One day, much to my surprise, I got a 1-gallon Ziploc baggie in my mail that had a business card with a picture of a boat on it named "Always Friday." In the baggie was a beautiful, hand-knit muff. Fortunately, the card had a name and email address and when I contacted the mysterious gift giver it turned out to be a reader, named Sue Oldham, of my friend Jo's blog, over at www.alaskafloatsmyboat.com. My blog was mentioned and she subscribed to it so when she passed through Meyers Chuck she kindly dropped off the gift.
She described her travels up the Inside Passage in emails to me and when I asked her if I could use them as a Guest Blog, she agreed, and sent along some photos. And here they are!
Hi Tara, sorry for the delays. I got your email in Sitka, then we traveled back on the outside, into Lisianski canal to Pelican and Elfin Cove and Hoonah for the 4th of July. What a spectacular route! The outside passage was 2 foot seas and glass. The marine life was everywhere although we saw the most whales in Tenekee Springs on our way to Sitka. Each community has its own special personality. I loved Sitka for all of its efforts to preserve its musical and artsy roots. It didn’t do everything just for the cruise ships. Pelican is a community trying to reshape itself after the closure of the fish processing facility. It’s residents had warm and generous hearts. We were greeted by a small lodge owner with dog biscuits for Ike. The couple who run the cafe are so sweet. I left a new flag with them we had bought but didn’t fit our flag stand and they were so excited because they wanted the city to have a new flag for the 4th.
Elfin Cove is a beautiful community. We bought a freshly caught king salmon from a fisher woman who came in to sell it to the tender barge in the harbor. The Stolis vodka boat rising sun stayed out of the harbor and had the owners of the local lodge send fishing guides out. I couldn’t help but think how much is they were missing by not visiting this beautiful community and ordering home made chicken and rice soup at the little cafe. Their boat is 246 feet with a crew of 26. I’m sure the meals are fine restaurant quality but if you miss the people of Alaska, you have missed Alaska.
Hoonah somehow made me sad. The people are suffering at their new cruise ship dock facility. They pay minimum wage and take 60% from the vendors for rent and fees. It feels like the hope that was there two years ago was gone. We took the tender out for a visit of the cannery and probably would have spent some money but we went through 3 people who did not have the authority to let us tie up to the back of the dock only to find a supervisor who said coast guard regulations would not let us tie up or to land on the beach. They are cruising for trouble I fear. Juneau is nice but over crowded. We rented a house from a local owner and brought our kids and their families in. The harbor is full of fishing boats that are not being allowed to fish. Most of the private boats ended up in Harris Harbor or Aurora Harbor because Auke Bay is first come first serve and filled with cruise ship vendors and docked fishing boats waiting to be sent out. We finally got into Auke Bay after one Harbormaster did some rearranging for us. I read one of your articles in the Capital City Weekly. It also says you are related to Artist Megan Duncanson. I love her art! You do have a very artistic family.
I’ll attach a couple of good whale shots we got at Tenekee Springs and an oops by one of the local cruise ships just outside of Sitka.
We are in a 64 foot troller named Always Friday. It is white with a green cove stripe and it has a “back yard” with a 4 foot square of AstroTurf and a sack of petunias for the traveling needs of our chocolate lab, Ike. Every day is a new blessing whether it is a bag of beach asparagus from Jo, or an evening watching whales break from the dock in Tenekee Springs. Our brief visit in Thorne Bay still floors me. We were immediately given 5 crab then 10 lbs of halibut by Jim Silverthorn then the same day Jo brought us a bad of beach asparagus. I went to a dog show during a hale storm put on by Bear , a young tween who lives there and loves dogs. You live in an amazing place with amazing people. Keep writing, I want to buy a copy of your first book.
I'm sure you've been wondering what I've been up these days. There's a supermoon with super high, nineteen foot tides, so I'm taking advantage of my new walk system to shore to be out there at night making sure the vermin don't stage a coup in these parts. I hear squeakings all the time to that effect. My main fear is that the martin, mink, and otters won't keep up their side and the vermin will run amok and reach plague proportions.
