Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bonus Day Off...

Friday was my "bonus" day off... with our rotation, each of the captains gets a Friday off every third week. I got out on my motorcycle and played tourist... I rode down to the marina, then south to the top of Signal Mountain. Great views of the valley and the mountains. I stopped frequently at the pull-outs to enjoy the views and read the info plaques. Then along Jenny Lake, down to Moose, and back to Colter Bay Village in time for a lunch meeting... the "big boss" wanted our input on some marina purchases for next year. I have opinions and I'm not afraid to use them. ;-)

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

All that togetherness...

I recently responded to a question from another RVer about "how do you get along when extended traveling?" Here's what I wrote...


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." Roll Eyes 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. smiley 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. lipsrsealed

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. smiley

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. smiley

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


A re-supply trip to Jackson yesterday, then back to the grind of getting everything back on my MacBook Pro and the new iPad. While all my data, writing, and photos were archived, I lost software, favorite web sites, and all my e-mail addresses. Some of that is backed up at home, but it will be a while before we get back there. And then more frustration dealing with Apple and iTunes. Yeah, all the music and podcasts (and I had a gazillion podcasts) went away, also. Again, backed up at home. But, just to add to the fun, iTunes wouldn't allow me to download any of my previous purchases because "It was on a different computer." No, same computer; different OS. Ever try to contact iTunes? No phone support and they don't return their e-mail requests for support.

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


I've been using Photoshop for 16 years... it is my "go to" software. With the "upgrade" on the OS, I don't have the PS disks to load that software. So, I am working with iPhoto for some very basic manipulation.

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

New York in the Tetons...

It's been a few days since I've updated anything. We picked up an iPad last week, and it required an update of our Mac operating system. And that's when the problems began... Roll Eyes I did back up all my data on the old OS, but forgot to do anything with my extensive list of favorites for websites. As you might expect, there was a problem with installing the new OS and I had to do a full erase of the hard drive. Scary procedure, but once started, you're pretty much committed. Or, should be committed. Wink It will take me days (not much free time right now) to rebuild/rediscover all the saved favorites. BUT, the photos and writing were all archived/saved, and that's a big plus.

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. Roll Eyes 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! angry

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. smiley

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Making progress...

One of my long days today... but, an absolutely gorgeous day in the Tetons. Warm (into the low 80s, sunny, dry, not much wind). We started the day with a small group for breakfast, and Chef Greg made the usual great selection plus French toast. Very tasty!

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

Well, that wasn't much fun...

I've been a Mac user since 1984... yep, the first year Apple came out with the Mac... that funny-looking little all-in-one box. Since that time, I've owned many of their different models... done plenty of OS upgrades. This is the first time that the new operating system locked everything up. It took nearly two hours on the phone with Apple Support, and I had to do a complete erase of the hard drive. Yes, I had everything backed up, BUT... what a pain in the ass it is to have to reload all your favorites on the internet, AND try to remember all the different passwords. Not to mention all the software install discs that are at home.

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.


My beloved MacBook Pro is having a problem... I tried to install OS10.6 and it has locked up the machine! So, it may be a while for any updates while I sort this out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day to day living...

Whether on an extended trip or a seasonal "gig", day to day living goes on. It was another day off for us today, but there were chores to be done; I washed the exterior of the 5th wheel while Joan did laundry. Yes, life in the fast lane. ;-) I tried to put off the exterior scrub down until the "yellow snow" is done... I'm seeing less pollen each day, and I couldn't take it anymore. I started on top of the coach, sweeping then washing. Then, worked my way down and around. The HitchHiker is sparkling!

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.

Over the pass...

Wednesday, July 21st. The only town we've seen since coming to the Tetons is Jackson, Wyoming. It is close (40 minutes or so, depending on traffic), has decent restaurants, and two good grocery stores. A person could go all season and get almost everything you need in Jackson. But, there is no Carino's Italian restaurant... it's one of our favorites when we're home, and I've been missing it. So, we planned a trip to the big city of Idaho Falls... with a Wal-Mart, a Sam's Club, a Best Buy, AND a Carino's.

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

Ending the work week...

We had nice cruises all day long. After 13 hours on duty, I was just wrapping up the sunset cruise. On the way out, one of the guests asked me, "Would you be interested in a captain's position in Maui?"

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

Busy Day...

It wasn't my day as "first" today, but I did drive for a scenic cruise and the dinner cruise this evening. In between, the assistant manager asked if I'd check boats in the slips to make sure that the right people are in the right slips. It is surprising how frequently people try to "sneak" into an unoccupied slip... it may be that the seasonal slip renter is just out for the afternoon, but the "poachers" try to move in. I did have to chase off one woman in a small runabout... "Well, I just pulled in here to unload!" I explained to her that that is what the courtesy dock (30 minute limit) is for. Never a dull moment.

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.

Ya say it's your birthday...

Sunday, July 18th...

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 80ยบ. 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...

Friends of ours from home came to the marina today. It was a "blue shirt" day for me today, meaning I was "Mr. Mechanic." I had barely given Herb and Wilma the nickle tour, showing them the boats, the marina, the store, and the shop, when one of the dock hands came to me to tell me the pump out (that's boat talk for: the system to pump out boat holding tanks) wasn't working... "Can you fix it? I have two boats waiting."

Poop waits for no one. Roll  Eyes

So, I had to excuse myself and go deal with a crappy situation. Wink 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! grin 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. Cool 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.


