Sunday, July 25, 2004

Chapter 40...The rest of 1992

Chapter 40…the rest of 1992

I’m a baaad girl!! My neighbor and his 11 year old daughter stayed in my Tent trailer last night so I planted my Fart Machine in the closet in there.  When they were in bed I sat in my kitchen and pushed the remote control about every ½ hour!!  I was giggling all night just thinking of what they were thinking!!  I need a life!!  Saturday night, and I get my thrills by using my fart machine on my neighbor and his daughter!!  I saw them this morning and apologized.  They asked why, and I told them I used my Fart machine, and they looked at each other and laughed!  They said they wondered what that noise was!!  Okay….on with my story.

In September 1992 I decided I have been dreaming about Alaska too much and needed to go visit it!  Never in my life have I taken a paid vacation to anywhere for fun!!  Never!!
I have a friend that is a Captain on one of the Alaska State Ferries.  It goes from Bellingham WA, to Southeast Alaska.  I got instructions and all by myself I packed a pull along kit and headed for the ferry!!  My mom cried and said she worried about me.  On Friday September 19th I walked on board the Matanuska and headed for the Solarium.  It is on the upper deck and it has reclining lawn chairs to sleep on.  I positioned the chair under a heater above my head and placed it against the back wall to keep away from rain and wind.  It was really cozy!!  There were about twenty other people on the deck doing the same thing.  Some people choose to pay for a cabin below deck, but I wanted to do it the right way and rough it!!  I’m sure glad I did!  The first night I was sitting on the deck chair feeling lonely and wondering “what the Hell am I doing?”  I am 43 years old and traveling to a strange place ALONE!!!  I get the ALASKA magazine and in the advertisements were ads for motels, so I called ahead and made reservations at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.  There was a notice on the ferry schedule that there would be limited space because of the Alaska State Firefighters Conference in Skagway the same time I was to be there.  Soooo, being the curious person I am I called the Skagway fire Dept and asked if I could join in on the conference because I was a volunteer firefighter in Coupeville.  They welcomed me with open arms, and I paid $75.00 to join in the conference and that got me a free train ride to White Pass and back, and 50% off on my motel!!
Okay, back to the first night.  I was sitting on the deck feeling sorry for myself and I looked up to the night sky and saw the Big Dipper, the symbol for Alaska, and behind that, the Northern Lights!!  I got so excited I started telling everyone about it and we all were watching in amazement!!  That broke the ice, and I made friends with everyone on the deck.  In fact most of the people were doing exactly what I was doing.  Traveling alone to Alaska!  The next morning we were traveling slowly up through the east side of Vancouver Island.  It is beautiful there and we saw Whales.  I would get excited and point to them and everyone would come running.  The whales were too far away to get a picture of them.  That night it got really wild on the deck.  We were going through the Dixon Straights, just North of Vancouver Island and it was really rough!!  There was the remains of a typhoon from Japan that was hitting us then.  It was scary but exciting! 
The next morning we stopped at Ketchikan, but I stayed on board because I was going to stay there on the way back.  We traveled on to Juneau, and it was cold, windy and rainy.  Everyone got bored and headed down to the auditorium and I stayed on deck.  I was all alone up there reading and decided to get up and look over the railing, and I saw what seemed to be hundreds of dolphins jumping and playing in the wake of the ship!!  I got all excited, but no one was there to see it with me.  I took a lot of pictures and then grabbed the cameras that were left at the little camps and took pictures with each of the cameras!!  Then I ran downstairs to tell everyone.  Of course there was a stampede to get on deck, but by that time the dolphins were gone!  But I have proof, and they will know too when they have their pictures developed!!  HAHAHAHA
Next stop was Sitka, and there was a bus to take us to town and there was a few stores open to take our tourist money.  It was still stormy, buy I didn’t care.  I went to the Fire Department and traded patches with them then went to wait for the bus.  I was soaked and met a guy in the bus stop and he was amazed that I was in the Fire Dept.  He was a firefighter for Petro-Canada in Edmonton Alberta.  He asked for a patch, and I said I wanted one from his place, so we traded addresses.  That evening we got on a different ferry and was heading North again.  That ferry happened to be the one my friend Captained.  He came out on deck and invited me to dinner with him.  (That really dropped a few jaws, especially my new Canadian friend).  John is handsome especially in his uniform, and very married to my best friend, but they don’t need to know that!!  Hahahaha!  I was honored to be in the pilot house that night going through the Wrangell Narrows.  Now that is scary!!  Standing in the dark pilot house listening to the radio talk and seeing boats that are in our way with no radio, and we are also dodging under water boulders..  It stays real busy in the Pilot house, and we think we are casually sailing along! Whew!!  I have a lot of respect for people that pilot big ships now.  I went back on deck and Kevin (my new Canadian friend) was there waiting for me.  We chatted all night.  I asked where his deck chair was and he said he had a cabin.  So now you see that you actually waste your money getting a cabin because you spend most of your time up on deck anyway!!  Sissies!  We pulled into Haines which is actually about 5 miles away and then to Skagway.  I got off at Skagway and spent three nights there with the Alaska Firefighters!!  WoooHooo!!   The train trip was awesome!! The conference was awesome!!  The entertainment was awesome!! They put on a “Days of ’98” skit and took us to “tent city”.  It was all Hollywood like re-enacting the gold rush days.  They took us to the graveyard and gave us the history of Skagway!!  I was so fortunate to be part of that!!  On the return trip I got off and spent two days at Haines which I fell in love with.  The Chilkat River in October has thousands of Eagles feeding off the dead Salmon that go there to spawn and die.  So that is where all my salmon that I missed catching went!!
I then got off at Petersburg and went to the motel that I made reservations at, and it was closed down!!  I panicked!  The boat left and I was a mile from town all alone in the rain!!  So I trudged to a motel and was not met with any kind of friendliness at all!!  I looked like a bag lady with all my gear and looking like a drowned rat.  I then went to Juneau and spent a night, then on to Ketchikan.  There I found an AA meeting and was amazed at all the different people there!  I got home on Friday October 2,  at 8:00 am!!  What a trip!! It is something I will forever remember!!!
I went to the doctor in December and he found a lump in my breast that was at the same spot as the one I had removed the year before, only it was bigger now.  I forgot to say that in December 1991 I had a breast lump removed and it was benign.  Well this was the same breast, so I went to my friend and boss of the ambulance, Doc Z.  He was furious when he looked at the x-rays!! It was the same lump that was supposed to have been removed a year before!! The doctor did not remove the lump last year!!  So Doc Z removed this one and assured me he got it all and it was not cancerous !!!  I was a lucky gal!!

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