Mare and I luxuriate in lounge chairs on the Solarium deck of the Alaska Ferry, Columbia, for the next 3 days. People pitch tents with duct tape on the cement deck in front of us. Jack is captive inside the truck cab down below on the noisy car deck. He has not gone to the bathroom during this 38- hour stretch of water. Most big dogs are in the same boat so to speak, and do not go to the bathroom during short walks on the crowded car deck. They think they’re in a house and refuse to dirty the rug. Finally… first stop on land is in Ketchikan and all is well for an hour-long walk and fifteen-minute dog pee.
Hard to believe that only one week ago we hosted two book-signing parties. My novel, Broken Collar caught a publisher and is now available at: www.bottomdogpress.com; or http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Collar-Novel-Ron-Mitchell/dp/1933964561/ref=tmm_pap_title_0. The story is about a priest’s return to his hometown steel mill village and the working class world of sinners and saints, fueling turmoil to his longing for both the heavens and the heart. Purchase a few copies, please, so that we can continue to travel the world…, okay, no more plugging.
Our minds begin to slow down. The ferry glides through the Inside Passage with pleasant stops in Wrangell, Petersburg and Juneau. Ferrying into Haines we see the snow-capped peaks of “Little Switzerland” and it feels like we’re coming home. We cannot get into the camp host cabin on account of snow, so Ranger Preston puts us up at 19-mile cabin in the Eagle Preserve. Each November, 4,000 eagles converge here for the final salmon run on this continent. We may try and stay up here until then…
Finally, we get into our cabin at Chilkat State Park where once again moose and glaciers and spouting Orcas welcome us. We look forward to living without running water and electricity now that we are wiser from our experience last summer…we shall see.
At the watering hole, (literally) a man tells me that this past winter in Alaska set record-breaking snow levels and also set new records for relationships breaking-up. Two months of no direct sunlight and being socked-in gave couples one of the toughest tests in years. One woman told us that she and her boyfriend made it through winter, but the heavy rains this spring are bringing them to the brink.
Let’s go fish for Sockeye. After three full days of casting from the shoreline, I get out there at 4:00AM (been daylight since 2:30AM) and hook our first Sockeye salmon of the year…drag him onto shore and pounce on him. The fish flops all over and I end up holding him down with one knee and sort of a headlock. I knock him out with a rock, and am gassed, out of breath and glad that nobody was there to see me look like such a fool, but we will eat fresh fish for dinner, then with eggs in the morning, then in salad at night and then with eggs again the morning…yeah, baby we’re all back home. Just ask 10- year old Alaska Jack who is diving for rocks in the Chilkat Inlet like a puppy.