Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Another Weekend...

There is a place on our property where our neighbor's plowed snow melts badly. The way the grade was on this hill was making the water pool up in front of the foundation of our house, creating a place where it could leak inside if not watched and redirected.

This past January, we had a huge warm up, going from negative 20 degrees all the way up to 60 degrees! Everything started melting and creating lots of problems for lot of people in Anchorage, including us. After several hours of Frank and I trying to figure out where the water was coming from and finally trenching the proper place, we were able to get the water away from the house and flowing down the driveway. We decided to fix the problem before the next winter.

Enter the backhoe.

If Frank Noble is going to rent something, might as well go big right?!

After digging the trench, he leveled out several places along the driveway that were either too high or too low. There was talk of "improving" the sledding hill, but we decided to wait a couple more years.
As I have never had the opportunity to shovel or rake gravel until now, let me just say, I now understand the term, "back breaking work". Holy, holy. I was so glad all I was doing was the clean-up/redistributing work instead of having to help do the actual digging. Thank you, Backhoe.

All and all, it was great. Frank picked it up really quickly and we got all our work done in about a day and a half. So quick that he kept the kids in with him for a bit. They LOVED it, as you can imagine. I think Grace even got to do some driving.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Objects May Appear Larger...

Our first trip out on the new boat was good. Overall. We had some weather (it rained, basically the entire time. But really, what do you except going out in the end of August in Alaska?) and some mechanically difficulties; the potty and the potty pump broke and Frank had to fix it in the middle of the ocean in four foot seas.

The trip started out great. We got the boat into water very easily. It's big and heavy, but as long as I take my time, I can handle her just fine. But while I was dealing with the boat, Frankie helped himself to the orange juice in the fridge and spilled half it on the freshly cleaned carpets... Thanks a lot, Frankie. Grace does great. I tell both of them to play in their "room" until I get the boat off the trailer, walked down the dock and tied up. She actually listens and stays put. Frankie doesn't. I guess 50% listening is better than none.

We were only staying out one night, so we went to our favorite cove and anchored up. Frank got the dingy down for a test trip. After he got the motor set, he grabbed the kids and went to check out the local scene in the cove while I grilled up dinner.

There are jelly fish everywhere. Grace calls them her "squishys" from Finding Nemo.

It started raining after we put the kids to bed. We found that if you leave the windows open, rain will leak down into the screens and drip down the window trays, eventually dripping onto your head while you sleep. Frank and I scrabbled around, drying things up, stuffing crevices with paper towels and then going back to sleep.
In the morning, we had more and more rain. We started motoring around, then had our break down. After we got things fixed, we decided to throw the towel in and head back to Whittier.

So, like I said, overall it was good. A decent start with the new boat.

The next trip was over Labor Day weekend. Because the boat is rated as "oversize" we can't be on the road during certain times over holiday weekends. So we planned to be gone Friday thru Tuesday. We saw lots of wild life this trip. Otters, sea lions and seals.

We were able to get really close to this guy because he was busy eating an enormous octopus. He must have just caught it when we showed up because for the first bit, the octopus was fighting with the otter. You could see the tentacles moving, trying wrap itself around the otter's neck. The otter just kept eating and eating it. It was very interesting. He polished off the octopus in record speed, about ten minutes.

It's hard to see from this shot, but these are sea lions. These animals are so interesting and different from a seal. A seal will poke it's little head up out of the water and look around. These sea lions swim in packs and all come up out of the water, breathing very loudly for a few minutes. Then you hear lots of breathing, like they are taking in lots of breaths and completely disappear. Sometimes they come back up in a different spot five or ten minutes later, sometimes they don't. Very interesting. We even saw one eat a salmon!

We all got into our little routines on the boat. Every morning, the kids would wake up and come snuggle with us until I got up to get breakfast going. This shot is of Grace and Frank sharing a pillow. It was pretty chilly in the mornings, that's why this shot looks little funny; then lens had condensation on it. Grace loved helping to wipe down all the windows. She has recently started being very helpful. She will volunteer to empty the dishwasher (one of the reasons behind me wanting kids! ha ha), filling up the cat food, and this trip she was the dish dryer. It was very strange for me to be washing the dishes and have her beside me working. She actually did a good job! Every dish was dried and put away, on her own steam.

