Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm living in a sauna

It's been a different kind of summer.

There were a few weeks back in June when everything seemed a struggle. Yet, many friends have extended help, and with that help my problems have been solved. The twin predicaments of no car and no place to live have worked out well.

The house-sitting gig I had found and talked about here had some requirements that were never fully discussed. It was, in the end, not the best situation for a  person who, if push came to shove, could not be described as a dog lover. I don't hate dogs, but when the time came to live with two old St. Bernards and their shedding hair, I just couldn't do it. To make a long story short, I asked my old friend Kirk if I could hang out at his place for the rest of the summer. His house is small but he does have a sauna and the sauna has a small attached changing room with a bunk. I've stayed there before and it's been swell. It's tiny and has no electricity or TV but it's quiet and incredibly lush with Alaskan summer greenery. I'm reading a lot more than I would if I had the twin distractions of TV and Internet. I'm actually enjoying being offline for a change because I love reading and it seems as though I have more time to just enjoy the soft summer evenings. And when I want to Skype with Nut or check my email the Far Out Cafe isn't far away. I'm calling it my Summer Sauna Retreat.
Kirk's sauna

View from the window - June 2012
Late evening - chair with 8 foot tall pushkii (mid July 2012)
The car issue has been put to rest too. Friends lent me cars to use during the time I was searching for something to replace my Camry. Mako lent me his vintage 1984 Volvo and Doug his Toyota 4Runner. I never felt pressure to find a car immediately. Then Bill, one of my tennis buddies, recalled that a mutual friend had an old Ford Explorer that had been sitting around in his garden for several years. He thought maybe Mike wanted to dispose of it. I immediately called Mike and he said, "Come and get it. My wife has been bugging me to get rid of it for years."

The car was running when they parked it in the alder patch six years ago but it wouldn't start for us and the tires were flat. We aired up the tires and towed it over to Mike's mechanic who got it going next day. My first ride was a bit disappointing: the steering wheel wobbled violently at speeds above 45 mph, the front brake shoes were worn down to metal on metal, the rear ones didn't work at all due to a broken hydraulic line, and the transmission leaked profusely. I began to think about gift horses and how one shouldn't look at them too closely. I started talking to myself. You'd never buy an Explorer in a million years, I said. How much is it going to cost to fix it? How much gas will this thing use? Do I even want a Ford Explorer?

Not to worry — after a three day visit to my mechanic's and a repair bill of $550 it came back in good working order. The transmission leak was minor and easily fixed. New front pads and a new rear hydraulic line fixed the brakes . The tires needed to be replaced as they were dry rotted and perhaps broken inside from sitting flat in freezing mud and water for six years. Replacing the tires eliminated the wobble, the engine sounds good. Total cost to me: 1000 bucks, including the four nice used 235 75R15 tires I bought from my old traveling buddy Albert.

Me with my "new" 1993 Ford Explorer 4x4
The Homer weather this summer has left a lot to be desired as you can tell from the dark cloudy skies in my photos but I haven't let that dampen my spirits.  As I see it, the fact that my summer turned out so well is because I have many excellent friends here. Friends offered places to stay, friends provided good work, friends lent me cars, friends in fact gave me a car, and I'm presently staying with an old friend. Because those many Homer folks reached out to me in a time of need it's helped to resolve my perennial question of where I'll be staying next year. Homer is a wonderful place to be — that fact was proven again during this visit. There's no need to look for a different place. This will do nicely.

View of Grewingk Glacier from Kirk's
Folks fishing at Land's End - Homer Spit