Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stitch, Bear Jam, Moonset, and Cantori

Even with satellite TV, one can't sit in front of the Weather Channel watching the coverage of a hurricane heading towards one's house all day.

A drive through Grand Teton National Park is a good way to change your mindset. To the west is that gorgeous expanse that is the Teton Range...

Oh, it's not all "a walk in the park"... sometimes you have to deal with traffic and parking problems. This is what we call a "bear jam"...

These occur whenever an animal wanders within eyesight of the road... not just a bear, any animal. Moose, elk, bison, bear... they're all called "bear jams". The image above is a two lane road. Some people pull to the shoulder when they see an animal, some stop right on the roadway... with all 4 doors open, no one in the car, and the engine still running. You have to allow extra time to travel on these roads.

Here's an image from yesterday morning on my way to work: Moon Over Mt. Moran...

That's the moon about to set about 6:30 in the morning. Easy to see why I call my morning commute breath-taking.

And back to Hurricane Alex coverage. We know the conditions are getting worse: the rain bands are buffeting the area, the wind speeds are increasing, and Jim Cantori is standing in the rain and wind on our beach... microphone in hand and windbreaker flapping. He is the rock star of weather weasels - no one is happy to see him come to their area.

A note from home...

I just got an e-mail from our neighbor... he is on the board of directors for our community and is staying on the island. The wind and rain are picking up. About 50 people have decided to stay on the island; the bridge is locked open right now, so no way off the island until after the storm. Power outages are expected, but the storm surge will hit at low tide. Fifteen hours out now from the predicted landfall, the computer models are all showing the center of the hurricane to be 80 to 100 miles south of our island. Alex is a big storm, so the rain, flooding and surge will likely affect most of the Texas coast. Brownsville and South Padre Island are in the cone that may see structural damage from the winds and driving rain. No damage to the off shore oil platforms is expected.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Well, Tropical Storm Alex is now a hurricane. That was in the back of my mind as I drove the cruiseboat today. Well, until mid-afternoon, when I had some local storms to deal with. I was able to time things so we skirted two cells (the thunderstorms come through the mountains pretty quick), then timed things so I was able to get back into the marina between two other cells. It all moved through the area in time for a pleasant sunset cruise. My first mate (who faces back towards the passengers) said, "Did you see all that lightning?"


A couple days off, in time to stay tuned to the Weather Channel, Weather Underground, and Crown Weather. Alex, now just over 24 hours out from making landfall, looks like it may go south of us... putting us on the "dirty" side, but better than coming right over the top of us.

Still too early to call.

Alex update...

It used to be Jim Cantori... yeah, the guy from the Weather Channel. If he showed up in your area, you knew you were in for a bad time. He stood on our beach just before Hurricane Dolly hit, and it was ugly. Just ask people all along the Gulf Coat - if Cantori shows up, you are likely heading out.

Well, this morning, it was Stephanie Abrams (another Weather Channel anchor person)... and she was standing almost in our back yard! Tropical Storm Alex is expected to ramp up to a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall. Four of the six computer models show it right over the top of us in the next 36 hours.

The house is battened down; the hurricane shutters are down and locked; everything that could be a "missile" was put away when we left. Hopefully, all our neighbors have done the same... because it isn't just the wind, it's what gets carried in the wind that can cause damage.

We'll be watching from afar.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bear Spray...

We carry a canister of bear spray on both cruise boats. It's mostly for demonstration purposes, but we do the meal cruises on Elk Island and there is the possibility of bear activity there. We call it "Bear MACE" so people know it is a completely different thing from "bug spray." Still, every year someone will spray it on their children, thinking it is bear repellent. It is not. You use it for self defense if you have a close encounter with a bear.

The active ingredient in the bear mace is about 10 times more potent than the mace used on human attackers. It is nasty stuff.

Today, my young first mate picked up the bear mace that we keep on the boat, got a shocked look on his face, then stuck his hand towards my face and said, "I think this stuff is leaking!"

