the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 » Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:18 pm

WOW!!

Don't try to hide the mistakes you make. You are young, AND you're doing a bunch of new things. If you try to hide your mistakes/problems, (and especially if you also act like you know it all) you'll miss out on learning from people. Show that you're eager and that you're learning, and most people will be happy to help you with your problems and mistakes.

Your well is super impressive.

Your writing is wonderful.

That valley you live in is beautiful.

I have an urge to tell you something along the lines of "keep good journals, because you may want them for [whatever] later". This is a sign that you're living an interesting and impressive life.

What kind of clothes do you wear for biking in negative 5 degrees?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:33 am

@C40- Thank you. I realize mistakes are the path to learning and developing new skills. I occasionally feel embarassed by this, which is somewhat irrational as who is supposed to know/perfect everything? Although often hard to deal with. the fact that I'm the least skilled in my environment is a good thing, because as long as I'm open to it I'm constantly learning.

Journaling is something that I've had on the good idea but procrastinate implementing list. I've been crossing things off that list over the past month like meditation, tightening up my diet and reducing the hours per day in which I consume food. Journaling is my next task.

Biking in the cold isn't as bad as it sounds. The major focal points are the hands and feet as they are the portion that isn't moving. Upper body I was wearing a t shirt, light fleece pullover and a light/medium weight synthetic jacket (unzippered). I could have done without the jacket but I didn't feel like stopping and putting it in my pack. Bottom layer was simply long underwear and a pair of wind pants. The key for footwear is an overboot. I have whatever NEOS most insulated overboot is. Under that I was just wearing a pair of trail runners and wool socks. That was too warm at 5 above. Just fine at 5 below. If I was biking 15 below or colder, I'd swap out my trail runners for my ski boot liners. That would take me to -40...maybe even much colder. Glove wise I had a pair of lobster gloves. If it's any colder, I spent way too much on a fancy pair of poagies. Last but not least, I think I was wearing a hat, but probably could have gotten away with a headband.

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cmonkey
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:41 am

theanimal wrote:This abundant time to myself provides for a lot of thinking yielding big questions with not many answers. A lot of it centers around defining success for myself, something that many on here wrestle with. I'm pursuing a life that is alien and undesired to most of the western world today, including many of my peers. Most of the world is running towards the cities, where I am about as far away from them as you can get. The western world is pursuing more ease and a Wall-E esque way of life, while I seem to be making things increasingly tougher for myself.

This is a great update. Thank you for writing it up.

I really get where you are coming from with this, I seem almost magnetically opposed to many of the Wall-E esque others take for granted. DW's cousin is staying with us currently and she does things that are insane from my perspective. Eating out for breakfast and lunch, huddled in a blanket with a space heater in her bedroom all night doing nothing but staring at her phone complaining that we need to turn the heat up (its on 64*). Driving 20 miles to go to a tanning salon at 10 PM on a Thursday when she has to be up at 6 am. Then she gets sick and wonders why.

She thinks I'm crazy for walking to the bus stop in the winter. I was thinking about my walk yesterday and I realized that I really love this part of my day and that I will miss it when I quit work. I guess I'll just have to get up at 5 am for the fun of it. ;)

The plain truth of it is that she is a weenie and most of western civilization are weenies. We had a fire drill today and everyone was complaining that it was cold outside. I got outside for walks 2-3 times each day, why is it such a problem for others?

I guess I think that purposely doing things that are considered 'hard' toughens you up and that if I were ever forced out of my semi-Wall-e esque life (warm home, good food) it wouldn't be as bad. I also simply enjoy it.


Regarding the 'activities in the cold' (biking for you) I have found it isn't that bad either. Imagination would tell you its a horrible experience, but I spent all of Saturday digging in the garden and I had 2 coats on with hat and gloves also. I was sweating a lot even though it was 30 and extremely windy. Even down near 0 I would have been alright.