My person is out there working on log projects all day, and sometimes at night, taking advantage of the full moon. I don't think she appreciates, however, that there shouldn't be any slacking during a supermoon. I make it a point to wake her all throughout the a.m. hours, encouraging her to get out there with me and keep the vermine hordes at bay. She yells at me. Obviously, I need to put more work into her upbringing.
Of course, as hardworking as I am, I also require that my hotwater bottle be filled for those times when I have to re-charge my verminator batteries. I let her know, quite loudly sometimes, in the middle of the night, when this is necessary. On the plus side, I've, after much hard work, trained her to tuck me under the blankets of my of my own bed on those colder nights. I have hopes that eventually she'll be a fully trained, fully functional verminator assistant.
I'll keep you updated on how it goes. Happy supermoon to you all (except the vermin)!
You guys have been missing me, right? I told my person you would be, but she makes all these lame excuses about being busy with summer chores and visiting kids and blah, blah, blah. I just stare at her. Until finally she gets it.
Her blog needs a dose of Maine Coon.
BTW, even though you haven't heard from me directly, I've been behind the scenes of her blog like usual, giving her pointers on what works and what doesn't--she can be so clueless in these matters--when she's taking pictures for a post. Check out the opening photo of her Interview with Bjorn Dihle, of his book Haunted Inside Passage (click on Books or Authors in the categories section). That's all me. In the picture below you can see me giving her advice on how to frame the photo of his book.
Anyway, it's summer here which means I have to really ramp up my vermin eradication duties to keep up with the migrant herds of mice, shrews, squirrels, weasels, not to mention the occasional malodorous mink. It's a full time job.
I'm proud to share with all of you that my person has finally gotten with the program and has made my mission much easier to accomplish by putting in a new floating walkway to shore that allows me to hunt at all hours and still be able to return to our floating HQ to refuel, no matter what the tide is doing.
I am so proud of her! I came inside and meowed up a storm, congratulating her on her unexpected brightness and initiative (sometimes I think I underestimate her), then demonstrated my prowess on the new walkway. You can see my runway skills below.
Sadly, she continues to deserve "the back," in order to discipline her on occasion.
Maybe you've heard about the bear problem Alaska's been having this year. They're everywhere and they're causing trouble, sometimes attacking humans. Naturally, I'm concerned about my person and want to make sure she survives in order to continue to feed me and groom me after I've gone to all the trouble of adopting her and training her.
Well, the bears have been around here, too. I came in one night and woke my person up with my special "BEAR!" alarm. I can really crank up the decibels when I give this particular meow. I gave my person my biggest-eye look to really get it through to her that this was Serious Business.
She didn't get it. She thought I was crazy.
Until we went for a walk the next day and I showed her a huge pile of bear leavings right in the middle of the trail, only a few yards from the house. Who's crazy now? I asked.
Turns out, she is.
I couldn't believe my eyes when, instead of running home like a good little person, as I insistently instructed, she took pictures.
I was forced to give her "the back" until she realized the error of her ways and followed me home.
(Graphic Photo Warning: If you have a sensitive stomach, do not look at the picture below.)
It's been hot these last few days and my winter fur has been only slowly coming off all summer a hair--or a hundred--at a time, all over my person's clothes and furniture. She complains, but I'm the one wearing a fur coat in 80 F degree heat.
But my person is nothing if not inventive. When my brush just wasn't coping, she discovered that a small flat stone with a ragged edge pulls all the loose hairs out by the gross. I lie on a rock while she uses the "cat scraper" to good effect.
It sometimes takes an hour for her to groom me properly, and she fusses about it, but we all have to do our part to keep me in top vermin-eradication form.
That reminds me. It's time to clock in again and make sure the critters remember who's boss around here. I just need a final polish--it's important to keep up appearances, even in the wilderness--and I'll be on my way. Below is a photo of my excellent grooming--oh, who am I fooling? Below is a photo of what I do whenever I think about what my person did when I showed her proof that a bear had been in the neighborhood....
Tara Neilson (ADOW)