Monday, April 29, 2013

As of late

I've been fairly busy over the past couple of weeks. The house has needed a long string of spring repairs and odd jobs, from clearing brush, vines and weeds, building a stone firepit and setting paving stones out back, planting flowers and apple trees to mowing and seeding the yard, etc. Also, I've been trying to get back in the habit of cooking more meals at home and trying to be a stress relief to my family instead of a stress maker, at least until my wife's work eases up a bit.

i learned to make bread over the weekend.

In between stuff I've had to do and entertaining the family, I've been trying to squeeze in a hobby or two or a dozen. Between Friday and Sunday, I taught myself to bake bread. I'm tired of buying the store bought stuff with it's mile long ingredients list. What I made over the weekend, all six loaves, had unbleached all-purpose flour or wheat flour, sugar, salt, yeast and water, and they were so good that I only have a single loaf left this morning. Pretty cool, really. 20 minutes to prep the dough, wait two hours for it to rise, 10 minutes to shape and pop in the oven, 25-30 minutes later, eat fresh bread.

a laminated canoe paddle in progress

I've also been working on a canoe paddle laminated from kayak and outrigger project scraps. Pretty cool to take offcuts and make something pretty and useful out of them. It's roughly shaped, but needs some finer shaving and sanding done before possibly painting or glassing the blade and oiling the handle.

a laminated canoe paddle in progress

I also drug the Wa'apa outrigger sailing canoe out of the garage to fix everything I broke on it last fall. The two struts that angle towards the main hull had to be completely reset and epoxied back into the ama (side float). They are set in place, now and I plan to add several layers of reinforcing glass to them before getting it back out on the water. I also plan to lash them in cordage like I had previously. The lashings were the only thing holding them in place when I unwrapped them to work on them.

fixing everything i broke on the outrigger last fall. making it sailworthy again

And lastly, spring has really sprung at our house. The abundance of rain we've been getting has really greened the yard. Birds have nested all over the property - house wrens out back, cardinals in the bush next to the front door and robins above the garage. It took them three tries to build a nest there. Hopefully this one sticks, since it's quite occupied.

robin's eggs above my garage door

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kayaking Aldrich Waterfowl Refuge - Stockton Lake, Missouri

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

Friday after work, my friend Brian and I drove northwest an hour to Stockton Lake State Park. We camped overnight to the sounds turkeys and owls, dodging deer and opossum to get there.

It took some creative ropework to get the boats on the car.

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

A little Guinness Extra Stout and caveman TV on Friday evening.

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

An improvised camp chair from a 5gal bucket and an old creek chair.

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

Saturday morning, we ate breakfast and headed over to the easternmost point of the lake to Aldrich Waterfowl Refuge where we paddled around for half a day in the lazy flowing waters of the Little Sac River. Some birds that we saw on Saturday's paddle: white pelicans, blue herons, bald eagles, bluebirds, cormorants, wood ducks, mallard ducks, turkey vultures and pileated woodpeckers

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

When we stopped for lunch, I crawled up the hill and and onto a bluffline to "mark my territory" and found a series of dead and bleached turtle remains. My best guess is that an eagle caught them, then dropped them to the rocks below before eating what smashed out in the process. I found the remains of three of them, in different states of sun bleaching and disarray.

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

I crawled out of my kayak onto a narrow peninsula that marks where a bridge causeway once stood. Took a couple pics from below and decided to climb up to the area that had eroded a little less. In the process, I had to run across the narrow strip between my boat and the dirt embankment I wanted on top of. When I hit the top, I scared the crap out of a nesting mother Canada goose. She exploded off her nest in a fluttering, honking fury and in the process, scared the crap out of me. I started laughing at the absurdity of it, sorry to have scared her from her slumber and then heard more honking from her mate coming across the lake to see what was going on. I opted to get back to the boat instead of take any more pics from a higher vantage point. Sorry to have roused the poor gal and not wanting to get my head pecked off by dada goose.

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

kayaking stockton lake - aldrich waterfowl refuge

Aldrich Waterfowl Refuge is a neat area. I was glad to get the chance to explore it better. Could have seen a few less bass boats, but it was a nice day and I really can't blame anyone for wanting to be out on the lake. Lots of birds there this time of year and there was a lot more water in the lake than last time I paddled it.