It took about a nano-second before I got the first whiff... by eyes and throat started burning - I could see that my first mate was in pain. I told him to pull the plastic bag out of the garbage and quick double wrap the container. I sent him to the aft deck on the boat to flush his eyes out with water... of course, he had touched his hand to his face. I explained the passengers that we had a "situation" and asked them to open all the windows and for those close by where my first mate had been to move towards the back of the boat.

None of the passengers even got a hint of that stuff since we got it double bagged ASAP. As soon as we got back to the dock, I had one of the dock hands do the first mate's job of assisting the passengers down the steps and sent my first mate inside to flush out his eyes and get his hands washed and something on them to take out the sting. With the passengers off the boat, I went in to flush eyes and scrub up good... and I hadn't touched the stuff.

Neither of us is the worse for wear, but he will have an interesting story to tell, being able to speak personally about how nasty that stuff is.

Other than that, it was an absolutely beautiful day here in the Tetons... brisk in the morning for the breakfast cruise, but with the clear blue sky and abundant sunshine, it warmed up nicely. Mid-70s... short sleeves. Being maced not included, it was a lovely day. ;-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


After the breakfast cruise, it was my day to play mechanic. I replaced a fire extinguisher and bracket, a rudder post locking pin, then went to work on the ugly stuff: removing insulation in the engine compartment on one of the cruise boats. It was a long, tedious job; but, it is done. I got off early enough to take little Izzy for a nice long walk, then sat outside with her for a while. She nearly caught a chipmonk! She stalked, it stood its ground... I reigned in her leash at the last moment. Not sure what she would have done if she caught it... but bites from chipmonks and other small critters are one of the most frequent reasons for visitor visits to the clinic. Of course, Izzy wasn't trying to feed them a potato chip. ;-)

We had thunderstorms to start the day. There were some long faces from the guests when we walked out to the cruise boats in the rain. Radar showed that the worst of it had passed and we could see breaks to the west. Sure enough, by the time we got to the island, the rain had quit. There were a few sprinkles just before we brought everyone back to the boats, but it turned out to be a decent breakfast experience.

As the day went on, the sky cleared... this evening (after I was off) was beautiful.

My day as "first" tomorrow, and another early one.

Tropical Storm Alex...

It's still June, and there's already a storm with a name. I don't like storms with a name. This one is a few days out and approaching the Yucatan in Mexico. Computer models are showing it heading towards our area. Soooooo... we'll be keeping an eye towards the weather in the Gulf. Tropical storms are no fun, but it's better than a full-blown whirley-girl.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another long one...

Another long day back at work, but a nice finish to the day... we had a wedding party that booked both cruise boats for the dinner cruise. We took them out to Elk Island for a great steak and trout dinner, and Mother Nature was especially kind to them... had to be the prettiest night of the season so far. Nice couple; I let the groom drive the boat and put the bride next to him so the photographer could get a nice photo. Most of the folks were from California, and they did this up right: two buses to bring the folks to the marina, two boats out to the island for dinner, then the buses to pick them up when we returned from the cruise. The wedding is tomorrow.

When we got back to the dock, I told the couple, "That's what 38 years of wedded bliss looks like - that pretty blonde at the dock waiting to tie the boat off is my wife. And she's not on the payroll tonight; just here because she loves me. I hope you two are that kind to each other throughout the years."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day Off...

One in a row! We have the day off and the weather is beautiful!! We slept in, lounged in our jammies for a while, cleaned up, then headed out on the motorcycle.

We drove south to the Jenny Lake area. There is a great one-way single-lane road that runs by the lake... just made for motorcycle cruising.

Jenny Lake is considered by many to be the most beautiful area in the park. In my humble opinion, Colter Bay Marina area (where we work) absolutely blows it away. Jenny Lake is much smaller. Their perspective of the Tetons isn’t as spectacular as ours. Their marina consists of a couple shuttle boats to take people across the lake so they can hike, and a few kayaks and canoes. We have more boats, better boats, bigger boats, and better looking captains.

