August 7th - 22ndTable of Contents
Summary August 7th – August 20th
August 7th, 2001 Somewhere in a undeveloped Campsite near Moss Lake in the Tongass National Forest in Ketchikan Alaska.
My first view of Alaska in the daytime actually sickened and depressed me. I felt like opening up my journal and writing in big bold letters "DO NOT COME TO KETCHIKAN ALASKA". – It is basically a tourist trap town. The morning experience I had was terrible. – I drove into town near where the Cruise Ships docked, and knew right away it was going to suck. There were three huge jewelers, a bunch of shops with "Curios" in their titles, and nothing that looked like to me it had any redeeming qualities.
Sign’s for "Tour’s" of every kind were everywhere. I could take a tour to see the totem poles, charter a fishing boat, tour the city, bla bla bla. – It wasn’t bad, that all these things were open to me, but the "tour’s" were really just doing these things individually, but paying another 15 dollars or whatever to have someone take you there, and blow hot air for the ride.
The absolute worse part was when I walked into the visitor center. I felt like I was back in Nogales Mexico, and every vendor was shouting at me to check out their wares. There were two long lines of small desks on either side of the room. Each desk had a sign overhead, things like "Charter a fishing cruise", "Tour the Totem’s", "See the misty fiord’s", "Salmon spawning and totem adventure", were above each person. As I walked down the middle several of the people shouted to me "Can I interest you in chartering a fishing boat?" "Tour the misty fiords?" – I hated it. Then I walked up to a guy giving information about the totem poles.
He was pushing his tour that was 25 dollars plus tax. – I asked if I could just go there, and he said sure. I was skeptical though, and thought that maybe this totem place wasn’t the real totem place, and that going there was going to suck. – I kind of like to go to these places in towns to get a feel for how things operate, and sometimes to talk with the interesting people giving out information.
I like to do this prior to reading the tour books, or even after, to get the perspective of the person whose job it is to provide the information. I find I usually get good information that way. – Kind of like being a sharp consumer, and reading about a product before you got to the salesman. – Or just getting a couple opinions on something.
-This was not the case in Ketchikan’s visitor center. These ruthless, bloodsucking vultures were all trying to get my money, and I absolutely felt like going down to the Alaska Ferry office and finding out when the next one out of Ketchikan was.
I got back in my car feeling depressed. I wanted to find a place alone that I could just center myself, and read about Ketchikan. Maybe there was something redeeming about it, possibly a library or a Barnes and Nobel. – I found an abandoned little drive area on the way to the city dump. It was covered with garbage, and I hated it too. I re-organized my vehicle and was getting ready for breakfast when a mangy looking thin dog came up to me, and started looking for scraps. --- Definitely not liking Alaska so far. Garbage and economic depression seem to be the dominant themes.
I told the dog to shoo, organized my vehicle, and ate breakfast. Then I read about Ketchikan. I felt a little centered and better after I had read about it. – On my way back into town, I stopped by the Salmon Hatchery and Eagle Center, and paid the admission to it and the totem cultural center. – Got a tour at the Salmon Hatchery, and a self guided one across the way at the Totem Center. – The Salmon Hatchery had two mated Bald Eagles that were flightless. The male was shot by a bb gun, and had to have it’s wing amputated, the female flew into some powerlines, and when it’s wing was mended, it fused together, so she cannot fully extend it.
Hmm, all the wonderful things that humans bring to this world; garbage, and broken Eagle wings. – The hatchery was in place, because of man’s presence, the Salmon would not fully populate enough streams because there is not enough space for them all to spawn because of damming of the streams or whatever. – People even take care of the spawning process for the Salmon. They cut open a female who has plenty of eggs, and drop them into a bucket. They do this with several females until they have enough eggs, then fertilize them with male salmon sperm.
Then they go through the process of putting the eggs in different water conditions, and release them in the stream before they go through the "smolting" stage. This is when they recognize the smell of the stream that they are in. – They will always come back to the stream that smells like the one that they "smolted" in. Another term for it is "imprinting".
That part was kind of interesting. It wasn’t nice to know that if we just let them go to the process themselves, that there wouldn’t be enough to reproduce in the numbers that are expected, for say… the fishing industry.
Then I walked across the way to the Totem center, and the attendant was a jerk. Inside, many of the totem’s were on their side, because they couldn’t support weight anymore. A tour guide was talking particle physics with one of the tourists, and she sounded like a "highly functional child."
I haven’t showered in five days. I am starting to feel quite gross. I will shower on the Ferry tomorrow if there are any. There were on the Kennicott, so I hope there will be on the Natuk or whatever this guy is.
After the totem / Eagle park thing, I realized that it wasn’t raining out, and that last year there were only 5 days that it was sunny. I happened to be in Ketchikan on one of the day’s this year that it was sunny. That was kind of redeeming. – So, I headed to the National Forest Information center, and got information on hikes in the area. I decided on the Deer Mountain Hike, even though it was probably the most popular. It went up about 3 miles over the city, and had great views. – It took me about 3 hours or so round trip. I took my time, and took many pictures, and enjoyed the rainforest the first mile, and the beautiful views the second and third miles.
My favorite part was near the second mile marker, there was eagles soaring overhead. Often times they came quite close, and one could hear the wind as they soared through it fast, or flapped their wings. It was amazing.
Then after hike back to visitor center for face wash, then out to the national forest part of town to find a camping / parking place. Found a nice one, and haven’t seen other people around, so will have privacy for sleep. Speaking of which, I am tired and going to bed. Good Night
August, 8th, 2001 Ketchikan Public Library, Ketchikan Alaska.
Today was a better day. The weather again was incredible. I have been blessed with that. Since my time in British Colombia was primarily rain, I expected the southeastern part of Alaska to be the same. Most of the time it is supposed to be that way. It is uncommon that Ketchikanians get this kind of weather. I overheard a tour guide say today that Ketchikan got 200, or was it 300 days of rain last year. – She said the majority of the rest of it is cloudy and overcast, and the remaining 5 days last year were sunny. I happen to be in Ketchikan on two of the sunny days this year. They have already had two, so there may only be one more this year. Sometimes one must take the bad with the good.
I woke up in the Tongass National Forest on an old logging road near Ward Lake campground. I didn’t venture out of my vehicle last night too much, because there were an uncommonly large number of biting flies and gnats who seemed like they spent each moment of their waking lives looking for human flesh named Ryan to feast upon.
After my first little walk around the car to set it up to sleep in, I decided that I would go to bed without cooking Ramen. I haven’t had it in at least a week. More like a week and ˝. – Oh, as far as other things that I haven’t had, one would be a shower. I haven’t showered in about 6 days. I am getting ripe. I was invited to dinner this evening with a woman who works in town, her husband, and two of their friends. I will definitely change the shorts I have been wearing for the past 4 days, cause they stink badly too.
I headed down to Ward Lake to use the bathrooms, and took a little 2.6 mile walk around the lake. It reminded me of any mid sized upstate New York lake around Binghamton, or maybe in Chenango Valley State Park, except for the numerous King Salmon that were using it as spawning grounds.
After Ward lake, I decided to check out the "North End" of town, and Settlers Cove State Park. Along the way I passed Totem Bright State Park, which had several Totem Poles, and a nice community house that represented how the native Tinglit, and Hyiada Indians lived. (Those are phonetical spellings of course.) There was no entrance fee, and I caught a little of the tours that seemed to endlessly cycle through the park. Had I decided to get a tour back in Disney Central, it would have cost me 20 dollars. BullCrap!
I continued on my way North, I passed the only Wal-Mart in town, which provided free shuttle service to the Tour Ship Docks. Further down the road, it changed to gravel / dirt, and still further down, I saw a sign that said "Road End’s 1500 feet." I drove to the end, just to see what it would look like. I kind of had hopes of the dirt gravel deteriorating into a grassy kind of unused rutted section of dirt, and then just stopping, but it was just like the end of any paved street, kind of a big area to turn around, and the typical garbage strewn around the edges.
Settlers Cove was a nice respite from the tourist death trap of downtown Ketchikan. I sat on some rocks and read a few chapters of "Into the Wild, by Jon Krakeuer". – The author is going about the story in an interesting way. He has already summed up the boy’s death, and the events shortly leading up to it. Now he is giving history of other people who have done the same, as well as historical information about what happened to Chris McCandless earlier in his life. – This is I assume an effort to shed more light on the reasons the boy might have done what he did.
After an hour or so of reading, I walked down to the beach. It was brown sand, with a lot of large seaweed and oyster covered slate rock jutting out of the ground. I decided it was time to skip some rocks in the ocean. I made my way around, and picked up several of them, and walked down close to the water. I put my rocks in a pile on the ground, dropped my book, and started skipping them on the water. Not a minute later, I realized that the tide was coming in, and fast. My "Windup" area that I had been using was covered with water, and my pile of rocks was swiftly being immersed as well. I picked them up, and my book and moved back a few steps.
When I was done, I just watched the tide come in. I liked the feeling of seeing something, and walking on it, knowing that in about 5 minutes it would be under a foot or two of water. It was kind of magical. I walked back a bit to a high spot on the sand, and stood there. In front of me towards the ocean was the tide, and it was coming in. In back of me, on either side, was more water, and it was slowly encircling the raised sand that I was standing on. – I felt kind of strangely uncomfortable knowing that in 30 seconds or so, I would have to get my feet wet to walk back to dry land from where I was. It was almost a little like mopping oneself into a corner, yet the rest of the room, wasn’t just clean, it was the tide, and you didn’t want to get your one pair of tennis shoes wet walking back out of it. I waited as long as I could bear, and headed back across the highest area towards soon to be wet, but presently dry beach, getting only the soles of my shoes wet in the process.
After that, I headed back into downtown Ketchikan. When I returned to the dock area, I was accosted by droves of tourists. There were three ships in port, and the roads were mobbed with people buying crap in the hundreds of crap stores along the boardwalk of crap and surrounding crap areas. It was one big pile of crap. Not just crap, but Crappity Crap Crap. I abhorred the site of it, this town had really destroyed my image of what "The last frontier" was going to be.
I parked my car, and walked over to the Discovery Center to wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I walked back to the car and was amazed to find that my Cell Phone had coverage. I called my Voice Mail, and listened to a message from Pete about Aruba. – He had mentioned to me that Francine had sent e-mail about Aruba next year. I sent an e-mail back to her earlier saying that I didn’t have the money for a deposit, and I wasn’t prepared currently to put it down. I called Pete, and he wasn’t at work, and didn’t pick up his cell.
I called Doug, and shot the stuff for a while. Mentioned to him about Aruba, and he said he would speak with Pete. I told him how much Ketchikan sucked. He was surprised, but thought as I do that it’s probably because Ketchikan is the southern most major town that the Cruise Ships stop in, that it is so "Touristed".
Earlier I thought that it would probably be appropriate for the town to charge an "Impact Fee" to the Cruise Ships per person who get off the boat. To recover the cost of garbage, noise, space, and air pollution that they all bring to the town when they are here. – I will mention this more later.
I then decided to cruise to the South End of town, to check out the Saxman totem Park. – I was also amazed that there was no Entrance Fee to this park. – Again, they were going to charge me 20 dollars for a ride, and tour of the park + gift shop to "Show me the sites"… Bullcrap major bullcrap. I looked around at the Totems, and the group house, and thought to myself, "is this it?" – It was much smaller than the Totem Bright State Park, but had a lot more tourists. I think probably because it was closer to downtown, and people probably didn’t want to go that far out of town to see totem poles.
I heard from one of the tour guides that the totems with large "uncarved" sections in the middle with a figure on top are Klinkit, and the ones that are carved all the way to the top were from the Hyiada Native Americans. There are several kinds of Totems. A shame totem, which has a pole, then another pole perpendicular on top, with several figures on top of it. The shame or ridicule totem indicates if someone has broken a deal, and if the restitution is made to the person who put up the ridicule pole, then it is chopped down. There is the House totem, which signifies the story of the family that lives in the house. There is the mortuary totem which indicates that someone has died. Usually the ashes of the person are in the base of the pole. These only started being used when missionaries came into the area. – Probably filled the Natives with ideas about death, and gravestones.
The reasons that the totems are so predominant in this area of Alaska is because the Fishing season is only about 2 months long. The Natives would work very hard during these two months to fish, and provide enough food for their families for the rest of the year. This kind of subsistence allowed them to practice their Art during the remaining 10 months of the year.
As I was walking around, I still had the question in my mind, "Is that it?" I walked up next to a woman who had a pin on, and was playing with an orange squeaky toy crab. I asked her "So, is that the totem Park?" She said "Yep, that’s it." We then got into a 15 minute conversation about Politics, the tourism industry in Southeast Alaska, the environment, Impact of the tourists, and life in general. She was a yoga instructor for several years, and decided to move back to Ketchikan, where her boyfriend lives and works as a Fisherman. When I asked her how she likes being a tour guide she said "It’s a little overwhelming." - She lives in Mexico, where there is much less emphasis on "making it", and money in general. She said she is much happier living there than she was living in the States. – Hmm, interesting.
We talked about George Bush, and she imparted to me that Clinton was very unpopular in Alaska, because he had made it illegal for motor vehicles to enter "Wildlife Reserves, National Forest Areas", and that really killed some of the logging industry in most of greater Alaska. Because one needs to have a vehicle to get into the deeper parts of the Woods to get the old growth trees that generate so much profit.