*I really would have it on 55-60 if I didn't have DW living with me, I get quite warm even in low 60s. Oh the compromises. ;)

Hoosier Daddy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Hoosier Daddy » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:02 pm

I love this journal so much! Thank you so much for sharing! Very cool water setup! Any concerns the deep winter could freeze deeper than you dug the pipe?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:46 pm

@cmonkey- Agree on all fronts. The more we expose ourselves to challenges, the more we evolve. Most people try to circumvent this nowadays and choose to seek comfort over any challenge. Cold? Turn up the thermostat? Hungry? Buy convenience food. The list goes on. Jacob has a good post on this (based off Herman Hesse book's Siddartha (also good)), called Can you wait, think and fast? Part of the key to a good life IMO.

@HoosierDaddy- Thanks! Generally no concerns. The water table is flowing so it's constantly moving. And with regards to the pipe, that goes beneath the cabin so the surrounding ground is thawed out (due to the heat within the cabin). I'm away now visiting family and I pulled the check valve so that the water drained back to the water table. Shouldn't be any problems!

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Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:33 am

A project you could get behind if you have lots of spare time is definitely to write some sort of book/journal, I definitely agree on this.
Your writing is excellent, it transpires the love and passion you have for everything you're doing.
Plus, you're really doing something exciting.

I'm not hyperboling, when you post here, it's always the most fulfilling reading I experience in the week.

Keep it up and thanks for sharing.

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:02 pm

@animal:

A little late to the party, but I'm wondering about the well under your cabin. How did you know (or assume) that there would be flowing water so close to the surface? Is the cabin in general sitting on such a shallow water table?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:44 am

@Seppia- Wow, thank you! How kind. I appreciate you reading. A book would be an interesting project and something that I'd be interested in but I haven't been able to come up with anything that'd be worth writing about yet. Maybe I'm thinking too hard. We'll see what happens.

@Half Moon- Yes, the cabin in general is sitting on a shallow water table. I primarily know this through my neighbors who also have wells underneath their cabins. The town has been in existence for a little over 100 years now but there were no wells until about 25 years ago. It's peculiar that that's the case as the early residents were all miners. They dug shafts all over the country but didn't try to dig for water. 50 yards further away from my cabin, the ground starts to become permafrost (permanently frozen ground (comprising most of the area)). I figure they may have just thought it was permafrost beneath their cabins.

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:12 pm

theanimal wrote:The town has been in existence for a little over 100 years now but there were no wells until about 25 years ago. It's peculiar that that's the case as the early residents were all miners. They dug shafts all over the country but didn't try to dig for water.
My guess is that the miners had one overriding target for their energy, and it wasn't something so trivial as water. :roll:

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:49 pm

I bought a beater car for $1,200. 2006 Chrysler Town and Country. I'm feeling ambivalent about it.

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:00 pm

Is that a 4WD? I'm trying to imagine a 2WD getting through the kind of snow you have. :shock:

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:21 pm

It's 2WD. It doesn't snow much where I'm at. The coastal regions and southern AK receive lots of snow. Most of Alaska receives relatively little. Our average is about 2.5-3 ft. Most of the winter, there is no fresh snowfall because the temperatures are too cold. I've driven a few thousand miles for work in a 2WD vehicle here in winter. Except for a few days of the year, it shouldn't be a problem.

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:01 pm

Okay; another misconception bites the dust. I still wonder that you can navigate 2'-3' of snow in a 2WD. Is someone plowing or otherwise compressing it? Do you use chains?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:01 am

@Half moon- I should have clarified. All roads (there aren't many) are plowed by the state. Everything is usually cleared within 24 hrs following a significant snowfall. Some areas the snow is compacted down, but that doesn't pose a problem as long as it stays cold. Chains can be helpful in the transition seasons, though I've never had to use them.

