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banner - diary of william mccaslan scaife covering the years 1919 thru 1920

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Got to Chicago about 3 P.M. Mar. 11th. Went to musical comedy "Sometime" that night but didn't get to see it thru.

Left Chicago at 11:45 P.M. On Olympian, a C.M. St.P. train. Enjoyed every minute of the trip across. Saw some fine scenery. Met a member of the Lost Battalion and a Norwegian engineer studying certain things in this country. He was on a mission for his government. An ex-soldier was taken off the train at Butte, Montana, almost dead. Poor fellow was on his way home. Got to Seattle at about 9 P.M. Mar. 14. Stayed at Frye Hotel that night. Next morning reported to Capt. Pratt at sub-office. Reported aboard Surveyor about 10 A.M., Mar. 15th. The officers aboard are Capt. Hardy, Mr. Sobieralski, Dailey, Mower, Lewis, Bond, Healy, Overton, Locke, and myself. Sullivan left for the East a few days ago. Was with Mower in Miami. He lost practically all his goods on the Isis. The Surveyor has been outfitting for Alaska and so have I. Locke got my rifle and some other stuff for me at cost thru the purchasing agent of the Alaska Engineering Commission. Mrs. Locke and Mrs. Bean were down for dinner night before last. I spent last Sunday afternoon with Wilbur out at the University of Washington, and took dinner with him. This brings me up to the present time. The foregoing is a poor and brief sketch. It only touches on the high spots, and on a very few of them at that. There are single days which deserve pages, and which have not been touched at all. I will only say that if the seven months which I expect to spend in Alaska prove as eventful as the past seven months have proven, I have a lot of adventure in store.

As far as today's events are concerned; they consist of an exhibition of guns, a visit by Wilbur, and an addition made to our graphaphone records by Mr. Sobieralski, who brought some real classical ones down. I wrote to Auntie and Roro and Lowrie today. Didn't set foot off the ship the whole day.

Monday, Mar. 29

We moved around to the Standard Oil Dock at about 9:30 this morning this morning to take on oil. After dinner I took a working party of eight men over to the locks to help Capt. Pratt move some boats to the place where he was having a shed built. Went aboard the Explorer, which was just outside the locks. Saw Jack Senior and met Ratti. Saw Matthews on the dock. Got back at about 5:10. Ship was at Lander St. Dock. Went to "Maytime" tonight and got stuck on the front row. Enjoyed the show very much.

Tues., Mar 30

O.D. today, the last day we expect to spend in civilization for about 7 months. Made a couple of trips to the Union Oil Co. Office. Jones, of the Explorer, came around and took supper. Dr. Soule came aboard at supper time, and brought his wife and two daughters, who took supper with us. The doctor is certainly a whopper. As O.D. it fell to me to search the belongings of a steward who left tonight. However, he didn't have any belongings except those on his back, so I got out of an unpleasant job. Wrote five letters and six cards today.

Wednesday, Mar 31

Shoved off for Alaska at 11:20 A.M. Wilbur was down to help cast off our lines. Frost this a.m. Hear that there was sleet last night. Soon after dinner something like a mixture of hail and snow came down. Saw a little snow on the banks of Puget Sound, so I can imagine what it will be up north. Admiralty Inlet was a slight bit choppy. Felt inclined to get sea-sick, but got into smooth water before I did. We had an abandon ship and a fire drill this afternoon. The scenery is something grand. We passed between a large number of islands this afternoon. Far ahead could be seen a snow-clad range until darkness shut it out. The night revealed a large number of lights. I drew the 4-8 watch with Healy. Some water got thru my porthole onto my bunk this afternoon. Just escaped a wet bunk.

Thurs., Apr. 1

When I came on we were on a long, straight course. The water was very smooth. On both sides could be seen the outlines of mountains. As the light came on, snow could be distinguished on the distant mountains and trees on the nearer mountains. The most impressive range was a long, jagged, snow-covered one on the right hand side of Georgia Strait. I was on the bridge when the sun first peeped over the mountains, waiting to catch an amplitude at its first appearance. Before I could see the sun itself, I could see its light on a high snow-covered mountain on the left-hand side of the Strait. The pink coloring on the snow is impossible to describe. I received a thrill which was deep and genuine. All the scenery that I have seen in the East is tame compared with this, and I suppose I have seen the East's best. When we were close to Cape Mudge we slowed down to swing ship, as we had a couple of hours to spare in order not to reach Seymour Narrows before slack water. Saw the old clipper ship "Dashing Wave" on the beach near Cape Mudge. Went thru Seymour Narrows in a few minutes. The Narrows look to be only about as wide as Enoree River at Musgrove Mill. After going thru the narrows I saw snow falling on the mountains on both sides of the channel. At about 11 A.M. it came down to the water. It stopped snowing in the afternoon, but started again. At 5:10 P.M. we anchored in Alert Bay. There is a village on the bay of a few scattered houses. A cannery is located here. There are a number of totem poles along the beach, the first I ever saw outside of captivity. We had a regular wardroom powwow tonight. Healy is a prince. Glad that I come on watch with him. Seafaring has brought out the best sides of him. He is very polite and considerate,-never speaks louder than a moderate tone, so far at least; but I would hate to reckon with him in a scrap.

Friday, Apr. 2

Got underway at 5:30. Water rough in Queen Charlotte Sound. Got seasick. We passed between timbered mountains most of the day. Light snow was down to the water's edge. Heavy snow on the tops. Day clear and cold. Anchored at 6:08 in McLoughlin Bay, near Bella Bella. Saw some Indian graves on scaffolds just before we got into the bay.

Saturday, Apr. 3

Got up at 3:30. Got underway at 4:00. Passed the old "Sidney" at about 4:45. At about 7:30 we entered Klemtu Pass. It looked as if I could have thrown a stone ashore on either side with my left hand, but they say that appearances here are deceiving. Anyhow, we passed thru much more narrow water than Seymour Narrows. During the morning the snow line came right down to the water. Just after dinner it started snowing lightly, and continued off and on until night. In the afternoon several waterfalls were passed. The scenery today was magnificent. Great spruce covered mountains came right down to the water on both sides. Great gaping draws led back between the mountains to the Lord knows where. Most of the mountains had a thick mantle of snow on top, with snow of more or less thickness all the way down to the water. On account of the snow it was decided that it wouldn't be safe to go on tonight, so at 6:26 we dropped anchor about 3/4 mile south of Kennedy Island. On all sides of us are mountains of the same kind that I have already described. It seemed that every mountain had its slides. I suppose there were hundreds of slides seen. In places the faces of mountains consisted largely of sheer, bare rock. This is the country for me. I have been hearing the call of the wild stronger and stronger. I suppose that it is in my blood.

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