Life Adrift

Friends, you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time. Don’t worry- I’m still afloat. I’ve had a series of adventures on land (I went to visit my family in Indiana!) and sea that haven’t left me with much time to write, but alas, I’m here to tell you about my mot recent adventure afloat.

The adventure technically began in February when my handsome boatmate made an exciting purchase…a fishing boat! He’s going to live his dream of being a commercial fisherman!

My handsome boatmate's new boat, Fool's Gold, and our home for the journey from Juneau.

The new boat, Fool’s Gold. Rob’s new toy and our home for the journey from Juneau.

When he bought the boat, it was in Juneau, Alaska, so this recent adventure afloat involved flying there and bringing it home. The trip was amazing. It was my first time in Juneau and my first glacier encounter. By the way, taking an Australian person who has never really been around a lot of ice to a glacier is a pretty comedic experience. I always thought he was fearless- then I saw him standing by a giant mass of solid ice and I now know otherwise.

If you ever get a chance to hike to the ice caves under the Mendenhall Glacier, you will not regret it. Unless you are Australian in which case you might be very scared of all the ice.

If you ever get a chance to hike to the ice caves under the Mendenhall Glacier, I promise you will not regret it….even if you’re Australian and scared of ice.

My time in Juneau confirmed that there is, in fact, no good Mexican food in Alaska. This is difficult for me to accept, but I think I have to give up trying Alaskan Mexican food after all. Listening the radio in Juneau also confirmed what I suspected to be true from listening to the radio in Ketchikan…if you are literally the most socially awkward person ever, you can get a job as a radio DJ in Alaska. I also had my first northern lights sighting, my first iceberg sighting, and my first time being adrift in the ocean.

Oh, that last one? Yeah, that was no big deal. There was just a slight little incident with the boat that left us adrift for a couple hours in the dark. But after a little panic and a quick chat on the radio with the Coast Guard, a friendly fishing boat in the area came and towed us to Petersburg, AK, which was the nearest town. Some amazing things came of this little mishap though because Petersburg ended up being the coolest little town i.e. this is where I saw the northern lights! And icebergs! Plus there were huge sea lions all over the harbor.

Iceberg! Dead ahead! errr...a little ways off to the left actually.

Iceberg! Dead ahead! Errr…a little ways out to the left actually.

 

Huge sea lion

Huge sea lion in Petersburg

 

Signs all over the harbor warning about not feeding the sea lions

There were signs all over the harbor warning about not feeding the sea lions.

See? No big deal at all. I could go into more detail about the mechanics of it, but I promise it’s not that exciting. All you need to know is that my handsome boatmate is super handy and fixed the problem all by himself once he figured out what was wrong. And voila! We were back on track and out on the water for our amazing adventure.

The journey really was unforgettable. The scenery was breathtaking. We got unbelievably lucky with the beautiful weather and of course I couldn’t have asked for better company.

Oh you thought I was talking about my handsome boatmate, didn’t you? I see him all the time. But the WHALES. The whales were everywhere. Whale city. It seemed like every time you looked outside, which was most of the time, because it’s a boat,  there was another spout. Whales on whales on whales. I couldn’t even complain about having to pee into a bucket since I could whale watch while peeing into a bucket. Oh yeah, did I mention that the new boat doesn’t have a toilet?

Best toilet ever.

Most scenic/least comfortable toilet ever.

Disclaimer: this video was not taken while sitting on the bucket. This is merely an example of what sitting on the bucket could entail on any given day.

And that was just one video of many. That whale in particular kept getting closer and closer to the boat and showing off its tail. It was amazing. Ok enough about whales…don’t want to make anyone too jealous! (looking at my sister on that one…she is still bitter about not seeing any whales when she came to visit me.)

This trip also made our humble 120 something square feet feel like Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind that it’s a fishing boat and purely meant for functionality but not at all made to live on for more than a few days at a time. Hence the no toilet situation.

Just when you thought we couldn't possibly coexist in a smaller space...

