Winter Hike- Dan Moller Trail

The Treadwell Ditch Trail is a lovely and fairly easy walk through the woods on  Douglas Island. There are lots of access points, including a trail that crosses our back property, but for our Tuesday hike we drove to the trail head on Blueberry Hill Rd. data=biiutqGvjt-J3kc1SdigE6WD_bZ1-Hn8y-iVQjS3QM_OHlBLnJts3f-wnh8YgPaQscWcU2j9FBFxNRoGQaHu_BVsFMwZ7Sh81hbb9hhnsnvxMKq4GbE5UDetEzntm3Ay57_ZzETSv0Aw-IEEtUCjpwvtQkSYoXZZz_WnKH2W8L0_LmKtRYFLG

We didn’t stay on the Treadwell Ditch trail long, but veered off onto the Dan Moller Trail, which leads up to the Dan Moller Cabin. Spoiler, we didn’t make it to the cabin, which is about 3 miles up and back, but we had a nice little hike through the woods on a snowy day.

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View of Juneau across Gastineau Channel, from Treadwell Ditch Trail
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Mister and Dog crossing the meadow.

When Mister was courting me, when we met at work, he asked if I liked to hike and my internal eye roll almost dislodged my brain. What a lame question. In Alaska this has all the imagination and ingenuity of asking someone in Brooklyn in 2002 if they like The Strokes. And at that time the answer would have been honestly, “not really.” But who can say “not really” to the question “do you like to hike”?  (Especially in Alaska.) Walking in the woods to no purpose or destination is supposed to be one of those things everyone likes, like kittens. (I also do not enjoy the company of cats. In avoiding admitting that in public, I’ve told many a squeamish fib. “Please,” I’ve practically begged acquaintances. “Show me more pictures of your cat. And I surely hope I can come over one day and pet it.”) So I said, “Sure I like hiking,” so he wouldn’t realize I’m a sociopath.

Our first date was a snowy walk in the woods, and over the past year we’ve gone on all kinds of hikes together, up all kinds of mountains and through all kinds old mine ruins, and I have come around to the whole walking in the woods to no purpose or destination thing, to the point that I was super excited that my Christmas present from him included micro-spikes, and I was super thrilled to get us both matching hiking poles.

The Ma’am of a year ago is scratching her head in puzzlement over who I’ve become, which is one of those people who walk around the woods looking far too cheerful, in New Englandy outdoorsy gear, and HIKING POLES.

I feel now I must confess that the first time I hiked a mountain in Alaska, yea three years and some months ago, I was wearing ballet flats and capris pants.

We hiked up the trail to the Don Moller cabin for just as long as we wanted, and were awfully glad we had the hiking poles, which really do make a difference on snowy terrain. We were following not strictly the trail for a lot of it, but snow mobile tracks that had probably been laid down a day or so before by forest service. We were passed by a cross country skiier on the way up, and when we decided we were hiked out and turned around, we passed some snow shoe runners, who disabused us of our cozy assumption that we’d just had something resembling a workout.

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Mt. Juneau from across a meadow

There are few things nicer than hiking in the snow, in varied terrain, with your best pal and lover, with whom you can trudge along in companionable silence, or suddenly have a brilliant idea about finances, or start grousing about someone at work. Dog was happy to be out and about in the snow, and with the love of his life, Mister, and putting me in my place as gamma-AT-BEST-dog in the pack.

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Mister in Microspikes and swaggy Christmas hiking poles, Dog looking awesome.

Finish it up with a cozy fire at home and some nicely aching quads and you have a perfectly lovely day.

 

Shopping: our (matching, naturally) microspikes are Kahtoola brand. I initially took home a size small, that contrary to the size chart information on the back, did not comfortably fit my men’s size 7 xtratufs. I returned them easily the next day to Nugget Alaskan Outfitters, a local retailer of all the things you don’t realize you need when love makes you become outdoorsy. The staff is excellent at what they do, and more than rival my REI experiences. Microspikes aren’t just great for icy conditions. There’s a lot of boardwalk in Juneau, both in the city and on trails that cross muskeg. I’ve had a few spills on slippery boards before. I have a friend who spectacularly crashed on them, but the hush money is still coming in so I can’t tell you all the gory details. Yet. I feel much more confident hiking in them.

