Saturday, July 31, 2010
Then off on the bike for a bit before coming home to give Izzy some outdoor time. I put out the awning, pulled out a chair, turned on the satellite radio, and settled in with the iPad... surfing in the great outdoors.
Joan got off work at 3:30, and we went out for pizza at Leek's... just like the "old days" - grabbing a pizza after work and relaxing.
And, my favorite road sign in the park...
Friday, July 30, 2010
The Blonde and I have been together since high school; worked together most of our adult lives. We do almost everything together... and take turns picking "what next?" I spend more time on the computer than she does, but we use a Mifi card so we can both be on our computers at the same time. We ride bikes together, motorcycle, hike. Unlike in our younger years, neither of us wants to shop for the sheer enjoyment of it. Dishes: she washes, I dry. We make the bed together. She usually does the laundry because she likes it "her way." We have "blue jobs and pink jobs," but that doesn't mean that we can't swap colors once in a while. I generally drive when towing, she usually navigates. I go in to the campground to register while she gets things ready to settle in with the truck. She does the inside stuff in the HH while I get the outside work done... after we each put on a Roto-Chock. We are a team. When we're ready to roll, we both walk around the rig and check. I start up the truck while she goes to the back to check lights on the HH and the cargo trailer.
We picked this summer work situation because we can work together... well, sorta. I am driving a boat most of the time, but I get to see her between cruises. Our hours aren't exactly the same (not sure how it worked out that I am getting in more hours), but we do have the same days off... one of our requirements. When we come home to the HH, we are both interested in how each others' day went. We talk, and we listen.
The best thing I can recommend when spending LOTS of time around each other is: be respectful. Ramtough was right on with his comment... even if you win an argument, you still lose. Sometimes it's better to assess the situation and see, in the grand scheme of things, if "being right" is more important than getting along.
There are times when you need some uninterrupted time and space... we call that "in my box." If either of us is "in my box", the other knows to leave them alone. It sometimes happens when I am writing or Joan is doing financial things. When traveling/living in the HH or on the boat, it can sometimes be hard to have that "me time". "In my box" has solved that for us.
Just because we enjoy doing most things together, doesn't mean that we HAVE to do all things together. If I feel like a motorcycle ride and she wants to read, that works, too. If she wants to sleep in and I want to go see the sunrise, I try to be quiet on my way out.
For us, the journey through life has been more fulfilling because we take it on as a team. When I think she's being stubborn or she thinks I am being impossible, I just consider how fortunate I am to have a partner that not only goes along with this wandering lifestyle, but enthusiastically embraces it. There are a lot of couples who can't come to an agreement about what color to paint the bedroom or whether to go to the beach or the mountains for their week off... we are the VERY fortunate ones.
When you first start RVing, the angst can be: when to stop, which campground, which road to take, how long do we want to stay, and what next? Decide together and each support the decision. Don't say, "If you had listened to me..."
And enjoy the journey.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I did download Photoshop Elements last night... only took 5 1/2 hours. And that will get me by until I get home and can reload Photoshop from the CDs.
Still, I have to say that the iPad is a pretty slick unit. I can see where that will come in handy, especially on the boat. Apps are very reasonable, many are free. I really appreciate having weather reporting options, gps options, and internet/e-mail while on the go. I downloaded a couple great boat navigation apps - full featured and less than 1/10th the price of a chip for the chartplotter.
And here's a photo of the Tetons, taken yesterday with the camera in my Droid...
Technology... don'tcha just love it?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Last night, I finished my workweek with the sunset cruise, and took some images to see how the download and manipulation would work...
So, as a test, this works. Certainly not what I'm used to... something about old dogs and new tricks.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This has been a long tough week at work. 4 of my 5 days this week have been "13s" (yeah, 13 hour days). The guests, as usual, have been great, plenty of mechanic stuff to deal with. I can now add "kayak repairman" and "bilge crawler" to my resume. Last night, we had 56 young guests from the NYC area... all boys in some sort of boy scout program. A few of them made some less than respectful comments to my female first mate prior to the trip, so I had to have a "discussion" with them. Their leader took exception to me telling them that it is necessary to "BE NICE." He, several of his helpers, and I had a rather face-to-face (as in: in your face) discussion... and the New York gentlemen came to understand that this Texas boy was just as tough and wasn't going to put up with any crap on the boats. I don't like starting a cruise like that, but 56 boys (12 to 20) away from home and without much adult supervision could easily get out of control. Not on my boat!
