Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Juneau, Alaska, to Sitka, Alaska

Today we were up bright and early because our fast ferry to Sitka left the dock at 8:30 a.m. The down side of that was that our check-in time was 6:30 a.m. and Val said if you don't show up on time, they will give your spot away!

So we got there a wee bit early and by 6:30 we were all checked in and in line waiting. We thought we would have plenty of time to have breakfast and get our freezer stuff loaded in our freezer storage boxes. As it was, we got to talking to another couple and ended up frantically getting stuff put away just before we had to drive onto the boat.

Interestingly enough, the fellow we were talking to is from Goshen, Indiana, my hometown. We had met him at the campground where we were staying. So we chatted a bit more and discovered his mom was my mom's hairdresser for as long as I could remember and in fact, she had done my hair a few times while I was in high school. So we had a nice visit. They were actually here with another couple and their motorhome. The woman fell and broke her arm in Fairbanks and the doctors here suggested she fly back home for treatment. So they left and Don and Dianne continued on the trip in their friend's motorhome. Whew! They are brave souls, but he had experience driving big rigs, so it's not a problem for him. We enjoyed visiting with them. I think they will be on our ferry on Saturday, but they are getting off in Wrangell and we will continue on to Ketchikan.

We traveled on the fast ferry this time, so the journey that would have taken eight hours was about 4.5 hours. Nice. It goes twice as fast and is a very smooth journey on a catamaran. We were pretty tired, having really pushed ourselves in Juneau, so we both catnapped a bit. The fast ferry is really comfortable and very spacious. There isn't as much seating outdoors, but it is cooler out there, so we stayed indoors. They have all types of seating and a play room for children. At one point we walked back to the galley to get some coffee and just then a pod of humpback whales appeared off our starboard side. Terry saw them first and saw a tail in the air as one whale dove down, but I wasn't that quick. I did see several whales in the pod breaching. It was pretty cool.

The ferry boats come down through and in between the many islands that make up the inside passage. They negotiate the Peril Straits as well as several other straights. Cruise ships don't come into these waters because of their size. They would not be able to get through the narrow, shallower areas. But the ferries do and that was interesting watching as the captain of our vessel wiggled his way through the islands, watching the buoys and his charts and getting us safely through. Once through, we could see Sitka off the bow and we soon were docking.

Once off, we drove through town and over the bridge to Japonski Island. There we found our campsite in the city park right across the road from the Coast Guard Station. We didn't plan to do much the rest of the day except rest up and check out the bus schedules. We did take a walk later to the bridge and took a few pictures. Tomorrow we will be visiting the town.

Till next time. . .


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