I can understand that Alaskans like George Bush also for his support of the N.R.A. Because of the frontier spirit, and leave me alone attitude that I am sure many Alaskans have. – "Kat" told me that people in Alaska become generally quiet though about Bushes policy towards Missile defense. They are not much in favor of it. Especially since many of them Alaska might be the first thing hit in an attack such as that, no matter how unlikely it might be.
I was happy about the conversation, and glad that someone in Ketchikan had redeeming qualities. Especially since, I expected that she would be standoffish being a tour guide and such. She told me that Ketchikan has a positive intellectual following, who listen to the local progressive radio station. – It happens to be an NPR affiliate. When her tour group was finished with the "Logging Tour", she had to go. I thanked her for our conversation and said goodbye. As she was leaving, she said "I’m cooking dinner for some friends tonight, and you are more than welcome to stop by." "Wow, Cool!" I said, and got directions to her place, which was near the ferries.
Then I ventured back into town, and strolled around a bit. I toured the infamous "RedLight" district, which was now all tourist and curio shops. Save one that was the last remaining "Brothel Museum" called Dolley’s house. I didn’t go in, even though the faux prostitute standing out front had a convincing speech. Prior to that I went into the NPR affiliate, and got a little tour from the engineer about how that works. That was cool. The engineer’s name was Joe, and he gave me his card, so that I would e-mail him later, with my website. He was a friendly, interesting person, whose job, I assume, it was to make sure the station was running smoothly. He had an engineering and computer Science degree from Colorado State University. – A very good school for C.S. I was impressed. He was a software engineer for several years, and kind of now was semi – retired working in public radio stations in Southeast Alaska. My favorite thing about this place was the black and white poster of all the NPR people from the 70’s 80’s. Alex Chadwick, Cookie Roberts, Noah Adams, they were all there. I loved it.
I thanked him, and headed out the door. Then I found my way to my favorite place in Ketchikan so far, the public Library. That’s where I am now, sitting at a black leather bound chair, at a square desk with my laptop plugged in, and listening to the rapids of ward creek out the window. It’s peaceful, nice, and the smell of books makes me happy. Well, it’s time to head to Kat’s for dinner. My ferry get’s in tonight around 10:15, then I get off in Wrangell at around 4:15AM. Not too scenic, but hopefully I will meet some interesting people.
August, 9th, 2001 Yunshookuh Campsite, Wrangell Island, Wrangell Alaska.
Everything touristy, cluttered, capitalistic, and generally negative about Ketchikan is the complete opposite in Wrangell. Wrangell Alaska is truly a small town. The people are extremely friendly, I am still getting used to everyone who I pass by in my car waving to me. The ferry and public ship dock are both about a block or two from "downtown". There is not one jewelry shop (Thank god) – Who in their right mind comes to Alaska to buy jewelry? There are about 2600 people in Wrangell. The downtown area is about three blocks long. When I went to the information center today, I asked "Can you tell me how to get to the museum?" the woman working there said "Do you want me to show you on a map, or just go outside, and point to it?" I liked that.
And last but not least, there are more than 50 miles of wilderness roads on the South end of the island, including a dozen or so developed (free) campsites with bathrooms, firepits, picnic tables, and breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains on various islands across inlets, straits, channels, and passages. I happen to be at one now. Across from me, I can see at least 6 snowcapped peaks facing south, and many more in the other direction. The sun is slowly retreating, and casting an orangeish purple hue on the few clouds in the distance.
Today was one of the most relaxing days that I have had so far. I had breakfast, arranged to see the Anan Bear Preserve tomorrow, and drove off into the wilderness to read, enjoy my book, commune with nature, and nap. Later I strolled back into town for some site seeing. I checked out the Wrangell Museum, Chief Shakes Island and gravesite, and "Petroglyph Beach". Now I am back out about 15 miles south of downtown in the "Nemo" Recreation area. I will type a little more, then head to bed early.
Last night I had dinner with Kat, David, and Pat at the "summer home" of them. David made stir-fry and rice, Kat bought an apple pie and vanilla ice cream, as well as a local beer. We watched jeopardy, and I said "Alex Trebeck is full of shit". – He sounds so ridiculous when he tries to pronounce a Spanish, French, or German word. He pretends like he has the accent of that country and I think, just sounds like an idiot. David is a commercial Purse Seiner (Type of fisherman), and Pat a native Klintik / Hydia works for the telephone company. We talked about all sorts of things from traveling to politics, to the economy of Wrangell, to the commercial Fishing industry. I learned that the economy of a lot of Southeast Alaskan Towns were really hurt when Bill Clinton made it unlawful to enter National Forest Wilderness Areas with a motor vehicle.
This made it all but impossible to log the "old growth" trees that are further inside the interior. A lot of native Alaskans have animosity towards Clinton, and the Democrats because of this. – Bush appeals to them, because he is more in favor of repealing these types of laws, as well as in favor of rights for gun owners. Alaskans however are concerned about the drilling that is happening in Prudhoe Bay, as well as the proposed plans for drilling in the ANWAR. Kat also expressed concern about Bushes missile defense system, and the crap he is trying to pull with the Soviet Union.
David also told me that the Fish Farms are killing the Ocean caught salmon industry. The salmon hatcheries and farms can provide the restaurant businesses with fresh fish year round, while the commercial fisherman can only do it for a few months of the year. Businesses could order their fish from the Ocean Caught fisherman for those two months, but it would increase paperwork, and when it comes to the bottom line which it always does, it is cheaper to go with the fish farms.
David is only surviving because his captain is part of a conglomerate of fishermen who have the rights to catch a very profitable fish. I believe it was the herring, or halibut. He said that in some cases the fishing season for these fish can last 45 minutes, because of the quotas proposed on them. One year, the season was two days long, and in those two days, each of the fishermen on his boat made 40,000 dollars. – He said "I only fish for salmon, to keep the herring business in tact".
Kat hated her job as a tour guide, and had already quit once. She came back because the company was so short handed. "It is so overwhelming" she said, sounding exasperated. Then we drove to the store and bought the desert and drinks for dinner. Kat was an interesting person. Her thoughts seemed to go in about 100 directions at once, all the while keeping a cordial pleasant conversation going with me. She had a lot of mental energy, I told her that, and she said "I think it’s from my yoga exercises."
Pat was a large well-spoken man. He spoke slow and deliberately. He had purchased an "Original, and an Original Original" pair of Woodstock posters, that he had framed at his house. He was concerned about cell phones, and there growing popularity. He said "Dave, you and I are going to be out of job’s soon.", when David remarked on the advances in the winches that can pull in the nets, and keep them straight and untangled. It used to take three or four men to pull in a net, and keep it straight. Now it can be done by one, or even none if the equipment is advanced enough.
I was very glad to meet them all, and we exchanged e-mails, and I told them that I would put their pictures up on the web site. Which I will. Pat also gave me the name of a friend of his in Fairbanks, who he said I could contact. Kay had a laminated card that she gave me. "Ohh, aren’t you fancy!", I teased her, she barely got out "Well, Ketchikan is the rainiest city in the Southeast", before David interrupted her with a superstitious "Shhhhhh". – We all laughed.
I then quickly left, went to the grocery store, and bought perishables. I did this because Ketchikan was the biggest, and probably the least expensive of the next four towns I was going to visit. Then I boogied down to the Ferry port, and got in line for the ferry.
A couple people budged in front of us in line, and I said something to the guy. – Then I got my ticket, and headed back to my car to pack my cooler while I waited in line. I was the only guy who got on in Ketchikan who was getting off in Wrangell. I accidentally left my car key in the ACC position for the trip, and my battery died. As I realized this, I lifted my hood, and one of the ship guys came over with a charger, and got me going. It’s fine now, I just have to remember to be careful with it. I should look into getting an alternate battery or something.
The ride was kind of boring. I rode the Taku, and it picked me up in Ketchikan at 10:15. So, when I got on, I only had a little bit of daylight before the sun went down. I did meet a mother daughter pair on the ship, and talked with them for about an hour or so about my trip, and my camera. Her niece is in the market for one. I showed her all the neat things it can do, She liked it very much. They were from Minnesota visiting her niece who lives in Ketchikan. They were heading up to Petersburg for the day to check it out. We talked about Garrison Keilor and "A prairie home companion"; I love NPR.
I did however get a much-needed shower on board the ship. I was very grateful for that. I’m sure people who smelled me were too. – Then after chatting for a while, I read a chapter in my book, and went to bed on the floor in my sleeping bag. My alarm woke me up in time to get my stuff together, pee, and head to the car deck to disembark.
"People who come to Wrangell are the rugged outdoorsy type," Loucie said to me, as we were chatting about her tour for the Anan Bear observatory. She was extremely nice, and talking with her was my first positive experience in Wrangell. She was actually from West Virginia, and I caught a little of the Southern Drawl in her voice. She genuinely wanted me to have a good time, and was not at all pushy about her companies’ tour. There were three guide places that took people to the Anan Bear Observatory. Her’s happened to be the second one I popped my head into. The first, the woman behind the counter was helping someone else, so I went next door.
We chatted for some time about my trip and other things. "I really want you to have a good time in Wrangell, because it’s my favorite place in the world." She said. Unfortunately, the people that worked for her service had all kind of disappeared because the weather had been so nice lately. She said "To be honest with you, when the sun came out yesterday, every body kind of took off." – She tried to get a hold of two of the people on her list to call if people wanted to go on the tours. Neither of them were around. She did get a hold of a third gentleman, but he wasn’t going up until Saturday. – My ferry was on Saturday, so that wouldn’t work.
Her competitor next door walked by, and she said "Hello, do you have anyone going to Anan today or tomorrow?" – "Maybe tomorrow, you might want to in to that – Thanks". I was kind of surprised too that she would give her business away to a competitor so easily. – Before I left talking with her, I got her information, and said that I would check the other services, and see if they had openings, then I would let her know if I found something. She said "Otherwise, I will continue to call, and try and reach someone."
As it turned out, the service next door had one opening left for tomorrow. – The price I was quoted was 175, but I got them down to a reasonable 135. Still kind of pricey, but I trusted the Forest Service guy who highly recommended seeing it. Then I did all the stuff I mentioned in the beginning.
Wrangell is nice. Very small, but nice. I feel very isolated here. I imagine this is what the interior is going to feel like in many places.
August 10, 2001 Irene Ingle Public Library Parking Lot in Wrangell, AK.
Today I saw bears. I saw bears having a teddy bear picnic. I went to the Anan Bear Observatory, paid Stickeen Tours to take me there and back, and watched, and photographed bears for several hours. There is a huge concentration of Salmon, running up the river this year, and they concentrate in pools along the Creek, where quite often black and brown bears come and feast.
While we were there, we saw at least 6 different bears pawing there way down do the creek bank, dip their heads in the water, and come out with lunch. It was quite impressive. There were times that we could sign up for the photo blind, which was a small area right along the river that five people could occupy at one time, and take close up shots of the bears feeding.
When I went down there, we saw two bears come down, and grab a salmon, and take it away. Black bears seem to be more timid, and want to eat their food in a cave or privately. Brown / Grizzley bears seem not to care as much about people being around, or other bears for that matter, and do whatever they please.
The number of salmon in the water was unbelievable. The number of bears feeding was a little less than I expected, but still impressive. They didn’t seem to use their paws as much as I thought they would. They kind of just stuck their heads in the water, and came out with a salmon. – It was certainly cool.
There was a professional photographer type there, and he had an enormous size lens. He showed me what the view was through it focusing on a small tree stump, and it was like it was right there in front of me. We spoke about how soon we thought the high-end camera companies were going to have a digital camera body that someone could use all their existing lenses with. – Now, that would be cool. Especially for professional photographers who have invested all sorts of money in lenses. The guy I was talking to said that he had about $17,000 dollars invested in his lenses and other equipment.
He is getting killed with film though. On this trip "I spent about 600 dollars in film, and it’s going to cost another grand in development" he said when we were talking about it. With my pictures, I figure that I am going through about three rolls of film a day. If you figure how much I would be spending in development and film costs, lets figure it out, say a roll of 24 print film costs 3.00, and development costs 8 dollars, that’s $11.00 dollars per roll. I have taken approximately 2400 pictures so far. Divide that by 24, and you get 100 rolls of film that I would have taken so far. Times 11.00 dollars per roll, I have saved about 1,100 dollars in film costs so far. I have more than paid for the camera. Nice.
I am about to head down to the Marine Bar and Hotel to meet the folks from the Anan tour for beer and pizza. It should be tasty. My ferry out tomorrow morning leaves at 6:00AM. I am definitely going to park close to the parking lot, so I can make it out of here.
I have just returned from the Marine Bar and Hotel, as well as another trip to the Chief Shakes Island Totem Park. Dinner was cordial, our one friend from Microsoft, Bob was the big talker of the group. Terry, our tour guide kind of had a little stuttering problem. He was a volunteer fireman. He was super nice, and answered most of our questions about things in town with enthusiasm. I think he got along best with Bob. They seemed to laugh and make jokes with each other freely. I preferred the company of Dawn and her husband. I don’t remember his name. – In fact, I am not sure that they are married. I didn’t think to look at their fingers. They are taking the vacation together, so they might be, but I am not sure. – They were more intellectual, and interested in talking about the things that I liked. She worked for the Department of Justice, Environmental Resources Division. He worked for the Federal Communications Division. – They were both attorneys, and involved in lawsuits in one way or another. She sued companies that violated the standards set forth by the DEC, and I’m not sure what he did. – I liked the fact that although she worked for the government, she had a good cause, which was helping the environment.
