11th to 14th May 2015 – The Alaskan Marine Highway

We board our Alaskan ferry The Columbia in Skagway and our MG’s are put into a lift and taken up to the top car deck one at a time.We start our Alaskan Marine Highway trip at 4:15pm just after one of the cruise ships leave. Fortunately the water is very smooth and we can barely feel the ferry moving.Our first stop is at Haines about 1 hour from Skagway, however we aren’t in port for long and the ferry terminal is quite a long way out of town so we stay on board. During dinner we pass a pod of beluga whales and see some porpoises playing around. The scenery is magnificent as we kick back and relax retiring to our cabin early to be gently rocked to sleep by the movement of the ferry.At midnight the ferry docks at Juneau for about 4 hours as we are all tucked up in bed, but Michael gets up to have a quick look.On 12th we see several pods of killer whales that the ferry overtakes as they cruise gently through the water. They are quite close to the ferry giving us a fabulous view of the adults and babies.It’s a lovely clear day but quite cool out on deck.In the Afternoon we dock at Sitka for 4 hours so we catch a bus into town. Sitka was once governed by Russia and the town has a strong Russian influence as well as the local Tinglit/Kiks people. We visit the Russian Church and cemetery.We walk to the Pioneers Building and totem square.We have a coffee overlooking snow capped mountains and the marina where there are bald eagles circling.The town features a totem trail through a lovely lush forest which is a good walk out of town but worth the effort.Sitka is a very quiet and pretty town.Back on the ferry we leave Sitka and relax on board with a beautiful sunset.On 13th at about 3 am the ferry docks at Petersburg while we sleep soundly. Later in the morning the ferry docks briefly at Wrangel, which looks a lovely little village where the water is very clam.At about 3 pm the ferry docks at Ketchikan and we disembark and walk 4 kilometers into the old town of Ketchikan. There are sea planes taking off and landing all the time as the only access to Ketchikan is by boat or plane. Ketchikan is built along the edge of the water and the sides of the mountain are very steep, so the houses are built high on stilts.As we need to be back at the ferry terminal by 4:45 pm we hire a local taxi driver to drive us to the sights of the town and back to the ferry. Our driver and tour guide is Lisa, she is a Tinglit First Nation descendant and she drives us around the old town telling us all about it.Lisa is a photographer and she hunts for deer during the summer, carefully only shooting the male deers taking less than her quita.ÿ She tells us that in the past 10 years she has only missed 1 shot!ÿ Lisa also catches her own shrimp and salmon laying down supplies for the winter months.ÿ What a girl she is! She is fabulous and first takes us to see some wonderful totems.Then we go to see the salmon steps, that the salmon use to make it upstream to breed, quite amazing really.Next we go to see a local fisherman fishing in the river for steel head salmonWe are then taken to Creek Street where the houses are built along the creek banks high on stilts.One of the houses is Dolly’s House which used to be a brothel and has a sign on the side – “Where both men and salmon came upstream to spawn”.It is back to the ferry at 4:45pm and we say good bye to Lisa and we continue our journey past Ketchikan and on towards Bellingham.Back on board we are treated to another wonderful sunset during dinner.14th May our last day on the ferry is spent relaxing, reading and preparing to disembark early tomorrow morning.ÿ As it’s our last night and the end of our Alaskan leg we have a celebration, starting with pre dinner drinks in the Baker cabin, which is rather cramped with 6 people.At dinner we breakÿ out the party hats and whistles again and even the restaurant staff join in the party.15th May – The ferry docks at Bellingham at 8:00 am local time and as we were one of the first cars on the ferry we are one of the last off, being up the top at the back!Once off the ferry it’s off to Vancouver!

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