Friday, September 4, 2015

All You can Eat Halibut -- 7/26/2015

After that long walk yesterday, we 'sleep in' this morning in Kake, AK, until the late hour of 6A.  Looking out the window we see  Matanuska, Alaska State Ferry, heading north after her exchange of passengers, and also note that our halibut fisherman has left on his daily run.

The WX prediction for Frederick Sound still shows strong winds, so we stay in Kake another day.  Seas are fairly calm here, but all will change in the afternoon.

On our walk around town Friday we had seen a Presbyterian Church, so I Google it for the service times.  11A gives us plenty of time for breakfast, eagle watching, and checking eMail (so good to have Internet here).   On the road to church I am so overcome with excitement to see the red chiminea on the deck of a building, and especially enjoy the dog, who is sleeping at the edge of his yard.  In the words of our friend Ray, the dog decides we are worth opening only one eye to watch us as we walked by him.

Life is Good!

A 15 minute walk gets us to the street corner where we can see the church – uh, oh, there are no cars here.  Is it possible they are a seasonal church?  But wait!  It is summer and this is the mild season.  Then we see the children on the swings and the church door open.  Good.  So maybe everyone walks to church.

Near the entry is a small wooden model of a house or church with a slit in the roof for offerings.   We find a seat and are soon greeted by many local people and the Pastor, Joey Chang, originally from South Korea and a five year resident of Kake.   We realize we had actually met him Friday, and learn the group with the children dressed in white shirts and ties is from the church, and had been to Grave Island for a burial.  From a window of our boat we can see Grave Island, part of the Mosquito Islands.

The drums and projection screen near the piano make us  feel right at home, being reminiscent of our days at St. Michael and All Angels, Longview TX.

Near the end of the service a man takes the offering box to Pastor, who says a blessing.  I think this is a discreet way to make monetary gifts private.
After the service we are invited to the Parish Hall for lunch, and when I hear ‘halibut,’ I unilaterally accept!  What a feast.  Halibut sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, watermelon, and cookies.   We go back for seconds.

We are joined at lunch by Pastor Joey and a couple from Pennsylvania, who work with the organization, Friends of Southeast Alaska (FOSEA).  Dr. Harvey B and daughter Sarah visit churches and town leaders in various villages to assess the needs and later put together teams to help.  Some of the things they help with are construction, education, and largely providing support for the local leaders.

The church’s website notes a Mission Statement in addressing the problem in Kake with substance abuse and family violence, and Herb and I actually saw evidence of that on the first night we were here at City Dock.   We haven’t seen it since then, so maybe progress is being made.

In some cases FOSEA members are able to assist in the work itself.  Years ago Dr. Harvey's team painted the kitchen in the Parish House, Kake being the first place they visited when they began working with FOSEA.  Of interest is that Dr. Harvey is in his third career, the first being an English teacher, then a Presbyterian Priest, and now member of FOSEA.  He laughingly says he is handing his work off to Sarah, the new generation.

I am so fascinated with the First Nation art and find an opportunity to take a photo.  Pastor Joey takes my camera and says he will capture Herb and me with the art.

When we return to Willie’s Tug after lunch, our new friend, the halibut fisherman, comes back from fishing and shows us many, many beautiful salmon.  Herb visits with him quite a while and learns that he has lived here all his life and his wife, Margo, is the lady who bakes the fresh bread.  We tell him we are sorry to have missed her yesterday, but our walk was longer than we expected.  We will be here today and place our order, if she bakes again.

Herb asks Timothy, as we learn his name, if people dock their boats where Willie’s Tug is, as we see the inside of the dock is filled with skiffs.  He replies that is is a public dock.  “No,” Herb says, “I am asking if anyone regularly has this space on a daily basis, as we see some skiffs are rafted.”  Timothy laughs and says, “I do.”

He always rafts to a boat that never goes out, and we had also noticed his boat is larger than the others here and he would have an easier time and shorter walk up the dock each day with his fish if he had his regular place. We all laugh at this and Herb tells him we will give the space back on Tuesday.  We have made a friend.


Margo brings a warm loaf of fresh baked yeast bread in late afternoon, and dinner tonight is pan sauteed fresh salmon and hot buttered bread.  Dessert is this wonderful bread drizzled with wild honey given to us last year by friend, Nancy.  Can’t get any better!

Do we go or do we stay?  Tonight there is a bit of chop and wind to bounce us.

Our reason for the cruise to Alaska is to get to Sitka and immerse ourselves in the history, beginning with the Russians.  Fate led us to Kake, and we are having a rich experience learning about this Tlingit village and the wonderful, friendly, hard working people we meet.  I still have many questions – like what about the intricate network of exposed water pipes I see – will they be covered in winter?

First Nation Art in the Parish Hall
Willie of Willie's Tug, 
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, July 26, 2015

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