December 20, 2015

End of the Year Musings

As we are approaching the end of 2015, I thought I would put together a smattering of where we went this year, and what we did. Some of you even came along for the ride, (literally, and figuratively).
And we apologize in advance if we inadvertently omitted any of you; it wasn't out of malice... We will simply claim it was our understanding at the time that you were in a witness protection program... or chalk it up to Cruisenheimer's...
And before we begin... Read this post if you want to see how well we did with our pre-2015 planning...

We left Fairbanks the middle of January, to attend the Seattle Boat Show. We stayed at the Woodinville B & B, and the hospitality was excellent as usual. MANY purchases were made, [boats are demanding mistresses...] especially since we had our 28 ft trailer, camper, and truck and we filled all to capacity for an eventual trip to Wrangell.

Plenty of new boats to look at, as well as many vendors just waiting to help outfit your boat.

As a bonus prize, Bill ran into some of his old friends from past boating days. Among them were Mark and Diana who own Tanner Manufacturing and design and fabricate some of the most elegant stainless steel 'boat jewelry' you have ever seen [radar arches, davits, railing, and much more...] They had done some work for Bill some 17 years ago and have been friends ever since. It was great to have dinner at their home and see how spectacularly they and their family have flourished over the years.

And as usual, a trip to Seattle means a visit with my daughter Alexa.
Donna and Alexa
We flew back East to visit our good friends, Bill, and Maureen, in Maryland. This trip has become a tradition at Super Bowl time, so we can enjoy the game together. There is always an abundance of good food, and fun, as we are joined by neighbors to watch the game in Bill's "Man Cave". Then because I need a museum fix every once in a while, I convinced the Bill(s) to take me to the Annapolis Naval Museum. Everyone had an excellent time.

Model of life aboard an early Naval sailing ship.

Byrd's sextant used in his 1938 expedition to Antarctic.

Many ship models to look at, amazing detail.
Since purchasing Denali Rose from Jack and Fred (Susan), we have become friends and we took a side detour to visit them at their new (old, pre-civil war), home, in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. They have been restoring it, and it is becoming a beautiful home. I love that they are reusing much of it, and adding modernization.
House Restoration Project
Then it was back to Seattle to pickup our truck and camper, and drive to Portland, and Corvallis, Oregon to visit with previous University colleagues, and friends. If you have been reading along previously, you already know about the the massive effort it took to get the truck out of the backyard in Woodinville. A call to the local tow company was the only way, "Sorry, Ralph, we made a mess of your backyard."

Being towed out of the mud.

Too much rain-soaked ground.
We enjoyed sunny, cool weather in Oregon, and had so much fun visiting some dear friends, and eating excellent food.

Pete and Cyndi

Donna and Bill at the beach.
We had Alaska Ferry reservations, so it was time to get back and pickup our trailer in Woodinville, and drive to Prince Rupert to board the ferry. Since it was late February, there weren't any traveler accommodations open, we were were glad to have our camper and it's furnace. 

We pulled off at night in highway pull-outs.

Loaded on the Alaska Ferry in Prince Rupert, bound for Wrangell.

We left the trailer in a storage area in Wrangell, and got back on the ferry with the truck/camper, and sailed for Haines. 
The scenery was spectacular!
After disembarking in Haines, we drove to Fairbanks, the weather proceeded to dump snow on us, and then the temperature dropped to 30 below. (Welcome home) Bill had been fighting a cold/flu, and we both were so sick, we couldn't get out to unload the camper, shovel snow, and our neighbor didn't even know we had made it back.

March: temporarily snowed in.
We spent the next four months organizing, selling, tossing, giving away, and cleaning.
Tubs, all labeled and ready to go.

Sold the trailer sailboat, the MacGregor, Bill is delivering it to Homer, and it's new owner.
In between the chores, we did get some water time in Fairbanks.
Our last float trip on the Chena River with friends.
Summer was starting, it's June, and we weren't done with the house yet, so the decision was made to leave it in capable hands, and head back to Wrangell. Bill loaded up my car, drove to Haines, took the ferry, and arrived in Wrangell first. We really needed to have a vehicle there. Wrangell isn't very big, but it would make shopping and errands easier to do.

