My Favorite Vacations, Part 3.... Cruising Alaska and Ford's Terror

By
Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499
http://actvra.in/4m5z

As vacations go, we all agree this was the best ever.  EVER.  Even after 16 years.

It's 1993. The phone rings.  "Hey Sal. Do you and Davey want to cruise Alaska with me for a week?  I've got a great boat." 

It was more than a great boat.  Russ was a sail-maker in the SF Bay, and a great sailor, craftsman and mechanic. So people loaned him their boats, knowing they always came back in better shape.  This would be no exception.

We arrive in Juneau July 4th, in time to see the 1st 4th of July fireworks display in the nation.  They get the first sunset too.  Think about it!

Joe and Sally in AlaskaMy brother Joe, also friends with Russ, is along as well.  He is in remission from the cancer that will claim his life 8 months later. He's bald as a pool cue and wears a scarf to protect his 6'6" high scalp from scraping on the 6'5" tall ceiling.  He's such a goofball, it somehow fits.  In all, there are 8 of us on the 55' boat.  And it's beautiful.  The owner has just refinished and remodeled it... we are the first party animals occupants.

We are pleased to discover it's a two-head boat... ship-talk for the John... OK, the toilet, for you land-lubbers.  Unfortunately, one is clogged... reminiscent of our last boat-borrowing adventure with Russ.  THAT time, Davey and he dug into the bowels of the poop pump, which ended in a massive explosion of... well, you can imagine.... all over them.  It wasn't even OURS... it had been clogged by the last party animals sailors.  Crap!  Literally.  That's how they were dubbed the Kings of Sea-Going Sewage.  This day they will regain their title.

Our Ice Cowboy, Joe in Endicott Arm, AlaskaSewage system fixed, we motor out of Juneau. I am struck again at how someone can take a gazillion dollar boat into unknown waters with confidence. How do they know these things?  Clearly, I'm along for the... well... I take good notes.  And I take good pictures.  And I'm humorous on occasion.  Besides, he doesn't get Sailor Dave without me.

I'm somewhat of a naturalist, so we play a game.  Yeah, I'm pushy, too.  We each guess how many animals we will see during the week.  I make a chart... "Sally's Tally".  We keep track. Bears, Wolves, Orcas, Killer Whales, Humpbacks, Bald Eagles.... Puffins. That's what I want to see.  Puffins.  They are so danged cute.  I gotta see em.  Just one will do.  We don't see any.

I still remember the music on board.  Joe is a music aficionado and has brought a gaggle of cassette tapes.  Pink Floyd, Steve Miller, Richard Wright, Dire Straits, Tom Petty, ... there are still moments where I remember the specific song that was playing.  Like from Auberge. Our music is incredible.  And constant.

Entrance to Ford's Terror, Alaska.We travel through strangely named waters... Holkham Bay... Tracy Arm.  We have a nightly reading of John Muir's Travels in Alaska (told you I'm pushy) as we motor over 1000' deep water bordered by 4000' sheer cliffs.  Hard jagged rocks carpeted with shrubs. Massive Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock in the old-growth rain forest. And cascades of rippling waterfalls dominate our view.  As we continue, the water turns emerald.  Strange-shaped chunks of icebergs drift by, having calved from the Twin Sawyer Glaciers up ahead.  Joe and Jim, our Ice Cowboys, stand sentry with fish nets to capture the ice for our GGTs...  Glaciated Gin and Tonics.

On the 4th day we head up Endicott Arm en route to Ford's Terror, a stunning fjord.   Our fireside Muir reading prepares us for the 60' wide entry, narrow and shallow enough to create a surging cauldron of churning water, as the tide waters try to level themselves. It's passable once a day, at high slack tide.  Once inside, Muir promises a smaller version of Yosemite with an aqueous floor... complete with a miniature half-dome.

We arrive at the entrance.  And wait.  Armed with a tide table, we test the waters in the Boston Whaler... pretty amazing.  We see why Ford was terrorized. So we wait.

Sally with a crab on her head, in Ford's TerrorWe're pleased to see there is only one other boat, and 2 kayakers who are also going in.  We will be trapped there together until the next high slack tide.  We're happy it's only a few.

