Wow, it has been forever and a day since I wrote anything here. I am sorry. Mostly for myself. I always took such pleasure in sharing a bit of my life here, and I've missed doing so this summer.
And what a wonderful summer it's been. I've had many great little adventures while getting out and about in Valdez. As usual, I had grand plans for traveling around south-central Alaska to go backpacking and biking, and I didn't even once. I also had grand plans of running at least two half-marathons, and I rarely ran at all. I haven't done a lot of anything, but I've done a little of lots of things, and that was fantastic.
One of the things I did this summer was finally get out the inflatable kayak Thane bought me for Christmas two years ago...or was it three. Far too long, anyway. I've had it out about once a week since early June, mostly on Robe Lake because I didn't want to push my abilities too much. I thought I'd get bored paddling the same piece of water so much, but I haven't. Every trip out there has been a little different.
Today was the first time I'd gotten out in a couple of weeks. After a fabulous summer of hot, sunny weather, we've decided to make up on rain during the past two weeks. Finally, today was mostly not rainy. Mostly. Robe Lake was like a mirror.
I'd started out intending to get some good upper body exercise, but then I got sidetracked by the underbrush on the lakeshore. It's so unusual to see vining plants that I had to get a closer look at this one. I'm sure it was just growing a long branch down, but I thought it was awfully pretty. All except that evidence of impending autumn.
Shortly after I took the above photo, I drifted to a stop to take the one below. I was fairly close to shore, but facing away from it. As I clicked the camera shutter, I heard a low grunt-bark sound behind me. I looked back but didn't see anything. I suddenly felt very vulnerable being in an inflatable boat. I moved away from shore a bit, still hearing the noises regularly. I drifted, watching to see what on earth was making them. It didn't sound like a bear, and I couldn't imagine what else it was. Eventually, my patience was rewarded. A brown head popped up above the water while two other sleek bodies dove under. River otters. I think it may have been a female with two pups. And she was chuffed, or so I thought to myself, but now I know I was using the word incorrectly. It does very well describe the noise she was making, however. Chuff. Chuff. Chuff. However you describe it, she wasn't happy with me being there. I paddled slowly away, but I could hear them still nearby. Chuff. I got one more look at all three before I left them in peace.
I mostly just paddled around lazily until it started to rain hard on me. I didn't mind that too much, I just pulled up my hood and kept going, but about the same time my right shoulder started hurting. About an hour and a half of paddling is all I can usually manage without it complaining. As much as I hate the idea of having rotator cuff surgery again, it'll be good to get this shoulder healthy, too. The hard part will start a month after September 21 - physical therapy. By next summer I should be ready for more paddling, however.
I saw a few salmon swimming around under me. When I got back to my truck, I saw these poor confused souls. I hope they don't really think they'll make it up that stream!