When we were done looking around Jenny Lake (hey, it’s small, it doesn’t take long) it was time to decide where to head next. We discussed going into Jackson, but we’re planning to do that tomorrow with the truck. I suggested we head north, beyond Colter Bay to Leeks Marina... they have the best pizza in the area. Agreed!

The speed limit in most of the park is 45 mph, so it is a leisurely riding pace. Every curve presents another great view of the Tetons. This is truly exhilerating. When we got to Leeks Marina (actually just a boat ramp and a lot of mooring balls, no slips), we were treated to another very pretty sight: it’s a wooden sailboat, built in 1959. It is a real classic.

I pulled up to where the owner was setting it up in the parking lot and said, “I’m sure you hear this all the time, but that is an absolutely beautiful boat!"

He replied, “I just got it. You’re only the second person to say that, but it sure is nice to hear that.” As we talked, I found out he will have the boat in our marina. I told him that I am one of the cruiseboat captains there... “There is a very pretty Nimble 20 on a mooring ball in the Colter Bay Marina. That has been my favorite sailboat there... I’m afraid that guy is now going to be in second place for the best looking sailboat on the lake.” The guy beamed.

We went into the pizza place (the only building at the marina) and ordered “The Maintenance Man,” a meat-lovers delight. It was delicious! Could be the fact that we haven’t had a pizza out in about a month... or, it may be that the pizza here is as good as everyone in the area says. We are believers.

After lunch, we drove north until we ran into road construction, just beyond the park border. Only two miles from the entrance to Yellowstone, we will head back this way some other time.
We drove back home, with a plan to take a walk down to the lake. I put away the bike and we both changed into shorts. Can you say: “White legs”?

We took Izzy for a walk. The campground is pretty full, so we had to stay on or near the road so we didn’t go into other people’s sites. Little Izzy did well with that... with a bit of coaching. We let her wander on her leash around the coach, so she could be a jungle cat (forest cat?).

Then it was time to find our way through the campground (this place is HUGE), through the RV park, and down to the lake. How’s this for a nice picnic spot with a view of the lake?

We played tourist... we walked by the amphitheater where the Rangers give their nightly presentations. We walked the Lake Shore Trail to the Visitors Center where we looked at some of the exhibits and watched a very well done film about the fires of 1988. Then, the long walk back to the coach. My feet are tired, but it was a great day off!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

At the helm...

To show family that I really am gainfully employed, here's a shot from the helm of one of our cruise boats...

And a look at the view as I stepped off the boat this afternoon...

We're coming up on a couple days off and the weather is supposed to be nice... as in: mostly sunny with a high of 73º tomorrow. Sounds like a great day for some motorcycle touring through the park.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Teton Sunset...

Today was supposed to be "short" day for me... didn't work out that way. Not a problem; it just means that we were very busy. I wound up driving 4 cruises today, including the breakfast cruise and the dinner cruise. We had a lot of very nice guests onboard and the weather was absolutely beautiful - a pretty fine combination.

I took a moment to take in the silhouetted Tetons during the dinner cruise...

Steak and trout, all the fixin's, blueberry cobble for dessert, and this for a view. Yes, they pay me to eat supper. ;-) I enjoy visiting with our guests. The chefs do a great job. It's a lot of work, but a job that I truly enjoy. The people I work with are friendly and supportive. And the best part of my day today: coming back to the dock after the dinner cruise, my Honey was there to grab a dock line for us.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day...

Happy Father's Day. For only about the 4th time in the past 38 years, I didn't get to see my little girl on Father's Day. But, I did get to talk to her twice. Once when we were out on Elk Island for the breakfast cruise (we get cell coverage there), and the second time after I got off work and got back to the HitchHiker where our Wilson Sleek did its job getting a good phone signal.

Lots of cheerful folks on the cruise boat today. The weather was beautiful right up until the last 20 minutes on the sunset cruise... and the the wind blew like stink. Waves on the stern made for some sloppy steering and a LOT of input from the helm. I described it as: having to do push-ups for 20 minutes straight... and the end of a long day. It was nice to come home and be adored by my wife and kitty in person and my little girl (only 38 years old) long distance.

