My Rambling Journal

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Henry Ellis ****************************************************************** Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Yorktown Clipper Oct 4-11 2005

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The Yorktown Clipper is a small cruise ship carrying a maximum of 138 passengers on unique, intimate itineraries. 'America's Last Coast' is a trip beginning in Seattle Washington, ending 1 week later in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

O.K. ---these cities are less than 100 miles apart, but the waterways and islands which lie between are wondrous and many. Some of the islands are inhabited and support communities, large and small. Some islands are uninhabited and some are marine sanctuaries. Over the week we experienced a little of each and more.

I boarded the ship at Seattle's Pier 56 along with 12 other Travel Agents and assorted other passengers. I was assigned a cabin as a single traveler, and was glad for that. As we all lined up to have our ID photos taken and partake in the scrumptious appetizer of gravlox, capers, hard-boiled eggs and onion we introduced ourselves and met some of the other agents. It was soon evident that the typical passenger on this sailing was an 'active' senior. The average age of the passengers (not including the agents) was about 75. With no elevators on the ship it would be neccessary that this group be quite healthy.

We left port at 11pm and had a wonderous view of the Seattle skyline.
I did not sleep well the first night aboard ship. All cabins have twin beds which are bolted to the floor. The cabins were typical of a cruise ship and the room appointments were minimal.

I awoke early and found my way to the bow area to take pictures of the emerging day.
Out of the mist, small islands came into focus, the morning glow spreading over the horizon like melting butter. Majestic mountains arose from the sea, their snow covered tops catching the first rays of the sun. Exploring the ship in the eerie first light, nearly alone, armed with a cup of hot coffee and my camera I stood at the railing and smiled. To be out on the water again was so pleasing and satisfying. It's been too long.

Day one: After breakfast we board small DIB's (Demaree Inflatable Boats) wearing attractive orange life vests and head to the beach on Sucia Island, a protected marine sanctuary island.

There is precious little wildlife on theses islands except birds and squirrels. The walking path is wide and easy. The only creature we saw on our hike was the Banana Slug. John, our naturalist for the trip entertained us with slug tales. These are apparently the largest slugs anywhere and the slime emitted from their bodies cannot be removed with any chemical discovered to date....Only after the slime dries can it be peeled off. So, be careful if you should ever run across one of these guys.

After walking about 1 mile through the fairly young forest (Only about 150 years old due to clear cutting) we poured out onto a wide stretch of beach. From this ribbon of sand we could see islands in the distance which belonged to both Canada and the United States. In the not too distance past, these islands were populated by smugglers of all sorts of goods. During the prohibition years much liquor was passed from Canada to the US through these waters.

After a briefing by the naturalist, it was decided that some of the group would go back on the same trail to where the trail began and return to the boat. The rest of us would continue on a more difficult hike around the far point. I took the more adventurous route and found it to be a very narrow path poised right on the edge of a cliff for much of the way. The terrain was more hilly here and the path had many exposed tree roots and large rocks. The views were magnificent and the hike was well worth it.

We arrived back at the beach to find the DIBs waiting to return us for lunch on board. During lunch we motored past many more small islands, some with lovely homes or cabins. A dozen or so harbor seals sunned themselves on the rocks along one shoreline. By the time lunch was finished we had arrived at our second island adventure spot of the day, Matia Island. Again we went ashore using the DIBs. This island was much different from the first. Where the first island was a relatively young forest, this island was populated with the same vegetation but was a true OLD growth forest. The trees were giants and had stood watch over this piece of land for 600-1000 years. I forgot to bring my camera along on this landing! It was spectacular, you'll just have to believe me. A very small island in view of some very large ones, we traversed the entire island is just under an hour, stopping along the way to admire the views and the habitat.

Back to the Yorktown Clipper and a wonderful dinner, our first day is nearing the end. Drinks in the lounge were tasty and welcome. Lively conversations about our day and getting to know my traveling companions, along with such a busy day meant that a good night's sleep would be easy to achieve, after a couple of Aleve for my aching legs!


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