Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Cute Chicks

At first all that I saw was this...

This spruce grouse hen could blend in with the moss pretty well if she wanted to, but she stuck her head up. She could have taken off at that point - flying or running, but she chose to sit tight.

I figured that it must be nap time for the kids and she was up for a little socializing, so I sat down to have a visit. She was happy about the great crop of bugs that were feasting on me, and she said that those bugs are healthy snacks for her kids. She told me that the tips on the blueberry bushes were starting to get too chewy, but the bunchberry blossoms are at a particularly tasty stage. All of this talk about food made me think of a delicious dinner with grouse and red huckleberry sauce, so I tried to steer the conversation to good looking guys. She told me all about one handsome bachelor in the neighborhood.

And she smiled at the thought. It's all in the eyes, see, because it's tough to smile with a beak.

We were about to get into some good girl-talk when one of the kids popped it's head up.

Then the other four woke up. They fluffed their feathers...

...and strutted their stuff...

Cute spruce grouse chick in Southeast Alaska

...and then turned into a whirlwind of activity.

Grouse chick in Southeast Alaska

Five Cute Chicks!

Grouse chicks on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska

Wait...that's barely four of them. Hey, you try to get grouse siblings together for a family portrait!

Here's the other one.

Grouse chick in Southeast Alaska

This one needed a little more of a nap. There's always one like that.

Then Mom Grouse said that it was time to go. I thanked her for the nice visit, and she looked a little wistful. Maybe someday we'll get a chance to talk again.

Wishing you a day of happy encounters,

Alaska Beachcomber

More bird posts...

Pot Fishing for Crow

Just Ducky

Crows and Ravens Love Dog Food

It Has Been a Little Bit Chilly

Owl Medivac


Floathouse Dreams

"Do you know of a floathouse for sale in Southeast Alaska?" This question pops up in my inbox once in awhile. The letters usually include the writers' reasons for getting away from where they are plus bits of hopeful dreams.  ...it is so beautiful there in Alaska!...I want to be close to the real world...fish off of the front deck...be in a peaceful cove...run an Alaskan lodge...  So this post is to give you some grist for your daydream mill.

I feel for the people who are drawn to make such an enormous change in their lives. It can be idyllic to live in a cozy floating cabin, tucked into a tree-lined cove, to jump into your skiff to run to town for supplies every few weeks, and to catch a salmon for dinner. Now I'm not going to idealize the floathouse life too much, as there's the difficult part, too. Floathouses are a great place to live if you are strong, energetic, and have a career that doesn't require you to show up in town daily. 

This floating shop is for sale. It needs to be moved to a new location. Info is HERE

This floating shop is for sale. It needs to be moved to a new location. Info is HERE

Living in Alaska is expensive, and the price of land seems astronomical to some people. A floathouse may be an affordable dream.

Floathouse kit: This furnished floathouse is listed with a truck (in town) and a boat HERE.

Floathouse kit: This furnished floathouse is listed with a truck (in town) and a boat HERE.

It is not open and free to live in a floathouse in Alaska, but it is doable in some cases. The State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water has an application here (opens a new window) as one part of the process. They want to be sure that the applicant has a solid plan for the footprint of the float, anchoring the float, handling waste, and other considerations. If a permit is issued then State personnel will occasionally come around to be sure that floathouse is in compliance. There is also an annual fee, but I don't know how much it is.

Spring, and the season for selling and buying homes, is here. This year there are several floathouses for sale near Thorne Bay. That is kind of unusual, so when we were out in the skiff today I took a few pictures of available floathouses with my little point-and-shoot camera. It was dreary and starting to rain so use your imagination to add sunshine and dream about life on the water.

Here's a floathouse that has a fun driftwood railing on the upper deck. It is listed on Craigslist with way better pictures HERE.

Here's a floathouse that has a fun driftwood railing on the upper deck. It is listed on Craigslist with way better pictures HERE.

One of the floathouses, shown in the photo below, already has an offer pending and might be off the market soon.

Cute little floathouse for sale in Southeast Alaska

But really, if you are going to dream then dream big, right? This dream includes a floathouse to live in and an amazing lodge business. Even the story of the floathouse is cool - the house started out on land in Ketchikan! Check out McFarland's Floatel at their website, or look up Coastal Real Estate Group to dive right in to living the Alaskan Dream. The older floathouse is a great home - we were there today - thanks for the great visit Jeannie and Jim! - and the cabins are gorgeous.

