I am going to Alaska for a week and I’m only allowed to bring two pairs of pants. They are apparently very strict in Alaska about what you can and can’t bring with you. They gave us a packing list that we must follow to the letter. All of our clothes must fit into a 10” x 17” x 24” carry-on. Thankfully they are allowing me to bring five pairs of underwear, but that’s it. Not one pair more!
I guess maybe it’s not really the whole state of Alaska that is regulating my wardrobe. I think the list actually came from the fishing lodge. My wife’s folks are taking us to an all-inclusive fishing resort in southeastern Alaska. “Southeastern Alaska” is another way of saying, “the funny little hanging down part on the right side of Alaska that is really basically just the western coast of Canada.” So really, my wife’s folks are taking us to western British Columbia, so we should be able to get good strong beer but we don’t need our passports.
Whoever it is that is telling me I can only bring five pairs of socks, I think they are possibly concerned about the float plane. They are not the only ones. We fly on Alaska Airlines into Ketchikan, which is located on the southern tip of the U.S. portion of western British Columbia, Canada, where we will spend the night. In the morning, as the fishing lodge’s brochure tells us, a float plane will pick us up at our hotel. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I must assume our hotel is floating on a wharf in the middle of a large body of water. I can’t wait to sleep there. The float plane then takes us directly to the floating fishing lodge. Yes, the entire fishing lodge is also floating. Apparently everything in Alaska has to float. That could be why they limit the amount of pants you bring to their state. Too much heavy luggage and the entire state could go under.
Float plane… Hmm… The only parts of the float plane trip I am really worried about are the takeoff, the flight itself, and the landing. Everything else should be fine. A float plane is basically a fuselage with boat parts and plane parts that is not good at being either a boat or a plane. Who thought that was a good idea? I mean, I’m all for adventure and everything, and life is about taking risks, but let’s face it; you’re going to try to take off from and land this thing on the ocean. Do you know what a concrete runway never does? It never goes up and down. Do you know what never jumps up in front of planes taking off and landing on concrete runways? Humpback whales, that’s what.
As far as the flight itself goes, the boat parts of the float plane do absolutely nothing to help the plane fly once it’s in the air. In fact, they create quite a bit of what pilots call “drag.” Too much extra weight - let’s say from carry-on luggage containing excessive amounts of pants and underwear - and that drag can become a problem, causing the pilots to do something they call “swearing,” and something else they call “ditching.” You do not want to be in the same plane as a pilot who is saying the word “ditch” or anything through his teeth that rhymes with it.
I am thinking only of my children. I am not personally scared of float planes, or of any other type of obviously dangerous multi-use craft that appear to be the unholy spawn of a drunken hookup between Boeing and Boston Whaler. I am far too manly for that. The thing is, there is a very minute chance that something could go horribly, horribly wrong with the virtually foolproof task of removing a top-heavy catamaran from the choppy, wavy ocean at high speed using a propeller and wings, flying that boat in the air for miles and miles over a large, wide island that you cannot land on even if you wanted to, and then putting it safely back down in the whale-infested ocean. I mean, I’m sure it will all go fine, but on the off chance it doesn’t, I would simply prefer not to orphan our children in one fell swoop if we can avoid it. So I’ll try to get separate float plane trips for me and my wife, but if we have to fly together, I will personally go through each passenger’s 10” x 17” x 24” bag and count their pants.
My wife, on the other hand, was never worried about the float plane ride. (At least, not until now.) Since we’re talking about Alaska, and we’re talking about my wife, naturally she was worried about bears. She heard “Alaska” and thought, “No way. Too many bears.” Then she heard “floating lodge” and changed her mind. No problem! We’re out in the water. Bears can’t get us. Let’s go!
I heard “floating lodge,” took one look at the aerial photograph on the website (no doubt taken from a flying catamaran of death), and noticed that the lodge was in fact floating in a nice, protected horseshoe bay, but it was only twenty or thirty feet from the shore on one side. It might have even had a little gangplank.
I didn’t bother to mention to my wife that not only can bears swim really well anyway, they could probably walk to the lodge. I want her to come with us.
Neither of us have ever been to Alaska, and we’re looking forward to it. After looking at a map, it turns out it’s pretty big. I have relatives who live there, (in the real Alaska, not western B.C.), and when we were invited to come along on the fishing trip, my first thought was, “Hey, cool, maybe we can go see my cousins.” Then I looked on a map and realized that was like living in Florida, going to Wisconsin on vacation, and while you were there, trying to swing by California to visit someone.
Maybe we can catch a quick ride over to see them on the float plane.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen
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