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Alaska's Inside Passage
July 31 - August 7, 2005

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.

Fourteen of us spent eight days and seven nights aboard the M/V Catalyst, a wooden boat built in 1932 as the University of Washington's first oceanographic research vessel. We set sail in Juneau and meandered our way south to Petersburg -- about 200 miles, as the marbled murrelet flies. Along with Eliza and me were my dad and his girlfriend Cheryl, my sister Linda and her boyfriend Rudolf, and my other sister Cheryl, her husband Richard, and their kids Owen and Athena. We were joined by a phenomenal crew: captain Craig Foss Campbell, engineer Bill Bailey, cook Erica Fickeisen and naturalist Hans Bruning. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Catalyst would be lost.

Providing our entertainment were humpback whales, mountain goats, short-tailed weasels, sea cucumbers, sea lions, seals, eagles, otters, bears, clams, worms, chitons, limpets, porpoises, salmon, terns, loons... I'm not the sort to go nuts over nature, but I was awestruck. While in the 49th state I also gorged on fresh crab, skipped stones, lazed in hot springs, learned to play "Speed Scrabble," watched glaciers calve, and marveled at the miracle of fleece pants.

Hide the pies!

Our home for the week, at Wood Spit.

Best. Rainbow. Ever. It lasted two hours.

OMG! Eliza sees a shrimp!!

Rudolf, Linda and Hans at Dawes Glacier.

The glacier rises 250 feet above the water.

The Catalyst dodges ice bergs.

Picking blueberries at Ford's Terror.

The shore party hikes across the rocks.

Taking a breather on the beach.

Waterfalls waterfalls everywhere.

The Catalyst, anchored in Ford's Terror.

Coffee on the poop deck.

I'm sitting behind Eliza in our kayak... we paddle up Ford's fjord...

...trailing Linda and Rudolf.

Alaska's lousy with whales...

...blowing, breaching, tail-slapping, fluking... these monsters in Frederick Sound.

Athena and Cheryl on East Brother Island.

Owen is one cold-blooded dude.

Eliza spots a 'shroom in the pillowy moss.

Beachcombing during a low-ass tide.

Eliza and starfish on West Brother Island.

Athena finds some starfish too.

A galaxy of starfish.

Eliza loves sea urchins.

A galaxy of boots.

Hans spots hundreds of sea lions.

It's so cold in Alaska.

Cute, though I don't get it either.

Erica prepares a kickass meal in the galley.

Bill in the engine room. Ka-chunk ka-chunk.

Me in the wheelhouse. Call me Ishmael.

Craig motors us away from Baird Glacier.

Cheryl and Dad enjoy the ride.

Our fearless leader/activity director, Hans.

Drinky Crow loves Alaska.

For emergency use only.

Arrival in the fishing village of Petersburg.

In Petersburg's marina.

After a week on the boat, a welcome sight.

The end... Or is it? Yeah, it's the end.

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© 2004-2011 Steve Mandich