplemented by coconut milk and curry paste. My hard work in the spring pays off. I won’t say that we didn’t eat bacon and eggs, but the lower carbon footprint and fruition of harvest for a few meals was very enjoyable to me. I truly think that if we can all grow a little food on the side of our busy lives we will have a great impact on our communities. We could all stand to look each other in the eyes more, help more stranded motorists, have real connections at the checkout counter, or just be good friends. Gardening can be one of those pathways to better community involvement and communication. A common gcoal-creek-camping-6046oal! I hope gardening catches on, for my own mental health. Speaking of gardening, the freeze has arrived! Harvesting pumpkins, australian butternut squash, and what was left of the patty pan squash. Maybe some of the squash will last until my Texas departure. Maybe.

My Grandpa Glenn, on my mothers side, also died last week, the first of my grandparents to go. It is a reminder to me that we are ephemeral on this planet, and cannot take time back. Grandpa Glenn was a wonderful character, who inspired all of us grandkids to think critically, as well as having a knack for rhyming names with adjectives and making up silly songs while hiking (at the pace of a skip). In his memory I will share one of my favorite of his puzzles: There are twelve rou nd steel balls that look identical, yet one of the balls is slightly heavier or lighter than the other eleven; with only three weighings, using a justice type counter balance scale, you must balance-scaledetermine which ball is out of the ordinary, and if it is heavier or lighter. You will need a pen and paper. Good luck!  

Being a boat owner and how to eat an elephant one bite at a time

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Well, I pulled the trigger on the sailboat, the 39′ Columbia. She is certainly a piece of work: a project boat. The guy who owned her previously was going to leave her at the docks and let the marina auction her off, there was a seizure notice on the vessel the first time I checked her out. The hull is certainly worth five grand anyhow, and it was five years ago or so that an old man was single handing her. The owner I bought from only owned the boat for a year, and the bottom paint was done just before he got her. It looked good to my untrained eye, aside from the barnacles that had started to build. I probably would have backed out of the deal except I couldn’t because I just paid eighteen hundred dollars in back slip fees to get the boat at all. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess: with a little work she will be a cruising machine.

I have itemized the list in my head of things that need immediate attention and fixing. First and foremost would be the engine, I was told that she needed injection work, nothing more. Second would be cleaning out the potable water tank and fixing the cap, which looks like a piece of forged iron that broke off in the fill tubing. Third is the toilet, which I was told also does not work. The winch was removed by the previous guy because it was jamming up, so I’ll need a new one of those, along with an anchor chain to match. The boat comes with a danforth and plow anchor, so I will be close to ready to set sail and anchor outside of a beach with minimal extra cash. Which is good, because at two-hundred and seventy dollars a month slip fees and one hundred dollars extra for live-aboard, I can’t afford to stay in the marina long. All the running rigging that I can see, aside from the main halyard, which is brand new, look like junk. I will certainly want a new furling line for the furling jib if I want to use it for a storm jib in heavy weather without it snapping. The previous owner told me that he took it out only once and that the mast had a bend in it; this makes sense since the only piece of standing rigging that I found to be loose was a lower shroud. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the standing rigging is good, there is obvious rust here and there. I will have to look over everything much closer before taking off. I don’t know how kosher it is to use climbing ropes for my running rigging, since they are more elastic likely than normal running rigging(I assume), but I will certainly be salvaging all of my climbing ropes to make it happen.

More than what the boat is now, where it is currently bent me toward buying it. I drove to Port Aransas one day and was pleased to discover there were surfers in the water. This east facing coastline gets much more surf than where I was previously in Freeport, the pier and jetty there help to shape the sand beneath of course too. Also, everybody that I was meeting at that live-aboard marina was nice and offering a hand when needed. They all realize what work a boat can be. I have two five gallon batches of homemade wine right now, and I was thinking I should take them as my bartering tool for labor. I will also be able to feed a few people, since I’ll be harvesting the totality of my garden while I’m back home in Grand Junction. Most of the people in Rockport are dead broke though, not much of an economy in the winter is the word that I got. The guy on a trawler next to me tried to sell me a bag of tools, possibly one that was taken from the boat I bought. In the repossession, or perhaps another time, the lock was removed from the cabin. The previous owner told me that he had a bag of tools on the boat, which weren’t there. Stolen as well was standing rigging and running rigging that he said were in a shed which was available to all the other people with a slip at his previous marina. Someone is being dishonest, but I can’t really tell whom. I have come to expect some dishonesty in people more and more. A damn shame, and one reason that I want to set sail. I try to be candid.

I drove back from Texas yesterday and of course had to stop in on the ten acres of raw land that I bought to hopefully homestead on. I made mention of the two three hundred gallon water tanks that were stolen from the property at the county store and the two there told me it was probably those texans, and maybe if I talked around I could find them and get them back if they weren’t sold off already. The store clerks were older, with weathered skin, looking to be in their sixties. The lady told me that she “lived on a boats for twenty years!” I don’t know that I’m headed on that Dhamma path but it was sure fun to find some camaraderie in her. She reminded me that b-o-a-t stands for “break out another thousand.” Fair enough.

Today while driving I serendipitously found a ribbed inflatable boat for only seven hundred dollars; keep in mind these often sell for two thousand. This guy only does two days of selling every year, and I happened to get back from Texas one day before he quit, and had that very morning been looking at life rafts(with the rusted standing rigging in mind). Is it bad to make big life decisions on the whim of a feeling of auspicious happenings? I don’t think so. But it sure doesn’t help my budget. I probably shouldn’t have, yet I know that if I need to sell it when I get down there and am hungry, starving, from depleting my resources with no work, then I can. Also I think there is a church nearby that does meals, so I heard a little birdie say. Rice and beans every day. Rice and beans.

I still think sometimes if the 31 ft seafarer would have not been a better boat, but then reminisce on her loose stations and failing mizzen rigging and I think I made the right choice. Also that lead keel she’s got doesn’t make her fast. When I first boarded I had noticed how it rocked a lot with the narrower beam. That coupled with the statement by the previous owner that “you gotta worry about getting seasick” made me think that it may have been an issue for muddy or myself. Not that I’m not buying the ‘behind the ear’ sea sickness patches before I depart.

Saw this quote recently and it made me smile:

img_0163 img_0161 The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William A. Ward