A bright forest green wooden boat with the American Flag waving proudly above was an eye-catcher… or perhaps, an eye-sore at the City of Thorne Bay Harbor It was the ‘home sweet home’ of a Vietnam vet named Russ.
I did not know Russ except to wave and say “hi” when our paths crossed while attending to “business” in the City of Thorne Bay. He is one of many Vietnam era vets who live in Southeast Alaska with their grey hair pulled back in pony-tails, wearing time-worn faces above time-worn clothing, tooling about “the city” on quads. Russ’ quad had a smaller version of the stars and stripes waving his presence, proud of his country and service.
Some made their homes on “southside” and boated across Thorne Bay from Davidson-Landing to the city center. Russ made his home right there in the harbor where he had easy access to Thorne Bay Market, City Library, and The Port where mail can be picked up everyday, and a cup of espresso and a Nathan’s hot dog can be enjoyed with friends.
Russ’ method of heating aboard his green boat confounded me as his deck always had a prominent stack of firewood dwindling and growing as the gloomy, rainy or snowy days of winter waxed and waned. To my knowledge, the Thorne Bay Volunteer Firemen were never called to Russ’ place.
About three years ago, I noticed the boat was missing from its slip in the harbor. Russ must have parted company with Thorne Bay Harbor as I have not seen it in the past three years since. I do not know if he made a final trip to the great harbor in the sky, sold his quaint floating home and became a soil-bound resident somewhere, or what. Guess I could ask, but I would much rather envision Russ on a perhaps occasionally perilous adventure of his own making on his green wooden boat investigating the nooks and crannies of the Alaskan coastline. Where ever Russ may be I wish him Godspeed.