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An Apology to Kayley

Airship Goes to Alaska


We didn’t always get along with Kayley. Our friendship was the kind of friendship that started out too glowing and too perfect too early, and then slowly its faults and personality quirks were realized as they moved quickly into annoyances. But let me back up and tell you the whole story.

We first met Kayley (well, kind of) using the Active Captain plug-in app on our iPhones and iPads to scope out new anchorages and coves. The app gives you general information about the marinas and obstructions and fuel docks and water and nearby grocery stores and such, and then people write and post reviews of places they’ve been, and those reviews show up along with the other information about a place. It’s very helpful to hear what real people think about a spot…how good or bad the holding is in an anchorage, whether there’s wildlife or great scenery, tricky navigational challenges, etc.

We started to notice certain reviews in Active Captain that stood out from the rest. Most reviews are standard, to the point, factual mainly with a little bit of opinion thrown in but not much. Kayley’s reviews were different. They were flowery, but well written. Kayley told us about some pretty cool places with great, detailed descriptions of what we’d find there. We were pals. “Do you wanna go to such and such cove?” “I dunno, what does Kayley think of it?” 

I’m not sure exactly when it began to happen. I’d be reading the reviews of a place out loud to Kevin (and Tiffani and Deke, when they were traveling with us) as we tried to decide where to go next, and then I’d stop mid-sentence. “Oh. It’s Kayley.” I got so I could recognize her reviews from the first few words. The more places we read about, the more we got to know Kayley. It started to seem like Kayley had been everywhere, and loved everything. We were suspicious.

“Bears are present on almost a daily basis during the summer. Snow capped mountains loom above you in all directions. Bald eagles seem to perform an ‘air traffic control’ mission above you, the shorelines beg for exploration…” (December 2012)

In the span of a week or so, almost every place we read about, according to Kayley, was just the most amazing place on earth, with howling wolves at night, bald eagles gently flying overhead, goats covering the cliffs above you, sea otters and dolphins playing around your boat, a plethora of brown bears on shore, humpbacks whispering in your ear, tranquility you can only find in heaven, blah blah blah blah BLAH.

We began to distrust Kayley. We’d go to that little cove, and sure it was scenic (because, Alaska, duh), but there were no wolves, no goats, no orcas jumping over swimming unicorns next to your boat. (Of course there were always bald eagles because they’re everywhere up here, so do they really need special mention?) We started to give Kayley a personality that she probably didn’t have in real life. We made up our own Kayley to talk back to, because it was funny. 

Once, when we were at a little cove that Kayley said was “just okay” (but not in those words, of course), we saw two brown bears fighting on shore, and we could HEAR them growling from our boat. It was incredible! Tiffani and Deke had already flown home, and I texted Tiffani: “Brown bears fighting on the beach! Kayley can suck it!”  

We had a good laugh at that one. 

But something is different now. As we spend more and more time exploring this incredible area, and the more times we’ve consulted Active Captain to see what was waiting for us through the next narrow passage or inside that next cove, the more respect we’ve developed for Kayley. Kayley really HAS been everywhere…tiny, difficult, rock-guarded inlets that require a ton of skill to navigate — random “who knows why you’d even go in there” places — Kayley has been in all of them, and she’s taken the time and effort to write a rich, thoughtful review of each place, complete with navigation advice, comparisons to nearby alternatives, and yes, flowery, metaphor-laden Chamber of Commerce descriptions about the wildlife and quality of scenery. 

But you know what? It FEELS like that after you’re up here for a while. Each day you get to add some new incredible experience to your tiny little life, and it becomes a bit overwhelming, in a really REALLY good way. It is amazing and gorgeous and fabulous and fantastic and rainbows and breaching humpbacks all freaking day.

The extent to which Kayley has explored SO many nooks and crannies of this beautiful and remarkable area is mind boggling. Plus, most of her reviews are dated 2012. How did she cover so much ground in one season? 

Kayley is actually a total rockstar.

We realize now that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot with Kayley, and we jumped to some unfair conclusions about her and her prose. We feel badly about how we misjudged her.

Kayley, if you’re listening, we want to say thank you — we think you and your adjectives are the best!