Monday, May 26, 2014
We anchored last night in the Bay of Pillars. Our picturesque anchorage is on Kuiu Island. Kuiu Island is the most unique island in Southeast Alaska. The island was at one time, a long time ago, south of the equator and has many fossils and unique geology and the plan is to spend the entire morning here. It is another absolutely glorious day. (Where is all the rain we were braced for on this trip?)
I skip my YAYOG workout because I already know we will be getting plenty of “real” exercise today. Janet, Rich and I meet at 7:00 am for yoga with Shannon. We hope it will limber us up for the day’s activities.
The chef has prepared a delicious mushroom/goat cheese scramble today served with apple sausages. Another fantastic breakfast from Chef Steve. Directly after breakfast Steve shows up to reveal the day’s choices for lunch and dinner.
Time to start the excursions. For this morning we have a choice of a short shore hike or a 2-3 hour strenuous hike. Of course, Rich and I are game for the long trek. Janet and Eric choose the shore hike. We all gather at the stern to go ashore.
Flora is the leader for our long hike, however she has never done this one before. She is armed with bear spray (!) and a “trail” map. We spend quite a while on the shoreline trying to find the trail. It was a smart move to wear our muck boots on this one since we are slogging through a bog.
Flora finds what may resemble a trail and the six of us begin slashing our way into the old growth forest. We are truly “bushwhaking” as we crawl over and under logs, dodge Devil’s Club plants (which are truly nasty with spiky thorns) and generally make our own path. It is way cool.
There was some talk of making it to a lake, but we have deviated so far off the actual trail, that there is no way we are even close. We all have a great time and are happy when we finally make our way back to the shoreline. That is until one of the crew who had joined us (Sara – pastry chef) realizes that she was taking pics with her phone and now it is no longer with her… Flora and several others make a brave attempt to backtrack and find it, but it is next to impossible to retrace our steps.
When we all gather to await the dinghy to return us to the Explorer, Rich and Paul engage in a water fight:
On the way back to the Explorer we enjoy watching the many sea otters who are just hanging out probably watching US. We even spy a mama floating on her back with a little baby on her tummy.
Our excursion was quite long and we are starving by the time of our return. Good thing it is lunch time. Today we are served Baked Penne with Bolognese and Sarah’s special Guava Sorbet with a cinnamon puff pastry cookie. Wow.
This afternoon we sail into one of Captain Mike’s favorite places – Gut Bay. Each time we make a stop it seems to be more beautiful than the one before and this is no exception.
The back deck will be open all afternoon for kayaking, skiff tours and stand up paddleboarding. I have been wanting to try SUP for a long time, but I am still concerned about falling off into this freezing water. This morning Shannon assured me that she thinks my balance is so good that I will not fall off. Hmmm
As it turns out, one of the crew – Jaki – will be doing SUP today. I am strongly considering trying it with her. I sit with Jaki on the back deck as the kayakers set sail.
This is Janet’s first time in a kayak and she looks great! She is sharing a kayak with one of the crew – Jessica. Janet is in the back so she will be steering. Rich is setting the pace in a double kayak with Bob. Good luck!
As the group of kayaks pull away Jaki and I are studying the water with a bit of trepidation (me more than her). It is getting rougher. I am thinking today will not be a good day for a rank beginner. The guys on the deck convince me to try it anyway. I think they are just looking for some excitement when I fall in. The Engineer says he gives me 15yds away from the boat before I crash and burn.
So far so good (notice that Jaki is standing up on her board…)
I watch as Jaki expertly kneels on her board, gets shoved away from the boat and stands up with ease. Then it is my turn. Jordan shows me where to kneel and he says that I can just kneel the entire time if I want. I feel relatively stable and they shove me off.
The water is pretty choppy now and I am trying to paddle while kneeling. This turns out to be quite a workout for my quads and my thighs are burning in no time. I begin to think that I would be better off if I could only manage to stand. Jaki coaches me to lay the oar crosswise on the front of my board and then plant both feet basically in a squat. I am supposed to slowly stand up all at once while holding my paddle. Harder than it sounds. I manage to get all the way up and my legs are shaking like crazy, but I am proud of the accomplishment.
It doesn’t take long before I begin to relax and start paddling. This is awesome!
I love it. We paddle all around the cove where the kayakers are. The water is very smooth here and it is easy going. Then it comes time to turn around and go back to the boat. The wind has picked up and our smooth ride turns into a choppy fight against the wind. Jaki and I both are working hard just to get anywhere – 1 step forward, 2 steps back. At one point Flora kayaks over to me and tells me that she can pull me in if I want. Nope. I am doing this on my own. Talk about your core workout…
As I finally near the Explorer I look up and see that almost everyone is on deck watching me. I refuse to fall with everyone there! I get all the way to the boat and make a smooth landing. Yay! Rich tells me he is very proud of me and I feel that way, too. It was quite an accomplishment for me.
Janet insists on Champagne and Nancy suggests adding a little St. Germaine (Elderflower liqueur) to it. Splendid.
Treats for tonight are both veggie and chorizo taquitos and they are wonderful. We have all worked up quite an appetite today. Everyone has stories to tell and pictures to share during Happy Hour tonight.
After dinner I join Janet and Eric in the hot tub for a little while. I think Eric could spend all his time in here.
I finally pull myself away and peek into the lounge where Rich and Gordon are chatting. Rich is cajoled into playing the piano. He goes through several Todd Rundgren classics, some Billy Joel and finally plays and sings Ben Fold’s “The Luckiest.” Yes, we are.