Monday, May 30, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
My First Kit
When I was 13 or 14 my mom allowed me to put together a 72 hour kit for our family. I wasn't sure what to do; she pointed me to the milk carton kit.
- can of chili
- two envelopes of lipton soup
- three granola bars
- 3 pieces of hard candy
There may have also been some hot chocolate and instant oatmeal packets. One winter we had a number of days without power, and we opened the kit to use the chili for a baked potato bar. By then the granola bars were nasty and the hard candy was soft. The financial committment to rotate the kit made me less interested in pursuing emergency preparedness.
Christmas Gift Kit
Several years later, just after Hurricane Katrina, my grandmother made me an elaborate 72 hour kit with jerky and boxed milk, crackers and cookies, hand warmers and a sewing kit. It was (and is) a great kit.
But low and behold, it had to be rotated. Out came the boxed milk, the crackers and cookies, the beef jerky, the raisins, the applesauce. And I couldn't commit to rebuying all that stuff. I bought a few things. I made sure we had protein and carbs. But the advice I got was to rotate it every six months! Do you know how expensive that is?! We're talking minimum $30 for two people every six months.
My Kit today
A few years ago, when I started talking to Mr. X about the Chilkoot trail, Mr. X started talking about Mountain House meals. Sure I knew what they were, I also knew they were expensive. I'd always wanted to put MREs in a 72 hour kit but the money oh, the money.
Eventually Mr. X convinced me to buy a few packets for hiking. And then when we saw a sale, a few more for emergency preparedness. And now I'm convinced that this is the way for us to go.
Cue the info-mercial music: Mountain House meals provide enough energy to maintain your standard activities and more - something those milk carton kits won't do. They also aren't as expensive as I thought. I can get Mountain House meals on sale at Fred Meyer for $3.95 or $1.97 per serving, or in other words, a 72 hour kit for one person: $17.73. These meals last for seven years so the money involved is $2.53 per person per year. I throw in a bag of hard candy and some chewing gum and we're all set*.
But what about heating them? Check out Moutain House's flameless oven if you're worried about heating them up. You also can eat the meals cold if you have no way to heat water.
But what about water? We have a supply on hand and a pristine mountain stream 2 blocks from us. We have several water purification sources including filters and chemical. You just have to factor that into your plan.
But aren't they nasty? No, they're pretty good. Mr. X and I lived off of them while on the Chilkoot. We had enough energy to hike 8 - 12 miles a day and carry all our gear. And even though when we got back to Skagway, I had a bunch of canned food ready for a feast, we opted for an extra Mountain House because it was just so darn easy. My favorite is Chili-Mac.
But what about food allergies? This is why I recommend buying your own in the store rather than buying a kit directly from Mountain House. You will have the flexibility to choose what your family needs rather than what someone else thinks sounds nice. Mountain House may not be for you if you are Celiac or have high blood pressure. You can contact them directly at email@example.com if you have allergen questions.
Anyway. That's what we're doing. How about you?
*except of course we live in Alaska and have to have a 168 hour kit. We're up to hour 144.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
This is a scoop from a dredge. They are everywhere. They are used to mark property boundaries and as a bit of a fence around the city center.
Pt. Barrow in the frozen boat harbor. The fish processor closed the crab catch because the water was too slushy
Norton Sound Seafood Center dock
Northland Services is who barged our goods to Juneau. I've got a special place in my heart for them.
School bus shelter
I spent some time taking pictures in the cemetary
How about that frozen mud puddle.
Mr. X showed up at the the airport late enough that I was worried about him. The Nome airport does not have a waiting room after security. We all waited in the airport lobby, then an Alaska Airline's attendant checked our boarding passes and we then went through TSA screening. From there we walked out to the tamac and on to our plane.
This time we headed over the Arctic Circle for a stop in Kotzebue.
We dropped off several passengers and then turned toward Anchorage. After a 3 hour layover there we headed for home, arriving about 10 pm.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Finally I reached the rock that gives the mountain its name. It looks like an anvil. I looked over the edge and was shocked to see a larger herd of musk-oxen. A cow and yearling calf glared up at me and then ran to join the rest of the herd. A red fox worked its way through the herd and over to a rock, where he turned around and looked up at me. Training my binoculars on the fox, I realized he was standing not on a rock but a dead musk-ox. He was uncomfortable with me watching, so he took off across the front of the mountain. I sat down in the spongy moss and counted the musk-oxen: 39. Then I called my mom. We've come a long way from the day when only a single call could get out to Fairbanks at a time.
On the road back into Nome, we spotted three moose in the willows and stopped for a quick peek. We had also been told to get a good look at breakup, we had to head toward Safety. We could really see open water from the Dexter Road. By now it was after 10 pm so we headed back to the hotel for the night.
I visited the Nome Visitor's Center, library and city museum. Mr. X found me checking out displays on dog sledding, the northwest passage and gold mining. After a dinner of Mountain House spaghetti, we went for a walk along the frozen, but breaking up Bering Sea. We stopped to look at a gold dredger.
A couple months ago, I decided I was going to Nome. I hadn't decided if I was going for next March's Iditrod finish or whether I wanted a summer birdwatching excursion. When Mr. X heard my intentions, his reaction was, "uhh, okay".
Two days later, I'd started researching Iditarod volunteer opportunities as well as birding websites, and Mr. X emailed me,
G said that a processor doesn't want to come to [Anchorage] training because it is the middle of whaling season. They need the training so we may be going to Nome around May 4th (it is very tentative at this point). Do you want to try to come? Might not work but might be fun."
I called him right back and said, "I'm coming!"
"Tentative" turned in to definite within a week.
Obviously, Mr. X's airfare, hotel and food were covered so, we were looking at tickets for just me. Getting to Nome is not cheap: $650 - $725 for a rountrip ticket from Juneau. Except I knew that Alaska Air was holding an air mile sale. If I bought miles for a trip to Nome, the ticket would only be $330. Not bad, but I already a had some miles, so my price came in at $187. Very doable. When Mr. X's exact flights showed up for 15k miles, I pounced. I was going to Nome.