On gravel sections, the state will water down the roads in mid October when the temperature starts inching closer to 0. This makes for great traction. There's 9 different types of ice based on temperature and pressure. It ranges from water vapor ( around 32 F) to solid with extremely minimal water content. Most places in the lower 48 have temperatures close to freezing for much of the winter. Hence, the slippery ice due to higher water content. Not true for the far north. At -40 below you can stop on ice or compacted snow in the same distance as you would on dry pavement. Even around -10 F, you're only adding about 15% to your normal stopping distance. Winter is generally the preferred time to drive for most.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:19 am

That's a very interesting explanation. I'm especially surprised about the road-watering part, which is completely counter to my experience of (lower 48) winter driving. Does everyone up there know the science of this in such detail, or are you just more curious than most?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:16 pm

I don't think many know it in complete detail, but they have a simple realization that there is good traction. I'm very curious about all things Alaska. It's helped me out quite a bit working as a tour guide in the area. From what I've found, this seems to be a good strategy to follow for any job. If you have at least a decent employer, it's recognized. And for the non employment realms, the old timers/almost old timers are willing to share knowledge about the lifestyle, areas etc. So I've learned to shut up and listen. :)

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:40 am

The more time I spend using things with motorized engines the less I find that I enjoy them. Chainsaws, generators and cars to name a few. They’re loud, wasteful, require almost as much time as the non motorized alternative and are prone to break down. I think that buying a car was a mistake. I don’t really enjoy having it. It’s a money sink. $300+ for registration, taxes and transfer of title, $220 for 6 months of insurance and that’s just the base level. We are supposedly getting cell phone service in the area in a month or so. If that ends up proving true, I’ll probably sell the van at the end of the summer. The only thing I use it for now is to go to the other town in the area to socialize and use the internet. Costs to travel to the big city are less than the yearly costs of owning a car. I’d like to be able to function without a generator but that doesn’t seem possible in my current setup. There’s 3 months of the year there’s not enough light for solar power. During that time, with my low electrical usage I need to run the generator only for about 15-20 hours. That’s equivalent to roughly $40 worth of fuel. I’ve concluded that at that price it’s probably worth it to suck it up and deal with it. I am trying to educate myself on the topic and become more skilled. Outside of my regular use and maintenance, I am currently studying an Automotive Mechanics texbook. It's really helped me actually somewhat conceptualize how these things actually work.

That being said, I acknowledge that if a dislike for motor engines is the height of my problems, things are going pretty well. And indeed they are! In the first week of January I drove back to my cabin from Chicago. That was my first time travelling through the Northern US, oops I mean Canada. I really enjoyed the Alcan Highway. The mountains are immense and right up to the road in many instances. There wasn’t much visible wildlife, outside of a few hundred buffalo next to the road. For those of you who like to take long road trips, that’s one to add to the list. You’re probably better off going in summer though, you’ll be able to do much more (unless you’re looking to do any winter sports).

The second half of winter has been enjoyable so far. The sun returned the day after I returned, rising above the horizon for 6 minutes. Now the sun is visible for about 3 hours and up above the horizon for about 5.5. As of this past week, my batteries received their first charge from the sun! I find it exciting, even though it only amounts to 2-3 amps per day right now (enough to power my lights for 2-6 hours depending on usage). There was a week in mid-January where 5 of the 7 days were -40 degrees F or colder. It really wasn’t that bad as long as the wind wasn’t blowing, then it became painful.

Otherwise my days have been action packed for the past month. I’ve made moose jerky a few times, drying the meat over the stove. I’m writing almost every day and will be uploading those essays to a new blog. It’s less outdoor adventure focused and more focused on the lifestyle. I picked up studying Mandarin again and have been practicing that daily. Add on top of those meditating, skiing, walks, playing the ukulele, thinking and reading and my days are full.

I’ve also been working to start a business for the summer season. It is tour based, involves essentially minimal starting costs and is local. It’d be really great if I can achieve success with this. I also have some people that have expressed interest in me leading them as a guide for a backpacking trip in the area. I’m holding out hope that both of these work out. Furthermore, I've reached a tentative agreement with a local restaurant to provide greens for them in the summer season. These three on top of hopefully getting some essays or articles published would provide for a decent variety of income streams.

I read ERE again last week. It really does get better with each read. I believe that was my third reading. I have continually found that alternatives to things I think of purchasing can be made or found in my local environment. Examples: Drying racks for making jerky. Make one with wood or hang a stick up across the woodstove as a drying rack. Pull up bar: Climb a tree, find a branch on a tree, use a log to make a pull up bar and install in house. These are just a few basic things but I find that it holds true quite often. It reestablishes the necessity of being skilled to make use of your environment. For me, the top skills that would drastically improve my quality of life would be bushcraft and woodworking. I intend to pursue those starting immediately.