As usual, thanks much to Brian D. for going with me and his half of the pics posted here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

St. Augustine, Florida - March 2013 Highlights

I took my little family to St. Augustine, Florida last week. We drove down to visit my cousin Tim and his wife Joyce and to get away from the cold of the Midwest. It was still chilly in Florida, with temps in the 40s-60s and a steady onshore breeze much of the time. With over 600 pics taken, posting them all here would be a chore and a pain to download. Here's a few less, mostly of the nautical and aquatic sort.

We managed to get a couple of beach days in, in spite of the cooler weather. We also hit up the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum, Alligator Farm, Marineland dolphin tanks, Disney World Magic Kingdom and downtown St. Augustine. A great trip. Could have done without putting 2,662 miles on the Subaru, but at least the kiddo takes to the car well for a four-year-old.

Gulls, terns and skimmer birds by the pier.

Terns, skimmer birds and gulls, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby and Gwen, St. Augustine, Florida

Gwen and I, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby and Gwen, St. Augustine, Florida

Gwen, St. Augustine, Florida

Pink barnacle

Pink barnacle, St. Augustine, Florida

Anemone

Anemone, St. Augustine, Florida

Starfish and crab (small blue crab, maybe?)

Starfish and maybe a small blue crab,  St. Augustine, Florida

Starfish, St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Barca chata, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

A local ale at the lighthouse

A local ale, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Bevin's Skiff, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum haul

Small spider crab

Spider crab, St. Augustine, Florida

My 41st birthday dinner

My 41st birthday dinner and margaritas. St. Augustine, Florida

My cousin Tim and I, my 41st birthday dinner and margaritas. St. Augustine, Florida

Abby and Gwen, my 41st birthday dinner and margaritas. St. Augustine, Florida

Gwen and I, my 41st birthday dinner and margaritas. St. Augustine, Florida

My cousin Tim and I, my 41st birthday dinner and margaritas. St. Augustine, Florida

Alligator Farm

American alligators, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Dugout and barca chata (flat boat)

Dugout, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Barca chata, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

American alligators, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

My cousin had plenty of citrus trees in his yard, oranges, grapefruit and kumquat. Also, his dad, my uncle, built a plywood kayak some time ago and it was hanging in his garage. He also has an Opti dinghy on the roof of his workshop shack. I think I've talked him into bringing it back from the dead.

Grapefruit in Tim and Joyce's yard, St. Augustine, Florida

Citrus from Tim and Joyce's yard. Kumquats, oranges and grapefruit, St. Augustine, Florida

The boat shack in Tim's backyard, St. Augustine, Florida

Tim's dad, my uncle Ric, built this plywood kayak years ago. It hangs in Tim's garage. St. Augustine, Florida

Lots of good food in St. Augustine. We ate Mexican, El Salvadoran, BBQ, seafood, etc. It was awesome.

Leftover tacos and a Costa Rican beer

Mojo's BBQ, St. Augustine, Florida

Mojo's BBQ, St. Augustine, Florida

There was also some great coffee, including Cuban Espresso Coffee (cafecito). Where I got my Cuban coffee (cafecito), St. Augustine, Florida

Crucial Coffee Cafe, St. Augustine, Florida

Crucial Coffee Cafe, St. Augustine, Florida

Marineland dolphins - they no longer do shows, but focus on education and awareness. It's good to see the switch from exploitation to something more healthy.

Marineland, St. Augustine, Florida

Marineland, St. Augustine, Florida

Marineland, St. Augustine, Florida

Marineland, St. Augustine, Florida

Anastasia State Park and a gopher tortoise

Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby, Gwen and I, Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

Gopher Tortoise, Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

Downtown St. Augustine, boatyard, docks and Castillo de San Marcos fort.

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

Bananas, St. Augustine, Florida

Sailboats, St. Augustine, Florida

Stiletto catamaran like the one my cousin Tim used to have, St. Augustine, Florida

Cool flats boat. Made for fishing bonefish, redfish, snook, speckled trout, tarpon, shark, etc. Anything shallow water.

A bit of Old Florida, a motor launch in a boatyard. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos fort, St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos fort, St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos fort, St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos fort, St. Augustine, Florida

Sunrise

Sunrise, St. Augustine, Florida

Sunset

Sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby, Gwen and I on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

My cousin Tim and I on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby, Gwen and I on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

Abby and Gwen on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

Joyce, Abby and Gwen on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

Gwen on the beach behind our rental house, St. Augustine, Florida

Macro seaoats and sand

macro sand and shells, St. Augustine, Florida

More can be see at www.flickr.com/photos/12235211@N02/sets/72157633145724743