As we wait, we marvel at every hue of rust, yellow, orange, green, maroon, and red hugging the sheer cliffs which drop into the azure blue waters.  Everywhere waterfalls sheet down, sometimes free falling, crashing on a ledge, then sheeting in ribbons again. (When we leave, two days later, many waterfalls will have disappeared.  We're lucky.)

Once in, we moor for our two day stay.  The fisherman in the other boat is catching tiger shrimp at 200'.  Hot dang!  Joe takes over as our shrimp trap setter and picker-upper.  He and I take off in the Boston Whaler pitching crab traps overboard into the cold deep waters. He sets three, then we motor around FT for a little site seeing. On the way back in, we see the first float. "Yum... there's dinner awaiting us..."  Then the second. "Come on, you buggers... climb on in..."  But, wait.  Where's the 3rd float? Suddenly the realization sets in.  Joe pitched a trap with a 200 foot rope into deep water.  Deeper than 200'.  CRAP! We've lost the trap.  Someone elses trap.  Someone who trusted us. Who trusted Russ.  Joe is beside himself. He wants to puke.

We frantically empty a tank of gas looking for it, Joe poised to dive into the frigid waters if need be, to capture the submerged float.  Miraculously, we find it. In 201 feet of water, just below the surface. Wheeew.  The day is saved.

Dave and Joe Bar-B-Queing shrimp in Ford's TerrorWe score a dozen magnificent shrimp in each trap.  WooHoo! As penance for his boneheaded deed, Joe meticulously shells and deheads each shrimp. Makes him feel better.

Then Davey whips up a marinade and we fire up the Webber.  Ummm... What could be better than fresh tiger shrimp, straight out of the deep Alaskan waters?  The baste goes on and WHOOOSH.... up it goes in an explosion of flames. OOPS... butter and BBQ don't mix, apparently.  Joe's umpteen zillion hours of deheading goes up in flames.... from what is thereafter known as Davey's Deisel Marinade.  We, of course, are in stitches as Joe's face melts. We decide we like a little crisp on our shrimp.

We're in Ford's Terror for my 42 birthday. The kayakers, as it turns out, will make my birthday something special. They approach our boat in need of something.  We comply, then offer them cold beer and hot chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of our oven. What a score!  Later that day, they return with a zippy full of fresh picked salmon- and blue-berries. Wow... great trade!  The next day, the 8th, Russ makes us a berry cobbler for my birthday breakfast.  What could be better?

Ever the clown... Joe in AlaskaAs Joe, Davey and Russ go ashore to burn our garbage, they keep one eye on a lone black bear further up the beach, ready to high-tail it in a heartbeat if it gets rattled.  Through binocs, I can see a single tree shaking up the beach.  Hmmm.... Later her two little cubs emerge.  She had sent them shimmying up the tree for safety!

As we leave Ford's Terror, we realize we have just spent 2 days in a true wonderland of the world, and that John Muir had it right in his 1880 trip.  "... we found ourselves on a smooth mirror reach between granite walls of the very wildest and most exciting description, surpassing in some ways those of the far-famed Yosemite Valley."  Wow.

As we motor West down Endicott Arm, we see the most amazing site of my life. Of any of our lives, for that matter.  Read about it in Alaska... the Adventure Continues.  Coming soon.......

My favorite vacations... Part 1.  Sandrailing in the Oregon Dunes

My favorite vacations... Part 2.  Patagonia and a Capture Moment in time

 

 

 

 

Posted by

_______________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Your Fair Oaks Realtor for homes for sale in Fair Oaks and the Sacramento Area of California.... I'm your gal (Sally Dunbar). I'm occasionally knowledgable, periodically humorous, and always willing to tell you everything I know.  What more could you ask for?

Here are the newest listings for Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael, Gold River, and Roseville - all CA, of course.

More Blog posts by Sally Dunbar at www.FairOaksHomesAndMore.comSally's Website at www.sallydunbar.com to search for all homes in the MLS, and for tons of information for buyers and sellers.  You'll find schools information, market statistics... you name it, I got it!  Come visit me.

 

 

 

Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, SDunbar@GoLyon.com "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"

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Rainmaker
596,612
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

Sandrailing in Oregon, horse riding in Patagonia, stranded in an Alaskan fjord waiting for the right tide.

Wow! What are you going to do for an encore?

