Friday, August 26, 2016

Return to Tarwathie

South Burlington, VT

Libby and I hate making plans with a calendar.  Doing so is very un-cruiser like.  But sometimes we can't avoid it.

Our rough plan is:

  1. To return to Tarwathie in October. 
  2. To spend about two weeks in the boatyard repainting the Awlgrip parts of the hull.
  3. To return to Marathon sometime in the range November 1-15.

I plan no more blog posts until returning to Tarwathie in October.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Have Been Properly Scolded

South Burlington, VT

I am used to being in the political minority.  My libertarian views put me in a tiny minority that is mostly dismissed as inconsequential.    But this year, I may be in the majority; I don't want to vote for either Trump or Clinton.

But twice in recent weeks, I've felt scolded by online comments that make my views seem lazy and any lack of potency my own fault.

  1. Like many others, I always felt that a vote for a 3rd party in a US election was a waste, and a useless gesture.  But an online comment said, "That may be true for one election, but patience and long-term support for a third party can make its share of the vote grow.  Over the course of a lifetime, a tiny party could grow to become a majority."
  2. In another case, I whined online about how I don't like the game of democracy; how I wanted the choice of "abolish this office" to appear on the ballots.  Someone else scolded me.  He said, "Libertarians must learn patience, and accept the fact that the only way to get the things they want is to play in the political game that they find so distasteful."  Mea cupla.
The common thread between those two comments had to deal with patience.  If people like me are forever impatient, we'll be forever politically impotent.  It is analogous to celibate friars dreaming of world domination.  Impatience is self-defeating.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Assault on Mount Abraham

Mount Moosalamoo

How dare I write a title suggesting a comparison between Mount Everest and Vermont's Mount Abraham?  Read to the end before judging.

21 years ago, I spent three days backpacking on the Long Trail with my dog Pup.   I did it as a way to maintain fitness, at the only time in my life where I was truly physically fit.  Nevertheless, it taxed me to my limit.  The trail was very steep and my pack felt overly heavy. The high point of the trip came as we reached the summit of 4017 foot Mount Abraham (pronounced Abrams by Vermont locals).  The views were fantastic.  Many people say, "Best Views in Vermont."   Ever since then, I wanted to return.

Well, I got my chance to return yesterday.  Libby and I were camped at Mount Moosalamoo, which is not far away.   The morning began with a cloudless blue sky.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Libby couldn't go; she can't handle steep slopes.  She packed me a backpack with some raisins, some cashews, a bottle of water, and our (heavy armored) binoculars from Tarwathie.  Off I went.

My starting point was Lincoln Gap. At 2400 feet, it is a bit more than halfway up.   I got there early.  There were only 3 other cars at the trail head parking lot.   Underneath the tree canopy, the temperature was about 60F; ideal.

So I climbed and climbed.  The trail seemed much steeper than I remembered.   Even though my pack was light, it felt heavy.  I am nowhere close to being as fit as I was 21 years ago.  So I huffed and puffed a lot.  My heart beat so vigorously that I could feel it in my chest and hear it in my heat. I used my exercise techniques of breathing in a way to maximize oxygen intake.

I thought, "Having a heart attack up here would certainly be fatal.   There's no way that medical help could arrive in less than 1-2 hours."   But then I also thought, "Wouldn't that be a nice way to go; swift and while enjoying myself?"  I was pleased to note that when I stopped for a break, my pulse declined rapidly.  That's a good sign.

Finally, the path seemed to be leveling out.  I could also see glimpses of blue sky through the trees indicating that I was not far below the ridge line.  Finally, I met a couple descending, the first people I had seen on the trail.  I asked them, "How far to the summit."  They said, "Well, we have been descending for 30 minutes." Uh oh, I was only 2/3 of the way up.

That news made me reassess.  I realized that I was running out of steam.  My pauses for rest breaks started at once every 500 yards, then diminishing to every 250 yards.  By the time I met the couple, I was taking a break every 75-100 yards, thus greatly slowing my forward progress.  If I continued up, the 30 minute trip the couple cited would have taken 1.5 to 2 hours.  I forced myself to think of my own Box Canyon Rule.  I made up that rule back in 2013 to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable risks.

My personal philosophy, is "Just Do It" If you have a dream, get up off the sofa and if at all possible, give it a try.  However noble that philosophy might be, it is overridden by my my own Box Canyon Rule.  I reluctantly decided that it would be a violation of my rule to continue.  It would also be irresponsible to depend on help from others to get back down.  :-( I turned around and started back down.