Just when you thought we couldn’t possibly coexist in a smaller space. I slept on the “bed” and Rob slept on the floor underneath.

 

Bucket peeing and all, the journey was a dream come true. I doubt I’ve ever actually dreamed of peeing in a bucket, but regardless, this place I now call home is truly an amazing one. Now that we’re back in Ketchikan, Rob gets to try out this whole fishing thing and I couldn’t be more excited for him. Meanwhile, I’m back to work at this crazy place I told you about called Snorkel Alaska where I get paid to go swimming everyday. Paid to go fishing and paid to go swimming…I guess you could say life is good.

Until next time, float (or drift) on friends.

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Springtime, sunshine, snorkeling, & scallops. Seriously.

So I went snorkeling last weekend. “Oh, you must have gone to a tropical destination where people snorkel,” you might be thinking. But you’d be wrong. I snorkeled in Alaska. In March.

You know, I never really thought I would some day move to Alaska, but then I did. Once I moved to Alaska, I never thought I would get a summer job guiding snorkeling tours. Then I did. Once I moved to Alaska and got a summer job guiding snorkeling tours, I never thought I would get into the water in Alaska once the summer was over. Then March 23, 2014 happened, and I did.

A little background for you here- Once upon a time last summer, fate brought me to the doorstep of Snorkel Alaska searching for a job. The summer cruise ship season had a little over two months left when I completed the drive from Indiana to Ketchikan in late July of 2013. I wanted to find a full time guiding job, but at that point in the season, I thought my chances were slim. Then my handsome boatmate, Rob (boatmate is like roommate but I just put boat instead of room…see what I did there?) mentioned that he knew the guy who owned Snorkel Alaska and that he was looking for another guide. Snorkeling in Alaska? “That sounds weird” I thought. I had gone swimming in Alaska before, but by swimming I mean I jumped in the water then swam to the dock really fast to get out. I’m a certified diver but my diving experience was limited to the warm Caribbean. Doing it in Alaska, though? Again, sounds weird. But it did sound pretty cool and definitely adventurous and I like cool and adventurous so I decided to give it a go! I spent nearly everyday of the next two months in the water and as it turns out, it WAS cool and adventurous. In fact, I liked it so much that I plan on doing it all over again this summer!

Back to the story…Fred, the guy who owns Snorkel Alaska, invited Rob and I to go out snorkeling for scallops last weekend. The stars must have aligned or something because Rob actually had the day off AND it was gorgeous outside so we said, “Heck yeah!” We ventured out in Fred’s boat to our chosen site and hopped in. Both the air temperature and water temperature were in the lower 40s. On a side note- in my time here, I’ve gathered that most things people do for fun in Alaska involve harvesting food, even if it means going to crazy lengths (i.e. getting into 40 degree water) to do so. All in all, we ended up with 11 scallops thanks to Fred and Rob. Admittedly, I didn’t find any but it was an awesome day nonetheless and totally worth it just to be out in the sunshine!

Polar vortex? Not in Alaska!

Polar vortex? Not in Alaska!

Though I didn’t actually find any of the scallops myself, I DID help to eat them. Once Rob and I got home, we decided on the simplicity of sautéing them in butter and lemon juice then topped them with a dash of wasabi. And they were DELICIOUS. Rob said it was the best thing he’d eaten in a long time which is saying a lot. Or it could just be saying that he hates my cooking since that is mostly what he had previously eaten for a long time. Hmm…

If you’ve never seen a scallop, here’s what a cooler full of them looks like.

Catch of the day!

Catch of the day!

Here’s what an artsy picture of a scallop looks like.

scallop

Once your pry them open and take out most of the orange goop, you’re left with the edible part!

Spoiler alert! It's a scallop.

Out of the shell and ready to be cooked!

Out of the shell and ready to be cooked!

Thanks to Fred for the awesome day! Can’t wait to do it again!

Stay tuned for GoPro footage of last weekend and future dives. I’m trying to reteach myself how to use iMovie. This could be a while.

Until next time, float on friends