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Returning to Texas

I am now in Petersburg making preparations for my return to Texas, and starting the next step in this process, editing all the photos taken thus far. I have mixed feelings about so many things. The season. My crew. The time to end. And what will next year bring. So let’s take a look at these and share some thoughts.

First off, I have stated again and again that the weather this year, till as of late, was incredible. I have not seen this much sun and warm temps here - ever! But as I said, till as of late. Since the last of the rain started, it doesn’t seem to want to stop. Oh, maybe for a day or so, but not really - and nothing like we have had all summer. The hot temps are gone. Clouds, dark and threatening blow over day in and day out. Sometimes the rain is some of the hardest locals have seen for years. So that leads me to believe the time has come to end this year, but I hate thinking of stopping now. While the misty cloudy rainy days keep coming, the colder temps do not. So I wonder if there is still some good weather somewhere around the corner that I could hold out for. I feel optimistic that there is but will call it quits - and not actually hang up here waiting to find out. If I miss more good weather, then so be it.

As I also stated, half my season this year was with crew, and half was traveling solo, or single handed. My main hopes were to bring someone up here to share this incredible beauty with, giving them a chance to participate on something which they may not have otherwise had, that chance, in life. My reward for bringing them would then be returning after a full and successful season both elated over the experience. One of the harder things to do here is witnessing or experiencing something incredible and yet being alone with no one else standing by your side to watch. Though you enjoy the moment, you want to share such an opportunity with others, yet that chance ended early this year with crew. And while my crew was honestly more than capable of handling the duties and quirks found in such an endeavor or on a small vessel, unfortunately there were other obstacles that could not be overcome. I think entering the challenging environment here for the first time around is an eye opening experience for most. Letting go and living in the moment and forgetting about what awaits in the lower 48 is difficult as well for most. I think keeping things simple and day to day without struggling or looking too far into a future that one cannot do much about is one of the hardest lessons to learn. Knowing how to honestly just take things day by day.

And I guess part of being able to handle this lifestyle is somewhat of a maturity, knowing one’s self and being at peace. I can only hope my latest crew member will at the least have great memories of the time spent here in Alaska and when needed, can close her eyes and find peace as she remembers the places visited - along with the sights, sounds, and smells along the way. Truthfully, I hope all previous crew members that have served on board remember the best things about their experiences and serve to motivate others to explore their world. If my last crew member wanted to go once again next year at another attempt to complete a season on board, she is always welcome. Maybe the second time around, understanding what this is truly like, would ensure a better opportunity for success. If not, as there will be a next season, my list of crew is already put together and very short. I already have those in mind who are dying with anticipation of coming up here for their chance.

So while I was denied the feeling this year of watching someone complete a season and listening to them and their excitement as they described to others all the wonderful experiences, I can’t say that anything this year was a disaster, which has not always been the case. This year was what it was. A season of mixed weather, crew, wildlife, scenery, and emotions. But knowing I can come up and single hand alone here in S.E. Alaska at any time and handle all the opportunities and challenges thrown at me along the way really makes for a confidence that most never experience. Truly, this is a lifestyle, and not just a trip or vacation. Though it is work and takes a commitment and well thought out plan, allowing for all the little ups and downs and obstacles thrown at you along the way is only a small part of the experience. Getting everything in one piece from point A to point B safely is still just a part. Thoroughly enjoying each day for whatever it brings and seeking out and witnessing all the surprises along the way, while learning about the people and environment and cultures that encompass this land, and the raw beauty, well… it is no wonder I find this area so incredible and special and return year after year.

Beyond just how friendly and understanding all are that you come across along the way, to see just how wild and yet sublime one area can portrait with all the multiple personalities of each cove and bay, harbor, and sanctuary is something one must come up here and spend the time to see first hand. So while my photos may show beauty or a raw and wild wilderness, they can never convey what it takes all the senses to put into perspective, a land that can be kind and beautiful, wild and free, harsh and cruel, sublime and yet dazzling. And that can actually be seen all in one day, on any given day. Amazing.

So this season was 1,400 nautical miles of everything one would want to see or hear or touch or feel when visiting. This season was good - and at times great, and while there were sad moments and tragic ones as well, there were moments filled with peace found through either subtle or somber or spectacular encounters. In fact, sometimes the word incredible just falls short and cannot describe the event. So I struggle at times to find any of the words to convey in such a short account what can and will happen if one comes here to take on the challenge and find the rewards of traveling through a land that can still take us to a time and place that rarely exists anywhere else. Prestine. Pure. Clear. Clarity. Wild. Sublime. Incredible. You can try as one may to string along all the adjectives you want together in hopes of conveying what is here, or photograph every which way you face on any given day - and never come close to accurately sharing the experience found in Alaska. Travel writers have tried for almost a century and failed. But the fun is coming here and trying, adding your views and perspective to the list of work already accomplished and often published. And yet there will always be room for more to come and try. God you gotta love this place.

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photo by: vances