Monday, April 22, 2013

Hot Springs, Otters, and Whales

Yesterday we went out in a skiff (a Boston Whaler) to go find some hot springs. There were 7 of us-Camilla, her husband Captain Caven, their daughter Ivy, their friends Owen and Cassie, and Sarah and me. The ride was about an hour and again we had beautiful weather! The sun was shining, the sky was a deep blue and the clouds were fluffy. We packed the boat full with picnic supplies and all the accoutrements the baby needed and packed in like sardines, we took off. There were a bunch of sea otters floating on their backs, seeming to wave at us as we passed. Caven and Owen saw a whale spouting in the distance but it must have dove deep because when we sailed closer, we couldn't find it.

After about an hour of smooth seas, we got to the hot springs. There was only one other boat on the beach, so we were really lucky. There were little sheds over two different pools. There were people in the pools when we got there so we decided to make lunch before soaking.

True to their Wisconsin roots, we had a yummy lunch of beer and brats. I had a fair number of IPAs and enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the sun. There were a pair of bald eagles who had a nest nearby. We watched them flying and gliding all around. They were pretty noisy. I had never heard the sounds of bald eagle calls before.

After lunch the other group got into their boat and left so we had the pools to ourselves. Ivy was pretty good, sitting in her bouncy chair while we all soaked in the steaming, slightly sulfur tinged water. We immersed ourselves until we were heated to our cores. Then we went on a short hike down the beach. It was fairly rocky and tough going for Camilla holding the baby, so Sarah, Camilla, and I sat on the rocks and chatted while the others hiked.

The ride back to Sitka was a little more choppy. I felt like I was on a trotting horse and wished there was a good way to post to avoid the jarring impacts and we sailed through the waves. This time all of us saw a humpback whale as it spouted and enjoyed the mountains all around. By the time we got home and ate some dinner, I was wiped out. I collapsed happily into bed. It was a great time!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Vacation in Sitka

I wrote my first long post using the blogger app, then had to change my privacy settings to allow photos, and when I came back to the app, the whole post was gone. Ugh! Instead if typing a lot, I'll just say I'm having a great time with great friends in a beautiful place. I'll sayi it with photos!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reflections on Rural Living

Before moving to Kettle Falls to start our dream of Happy Bear Farm, the smallest place I had lived was the Twin Cities (well, I lived in St. Paul) which have a population of a little more than 3 million people.  I have now lived here for 7 months and it is DEFINITELY different.

First of all I think that Jason and I are both a LOT healthier.  Since I am not working (and now that we are in our house with a working kitchen), I have been cooking basically all of our meals.  The restaurants that are in town (the good ones anyways) are only open Wednesday-Saturday so we don't really have many eating out options.  Because I am making all of our meals, we are sticking to our modified paleo diet.  We eat meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  I call it modified because we occasionally have rice and I eat goat cheese.  Jason and I feel a lot healthier and I am back to my San Diego weight (I gained about 10 pounds when we first moved here because we didn't have a good kitchen in the first apartment we had and we ate a lot of processed food).  I love the magazine Cook's Illustrated and have been cooking 2-3 times a week using their recipes.  So our food is healthy and delicious!

Another thing that I've noticed is that Jason and I are big fodder for gossip amongst our neighbors and their interest is apparent and sometimes in our face.  For example I think that at least 4 of our neighbors has asked us how much we paid for the house.  When we were busy with contractors going in and out of the house, it wasn't unusual for a neighbor to stop by and ask what work we were doing and ask for a tour.  Now that it has warmed up and we are working in the garden, cars noticeably slow down on the dirt road and look at the garden we're putting in and some stop to see what we're planting.  I am not used to being so interesting.  They are very nice about it, it's just different.

Days can go by when I don't leave the house.  It's about a 15 minute drive into Kettle Falls and the only reasons that I ever go there are to go to work (if I get a sub job), go to the library, or go to Meyers Falls Market (the natural food store, which is great but really small and lacking in a lot of our regular food stuffs).  Once a week (at least) I drive into Colville (about a 25 minute drive) to go to the bigger grocery store Super One.  They're like a small Safeway or Cub Foods (about a third the size), but they have a small organic section.  We're slowly making friends but they're generally busy people and we don't see them that often.  Last week I left the house twice-once for grocery shopping and other errands and the other time for a fruit planting workshop.  I used to rarely be home.  I like our house.  I like making it into a home.  It's just different.

Finally Sundays are a different time here.  In general this community is fairly religious but no one has been preachy or proselytizing.   On a normal day we see 5-6 cars go down our dirt road, but on Sundays we see at least 20.  People going to church, people going to see family, people coming to visit, etc.  Also very few businesses are open on Sundays.  There is one hardware store (out of 6 in the area) that is open and Super One is open.  I think that's it.  Nothing else is open.  During the week, most businesses close at 5 or 6pm.  But most of them at 7am.  I have been called by people at 7:15am to ask my opinion about something.  This is considered "no big deal."  Most days I am up by 7:15am, but in my city life I NEVER would have called someone this early.

I like living here.  I love our house, our garden, and our dreams for it.  We're starting to meet people and hang out regularly with them.  I have found a political outlet by chairing a subcommittee in our local Slow Food chapter to organize for I-522 to label GMOs in Washington.  Things are good here, it's just different. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

House Renovation Hiccups Part 1

I have been meaning to write another blog post for weeks, but it has been really busy here at Happy Bear Farm. 

After closing on the house, we had Peter at Haus of Hard Wood come in and put in hard wood floors upstairs and on the stairs and refinish the hard wood down stairs.  They did a great job and it looks great!
The stairs in progress

I realized that I don't have any photos of the floor, but this one of my friend's son shows how good they look!
After Peter finished, we moved into the house.  We didn't have our furniture yet so we stayed in a blow up bed.  We had to take the hot water heater out of the house so that Morgan (who did our linoleum and tile) could put in new flooring in our laundry room.  For some reason (we found out later it was because the septic was full) when you would run even cold water anywhere in the house, water would come pouring out of the hot water heater hoses (even though the water was turned off to the heater).  This meant that although we HAD cold water, we couldn't run it in the faucets unless someone monitored a bucket under pipes.  This was our first big hiccup.  Luckily we had the creek and we "Little House on the Prairie"ed  it and brought buckets of water up to the house.  We also ate out for most of our meals.  Morgan made getting our laundry room floor a priority and after 3 days we got our hot water heater into the house.  Luckily we had the hot tub!!

Yay for new floors and hot water heaters!
The flooring is called Marmoleum and that color is called Orange Cocktail.  We had originally wanted a different color but it was on back order.  We had a few more hiccups with the water heater.  Jason planned on plumbing the water heater himself and there were a few issues with pipe size and fit.  He learned that in plumbing, getting something on as tightly as possible is often a mistake.  Finger tight is good enough.  Living far away from a decent hardware store didn't help matters.  It took us a few more days to get the plumbing right.  We had now been without running water for about 5 days. 
Jason got the plumbing to work!

We were so excited to get hot water!  We turned on the water and turned on the hot water heater.  We waited about 15 minutes and although we had running water, we didn't have any hot water.  We waited another 30 minutes. We still didn't have hot water.  Finally we opened the electrical box and turned the thermostat all the way up.  We still didn't have hot water.  By this time we were really frustrated.  In the morning we called a heating and cooling company (their number was on the hot water heater) and when they came out, they told us that when you have an empty water heater, you need to fill it completely before turning it on or you will blow out the electrical components.  Now we know!  It felt great to have a hot shower!