Floathouse Floatel in Thorne Bay, Southeast Alaska

I have to do this. This post sounds like an ad, but really it is just a response to a lot of requests that I have received. *Disclaimer* I'm providing the links for your entertainment and convenience, and am not representing anyone, and do not receive anything for posting about these floathouses.

So Keep Dreaming, Dear Ones!

Alaska Beachcomber

More floathouse posts: Floathouses, Hello Prince of Wales Island!

More about floathouse living at Alaska For Real (a friend's site)

A Tool Repair with Splash Zone

You know when you find a tool that works perfectly and you think that you will have it for a lifetime? I have had this shovel for 35 years, and I love it. It is the right size for a woman to shovel snow without injuring herself. At 13 inches wide it fits along the side deck of the boat. It is plastic so it is light and it doesn't gouge boat finishes or camper roofs.

It has the perfect angle! This is a biggy, and I don't know why I can't find another one with the correct angle. I can stand upright and fling snow off of the roof of the boat. Most newer shovels make you bend down and hurt your back.

But after decades of winter use this shovel has two cracks. It is worth repairing, and I am using Z-Spar Splash Zone to do the job.

Splash Zone is a two part epoxy-polyamide mastic. What I have found is that this stuff sticks like crazy and holds up under difficult conditions. It can be applied to metal underwater, as confirmed by a fisherman I know. He used it to repair the oil pan on his boat engine. The repair was made underwater in oily conditions and it held for the life of the boat.

Splash Zone is on our "Absolutely Necessary" list for the boat.

I don't see any recommendation for using Splash Zone for plastic repairs on the label, but I once used it to repair the plastic water tank on a roller. You know, the type of heavy equipment roller used in paving. The roller needed to run the next day, and was down for the count when one of the guys demolished the water tank when he backed a loader into it. My sweetie and I fit the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle and glued them with Splash Zone. The roller was on the job the next day.

So here's the kit for the shovel repair - the hand shovel, not an excavator.

  • Cotton cloth and paper towels are not shown
  • Permanent marker, not shown
  • Set of Z-Spar Splash Zone
  • Paint key and rubber mallet (Really! Splash Zone is somewhat expensive, so be nice to the cans.)
  • Sandpaper
  • The dead pen and cap are tools for pressing the mastic down into grooves where my fingers don't fit
  • Several sets of nitrile or latex gloves. Yep, it can be a messy process
  • Water in a disposable container - in this case a cut-off plastic water bottle

Here we go...

  • Sand the area where the Splash Zone will be applied.
  • Clean the area with a damp cloth. Allow to dry.
  • Read the can for prep and cleaning recommendations if you are doing metal, concrete, or other surfaces.


  • Open one can of Splash Zone and then write the color on the lid. Do the same with the other lid. This prevents mixing up the lids and contaminating the (kinda spendy) product.
  • Put on gloves and dip your hands into the water. Wet your gloves often through the process. This keeps theSplash Zone from sticking to your gloves too much. If your gloves get nasty then pull them off inside out and put new gloves on.
  • Grab a glob of yellow with one hand and a glob of black the same size with the other hand. This way you don't contaminate the tins of (did I mention expensive?) Splash Zone.

Mixing just started. Splash Zone will be olive green when thoroughly mixed.

  • Knead the globs together until the Splash Zone is a uniform olive green color.
  • Pull off a manageable piece and shape it so that it will apply smoothly to the surface.
  • Splash Zone needs to be applied at least 1/8" thick.
  • Apply with firm pressure, pushing it along to prevent the formation of air or water bubbles.
  • When adding another glob, start it on the Splash Zone that has already been applied and then work it out onto the surface being repaired.
  • Wet your fingers again.
  • Smooth the Splash Zone out with wet, gloved hands.
  • Wipe up the edges or splatters with damp paper towels.
  • Cure time varies depending on temperature and how thickly the Splash Zone is applied.

To reinforce the repair I applied Splash Zone to the back of the shovel. The pen cap was the right size to work the mastic into the groove. I added more, pressed it in firmly with my fingers, and smoothed it with wet gloves.

I filled and covered the long crack, and then made sure to cover the small sideways crack. On the back of the shovel put in some extra fill in an effort to reinforce the ageing shovel.

I pounded the lids back onto the Splash Zone with the mallet. The cans went back into the box with several sets of gloves for convenience. Splash Zone has a reserved space on the boat. If we need to make emergency repairs then we know right where it is.

If you have an amusing repair story that includes mastic then click the comments button and tell me about it!

May the cracks in your life be easily repaired,

Alaska Beachcomber

More on repairing older equipment: Skiff Rebuild

Making do with what's available: Always Improvising

Boat safety stuff: Go Box