Monday, September 25, 2006

Bears, Salmon, and the Pacific Northwest I Never Knew...

Well, folks, Here's the first of what I hope to be the Roddy family blog. Oddly, the first entry seems to be about our first venture apart from each other, rather than the happenings of our domestic bliss. I guess it takes something out of the ordinary to make me actually sit down and write about it.

At the end of August, I took the opportunity to travel around the West coast with a British family who are friends of friends and were looking for a temporary vacation nanny for their six and seven-year-old children. I am sorry to say that the children and the family were a bit of a nightmare and it took all of my emotional reserve to stay along on the trip with them after the first week. But that's not really an interesting story.

What the trip afforded me by way of adventure was certainly something to tell about. We arrived in Petersburg, Alaska by way of the shortest daily jet flight in the world: 9 minutes from Wrangall. From the air, I wrote in my journal:
"Ice bubbles up on the green water's surface. Above the cloud cover, I see the peaks of Alaska's mountain range. Perhaps the boat's captain will tell me its name. We descend through the clouds and come upon turquoise water with more brown icefields. And then I see them--huge white bergs in the water. Up the inlet and around the corner is their source: La Conte Glacier. Later, we'll be down among them."

And later we were. That blue! The bizzare and lovely ice blue of those icebergs, so unlike any color around them or any color I've seen in nature. It was breathtaking.

The Legacy, our chartered yacht, became both home and expidition vessel for all kinds of adventures. Next day, we visited Anan Creek Bear Sanctuary where we were within literal reach of black bears. One curious bear even followed us on our trail as we trekked inland and upriver. The lot of them were fishing in the river, bursting with spawning salmon. The good fishers, fat and getting fatter, got the best spots, where they simply ate the fat and nutrient-rich row from the bellies and tossed off the rest of the fish to the next bear in the queue. And they really did line up for it.

After Alaska, we flew in seaplanes into Canada and stayed at a wonderful fishing resort called King Pacific Lodge. There we saw the "spirit bear," also known as the Kermode Bear, a pure white bear that is a rare species of black bear found only on Princess Royal Island in Canada. It's so rare in fact that we were the first guests of the season to see it, and most of the adventure guides who had been there several summers had not been gifted with a sighting. They say you see it when you are ready to see it. I took it for a kind gift to tell me that I was not, after all, alone out there.

We also saw much sealife: humpback wales feeding off the coast, sealions, harbor seals, and starfish. After that it was on to Los Angeles, but I have to admit, my photos from that portion of the trip are of hotel rooms and beaches--nothing quite as image worthy as the earlier part of my adventures.