Aug 24, 2009 05:33 PM #1
Rainer
111,132
Charles Perkins
Charles G. Perkins, CPA - Burien, WA

Fascinating,  I live in the Seattle area and have not yet been to Alaska.  My wife and I have enjoyed cruise to many other places, but not yet there.  Look forward to your continued adventure.

Aug 24, 2009 05:38 PM #2
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Jim - Boy, ain't that right.  I want it to say "burned out" on my tombstone.  I think I'm part way there.  The biggest mistake in life is to have regret.  So I'm determined to never say, I wish I would have....

That, and we have some amazing friends who like great adventure.  My hubby can do anything... sail, mechanical stuff, and build stuff.  so everyone wants him around.  And he's fun. I just try to earn my keep by taking lots of notes, and shooting alot of photos.  Now they'll all want me to write them a blog about our trip!!!!!

Aug 24, 2009 05:39 PM #3
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Charles - the continuation is pretty cool.  Hope you make it to Alaska some day.

Aug 24, 2009 05:40 PM #4
Ambassador
1,037,616
Andrea Swiedler
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Sally, not only do you make fun where ever you go, you have been to some fantastic places, and you are one awesome writer!!!!

Aug 24, 2009 11:27 PM #5
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Andrea - Fun DOES seem to follow me around.  Love it.  And thanks for the kudos. Writing is a little volcanic in me.  I can't help it... it just comes spewing out.  It sure doesn't sound the same when I say it!

Aug 25, 2009 01:13 AM #6
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Sally:  I would have to say that your Alaskan vacation definitely beats the Norwegian cruise I took.  What a great experience to be in that vast beauty with a close knit circle.

Aug 25, 2009 04:19 AM #7
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

I doubt that it beat your cruise... it was just different.  We couldn't people-watch like you, and criminy... we had to do dishes and swab the deck! Plus we didn't meet any new friends, which I'm sure you did.  It's all good!

Aug 25, 2009 04:37 AM #8
Rainmaker
515,923
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

This is wonderfully written and illustrated with excellent photos an what a great idea for a series!

Aug 26, 2009 02:38 AM #9
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Russell - thanks so much.  Having just come off of 2 weeks of vacation, it was hard for me to write a pure real estate series.... this has been fun.  Stay tuned.....

Aug 26, 2009 05:13 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,808,354
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

puffinThis is a wonderful post, Sally. I truly loved reading it. I haven't yet been to Alaska, but I can tell you a good place to see puffins. Skellig Michael, an island in the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. When you get a whole bunch of them in one place, they sound like chainsaws.

Sacramento agent

Aug 27, 2009 02:50 AM #11
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Liz - did you take that puffin picture?  The only one I saw was stuffed in the airport!  Hope to get to Ring of Kerry someday.  Now that I know there are puffins there, I jsut might.  Right now I'm working on New Zealand for Xmas!

Aug 27, 2009 07:29 AM #12
Rainmaker
858,444
Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind
KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate - Tucson, AZ
Broker/Owner

HELLO SALLY!  What a great series - an a great writer that you are - I get such a kick out of reading your posts!  What I thought about alot is that this must have been one heck of a fun trip for your friend Russ - it seems like you gave him a great memory that I am sure he hung to his last eight months!  -- Gabrielle

Aug 27, 2009 08:24 AM #13
Rainmaker
214,781
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Gab - It was my brother, Joe, who died.  Russ is alive and well.  One day I will write about his barn-raising in Mendocino that we attended.  We have great adventures with him!  For, Joe, however, this was a great experience that I feel was kind of a swan song for him.  He was healthy, happy and loving life.  Right up until his phone call about 3 months later.... I answered the phone, and it was like in the shining..... "It's BAAAACK.....". A huge loss, as you know from my other post about him.

Aug 27, 2009 10:15 AM #14
Rainmaker
315,717
Liz Flint
Century 21 Hardee-Team Realty - Houston, TX
Houston\Tomball Realtor (832)816-8066

Those are some awesome pictures.  Glad you had fun.  I actually did an Alaskan cruise in 2006 and it was fabulous.  I was thinking about Alaska today because a fellow agent is on an Alaskan cruise right now.

Sep 01, 2009 06:34 AM #15
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Sally Dunbar

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