Image
The Sun Returns

Image
45 Below

[url=https://flic.kr/p/QEvgaJ]Image

Mountains near my town

Image
From yesterday evening's ski

halfmoon
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:47 am

Love the evening ski photo. It looks as though someone's using a snowmobile on your ski trail, though. How rude. ;)

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Dragline
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Dragline » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:50 am

Nice photos. The "return of the sun" must be kind of momentous.

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cmonkey
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by cmonkey » Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:38 am

Regarding gas powered *anything*, I agree. I decided this year that I wasn't going to hook up my snowblower on my small tractor anymore. It's a giant hassle to put on and I have to use gas as well. Plus it doesn't do as good of a job It's much easier to just shovel! It's good exercise too. I might sell the snowblower attachment in a few years if I still feel the same way.

How warm does your cabin stay when it's that cold outside?

Hoosier Daddy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Hoosier Daddy » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:35 am

This may be a stupid question (probably is): how do you ski on flat land? You just keep pushing yourself? Can you go very fast doing that?

Let us know when you start the new blog; can't wait to check it out! - I believe you used to have a separate blog, right? Will the new blog be at the same address?

dlm09
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by dlm09 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:02 am

Hoosier Daddy wrote:This may be a stupid question (probably is): how do you ski on flat land? You just keep pushing yourself? Can you go very fast doing that?
Cross-country https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-country_skiing

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:56 am

Wow. This is some really Grizzly Adams shit right here (minus the false accusation of murder).

Very impressive.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:10 am

Thanks for the nice comments.

@halfmoon- It makes for better skiing, I'm not complaining. :D

@Dragline- I find there is definitely a greater appreciation of it here than most other places. Everyone goes out to watch the sun crest above the horizon on the first couple days. Staring directly at the sun.

@Cmonkey- I enjoyed shoveling driveways at night. Nice and quiet. You're right that it makes for good exercise.

The cabin stays plenty warm. This past Friday, Sat and Sun were -35,-40,-40 respectively. I just open up the flue on the woodstove a little more and use a little more wood. I don't have a thermometer but I'd guess the inside temp is in the low 60s. It could easily go much higher. It helps that living area is 144 sq ft. Furthermore, I have the cabin banked up to the top of the logs on the sides with snow. Besides openings for the windows, it's pretty close to an igloo. The only problem I have is a small addition a previous resident left unfinished. He did a terrible job with what he did do and I lose a lot of heat through that. I'm hoping to get permission to demolish that. :)

@Hoosier Daddy- Cross country skiing is propelled forward by a kicking motion, like you're kicking a soccer ball. On a compacted trail, they're great. Someone with good technique and in decent shape can move 5-7 mph. There are other techniques that allow you to go faster, mainly for those racing, but they are much more exhausting. Breaking trail and with a pack, the going is much slower. Up here more so than some other places because we don't have layers in the snow. Every step brings your ski/foot right to the bottom.

The blog is up and I have a few posts added. I'm planning on putting out 2/week as of now. You can find it at http://www.arcticessays.wordpress.com

@Jason- Ah thanks. It's probably looks much more impressive than it actually is.
Last edited by theanimal on Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

WashingtonIrving
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by WashingtonIrving » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:15 am

Hey man it's your pal R. How are things? Looking forward to spring? Also I think you told me you were taking up trapping, how has that been working out? Any new lessons from that neighbor? Looking forward to updates and any photos here since my days of living vicariously through you via facebook are over. Still charging ahead with programming here, got a new laptop so I can stop stealing the lady's gear. Had to liquidate a small investment and it still stings to dip into possible future returns like that. Stocks have been up up up since November, I'm interested to see how markets react to the administration when policies actually start coming down the pipe though(30% border tax can't be good for business). Anyways keep up the good work and we'll be in touch soon, looking forward to your posts as the weather starts to change!
-R

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