Hope your day was eventful in a fun kinda way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We Be Connected...

One of my chores for the day was to pick up mail. We received the Wilson Sleek cell/wireless booster. Goodness what a difference! I am getting about 10 times the speed with the internet connection and we can actually make and receive phone calls! With no real ground plane like on a car, I stuck the magnetic antenna to a cookie sheet and the wireless signal went from about a half of a wussy bar to three to four good solid bars. From dial up speeds to over 400k download. OK, that still not blazing, but it is a very impressive improvement.

Checking the phone out in the same cradle gave similar results. It feels good to be able to make a phone call and not ask, "Can you hear me, now?"

One of my other tasks for the day was work related, even though it was a day off. I organized our First Annual Dock Hand Cleat Tying Rodeo. I had the kids run down the dock, untie a line from a cleat, retie that same line, go to the front of the boat, untie and retie, then run back to the starting line. More of an Olympic Event than a rodeo, but when I told them I was paying cash to the winner, they got more interested. They learned that tying a proper cleat knot can be fast AND important. They enjoyed the competition. They started out with a bit of feigned indifference, but when they saw it wasn't so easy, the competition built. I gave them two runs, then we did a "Freestyle" run where they didn't have to tie a proper knot... and they learned that tying it properly STILL was faster. It drove the point home better than just talking to them. We all had fun, they improved their skills, and a couple of them went home with cash in their pockets. No doubt I will have better dock hands when I bring the cruise boat in. Win/win.

It was an absolutely beautiful day in the Tetons - easily the best day, yet. When I was done with my husbandly chores and the dock hand rodeo, I got the motorcycle out. These 45 mph roads are great for a leisurely ride with a spectacular view at every turn. I picked Joan up from work this afternoon and the two of us cruised the roads for a while.

Even though I actually accomplished a bunch today, it was a down right FUN day, too. ;-)

House Husband...

I have long suggested the Blonde get a good paying job and leave me home to be the house husband and cat-daddy. I had a taste of that when Joan went to Dallas to take care of her Mother this spring. It really wasn't as good as I thought it might be. And today, I am the hh (house husband) in the HH (HitchHiker). The 3 captains here have worked out a rotation where we each get a Friday off once every three weeks... and today is my day!

And: the sun is shining! It's cold - it was 28º when I drove Joan to work this morning; but, with the clear blue sky and very little wind, I am expecting some warm up. With thoughts of getting the motorcycle out, Joan left a list for me to get done today... laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, getting a roast going, flushing the holding tanks, taking Izzy for a walk, cleaning the cat tower... I gotta tell you, a man's work is never done. ;-)

I started on the laundry at 7:30 this morning; hoping to have all the chores done by the time it warms up (2:48 - 3:26 this afternoon). We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A day in the big city...

Our closest civilization is the town of Jackson... grocery stores, reasonably priced fuel, plenty of restaurants... swimmin' pools, movie stars... sorry, I got carried away. It was a chilly drive down to Jackson, considering I had to stop several times to take photos of the Tetons shrouded in the snow clouds. But, a good Mexican lunch has helped warm me right up. McDonald's for dessert and fast wifi, then grocery shopping, and we'll be heading north to "home" again.

On the bright side (literally), the sun is shining. It's still COLD and the wind has a real bite to it. The forecast is for improving sky conditions but cold for the next 24 hours. No mention of snow in the forecast after tonight. We'll be bringing the water hose in, for sure.

The fireplace in the HitchHiker is getting a good workout. When we stopped in the marina on the way out of town, one of the guys there said, "Hey, at least this cold stuff will keep the mosquitoes away for a few days." Damn "glass half-full" people. ;-)

Well, isn't that swell...