Going down, I met very many people coming up.  I estimate more than 100 people.   But the descent wasn't easy.  I was afraid of slipping.   At one point, a careless step led to a stab of pain in my left knee.  "Oh no, a sprain would be very bad."   So I continued, but favoring that knee.   At another point, I grabbed a branch for support.  It broke and I fell.  Fortunately, I didn't fall far, nor did I get hurt, but the warning was ominous.  I stopped for a break.   The muscles in my shins rapidly began to stiffen. "Uh Oh, leg cramps would not be good either."  So I continued without pauses.

Eventually, I made it back to the car without incident.  Total round trip time on the trail 3.5 hours.     Of course, I'm disappointed in stopping just short of the summit.  That seems like a moral failure.  But, I'm glad I did the attempt.  I'm satisfied with my "Just Do It" philosophy, and also with my Box Canyon rule.  Adventuresome, but not foolish.

So this 71 year old body can't do what it did when I was 50.  Duh, what should I expect?   On a personal level Mount Abraham was my Mount Everest.   What do you think of my title for this post now?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Home Is Where The Heart Is

South Burlington, VT
Home is where the heart is.
I certainly didn't invent that old saying/proverb/idiom, but I do believe in it.  So does Libby.

All summer long, in North Carolina, Vermont, and New York Libby and I have been having almost nonstop fun doing things that we can't do on a boat.   But it is also true that we miss Tarwathie.

Tarwathie is our home, no matter where Tarwathie is.   We think about her and miss her every day.

This is the third time we left Tarwathie behind in Florida while we traveled elsewhere by car for the summer season.  That allows us to visit family and friends, and to see and do many things we enjoy.   But the whole time we're doing that we're not home.

It is mid August.  I suspect that before long we will begin to get "antsy" and feel urges to return home.   A hindrance is the oppressive heat of summer and early fall in Florida which we really can't tolerate.

Of course the solution to that is to bring Tarwathie with us over the summer as we did 8 of the previous 11 years.  We simply follow the temperate weather north and south with the seasons. That trip gets more difficult as we get older.  The 5000 mile round trip (which includes many zigs and zags thus adding to the mileage) becomes more difficult to accomplish.  But I'm not prepared to say that we will never do that trip again.  Next year is the 200th anniversary of The Erie Canal, so it would be an auspicious year to be there to see it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On Friendship

South Burlington, VT

In recent weeks we greatly enjoyed the company of several friends,  Pierre and Christina on board their boat,  Gerry and Phyllis dear freinds since college days, and with Pat and Walt cruising friends that we met in the Bahamas.   Thank you all for your hospitality.
We also visited John and Becky but they are family.  Today's topic is friends.

What is it that attracts us to some people more than others?  Why do we feel so comfortable in their presence and enjoy their company so much?   I'm  not much of a psychologist, but I'll make a few observations.

  • Common experiences and outlook often introduced us, but can't explain the depth of our attraction.  Some of our dearest friends have very different backgrounds and world views than Libby and I.  
  • I have a few friends that Libby doesn't know well, and she has some I don't know.  But the majority of our best friends are happily married couples.   That goes hand-in-hand with our habits of socializing mostly as a couple rather than as individuals. 
  • Most of our friendship bonds appeared nearly immediately.  I tried to think of a close friendship that grew gradually over a prolonged time.  I can't.
  • If you put a bunch of similar people together (say at a cocktail party, or a club meeting, or a pot luck dinner) they will pretty rapidly self organize into clusters of people who like each other more than the others.  Some of those people become acquaintances, some casual friends, and some best friends, and some lifetime friends. How can people be so effective at that?  It's a mystery.
  • The mystery deepens when it involves couple-to-couple frienships.  If Libby and I become friends with another couple, there are 4 people and 12 person-to-person relationships required. That's a lot more complex.  How can couples be so effective at that?  Libby and I do it all the time, and we don't consult with each other while forging those bonds.  It's a bigger mystery.  If we lived in a society where poly marriages were common, how would the family-to-family friendship dynamics work?
  • It seems trivially obvious that nice people make friends easier than less nice ones, and that acts of kindness spawn friendships more often than acts of hostility.  I imagine that non-nice people have a more difficult time finding friends than nice ones, but the non-nice ones usually manage to find some friends.
  • Perhaps the most trying thing to any friendship is separation.  After separation, some friendships diminish and die, while other friendships remain eternally strong.  
In any event, friendships are a major part of what makes life enjoyable.  We are so grateful for the friends we have.