purpose of ourowntwohands

We are paddlers from the Pacific Northwest who completed a kayak expedition around the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to raise money and awareness for the Cook InletKeeper, a non-profit organization working to protect waters quality the Kenai. Over 50% of the world's salmon are harvested from these waters.

The Kenai Peninsula is one of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet - home to brown and black bears, moose, caribou, migratory birds, wolves, humpback, beluga and killer whales, sea otters, sea lions, and all five species of wild pacific salmon.

Our 500 mile long journey began May 24 in Turnagain Arm in the Cook Inlet and concluded in Whittier on June 22, 2008. By donating to this cause, you will help support the Cook Inlet Keeper.

So far we have raised $1,500 all from your contributions! Thanks so much!!

09 December 2008

Paddle Presentation - Orcas Island

For those who have not seen it (or who want to see it again):

Around the Kenai Peninsula by Kayak

An Evening Presentation

Orcas Island Washington

Friday December 19, 2008

7:00 pm @ The Oddfellow’s Hall

Free! Donations will go to Cook Inletkeeper

01 November 2008

Paddle Presentation - Lopez Island

On Friday night, Nov 14th, there will be another presentation of the Kenai Circumnavigation on Lopez Island. Please contact us for more details - morearete@yahoo.com

09 October 2008

Paddle Presentation - Padilla Bay

Last night Matt, Djuna and I (mathew) presented to the Hole in the Wall paddle club at Padilla Bay. We were warmly received by 30+ members. Thank you all so much for the opportunity to share our journey.

18 August 2008

Video & Optio W-30 Camera Review

I spent some time the last few nights FINALLY starting the process of reviewing and editing all the video we shot. I'm not sure if you have done this before, but after gigs of material, but your eyes hurt. I've only begun...and have huge respects for those professional kayak video people out there - Justine, Bryan, etc. Not to mention how hard it is to get quality video shots. What looks great isn't easy to capture! Nonetheless we captured oodles of great footage!

Reviewing it all really took me back. I needed to be back as well. Lately normal work life and the pace of summer has been all around. I'm back in the city, only getting picture reminders of Alaska through my screen saver. Matt and Djuna have been real busy with Body Boat Blade, continuing their instruction and learning journeys. I know we all feel guilty for not having posted as much as we had hoped, but honestly it's a lot to digest. Not only that, but having some perspective from the trip has been so valuable. It still feels like a dream - one that you're not sure if it's about to happen, or already one that already has. It's a lovely energy feeling.

Saving the writing about video that we shot, I thought I'd first share what I found out as video camera operator. Again, shooting good video is hard, don't expect to be a pro after a few days.

We were well equipped with the waterproof Optio W-30 that most people have. I really can't really say enough about this camera. This model takes great video (older models really lacked in this department), awesome pictures, and the battery life is really decent.

We each had 3 batteries and found that truly the name brand ones pay off. Whereas the knock-off ones work and less expensive, they lose their charge quickly. Same with buying memory. We each carried about 8GB which was plenty for a couple weeks on the water. Again, cheaper memory resulted in much slower camera functions and shooting. Better memory writes faster and is worth it.

The thing I wish Pentax would improve is the ability to zoom once you're recording. I'd also add a better mic (though works great for dialogue from the camera person).

I was also concerned that the day in day out of saltwater exposure would tear the camera body apart. Actually, the cameras help up just fine with the rinse every now and then, sometimes days. Mine still has no corrosion. A thumbs up product.

So after hours of editing, I have an updated approach I'd take, hopefully to help you in your future trips.
** Take more self-dialogue clips
** Take more scenery and landscape from afar for perspective
** Set the camera down more (maybe use small tripod)
** Take more camp scenes
** Stop paddling more often and simply shoot more

We knew some of this going in and still could have done better. It is funny after reviewing though, because we have a lot of something areas, yet totally miss other sections I was hoping to see. I guess we were all in awe at the same time, and had our hands full with a blade in other sections. ;)

So here are few samples. Over the next months we'll be working up a big clip for upcoming presentations that once stitched together will highlight much of the coast and an overall feel of Alaska.

Paddling in Alaska - just a nice clip to give you a feel of what we saw much of every single day.

Puffins in Alaska - I've never seen so many tufted and horn-billed puffins. The little salami's were flying around everywhere. Not the most efficient of fliers, but great swimmers!

Turquoise Seas and Waterfalls - simple a stunning way to see the water and waterfalls come so close together

3 person kayak carry - I laugh when watch this, the 2x daily kayak haul usually easy in the morning on a high tide, and a struggle at night at slack before flood. We really bonded on these carries. Thankfully Matt devised a small tow strap so two can get most of the weight.

I see they also have a "high quality" feature when you watch these directly from YouTube. It's worth the trouble, far better quality.

17 July 2008

Pictures and a Reunion!

Matt, Djuna, and I met up last weekend for a celebration of sorts. It was the first time that we had been around each other since we were all at the airport in Seattle early July. It's hard to describe the feelings in seeing each other again, definitely different than before we left. We shared the meals we'd been eating, how we'd all noticed the change in our bodies before and after the trip, and a whole lot of intimacies that we never would have thought to share before paddling on such an amazing adventure together.