There was the "I want your name" comments, to which I responded AND spelled it, and explained how this WAS going to go down. Add in some big wind and waves, 19 other passengers who weren't part of the group... and it all turned out fine. In fact, their leader shook my hand, told me that I handled the situation well, and left a very nice tip for the boat crews. I'm glad that everyone wound up happy, but it isn't much fun to start a long evening that way.
So, today is my "Friday"... another 13 hours and we'll be looking forward to a couple days off.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Nice folks all day on the cruises; very busy.
When I got home this evening, I plugged in the iPad and started the registration and sync process... and it all went slick. A beautiful screen on the iPad and it seem even faster than the laptop when loading web pages; may be a factor that the iPad does not multi-task. Looks to me like this will be a very nice addition to our connectivity.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
On the bright side, it's one way to clean all the crap off the hard drive. Sigh. I figure it's going to take a very long time to rebuild everything back to close to the way I had it. On the really bright side, I archive all my photos and writing. Sure wish I had my Photoshop install disc.
And the reason for the OS upgrade: the new iPad. At this point, I haven't had time to mess with it. It may be a while. I did have a bunch of apps downloaded already, with the anticipation of putting them on the iPad... those are gone, so I'll get to start over again with that.
And what a day at work. There is something to the theory of people getting weird during the full moon... yeah, we're close to that time. Very busy day in the marina, and just lots of unusual happenings. I'm going to save the details for in-person, but there was one idiot boater who nearly caused an accident, got obnoxious with another captain, and was treated to an extended unpleasant visit with the National Park Service law enforcement folks. He tried to weasel out by going to another dock... one of the first mates and I stopped him and "escorted" him to the NPS.
So, back to the computer grind.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I pulled some of the plants that have grown up around the back of the coach... closest I've come to "yard work" in a long time. Cleaned the windows. Took Izzy for a walk. Spent enough of the day around the coach that we even had the awning out all day. Joan cleaned inside while I worked outside.
The weather weasels predicted a chance of rain and thunderstorms for the afternoon... yes, I was tempting fate by washing the 5th wheel. But, they were wrong - it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I treated myself to a motorcycle ride late this afternoon... you know that all work and no play thing.
Advance bookings show that this is going to be a busy week. Tomorrow is my "Monday". With the extended time both before and after our contract dates, I figure we're now at the halfway point... and pleased with the way the season is going.
Plugging all those into the GPS, it not only told us where, but gave us the most efficient routing to. Heading to Idaho Falls, we took the road over Teton Pass... beautiful views of the valley, and 10% grade up and down! Glad we weren't towing the 5th wheel and cargo trailer over this pass.
Lunch at Carino's was as satisfying as I had hoped. The food was good, our waiter had a good sense of humor. We had received an e-mail certificate for my birthday for a free dessert... what's not to like? Wally World and Sam's had all the toiletries and supplies we needed, and Best Buy took care of my iPad search.
The ride back was via another route, mostly along the Snake River... equally beautiful, not as steep as over Teton Pass. It's a 3 hour drive to the "big city," so this won't be a regular trek... but it was a welcome change of pace and a beautiful drive.
Mother Nature put on quite a lightning show both over and back. Heavy rain over one of the passes in Idaho, with a bit of hail. When we were close to home on the way back, we saw lightning strike one of the peaks. We later heard about the helicopter rescue to get climbers off the Grand Teton...
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Well, sure! He gave me his card and said to contact him. No idea if he was serious or just having fun... but he sure seemed to enjoy the cruise and complimented me on my ability to deal with people and handle a boat.
When I finished visiting with him, I glanced down the dock and saw our friends Leonard and Doris, from Port Isabel! What a neat surprise! They came by our 5th wheel this afternoon and visited with Joan, then came down to the dock as I pulled in. It was "old home week" here in the Tetons, with visits from Port Isabel friends. What a nice way to end my work week.