The day was fairly long. The ride to and from Anan was about 2 hours each way. – The water was quite choppy in sections, and the constant Blam, blam, crash, blam, from the cover on the boat started to get to me on the way back. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom quite soon after I got back on land. But, the feeling subsided after about 10 minutes or so.
I copied all the pictures I took to John, the owner of Stikeene tour’s laptop. I had to load the driver, but I luckily had it on cd, and one reboot later, thank’s microsloth, I was able to dump the pictures off easily. After I copied the pictures, I spoke with Jennifer who worked in the shop, and we had a nice conversation about age, and small towns, and college, etc. It was nice. She was 19 years old, but had a good head on her shoulders. – She is getting free tuition at a college in Durango, CO because she is an Alaska native, and there was an agreement when the college was built that they would get something for building it where they did. – I think they built it on Native Lands.
All of her friends were "Going Upriver tonight", when I asked her what that was, she kind of had a weird look on her face and said "Boating up the Stikeene river, and partying", kind of like I was supposed to know what that was. It’s like that in any town, kids go somewhere and party. – She also told me that all the kids on the Basketball team, who are good, can pretty much do whatever they want, and the cops will let them alone. She thinks it’s Bullcrap, but I said "Welcome to reality", things are always going to be like that.
I told her that I liked her Radio Station, 101.7, which is very diverse, and is an NPR affiliate, she said "Oh, I hate it, I don’t even listen to the radio. We don’t have any good music around here." – I didn’t go into a rant about how awesome NPR is. But, I felt like it. I did, however, tell her about the things I liked about getting older. The wisdom and the knowledge about life and reality are very nice. – The aches and pains are definitely NOT!
After I said goodbye, I ambled for a while, then headed to dinner. I had a beer and 1/2, and a few slices of marginal pizza. – There Chicken fahita pizza had celery, fake chicken, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese on it. I supplemented both that and the plain with my RedHot, which I brought from the car. – It makes anything palatable. – When we came out, I walked with John, and Herbert maybe, to the Island, then took a ton of pictures of the beautiful sunset. Then found my way to a parking lot near the ferry, and am here typing now.
I think if I can, I am going to change my reservations to spend a little less time in each port. Particularly Petersburg, and Sitka. I will spend two days in Petersburg, and 1 and ˝ in Sitka. It’s either that, or spend an extra three or four days in either one of the ports. This would definitely be doable, but there is still Juneau, and Haines. – I think this way, I will get to Juneau quicker, and can use this town as my point of attack for my kayaking trip, and possibly the fishing excursion, as well as Glacier Bay. – Still not sure about that vs. the Tracy arm, but I think it might be worth it, because when will I ever be back to Alaska in the future. ---
Well, I think it’s time for bed. The Ferry gets here in about 6 hours, so I am going to get a couple hours sleep. Good Night
August 11,12 2001 Petersburg or berg. I really don’t know. Petersberg Ferry Terminal.
It has been a long two days in Petersburg. I arrived from Wrangell in a bad way. I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night to save my life. I tossed and turned like crazy. I was probably up until at least 2:00AM unable to get to sleep. – Finally I got to bed, only to be woken up by a pounding on my window. – It was Terry the tour guide from the Anan Bears Tour. He had come down to the Ferry to see us off. He actually brought all of us that were on the tour a can of salmon. – What a cool guy.
When he didn’t see any activity in my car by about 5:35, when the Ferry was departing at 6:00AM, he came over and knocked on my window to wake me up. I will be forever grateful to him for that, because otherwise I would have been in Wrangell another couple days. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s kind of a small town with not too much to do, plus the summer is coming to an end shortly, and the further north I go, the colder and wetter it is getting.
So, I pulled into Petersburg, and just drove. After stopping to get some groceries, and encountering a cashier "You can tell I’m not very much into that stuff (recycling)", whose comment and attitude about recycling and preservation put me in a bad mood, I ended up at Sandy Beach Recreation area which is a day use only site. It is very nice, but definitely only a day use area. There are two large cabins with running water, and pit toilets. If I can remember, I had a breakfast, and took a nap for a couple hours.
Then I tooled into town, and came to the visitor center. The woman who was working there was probably the most helpful information person that I have encountered on my entire trip so far. She knew tons of things, and went out of her way to help me. We talked for quite a while about what things there are to do in Petersburg, and where are some nice places to go hiking, and stuff.
She was also talking with another guy who was in there named Craig. He is from Austin Texas on his way up north also. We talked a little, and I found out that he wanted to go kayaking, but unfortunately, the kayak trips for the next couple days were booked. So, I’m not sure what Craig ended up doing on Saturday. Today (Sunday) however, he went on a tour boat to see the La Conte’ glacier. --- I am going to look at Glaciers in Juneau.
I, on the other hand just by virtue of being in the Visitor center at a certain time ended up spending the weekend with a young woman named Weike. – Vicki for those "Stupid Fat Americans" as she liked to say. Weike was on her way southeast to Toronto to catch a plane back to Switzerland at the end of September. She had just spent a year as a teacher’s assistant working in an internship program she found on the internet in Sachs Harbor, in the Northern Territories of Canada.
You are probably saying to yourself, I have no Idea where Sachs Harbor is. Neither did I, until she showed me on a map. Sachs harbor is in the Arctic Circle. The town she stayed in had 96 people at last count. They ate whale blubber, and killed harbor seals for meat. One of her friends, after hearing about what she ate and hunted asked her "When you see an animal, do you think ‘Oh, that Animal is cute’, or ‘I wonder what that would taste like’". Weike told me that she thought, "What would that taste like?" She said that she had a great recipe for goose, which she had hunted often on excursions with her friends.
Anyway I was talking with the Information lady, and Weike walked in, and asked about hiking in the area. The information lady told me that there was great camping and hiking out towards the South end of the Island near the three lakes area. – She told us that on a couple of the lakes there are rowboats that one can take out. – Weike said "Cool", so did I. So, I said "I think I’m going to do that." Then, I kind of glanced over at Weike, and she had this kind of anticipatory, kind of little kid wanting a piece of candy look in her eye. So, I asked her "Would you like to come with me?". "Definitely" she said.
So we were off. We went to the Grocery store, and bought vegetables, milk, and orange juice. As well as other food items. Then we headed towards the three lakes area. – Conversation was a little strained. It turned out that Weike was 19 years old, and had just graduated High School a year earlier. After High School, she got involved with an internship program that ended up sending her to Sachs Harbor. She was a teachers assistant in a school with 99% Native Eskimos. She told me that her experience was incredible. It had it’s amazing points, and it’s negative points. One negative being her obnoxious pervert principal who she had to stay with for a while, and one positive being her boyfriend who she had a very difficult time leaving.
On the way to the three lakes we stopped at a couple of the "interesting places" on the map along the way. One was a muskeg, and the other was a Slough. Also, another hatchery. Weike spoke French, English, Dutch, and German. – I tried to speak French with her most of the weekend. That was a lot of fun. I miss it, and want to learn it. I need to be immersed in a language and culture to learn it.
She gave me a Eskimo name in French "Le Seine Trumpeter", the English translation of hers was South Wind. When we got to Hill Lake, we found a tent platform with a skiff, and a firepit. We made a fire, then, dinner. We had roasted Corn, Potatoes, Carrots, and Smoked Salmon. – It was amazing. We then packed out the remains of dinner to my car, which was .5 miles from our site, and went for a boat ride on the water. We came to the end of the lake, and a beaver dam inhibited our forward progress, so we rowed back. She was a better rower than I was. She could keep the boat going straighter. Then we talked and she played her flute a little by the fire, while it got dark.
When we were out on the lake, I pulled the oars in the boat, and listened to how quiet it was. It was amazing how quiet. It felt like we were deaf. I mean if neither of us said anything, I could hear my watch tick. It was incredible. We spent a good amount of time yelling, and listening to the amazing echo’s that surrounded us. When we yelled, it seemed to bounce off the backsides of the lake, then in a circle around the front near our site. But it went much faster there, and sounded like pistol shots almost in certain cases. Amazing.
When we were ready for bed, I happened to sit back on the dock, and look up at the stars. The sky was on fire. I saw at least 15 shooting stars, and some left amazing streaks across the sky that stayed for almost 5 or 6 seconds after the star had shot by. I decided to get my Thermarest, and sleeping bag out, and sleep on the ground looking up at the stars. It was awesome. – No worries mate. It was the first time I had done it, but not the last, I can assure you. Falling asleep looking at the stars was probably one of the high points of my trip so far.
Next morning, I hiked up to get breakfast, and came back to see Weike sitting on her bag enjoying the sun. She was afraid of bears, and I saw that she slept next to her bear spray. She also slept out under the stars next to me. Breakfast was good, in addition to Cereal we had bread, and fruit, as well as instant spiced Cider that the Information Lady gave us. I didn’t prefer it, but Weike drank hers and some of mine.
Then we hiked down to Ideal Bay, and around another lake. That took us to around 1:30PM in the afternoon. We talked about everything. Monty Python, Actors, favorite books, school, etc. On the way back to the car, we walked past a couple women who had driven their car into a ditch. They hadn’t been looking where they were going, and drove off the road. It looked like to me that they flew right over the ditch. I was surprised that they didn’t do more damage to their rental car than they did. We talked with them, and agreed that I would come back down and help them. – My cell didn’t work, and car barely started after I broke into it. (Left my keys in my tent) – Had left fridge on for 5 hours.
Then we drove to the La Conte’ Glacier overlook and had lunch. – Came back to our site and gathered up our tents after showing her pictures of Montana and Yellowstone. And met a guy from Alaska who told us to head up the Fire creek trail to the overlook of the southeast part of the island. It was a rough drive, but worth the effort. The view was incredible.
Then down, and out to the end of the road. We found a spot to make a fire and cook dinner for ourselves again. – Same as last night, spuds and carrots in the fire, with smoked fish that Weike got from a guy in Sitka, but no rice. Then we repacked our gear, and burned some of the stuff that needed to be recycled. – And I dropped her off at the Tent City. – I am now in the parking lot. – I will write more about my feelings later. I need sleep. My ferry is at 3:15, and it’s about 3 hours away. Good night.
Appendum: August 13, 2001.
It is rare that I am so impressed with the character of a person as such I was with Weike Kerkhoff. Vicki, as her friends call her had an amazing year. She flew away from her home in Switzerland to live for a year in a town in the Arctic Circle as an English teacher to Native Eskimos. She knew no one in the town, knew very little about it, was in a 10-hour time difference from her home, and had to deal with incredible adversity. There were no roads, the primary mode of transportation was snowmobile (snowmachine, as they refer to it up here) and Airplane, which was rare. Vicki did all this at the young age of 19.
My initial impression of Vicki when I first met her was that she was a fun, independent, trusting person who had a passion for new experiences and the beauty of nature. These feelings were confirmed the longer I spent with her. She loved exploring new things, and was always open to stop and check out things along the road. When I learned that she spoke French, as well as German, Dutch, and English, I said "I think we should spend the rest of our time together speaking only French." – To which she responded "Pas de’ probleme’", and then some other long fast sentence in French. – My puzzled, kind of half grin look, and long pause caused her to say, "I think the conversations will be much shorter if we do that", we laughed.
I am very competitive by nature, and when I know, or meet someone that I feel has done something so spectacular, or who has a personality that I am impressed by so much, I tend to envy that person. Maybe not the person so much, but their experience. This causes me in some cases to loose my self-identity a little, and focus more on the person. – I kind of try to figure that person out, and understand more about them. I think, subconsciously I am trying to learn from them, and take some of their experience as my own. This sometimes causes me to strain conversations, or not be true to myself in my comfort level, and thus deteriorates the conversation. I think I compare myself too much to these people. When I am in their presence for extended periods of time, I ask probing questions of that person, and probably become annoying.
I found myself doing this a little with Vicki. She was extremely mature for 19, even though she couldn’t legally drink, nor did she have her driver’s license. She was totally comfortable with herself physically, and didn’t mind getting dirty, or bug bitten, or eating with her hands.
She was so trusting, that I am now a little concerned for her safety. So, I prayed for it a couple times now. She had grown much stronger after the negative experience with her Principal at the School in Sachs Harbor, but still, there are very bad people in the world, and backpacking alone down the Northwest Coast, and Canada one might run into some of those individuals. I should have imparted this information to her when I last saw her. I would have said something like "Keep that bear spray close at hand, and don’t be afraid to use it on people if you think it may be necessary." – Maybe I would be a little more serious.
Anyway, she really impressed me, and I know that some day, she will be famous, or incredibly accomplished at whatever she does. It was truly an honor to meet and spend two days with her in August. Thanks Weike.
August 13, 2001 Mill Creek Campground Tongass National Forest, Sitka AK
Keep pluging along. I guess that’s what I am doing. I am tired. I am not in a routine, and it is tiresome. Maybe my blood sugar is not in equilibrium or something. Maybe I am not getting enough exercise. Maybe it was just a long day. Maybe it was the sun. – Isn’t that funny. I have been in Alaska since approximately the 6th of August. So, about a full week. I have been to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and now Sitka. It hasn’t rained once since I have been in the state that I can remember. Amazing. I guess it’s amazing to me, because it supposed to rain so much, and it’s not at all, or at least my experience with it, is that it’s not raining.
