What I Did on My Summer Vacation

If you’ve been reading the Blog since mid-May, you should have a pretty good idea of how we spent the summer… and when all was said and done, we cruised 1500 nautical miles this summer. Except for a couple of days in Juneau, two weeks in Sitka and maybe a day here or there, we anchored out most of the time.

Here’s a chart of southeast Alaska (aka “the panhandle”) with this summer’s route.

On one of the last legs we had to stop the boat and steer around this sleeping whale. (That’s not a log… logs don’t breathe!)

We stopped to visit the town of Kake on Kupreanof Island since we had never been there before. Kake is a Tlingit town with a population of about 450 people. If you look at the photo below you’ll see a tall antenna tower, and just to the right of it is a record-setting totem pole. It was 136′ tall when erected in 1971, though a wind storm snapped off the top portion in 2015.

It was pouring down rain, though we dressed for it and took a long walk. Someone from the town agreed to meet us part way to collect payment for dockage, and he very kindly offered to show us around town a bit. It doesn’t take long to see the sights, but with the hills and rain we were very grateful for the impromptu tour. The highlight wasn’t the beautiful totem though, it was the black bear right in town, trying (unsuccessfully) to break into the trash container by the coffee shop.

It’s always bittersweet to see the summer cruising season end – we’ve loved our quiet days at anchor, but we miss our friends back in town too. After topping off the fuel tanks we settled back into our spot in Petersburg, ready to jump into the Rainforest Festival that started the next day.

Botanist Mary hosted a “muskeg walk”, and we love to learn new things about the bog plants that inhabit so much of our area.

Mary helped us spot some tiny sundew – a carnivorous plant that’s about the size of a pea.

Ketchikan artist Ray Troll gave a lecture about fossils in southeast Alaska, which he hunts for with his paleontologist buddy Kirk Johnson, who just happens to be the Director of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History! His artwork, humor, enthusiasm and deep knowledge made for a terrific evening.

You probably don’t know that there’s a garnet mine on Mitkof Island (and also on nearby Wrangell Island too). The owner of the private mine brought some garnet-bearing rock, mica-schist, for us to gently hammer to extract some garnets. What fun (and mashed fingers)! These garnets are over 100 million years old!

The following weekend Petersburg’s Muskeg Maleriers group – the ladies who do the traditional Norwegian rosemaling painting – hosted a gold-medal-winning teacher from Minnesota to teach some advanced classes.

Rosemaling is prevalent around town (Alaska’s “Little Norway”), decorating storefronts, window shutters, and on nearly every surface of our Sons of Norway hall!

The guest teacher graciously agreed to teach a beginner class where we learned a little about the Os style of rosemaling.

It’s fun to see how a piece evolves from some simple strokes of color. The secret is in all the delicate line and accent work that really makes a piece “pop”. I’ll never be a decent painter or any kind of rosemaler, but I sure had fun!

Now it’s time to start getting the boat ready for winter. The fishermen are returning to the harbor, and the last of the big lion’s mane jellyfish are drifting through…

…they look like big beautiful flowers.

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