jayellebee's Blog

May 29, 2011

Up Close and Personal

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 10:50 pm

     Ken and I have been married longer than some tree species survive.  We’ve been married longer than most careers last.  We’ve been married longer than entire republics spawned by the USSR existed.  And if this summer keeps up with the hectic pace set by the first five months of 2011, a milestone anniversary will have passed us by before I get around to changing the bed again.

     Last fall we decided to plan a special trip to celebrate our special anniversary.  Ideas were fleshed out, then cast out for one reason or another:  too far to travel, too long to leave the dog, too this, too that.  We finally settled on returning to Alaska, one of our favorite places.  We’ve already been there three times, enjoying the cruising lifestyle of the rich and famous and even trekking inland to visit Denali National Park and Kenicott, a remote copper mining town well worth the five hour drive to see.   But this trip will be different.

     We flip the calendar to expose June in a few days.  I’m trusting there is still  time for the 50th state to warm up before my groom hefts me across the threshold of a small ship carrying only 47 other passengers.  Sailing on the 170 foot “Wilderness Discoverer,” we’ll cover the same distance in a week (Juneau to Ketchikan) traversed overnight by the mega-ships.  The InnerSea Discovery brochure promises us the opportunity to zigzag a zodiac among floating chunks of calved glacial ice, anchor in small coves and inlets, hike beside pristine rivers and waterfalls, try our hand at fly fishing, and kayak up-close-and-personal with marine life.

     My personal dream is to be so close to a breaching humpback whale that I get spritzed by the splashdown.  Ken and I have been on whale watching excursions in Hawaii, Washington’s San Juan Islands, and Alaska, but we’ve never had that WOW experience.  Glossy images of marine mammals surfacing beside tour boats have not materialized for us.  Expectations of singing whales serenading us through microphones dangled beneath our hull have not been met.  Oh, sure, we’ve seen the schoolbus-sized behemoths “blow” water vapor in the distance.  Maybe even the flick of a fluke on the horizon once or twice.  But I want to smell krill on the big boy’s breath.  I want to make eye contact.

     Several neighbors here in Nevada City have reported bear sightings this past week.  I believe them, but I haven’t had the experience myself.  And, to be honest, the idea of this Brown woman encountering a brown bear doesn’t thrill me – not in my backyard.  But the thought of wading bears plucking salmon from frothing rapids has its allure.  Years ago, we hiked a trail which began at the base of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.  The gutted remains of salmon littered the banks of a trailside creek, and we side-stepped a pile of steamy bear scat.  But the perpetrator of the dastardly deeds remained elusive.  Maybe this trip will be different.  Maybe my next manuscript will feature scenes based on a real-life meeting in the wild.  

     A week in Alaskan waters may not be enough to enjoy all the activities that await us.  Like snorkeling, “Polar Bear Club” swims, and paddle boarding.  Our anniversary voyage will differ from past cruises.  There will be no “formal night.”  No champagne waterfall at midnight.  No Vegas-style entertainment or gaming.  But don’t cry for me, Argentina.  At the end of each busy day, a hot tub and masseuse will await our return to the ship. 

     Of course, it’s possible I’ll forego all of the above and spend seven days curled up in a deck chair with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, breathing deeply.  Whatever else does or doesn’t happen, I won’t have to cook and that’s what I call a great vacation.



  1. Sounds fabulous. Bon voyage and Happy Anniversary!

    Comment by Donna — June 1, 2011 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  2. I hope you had a lovely good time, up close and personal with “the big guy” and fishing with Mr. Bear. Did you?
    Great writing!

    Comment by Jean G — July 3, 2011 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

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