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.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)