Monday, July 19, 2010
It was a beautiful evening for a dinner cruise... we had two full boats and lots of excited guests. Good food, spectacular views, and fun people.
It was a long working day today. But, a truly beautiful day: sunny, a bit of breeze, a few puffy white clouds, almost no humidity, and a high around 80º. We had some friends from Port Isabel, Herb and Wilma, on the breakfast cruise this morning - a real treat. My first mates had the passengers on the rest of the cruises today sing "Happy Birthday" to me. When I got off the boat after my last cruise this evening, one of the guys on the dock greeted me with a cake. Everyone on the marina staff signed a card that one of the girls made... "Happy 106th Birthday, Jim!" I'm sure I look that age to a couple of my young first mates.
While it's only the second time in the past twenty years or so that I had to work on my birthday, it was a darn nice day. We did "birthday stuff" on Thursday (day off), since we knew we'd be working: a float trip on the Snake River, some motorcycling, and a very nice meal at the Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge (fancy-eatin' food with ritzy service).
After putting in a 13 hour day today, I'm going to have a piece of cake and go to bed.
I appreciate the nice birthday greetings.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Poop waits for no one.
So, I had to excuse myself and go deal with a crappy situation. It took me about 15 minutes to isolate the problem with the pump at the big ol' holding tank and then get it fixed. Pretty sure Herb and Wilma thought I'd be covered with poop by the time I was done, so they got out of there! I didn't even need those rubber gloves I put on.
And that was my day today: dealing with a few fix-it things on the cruise boats, wiring one of our fishing boats for downriggers, the pump out situation, a bilge pump on another fishing boat, dealing with a nest of critters in the shop... ah, yes, the fast paced, fun filled life of a seasonal boat captain. And it totally doesn't suck.
Tomorrow, Herb and Wilma will be going on our breakfast cruise. They'll get to see my "real" office and a view at a "white shirt" day... and one of the prettiest views in Grand Teton National Park.
While we've made lots of new friends here, it was really nice to see our friends from home. They came to our HH this evening for drinks, snacks, and ice cream... and to see Izzy. Lively conversation, and a very nice time.
So, while they get another radio ordered for me, I've had to borrow a radio from one of the off-duty captains. One of them didn't find it funny when I said, "I'll treat it like my own." ;-)
Also, during one of those windy days, I did use our rescue boat to get a family who had swamped their rental canoe. A young couple and their 5 year old son... they were wet and cold, but not hurt. The dock hand and I got them into the boat, then turned the canoe over so we could dump the water out of it and hauled that up on the stern of the boat. That little guy will have something to talk about when they tell what they did on their summer vacation.
We started out the day yesterday with our monthly drills... each captain and first mate has to do man overboard and fire drills on both boats each month. I had five first mates on my boat, and they practiced what would have been a very bad day on the water: on the way out, they were expecting a man overboard... when all of a sudden, we had a (simulated) engine fire. Then a man overboard. They were expecting the fire scenerio when we switched boats, but not the two people overboard. It was a good workout, and they all performed well. They also took turns getting the boats back with an incapacitated captain. Good training.
On the really bright side, Joan came along for the dinner cruise last night. After a very nice meal and a lovely warm evening, I did put her to work when we got back to the dock... with two cruiseboats and no dock hands, we normally put the stern on the dock and have the first mate hop off to catch lines. Our boat came in first, I put the first mate on the dock; while he tied off our boat, Joan hopped off and caught lines for the other cruiseboat.
First day of this work week and I didn't drop a single thing in the water! One in a row.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
When he found out that we work at the marina, he asked if I wanted to participate in the narration... well, I am trying to come out of my shell. I added some "color" regarding the legend of John Colter, some information about Mt. Moran, and told about our meal cruises to Elk Island. Steve called each of the passengers by name throughout the trip and made it feel like a very personal excursion.
The float trip is an entirely different experience from our cruiseboat trips... quiet, slow, and right on the water. You feel each puff of breeze and hear the sound of the burbling water. Definitely more serene. We've done white water trips in years past and this was nothing like that. It's a nice contrast.