Besides the boat driving, the captains take turns doing "blue shirt" days where we do maintenance and boat repairs. I had two of those days last week and had a case of the dropsies... first was the prop on our rescue boat. No one fessed up to it, but the prop on that boat got chewed up. I was replacing the prop and... yep, right in 18 feet of water. We do have a diver/dock hand, but it was his day off. Then, two days later, I was working on whipping a mark into a dock line. We need that mark so the dock hands know where to put the dock line on the cleat... there's just enough room for the two cruiseboats at the dock, and line spacing is crucial. I had just finished the whipping, stood up, and the line caught the radio on my belt... flipping it in slow motion well out of my reach and... splash. It was a long walk back to the office to tell the assistant manager that I had just chucked more company property into the drink. Sigh. The pat on the shoulder and the "Well, that happens when you work on the water..." speech didn't make me feel any less stupid.

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

Float Trip...

What a wonderful day off! Mother Nature cooperated nicely, and we started our morning with a float trip on the Snake River. We met Steve, our boatman and guide... he has a great laid-back style, lots of knowledge of the area, and is very personable...

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 first of our days off. As usual, we have to go to Jackson on one of the days off, and this was it... banking, a stop at the Post Office, the hardware store, K-Mart, lunch out, and groceries.

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

Smoke and Fire...

Another windy day... it blew like stink all day. The weather weasels were predicting wind 6 - 8 this morning... it was 28 gusting to 35. Not even close.

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

Rockin' and Rollin'

Nothing to do with music... on tonight's dinner cruise, the wind was really kicking. I checked weather right before we went out: 28 gusting to 34. Colter Bay is very protected, but the waves were rolling when we came out of the bay; spray was pounding on the windshield. When we got to the dock at Elk Island, the wind had the dock really moving. One cruiseboat was being pushed against the dock, the other (the one I was driving) was being pushed away from the dock. It took 4 of us to wrestle the boat up to the dock so passengers could disembark.

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

Another day, end with spray...

The spill was handled and is a done deal; even the booms have been pulled in and put away. A long day of boat driving today, finishing off with the sunset cruise. When we left the marina, there were clouds over the mountains, but the lake was nearly calm. 45 minutes later, on the west side of the lake, I could see the first wind rippled coming at us from the north... and white caps in the distance. With the direction we would have to take to head back to the marina, I could see we were going to take this wind on the port beam. I told the 1st mate to bring in the people who were sitting outside on the aft deck and asked passengers on the port side to please close their windows. Less than a minute later, that side of the boat was getting a LOT of spray and wind waves. One lady asked if I was psychic, and I told her, "No, more like psychotic." ;-) Being a sailor sure helps you read the wind, and I could see that we were in for some rock 'n rollin' before it hit.

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


Busy day in the marina today. I came back in from the 1:30 cruise and the marina manager called on the radio: "We've had a fuel spill; I need you to come to the A dock right away."

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

Day Off, Part 3...

Joan had to work today, I didn’t. After dropping her off at work, I did laundry, came home, dumped and flushed the holding tank, did the dishes, and vacuumed. I took Izzy for a short walk, then got out the motorcycle.

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

Day Off, Part 2...

Another day off today. While Joan was doing laundry, I picked up around the coach, took Izzy for a walk, and got the motorcycle out of the trailer. Here’s a look at the HH and cargo trailer on our site...

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!


No, it's not the newest Terminator movie, but the Weather Channel people seem to be saying, "I'll be back."

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

Stalking the wild prey...

It's been a while since an Izzy update. With a day off for us today, Izzy and I went for a couple walks. There are a couple squirrels who tease Izzy when she's outside. She knows where they hang out, and today she nearly had them... she stealthily stalked them...

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.

Days Last Rays...

The weather has turned to typical mountain summer: cool crisp mornings with generally calm water. As it warms up, the wind comes up. Sunny sky during the day with very comfortable temps in the low 70s. The chance of an afternoon thunderstorm always looms, as this mountain range is big enough to create its own weather system. Chop on the water during the afternoons, then generally laying down towards the end of the day. As always, Mother Nature is in charge and she can change her mind at any time.

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

Holiday Weekend...

It was a busy day in the marina yesterday. One of the highlights for Joan and me was the opportunity to visit with our Florida friends, Bob and Marie (C-Dory folks). They stopped by on their way through, on an RV trip with their daughter and grandkids.

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

Happy Birthday, America...

It's pretty neat to be able to spend a major holiday in one of the most beautiful National Parks, and not have to worry about the traffic or getting a campsite. I let passengers know that they can kick back and enjoy the cruise... and not have to deal with bumper to bumper traffic or road construction.

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

Blue Shirt Day...

We pulled one of the cruiseboats out of service today to get some work done on it. Just so happens it was my day to be "second", so I was up as the service guy. The main project was getting the engine compartments sound deadened. In between, I got the steering connection for the trolling motor for one of the fishing guide boats repaired. By the end of the day, I had fiberglass from the insulation in my hands and face... but, the boat is quieter. With only one cruiseboat in service, no need for me to drive the second boat for the dinner cruise, so I actually got off early - only 8 1/2 hours today. ;-)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hopefully, the last Alex update...

I just got a final e-mail update from our neighbor across the street, and he reports that damage on our island is minimal: some roofing/siding blown off a few places and a lot of palm branches down. The surge made it to the top of the sea wall in our neighborhood, over the wall in some of the lower spots. The surge is down now, back to the level of an extreme high tide. They hope to get the bridge open today and expect to have everything back to normal in time for the 4th of July. All very good news. I would imagine I'll have some dock repairs to do when we get home, but he hasn't had a chance to walk around our place, yet.

Mostly good news, considering.

Back to work tomorrow... I've had enough of the Weather Channel for a while.