Fully loaded car, inside and out.
I followed a couple of days later by air, and brought the cats as baggage. (Ask them how they liked that....on second thought don't, it's quite a diatribe. However, they admit to adapting quickly...)
2 kitties in 2 kennels, added to 1 boat.
We had guests coming soon, so we spent time cleaning, getting organized, and the usual upgrade, replace, and fix boat projects. We took time out to enjoy Wrangell and the extravaganza that takes place every year on the 4th of July

Greased pole contest, winner gets $100.00 bill that is tacked on the end of the pole.

Hometown Heroes; the theme for 2015.

The usual parade fire trucks throwing candy, and blaring horns.

One of the contests in the logging show, trees cut from the forests on the island. BIG!

Log Rolling

Downtown closed to traffic, open to having fun!
If you want to experience small town at it's finest, Wrangell on the 4th of July is the best time to come. The fireworks display later on that evening was one of the best I have ever seen. 

The O'Family arrived soon after, and we enjoyed taking them to see local sights. 
  • Madan Bay
  • Frosty Bay
  • Anan Wildlife Observatory
  • Wrangell Narrows
  • Le Conte Glacier
And fishing, swimming, (yes in the ocean, not me though, just them), crabbing, dinghy rides, kayaking, good food, and living on a 43ft boat for 10 days. See the story here: O'Family Vacation

After our guests had left for home, we decided we would like to see some of Prince of Wales Island, so off we went. St Johns Harbor is a great anchorage on the way, and due to some inclement weather, we spent a few days in Labouchere Bay, which is a large bay on the NorthWest tip of Prince of Wales.
Sunset is always beautiful in St Johns Harbor.

Ya gotta eat....

Our neighbor one day in Labouchere Bay, the floatplane landed, transferred supplies, and then took off again.
We were expecting our next guests in Ketchikan, and we needed to head there to pick them up. As serendipity would have it, some cruising friends of Bill's from his days in Valdez were going to be in Ketchikan just a few days before our next guests arrive. We made a beeline for Wrangell, got some supplies, and headed for Ketchikan. It was wonderful to connect with old friends, new, and renew. I was totally amazed at how much sailing Sophie and Didier do in a year on their yacht Sauvage.  [They came up from Japan to Alaska for this summer, then on to Mexico and Chile before enjoying our winter, or their summer in Polynesia...] They had this sailboat built for them, and they literally sail ALL over the world. If you want an ADVENTURE, these are the people to contact: Sauvage Sailing Expeditions .

Sophie and Didier on S/V Sauvage.
As Sauvage left, Pete and Cyndi arrived. We filled our diesel tanks, acquired groceries at Safeway in Ketchikan, and weighed anchor.
Heading up Behm Canal.
We tied up to a public floating dock for the night in Helm Bay. This was the first public dock we have used, and it was secure and clean.
Bill, Cyndi, and Pete in Helm Bay.
The next day we left for Traitor Cove and a bear viewing area at Margaret Creek. We stayed several days there, the weather was wonderful, the scenery was terrific, and we saw bears.  There was a road that the tour companies use for the tourists they fly in on float planes, they drive buses, we walked it.
Pete and Cyndi on the road to Margaret Creek to see bears.
Great bear viewing, several black bears fishing, and as we were packing up to hike back to the boat, a mama bear and her 3 cubs came very close. It was the first time I took my bear spray out of it's holster, and got ready to use it. I have pictures of bears, but sorry none of mama bear. I was too busy thinking about how not to use it on a mother bear and her three cubs.
Black bear in Margaret Creek

2 Baby bears, soooo cute.
We had wonderful sunny weather in Traitor Cove, and enjoyed our stay. Float planes were coming and going, noisy, but fun to watch. 

Denali Rose at anchor in Traitor's Cove.

Float plane bringing in tourists to Traitor's Cove.
We took Pete and Cyndi back to Ketchikan to catch their flight home, and we stayed in the marina for a couple of days waiting for a weather window to head back to Wrangell. 

Clarence Strait is the way home, and after this last trip to Ketchikan, it has become my least favorite Southeast Alaska waterway so far. The transit to Ketchikan was lumpy, but not bad, and we saw whales, but the transit north was very uncomfortable. We had 20-25knot winds on the bow, and 4-5 foot seas. This strait is hemmed in by islands, and the wave occurrence is short and very choppy. We had several hours of this, and even one of the cats was seasick. There aren't any duck-out bays, and we had to persevere until we reached Meyers Chuck.

Meyers Chuck is a small community of mostly vacation cabins, and very protected from the wave action out in Clarence Strait. We negotiated the narrow opening, and set the anchor in near darkness. This was a first for me, and fortunately we accomplished it without any problems, and whew, it was over. (Bill is totally accomplished at all of the above, so no worries.) 

