Monday, August 27, 2012

Planning next winter

We’re back in Stehekin this summer, and yes, it has been a while since we’ve written in the blog.  Our daily lives here are similar to last year, so there is not a lot new to tell about, but we do finally have our plans laid out for this winter, so we’ll start with that update.
On October 24, we fly to Nicaragua for just over a month.  A few entries back we talked about Finca Bona fide, an organic farm on Ometepe Island that impressed us with their restoration work and the community service, training, and education they do in the small town of Balgue.  We will begin by volunteering/interning with them for one month.  The typical day there consists of doing hard farm work in the mornings, with afternoons free to either relax or do community service—we’ll probably do a mix of the two.  Lunches are traditional fare made by locals and dinners are communal efforts shared by us, the interns.  If it sounds like a hippie commune, it may have a little of that flavor, but it will hopefully be a learning and cultural experience as well.  After our stay at the farm, we’ll have a week to visit some people in Nicaragua, most importantly the community of El Jocote, where we worked last year.  Here's a picture of the farm from last year:

On December 3rd, we fly to Ecuador.  There, we will work for three months as reserve managers at Las Tangaras, a nature reserve in Mindo, a town sliced cleanly in two by the equator line, just west of the Capitol Quito.  Las Tangaras is a small reserve on the edge of a national park in Ecuador famous for its cloud forest biodiversity and world-class birds. The reserve has a small hike-in lodge, a few miles of trails, and some facilities to maintain including a potable water system, a generator, and some gas appliances.  Our job is to keep everything in working order, to accommodate visiting guests, and to keep the place supplied with food and fuel.  We’ll be the only ones living permanently there.  If anyone out there suffers from wanderlust and wants to visit us, we’d love to see you there! 
This will be our home for three months at Las Tangaras:

After finishing in Ecuador, we decided to travel through Colombia, since we’ll be so close.  So we booked tickets home, flying out of Bogotá, on March 14th. 
After a couple weeks to get our affairs back in order and pay taxes, we’ll head to Bryce Canyon for the month of April, where we will be volunteering as astronomy rangers.  We met Bryce’s head “Dark Ranger” at our astronomy conference last year, who has developed a popular astronomy program there, and he invited us to help out for a while during their early season.  Then, assuming the feds have not cut our jobs in the North Cascades, we plan on returning to Stehekin for at least one more season. 
And what have we been up to this summer?  We’re doing the same programs as last year—Kate is doing her geology talks, and Jeff his plants and fire talks.  Kate is also developing a program on the Stehekin River, a fascinating but somewhat controversial topic here.  And Jeff traded with Kate in developing an astronomy/stargazing program (Kate did one last year).  Though not as many as last year, many people have come to visit us, including our mothers, niece Alex and her bf Nathan, Carol and the Rockettes, Jeff and Kristen, Betty whom we met in Nicaragua, my old roommate Jamie, and we have more family members coming in September. We’ve been backpacking on our own and with guests to Horseshoe Basin, North Fork, McAllister Pass, McGregor Mountain, and the Lakeshore Trail.  And we’ve been cooking a lot from scratch.  Culinary developments include tortillas produced from raw corn according to the traditional method that we shared in an earlier video, and we’re still working on perfecting the art of making peasant-style cheese (cuajada) from fresh cow’s milk. 

And here are just a few of the thousands of pictures we took this summer.  Here is jeff at his astronomy talk, showing constellations in the Milky Way with the laser sky pointer:

 Kate is hanging out on the deck during her informal demonstration about glaciers:

Here's Kate, Alex, and Nate on the Rainbow Creek trail viewpoint:

McAllister Pass trail:

 Us with Betty at North Fork:

Us at Horseshoe Basin:

A bear over Kate's shoulder near Basin Creek Camp:

Kate on the Lakeshore trail during a wet start to our hike:

That's it for now.  Maybe we'll post again before we migrate south in October, who knows?  We'll definitely be blogging when we get traveling again.  Always remember to look us up if you are in our area--we always love having visitors.