I guess now that I think about it, I have kind of a right to be a little tired. I have been going hard since the 6th. Each day is pretty much walking around towns, and taking pictures, and hiking, and packing as much culture and sight seeing as one person can do into each day; knowing that my time is short in each port, because the summer is waning.
So, I am now over my little wine that I had a couple paragraphs ago. – I know I’m not getting any sympathy from you folks back in New York that’s for sure. – Not working and all. Perspective man, perspective. Today, well, the time since I last wrote in my journal. I guess it was today. A little of it I was sleeping in my car in the Ferry Terminal in Petersburg, and a little of it, I was sleeping on the M.V. Taku en route to Sitka. The rest of it was doing this:
I tossed and turned a little when waking, not because I was disturbed in my slumber by the slow pitching and swaying of the Motor Vessel Taku, but because of the internal debate that kept nagging in my head. Should I get up, or should I sleep more. I am tired, but I want to get up and take a shower, and look for cute girls to talk with on the boat –mm sorry, I mean ship. Do you want to know the difference between a ship and a boat? – "A ship can carry boats, but a boat cannot carry ships." Anyway, Sleep or Cuties, that is the question. A little more sleep won out, but I didn’t sleep until I had time set on my alarm. My watch was set to go off at 8:45, I was finished with my shower, dressed, and eating some breakfast by the time it went off.
I then donned my "weather" clothes, consisting of gore tex jacket, windblocker pants, hat, and gloves if necessary, and was surprised when I went outside how warm it was out of the wind. Forward of the boat, in the furthest part that passengers were allowed to be, there was very little wind, and it was actually quite warm. Starboard and Port of the front deck of the boat, it was extremely windy, and weather clothes were necessary. In aft lounge area, there was no wind at all, and tee shirt and shorts were more appropriate. People were actually sitting in lounge chairs enjoying the sun. The solarium is an area that is covered and I think has the effect of warming the air underneath it, kind of like a sauna. The windows are tinted greenish yellow, and it makes a unique effect on the people beneath it.
After the Whale interpretation by the National Forest worker, my electric razor recharging and my subsequent shave, I was hanging out on the aft port side of the boat, and I noticed two woman who had kind of smiled at me during the talk. So, I walked up to them and said "Hello". Their names were Laura and Beth, both from Steamboat Colorado. They were 20 and 21 respectively, and both in college. Laura, the more extroverted of the two, was going to Colorado State, Beth was going to school in Southern California. She said "It’s really not me, traffic, smog, etc."
Laura talked a lot more, and sometimes answered for Beth. I’m not sure how Beth felt about that, from the time I spent with them, I didn’t get the impression that it annoyed her. Beth seemed very smart to me. She was going to school for History, which one of her parents taught, and Anthropology. She was interested in the conflict in the Middle East, and the history behind that. I liked her, and thought she probably had a lot of interesting things to say. Most of the conversations between the three of us centered on travel, and the times that we had had so far. It was mostly light which was good, but I am more of a meaty conversation type. It is tough sometimes to dive right in though.
Laura said what she felt, and it was very refreshing. She reminded me a little of Kristen Feinwood. On our way back to town, we were running slightly late, and she said "I’m feeling a little nervous now." – This in woman speak means that she wanted to express her feelings, and was interested in having her feelings confirmed, and empathized with. – Me being a man, my first instinct was to try and solve the problem. – "I can try and pass this car" I said. It was going slower than I would have driven, and I was kind of tailgating it. She of course said "no, that’s fine." – Then I remembered that she was using woman speak when she talked with me. So, I said "Yea, that would be funny, you guys were like "Ryan was so cool to give us a ride into town", but if you got stuck here you would be like "Ryan is an asshole for getting us stuck". – Kind of sort of lightened the situation.
By this far, you realize that I had driven us all into town for a little tour of Sitka. We checked out the Russian Orthodox Church. Beth asked questions of Father Joseph, who delivered a detailed and verbose explanation of the history of the church, while answering Beth’s questions. He was very knowledgeable, and one could tell, he was very devoted to his faith. The Orthodox Church is interesting. – Your homework assignment is to read about it. – Then again, everything interests me. Sitka was the Russian capital of the North American region that Russia ruled over prior to selling it to the United States.
Then we walked to a museum, and then back to the car for the ride back to the Ferry. I gave Laura my e-mail and web site in case they were interested in checking it out.
Then I tooled back into town, and checked out some hill that the Russian Sale of the land took place on. Walked around, looked at cemeteries, and public docks, and got information about stuff I wanted to do tomorrow, like Kayaking, and Museum, and Raptor fixer uppers, and stuff. – I think I will kayak to some of the nearby islands and such. – The forest service dude said Sitka was the place to do it.
Then got groceries, and headed to this campsite.
August 15, 2001 Aboard the M.V. Le Conte in port in Sitka AK.
I was definitely tired. I ended up sleeping in until 10:30. I was kind of pissed when I woke up, because I had wanted to have the option of seeing some sites, and doing some paddling during the day. By the time I woke up, and got on the road it was heading towards 11:00PM already. ˝ the day gone, and this was my only full day in Sitka. Bummer.
But things ended up working out all right. From the campground, I headed north back towards the city center. On the way, I was kind of debating whether I should head straight for the Kayak rental place, or do some things prior to it. I thought that I would be good if I made it there some time near 12:00PM, or 1:00PM. Then I would have almost ˝ day to kayak. So, I figured that I would be doing a little speed site seeing prior to that. I stopped by the A. R. C. (Alaskan Raptor Center) primarily since it was on the road back towards town, and secondarily since I thought it would be a cool thing to see.
It turned out to be a little less interesting than I thought it was going to be. I was interested in seeing the raptors in the various stages of rehabilitation. One could not see any of the raptors that were being nursed back to health. I guess now that I think about it, it’s probably for good reason. – The less contact they have with humans the better I suppose. I guess I was just thinking what I would like to see when I was there. It turned out that the most interesting things to see were the birds that were permanently disabled such that they could not be released back into the wild. – There were several of them. There was a Red Tailed Hawk, two Bald Eagles, a Golden Eagle, an Osprey who was partially blind from malnutrition as a youth, a pair of barn owls one who had a wing that healed incorrectly and the other who could fly, but not silently, a pair of smaller owls, a few Ravens, and several other raptors.
It was sad to see the birds in this condition, kind of unable to fend for themselves, and stuck in cages. – I guess if I was an animal and I had the choice of this or a zoo, I might prefer this. Some of the most common injuries that the animals had were running into powerlines, cars, malnutrition as a baby, etc.
When the center got a new bird, they evaluated it for a while, then sent it to Montana where they had flight rehabilitation center, then if it was found that they would be able to fly, they were sent back here, and released. The flight rehabilitation building that they had here had collapsed under snow. They were raising money to be able to rebuild it. Thus the entrance fee was 10 dollars. Kind of steep for what I saw. I would expect that normal entrance would be like 5 or so, but I felt fine about donating that much to help them rebuild the center. They also had some interesting exhibits inside about rehabilitating feathers. If a feather is broken off, they find a doaner feather, and cut them so they will be able to match up, then they take a toothpick, and carve it so it will fit inside of each of the feathers. Then they glue them together.
When in captivity, the birds’ talons get sharp and long, so they have to be clipped prior to releasing them back into the wild. There are four distinguishing characteristics of a Raptor. These are: talons, superior eyesight, curved beaks, and I think the last is that they are meat eaters. The four families of raptors are hawks, eagles, kites, and owls. The largest proportions of animals that the Alaska Raptor center gets are bald eagles. If a person was sitting on one end of a football field reading a newspaper, and an eagle was sitting on the other end, it could read the bylines, if it could read of course.
Anyway, the most interesting thing there was one of the miniature owls that was raised by people. It thought it was human. They tried to release it twice, and it would dive bomb picnic tables, and get into peoples food and make mating calls at women. – It was a male, and perfectly able to fly, but they couldn’t release it because it thought it was human. They had tried to release it twice, and it just became a nuisance. Too Bad, maybe they could get a raptor psychologist to help it out.
The next thing I did was head to the Museum. It was about 12:15, and I thought I could do this in 45 minutes, and head over to the Native Dancers that were doing a presentation at 1:00PM. – I walked into the museum, and placed my credit card on the desk. The woman who was on the phone, said to the person on the other line, "Hold on one second", and said to me "I’m sorry, we are not equipped to take credit cards.
So, I got back in my car, and made my way to the Native Tlingit dance hall. I got there around 12:30 or so and walked up. They didn’t take credit cards for purchases less than 20.00 dollars, and I didn’t have enough cash. So, I spent the next 15 minutes looking for, and withdrawing cash from an ATM. I walked back, and got my ticket. Then I asked them how they felt about the tour boats, and of course they said, "We love them", citing the income that the cruises bring. – I thought to myself that they probably thought I was on one of the cruise ships, and gave me the polite answer. – I certainly wouldn’t be happy about the multitudes of tourists that come into town. Maybe not.
I went back to my car, and made myself a quick sandwich, then walked back into the dance hall. The Mcee was a man, but he sounded like a woman. He had a very high pitched voice, and kind of sounded like he was speaking after he had inhaled helium. He gave a little welcome, and then someone on a microphone gave a little story about why the Native Tlingit dancers dance, and a dancer dressed as a raven came out, and danced around a little, while the speaker spoke.
Then the first dance, a celebration dance, started. – It was basically a large group of people jumping around, and moving to a drum cadence. – I was not impressed. Then the second dance, which was an invitation dance started, and it was very very similar to the first dance, but it was a raven dance, the dancers danced around the fire pit, and invited the audience to dance with them. I danced with them. Again, I was not impressed. The third dance was an exit dance where they did kind of the same thing as the first two dances, and danced out of the building. I was not impressed by this dance either.
My impression of this dance group, and this environment in Sitka was not a positive one. The dances seemed watered down "tourist versions" of the real Native Dances. – The audience talked and gooed and gushed when younger children were dancing. – The Mcee knew this, and said "We don’t mind if they mess up, as long as they are dancing, and AREN’T THEY ADORABLE!!" – It made me sick. It was totally about money, and I felt the performances were watered down. – The Native Dancers that I saw when I was in Glacier National Park in 1997 were miles and miles ahead of these folks. It made me sad to see actually.
Then I headed to the Biadarka Boats facility and inquired about renting a kayak for the rest of the day. When I got there it was about 1:45. I filled out the paperwork, and spoke with the women who was working the desk, and talked about a paddle plan. I decided that I would go north, and check out the Apple Islands, and Galitano Island, then head out a little into the ocean and check out some other islands on the way back.
In the brochure, the cost of renting the kayak was 35.00 dollars for ˝ day. I thought for sure that they would also charge me for rental of a paddle, spray skirt, and a lifejacket. When I asked about this I was pleasantly surprised when I heard "It’s all included". – I said "Cool, you guys rock!" – My Kayaking experience in Sitka was definitely the pinnacle of my experience while here. – As soon as I got on the kayak, I felt strong, and very capable. I headed swiftly in a straight line towards the apple Islands. It took me about an hour to get there, and I was surprised a little by the distance that it was. It seemed like to me that I would be able to get there in ˝ that time, but not so.
Once there, I was very excited. I kind of hung out on the weather side of the first island, and had a power bar, and some water. It was nice just to relax and look at the island. I pulled out the map, and kind of got my bearing a little. I was in the first island of the Apple Island group. There was no way I was going to be able to make it all the way around Galitano Island in the time that I had remaining, but I decided to check out a cove on Galitano, and head back out towards the ocean on the way back in. I had to be back with the Kayak at 5:30, so my time was limited, even though if I had made it there earlier, I would have had a full 5 hours. – I left at about 2:30, so I only had about 3 hours to play with.
I felt like I was sufficiently far enough away from other people. The sounds of traffic, and other ships were none. All I really heard were the sounds of myself paddling along. As I was cruising around the first group of Apple Islands, I passed by the backside of one. There was a little house that someone had built, with a little skiff tied up about 20 feet out in the water. It must have been cool to live there I thought. – It was however, on National Forest land.
Then rounding the backside of the first Apple Island, and heading along the shore side of the next, I went by a little outcropping of rock in the water. I was excited to see starfish hanging out on it, and the rock beneath. – I was a little nervous though, because I didn’t want to hit the rock hard enough to capsize myself, or to damage the boat, so I was a little skittish when I got up on it, and stopped paddling.
Things were ok though, and because of the refraction of light, it seemed like the bottom was a lot closer than it actually was. I checked by touching the bottom with the paddle. I cruised by the outcropping, and turned around to swing by it again to get a closer look, and to take a picture. I got a couple neat ones of some orange and purple starfish. Tres’ cool.
I then headed towards the inlet on Galitan Islands. It took about 15 minutes to get there from the Apple Islands. This is where I got much more comfortable seeing, and being close to the bottom. I navigated the little inlet, and beached the kayak. Then I walked around the beach a little, stretched my legs, and emptied my bladder. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. It is a nice feeling, because it’s like being isolated in a car, but it’s much faster, and kind of a quicker fix. – I really liked it. I took some more pictures, and headed out.
I decided to round the Ocean side of the Apple Islands group, and check out some more that were closer to the water. About ˝ to them, I saw a hump / fin breaking the water in little rhythmic succession. A porpoise! I paddled over to it as quickly as I could. Banging the side of my kayak as I went. – I wasn’t 1/100th as graceful as it in the water. I was slightly afraid, and excited at the same time. I wanted to get close to see it, but I didn’t want it to capsize me. The closer I got the more this feeling escalated. I kept seeing it’s fin break the water. I was about 20 feet away when I saw it for the last time, it was at that point, that I stopped paddling, and just floated in it’s direction.
