Veteran and Caregiver Couples Once-In-A-Lifetime Fishing Trip in Elfin Cove, Alaska.
Elfin Cove is a small fishing community located on Chichagof Island, a four-hour boat ride from Juneau. With approximately 30 fulltime residents, the cove comes to life during spring and summer due to the tremendous runs of ocean-bright salmon. A local commercial fisherwoman, Debra Page wanting to give back to those who serve rallied the small community together to give two veterans and their caregivers a hero’s welcome and once-in-a-lifetime five-day retreat. With the help of three lodges, donating transportation, fishing and lodging, the Elfin Cove community was able to do just that.
Attending the trip were Dave and Angel Williams and Jake and Jamie Taylor along with Ken Sutherby, Hope For The Warriors Outdoor Adventures Director.
In 23 years of marriage, the was the first vacation for United States Marine Corps veteran Dave Williams and his wife Angel.
Upon the conclusion of this retreat they shared, ““It felt like we were reading about it in an adventure novel or something,” said Dave and Angel.
The parents of five beautiful children, veteran Jake Taylor and wife, caregiver and nursing student, Jamie spent most of their date nights over the past few years in hospitals while Jake was recovering.
Jamie shared, “As my husband’s caregiver, I don’t get many opportunities to get away and enjoy myself. This trip was a much-needed respite from my daily worries and stresses. The location was conducive to rest and relaxation and I enjoyed myself immensely.”
While absorbing the breath-taking Alaskan wilderness, the couples spent four days sport fishing, hiking and time at two high-end sport lodges. During their excursions, they caught over 500 pounds of fish, including salmon, halibut, and rockfish. Not only did their catches secure future food for the families but also provided relaxation and camaraderie.
One of the lodges which support the retreat was Tanaku Lodge and is run by Susan and Dennis Meier and Christy and Jim Benton. With several veteran family members, Susan said they have been dreaming about hosting a veteran trip.
“Hosting these couples and Ken was honestly a dream come true,” said Susan. “We have wanted to do this for a very long time. This place is very special to us. Raising our kids here during the summers and the love we all have for this Alaska experience, I knew it would be a great place for veterans to find some beauty and peace, like it has for us.
“It’s one little thing we can do for these amazing people that do so much for our country. Both the veterans and spouses have given us so much and it was a treat to get to know them and have them as our guests. I know they touched the hearts of us all,” added Susan.
Also assisting with accommodations and sport fishing expeditions were Mike Leboki and Joe Klavic with Eagle Charters, while Kelly and Mary Crump owners of Water’s Edge Lodge assisted with the four-hour ferry ride to and from Elfin Cove and transporting the groups’ hefty haul of fish back to Juneau.
Debra Page’s family of her husband and two sons, who each captain their own commercial fishing boats in the area, hosted the veterans in their homes and on their boats for part of the trip.
Reflecting on this retreat and all the planning that went into it, Debra Page shares, “Besides wanting to say thank them myself, I wanted to involve my community in something unifying and just good in these turbulent politically divisive times. And the community did come together. This trip was a group effort.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Outdoor Adventures programs, please apply for service.