Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

To Yakutat on the M/V Kennicott

Groan, docked at Yakutat early. Although we slept well, we are not eager to
debark at 0600, so we stay on the boat, which is a really fun decision.
AdventureMan discovers the upper aft viewing deck, inside and outside, and we
watch a fishing boat come in, the fisherman scurry up the slippery ladder, the
small tractors set up a weighing station and watch the fisherman upload his
morning’s catch, and see it graded, weighed and sorted all in a matter of
minutes. Three huge loads! It’s a hard life, being a fisherman, a lot of heavy
lifting and working in the rain and stormy weather. 00YakutatFisherman

00YakutatFishermanDocks

00YakutatFishermansCatch

00YFishermansHold

00HaulingUpCatch

00CraneCatch

00OverviewCraneCatch

00BeginningDumpCatch

00DumpingCatch

00IcedCatch

00SortingAndWeighing

00Catch2

00Catch3

Yakutat is a small town, a fisherman’s town. Departing Yakutat:

00DepartingYakutat

The rest of the day we are out in open water, and it is grey, grey, grey. I have to give the birders a lot of creds; they are manning the observation post in the bow and there are never fewer than three, with their bird spotting scopes.

00FogAndMist

We spend the afternoon alternately reading and walking all the decks to see if
we are missing anything. We are not. It is a dull day, not unlike many travel
days, the difference being that we have a nice private cabin where we can hang
out, re-charge our camera batteries, our phones, our iPad. It’s a good thing we
have the iPad, I can read, I can play Sudoku. I iPad allows me to
take notes (this was actually a note) because THERE IS NO WI-FI onboard. I am so shocked, I pretend to be cool about it but inside I am sort of freaking out. I just assumed there would be wi-fi everywhere. I was wrong.

AdventureMan, ever the gentleman, volunteered to take the upper bunk, but I
insisted. I am nimble on ladders, and I like being able to perch up here in my
lair and look out our window. I saw more Orcas playing the first day, and can
keep an eye out for when the sky lightens and the sun makes an appearance. Local weather people actually call these “sunbreaks.”

00Sunbreak

The cabin also has a generous supply of outlets – each bunk lamp in the cabin has an outlet plug, and then there are two other convenient double sockets.

We reserved a 4-bed with bath because we wanted an outside room – and because we like the convenience of having our own bathrooms. The two unused bunks are
stowed, and we have a large lounge chair, a table, and another chair. The toilet and shower are in a cabinet – lots of nice, hot water – and there is a sink outside the cabinet, with a mirror and another outlet, and separate overhead light. Very convenient, and it feels very roomy.

Years ago when I was off to college, the airlines were on strike and I had to
take the military ship Rose from Bremerhaven to the US and then fly Air Canada
to my university town. Just imagine – a military transport ship full of college
students. It was truly a wonderful time. I told AdventureMan this morning that I remember keeping my suitcase up in my bunk, and dressing up there as we only had like 14 inches between left side bunks and right side bunks, and with four
college girls, that wasn’t much. I can’t remember, but I don’t think we had our own toilet and shower, I think we had to use group ones. This cabin is about 8 feet across and 12 feet long, with the shower and toilet cabinet about 2.5 by 6 feet. It is tiny, but it works. We have a rack of hanging 32 hanging hooks, which might sound like a lot, but you use a lot of different outdoor clothing, layers of clothing; long sleeved shirts, hoodies, rain-gear, fleece, sweatshirts – the weather changes, you can be warm – but soaked.

Lunch is warming and healthy:

00SaladChili

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September 5, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Road Trips, Travel, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

“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!
00Humpbacks

View from our cabin
00ViewFromCabin

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.

00DolphinWhale

00Scenery1

00Scenery2

00Scenery3

00Lifeboat

00FishingBoatNearPelican

00SunsetNears

00AlaskanSunset1

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