Sailing the Tall Ship the Hawaiian Chieftain

I took the train and three buses down from Washington State to Bodega Bay, CA. I left my seasonal home and job at Stevens Pass Mountain Resort for one a few thousand feet lower, with water a bit less frozen, quarters a little closer and skies a little less gray.

I met the crew of the Hawaiian Chieftain, one of the two tall ships who sail up and down the West Coast year-round, owned by the Grays Harbor Seaport Authority, a non-profit educational organization based out of Aberdeen, WA, and they welcomed me aboard with open arms.

I dove into learning appropriate knots, how to cast off and coil lines, tie and untie gaskets underway, climb aloft, keep watch, man the helm, check the boat and chart our course in transit.

At each port, we take the inquiring public out on battle sails where we fire black powder at our nemesis ship, the Lady Washington (if you’ve been on one of our sails you may have heard – the Lazy Washingtub), we sail more chill evening sails – sails without black powder, but our primary focus, which the other sails help support, is our educational sails.

During the education sails each deckhand or officer aboard is not only a sailor but an educator, helping teach students how to set sail, how to tie knots, as well as each of three classes – the daily life of a sailor, navigation, and the beginnings of trade in the Pacific Northwest.

As much as I love firing our deck guns and making transit out in the ocean with the whales and bioluminesent plankton, or climbing aloft to cast gaskets while underway, I’d have to say seeing the bright-lit eyes on kids’ faces when they set the sails of an 18th century-based tall ship is the best.

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The Hike to Lake Dorothy


The hike to Lake Dorothy was a fairly easy and beautiful hike on a nice Washington day.

1.5 miles up to a gorgeous lake on the top of a mountain, perfect for a morning hike and a noon-time swim. A Discover Pass is required for parking.

The hike is just before Stevens Pass Mountain Resort heading East on Highway 2 from Seattle. I don’t advise going on a Sunday, as traffic from the Pass is without-fail horrendous.

The snow is still melting from the heights of the mountains, trickling into streams and waterfalls fit for fairies feeding into the lake.

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If you’re going to San Fransisco…

…spend more than a couple days there to truly absorb the atmosphere.

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VEGAS: View from the rooftops

We spent a night in Denver, CO, where we left Jen with some friends, and then rolled northwest to cut around the mountains and make our way into Utah. After a week in the Uinta National Forest, near Hebor City, UT, we headed to Vegas.

We stayed at the Circus Circus, the same hotel Hunter S. Thompson stayed in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. Our experience was a bit different.

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Barnardsville: Big Ivy & Cyanite Mining

Location: Barnardsville, NC

I met some friends at Free Dead Friday at the One Stop in Asheville, and we decided to head to the Spring Grassroots Festival back in Shakori Hills. We went and had a groovy time and headed back to Asheville.

A bunch of us met up and spent a night camping on the Appalachian Trail along the mighty French Broad in Hot Springs, NC, and then went up to Barnardsville for some camping and cyanite mining in Big Ivy. We tanned some deer hides, and then Dylan and I headed up to Kentucky.

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Hide Tanning with Natalie Bogwalker at the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering

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Paddling: Paint Creek

Location: Paint Creek, north of Hot Springs, NC

We found the “ducky slam” we intended to paddle over congested with logs, so we headed downstream.


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Paddling: Nolichucky

We continued our paddling venture down to Erwin, TN, a town historically known for hanging an elephant. What a gorgeous river, though.

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Paddling: Big South Fork & Rockcastle

Wade, Ray, and Kevin met me in Knoxville, TN, and we caravanned up to Kentucky for some paddling. We’re all open-boaters, meaning we paddle canoes through whitewater rather than kayaks.

We began our weekend with the magnificent Big South Fork:Then we headed up to Rockcastle, which had a bit of a steep hike down to the put-in but was a beautiful paddle:

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Florida Earthskills Gathering

Location: Hawthorne, FL

I worked-traded at the Florida Earthskills Gathering. I learned how to reverently slaughter a chicken, learned about pheromones, and how to take care of a gathering’s worth of humanure.

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