In the evening with friends we flipped through pictures we had printed. More stories came as questions flooded from all directions. It's hard to know what to talk about, hard to know what exactly everyone is interested in. Just a small question or a picture really gets us going on the story all around the ask.

We're hoping for more from you! I've posted the pictures here.

For the most part they are chronological, with the Cook Inlet leg first, followed by the outer coast, then finishing with Seward up through the Prince William Sound. Apologies for no captions, it'd take hours and hours. And also for the sheer quantity, I suggest looking in multiple sessions. (only 215 from 1300 were selected!)

If you have any questions, leave a comment and we can explain the photo, date, why we shot it, where it was, anything...

06 July 2008

kicking off through the Turnagain Arm

it was all set. months of planning and we were booked to fly on May 16th, 2008, silently hoping the weather was going to settle down and spring would come. the seas those 3 weeks prior were huge. I watched the weather while at work, hoping for a change. nothing, continued S and SW seas of 25 knot winds, with 20' swells on the outer coast. this was common. I never thought to think that our container with our boats, which was a big raft strung to a sister raft, would be a week behind schedule because the tugboat pulling them from Seattle to Anchorage just didn't have the mustard to keep pace through those seas. it set the mental stage for the trip, I think we all expected that we could be in some large seas beyond Homer.

our boats were delayed a week due to weather. we all pushed back our return dates as far as we could in July. Matt and Djuna went up on schedule to visit. I stayed back in Seattle a few more days to catch a special birthday and make more lists. with luck and thanks to very timely bagels to the shippers, we got our boats right before the Memorial Day weekend, just before doors closed for 3 days. we had our "unwrapping ceremony" immediately after - (gentle sigh) NO DAMAGE!! I remember sitting on Point Possession days later all talking "we could have gotten our boats only today!".

that first supply in Anchorage was all sorts of emotions. we kept spending money which seemed to never end. we had to go through meal estimations, bagging them, then adding more food. we left optimistically with cabbage and cauliflower, a bit of fruit and even a bag of chips. I bet our boats were the heaviest of the the whole trip that first day. the Anchorage prep was fun, but still arduous preparations that we were all ready to put behind us. eventually we fully packed our boats with all our kit. everything fit, remarkably.

the trip was easily cut into 3 leg - Portage to Homer, a resupply, Homer to Seward, another resupply, then Seward into Whittier. some 450nm (or around there, we weren't really tallying the total mileage). we planned roughly 10 days for each leg, and factored food according based on risk of having to sit bad weather out.

we thanked Steve and Noel so many times but still not enough. a good base each resupply is truly essential. one that comes with a warm shower, amazing meals, endless support and great knowledge sharing is optimal. in future resupplies in Homer and Seward we had thoughts of making it quick "get back on the water" stop. it never worked, it really can't. take the time, enjoy a shower, move on at a healthy pace.

we launched on May 24, 2008.

because of the delay, the tides were on the half moon in the Turnagain Arm, I'm not quite sure if that was too our advantage or not. we still paddled 28nm that first day. we still had to carry our boats up steep beaches to stay higher than the 25'+ tidal change. we still had dreams of giant bears. our boats barely had the word "organization" anywhere near them.

the Turnagain Arm is fabled and unique. the Turnagain arm was beautiful, magic, scary and celebratory all in one. its bottom is a silt mud that Matt could explain the geology of better. each year someone gets off their 4-wheeler as the tide is out, gets stuck up to their ankles in the silt, and even with the help of the fire department is stuck, sinks, and suffocates. we heard these stories, and the last thing we wanted was to get into this situation.

we put on the water on the slack before the ebb, so the water was high. but as we drove to the put in (and after driving back to look at the lines again), we could see how there were channels of mud. once on the water this mud was hard to distinguish between wet mud and water. it was slightly unnerving, and looking back was definitely some of the most dangerous paddling on the trip. we cruised that first day. we had a lot of energy and excitement, in addition to a full belly of sourdough pancakes that I've never seen eaten so completely.

toward the end of the ebb we slowly started running out of water. Matt stood on between Djuna's and my boat a couple times to get the extra 3' of perspective to help pick our lines. at the shallowest point we had a half a blade of water, once we had to walk. thankfully the sand was more firm there and we continued to our first night's site. it wasn't known then, but that was once of our favorite sites, for many emotional reasons.

the first and last pictures in this blog entry are from the plane as I flew in. the first ones are looking at Prince William Sound - check out all that snow! the very last picture here is the most western spine of the Chugach Mountains looking south. it's amazing how quickly they end into the flatlands of the Kenai Peninsula.

in this last picture, to the right, or west, is the eastern side of Chickaloon Bay, which is where we'll continue the writing on after we all chime in about this first special day.

02 July 2008

Full Circle

Wow...we've been back home on Orcas for 3 nights now and it feels complete...like home.

I confess I feel an empty place inside where Alaska was; seeing my parents, revisiting childhood places, feeling so small and awed by the scale of my surroundings while falling in love with it all. It's amounted to a quiet, introspective few days, with a surprising element of sadness, and i've been thankful to have time in my life to not rush past it all. I miss our trio of friendship, banter, and work and laughs, realizing that it was a home we created daily on our adventure and gracefully fit it into any geographic location we happened to be.