Among the seaweed floating in the water, there was no porpoise hump. Bummer. I sat there for another 3 minutes or so, and eventually saw it again about 100 yards away doing the same thing heading away from me. It was cool nonetheless.
From there, I headed out towards the Oceanside Island group, and checked them out a little. I didn’t head out all the way to the weather side of them, because my time was running out. So, I kind of checked out some that were between them and the Apple Islands. I paddled between them, and looked at some more interesting starfish and sea anonemes. I passed some more outcroppings with about 12 seagulls on them. I was grateful that none of them decided to give me a present.
More gulls were behind me towards the water Ocean screeching and carrying on. It looked like there might have been a sandbar, or just an area that the gulls were enjoying towards the water. At this point, I had about 45 minutes or so to make it back to the harbor. – I paddled swiftly. Unfortunately, I wasn’t used to all this upper body exercise, and my shoulders got a little fatigued. Actually, my shoulders, abs, triceps, and biceps were all burning when I made it back to port.
The rental of the kayak came complete with a map of the islands that I checked out earlier, as well as a backup paddle, a spray skirt, a life jacket and three flares. – This was cool, because it kind of made me feel a little more secure, and it was cool to know that I had flares to shoot off if I needed to.
On the way back, I thought "What if I saw a dead body in the water?" – I would totally shoot off the flares then. Then when they came out, they would ask "Are you OK?" – I would say "I’m fine, but there is a dead body floating in the water here, and I am a little freaked out by it." – That would be a good excuse to shoot the flares.
But since I didn’t see anybody floating, they probably had already sunk. I had to keep working my way back to the dock. When you are on open water, and there are not a lot points of reference it seems like you are going a lot slower than you really are. Because of this, and because my muscles were kind of atrophied, I had problems going in a straight line. I thought I was going slowly, so I kept trying harder to push the kayak and myself. When I finally got to the docks, and saw how fast I was actually going, I realized that this was probably why I was pulling to the right. I think if I had just relaxed a little more, I would have been able to make it into port in approximately the same time, and had a lot more juice left.
As it was, I was not very efficient with my paddling, and got continually frustrated as I went along. I would paddle for a bit, and end up heading right, then do one strong long sweep with the right to point me back towards the left. This got to be too annoying after a while, so I relented and put the rudder down. It was a lot easier, but I felt too much like I was cheating, and pulled it up to make myself steer without it.
I finally made it back to port, after crossing a large cruise ship. Thankfully, I crossed it while I was in the no wake zone. Otherwise I would have been nervous about the wake that it pushed after I crossed it. As it was, it left very little wake in the no wake zone. A little fishing motor boat left more than it did, which I crossed right after. Still it was nothing to annoy me.
I finally made it back to the dock, and got out of the kayak. It was about 5:40 or so. I was cold, and wet. Unfortunately, from the start to the Island, I didn’t cinch up the spray skirt, so my shorts, and the bottom of my shorts got significantly wet. My sandals were wet also from getting out on the island. Also, my hands and lower arms were wet from the splashing in the ocean, also my hat from the dripping of the paddles. So, I was cold and wet.
I headed back up to call the shop to let them know I was finished. I first changed, and dropped my wet clothes on my taneau cover in the back of my car. Earlier the woman in the kayak shop had a long sleeve shirt on. When she came down to help me pull the boat out of the water, she only had a sports bra on, and she was jacked. I mean her shoulders and triceps were built like a Mac truck. – Huge, Diesel even, I was impressed, but understood that she must have paddled a lot. I asked her where a good place to get a beer was, and she directed me to a place back in town near her shop.
On the way, I saw Craig, who I met on the boats, and who has been in the same ports as me since Petersburg. So, I stopped him and we chatted a bit about what we did during the day. – Then we were both hungry, so we agreed to head over to a bar near the shop and get some food. I got a Clam Chowder Soup Bread bowl, which was spectacular, it came with a salad which was quite tasty. We also split some shrimp cocktail. That was good too. I had maybe a beer and ˝. But I felt it when I started typing this. I think 1 beer is about enough for me. Too much more than that, and I feel it.
Craig had two younger brothers, one was starting college in Rochester, and the other was traveling around the Southwest with Craig’s dog, which was a black lab, and Border collie mix. He said "She has about a 40 word vocabulary." Craig was an attorney in Austin Texas, and got sick of working. So he had been doing volunteer work the last year, and decided to head up to Alaska to check it out. He seemed like a decent guy. ˝ way through our dinner conversation, I said something like "Girls are kind of one of the motivating factors along my trip", and he said "Well, I’m gay, so I can’t really relate."
It kind of surprised me a little, but I had a sneaking suspicion from when we first met. No biggie, but it did make me feel a little different. I was glad that I had expressed my sincere interest in the opposite sex, so there were no illusions about anything.
After we finished dinner, I headed to the Library and read my e-mail. I had to read it using telnet to the pop3 port. It was kind of cumbersome, but I waded through most of the junk mail, and read a couple interesting notes from people. Then I headed back to the ferry terminal.
The ferry got into port around 8:30, but because of the tides, we weren’t departing until around 12:30AM. So, I got here, around 9:30, bought my ticket, and boarded the ship. The purser is cute, although a little older. We will be going through two little towns on the way to Juneau. One at around 3:00, and the other near 8:00AM or so. I think we get into Juneau around 2:45. – We make two stopovers in Angoon, and Hoona. Both are Native towns that have little to offer in the ways of tourism.
We get into the first around 5:30AM. I don’t know if I will be up. The second is a little later. I will take my bike into town, to get a little of the local feel.
I just talked with John Colombo who is one of the officers on this boat. He complained about the ratio of women to men up here, it’s about 10 to 1. He went to Cuba to find his wife. He is about 3 weeks away from getting her to move into the states. – He said "I’m 26 years older than she is, but I am going to have the prettiest wife in all of Alaska."
He had an interesting perspective on a lot of things. He asked me to "fill him in on what’s going on back east", and the global recession that’s going on. – He has a ˝ Cherokee kid up north, and three ˝ native kids in Juneau. Of that former wife, he said the following. "I married a native woman, and she made my life a Raging Sea, but I was lonely, and didn’t know any better… The kids are alright though."
She made my life a raging sea. I think I am going to start using that. Hilarious
August 15, 16,17 2001 Undeveloped parking area near Fish Creek in Douglas, AK (Juneau)
Hooo. Again, last couple days have been long. The ride from Sitka to Juneau was claustrophobic. The M.V. LeConte is a much smaller ship than the ferries that I have ridden up till now. In fact, it is the smallest ship in the Alaska Marine Highway System’s fleet. I definitely noticed this.
After typing I tried to sleep in various places on the boat. One being the Solarium, the solarium is the top deck, and is open to the weather on one end, and has kind of green tinted windows. I think this is to make it feel like a sauna… I started on the port side, but left immediately after another person in that area fell asleep. He snored worse than Devin Floyd.
Then I moved to the Solarium on the Starboard side. The two sides were divided by the engine room. It was ok as far as my criteria, (little noise annoyances, little light annoyances, fairly comfortable), but the temperature was giving me problems. It came back to my sleeping bag again. Too warm, and otherwise too cold. I really couldn’t get comfortable for a long time. Then finally after tossing and turning for an hour and ˝, I nodded off. Then about 2:00AM, they turned on the heat lamps. – Back to utter agony. The heat lamps were turned on to make the area warmer, but they made it not warmer, but unbearable. So, I am getting a 150 degree heat lamp feel, and a –20 degree breeze. I couldn’t deal.
The next place was next to the elevator from the Car Deck next to the entry way to the forward lounge. – This was nice and dark, and reasonably comfortable. (I had my Thermarest, sleeping bag, and pillow in each of these places. – In the Solarium, I had placed it on a lounge chair, here I was on the floor. ) But, the ferry was full, and there were two very annoying children who kept squealing and yelling regardless of their mother constantly "shhing them", and much to my, and I’m sure other passengers chagrin. I got about a half an hour rest when mom took them to the cafeteria. I think now it was around 4 or 5 AM. At 6:00AM they came back, and other passengers started moving around, so I figured I would try the solarium again.
I think at some point, maybe 5:00ish, we came to a port, and the car deck was open. I went down and had breakfast, even though I wasn’t super hungry. Then I came back up. I’m not sure if I took a shower then or earlier, but I think it was then, because I put my towel back in the car after I was done. –
Then I came back in, and was still exhausted so I tried the Solarium again. I thought maybe outside in the exposed area, but that was open to the elements and if the sun came out probably impossible to sleep in. On the edge of the Solarium there was a little space, and I set up there. Of course people were up and about and constantly up. This in turn kept me up also. – But I managed to get maybe an hour or so.
We had another stop in Hoonah. I went down to my car, and unpacked my bike and went for a ride in town. I took a bunch of pictures of things, but I think Hoonah was probably the smallest port I had visited along my trek. It looked very depressed and much like any dying former fishing / logging port. I got back on the ship after cruising the town, and taking some interesting shots. Most notably of a gentleman who looked like a zz topper, underneath a sign that said "No pet’s on grass". It was funny. He seemed cool though.
Back on board I noticed the claustrophobia. No one had gotten off in Hoonah, and several people and cars had gotten on. It was 5 hours to Juneau. There were very little comfortable places on the ship that one could be alone. Save for the forward outside area that was exposed to the weather. It was quite cold and windy. But I passed about 2 hours out there looking for marine life. It was quite plentiful, and often times, I walked from one side to the other spotting porpoises playing in the water.
Craig the dude from Austin was also on the ship. He spent a lot of time talking with a woman who was a National Forest woman from a previous ferry. I didn’t talk too much with them. – Kind of in a veggie state most of the way. I also finished "Into the wild", and didn’t have replacement material. – Except for the lonely planet guide which I read a lot of about Juneau, including this place.
I then talked with a guy who I would say did not have a large mental capacity. I had a tough time talking with him. He kind of talked like Tarzan, without a lot of conjunctions, adverbs and adjectives. He used simple basic sentences. I then walked up front and spent some more time in the wind on the bow.
Eventually we pulled into Juneau around 3:00PM. A positive of the ride was that the weather was gorgeous the whole way. Sunny and nice. For about 30 minutes prior to coming into port, Craig and I talked about Rock Climbing. He was a climber. I also talked about women again, and he talked about a gay ski rally in Whistler or something.
Then his friend the Forest Ranger came up and I talked with her about my camera. Also about cool things to do in Juneau. She was nice and very outgoing. I took a picture of them. The boat had many native people on it. At one time, the purser made an announcement "Please make sure you are aware of where your children are, at all times. Some are jumping up and down near the railings, and it is very dangerous." This kind of made me sad.
I forgot to mention that I talked with a couple, one from NYC, and the other from Washington who were camping around, and who had just done Glacier Bay. – They recommended renting kayaks to do it, I signed up for the Spirit of Adventure Day tour I think because I was chicken.
In Juneau I drove to town, and checked it out. My first impression was that it seemed like it could handle the tourism better than Ketchikan. The infrastructure was in place to handle 4 tour boats at once. Not like the insane mob that descends on Ketchikan when the boats are in harbor. A little safer and better. The town reminded me of Ithaca, San Francisco, and a little bit like New Orleans. It had a strange unique flavor to it. But the tourism impact seemed much less than in Ketchikan.
There was no all day free parking in the city limits. On the streets it was limited it was only hour or two hour parking, then there were some pay parking lots and stuff. More rules than Ketchikan. Juneau is the Capitol of Alaska, so there is a lot of Government offices and jobs in the city. Downtown though is teeming with vagrants, and I’m sorry to say the majority of them are Natives. I saw one man lie down in the middle of the street on a sewer drain. Most of the people around him knew him and yelled at him to get up. This was in the middle of the day.
I spent some time at the visitor center discussing Glacier Bay and methods of exploring it. I had decided to do it, even though it was a big expense. They gave me some information, and directions to an airline. Then I found the Alaska Airlines office in one of the Juneau hotels, a very helpful woman said I should find out when I can register for the tour before booking the flight. – She also said the fare was a "walk up fare" meaning that I could walk up to the ticket counter the day of the flight and get the same rate. – I asked if the flights ever fill up, and she just about laughed at me. "The flight is only 15 minutes long, and they only continue to fly it to keep the mail contract with Wrangell and Petersburg. That’s why the fare is so cheap.", she said.
So, I headed down to Goldbelt tours and signed up for the Glacier Bay "Spirit of Adventure" tour for Friday. – I wouldn’t be able to make it out to Gustavus tonight, because it was already 4:30, and the flight was at 5:20. I hadn’t packed, or had enough food anyway, so I decided tomorrow I would fly out and camp in Glacier bay campground. Then Friday I would do the Sprit of Adventure. – I hoped the weather held out. It ended up not raining on the boat too much, but it did in Juneau on Friday.
After I made reservations, I walked back to my car and decided what to do. – After about 10 minutes of pondering I decided to walk into town and scope it out. On one of the cross streets I bumped into John (I think his name was that) from the Wrangell Anan bears tour. – We walked to the "Imperial" and grabbed a beer. – Then to a Russian place to have dumplings. I met Margaret and liked talking with her. Then I got ice cream next door to the Russian place, and met Margaret later after she was done with work, and we chatted more. – Then we went to a bar and chatted more. It was getting quite late, and we were both tired. She said I could spend the night at her place, on the futon. I was very thankful, and we were off.