The views of the mountains are beautiful...
From my perspective, the views from our cruiseboat are even more dramatic since we are able to get right up to the mountains... but, this was still very beautiful. We did see a couple bald eagles, some elk, bison, and antelope. White pelicans, Canada geese, ducks, and other birds. But, mostly it was just laid back.
I got an afternoon motorcycle ride in before it was time to come home and clean up. On the way back home, I came across another C-Dory owner, Roger from Idaho (In Cahoots), who was getting ready to launch his boat. We had a short but pleasant visit.
Then out for supper... we dressed like grown-ups and had supper at the Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge. Definitely fine dining; we had a table by the window with a gorgeous view of the mountains. The meals were "upscale", pricey, and tasty... great service and very nice presentation. It was a great way to top off our day off.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The smoke from yesterday's fires was gone... surprising, considering how it dominated the sky last night. But, clear crisp blue sky today.
When we left Jackson, Joan said, “I hope we see some wildlife on the way home. I’d like to see a buffalo, a moose, and a bear.” I hear the same thing from the passengers on my cruiseboat: they want to see wildlife, too.
Just after we drove into the park, we saw a herd of buffalo on a nearby hillside. Check. We decided to take the more scenic route home, and just after turning off at Moose Junction... yep, we saw a Moose. Check. The only thing left was to see a bear, and they are quite “people shy” in this park.
We stopped at the Jackson Lake Lodge to check on a float trip; that’s a raft trip that goes down the Snake River. It’s generally a good way to get to see wildlife. As employees, we can go for free on a space-available basis.
Joan suggested we make tomorrow my birthday, since I will be working a 13 hour shift on Sunday. We booked the float trip for tomorrow morning (best time to see animals), but we could still get “bumped” for paying guests. We also made reservations in the Mural Room, the Lodge’s fine dining, for tomorrow evening.
Then we walked out into the Great Room and out on the viewing patio behind the Lodge. It is a great place to see wildife and a great view of the Tetons. We enjoyed the view, but didn’t see any animals.
Yes, that little bit of smoke in the left center part of the image above is the same fire we saw from the lake last night.
About 2 minutes north of the Lodge, a young grizzly bear ran across the road right in front of us! Check! I had the camera in my pocket and couldn’t get it out quick enough to get a photo... but, Joan got to see all the animals on her list today!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Fortunately, the passengers had a spirit of adventure and a sense of humor. I let them know before we boarded that there was going to be some wave action and spray; “Nothing scary, just a bit of wind and some waves. These boats are built to handle this mountain weather.”
It was plenty busy all day. When I stepped out of the office after checking weather before the sunset cruise, I was surprised to see some smoke coming over the mountains... “Hmmm; something must be burning in Idaho.”
We loaded passengers for that cruise and headed into the 2 -3 foot waves. As we came out of the protected bay, I could see a slight plume of white smoke - not the stuff that was coming over the mountains. When we got south of Elk Island, we could see that it was coming from an area between Bear Paw Bay and Jenny Lake. I called it in on the radio to have the information on the location forwarded to the NPS.
The wind really kicked up as we headed for the western side of the lake; I estimated gusts over 45 mph. The wind was blowing the tops off the waves. The boat, crew and passengers handled it fine. In the hour and a half we were out, the smoke in the sky magnified exponentially.
Here’s how the sky looked in the marina area...
No idea where the fire is located; since it is coming over the mountains, I’m assuming Idaho.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The supply boat on my side of the dock left us with very little room. The other captain and I moved the supply boat and had a heck of workout trying to get my cruiseboat tied off. I decided to skip the meal and stay with the boats... the wind was gusting above 30, the waves were coming over the dock, and all the dock lines were straining. After the other captain ate, he came to keep an eye on the boats so I could get a bite. The chef held a steak for me; even wrapped it in bacon. I ate fast and went back to the boats.
When it was time to board passengers, I had both first mates, the other captain, and the Elk Island wrangler help hold the boat and assist passengers onboard. We brought them on a few at a time... with the dock bucking, everyone was very careful and we had no incidents. When they undid dock lines, it took full power to back off into the wind and waves.
