Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“You Look Like a Happy Woman” on the M/V Kennicott

One of the birders approached me.

“I’ve been watching you. You always have a smile on your face. You watch the scenery and smile, and you look like a happy woman.”

“I am. I am really happy to be here.”

I do like living in Pensacola, I love being near our son and his wife and our two adorable grandchildren, but oh, this is where I was born. The sea is part of my blood, the piney clean smell of the Alaskan air, the clothes – jeans and something warm – this is how I grew up, this is how I am comfortable. I am. I am a happy woman.

Here are some photos from this first day on board the M/V Kennicott:

Humpback whales!

View from our cabin

I couldn’t figure out what this is, or if it is one creature, like a whale, or two, like a dolphin. We often saw things and had to try to puzzle out what we were seeing.









I mentioned before, the shock of discovering that the M/V Kennicott would not be wired for internet. It was equally shocking that it did not have a tower for cell phone coverage, or however that is done. Ferries in Seattle, just little commuter ferries, they’re wired! WiFi is everywhere. Really, I guess I am mad at myself for thinking all Alaska would also be wired; I just projected my own prejudices and got trapped in them.

But my compass on my iPhone worked, and as you know, I am also a map person. As we were to be heading out into the Gulf of Alaska (which would be North) my compass was reading South, and the afternoon sun was also on the wrong side of the boat. “Do you know where we are?” I asked a guy who looked like he would know as we picked up dinner. “We are going backwards!” he almost shouted! “We are ahead of schedule, so the pilot is giving an apprentice from Michigan a lesson in pilotage!”

We were headed into an inlet that kept getting narrower, and narrower, and when we came to a village, Pelican, the ferry turned around and headed back where we had been coming from. I had wanted to see the mouth of Glacier Bay, but I never saw anything that looked anything like it, not until the return trip. We had some late day fog, so maybe the entrance and glaciers were shrouded. On the way back, we saw so many glaciers that at some point, I can’t even believe I am saying this, it was like “oh yeh, another glacier.”

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 4.59.50 PM

The green line is more or less the route we took from Juneau to Yakutat to Whittier to Chenega Bay, to Kodiak Island and to Homer – and then back. The first day out, if you look at Juneau, near the mouth to the Gulf of Alaska you will see off to the left a narrow inlet down Chicagof Island to Pelican. That was the side trip we took on our first evening on the M/V Kennicott.

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 5.26.50 PM

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The M/V Kennicott and the Birders

I hesitate to even write this post, but it was a significant part of our first day on board. AdventureMan and I headed for the forward deck just after we had eaten lunch, and found a nice place to watch departure and the whales and the passing scenery. As we stood there, a crowd began to gather, and they were all chirping and grabbleing, and the group got larger and larger and we kind of got shoved aside. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just as the group grew in size, like minded birders, they just backed out, and pushed into us.

Birders. There was a group of birders on board. We like birders. We belong to a bird group! But these birders are seriously focused people. Have you seen the movie The Big Year? These birders were loaded for bear, all decked out in foul weather gear, real rubber overalls and headgear, and had serious huge single-focus lensed cameras and equally formidable bird spotters.

They took over the forward deck.


Like I say, my emotions are mixed on this, because we like birds, too. We like people who like birds. We don’t much like being pushed aside, and having to climb over equipment set up where people usually walk. For those inside, the best viewing is from the forward lounge, and there were so many of the birders, busy spotting, that you really couldn’t see from the inside, nor could you get one of these prime positions on the forward deck because they would be first up in the morning to get the spot, and they would hang out there dawn to dusk.

One of the birders turned out to be a person who knows a very good old friend of mine – life is funny that way, and you can meet some great people on the Alaskan Ferries.

We had to admire their focus, and their persistence, and their seriousness with which they pursued their passion.


When we hit Yakutat, they were first off the boat, early, 5 in the morning kind of early, the whole flock of ’em, beady little eagle eyes sharply seeking unusual birds for their check lists. You could hear them making bird noises. Back on the ship, someone would say something and all eyes, all binoculars, all cameras would turn in one direction, and people would take their best shots. They manned their prime observation post with military dedication.

They left the boat at Whittier, on the second day. We wished the all success, and we were glad to have access to the front viewing deck once again.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Birds, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Travel | , | Leave a comment

A Great Deal of Profit – for Me!

—–Original Message—–
From: Aisha Shukri Ghanem
To: Recipients
Sent: Mon, Sep 2, 2013 9:59 am
Subject: Re: Uprising

Hi there,

My name is Aisha daughter of Shukri Ghanem. We fled from Libya last year
following the uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi.

My father’s death is no longer news but my mother’s deteriorating health made me want to do this despite the fact that I barely know you. I believe in my late father’s philosophy: “risk many things in life; but not life itself”. I believe in taking business risk with strangers mainly to escape the spotlight and I hope you can do this for my family.

I have a rather unusual proposition having found you on the internet in
desperation and I am here to surprise you with this extreme offer you can easily afford. It’s something that I believe could provide a great deal of profit to you if you give me a moment of your time. I would like to propose a joint venture with you because we are looking at investment opportunities in your area and we need a local presence to carry out our plans. Everything depends on you and ultimately how self-motivated you are.

Of course, you may simply have reservations about teaming with us when you don’t know my family. Please be assured that I want nothing more than what could be a very profitable joint venture and a lasting business relationship.

Please write back and I’ll explain everything in full detail.

Thank you.

Best Regard,
Aisha Ghanem.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Financial Issues, Scams | Leave a comment