Last night I was up late hanging out with a girl I met in Juneau in a Russian dumpling place. Her name is Margaret. Me and that guy that I went on the Anan Bears tour happened to see each other in downtown Juneau, just as I was walking around. He and I exchanged pleasantries, then walked to the "Imperial" for a beer. It was a definite "joint". The bartender was a Rough and Gruff female with a biker shirt on, and a scratchy voice from years of smoking. I bought us a couple Rainer’s (They were actually kind of watery) almost like a semi dark Coors light. I only drank ˝ of it. As we were hanging out chatting, I told him about Wieke. I miss her. I miss speaking French + improving my mind. I hope she misses me, but I am not sure. As we were sitting there, a native Klingit came in and was immediately told to leave by the bartender. They got into a little verbal battle, culminating in her saying "Don’t do anything stupid, there are a lot of witnesses here". She again told him to leave, then said "I’m going to call the cops". He evidentially didn’t believe her until she walked to the phone and started dialing. Then he turned around and left. Apparently he was a little drunk, and talking to a woman who wasn’t interested in him, or his advances.
A little while later, we were still talking. John was a good natured guy, kind of Rigid + Interested in Schedules. He was actually reading a periodical based on socio – economic policy or management or something else. I had no interest in it, so I kind of ignored it.
As we were sitting there, I noticed four bins full of little packets that the bartender kept selling. I asked her what there were + she responded "Pull Tabs, It’s not gambling, because that’s illegal in Alaska" – "Just like gambling is illegal in Bushwood", I thought. A portion of the benefits from the pull tabs go to charity. She said "there are different odds for each of them". I also noticed on the register that the last entry was $100.00, I wondered if this was for the pull tabs…
I said "Give me one of tour favorites", She said "ok" and rang up my dollar bill. John (I think that’s is his name) said "You could win $400 dollars", I responded "If I win 400 dollars, I will give you, as I gestured towards the bartender $100.00 of it. I said "I’m loosing a dollar, and it’s not really a big deal." Sure enough, I pulled each tab + won nothing. It wasn’t as fun as the scratch off ones in NY. We talked a little with the Musician who was going to back up the headliner tonight, then decided to head down to the road + get some grub.
John was having a tough time deciding between "Russian dumplings" and a nicer meal down the way. We walked to the Russian place and looked at the menu. The dumplings were 5 dollars. I said "That sounds good to me, let’s Rock". The place was kinda empty, so I struck up a conversation with the woman who was working there. She told us a story about her propane tank blowing up when she used to live in Gustavus. It was funny because she was so animated about it _ long winded. I wished I had a camera to get tape it.
The place was awesome. Nice Round + square tables. With plastic covering on them. The wall coverings were painted nice funny colors. There were three large street level windows along one side but the best part was the huge record collection. It was mostly old stuff obviously, with Patsy Klein, Genesis, John Denver, Chicofsky, Arlo Guthrie, and yes, Johnny Cash. It was paradise on earth.
We talked some more with the hostess while we finished our dumplings _ the were surprisingly good. I didn’t like the Styrofoam containers they came in, they were non cfc thought.
-- End of airport.
So, we talked, and I found out she was done at 9:00PM. John left, I hung out some more, then left and came back at 9:00PM. We hung out in the park and talked about global economic policy, and the threat of nuclear war. – She was (is) the most analytical woman I have ever met. Very smart also. She smokes though, so that stinks. She is not in College and working now just at the Russian Place.
She explained to me in great detail her opinion on why we should be concerned about the conflict in the Middle East. When she was finished, I was quite convinced.
We went to a bar, and listened to the live band, then talked about my camera, while she tried to analyze it. She had a tough time because she used to work in a photo lab, and couldn’t conceptualize the development process.
Then we were both tired, so she invited me to come to her place to spend the night on her futon. When we got there, her roommate and boyfriend were on the futon sleeping. I felt awkward holding my sleeping bag, pillow, and toothbrush having to kick them up to their bed. Margaret didn’t though which made things easier.
We stayed up very late until 3:00AM, and talked about this and that, and showed each other our laptop computers. Then I went to bed, and slept until around 10:30. Margaret was intense. When she was saying something smart, it was very smart, but when she wasn’t she sounded like she was making fun of somebody dumb, like maybe cooter on the dukes of hazard, and she kind of sounded like it.
Thursday the 16th.
Next day, I woke up and read a little u.s. news and world reports. Then said goodbye, and got her number to call her Saturday when I got back. I went to the grocery to buy stuff for camping. Then into Juneau. I bought my Ticket to Gustavus, then went to the following: - Riverside park, the Oldest Russian Orthodox church, The City Museum, the State Capitol, the governors mansion, a bronze bear statue, and Margaret’s work to visit her.
Museum was mostly about the gold rush. Small. The Russian church was nicer than the one in Sitka. The "Father" was funny and good-natured. He explained the three crossed cross. Top is for Christianity? Second is to represent the crucifixion, and third that is tilted is to say that you have free will, and if you decide hell, you go there, heaven you go there. Riverside park was teaming with tourists off the cruise ships. State Capitol was interesting. A lot of history and photographs.
Then drove to Airport, and got my stuff together for the trip to Gustavus. – In order to remember everything while packing, I kind of repeated over and over each thing. It worked pretty good. – I forgot to repeat shoes, and thus forgot them. The flight was delayed because of mechanical failure from Seattle. – So instead of leaving at 5:20, it left at 5:50. Flight over was beautiful, Amazing. I got beautiful shots of the mountains. Probably the most picturesque flight I have taken in recent history.
Took the bus from Gustavus. Chatted with Hotel manager. He was in Juneau contesting a ticket they received from the national Park service about something. Road to Glacier Bay was being repaved, and the bus driver was sarcastic and annoyed by it. – Government dollars hard at work. – There is really very little traffic from the Airport to Glacier bay, and not enough to justify a paved road was his point.
When I got there, I paid the guy the 10 dollars. – Then walked to the ranger office to register a campsite. Watched part of a backcountry movie, and then was alerted by a senior ranger that I didn’t have to watch it. A woman who came in after me registered before me. She was alone and also camping. I started up a conversation, got my campsite, and asked her if she wanted to walk down together.
We had a very nice time talking, and she was very easy to talk with. Reminded me a little of my dad’s graduate students somewhat. Kind of brainy and smart, little less social manners though. Quite nice. Her name was Abby. (Short for Abigale) – I think I left her a note saying Gabby.
We chatted, I carried some of her stuff, walked on the beach, found a campsite, set up camp, ate on the beach, watched the sunset, chatted, walked to the lodge, and then back, then went to bed.
Friday August 17.
Glaciers were cool. I woke up to hear a boat leaving at 6:30. I thought it was mine. On the paper it said 7:30, not if this was meeting or leaving time, but I thought I was ok. Abby got up and walked with me to bear cache.
Boat was ok. Glaciers were super cool. Not as impressive as I had built them up to be, but very cool nonetheless. We went to the coolest one first. I would have liked to go the other way. Lunch was ok, met a doctor from Switzerland, and a retired computer engineer from Ratheon, also an Asian family who had a canon digital camera. The guy kept doing karate chops with his daughter. Slightly odd.
Then I came back tired, said goodbye to Abby, and flew to Juneau. Got in, off the plane, paid parking and drove here. It rained in Juneau. Not in Glacier bay. Good Night.
I think I noted some more stuff about the glaciers in my notebook, that I haven’t had the time yet to transcribe to electronic media yet. Suffice to say, the boat had three decks. The first two were closed in, and comfortable. The bottom one had a bar. The top deck was open to viewing, and a National Park Service woman joined us on the ride, and mentioned about the marine life that we saw. The captain of the boat was female, and nice. The crew was also very nice. The 145 dollar ticket included lunch, soup, and all you could drink hot drinks, as well as a commemorative mug.
The Marjorie Glacier was the first we saw, and the most spectacular. It calved twice when we were watching it. It was absolutely amazing, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera ready, and missed if calving both times. It was huge, and long, and impressive. We were there for a good 45 minutes watching it.
We also saw several other tidewater glaciers, and marine life. Bears on the shore, Pigeon Guillamots, Tuffted Puffins, sea otters, no Orca’s though. I had some nice conversations with the folks that I mentioned above. Raytheon guy built missile defense systems, and was retired from it, exploring Alaska. The Swiss doc was enjoying the cruise, while his wife hiked some crazy trail. He bought us each a glass of wine.
Maybe later, I will add what I typed, if I can find it.
August 18th,19th,20th 2001 Juneau, AK.
For various reasons I haven’t kept up in the past couple days.
The 18th was Saturday. I woke up in Douglas in an undeveloped parking area near Fish Creek. There is a wildlife preserve there also. I had to throw a deuce bad. It was raining also. I walked down the trail a bit, dropped trow, and let it go. After I was done, I walked off into the bushes, to find a good spot to bury it. I did so, dug a pit + broke my shovel, walked back, picked it up, then placed it in the toilet. Covered it up and filled the hole. Then washed my hands in the creek, and was ready to go.
From listening to the radio, there is a Salmon Fish Derby going on this weekend. Some young 12 or 13 year old was winning on Saturday with a 34 lb. King Salmon. He was still winning on Sunday when I listened again. – I was up early, and headed into Juneau. I found a café that had Chai Late’s, and worked on my web site a little bit. I called Margaret around 10:00, and spoke to Maya, her roommate. Margaret and Maya were out late, and Margaret was still in the sac. I kept working until 11:30, then called again while driving in that direction. She was still in the sac. I left my number, and decided to check out the Mendenhall Glacier.
I parked, and had a wonderful lunch of Pita, Cheese, Tomato, Cucumber, Hummus, Lettuce, and Mustard. This has now become my favorite sandwich. Surpassing the Dagwood that I have gotten sick of eating. I will probably eat this for another 4 weeks or so, then get sick of it, and try something else.
Then I headed up to the visitor center, and asked about getting close to the Glacier. The East Glacier Trail the best option according to the greeter dude. It was 3.5 miles, and had some great views. According to him, "This is the closest you will get to the glacier unless you go to the other side, and the hike down is sketchy." I thought that was fine, and headed out on the East Glacier Trail. Later I found out that there is a trail that you can take to get down to the glaciers edge next to the waterfall. – I was bummed later, that I didn’t find it. I did that hike, and at the top, there was a spur called the Nugget Creek Trail which I took for about a mile or so. It seemed to not go anywhere interesting, so I eventually turned back. Then after descending the other side of the dozen or so switchbacks, down wooden stairs, I was eventually back to the parking lot. It rained for most of the hike, and I had to shed some layers. My pant legs got wet from a waterfall, so I took them off, I got warm from ascending at the rapid pace I did, so I took off my fleece top layer also.
I made my way to the visitor center, which I had avoided before, and found out that the entrance fee to the center was 5 dollars. – Yea right. Then I took a couple pictures, and went back to my car. I checked my voice mail, and had a message from Margaret. She was up and getting in the shower. I got the message around 2:30. – It was near 3:30 now. She said "Just come over." So, I did.
I spent the afternoon at her place watching her play "Sony Play station II, Golf." It was kind of amusing, but I wasn’t very excited about it, and actually kind of surprised that she continued to play it when I got there. – I guess she was really into her games. This went of for several hours, and I asked if I could take a shower. She said "Sure", so I did. She was still playing when I got out.
Eventually Maya and Scott got home. Her roommate, and her roommate’s boyfriend. Both Maya and Margaret where very intelligent, strong, women. Maya definitely wore the pants in her relationship with Scott. I got the feeling that from my earlier conversations with Margaret that she was extremely intellectual, and had an opinion on most everything.
Still playing golf, Scott and Maya talked with her and each other and watched her play. They all smoked, and it was tough to handle. Earlier when Margaret was playing golf, I was thinking that I could be doing something constructive like typing or something, instead of watching her play. Now I was thinking that I should just leave. – Things picked up though in a bit.
We ordered a pizza, and made a beer run. Then we played Trivial Pursuit. Girls against boys. Girls won. Scott wasn’t much help, and I usually ended up answering most of the questions. He did get one right that I would have gotten wrong. The cat claw question. They have 18. I was guessing 20 or 16. The girls new stuff like the name of Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife, and who wrote the original "Mack the Knife", and things like that.
So, then the game was over, and so were a few beers. Maya and Scott went to bed. Margaret said "I’m going to bed", I asked her if she wanted company. She said "I’m really tired, and got to get some rest." – So, I again slept on the couch.
Sunday 19th Margaret + Maya’s house in "The Valley"
Since I was up until around 3:00AM, I slept until 12:30. I was really surprised that I slept that late when I finally woke up. – A little while later, Margaret woke up, and we chatted briefly. Then she went back to playing Sony Playstation. Maya and Scott took off to do some laundry.
I told Margaret that she was smart, and that she could do whatever she wanted. She said "I just have to figure out what it is that I want to do." – I think that she just needs to get motivated. I don’t know what would do it, but she needs it bad. Sitting in front of a Playstation all day is something I did in high school. – Well maybe more recently than that, but get real.
Margaret had told me a story about their neighbor’s kid R.J. – He was nosy, and had kind of a lisp. I met him Sunday morning when he popped his head in, and said "Hi Neighbor, What are you doing?" Neighbor came out Nay bur. It was funny. The story was about Maya having sex, and her wondering if the Neighbor’s could hear it. RJ’s room was next to Maya’s and Margaret’s was near his parents. The walls were paper-thin. Anyway, R.J. Always says "Hi Neighbor". One time he asked his parents what the noise was coming from Maya’s room, and he was concerned about her safety. Each time it happened, he would want to sleep with his parents.
