Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dawson Creek to Kodiak on the end of my thumb

It was a slow start and I'm a little fuzzy about what happened, but I remember arriving at Fort St. John in the morning, having sacked out somewhere in the Dawson Creek area and waking up early and getting a ride right off the bat.

There was a truck stop in Fort St. John and although I didn't wander in I recall standing across the road trying to flag down a ride. I remember wondering is the truck stop was also the local hangout and wondered if the people that hung out there did in envy of the travelers they met or if they didn't hang out there and were grateful for the peaceful area they lived. I never found out because a rancher picked me up and offered me a job on a ranch out in the sticks, about 40 miles off the highway. He offered cowboy wages, about $50 a week and 3 hots and a cot.

I told him I had other plans. Besides, there was something just a touch wierd about him that made me a little uncomfortable.

I got out where the rancher turned left and headed his 40 odd miles home, where ever that was, and there I was now out in the middle of nowhere on a sparsely traveled road. As I write this I realize that I am going to have to get a map somewhere and clear my mind because although I recall numerous little and big events of this trek, I am going to have to look at a map to refresh my memory and get things in order.

My plan was to break up the trip into several posts and post them on a daily basis as a serial, but without the map it would be nothing but a mish-mash of unrelated events and that's no fun to read and try and figure out.

I think that as soon as I get a map I can reconstruct a few things and turn the Alaska Highway trip into a fairly accurate memoir.

Things are slowly returning to me as I look at a few things on line. Although I am not 100% clear, I think I can do a halfway decent job of putting thing together in some sort of haphazard way so I think I will continue.

I was now right smack dab in the center of BFE. If you do not know where that is, Google it.

I was not in Fort St. John, I was not in Fort Nelson. I was right smack dab in the center of nowhere and it was there that it occurred to me that I was in predator's heaven. A person could do just about anything that they wanted out here and get away with it. Simply cart the body into the woods where the natural predators would make it disappear. I shuddered for a minute when I tried to think about how many people up here had simply disappeared over the years.

I thought about it for a minute and considered loading my rifle. I gave into temptation and put a few loose rounds in the magazine but did not chamber one.

Although I was probably in bear country, I was more concerned about two-legged animals and decided to at least put a knife in my left sleeve just in case I needed one fast. I figured that if I was going to be dealing with trouble it would be in close and a rifle would be useless.

I am sitting here trying to remember the Jeep ride I got and I think it was here. I believe I was picked up here and rode a Jeep into Fort Nelson. There might have been another ride first, though.

The Jeep was a USGI Jeep that I believe had Canadian plates and it had a GI rag top and doors, which was a good deal because shortly after I left Dawson Creek I recall that it was pretty cold and there was still snow in patches. It was about 20 April at the time and the snow had been pretty much gone from Colorado Springs for weeks. Still, the Jeep had no heater and it was cold out and you can imagine what it was like traveling in a WW2 model four cylinder jeep for several hours. I was lucky to have any fillings left when I got to Fort Nelson.

I got off at Fort Nelson and wandered into some store and damned near died at the prices, which were high. I also figured that the further I went the higher prices would go so I picked up a few things and decided to discipline my eating habits.

Although I had a rifle, shooting a deer would not only be illegal, but wasteful as I had no way to store the meat. I had no idea about what the locals would do if I had shot a deer or something along those lines and I really didn't want to find out.

I also learned that I had made a big mistake not getting at least some of my US currency changed into Canadian because the merchants were to tell me they would only accept American money at par. I almost got fleeced but I I canceled the sale and found some guy in another store that gave me a fair shake nearby, even though his prices were a little higher. I bought a few simple things for about $5 and I gave him an Amercan twenty and he gave me damned near $20, Canadian as change.

Even though things were high outside of civilization, my needs were small and I had to be frugal. A can of chili and a box of macaroni and cheese dinner was about a buck and on the road would last me for a day. As for smokes, I would simply roll my own. I had planned for this and had a pipe smokers pouch with me full of tobacco and several packs of rolling papers.

You have to remember that back then things were a whole lot cheaper than they are today. Smokes, $5+/ pack today ran about forty cents. A can of chili then was about half a buck and Kraft Mac and cheese dinner was about 29 cents.
If you had a Primus stove, you could live on about a buck a day if push came to shove. I once filled the Primus stove from a gas pump and when I was done the pump read six whole cents, which the attendent laughed off. I suppose it would have cost a nickel if I hadn't spilled a little.

