Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kodiak Island on Limited Battery Power

It was Memorial Day weekend, 2009. I was 31. School ends early in Alaska - for fishing season. So I happily had no pending priorities from the moment I cleaned out and turned off the light in my classroom in Anchorage.

Here is what I knew:

1. I would be leaving Alaska on July 6th via a ferry ride. With my car onboard.
2. I had a friend coming to visit the last 2 weeks of June who wanted to do ALL of the Alaska things.
3. I was moving back east, most likely to North Carolina.
4. I would be moving into my first apartment, wherever that was, that I would be the single occupant of, and boy did I have plans for that place.
5. I had applied to school districts in and around Asheville, Raleigh and coastal carolina (spoiler alert: I ended back in Charlotte at the same school I taught at before Alaska).
6. About 2 weeks prior I decided I wanted to take a little ferry ride to Kodiak Island and stay in a Bed and Breakfast. I love solo travel, but I usually keep a commentary along the way, complete with photos of course - to share with everyone via social media, so I don't feel TOO solo.
7. I forgot my battery charger for my Nikon. Noooooooo! Where was I going to find a lithium battery, or a charger, in small town, Alaska? For some reason, it didn't occur to me to get a disposable. Or maybe I tried and couldn't find one? Or maybe I thought no photos were better than photos from a disposable camera.

The ferry departed from Homer, Alaska.

I did not take the flight to Katmai.

Here is where I camped out for the duration of my trip, which was suppose to take 9 hours. The heat lamps were lovely.

As we left Homer, the Coast Guard decided it was their day to practice drills. So we had to stay out of the way, and listen to LOUD alarms for about an hour.

Bye Coast Guard!

I met a another solo female traveler, she was headed to Kodiak to become a camp counselor for the summer. We talked, but soon became engaged in our own journaling or book reading. I mainly fantasized about my upcoming adorable apartment I would have all to myself . . . wherever I ended up. (Spoiler alert: I did find the adorable apartment for a wonderful price, thank you recession. I no longer live there because obviously I need an eighty-two roomed castle for all the stuff that comes with a baby).

I tried the tomato soup from the dining room. It tasted like they squeezed Heinz ketchup packets into a bowl and microwaved it on high. 

I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. 
For a while, things were calm.

Then we hit the open sea.

I did not take many pictures from the boat after that. Things were way rougher than above pictures. Just tune into any episode of The Deadliest Catch, I promise you it was that bad. When the front of the boat went up, I could see the propellers if I looked down. My solo female camp counselor friend was green. People were throwing up in trash cans. The ketchup tomato soup was burning in my throat. Finally I stretched out on my sleeping bag, curled up on my left side (some where I had heard this was best position to combat sea-sickness) and fell asleep on my backpack. I remember a man pointing to me and advising his wife to try to lay down too, but she preferred to yack into a grocery bag instead.

We arrived three hours late in Kodiak, but of course all the people there were already well aware of the late ferry. The B&B owner welcomed me with ginger snap cookies at 11:30 at night. I wanted to cry. I hated solo travel and everything that comes a long with it!

The next morning I woke up with zero plans. I ate breakfast with the other occupants of the b&b, a couple from England who said they were from Jersey and laughed when I said, "not New Jersey, right?" No, Jersey Island, then. Of course.

I took a long walk around the town of Kodiak, and ended up crossing over to Near Island.

Th skies were foggy and rain was drizzling, my camera's battery was about to go, and the forest was eerie. But I explored anyway:

The rest of the weekend went like this:

~I attended a little festival and had wonderful fish tacos. By this time the rain was pouring down.
~I found a Nora Jones novel on a shelf at the B&B, curled up into a little ball and read while listening to the rain.
~The next day the owner of the B&B and a friend took us all to Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park ~I was bummed to be there without a camera. The trail and the trees were covered in bright green moss - it looked surreal. And sometimes the forest opened up to fields with high grass and purple flowers. ~We checked out the World War II lookout station and hoped to see whales in the seas (we didn't but the B&B owner said she often came to this park to "talk" with the whales). 
~My ferry ride back home left that evening. The sun came out just as I boarded and picked out a place to sleep for the night. 
~It was an uneventful ferry ride back to Homer and a beautiful full on summer drive back to Anchorage.


  1. This is so cool! Love the pictures! Thanks for the virtual trip to Alaska. :)

  2. My stomach churned reading about the ferry ride. I had a similar experience while deep sea fishing in a storm, minus the curled up in a sleeping bag part.
    Great pictures as always.

  3. I LOVE your posts on Alaska! We really wanted to go to Katmai when we were Alaska but ran out of time. So much more of AK that I'd love to see.

    The boat ride lurching -- been on one too many of those in my day. Pretty much any time I step on a boat it's rough waters. The worst was on a tiny whale watching boat out in choppy waters where being on the boat felt like a nonstop roller coaster. Fun at first but it didn't take too long to become sickening. Every single person puked -- everywhere. In the sink, over the side, in the toilet, on the floor -- I felt so bad for the crew. Sly was fine, of course, but I was kind of on the verge. I ended up forcing myself to stand outside per Sly's instruction, and watched the horizon line which actually made me feel better. Not great, but better. I am getting queasy just thinking about it now.

    I don't even risk it any more -- I load up on the Dramamine AND the motion sickness pressure bracelet things. I don't get motion sickness otherwise but boat rides are my nemesis! Thankfully I have yet to puke...


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