I left Glacier Bay by ferry and went back to Juneau through the rain, arriving there late in the evening. I had a ferry scheduled for the next day. It would take me south to the end of Alaska. But first I had to spend a night and a day in Juneau.
It was not raining when I set up camp at the Mendenhall Glacier Campground just outside Juneau, but during the night the rain started again. There is something hypnotic about rain on a tent roof, but I was not thrilled to wake up to a cold, foggy, misty day. Plus, I had hours stretching before me until it was time to get on the ferry. Needing to wait until late afternoon, I decided to go see Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier.
There was a baby black bear walking around there, cute as can be. The rangers were keeping him separate from the visitors. They said they want him to learn how to be a bear, and so they were trying to prevent his contact with people.
The trip south on the ferry would be two days and two nights, stopping in Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan. I had been told that people set up their tents on the fantail (the back) of the boat each night, and indeed one young couple did that very thing. They were a medical student who was doing an internship in Juneau and his wife. Most people, though, put out their sleeping pads in one of the several lounges for the night. It was warm and dry and quiet in there, and I got an excellent night’s sleep in my little nest.
There were two other bikers on the ferry, both my age. Sue, from Arizona, has outlived two husbands, Now she travels around in an RV, a “toy hauler” that has a garage for her motorcycle. She rode her Harley Trike up to Alaska, and was headed back to Washington where she had left her RV.John is from Colorado. Like Sue and me, he was finishing up his Alaska trip and pointing the nose of his Yamaha towards home.
The Inland Passage, I overheard a man say, is the greatest poor man’s cruise in the world. We traveled along between the Coastal Mountains on our left and mountainous islands on our right. Often we went through narrow channels not much wider than the boat, sharing them with dozens of humpback whales. We could see the large cruise ships from time to time, far out in the ocean. They couldn’t come where we were, but when we got to the larger cities, they would be there too, dumping their passengers out to explore the high priced souvenir stands and pick up trinkets to help them remember their once-in-a-lifetime trip. Ugh!
So now I am in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It is the end of the line. Alaska is over for this trip. From here I will start the long trip back to my son’s home in Wyoming. Richard, a forester from British Columbia, has been drawing maps for me, helping me plan out stops at native villages along the way.
As I leave Prince Rupert, I will pass over the Coastal Mountain Range, leaving the rain forest of Southeast Alaska behind, and going into the rain shadow desert on the eastern side. I am quite ready for that desert. Let’s hear it for being dry for a change. Yay!!