Sea Lions and Otters and Deadliest Catch Boats – Oh My!

Alaska’s time zone is four hours behind Virgina’s time zone. By circadian logic, when my alarm went off at eight am in Alaska, it would be noon in Virginia, and I should have been more than ready to spring from my bed and embark on our Alaskan adventures of the day.

However, I was not.

I groaned and turned my alarm off, rolling over and feeling completely disoriented. On the other side of the room, Megan was up and alive and about ready to go within ten minutes. I envied her.

Fifteen minutes later I finally dragged myself out of bed. As I was pulling on my rain boots, Megan was idly scrolling through her phone.

“So as for breakfast places, I found a couple near us – The Little Cordova Bakery, How Brewed- Oh,” She paused, brow furrowing. “Gary just texted me to let me know breakfast is ready whenever we are.”

We pulled on our coats, and just before leaving we decided to explore the small courtyard outside of our room. It was drizzling lightly, but we felt confident in our rain apparel and stepped outside into the damp grass anyway. There was a small bench to our left overlooking the marina where most of the town’s fishing boats were housed, with a small mermaid statue sitting on a rock next to it.

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We spent a few minutes watching the boats through the misty rain with our new mermaid friend, before leaving our hotel in pursuit of our breakfast.

When we arrived at Gary and Libby’s, we could smell the overpowering waft of smokey sausage cooking before we even entered the house.

“Oh my Godddd,” I gaped. “I’m so glad they texted us before we went out somewhere.”

Megan walked up to the front door and turned the knob, entering as if she were a part of the family. I would learn this would become customary. Gary and Libby made sure you felt like you were at home.

“Hello!” Megan called out, and was greeted by several murmured hello’s back from within. Greg the Field Rep was sitting at the large dinner table in our direct line of vision, on his computer. He was wearing polar bear pajama pants.

Gary was in the kitchen, cooking up the source of the savory smell. I made a weak joke about smelling the food from our hotel and driving over here just following it. I got a few pity laughs from my audience.

Vicki, one of the committee members, was also at the kitchen table, and another individual, who I would come to find out was Libby’s son Eric, was standing in the kitchen with Gary. Laura, another girl on the Cordova committee and an employee of the Powder  House, arrived to discuss event prep with us before work, and the auctioneer for the event, Suzanne, woke up and came to join us from the room she was staying at within the house. I quickly learned Gary and Libby’s home was more of a hub for anyone and everyone involved with this program.

Over breakfast (thick cut smoked bacon and sausage patties, and and an egg frittata that was to die for) we discussed the day’s to-do’s for the banquet on Saturday. One of these involved dropping off a receipt at the Net Lodge, a store that was lauded by the group, and getting a custom seal-fur purse made for a very tiny firearm. Greg paused from this discussion to pitch what would undoubtedly be one of the biggest highlights of the trip.

“So I think to give you girls a real Alaskan experience, we should probably get on out on a fishing boat…” He glanced over at Eric as he said this, and Megan and I glanced at once another, grinning from ear to ear.

Eric shrugged,  nodding. “Sure. I’m ready when you all are.”

Six of us piled into the Tahoe (Greg, Eric, Suzanne, Megan, Vicki and I), and drove down to the dock, Megan and I brimming with excitement. It was still misting, but we had become accustomed to the damp weather in the 24 hours we had been in the state, and had geared up accordingly.

Eric lead us to his boat when we arrived, and we piled on and hauled inside the cabin to protect ourselves from the weather, while Eric undocked her and then joined us aboard.

As we backed out of the canal and into the open water, we could already see otters swimming around in the water around us. I had never seen a wild otter before.

“Otters are an invasive species,” Vicki informed me, as I cooed over their cuteness. “They’ll just kill fish for fun. Bite their heads off and then leave the bodies floating.” I grimaced slightly, looking sadly out at the otters playfully kicking around in the water below us. “But they’re so cute….” I injected. Vicki shook her head. “I hate ’em.”

Poor otters.

We slowly drove out into the vast Prince William Sound, foggy mountains surrounding us, and took turns climbing out to the bow for views and pictures and climbing back into the cabin to escape the rain.

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The water was a rich blue. Glacier water has a beautiful, icy tint.

At one point, we passed a patch of land to our right that had thick clouds of smoke puffing up from the ground. Vicki pointed at it, and matter-of-factly said  “Oh there’s the burn pile.”

“The what?” I asked, unfamiliar with the concept.

“It’s where you take your trash to burn it,” She shrugged. I was later informed that’s just what you did with trash in this area. Alaska really is a different world.

We saw a few more otters, who would always cleverly duck beneath the surface before we had a chance to properly photograph them. About halfway into the ride, Greg pointed to a buoy in the distance and said “Oh look, there’s a sea lion!”

Megan and I immediately flocked to the front of the boat, gawking. We had never seen sea lions in the wild before. It lazily sat perched on the right of the buoy, glancing off into the distance, unaffected by our presence. A few minutes later, we were alerted of additional sea lions on another distant buoy. Originally counting two, we found out there were three squeezed together, this group perking up a little more at our presence.

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They glanced up at us, and I waved as if they would notice this. They didn’t.

We coasted out in the water for a few hours, circling around the cove we were in and swapping stories. At one point, Eric nodded over the steering wheel he was manning and pointed at a boat beside us. “That boat is from Deadliest Catch.”

We swarmed to the side of our boat closest to the massive fishing vessel. After watching it for a moment, Suzanne laughed and stated, “You know, I’ve never seen Deadliest Catch.” I laughed back. “Me neither.” Megan chimed in, also never having seen the show. We shook our heads at the irony of our starstruck enthusiasm, when we had no stock whatsoever in the individuals we were fawning over.

Skimming the water for a few more minutes, Eric turned the boat to return to the marina so we could unload and continue our chores for the banquet ahead. We all stepped off the boat and Megan had us gather around for a group picture, all of us soggy and disheveled from the rain.

We didn’t care. It was totally worth it.

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