One really good thing happened. Some guy saw me sitting and started a conversation with me. A minute later he fished a bottle of Canadian rye out of a cavernous pocket and offered me a snort. We sat there and shot the bull for a while and when the jug was about half empty, he gave it to me explaining that if he came home too polluted there would be hell to pay. I thanked him and off he went.

That was the first time that had happened to me. It's happened a couple times since. Last summer I was sitting by a lake and a guy came by with a 12 pack. We had a couple and he gave me the rest so he didn't have to take it home and catch hell from his wife. There is nothing so odd as people.

If I recall this was almost the last time I would spend any money until I got to Whitehorse, YT. (There I bought a burger. It was the only restaurant sit-down meal I was to have until shortly after I passed Tok, Alaska.) I had stocked up enough to last me for several days if I was frugal. I knew I could make it all the way to Anchorage if my luck in getting rides held.

I don't recall where I slept that night, but it was close to the side of the road because I had just finished brewing a cup of joe on my primus stove and had just finished packing when a car stopped and offered me a ride to the Liard Hot Springs, somewhere around mile 475. Much to my surprise, it was a family that had offered. Husband, wife and two kids in a station wagon of some sorts. I accepted and a few hours later I was at the Hot Springs.

I just looked at a couple of recent pictures of the Hot Springs and it looked a whole lot more primitive back then, but it was pretty neat. It was either noon or early afternoon and I decided that this would be an ideal halfway spot to get things back in shape. I had clothes to wash, things to clean and a body to maintain. I soaked in the warm waters and relaxed my body. After that I did my laundry the old fashioned way, with a bar of soap.

If I recall correctly, there were a couple of pails laying around so you could soak in the springs, get out and lather up and using a pail rinse off so you left no soap in the springs. I used one of the pails to do my wash.

This wasn't the first time I had hand washed clothes, nor was it the last. I also cleaned my mess gear carefully and emptied my pack and was astonished at the amount of dirt and debris that was in it. I also smiled when I noticed my hammock. I had forgotten I had packed it. It was only about the size of a balled fist when it was rolled up. I had snagged it from a parachute rigger in the army that had made it somewhere along the line. I put it aside for later evening use.

A piece of paracord served as a clothes line and I put it out in the open after wringing everything out as best I could.

A group of hppies arrived and although I was not unfriendly, I left them to their own devices. I figured they had drugs and I wanted to avoid them, especially in a place where I was not a citizen.

Another group of people arrived at the springs and someone extended an offer to join them. I started to beg off, not wanting to be a mooch, but they insisted and I took them up on it. Thanks to the generosity of the guy I had befriended the previous evening, I had something to bring to the little party and they were pleasantly surprised when they saw the whisky. The hippies saw me break out the bottle and looked a little envious. We partied until well after dark and they left.

I sacked out on the ground and woke up early feeling very refreshed.

That morning I opted for a relaxing late start and although most of my socks and underwear were dry, the jeans were a little damp so I decided to wait and loaf a bit. By mid morning I was packed but had noticed very little road traffic.

I fixed an early lunch, having had a cup of joe and a smoke for breakfast and took another soak and wanted to take a little nap so I put the hammock up between 2 trees along the side of the road. I found a box of some sort in a trash can and made a sign that said, "Alaska. Blow horn" and I laid down for a siesta.

Before I dozed off I heard the stutter of an old Volkswagen, but I decided to let it pass. The closer it got, the sicker it sounded. Clearly the VW was on its last legs. I turned my head and saw a VW microbus painted a gawdawful shade of browish plum. It had a weather vane of some sort on the roof and over the windshield was a set of moose antlers.

It was not quite the most absurd vehicle I had ever seen. There were a lot of VW microbuses in the hands of hippies and most had wierd paint schemes, but this one was pretty odd. It chugged up to next to my hammock, stopped and a package came flying out and landed right on my lap. I was surprised, yet I managed to snag it and looked to see the van was incredibly overloaded with people and gear. From the bowels of the vehicle came a voice.

"We ain't got no room to give you a ride, so here's something for you while you wait for one," said the voice.

Then the thing chugged off.

In the package was a 6-pack! I laughed myself silly at the absurdity of what had happened and opened a beer and drank it. I put the other 5 on top of my pack and started to doze off.

I was startled to see a tractor-trailer pull up next to me and stop, The driver got out and walked up to me.

