North to Alaska with Charley 1. Transition

Dear friends and family,

A new adventure is starting that I would like to share with you all. I am flying to Wrangell, Alaska to join our sailboat presently moored there for a summer of exploring Southeast Alaska. . Liz is joining me for a month, otherwise it’s me and friends and family.

Being in Port Townsend for two weeks allowed for catching up with Liz, organizing our storage unit, visiting as many friends as we could ( sorry I missed so many of you 😔), and packing gear, clothes, and tools for the Alaskan barge. I also did my medical appointments to repair teeth, eyes, and ears. 

I’d sent stuff up in the barge last year, but I had a lot more stuff this year after cleaning out our house to sell it and buying the expedition wherry for touring near Wrangell.

It all fit on and in the Honda CR-V, but she was riding low. The boat was upright on the roof, tightly strapped down to stay still in 60 mph traffic. 

I was nervous as I went into the Alaska Marine Lines barge office. The young woman helping me explained that any boat over ten feet long would have to be shipped via the vehicle depot but I was concerned for it being outside on the barge and mixed in with larger boats and vehicles. After my protests she finally said that it was up to the guy loading the “ personal effects” freight and depended on his mood today.

Great. The safety of my new lightweight expedition wherry depended on some guys mood.

I approached the drop off area slowly and introduced myself to Ray, the loader in the forklift. He immediately pointed across the street for me to drop the boat off there first. 

Remembering the Texas Angels, I asked him if he could do me a favor and take the boat here to keep it safe by putting it on top of the boxes, but inside the container for Wrangell. He shrugged and said he needed to check in with someone first. As he was walking away, he told me I could untie the boat from the roof rack, meaning that it could stay here.

As he soon maneuvered his forklift to VERY carefully remove the boat from the roof, I kidded him about how well he handled that machine for his first day on the job,  and with more practice he might make a career here. 

He appreciated the compliment and helped me secure the boat to a skid so it would be easy to load into the container. I unloaded the remaining boxes, a total of 320 pounds of stuff, fitting it all into one giant cardboard tote.

I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders ( and the car) as I drove away, hoping to see the boat and boxes next week in Wrangell.

Now I’ll have to arrange delivery to the proper locations in Wrangell from the workers there. Boat to marina, boxes to local storage unit. I hope they remember me from the chocolate bar bribery from last year’s shipment.

Flying to Alaska today reminded me of a flight returning from a trip to Mexico. Liz and I were early in our dating, and took a January trip to visit close friends Jim and Eva in Mexico.

They hosted us to a fabulous time, and Liz and I did some adventuring on bikes and horseback.

I was trying to show Liz my worldly travel chops, so when we were checking into the airport on the way home I thought I’d impress her with my Spanish expertise. I learned quite a bit of the language during my almost one year stay in Venezuela in the 80’s ( plenty of adventures there to share) , but it had been almost thirty years with no practice, so any skills I had mostly disappeared. That didn’t stop me from trying to show off ( one could say, show my peacock feathers) in this new relationship.

We walked up to the Mexican version of their TSA to go through security. 

“ I have a titanium knee so cannot go through the normal scanner” Liz reminded me.

“ Since I speak the language, I’ll explain that to the agent for you” I offered as I stepped forward. Time to impress.

Using my best Spanish,  I explained to the agent that Liz had an artificial knee and would need extra special screening. The agent looked flustered with my request and appeared to be biting his lip to keep a straight face and stay professional, not too effectively. Maybe what I requested was not part of their training.

He held up his hands to have us step aside while he checked with a superior. We could see him walk deeper into the check in area and confer with management. I swear I could hear them giggle; grown men giggling in sight of the customer. After bringing another agent into their little conference, and showing us wide smiles from a distance, the original agent returned toward us as we waited patiently, apart from the normal check-in line. 

With a no longer disguised smile, ear to ear, he moved the tables and check in equipment aside and had us walk straight through, bypassing all security, kind of like we were special, to proceed to our gate.

I checked in with a Spanish speaking friend later and found out that I actually said “ My wife has a hambone in her leg”

I guess that truly wasn’t in the manual of customer requests.

It did get us through without the scanner and I’m sure it impressed Liz.

I’m available for translation purposes if anyone ever needs help traveling in a Spanish country.

As I departed the plane yesterday in Wrangell, one of the TSA agents said “ Hello, welcome back. Are you back for the summer?”

To which I answered “Hi Haley, yes I am and are you still working at the Marina bar?”

“ No, I’m not, but I’m sure they still have plenty of jars of anchovies, since no one else ever orders them “

Haley used to wait on me at the local pizza joint. When I first saw her as a TSA agent, I kidded her that she could put a pizza in the oven, go to the airport to check passengers onto the plane, and get back to the bar in time to deliver their pizza. It’s a tiny airport here.

The first time I ordered anchovies on my pizza, she made a face and told me that after a few years working there, I was the first one that ever ordered anchovies. 

When I was in college and roommates and I would split a pizza, since I was the slowest eater, I would order anchovies on my portion, securing it from others eating it, since no one else liked anchovies. I did it as a defensive move, but developed a taste for those little fish.

It’s also good if you want someone to remember your order, or you.

If any of you want to opt out of the Alaska emails, let me know, as bicycling is over for the summer ( more possible in the fall).

Still sending love,


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