Tonight, a friend has organized a little party; I'm excited to re-connect with friends and catch up on what everyone has been doing. Summer has just hit with hot temps and full, flowery foilage, and I smile thinking back to our first night on the Kenai trip, bundled in long underwear, puff jacket and pants, inside my sleeping bag, safe and warm...excited about the adventure of each new day.

To anyone out there who may be more interested in informative, technical type of information relating to the trip, it will happen. Thanks for reading!

29 June 2008

what we're planning to write about now

It's summer here in Seattle, finally, the weekend was hot. I'm in a city, but I miss the water. I miss the ocean specifically, I miss camping and falling asleep to surf, I miss loving familiar meals like sticky morning oats, I miss rolling out of a sleeping bag into my dry suit bibs, I miss freezing my hands putting away the tent poles, I miss reading and writing at great lengths, I miss the vanish of 36 hrs while I was doing nothing on a beach, I miss nappy hair, I miss skinned knuckles from stuffing hatches, I miss our lunches where we'd alway be excited for the next half day of paddling... I knew I would miss these things.

Djuna really hit on it in her "reflection" post. There's so much that could be said about the experience, so many angles we could write about, promote, raise awareness on, give advice and opinions on... it's a little bit daunting to be back and know what to say. I've taken a week here to adjust and give it short space, to soak in and celebrate the incredible achievement we just completed.

In the past week I've looked through all the photos (and have made pizzas and ate salads). With every bite, I've thought about the trip - what I walked away with, what I should share. I've thought about what others would be interested in hearing. The one thing that continues to strike me is the participation, support, and general interest in this expedition. I'm continually amazed by people's enthusiasm as we share what we did. I buy into it and then I get amazed all over again! The enthusiasm has us enthused.

As we get back in the swing, I know the three of us will continue to process and write and share. We'll share pictures and write stories around the mechanics, like planning, logistics, foods, gear prep, boat packing, beach picking, weather reports, common obstacles, group dynamics, etc.

We want to share what we experienced, not as people that know how to do it exactly, but as people who want to offer help for you to dream of a trip, set a goal, and take the initial commitment of shipping a boat to a foreign land with you soon to follow.

It's all very achievable with some flexibility... and a lot of respect for mother ocean.

25 June 2008

Completion and Reflection

We paddled into Whittier at 1:00 pm on Sunday June 22nd. Steve and Noel (Matt's wonderful parents) awaited us onshore and before we knew it we were on the road to Anchorage driving along Turnagain Arm.
There is so much to write about our trip...and the time will come for that as well. What I am feeling strongest now is the need to slow down and reflect on what we have done, where have traveled. Life moves so fast, it's easy to slip back into the routine, without realizing the insights of our adventure. When we live in the outdoors we live simple lives- long hours are spent just moving through the water and watching and listening. Our clothes, food, shelter- it's all basic and time stretches out into long days. When I turn on a faucet or open a refrigerator, I am reminded of how little we need and how much beauty exists on the edge of the sea.

Our own six salty hands! Whittier

Pancakes were our morning feast on days off- Point Nowell in Prince William Sound.

Cape Resurrection- More birds than I have ever seen at once, this place was lively.

Eldorado Narrows- Our first stop out of Seward... We napped in the sunshine and Matt and Djuna jumped in the sea.

Chance cove- This was a lonely spot where we slept in the mossy rocks.

Nuka Passage- We spent a sunny day here watching the water... and bears!

Chugach Bay- We saw whales, bears, mountain goats... so lovely!

22 June 2008


at about 1300 today we landed in Whittier, to the warm welcome of Steve and Noel. we were soaked, as was all our gear! so now back at their house in Anchorage, now trying to dry gear and get things a bit organized. next, a shower...

thanks for all the support! it worked!
much more soon...
matt, djuna, mathew.

21 June 2008

day 29 - whittier around the bend

tonight's signal came in at 7:36 pm alaska time and shows them at the mouth of cochrane bay, about 15 miles from Whittier, the take out.

an incredible journey. a plan put into motion. they've covered nearly 500 miles in 1 month, and as the blog says, with their own two hands. many hands await their return to cheer and hug these strong and courageous paddlers.

thank you for keeping them in your thoughts and sending so much positive energy their way.

bienvenidos amigos

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20 June 2008

day 28 summer solstice, padders remain still

"may you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. may you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. may the nourishment of the earth be yours, may the clarity of light be yours, may the fluency of the ocean be yours, may the protection of the ancestors be yours" - john o'donohue


here are some photos i recieved a few days ago from our 3 friends... these were shot in the first section of the trip between portage bay and homer.

enjoy this long, gorgeous day. enjoy this moment, and one another. celebrate, for you have many reasons to.

19 June 2008

day 27 - eshamy bay

paddlers are rockin'! just outside of eshamy bay when the SPOT signal came in tonight. all signs say they'll be to whittier by sunday. WOW!

tomorrow is solstice, the longest day of light! live it up and enjoy amigos.

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