"I can take you as far as Whitehorse," he said. "After I have myself a good soak. Put your gear in the back. You can put the beer in the cooler in the cab to keep it cold."

I put my gear into the trailer and paid no never-mind to the contents and waited a while. He returned and we were off toward Whitehorse. We drove off toward Whitehorse, where he explained that there he was going to head north to some mine up there to resupply it. I simply assumed the load was just a bunch of mining equipment and we gabbed and he was an excellent tout guide. He was a couple of years older than I was and was a really nice guy. He had been running the Alaska Highway as a regular route for some time and told me that he liked it a lot more than running freight down in the more civilized part of BC.

You have to remember that back then the Alcan was unpaved except for small sections near major towns along the way. I was surprised that the semi rode so well, considering. We drove well after dark, went past Watson Lake where he stopped for a brief period near the Watson Lake Sign Forest and we got out and looked around. A recent Google search produced a picture that seem to show that they have sort of decorated it a bit, but it looks familiar. It's a hash of signs from all over the world and included license plates and a lot of city signs.

It started by a GI during WW2 that was told to replace a sign pointing out the direction and distances to nearby places. The GI did what he was told, with one addition. He put a sign on the pole pointing to his hometown with the distance. Other GIs added theirs and the whole thing took off.

From Watson Lake we kept going for a while and the trucker told me he was tired and I was invited to sleep on the cargo. That was a pretty good deal, and seeing that he wasn't driving, we finished the beer the guy in the VW bus had given me.

I sacked out and before I fell asleep I smoked a cigarette and ground it out on one of the waxy cases. The next morning I fired up the primus stove and started to heat water for morning coffee. I also lit a cigarette.

The trucker had gotten up and came to see if I was up. He looked at me and grinned broadly.

"When's the last time you lit a camp stove and smoked on top of a truckload of dynamite?" he asked conversationally.

I looked carefully at one of the cases and almost died of a heart attack. I had been sleeping on top of some kind of blasting agent and had been grinding cigarettes out on the cases. Not to mention firing up my sometimes balky Primus stove! I grabbed the stove and climbed out like a shot.

We had coffee and got back on the road. After a couple of hours a vehicle went passed us and sideswiped us. The crash sounded like he hit us pretty hard. We pulled over and the drivers both got out. The rig only had some scratched paint, but the pickup had some pretty good damage. Fortunately, it could still run. The driver of the rig politely pointed out that person passing had the responsibility to keep clear. The driver of the pickup looked a bit sour and actually owed up to it. The two of them shook hands and agreed not to report it and off we went.

Even back then in Colorado the accident would have been a hash of paperwork and insurance and here two guys had settled the entire thing with a handshake. I was somewhat astonished and made a mental note to make damned well sure I was careful to not make any promises I couldn't keep. It was a lesson that served me well.

Incidentally, while I clearly remember this accident, it may very well have happened the day before after we left Liard. You have to remember I am writing this by memory and it was almost 35 years ago.

Several hours later I was in Whitehorse. The trucker and I parted and I thanked him. It was wonderful having such a good tour guide.

I wandered into a roadside restaurant and bought few cents worth of gas to replentish the Primus fuel bottle. Back then No Lead gas was starting to take hold and it seemed to work just fine in the Primus.

I ate a pretty good but expensive burger and learned something about the ways of the north country. Food there was expensive. The burger cost about three times what it would have back in Colorado, but it was bigger and better than almost any I have had there. People were willing to pay more, but they demanded quality for their money. I left full.

When I left Whitehorse, it is not too clear. I recall riding in the back of a pickup freezing my ass off for quite some time until we got to some kind of roadside rest stop and there I asked around for another ride. Some guy saw me shaking like a paint mixer and felt sorry for me and I grabbed my gear and rode in the cab of his pickup with him to Haines Junction.

I vaguely remember having to drive part of the way for some reason or another. I got out at Haines Junction and I must of sacked out there because the following day I got picked up by a couple of Okies that were headed to Fairbanks.

I had been sitting on the side of the road and I got up to stick out my thumb and watched a large Chevy dual wheeler pickup come up and noticed that when it stopped it had a fifth wheel trailer on it. I knew it was towing a trailer but this was the first fifth wheel unit I recall ever seeing. It was an impressive rig.

The wife opened the door to the cab and invited me in and told me to put my gear in the bed, which I did. We exchanged pleasantries and he started off. The man was not a fast driver and as we all chatted I found out that he was a genuine 798er, a member of the Pipeline Union, out of Tulsa. He had help build the Trans Alaska Pipeline and had managed to score some kind of job either doing a little touch-up or maintenance work on it.