The ride back to the marina was less "stimulating", and everyone onboard kept their humor. It was pretty exciting for the passengers to see an elk swimming between Dollar Island and Elk Island. Back at the marina, the passengers gave me a big round of applause... and some nice tips. I felt like I had been put through the wringer... not with the boat driving, but with all the work at the island dock, trying to keep the boats from whacking.
After getting the passengers ashore, the first mate said to me, "That was awesome! I've been doing this for two years and that was the most fun I've had!" Interesting perspective... I was thinking: that was the most work I've done in a long time. ;-)
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The passengers all had a good attitude about it... I told them we weren't going to charge them anything extra for "the white water ride." Once we were near Colter Bay, we were into more protected water and things calmed down quickly. There was still plenty of wind as we came in to the dock, but no wave action. And as usual on my late cruises, my Honey was at the dock to grab dock lines for us. Nice way to finish off the day.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
For clarification, we didn't have a fuel spill - someone backed a boat down the ramp with a full fuel tank and as they got on the slope, their fuel tank vent spilled fuel. Unfortunately, they didn't tell anyone and got out of there right away... we were left to deal with it.
We have trained for this, so we knew what to do... we immediately deployed booms to contain the spreading fuel. All told, there was probably less than a gallon or two that went in the water, but it had spread several hundred feet. We put several different crews on 4 different booms and enclosed each area between the docks... then began to move the booms towards shore where we could put additional absorbent material to soak up the gas. By the time the Park Service folks got there, we had things well under control. Quick action and being able to put plenty of people on it meant that it would be a non-situation.
Otherwise, a beautiful day in the Tetons. Nice folks on the boat. Mother Nature blessed us with great weather. The lake was nearly calm all day. Super day to be out on the water.
The manager asked if I'd be willing to work beyond my contracted date to help close down the marina this fall. I told him he'd need to coordinate with Joan and her manager to make sure that would work for them. Looks like we'll be here into later September.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I headed north towards Yellowstone, with no particular desitnation in mind. The south entrance of Yellowstone is only 23 miles from our place in Colter Bay... and then it’s at least another hour to get anywhere in the park. I decided I had time to drive to Bridge Bay Marina and still make it back in time to pick up Joan from work at 3:30.
I rolled into the marina area about two hours after leaving the coach. I walked around a bit; not much has changed. It’s still a very nice marina. I saw the cruiseboat I used to drive... and it was running! One thing that was very different was the number of commercial fishing boats in the marina. There are two commercial gill-netting operations on-going; the Park Service is trying to eliminate Lake Trout in the lake because they are descimating the Cutthroat Trout. It’s kind of a bad deal for the recreational fishing.
I visited with a C-Dory owner briefly before heading out. When he found out that we own Wild Blue, he said, “Wow, you’re famous!” No, I just post a lot on the owners group website.
Riding south, the sky started to cloud up and the wind came up... just as fast as it happens on the lake. I made it back before the rain came... well, the rain never really came, just a few sprinkles to make even more of a mess with all the pollen still blowing around.
One thing that really stood out for me on this ride: the views in Grand Teton National Park really are more spectacular than the drive in Yellowstone. Certainly, Yellowstone has some amazing diversity, but many of the roads are so wooded on either side that you don't see anything but the trees for miles and miles. That's not the case in the Tetons - you almost always have a great view of the mountains. Of course, I could be biased.
I picked Joan up from work, and we drove up to Leek’s Marina for a pizza. This was her early day, and she was off at 3:30. Neither of us had much lunch because we were “saving” ourselves for this pizza. Yummy! When you live in the boonies, you don't take little treats like this for granted.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
When she got home, we headed out on the bike. Our destination for today: the Moose Visitors Center. No, it’s not all about moose, the animals; it’s located at the town of Moose, Wyoming.
It’s not a huge building, but it is only two years old and it houses some great displays. One of my favorites was this topographical display that allows you to see an overview of the park. You can really see the size of Jackson Lake in comparison to the mountains...
There are displays showing the geology, mountain climbing gear, wildlife, the history of the early explorers and mountain men... it’s just all so nicely done...