After this had happened a couple times, Margaret and Maya discussed if they thought their neighbors could hear them. They didn’t think they could. But when R.J. heard Maya he would always go to his parents room, and somehow Ron, RJ'’ dad found out what was going on, because his friend and Maya hooked up. So he knew what was going on.
A couple day’s later Maya and her friend were getting it on, and were being quiet. It was around 6:00PM. She heard RJ say through the wall "Not now Neighbor." – Very funny.
So then Maya and Scott came back and Maya asked if I wanted to join them tonight for a cookout. I said "No". Maya directly looked at me and said "Why not", she was obviously not pleased with my answer. – I started to tell her, then Margaret piped in "He’s going to Haines". I really just didn’t want to waste time watching Margaret play computer games all day long again. So, I was out of there.
I then cruised to the Library and worked on my website for a couple hours until they closed. Then it was 5:00PM, and they were closing. It was raining out, and I didn’t feel at all like camping. I left and thought that I would head to the Hostel, and maybe stay in town tonight. When I got there, there was a long line of people waiting to register. When it finally came to be my turn, there were no more guy spots left in the dorm.
I said "I realize there are no more guy spots, but I wonder if it’s possible that I could just hang out, and use the facilities? – Maybe type a little bit." – She responded, "Unfortunately, we don’t allow that, but fortunately it’s raining, and I’m not about to turn you out. As long as you don’t bother the other hostelers." Then she thumbed to the right and said "The bathroom is down there". I said "Thanks", went out to my car, had my pita dinner, grabbed my laptop and headed back in.
I sat down, and set up my machine at the kitchen table. I was able to plug it in, and had ample room to work on things. – I had a couple brief conversations with the other residents about this or that, and was friendly to a couple people, but I mostly kept to myself, and worked on my site. Several people remarked about my laptop, or my camera and I talked with them about those things, because they were interested.
Then I saw an Asian woman walk by. I recognized her from the Port Hardy – Prince Rupert Ferry. It was Sachi Kadamo. She was on her 13 month trip from Japan. She was flying back to Japan from Vancouver in October. We talked at great length about her plans and my plans, and she made it clear that "I want to go with you". I thought it was kind of forward that she would invite herself in my car for a trip to Denali, but I guess I didn’t really mind.
She had said the same thing when I met her earlier, but this time she was really serious. – She was going to canoe from Whitehorse to Dawson City with another woman she had met, and it was going to take approximately two weeks. This would put our schedules about a week or so off, and we would miss each other in the interior. She seemed to be thinking about it though. Like she would tell her friend no in favor of riding with me.
I kind of had mixed feelings about it. She seemed fun, but it would probably limit my picking up chick potential if she came along. She was attractive also, but I definitely got the idea that there would be no nooky. Anyway, we had some good conversations, and laughed about many things. Then I went back to working on my website.
I worked on it quite a while. Until 12:30 actually. Earlier when the receptionist came around, I said "Anytime you want to kick me out is fine", she responded "No problem, keep going." – The later it got, the more people strolled in, and the more the manager made accommodations to people who didn’t have other options. At around 11:30, a couple with two children came in, and didn’t have reservations. – Sure enough they found spots for them. – Funny how that goes. None for the single guy, but for a family and kids, and "Well find a spot".
When I was getting ready to leave, I asked the manager who was kind of hanging in the living room with a bunch of other people "Is it ok to sleep in my car on the street?" She said "A bunch of us are sleeping in the living room, and you are more than welcome to stay here if you want". "But, if you want to stay in your car, I’m sure no one would say anything, especially with the construction going on." – I didn’t think that I would sleep too well in a room full of people, so I opted for my vehicle. It turned out good too. I got a nice night’s sleep.
Monday 20th, 2001
I woke up on 6th street near the Hostel at around 8:00AM, or so. I sat up in time to watch a plumbing van side swipe a Honda CRV while trying to park. The guy left a note, then called the cops, who came and I think wrote him a ticket. It was amusing to watch. The guy was trying to park in an illegal spot nonetheless, and the hinge on his passenger side van door, clipped the front of the Honda. I looked at it later, and it looked like a good scratch.
I had breakfast, and went into the Hostel to wash my face, and brush my teeth. Each person that stayed there had to do a chore in the morning. The guy that I didn’t envy was mopping the bathroom. That was a bummer chore.
He and his friend were leaving as I was, and I asked them what they were doing today. "We are going to the brewery, and then the Glacier." I had forgotten about the Alaskan Brewery that was in Juneau, and thought about doing it myself today.
The library opened at 11:00Am, and it was 9:30, so I went to the State Museum to kill some time. They had interesting exhibits as usual, but I am totally sick of Museums, and usually don’t get too into each individual exhibit. I kind of speed browse, and take as many pictures as I can, planning of course to look at the pictures later, and read the captions on the photos that I take. I don’t even have enough patience to read the captions on many of the exhibits when I am there.
There were some interesting exhibits on Eskimos, especially their hunting, and gut skin parkas that they wore in their Kayaks to keep dry. In order to curve the frame of the kayak, they would bend it with their teeth. There were teeth marks in the kayak that they had on display. Very interesting.
In addition, there were some cool quilts. Most of the whole upstairs was dedicated to quilts, with some stuff about Russian America, and what was once called Seward’s Folley.
Then I took off, and headed again to the Library. I got an extended parking pass, and stayed there until about 3:30PM. Then went to my car, and ate lunch. I then thought I might get gas, and head to the brewery to see if they were giving tours. In the book it said they were only doing it Tuesday through Saturday. But it was near 4, and I needed a break from typing, so I headed over.
Sure enough, they were open, and giving tours. I took it. It was free. They gave you a glass of beer the second you walked in the door. Pale first, then Amber, then a 3 letter acronym that I can’t remember, then Stout. I liked the Amber and the 3 letter one. The three letter one was E.S.B., which stood for Extra Special Bitter. The tour was nothing special. We didn’t get to see the line, only got a little history about the brewery, and beer bottle collection. They had 1700 bottles, the largest collections have 4000 bottles in them.
The beer was free, and I was flirting with the tour guide. She bent over later, and showed me her hot pink thong, possibly on purpose. I bought a long sleeve tee shirt, because I have been wanting one on my trip, and I kind of liked the one that they had. I am wearing it now as a matter of fact.
Then back to Soapy Sam’s internet café to check out the deal. They had dhcp, and could accommodate my Ethernet. It was 2.50 per 2 hours. I went to the Library, made some online payments, and typed until about 8:45, then headed over to Soapy’s and uploaded my website until about 10:00PM. The development site that I have on my laptop works great. It is super easy to make sure everything is setup right, then just push up what I need. It worked great tonight. I may start working on it more.
I want to do a friends page, and something from Joe and Amy’s wedding. Maybe on the boat tomorrow if I have time, and it’s raining or something. Good Night.
August 21, 2001 – (22nd) Home of Silvia something, that is being housesit by Judy Hall in Haines, Alaska.
Yesterday, I woke up to the sound of an announcement by the M.V. Malapinisma in Auke Bay in Juneau Alaska. The night before, I had slept in the parking lot of the Ferry. I checked in the night before around 11:00PM or so. The ride to Haines was nice. I was able to catch a couple hours sleep in the Sundeck’s Lounge between a couple rows of seats. I had started to sleep in the Forward lounge, then a bunch of people came in that were, forgive the term, Rednecks. The conversation that keyed me in was "I need a cigarette. – YOU JUST HAD ONE! – NO… You just had one, dumbass. Hold the baby, while I go have a cigarette." Very nice. They were loud, and were a couple generations deep.
So, I went upstairs and was much happier with the surroundings. When I woke up, I walked around the boat, and took a shower. It was a nice ship. I liked it much better than the M.V. Kennicott, and WAY better than the M.V. Taku. It was nice, but it was much older than the Kennicott. I thought it was quaint. The perfect size, and had enough areas that you could kind of get lost in, and hide away from people if you wanted.
SO, then I went to the Solarium and kind of hung out a little. I saw a girl I wanted to talk with, but ended up talking with a couple other girls that were kind of cool. They were from the New York City Area. One had just graduated, and was traveling. The other was in pre-med at Colombia. – Their names were Abby, and Anna. – Anna offered a woman she was sitting next to, Judy one of the many books that she had with her, and got in a nice conversation with her. Earlier, Abby, an aspiring sketch artist had sketched a picture of the mountains, and me, and had given it to me as a momento. I had put my name and e-mail on a piece of paper for her, and she for me. – I also gave her my web site in case she wanted to check it out.
The girls were headed for Skagaway. Everyone they had spoken with advised them to go to Haines instead. I had heard Skagway was very touristy. This was confirmed talking with Judy and her friends. They all recommended against going there. Abby and Anna kept saying, "Why aren’t we going to Haines? – Everyone we talk with has told us not to go." – It turns out Judy had a sailboat, and offered to take Anna and Abby sailing if they ever came back to Haines. – So, I piped up, and said "Yea, I could give you guys a ride to Fairbanks if you wanted." – Then, they started thinking about it, and asked me if I was really serious when I offered. I thought about it more, and said "I’m cool with that, as long as you guys are open to compromise about travel plans and such." They responded, "We just don’t want to inconvenience you, are you sure your ok with it?" – And then began the Haines adventure.
This all happened on the Ferry, and once we got to Haines, we had talked more with Judy. She had offered to take the girls sailing, and offered to take me too. I said "Sure, that sounds cool." – Once we got to Haines, I knew that I would have to organize my car to carry two more people, plus all their gear. So, I went to work organizing things, when we got off the boat. The girls had reserved two bus tickets from Skagway to Fairbanks, and they just decided to worry about it later. They called when we got to Haines, and the news was positive. They thought that they could cancel, and take a 10% charge against their credit cards. – This amounted to 40 dollars of the 400. – A good deal in anyone’s book.
After I started trying to get more gear in my car pod, they came up, and said that they would put their stuff in Judy’s truck, and one would ride with her, and the other with me. – I was starting to have second thoughts about taking them to Fairbanks, as far as the sleeping conditions and stuff, but I hoped things would be ok. I think I originally offered because I was just being nice.
When we got into Haines, we followed Judy to the boat to check it out. Haines is perhaps the most picturesque of the ports in Southeast Alaska that I have been to so far. With a population of about 1500 people, it is also one of the smallest. The Ferry terminal was about 4 miles from Downtown Haines. – So we had a short drive to get back into town. The views were amazing. The mountains surrounding Haines are as impressive and huge as those in Juneau, but they seem like they are higher. Most of the peaks are Ice capped, and Judy showed us the tallest one, Mt. Sinclair at about 7000 feet later. It was incredible. The drive went right along the water, there were like no people around, the sun was out, and the views were incredible. The thing about Juneau, is that you are so close to the Mountains, that the town seems smaller, and slightly claustrophobic. In Haines, the Mountains are further away, that you have the sense that it would take 20 or 30 minutes of driving to get to the base of one. It is also a comfortable thought to know that you can drive to and from Haines, and that you are not bound to use the ferry to get somewhere. The drive from the Ferry terminal truly effected me. It was an incredible sensation to see the beautiful mountains along the channel. It was strange though, I hadn’t seen anything like it, and was kind of overwhelmed. – Plus I had Abby with me in the car, and we were following Judy. I think if I could go back, I would totally have stopped a couple times just to enjoy the view.
Once there, the dock was about a block from downtown, we looked at Judy’s boat. It was nicer than the one that I had sailed in Seattle. A little longer, and the inside was much bigger. The wood finishing work was very impressive. Judy seemed knowledgeable about sailing. She told us about the different sails, and the different gadgets on the boat that were used to do specific things. She seemed very much like she was into sailing, and was genuinely interested in taking us out.
We discussed the evening’s agenda. – Judy had suggested an overnight excursion on the boat. We thought this was a smashing idea. I offered that we would pick up the provisions, since Judy was taking us out. I thought that was fair. She had to go check on a cat at the house she was house sitting for a friend. She had just been in Juneau for a week with friends, and in the process of selling her boat to a woman in that area, and had returned home to Haines. Anna, the slighter pre med students at Colombia, Abby, the recent college graduate of History, and I went to the I.G.A. to get groceries.
It was kind of awkward getting groceries, but started working better the more we did. We kind of were all into the same kind of food. Hummus, Vegetables, bagels, Orange Juice, etc, so that was good. They were the type of sisters who made it clear what they wanted, but went about it in a guilt sort of way. Once I figured this out, I understood them better, and was able to better communicate with them. I guess I kind of understood them, because this is the way that my parents often operated when I was growing up. So, I was kind of used to it. We got spaghetti for dinner, bagels, bananas, tomatoes, and orange juice for breakfast. We also picked up a six pack of beer, at the advice of Judy for the trip.
As we were walking back, Abby had to go to the store and buy an extra pair of underwear, because she was that low in clean clothes. So, Anna and I sat in the outdoor lounge area of the local bank, and had a little snack of French bread, Hummus, and Orange Juice. It was quite tasty. Then a little later, Abby showed up, and we ate a little more. The day was beautiful, a little cloudy, but the sun was shining through the clouds on many occasions, and when it came out, one could see the mountains in the distance clearer, and it was amazing.