They were really somewhat of an odd couple, not that anything was wrong with them. On the contrary, they were a kind and decent couple, yet their mannerisms were very provincial. It took them a day and a half to go 251 miles from Haines Junction, YT to Tok, Alaska. In their late fifties, he was looking forward to a fat pension from Local 798 and a good life of retirement in Oklahoma coming just around the corner.

He appeared to be just a rank and file union member that caused no trouble and took what he was given with gratitude, something people seem to lack these days. They also seemed to still be in love, in a way that seems to be a rarity in older couples.

In one sense, it was maddening because I was getting close to the Promise land, yet they were such a kind couple and really were the kind of people that make Armerica what it is. Still, he had the most annoying habt of ending every sentence with "You know what I mean?" in a nasally twang.

All in all, after a while, I thought of bailing out and trying my luck on the road. Then I had a change of mind and simply chose to enjoy the company of these people and see where things went. I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot. He told me to get a resident card as soon as I could because with one I could get hiring preference on state covernment jobs. (Shortly after they did away with this policy)

The man was a plethoria of information about the oil business and once he opened up, it was easy to ignore his mildly annoying mannerisms. Although I had no real interest in working in the oil patch, I have always had a curiosity of how the other half lives and it was sort of fascinating listening to a provincial sort of man tell me things off a technical nature. It was sort of like getting the lowdown of fine Manhatten restaurants from an Ozark hillbilly that knows what he's talking about and I enjoyed the paradox.

Then I coldly thought that I had a border to cross and customs to clear and that these were the kind of people I wanted to cross with as the thought of crossing the border in a van full of hippies full of dope that thought they were smarter than US Customs didn't sound appealing. Of course, I knew I could hop out and cross as a pedestrian, but that would be a hassle, too.

I got mad at myself for not being grateful that the winds of fortune had set me up with such decent people and a change of attitude came over me and I started to appreciate these people and try and learn from them. It occurred to me that his rig was in excellent condition and he probably wanted to keep it that way, hence the slow speeds. Most of the vehicles I had seen were pretty beat up looking and I figured that it was from racing through the dirt roads at fast speeds.

You have to mremember that the highway was still a dirt road back then and going like the hammers of hell would not only beat a car up, but the passengers as well. This guy simply wanted to arrive where he was going both intact, comfortable and with his rig in good shape.

As the sun started to do down, well before sunset the man started looking for a place to park the fifth wheeler and set up for the night. He found a spot in short order and I was invited to dinner and while she made dinner, I set up my sleeping arrangements outside. They offered me a bunk, but refused. I explained that I wanted to enjoy a clear, cold night under the stars, which I really did even though it was cold as hell.

He told me we were really close to the border and that I'd arrive at Tok about noonish.

We ate and it was sure a good meal. This woman was an Old School wife and sure made sure she provided her husband with a good meal. It was delicious and there was a lot of it. I was careful not to stuff myself too much, though as when the belly is too full the blood rushes to the stomach and in cold weather one feels cold for quite some time.

After dinner we sat there and talked and I helped do the dishes after I insisted on helping out.

About 2000 I was rady to turn in as they looked sleepy. Then something funny happened.

The wife said to her husband, "Give him some of that brandy we got from so and so to ward off the cold."

He offered, explaining that they didn't drink except for a toddie if they had a cold and that the brandy would probably go bad before they could finish it.

I accccepted his offer and I found out that he really didn't drink because he had no idea of how much goes into a drink. He put about 8 ounces in a glass and asked me if it was enough! I'll bet if they are both still alive and they still have the fifth wheeler that that bottle of brandy is still in the cupboard and is still over half full.

I took the brandy outside,but before I climbed into my sleeping bag I carefully went through my stuff to make damned good and sure I had nothing illegal with me. The one joint I had gotten in Colorado I had given to the Indian in Montana that had taken me to Great Falls, still I damned well didn't want any problems. Better safe than sorry. I didn't deserve to suffer any problems and I damned sure wasn't going to pay this fine couple from Oklahoma back by getting their rig impounded. Although I didn't use drugs, being around them could get a guy into hot water if he wasn't damned careful.

I then got into the bag and sat up for quite a while sipping the brandy and looking at the skies which were clear as a bell. I was up for a couple of hours, and then the brandy and the clear night air took over and I had a wonderful night's sleep.