We watched a Discovery Channel movie in their theater, then went to browse the huge selection of books available. Of course, the most impressive sight is the glass wall facing the Tetons...
When we left the Visitors Center, we decided to take the same road back... it is the road that runs closest to the mountains, so some wonderful scenery. With the 45 mph speed limit, you have time to take in the views while riding. A great day!
This morning when we turned on the Weather Channel, they were talking about Bonnie... the tropical disturbance in the Gulf that is now expected to become a tropical storm (and will be named Bonnie)... ALL of the computer models are showing it predicted to come across our home. Maybe a bit south, perhaps a bit north, but pretty much right over the top of South Padre Island and Port Isabel. There was a reporter from the Weather Channel standing on the beach on South Padre Island this morning. Did they get some sort of group rate to travel there??
Not expected to bring big wind or much storm surge; more of a heavy rain event. The area is saturated thanks to Alex's visit last week. We have pretty decent run off, thanks to being on an island... the rest of the Rio Grande Valley inland is flat; this is going to be a bad situation for that area.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 miles away, the weather is lovely: cool dry mornings, warming up to the 70s in the afternoon, a few puffy white clouds to enhance the views of the mountains.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
And then she made her move...
If not for her mean Cat-Daddy who held her back with her leash, she may have gotten them. Or not. Truly, I don't think the squirrels were ever in serious danger... they just like to play with Izzy... "Hey, cat! Here we are! Catch us if you can!"
When she thought she had them cornered up a tree, they just jump to the next tree... and then throw a pine cone down at her.
Four evenings a week, we do a sunset cruise (alternating with the dinner cruises on the other nights). Sunset is one of the toughest for the captains because we spend much of our time facing into that west sun. While the morning cruises are my personal favorites, due to the light coming from the east lighting the mountains, as the sun's rays come across the peaks towards the end of the day can also be very pretty...
Another work week behind us after last night's sunset cruise and looking forward to some beautiful weather for our days off.
Monday, July 5, 2010
From the cruiseboat standpoint, it was what we expected for a holiday - lots of nice folks, full boats. Well, right up to about 5:00... much of the crowd in the park was drawn to the south for a large fireworks display in Jackson. In fact, we had only 6 guests for the 6:30 sunset cruise. I let those folks know that they were going to have pretty much a "private charter"; it was 3 couples who didn't know each other. By the time we were headed back into the marina, we were all visiting together. Some might look at a nearly empty boat as a disappointment, but this was an opportunity to meet new folks and get to show them the lake and the mountains from a perspective you can't see through the windshield of your car. I gave them some photo tips on how to get good silhouettes of the mountains with the sun behind them.
On the breakfast cruise, we had a newly-engaged couple... as in: he had just proposed the night before. I had the boat full of passengers give them a round of applause and while on the island, I was amused as guests felt compelled to give this young couple marital advice. One lady's response won't be forgotten; she said, "Honey, no matter what he does, you give him a big hug and say, 'You da man!' " ;-) That was way better than most of the "respect each other" advice I heard.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Today, I participated in my first "rescue." No, no one was ever in jeopardy. One of our small rental boats called in to the marina - their motor had quit and they couldn't get it re-started. There was about 1 1/2 foot chop, and they were a bit scared. I hopped in our jonboat with one of the dock hands and we went out to find them. They were further out than we thought, so it took a few minutes to locate them. Once we got there, all they wanted was to get back to shore. We got their boat started right away (the vent on the fuel tank was closed), so we had them follow us back in. Once we got into protected water, they decided to go ahead and stay out for the two hours they had scheduled... the motor was running, the water was much calmer in closer, and they had faith that we weren't going to let anything bad happen to them. And, they had some fun on the water. This is a regular situation for the dock hands, but the first time I had time to go out and help.
It was a bit windier today and cooler. That did slow down the traffic a bit at the marina, but it was still plenty busy. Lots of people on their boats in the marina.
No fireworks allowed in the National Park, so I would imagine things will quiet down a bit by late afternoon tomorrow... there is supposed to be a fireworks display in Jackson that will draw people that direction.
Summer is going by fast.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Mostly good news, considering.
Back to work tomorrow... I've had enough of the Weather Channel for a while.