Another day off for us. It was a cold rainy night; I woke up several times to the sound of rain pounding on the roof. As the temp dipped into the 30s, at least it was rain. We slept in this morning - for the first time since we arrived here. It was 6:40 when I checked the clock before getting up to feed Izzy and make some coffee. With my radio on, I could hear the discussion about the breakfast cruise. All seemed well, until about 10 minutes before boarding passengers when I heard the chef on the island report in that they had big wind and low visibility just blow in. A few minutes later, the wrangler who takes the chefs and food out there called in, "Teewinot, this is Elk Island; you better bring your snow pants."

More discussion, a quick poll of the passengers, and the decision to cancel the breakfast cruise. A few minutes later, we began to see the light, swirling snow at our RV. On June 17th. It doesn't look like anything will stick, just a reminder from Mother Nature about who's in charge.

Yesterday, we had planned an outing to Jenny Lake. We stopped at Signal Mountain Lodge for lunch and could see the weather moving in. Leaving the Lodge, we felt the first sprinkle. A couple miles down the road, and I said to Joan, "It looks like hail in that ugly cloud." Less than a minute later, we saw the first of the slushy splats hit the windshield. Plan change: head for home. The real hail started as I got the truck turned around. I called in on the radio to report hail, heavy rain, and lightning so the cruise boat and marina would know what is heading their way. Shortly after, the captain on the cruise boat reported that he was cutting the cruise short and heading back in.

With our days off, the weather hasn't been very cooperative. When I said something about that, Joan came back with, "Which would you prefer: on your day off or when you're on the boat?" Something to think about. ;-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wait 5 Minutes...

You know what they say about the weather in the mountains: if you don't like it, wait 5 minutes. The past few days, that has certainly been the case. We've had cold, warm, sun, rain, thunderstorms, choppy water, flat calm water. Our passenger load in the boat varies according to the weather. Here's a look at yesterday morning...

And the breakfast cruises. It worked out that I had 4 of them this week, and the weather was pretty nice for most...

The sunshine brings out "the happy" in our guests. One gentleman and his son rode with me twice this week. We had the opportunity to visit on both trips and discovered we have a friend in common: the guy who hired him used to be my next door neighbor... small world.

And the weather? Yep, variable. That same afternoon, I left on one trip with blue sky and calm water and within 15 minutes a rainstorm came through the valleys with amazing speed...

Seeing some lightning, I varied my route to avoid the cell and make for a more pleasant ride; got a nice round of applause from the passengers when we returned to the marina. Next trip: more sunshine and another cell. The wind went from calm to about 25... it helps to have been a sailor as I watched the wind pattern on the water as it came right at us. I tucked in closer to the far shoreline; a bit more rain, but less wind and waves.

The last cruise of the day was supposed to be a sunset cruise... and it was pretty obvious that there wouldn't be any sun for that. A small crowd and they all wanted to set out on the back deck. No point in my first mate doing narration to an empty cabin, so I let him take the helm for a good portion of the trip... good experience for him...

The first mates work hard. Besides their boat duties, they do narration on the trips. They have to be sharp and personable. The two I work with the most are 23 and 21. They have to know the history, geology, biology, and folklore of the area. They have a general script, but have plenty of leeway to vary it based on passenger questions and what comes up along the way.

On this particular trip, I saw a thunderstorm coming up behind us. I took the helm back and headed in. The timing was such that we had plenty of wind coming back to the dock, but just beat the heavy rain and lightning. It had been another long day and seeing Joan waiting for me at the marina was a welcome sight. Mikey is a real outdoors kinda guy, but he was grateful for a ride to his dorm instead of a walk in the rain.

Another interesting week... and now a couple days off, and more rain predicted. I'm looking forward to some motorcycle riding and hiking if Mother Nature will cut us some slack.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beautiful Sunshine...

Sunday started mostly cloudy, with a nice crowd for the breakfast cruise. Mother Nature teased us a bit, with a sky that began to lighten, but by afternoon the rain started. I drove the sunset cruise after letting the passengers know that besides no sun, we might not even see the mountains. I had a dozen passengers who said they would be happy with a nice boat ride. The rain lessened a bit during the cruise, but never quit. We did see a pair of bald eagles to everyone's delight.

