HCOA Writer’s Contest – yay I won something

This winter, the Homer Council on the Arts revived the Kenai Peninsula writing contest (I think maybe they’d stopped for a year or two?), so I entered a couple of pieces.

Put a face on it won first prize in the adult/open poetry category.

The Cat Man of Anchor Point won second prize in the adult/open fiction category.

Even more exciting is that creative writing students of mine took first prize in three other categories.

New section

I just put up a new section on off-grid projects, land, and consulting. Check it out–there’s even a sweet lot for sale if anyone’s up for an adventure.

Meditation on “Moose” Business Names

There are a lot of Alaskan business with “moose” in the name. These business moose are all strange: blue moose, cozy moose, goofy moose, loose moose, cheeky moose, and so on.
Fictional moose. I’ve never seen any moose like those.

I’d rather see businesses named after the moose we actually have:
-Hesitant Moose Lurking by the Highway (a self-help business?)
-Moose That Won’t Get Out of my Driveway (mobile auto repair)
-Mama Moose and Her Cute Babies (salon?)
-Thundering Moose Galloping by my Bedroom Window (courier/UPS)
-Moose that Kicked my Dog (animal control?)
-The Poached Moose (good restaurant name)
-The Roadkill Moose (decent restaurant name)
-Moose Browsing in the Ditch (good name for any tourist trap…bring your camera!)
-Moose That Calls in the Night While I’m on the Way to the Outhouse (massage parlor? Sorry, not interested…)
-Moose That Ate my Garden (vegetarian restaurant)
-Moose Fighting in Public (Alaska Legislature)
-Moose in the Middle of the Trail and Now I Need to Find Another Way to Get Where I’m Going (private security/bouncers)
-Worm-infested Pile of Moose Guts that Lazy Hunters Left Around the Corner from my House and Now My Dogs All Have Worms (also the Alaska Legislature?)

Which moose am I missing?

Upcoming show this Friday:

I’ll be performing at the 2nd annual “Music in the Park” event at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center Park. It begins at 6pm on Friday, July 26th. I’ll be playing as a one-man band, so don’t miss it.

Regarding roads and trails that cross private property in Alaska:

Long read regarding roads and trails that cross private property:

IF there is no recorded easement (on the plat map or otherwise filed with the state recorder’s office), then an easement DOES NOT EXIST.

I want to clarify this because there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding what people call “grandfathered” easements. There is no such thing as a grandfathered easement. There are two types of easements that come close, but they are very limited in scope. They are:

1) Easements under RST 2477 (which was repealed in 1976). There are a total of 4 of these on the western Kenai Peninsula: The Windy Bay-Port Chatham Portage, the Nuka Bay trail, the Explorers Kenai River Trail, and the King’s County trail (see http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/trails/rs2477/rst_quad.cfm?QUAD=104 and http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/trails/rs2477/rst_quad.cfm?QUAD=094).

2) Prescriptive easements, in which the user (or users) of a road/trail need to use the road/trail in a continuous and uninterrupted manner, with the property owner’s knowledge, for a period of at least 10 years. Even if said road/trail has been used continuously for such a period, that does not mean the easement exists—it only means that the user/users can then sue the property owner for continued access should the owner try to block their access.

Not sure if there is a platted easement? Use the borough’s online mapping program (https://gis.kpb.us/map/index.html?viewer=basic) to find the property in question. Click on it to get the owner’s name and subdivision name—either of which can be searched in the state recorder’s database (http://dnr.alaska.gov/ssd/recoff/search) to find the plat map. Download the plat map and read it. Also read the comments on the plat map (these will sometimes mention easements).

Also note: there are no “historic trails” that are automatic easements. The state of Alaska does not have a historic trails commission. There are some historic trails of national importance (i.e. Iditarod National Historic Trail, Chilkoot Trail), but these obviously do not apply to local issues. If there is a trail of any historic importance, it will already be shown on a plat map.

If you want access through private property on an existing, unplatted road or trail, you have the following options:

1) Be a good neighbor so that the owner does not mind your quiet and respectful passage through their property.

2) Be a bad neighbor and try to use the trail without permission for 10 years so that you can then sue for an easement (you will probably be trespassed from the property in much less than 10 years).

3) If you have already been using the road/trail continuously for 10 years, ask the owner to grant you an easement. You may want to offer to pay filing fees for the recorder’s office. This might save you both some money in the long run.

4) If you have already been using the road/trail continuously for 10 years and the owner does not want to grant you an easement, you can sue. This is the only way to guarantee access if the owner doesn’t voluntarily grant an easement. Even if the suit is successful, the easement does not exist until it is recorded. In the case of Interior Trails Preservation Coalition v. Swope, the justices noted: “To succeed on a prescriptive easement claim, a claimant must show that (1) the use was continuous and uninterrupted for the same ten-year period that applies to adverse possession;  (2) the claimant acted as an owner and not merely as a person having the permission of the owner;  and (3) the use was reasonably visible to the record owner. The claimant must prove each element by clear and convincing evidence.” So just claiming you’ve been using it (without showing substantial proof) is not sufficient. Be prepared for a lengthy and expensive legal battle if you want to go this route (note that the Interior Trails Preservation Commission no longer exists); the burden of proof rests on the party seeking an easement.

I was inspired to write this after somebody came on to my property last week to complain about my neighbor’s “No trespassing” signs. Even after I explained that the signs weren’t mine, he was still rude, kicked my dog, and then told me that my plat map was out of date (it is not—it’s the only plat that has ever existed for my subdivision). Maybe he felt like being an old timer and telling a young whippersnapper what was what (does moving here in 2007 make him an old timer? He seems to think so.). Maybe he was showing off for his wife. Either way, he was angry because he had built an expectation of access based on someone else’s false information—and that information is popularly accepted as fact even though it would never stand up in court. I wasn’t trying to limit his access and even told him he could continue passing through, but he must have been soured by somebody having the nerve to disagree with him and then back it up with actual facts.

I don’t currently have “No trespassing” signs at my place because I don’t mind people passing through (as long as they do so respectfully), but signs are going up soon—people need to know that my road is private property (not borough property) so that they are aware that their uninvited presence IS trespassing, just in case they hit any of my children or animals. It is their duty to proceed under invitation only—which comes with a speed limit.  

A basic primer: https://www.realestatelawyers.com/resources/real-estate/land-use-zoning/alaska-easement-law.htm

Contact me for more detailed links and case notes.

New book out now

I just published a new book–a bit of non-fiction, not necessarily for everyone, but great for some: A Practical Guide to Off-grid Living in Alaska, in digital formats and paperback (177 pages).

Most formats via Smashwords.

Kindle and paperback via Amazon.

Feel free to share with anyone that might be interested! Already a #1 New Release on Amazon.

Upcoming music performances


I’m playing several shows in the near future. Here’s the info:
Friday, August 17th, 4 P.M.: Kenai Peninsula Fair (Inlet Stage)
Saturday, August 18th, 6 P.M.: Kenai Peninsula Fair (Inlet Stage)
Sunday, August 19th, 10:15 A.M.: Kenai Peninsula Fair (Ocean Stage)

Saturday, September 1st, 10 P.M.: at Kharacters in Homer (21+)

Friday, September 21st, 9 P.M.: at Alice’s in Homer

I’ll be shamelessly promoting my new album Free throughout.