We were on the road again and we went through customs like a shot. They took one look at us, asked us for our IDs and passed us. He asked me one inane question and that was that. A glance at my driver's license and I entered the United States again at Beaver Creek.

As we drove on towaards Tok something hit me like a ton of bricks. I had just crossed two international borders, both into and out of Canada. The people around me had been a minister and a straight as an arrow older solid citizen. I had just walked through with none of the hassles everybody had warned me about. The reason for this is that they were good people and not the usual clowns I had been hanging out with. The lesson stayed with me, as from then on I tended to avoid the losers and low lifes I had spent time with in Colorado Springs.

He proved right, as it was about noon when I arrived in Tok, and what I had been warned was getting ready to happen. I was going to get stuck for a while. At this point the AlCan Highway officially ended for me, as I was headed south to Anchorage. I would take the Tok cut-off to the Richardson Highway into Anchorage.

Five people offered me a ride, but were headed to Fairbanks. I was headed to Anchorage. While I was bored, I looked in the ditch to see if I could find anything of value and found a plastic tree with 3 beers on it, they felt somewhat frozen so I put them in my pack out of curiosity. I wanted to see if beer that had been frozen all winter was any good.

I thought of packing it in for the day when a flatbed full of building materiels stopped. They were headed part way to Anchorage and I accepted. I rode with my back to the cab to block the wind and put on just about everything I owned. When we got where he turned off, he offered to let me sack out in an outbuilding and I gratefully accepted.

There was a stove there and I was told to fire it up, which I did. I remembered the beer and put them near the stove to thaw out. The stove was an airtight model and after I got the room hot, I slowed the fire down to see if I could get it to burn slow all night. Just before I turned in, I crammed a good load of wood into it, let it catch and turned the stove down.

Although I hadn't made it to Anchorage, I had cleared Tok and I knew that at least everyone that stopped from here on in was going my way.

When I woke, I saw it was pretty warm still, and I opened the stove to give it some air and added a little more wood and made hot water for a cup of joe. I noticed that the beer had thawed out and after coffee, I shut the stove completely down, knocked on the main house door and thanked my hosts for their kindness. Then I headed out to the road to try for a ride into Anchorage. One person stopped and something felt wrong. I decided to trust my instinct. I balked and he took off. I just know to this day I did the right thing.

I was starting to get hungry so I broke out a couple of particularly nasty old doughnuts I had picked up in Fort Nelson days earlier and washed it down with part of one of the beers. I tossed out the other two beers, and managed to hold down the other one and the doughnuts. It was an awful breakfast.

About 20 minutes later, a car came by and stopped. It was a new, powder blue Lincoln Continental. The driver was a very attractive older woman in her forties. She looked like she had been a Las Vegas showgirl at some point.

I threw my stuff in the back seat and we headed off to Anchorage.

She proved to be an interesting woman. She was a widow that was coming north to start over again. Her husband had been a guy that owned a logging outfit in Oregon, and years later as I think of it now, I picture that it was probably one of those outfits like you see on the History Channel's show 'Axe Men'. He had been killed and I guess she sold the outfit off for a goodly sum and probably had cashed in a pretty hefty insurance policy.

She was probably what people would today call a cougar looking for a cub. I had figured that, but didn't mind a bit, but figured I had to at least be honest with her to begin with. I told her I was just starting off and had very little. She smiled and said she was in the same boat in many ways, as we were both getting started again. Then she made a comment that got my attention. She said, "We'll start off together."

I wondered what she meant by that, but it didn't scare me as I knew I could bail at any time. I decided to simply see what happened next.

After a while, she asked me to drive, which I did. I was actually grateful to do so as I had been a passenger for too long during my trip. When I got behind the wheel something funny happened. I started fiddling with the radio and was trying to find a station. I hit on one and the first thing I heard on an Alaskan radio station was "No stems, no twigs that you don't need...Panama Red is some ass kicking weed." I went straight into shock, as I had heard rumors that pot was legal in Alaska, but I didn't think they'd advertise it on the radio! Then I felt foolish when I realized that it had been a Cheech and Chong thing the station was playing.

We stopped for lunch and I had a burger. I noticed that it was similar to the one I had in Whitehorse, big and tasty. I found Alaskans and northwest Canadians had a lot in common in that respect. I also noticed she had snagged a huge to-go order of chicken and cole slaw and had stepped into the liquor store and came out with a bag, both of which she carefully arranged in the back seat.