Today started out overcast with the promise of sun as the day progressed. We had a lot of folks signed up for the breakfast cruise; enough that we needed to take two boats. Our boat had a great crowd onboard, including a lady celebrating her birthday (no, I didn't ask how old). By the time we got back to the dock, the clouds were lifting and you could see most of the Tetons. By noon, it was lots of glorious sunshine... and stayed clear the rest of the day. One in a row!

We're settling into our routine. It wasn't my turn for the dinner cruise tonight, so I got off early... and little Izzy and I took a nice walk. She was happy to see the sunshine, too.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Getting Physical...

Today was my day as relief captain. Pretty much what that means right now is I will be doing other "projects" around the marina, since we don't need two boats going out. So, I fixed docks, put boat identifiers on life jackets and restocked the boats. When we pulled one boat out of service so I could get some work done on it, I did fluid checks and warmed up the engines on the other boat so the "first on" captain could just step on and be ready. He was very appreciative. I took it upon myself to learn where the fuel valves and emergency shut-offs are on the fuel dock. I cleaned up around the shop. It was a "short" day for me, only 8 hours, but I am bushed. I'll have another long day tomorrow, but it will be at the helm of the cruise boats. I'm thinking I will be in much better shape by the end of the season. ;-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dinner Cruise...

It was one of my long days today. We started out by training 1st mates on Man-Overboard and fire drills, then I drove each of the cruises. The highlight of the day was taking my lovely wife along on the dinner cruise tonight. Much like the photos I posted earlier of the breakfast cruise, the meal offerings are: steak, trout, potatoes, beans, corn, salads, garlic toast, drink options, and blueberry cobbler for dessert.

I wondered if Mother Nature would cut us some slack, since the forecast was for a 50% chance of thunderstorms... but, she was kind. It was a bit cloudy, but the wind held off until the ride back and we didn't get rained on.

My first mate, Mikey, took this photo of Joan and me after the dinner...

We had a full boat of guests aboard, and they were a fun bunch. I let several of the kids take a turn at the wheel and gave them "Junior Cruise Boat Captain" cards. It was a treat to let Joan see what I do all day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cut Off...

With a day off yesterday, we had a nice lunch out and did some grocery shopping in Jackson. That may be a weekly outing for us. On the way back, we stopped to pick up mail and heard that a major communications cable had been cut... no phone (land line or cable), no data (internet, ATM, reservations for all the lodging/activities/cruises)... and no boat or RV forums for me last night! shocked

Yes, we still had satellite TV, but this was really roughing it. Wink As you can see by this post, our communications with the outside world are back. We use business band radio to communicate with the marina and cruise boats, so I got to hear their discussions regarding dinner cruise reservations last night... they handled it well.

We give up some "city amenities" by spending the season in a National Park, but there's so much that makes up for it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let The Sun Shine...

Tuesday, June 8th. I woke up to the sound of no rain on the roof. Peeking out, the sky was clear. I rolled into the marina at 6:45 and was treated to this view...

With the water temp at 40º and the air temp in the 30s, we ran into a thick layer of fog on the water on the way out to Elk Island for the breakfast cruise. You can see it in just beyond the trees in the photo above. I assured the passengers that the fog would lift as the temperature rose. As predicted, Mother Nature provided us with some very pretty views of mountains poking through the clouds.

And then out around the west side of Elk Island as we continued the cruise...

The beautiful weather continued all day. It was the first time I've been able to drive the boat without a jacket... I know the temp only made it to around 60º; I must be acclimating.

And now a couple days off for us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

When The Rain Comes...

It's been a wet week here in the Tetons, and it sounds like there'll be more of the same for the next week. Today was the third day in a row that the breakfast cruise was canceled; not from lack of people wanting to do it, but due to the rain. I feel bad for those folks, because that may be the only opportunity they had for that activity.

