Friday, July 18, 2014

The Great Margaritaville cruise finds One Particular Harbor

Party boat.
Valdez, Alaska, seldom has a hot summer day. Built tight against the Chugach Mountains, surrounded by glaciers, and fronting on the ocean, it just isn't in a place that encourages heat. But there was a day in 1987 when the temperature rose so high, our favorite harbor bartender told us to take a table out into the parking lot to enjoy the late afternoon sea breeze. She promised someone would wait on us and someone did.

So, a bunch of us gathered around that table joined by others now and then and losing a participant occasionally, but a core of about eight of us remained for the duration. Conversation covered the gamut of fishing, boats and weather and sea stories until someone brought up the fact that Jimmy Buffett was playing a concert in Anchorage in the next couple of weeks and we were stuck so far away. There's a line in a Stan Rogers song about the same sort of gathering in which he sings "… with every jar that hit the bar …" a plan grew. It was that way on that hot night in a Valdez bar's parking lot.

With every jar that hit the bar we went from lamenting the fact that we would miss the concert to we could charter the tour boat I drove, get hold of concert tickets, arrange a bus ride from the harbor on the other side of Prince William Sound to the city and then sell tickets to the concert. People were responsible for their own meals and hotel.

First thing the next morning I approached the owner of the company. It being late August the tourist business had begun its late season decline and he allowed the charter. I contacted my daughter's mother in Anchorage and she purchased about $1,200 worth of concert tickets. A friend in another tour outfit scheduled one of the company's buses to take us to and from the harbor in Whittier and then to Anchorage and back and the marketing began. A few posters and a posting on the local cable channel scanner did the trick. We sold out within four days.

In a town with no movie theaters and a name performer coming by once every couple of years, people thirst for entertainment opportunities. Our plan was to leave early in the morning, reach Whittier in early afternoon and take the bus to Anchorage in plenty of time to make the concert.  The next day we would meet in a central location, take the bus back to Whittier and the boat back to Valdez.

What could go wrong? For once, nothing at all.  We had perfect weather crossing the sound, flat glassy water, blue skies and a party going on in the boat.  The owner had installed a generator the year before and in his wildest dreams I don't think he ever expected to hear it used to keep four blenders producing margaritas all day long. With lots of music over the stereo and a calm ride, the 120-mile, six-hour trip passed happily and uneventfully.

In Whittier we secured the boat, met the bus and headed for Anchorage. And finally I could have one of those margaritas.

A few hours later we gathered in our block of seats and enjoyed the concert.  Most of us had sailed for years with Jimmy Buffett singing the sound track, so we knew the songs and finally enjoyed a live performance.

Afterward we separated again and went our personal ways, eventually to hotel rooms or friends' couches.

The next day at noon everyone showed up to meet the bus, we didn't lose a soul, and off we went to the boat for the voyage home.

The weather hadn't changed and we enjoyed another clear, flat, glassy day. Feeling so good, I took the boat to places we didn't usually go on our trips and gave the folks a real treat in seeing Prince William Sound. One fellow who had been around for many years said we had showed him places he had never even heard of.  The waterfall in Cascade Bay was one  of those.

Night fell while we were still under way and we cruised toward the harbor in the dark on a party boat with lights blazing. Maragaritas still flowed, now it was all Buffett on the stereo and people were even dancing. We entered the harbor and I found the song I wanted.  "One Particular Harbor" and played it loud enough to be heard on shore.

Right in front of the windows that overlooked the harbor from that bar I did a couple of brodies in the harbor's turning basin while the song blasted and passengers danced on the weather deck, waving to people in the bar who by then had spotted us.

When the song ended I pulled up to the dock where tour boats discharged passengers and let the partiers off, then went to our own slip with the crew. Once we had the boat secured,  we all went up to the bar where the party was still in progress and lasted well into the night. At one point the owner of another bar in town, who had been on the trip, said it had been so good, if I wanted to do another one some time he would front the money. But that was for another day.  The euphoria of the experience still had a grip and the party kept going until the last jar hit the bar.

The next morning I woke up and walked into the main cabin. I felt something out of place and it occurred to me that you know you had a good party when you walk in the next day and your floor is still sticky from spilled margaritas. It took a while to clean that boat but it was worth it.  Over all, I lost about $90 for the effort and that was worth it too.

Now almost 30 years later I run into people who were on that cruise and they still talk about it. A defining moment?  Maybe. Just plain fun? Absolutely.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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