We continued and about an hour or so out of Anchorage, she opened the chicken and a bottle of champagne and a couple of plastic cups. What a change that was!

I had woken up to a couple of stale doughnuts and a several times frozen and thawed can of beer riding a thumb on the side of the road and now I was driving a Lincoln Continental into Anchorage eating fried chicken and drinking champagne! Life was good. That was one hell of a way to enter Anchorage.

In Anchorage, she got us a room and I sure used the facilities there to get cleaned up, seeing the last time I had was back in the Laird Hot Springs.

The next day she went out on a job interview; she had told me she had a standing job offer there earlier the previous day. While she was gone, I went through all of my gear, cleaning my rifle, pack and mess gear using the bath tub as a sink. There was a laundry room there so everything got a good washing. I was ready to get back on the road, yet not just yet.

I also took stock of my situation and inventory. Since leaving Colorado Springs I had spent well under $40, and I had a little over $200 left. The $200 was a requirement for entry into Canada as a hitchiker back then.

The two of us dilly-dallied around for a couple of days until the call of Kodiak got to me and we parted company. I headed to Homer to catch the ferry to Kodiak. She had accepted the job and was now scouting around for an apartment. I figured that I was going to get in the way pretty soon so it was time to leave.

I met a guy almost as soon as I left the motel and he was a subcontractor and offered me ten bucks an hour for about a week's work. It was a heady fortune because the most I had ever made in the Springs was about five. I took him up on it and pitched my tent on the job site.

I had never seen such a generous employer. He brought me breakfast, delivered lunch to the crew and I would eat lunch's leftovers for dinner. There was nowhere within walking distance, and hence no place to spend my money. We worked from oh-early hundred to dusk daily and the ten bucks an hour added fast. Real fast.

It was only matter of days before I had racked up a grand! And that was after taxes!

With a little over a thousand bucks in my pocket, the job ended and I decided to head on to Kodiak.

I stuck out my thumb for Homer to catch the ferry.

I remember riding past a ranch with a simple gate over the driveway. The gate said across the top: 'El Rancho Costa Plenty'. I laughed outright. It took me a few different rides to get to Homer and the trip was uneventful except for one thing; I got a ride from an Alaska State Trooper. Back in the States, when you saw a trooper headed toward you on the road, you hid because they might hassle or even bust you for hitchiking. Here they simply gave you a ride.

Their policy apparently was to lock the passengers goods and garbage into the trunk, which made sense when you think about it. I threw my pack in the trunk and chatted with the officer. He told me that I had picked the best time of year to arrive, as the colleges were still in session and I could pick some of the plum jobs in the Kodiak fisheries. In a sense he was right. The canneries were hiring, but boat jobs proved to be few and far between.

There was something special about the Alaska State police at the time because they seemed to have a different attitude than their Lower 48 counterparts. Maybe it was because their mission was different or the things required of them were different. Looking back on it, I'd just bet that it was because their job was probably a lot more interesting than simply ticketing speeders on some stretch of interstate highway. Back then it was possible that a lone Alaskan trooper had the responsibility of a few thousand square miles.

When I got to Homer I camped on the beach for a couple of days near a place called 'Deanna's Doughnuts' and I did something there because I remember getting a dozen doughnuts as my reward.

I hopped on the ferry and after crossing the Gulf of Alaska, I arrived in Kodiak, where I was met by someone I had met back in Colorado a few months earlier.

I hope I have covered everything, but I know I haven't. I also hope I have gotten everything in the order it happened, but I might be wrong there, too. Maybe it was bettween Tok and Anchorage where I saw El Rancho Costa Plenty, but this seems to pretty much the way it happened.

Some time around early '84 I went on a vacation from Kodiak to St Croix, which is a funny story in itself. In St Croix, I fell in with a guy that had a sailboat and I got hooked on dreams of cruising. In January of '85 I bought a pocket cruiser of my own in Everett, Washington and sailed it both up and down the inside passage.

As you can imagine, the trip north was a three-ring circus.

The trip south a year later was a bigger circus. My crew on the trip south consisted of a recently discharged Israeli Para that was adventuring in the States. He got one hell of a lot more than he bargained for when he signed on with me, you can bet your ass on that! That trip I got the nickname 'Indy' and that stuck with me for a while.

When I get to the story of that I will be able to provide a lot more detail as I know where the log books from both voyages are located.

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