With only two cruises, I was the "boat mechanic" today. While probably out of my job description, it kept me busy. I adjusted the packing on the propeller shafts on the big boats, rebedded a spot light that was leaking rain water, and changed out fuel lines on one of the fishing charter boats. I have to be careful to not let Joan find out I was doing that work or she'll think I should do some of the same around the house. Wink

I actually punched out early because I was out of projects. Hoping tomorrow brings that predicted sunshine. Fortunately, the guests have been pretty understanding about Mother Nature's ways.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Deja Vu...

Different morning, same situation. I was up at 5:00 this morning to get ready for the breakfast cruise... light rain. By the time I started cleaning up, it had turned into heavy rain. A quick check of area radar, then the call on the radio: the breakfast cruise is canceled. Again. There's a big rain cell to the west, so it's going to be over us for a while. I feel bad for visitors who have planned for any of these cruises and are only here for a short time. As always, Mother Nature gets the final say.

We had a morning scenic cruise and an afternoon scenic cruise. The ceiling and visibility had gone down by the afternoon cruise. I spoke with the people on that cruise and explained that they might not see much. They said, "We just want to go for a nice boat ride."

"That we can do," I told them. Nice folks. And while they didn't seen mountains, we did see some elk and a bald eagle. It's never the same thing twice.

No sunset cruise this evening... probably had something to do with the fact that it's pouring rain. ;-)

I used the free time to do some training with the first mates. People have been very understanding.

The lake level is rising fast - the rain is melting much of the snow on the mountains. The Snake River and the streams in the area are really flowing; with the rising lake level, we are seeing a lot of logs and debris in the lake. Add the reduced vis and you really have to stay on your toes.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rainy Days and Fridays...

It's been a rainy couple of days. Yesterday we did a couple "scenic" cruises in rain and low visibility; at times, most of the mountains were obscured. We did see a bald eagle near its nest on one trip. Mother Nature always makes the rules, and the last scenic cruise and dinner cruise were canceled... no fun eating in the rain.

I was up at 5:30 this morning to get ready for the breakfast cruise. Yep, still raining. I heard the marina manager calling the island food crew to cancel the trip, so no early morning run for me. Lighter rain predicted for the rest of the day, so we'll see how it all plays out.


The rain let up enough to have a 10:30 cruise, but the manager asked if I'd work on the list of boat stuff to be done. Sure. I wired, tightened, adjusted... there are a few things left to be done, but we are waiting for stuff to come in. I took the 3:30 cruise so the other captain would get a break, and I was off by 5:30. It was a "short" day for me, but my back didn't feel like it got any kind of a break today. ;-)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Busy, Busy...

Yesterday was a 13 hour day. I've been told to expect a steady dose of those. Mother Nature hasn't been real kind - there's been quite a bit of precip, and more expected for the next 5 or 6 days. Fortunately, the passengers understand... even the ones who are doing the breakfast or dinner cruises.

Here's a look at the breakfast cruise...

The cruise boat at the dock on Elk Island (the small boat is the crew boat for the chefs)...

Then, we walk the guests up onto the island...

They congregate around a campfire to get some direction on the meal and some hikes on the island...

Off to the fresh food being prepared on the grille...

You can just see some of the picnic tables set up in the background. The meals are outstanding, the view is spectacular.

After the meal, the guests can gather around the campfire once again or do some hiking. This morning there was a light rain that started after we ate; I gave the guests the choice of more time on the island or more time cruising on the boat... they chose the boat.

Here's the view out my "office" window...

Today, we had Coast Guard inspections. After thoroughly checking out the boats, they took captains and first mates out for evaluation. I checked out fine, but it would have been a real bad day on the boat if the drills had been real... man overboard conscious, man overboard unconscious, child overboard, fire in the cabin, fire outside the cabin, engine fire, different safety scenarios. We are good to go, but after lifting all the engine covers, pulling up the cockpit floor, and demonstrating boat checks, I was plenty tired at the end of the day.

And a day off tomorrow.