We been having very interesting conversations with her which leave me asking myself, "are you seriously asking me that right now?" Like the other day, Frank and I were talking about if we turned the fridge off in the boat after we unloaded everything. She wanted to know why we had to do that. I told her it was a waste of energy to keep it running when it was empty. We were eating dinner at the time. Then she wanted to know what the difference was between the energy we get from food and the energy that was wasted in the fridge. Hello. I was able to explain the food part but past the buck over to Frank for the electrical explanation. He starts his answer out with, "Well, Einstein says..." She totally listens and asks appropriate questions, like this all makes sense to her. The other day when we were out on the boat, she and Frank were talking about the weather bouy and how it conveyed weather information. She wanted to know how the bouy could "talk" to the weather station. So he explained radio waves to her. Again, she totally grasped everything he was talking about. How is it that a four year old is asking these kinds of questions... Crazy.

Anyway, moving on...

The main place we wanted to check out on this trip was a place called Deep Water Bay or Cove, I don't remember. This place is awsome.

Here we are approching.

Here I am doing some driving so Frank can have a break. Funny, in all the years that we have been together, this is the first time he has shared the wheel.

The best part about this cove or bay, is the WHITE SANDY BEACHES! Yes, that's right, the white, sandy beaches. As in, "yes, waiterss, I will have another pina coloda. Please bring it to my chaise lounge and charge it to my room." When we pulled into the cove, it was high tide. We were searching and searching, trying to see the beach. There was only one section that looked like it could be it. So, we anchored up and waited for the kids to wake up from their naps.

When they got up, Grace and Frank took off in the dingy to check it out. Frankie wanted to stay behind. It takes him a little while and a cup of juice to feel like himself again after naps.

Here we are, staying behind. Me and my boy.

After about 45 minutes, they came back to get us. The beach wasn't really a beach, but like rocky gravel. Very pretty.

Alaskan Blueberry

After we exhasted the tiny strip of land, we started back to the boat. It's now approching low tide. Guess what's exposed right next to our boat?! The sandy beach! We dingy-it over there to check it out. However the sand was like quicksand mud. There was an huge, relentless waterfall that was just pounding out water. A whole area was becoming expossed as the tide went out. Since it was late and we were wet and dirty, we decided to wait until the next day to come back. The beach would be all dried out and the sand would be great.

We all got showers that night. Here's my sweet smelling kids.
Frankie loves pudding cups.

Wasn't the moon beautiful over Labor Day weekend? It was so nice to see it again; it's been awhile for us.

On our way to the sandy beach.
Stick from yesterday for Frankie and an old water jug for a bucket/rock collector for Grace.

The Sandy Beach

Not bad, huh?

We had a great time messing around.

Here's the waterfall.

All of this is covered by water at high tide.

I think this one captures how much fun we had...

We came in a day early because the weather was turning. We left the boat in Whittier and came back for it the next day. It took almost a whole day for the rocking sensation to go away completely for me. When I first get off and am sitting still, I feel like Meg Ryan in French Kiss when she's on the train; "Stop the rocking!" Ha ha. Small price to pay. We love the boat and can't wait to have the whole summer next year! Should be fun.

Boat Tour

So. Before I started in on sharing the fabulous stories from our two trips in our new boat, I wanted to give you a quick tour.

It's hard for me to know where to start. The galley, because I now have a place to cook and wash dishes. The V Berth because we now have a bed that doesn't require being blown up before hand. The bathroom, ahhh, doesn't need too much explaining...

I'll start with the galley.

Just look at all that counter space! The black rectangluar thing off to the left flips up and has TWO burners. Lovely. Three cabinets for storage and off to the right is a microwave. If you have to do dishes, you can't beat this view...

Next, the V Berth.

It's called that because it's shaped like a V. Plenty of room. Frank and I decided to take it and give the kids the stateroom because it has a door. Ha ha. Good night kiddy's. It gives Frank and I the WHOLE BOAT during nap time and bed time. Lovely. Plus, what kid doesn't love having little nooks to hide away in?!


A cool feature here is the table comes down to provide extra sleeping space...

Another view.

The to right is the stateroom. To the left is the bathroom. Oh, you can see the fridge here too. Yet another bonus.

Speaking of bathrooms...

Not exactly spacious, but completely functional, shower included.

Moving on...

The Helm.
This is where the magic happens.

This is part of the cockpit. It has a great bench seat and this table, giving the kids and I plenty of room to hang out next to Frank while we drive.

I couldn't leave out my lovely grill. Happily mounted off the stern.

For now I'll leave you with a picture of Frank and I. We love the new boat. Like all things that have more parts and pieces, we are having more challenges with this one (read: a lot more things break and go wrong in the middle of the ocean at inopportune times...) but we are 100% happy and feel beyond blessed to have such a vehicle to share with our family.

Come back tomorrow with tales of our two trips.


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