Sunday, 7 July 2013

196 The Alaska Marine Highway

Wednesday 3rd July 2013 miles Today 20 Total 11,928

We spent today as rest day and only went out of our room for a quick trip to a local lake where the bears go fishing. Unfortunately not today, we did however see these guys lurking in their king size bed. Bear in mind these fellows are about 60cm (2') tall and this gives you some idea of the nest size.

The Chikoot river where the bears feed on the spawning salmon. Sadly not today.
This is a real, and in use, totem pole. This river holds a lot of significance with the local Indians and is revered as a place where disputes are settled.

Once back at the motel, we got busy stripping our kit down so we could take what we needed up onto the passenger deck of the ferry (as access to the bike is not allowed when as sea). 

These motels always look tatty on the outside but are usually very nice once you open the door. I suppose the harsh winters take their toll.

Thursday 4th July 2013 Miles Today 250 total 12178

An early 7am start with one of those alien things that I believe from my distant memory that they call an alarm clock. We packed up quick and drove back to Chilkoot lake to look for bears but they were obviously still asleep. It was then back to the ferry to book in for our 42 hour sailing to Prince Rupert.

The MV Muntana. Our home for the next2 days.

The ferry, although similar in design to a UK channel ferry, they serve a much more serious purpose. The name of the service gives it away, it is the 'Alaskan Marine Highway'. For much of this part of Alaska there are no road connections so the only way in is by sea or air. Like this sign post we saw on the dock in Juneau.

Once on the boat and in our cabin we made lots of new friends with similar interests.

Karen, Esther and Ro (Rochelle)

Boat buddies. Karen, Ro, Esther, Si, Jacob and Stephan.
In the above piccy, Ro and Si (Rochelle and Simon) are from California and water ski from their garden most mornings before work (really). They are on a 1200 BMW. Jacob and Stephan are from Southern Germany (one of our favorite places). Jacob is in a VW camper van and Stephan is touring Alaska on a push bike. We intend to pop in to see Ro and Si when in San Fransisco.

 The views were spectacular as expected and we saw some of what we were wishing for, whales. All told we saw 4 killer whales (Orca's) and 3 humpbacks. One of the Orcas was playing tag with a seal (prepping it for dinner !). Unfortunately they are above the water for such a short time that we could not photograph them.

The rock streams in this glacier were amazing.

We had a scheduled stop at a place called Juneau. It is actually the capital of Alaska but has no connecting roads to anywhere. It was neat place but the ferry dock is 15 miles from the town so we departed the ferry and caught a cab into town with Si, Ro, and Esther. On arrival at the town Esther went in search of an Internet link and the rest of us went shopping and then to a bar. Sadly, we had a bit of a link up problem and Esther did not get back on the boat on time. We saw her arrive at the port from the deck as the boat was pulling away. We tried to get the Captain to return to port but he, perhaps understandably, was having none of it.

Poor Esther had to wait overnight and then catch the early flight and meet us at our next main stop, Ketchikan then next day.

A feisty lady by the name of Nancy joined our company. She was traveling alone in a small motorhome. She managed to get the chief engineer, Matt, to take us on a trip of the engine room. Needless to say, this was not Karen's thing so Nancy, Si and I went.

One of the huge turbo's feeding the main engines.

Twin 9 cylinder turbo diesels.

Ray, Nancy and the Engineer Matt, all stood on the very back of the boat.

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