On a sleepless night I spent more than a sane number of hours researching trekking poles, and came up with a few criteria: aluminum, rubber or foam grips, speed locks, 3 segments, light. I found this website helpful as a start, but branched out. The selection at Nugget Alaskan Outfitters was slim, but met every single one of my requirements. Staff was very helpful with running us through the basics of how to use them. Our choice was Leki Ultralight Series. We opted out of the shock absorbing feature, though I liked the idea of that for Mister’s previous knee injuries. So far so good!

 

Planning a Wedding In Gibraltar I

Rock_of_Gibraltar_1810

Text: What do you think about Gibraltar?

I google Gibraltar, having no current thoughts on it. Known for being more British than the baby monster child of Churchill and Eton, there’s some Nelson memorabilia, there’s a cave, huh. What’s behind this question.

Text: What do YOU think about Gibraltar?

Text: It’s really easy to get married there.

And this is what I love about Mister. He’s 300 miles away from me on a work assignment at a shipyard. (Shipyard assignments are pretty miserable.) He’s supposed to be enjoying himself at a bar, watching the game, and he’s googling Easiest Places To Get Married In Europe. Because he figured we’re going to Europe for our anniversary trip anyway, and we’re going to get married anyway, so why not kill a few birds with fewer stones than there are birds, or however that goes. I’m the one who’s supposed to have a wedding checklist and cake samples on the brain and I’m at home glued to yet another marathon of House Hunters International (oh my god these people will NEVER MAKE IT as ex-pats if they can’t live without a drier.)

Text: Well, we’re going there anyway. Sounds great!

And so the wedding planning commences. Or the eloping planning commences.

Mister found the Marriage and Civil Partnership Guidance Notes and this is what I’ve spent the day doing:

To get married for the first time in Gibraltar you must present your passport, your birth certificate, and proof of residence. So my first job was finding my birth certificate. I’ve moved 4 times in three years so the forensic sleuthing of “where would I have considered a safe and logical place to put this document at any given time in the last four years” was intense, and rewarded. Got it!

But Mister doesn’t have his. It’s a fairly straightforward, but not always intuitive process to have a birth certificate reissued. I went through it a few years ago.

Text: I’ll just call the hospital I was born in.

Text: No, I’m on this. Stay available for questions.

From the .gov website you’ll find if you scroll past the ads after you google Replacement Birth Certificate, you click on the link for Vital Records, which takes you to a list of states you could’ve been born in. Click on the appropriate states and follow the prompts to vitalchek.com, which all the .gov websites funnel you into. It took me about 45 minutes to order Mister’s birth certificate, including considerable drag while we texted questions and information back and forth. You’ll need to know your social security number, both of your parents’ full names, and be able to recognize places you have and haven’t lived, which doesn’t seem like such a problem unless you’ve lived the kinds of lives Mister and I have lived, where residences blur together and get fuzzy in the brain.

“So you never put Ketchikan as a residence when you lived on that shitty barge that winter?”

“I don’t think so. I think my address was officially my mom’s. But it was so long ago.”

“Okay. I’m putting none of the above. We’ll see what happens.”

$71 later there was a big checkmark next to a to-do on the Epich Hitched list, and on to the next: fretting until the birth certificate comes in the mail in 10-12 business days.

There are two ways to get hitched in Gibraltar: you can go to the registrar’s office for a courthouse wedding, or there is a list of approved venues where you can book a party and have a registrar come marry you, with some rules attached e.g.: can’t have the ceremony and the party in the same space. All this in the aforementioned Marriages and Civil Partnerships Guidance Notes .

We would like a no-fuss, no frills moment in front of a clerk to make us official, and then continue on with our plan to gain 400 pounds in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. We are also lucky (?) enough to have almost no family between us to whom we have obligations to provide entertaining and moving nuptials. So will we be able to book our dream courthouse wedding in Gibraltar with four months’ notice?

My anxious and uptight self sent the following message to Gibraltar:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am in the midst of planning our modest wedding and getting all of our paperwork squared away and tickety-boo. We are waiting on his birth certificate arriving before I submit all of our information to you. In the meantime I have a question regarding pre-booking. We would like to be married at the registrar’s office. Is there much of a wait? That is to say, this is last minute. I’m anxious about the timing. My fiancé has his heart set on March 2, and I’m worried that it’ll be booked. When is a good deadline for pre-booking a ceremony at the registrar’s office?

A side note to that, the form asks for a time of ceremony. Is “whenever you can squeeze us in” a good reply to this? We don’t want to be denied because we write “12:30” and 12:30 is taken.

Thank you in advance for your attention to my wedding nerves.

Warmly,

Ma’am