We walked the two blocks back down to the dock, and since Judy had left the boat open, were able to put the groceries in the icebox. I then walked back to my car and went about properly organizing it to accommodate two other people and their bags. I was re – arranging things for a good hour before Judy came back. But, the good news is that I moved enough gear into the car pod, I hope it is still under 120 lbs., that each of us could put our big packs in the back, and pull the cover over with two people in the car, and the cooler in the back seat behind me. This way, the person in the back could man the cooler, and dispense food and such while in route, so I wouldn’t have to have access to do that. Plus the person in the back could handle grabbing stuff from our bags if we needed it. I am proud of how efficiently and neatly the car was packed actually. It was a good thing.
But it was certainly a long time before Judy came back. Little did we know that she was at her boat waiting for us. We didn’t see her get back, and she didn’t see us sitting in the parking lot waiting for her. We were both waiting for the same thing, but we didn’t see it right in front of our faces.
So, when she finally came back up to look for us, she saw the two girls sitting on a bench, and me fixing a pita for Abby and myself. By this time, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. No longer was it sunny and bright out, but it was closer to 5:00PM, and it was looking darker and dingier as time went on. While we were sitting on Judy’s boat, I even felt a little drizzle. Judy mentioned something about doing the sailing trip tomorrow, but we all decided that we would take the boat out, and see what conditions were like. Then make a decision from there.
The waves were three or four feet high in the channel while operating under power. Judy said that this would improve when we put the sheets up. She seemed quite open to us working and taking responsibility for different things on the boat, that I might consider something that someone more experienced would do. Such as raising the main sail. I did that, and found it very difficult to raise it all the way. I actually got it as far as I could, then forgot to lock it off, and it started falling back down. Judy didn’t tell me that the sail didn’t raise all the way. – It was evident that the bottom of the sail was not tight against the mast, and there was about 8 inches or so of slack at the bottom of the sail that just kind of poofed. I didn’t like this. It seemed to me like it should be ship shape, and it wasn’t.
The weather got inclement, and I wasn’t super comfortable being out in it. I asked Judy if she was comfortable in the weather, and she said "Yea, this is fine, are you comfortable?" – I responded "I’m fine if you are fine." I trusted that she knew what she was doing, and was impressed with the experiences that she mentioned she had sailing to Russia with a crew last summer.
However, I was not impressed with the speed that we were making. Her knot meter said we were averaging about 2 – 3 knots. This was with the main and the jib out, under sail. Not using the motor. I seem to remember that a few short weeks ago I was making 10 – 15 knots sailing with Heather and Steve. I kind of got the feeling that Steve knew a lot more about sailing than Judy did. I kept on going, and things seemed ok though. Judy decided to give Anna a turn at the helm, and she was doing a very good job, especially considering that the wind was very minimal. I think if we had the right sheets up, that we would have been able to do better than the paltry 1 and ˝ to two knots that we were making.
We took a couple turns at going back and forth across the channel to try and steer ourselves into it, but eventually resigned to taking the sheets down, and motoring through. I thought this was cheating a little, but was ok with it. It was getting a little late, and I was getting hungry for dinner.
We anchored, and Judy spent a lot of time messing with the anchor, and trying to get us at the right depth, such that we would be ok with the tide going out tonight. Each hour or so, she went topside to check out how far out we were, and pulled us in by the anchor rope that she had put in the water.
Around 7:45 or so, we started making dinner. We used my little camp stove to cook the pasta and sauté’ some garlic that we dipped French bread into for an appetizer. Dinner was great. The pasta sauce, and the Angel Hair Pasta were delicious. We also had salad with baby carrots, and tomatoes. I also added a tomato to my pasta sauce, as well as some chopped garlic. – It was very yumm. We also had thin mint cookies for desert, which were super tasty too.
We each had a beer with dinner, and that was a fine amount for me. Any more, and I would have gotten a headache. After dinner we just sat around and talked about different things. It was kind of nice, especially not knowing each other, and just finding out neat little thing about each other like the first time that you do have intimate conversations with people who are becoming your closer friends.
It was fun for a while, and then we all went to bed.
Wednesday, August 22, 2001 Aboard the Owyhee of San Francisco, CA.
Amid the shadows and cloudiness that is our subconscious asleep, the kid awoke. He looked at his watch; the numbers on the digital display read 8:20AM. He was still quite comfortable, and ready to snooze indefinitely, so he wrapped his arms around the pillow that Judy Hall had loaned him, and rested his head it’s side again. He was still only semi aware of the scenery passing by through the portals in the 35foot Erickson Sailboat. He found the gentle pitching and bobbing of Tiaya Sanka Bay, soothing. This occurred as the wind and the moons gravity played with the water in channel near Haines, which the new acquaintances had anchored in the night before.
Suddenly, something changed. The smooth soft pitching and rolling that had been going on all through the night suddenly stopped. Something fell, and hit the floor. The door to the head swung open with a crash. In the space of 15 seconds, the kid noticed that there was considerably more pressure on the right hand side of his body as gravity pulled it tight against the wood deck area he was sleeping next to.
He glanced over in the girls’ direction, and smiled at Abby. His defense mechanism for a difficult situation throughout his life had always been humor. Her face showed fear and concern, so the kid smiled at her thinking it would ease her tension. The kid was trusting that Judy, the owner of the boat, knew enough about the tides, sailing, and the area, that things were safe, and that in any second, we would start to bob in the other direction. The boat continued to keel over hard to Starboard, and he heard another crash. Just as he thought "Something is Wrong", and started to get out of bed, he heard another noise. Abby fell off the bed she was on.
"Why are we keeled over like this? Something’s wrong! I don’t like this at all." Judy yelled as she ran through the cabin to the stairs that would bring her weather side on the stern. She was wearing a tee shirt, dirty kahaki pants, and a pair of wool socks. A large hole in the rear of one, bore her right heel for everyone to see. Her hair was in a shambles, and there were swollen bags under her eyes from lack of Rapid Eye Movement. Before she fully removed the door covering to the cockpit area, the kid was up, and following her outside.
"Oh no, we are way too close to shore! This is not good! The low tide isn’t for another two hours. It’s only 8:30AM, low tide isn’t until 10:30AM." She said, in kind of a scared ominous, frustrated not knowing what to do sort of way. The tide was going out, and fast. The kid stood on the second step leading to the weather and outside to the cockpit, and he saw much more land than he did the night before. "Give me the tide chart." Judy said. She sounded like a person beginning to realize the fate of their child, when looking in the face of a doctor who is walking in their direction to give them news of his inability to revive their beloved. The kid grabbed the book from the shelf, and turned back toward the stairs to hand it out to Judy. The sailboat was on it’s side at about a 20 degree angle, which was increasing each second, as the the sun and moons gravity pulled on the water on the other side of the earth. It was getting increasingly difficult to walk in the cabin.
Below the boat, the keel was stuck in the mud. The night before Judy had on several occasions let more rope out on the anchor in an effort to get us closer to shore. The kid thought that it might be possible to pull hard on the anchor, and get the craft unstuck. He frantically ran to the bow and tried in vain to pull on the rope. Seeing his action, Judy, who had been sitting in an effort to keep herself from falling over between the seats in the cockpit with her feet on one side of the and on the other edge, joined him on the bow to try and pull the anchor in. It was a lost cause. The boat was hard aground and tipping over each second.
It was about 8:30 when the kid asked Judy when the tide would come back in. She responded "It’s not low tide for another two hours, at 10:30, and then it will take another hour for it to come back in after that." "So, we will be back on the boat noonish", he remarked. Each of the others kind of stared at him kind of disbelieving what he was saying.
It was time to abandon ship. The girls got in the zodiac first, and Judy tied the jib line from the sailboat to them, so that we could pull it in and get off ourselves. Unfortunately, the rope lead she gave them was not enough to get them to shore, so she had to pull them back in, and tie it to something else.
While she was doing this, he noticed that the girls were wearing nothing but the clothes that they went to bed in. As he knew they were going to be spending a long time on shore, He quickly gathered their backpacks and raingear, and a sleeping bag to keep warm, and passed them out to Judy who was still incapacitated by her fears about her boat being damaged. The kid also changed into shorts, and sandles figuring that he was going to get wet. In an effort of self-preservation, he also quickly grabbed his sleeping bag, and placed all his personal belongings and in his backpack.
He handed these things out to Judy, and as he was passing them out, had a quick notion to grab some of the breakfast foods that they had packed. – He ignored this thinking he was already passing out a lot of things to bring on shore.
When Judy had taken her turn on the Zodiac, she took the backpacks and sleeping bags with her and handed them to the girls. She also untied the zodiac from the pull back line before she took it, so when it was the kids turn to get on and row to shore there was no way for him to pull it back. Judy pushed it hard in the water. And as the tide was in it’s favor, and the distance between the ship and the shore was becoming ever less, the Zodiac came within enough distance of the Owyhee for the kid to grab it.
As he was about to get in, Judy asked him to grab her boots and contact lenses from up in her cabin. It was almost impossible to grab anything, because of the steep angle the boat was in, and because so much equipment had fallen around the cabin. Things that were difficult to access before, were almost impossible to get now. He was able to dig behind a bunch of foul weather bags, and found Judy’s rubber boots, and a contact case that he assumed was hers. He grabbed those, plus the two float coats in the locker across from the bathroom. In addition, he grabbed a radio from a desk at Judy’s request.
He then went out in the cockpit area, and leaned over the deck to retrieve the Zodiac that Judy had pushed his way. He got it with his foot as the girls walked to a log past the high tide line on shore, and Judy stood just beyond the water line 20 feet away watching her boat get more and more stuck. The kid got in the Zodiac with all his gear, and rowed the 20 feet to shore. We were stuck, and shipwrecked in Haines.
Walking around the tidal area was muddy, wet, and slippery. Judy paced back and forth in front of her boat, watching it tilt further and further toward the ground. It was at about 35 degrees now, and there was about 4 inches of water rising up the deck. Judy kept talking, more to herself than anyone else. She kept saying things like. "I’m just so tired, I need some sleep. I haven’t slept in a couple days. I was up late with my friend in Juneau. I’m just so tired, and I couldn’t get any sleep with the rigging making all that noise last night. I thought about getting up and checking how close we were to shore, but I was just so tired."
The more the tide went out, the more it became evident that the boat had stopped tipping over at about 45 degrees. It was resting on the keel and the starboard side hull. This was not good for the boat to have all the weight resting on it’s side this way, but there was really nothing that anyone could do. More time past and Judy was eventually able to walk around the side of her boat. She was resound to make this a good situation though. She decided to clean the side of her boat that was exposed. This was the port side. I got the bucket and sponge out of the back of the cockpit area, and gave them to Judy. She proceeded to clean the port underside of her boat, while I watched. I felt bad, but it wasn’t my fault that the boat had gone aground. After a while of standing in the mud that was covered with water not 5 minutes ago, I made his way to the log that the girls were sitting on, singing.
They knew a bunch of songs, and were singing together harmonizing. It was a nice contrast to the bad feelings that Judy had in regards to her boat. They were singing to bring them out of the funk that they were feeling not having any food, and being cold and wet. It was raining a little. I got a little mpeg of them singing.
At about low tide, Judy was finished cleaning her boat. She came up to our log, and the singing that the girls were into abruptly stopped. They, as well as I were hungry. Judy had written a book on edible plants of Southeast Alaska, and said "Yea, the Natives really had it easy. There are all sorts of edible things around Southeast." So, we searched for elderberries, and spring peas and ate a little of them.
Then we killed time by walking down the shore. I walked on the rocks to avoid getting any muddier than I needed to. The girls and Judy did not. About an hour later, they walked back to the boat. I knew that since it was only 11:15, there was still 45 minutes or so, before we could get back on the boat. So, I was in no hurry to get back, and wait. I went to the end of the point, and took some pictures of myself with the super skyline.
Eventually, I went back, taking a little detour to the office along the way, and went back to the log to sit and watch. Judy got back on first, then Anna gestured to us to come out, and we did. We all got back on, had breakfast, and went back in. ˝ way there, Judy said "Let’s put the sails up", I would have been satisfied to just motor all the way back to harbor. But sailing was fine too.
On the way back, we were heading down wind, Judy put the sails Wing and wing. We were only making about 2 knots. She didn’t know what she was doing, and couldn’t even heave the main sail all the way up to the top. So, it was even a little puffier than it was the day before.
She had major problems getting the anchor back in also. I could tell she was very frustrated when she said "Stuff like this happens all the time." – I’m just so tired. I said, all we need to do is untangle it, and then we can put it away. She said "We can’t it’s in a knot." I continued to feed the anchor chain into the locker at the bow of the boat. Eventually I was able to feed it all in, and Judy calmed down a little.
I sailed a bit on the way back in. It was amusing, but not too exciting after this mornings events. It was a constant effort not to over compensate for the direction, and to adjust to the wind. I think we could have gotten going a lot faster, but the looseness of the ship was causing us to go slower than we would have otherwise.
When we got back, close to harbor Judy went to start the engine and it wouldn’t start. Judy said "One problem after another". There was air in the hoses, and she needed to bleed the engine. Eventually after stopping and starting the motor a couple times, it started, and stayed running. Then we were able to get it into dock and were overjoyed to get off.
Anyway we made it back safe, went to the house Judy is house-sitting, did laundry and showered. Then went out for a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant called the fireweed, and I have been on the computer ever since. It is now the next day. Somewhere near 1:00AM, and I am going to bed. I sent like 10 e-mails to people.