You can see ROZ’S ROUTE here. Each dot links to the blog from that day. 238 nautical miles to go. (This may be updated as the day goes on.)
My fishy friends are leaving me. The community of dorados that has kept me company for much of this voyage is slowly diminishing. Only one or two ghostly blue shapes occasionally flit beneath my boat, down from about twenty at its peak. Whereas I used to see twenty or thirty fishy backflips each day, I saw only one or two yesterday.
I feel quite bereft. They may not have been the chattiest of companions, but I found their presence quite reassuring, in a strange way. Of course, I knew they would have to peel away eventually as I approached landfall, but I still have many miles to go. They could have stuck around for a bit longer.
Day 142: Totnes – Transition Town Isabel
I was put in touch with Isabel Carlisle by a mutual friend, and last year when my travels took me to Devon she invited me to meet her at her home in Totnes. Over a delicious homemade lunch, she told me about her recent move to the town and her work in eco-literacy. She also gave me a wonderful little book that I have here with me on my boat: “Perseverance”, by Meg Wheatley. When UncaDoug brought up the topic of transition towns, I thought that Isabel would be the perfect person to give us the insider’s view.
It’s funny how life happens. I didn’t plan to move to Totnes at all. I came down for a meeting at Dartington (the big estate just outside Totnes) in June 2010, just when I was selling the family flat in London. Out of curiosity I got onto one of those websites for people looking for houses and tapped in how many bedrooms I wanted, the price, the location etc. and whichever way I searched this house called Monks Retreat kept coming up. So I phoned the estate agent on the Monday, made an appointment to see it on the Wednesday, took the train down to Devon on the Tuesday, saw it and thought “yes, I can see my life working here”, and made an offer on the Thursday which was instantly accepted. And it was the first house I looked at anywhere!
I was so inspired by our Centennials grizzly bear survey that I made a short movie from the photos and video clips I shot that weekend. Thank you Gregg, Jamie, NRDC and everyone else who made possible this cool project! Dave Gaillard, Defenders of Wildlife.
After brushing up and learning a few new skills, like hair identification and scat ID, we were off to the field to put them into practice. Scouring fence posts, tree rubs, barbed wire and berry patched, we fine-tuned the difference between black cow hair and black bear hair, elk hair and grizzly hair. What a skill!! Hiking in the woods will never be the same.
With our GPS’s fired up, each team set out for their daily hiking mission. Our team was to hike up to Baldy Mountain and follow a drainage route down searching for Grizz signs. Reaching nearly 10,000 ft in elevation, we followed elk trails, more like an elk highway, up to the peak. Branching into two groups, we followed the ridgeline West. Whitebark pine was in abundance and producing cones, a fantastic find as it is a grizzly food source. Elks bugling and swarms of magpies socializing on the mountaintops, we made our way across the ridge enjoying the stunning landscape before us.
After mild adjustments and a bit of quality control, I managed a sleeping bag bunged to the handlebars, a red duffel bag strapped to the rack, and my blue day pack secured to my waste. I was off to track grizzly bears in the Centennial Mountain Range.
Ten of us met up in town, a crew who had just introduced themselves. We had an EMT, a second year MSU geologist, a bartender, wildlife gurus, and adventurers of every sort. After loading up the trucks, we drove off into the sunset excited for the adventure ahead.
Trumpeting swans greeted the morning sunrise and I stretched out of my cozy hammock, marveling at what adventures lye ahead. The scenery couldn’t have been more spectacular. We were camped at Red Rock Lake, towered over by the peaks of the Centennial Range: Baldy, Taylor, and Sheep Mountain.
A quick breakfast and some coffee, to get the buzz on, and we jumped right into navigation, tracking, GPS skills, and Grizzly encounters. What do you NOT do if you see a bear… any bear? RUN, that is DO NOT RUN. See a black bear, ya get big, as big Big Foot, and make a lot of noise @#)$&$ $!%&!^*!!!!!!
That should do the trick… unless it’s the big boy, the Grizzly. He’s not so easily convinced by such nonsense. Rather, treat him like the school principal after you got caught doing something wrong. Avoid eye contact, talk in a calm and soothing voice, and slowly back away as if unnoticed.
Generally, I try not to whinge about my life at sea. After all, I volunteered to be out here. Nobody forced me. So I feel that I thereby surrendered any right to complain.
But today was a tough one. Another day of 30 knot winds, and at least three more such days to come. The waves have been huge, and in the first hour of rowing today I had already suffered one knockdown (boat on side) and two boatfillers (rowing deck full of water, requiring me to run the bilge pump before I can carry on rowing).
Of course, the big waves don’t stop when the sun goes down, and having my sleep interrupted at frequent intervals by loud crashes and violent lurches does not improve my powers of resilience.
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