Last year I did a shakedown trip for nine days. One of my bonus parents, Alex, was particularly worried about me doing this solo. To help him worry less about me, I spent the big bucks on a Garmin GPS InReach device and service plan which allows me to send a text/email from anywhere at the end of the day letting those loved ones know that I am alive and well so they can let everyone else know that I am alive and well. I can still hear Alex saying to me, “I can understand you doing the thing – what I cannot understand is you doing it alone.” Since the few friends I have who could do this with me are actually covering for me with clients while I’m on the trip, there really is no one who can do it with me. So I got the GPS hoping to mitigate his worries. Then, five days into the shakedown, Alex died. I was coming around the northeast corner of Annette Island when I saw that I had a signal and decided to see what news might have come in after nine days out. I decided to check email, and there was one from someone describing his part of Alex’s last hours.
As I took the ferry to Prince Rupert out of Ketchikan we went past that point on Annette where almost exactly a year ago I learned of Alex’s death. I wept again, both for the loss of the man who made such a significant impact on me as a human being, from whom I learned so very much, and whom I still have a serious bone to pick when we meet up next in leaving me way too soon.
I am happy to report that my frst open crossing, that of Dixon Entrance, was calm and easy. It would have been fantastic in a kayak. Oh well.
Alex and his better half, Sue, had a canary named Rupert, nicknamed Rupee. Coming into Prince Rupert on Friday I couldn’t help but think of Rupee, and Alex and Sue, and feel the bittersweet truth that those precious souls are no longer physically here but are still here so present and strong in my heart.
So here I’ve been in Prince Rupee for two days and one night. Some things that worked out very well – the youth hostel I am staying at is a one minute walk from the only real marine supply store in Prince Rupert. They all know me by first name as I have been in there six or seven times today. They helped me get my foot pad/bilge pump finished and fully functional for me. See the atached photo of the finished piece. Camo wasn’t my first pattern choice but it has the softest finish which will work best on my feet.
Backing up a bit, I need to write about my change in perspective with this whole restart thing. My host in Ketchikan, Rose, asked me why I didn’t start the trip in Metlakatla. With Roger and Des taking me back to Metlakalta and Dale hosting me that first night, I feel like the restart did begin in Metlakatla and that is how I am going to remember it. Although Rose’s place in the Saxman area of Ketchikan was absolutely lovely. She took me over to a cove where the salmon are running and there are usually bears there going after the salmon, but none appeared at that point. She also took me to meet her friend, world-famous sculpture Nathan P. Jackson. He was just getting off the phone with his nine-year-old grandson who plays the cello when we arrived. His shop smelled of fresh wood shavings, a comforting place to be.
The forecast for tomorrow and the days to come include lots of rain and showers, but I am ready to be back out there. I am chomping at the bit to be moving myself along the water. Sleeping bag and tent have been waterproofed, everything has been thoroughly dried out, resupply of food is packed and ready to be loaded into the kayak, and now my footpad is ready to be used. Even if I have to stop soon I will be ok with that and glad to be out there again.