Day 23 – June 28 – We stumbled to the harbor at 6:00 am after only three hours of sleep. We were boarding a U.S. ship for this left of our journey, on the Alaskan Marine Highway. Nancy went in to pick up the ticekts, was first in line to be waited on. One full hour later, she and the ticket agent came out to put destination stickers on the cars. Changes in the reservation, made weeks or months earlier, hadn’t been processed. A great deal of time was spent determining who was and who wasn’t going on the ship. Then, when he discovered we were travelling with dogs, we had to go back inside and issue tickets for the dogs! We finally got on the ship and underway. This ship was much more crowded, without adequate seating for everyone, but the sun was shining and the day was beautiful. During the course of the morning, the captain came on and announced that we had passed into Alaskan waters and we all gave a cheer. We had made it! A later docking at Ketchikan had everyone going ashort to actually stand on Alaskan soil. Pretty heady stuff after all the months of anticipation and the weeks we had spent getting there.
Along the way, we were lucky enough to actually see whales (although from a distance) and eagles. The scenery was magnificant. Snow-capped mountains over dense trees, crystal clear water, beautiful islands ranging from house-size to huge. Only occasional communities as there was no access except by ferry to any of the hundreds (thousands?) of islands. We all had cabins on this ship so most of us slept off and on throughout the day and crashed pretty early in the evening. The dog lovers among us got up during the late night port stops to walk and visit the dogs and, 12:30 in the morning, Ginger and Ross watched them navigate an extremely narrow passageway. Manuvering a 400 foot long ship through a 300 foot wide passage required 46 course corrections and was a pretty fascinating process, they said. The rest of us hoped for the best and slept through it.