Denali Rose anchored in the bay at Meyers Chuck
We had fun exploring by dinghy for a couple of days, and then headed back to Wrangell, by way of a bay called Thom's Place. We secured Denali Rose to her slip in Heritage Harbor, and planned for the fall.

Bill flew back to Fairbanks the beginning of September to work on the house, and spent quite a bit of time blowing snow out of the driveway.

A ridiculous amount of snow.
The middle of October my brothers and I decided that we should accompany our Dad to see doctors at the Mayo Clinic. I shipped the cats back to Bill in Fairbanks, as cargo, (don't ask them about that trip either.) My brothers and I spent a week in Rochester Minnesota, and helped support Dad and his wife Ellen, making sure they had nutritious meals, and transportation to and from the various offices.
Taking Dad out for exercise, and fresh air, with my brother, and niece, Dad, and Ellen.
Bill and I had planned and prepaid for a special sailing class in Halifax, Nova Scotia, near the end of  October, so we packed our suitcases again, and were flying east. We stayed in the 'Lord Nelson Hotel", which was the venue for the class, "High Latitude Voyaging" (northern cold countries), given by the authors of the Attainable Adventure Cruising website, John Harries, and Phyllis Nickel. It was fun meeting fellow sailing cruisers, and exchanging information and ideas. The weather also cooperated, and though breezy, it was sunny.
Lord Nelson Hotel

Another museum fix: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Recognize this from "Thomas the Tank Engine"?
We stopped in Waterloo, Canada to visit our friends Sean and Keyma who teach at the University there. They have a lovely farmhouse out in the country, and they took us to see shops, an art exhibit, and a farmer's market that surpasses ANY farmer's market I have ever seen. There is a large community of Mennonites in the vicinity, and what an unbelievable array of fresh meats, cheeses, fruits, and baked goods. If we could have brought it across the border into the US, we would have loaded up.
The government offices in Stratford, Ontario, close to Waterloo. I love the architecture.
Then back to Maryland to spend a few days with Bill and Maureen, twice in one year, they must be shaking their heads...not again.... Lol. Bill P arranged to have us all attend a live NFL game in Baltimore. Both Bills are from San Diego, and the Chargers were playing the Ravens. It was my first live football game. (outside of high school) We had the best seats in the stadium, about halfway up the lower section, and right on the 50 yard line. I had a fabulous time, and a bottomless bucket of popcorn. It doesn't get any better.


Enjoying the game!
Then I had my first ever Halloween without any snow, and actual trick-or-treaters at the door to give candy to.

Beautiful fall colors in the trees.

Ready for the trick-or-treaters.
And finally home to Wrangell by November 4th. Yes, when I say "home", I mean Wrangell now. I love the small town, the people, the scenery, and even the weather. 

We spent Thanksgiving with some new friends at their beautiful home in Wrangell, and we had more food than our group could have eaten in a week. Ham, turkey, all the trimmings, and TWELVE pies- each one different. We went home with plenty of leftovers. [Thank you Pam and Dan!]

We had to stage this photo before we left for dinner, however, just for fun...

Our "boat" Thanksgiving meal. 
The town had a "Midnight Madness" night, really only till 10:00pm, but that is later than normal, as most all business downtown close at 5:00pm. We had a special tree lighting, bonfires in the street, places to roast marshmallows, (all provided), and the fire department was giving out hot chocolate, and popcorn. Local handicrafts were for sale in the lobby of the Stikine Hotel. 

Warming bonfire barrel

Marshmallow roasting barrel full of glowing charcoal [which doesn't show in this photo...]

Wrangell's downtown Christmas Tree.
Anchorage was our next destination the second week of December. We stopped to connect with family and friends to honor the life of my Dad. He succumbed to cancer just 3 weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. He was a strong, intelligent man, and a beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Friend. We will all miss him.

Dad, in the Dodge Charger he bought for his 90th birthday.

We will be spending about 3-4 months this winter in Fairbanks, as we finish our projects in the house, and either rent it or get in on the market to sell in early spring. At the writing of this, the temperature is supposed to drop to -40°F this week, and it makes me wish I was back in Wrangell, where it will be a 70 degrees warmer... [+30°F]

We were blessed to be able to go many places, enjoy new sights, spend time with family and friends this past year. Here's to more adventures in the upcoming one.

May all of you have a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!