The Ferry between Ketchikan and Petersburg
including a stop at Wrangell


July 5th, 2002

The ferry out of Ketchikan left at 11:30 PM so we had to be there around 9:00 PM. The trailer park was gracious enough to allow us to stay for as long as we wanted which was well past check out time. We actually pulled out around 6:00 PM and got in line. We again, checked in at the ferry terminal early in the day and found out which lane we were to be in, so we proceeded directly to our pre-assigned place and parked. Leaving the rig, we walked across the street for a delightful dinner at one of the better restaurants along the strip. With bellies full, we returned and waited out the hours, reading. Getting on the ferry was even more complicated than previously experienced. We were loaded at the head of the line for those going to Juneau, but facing the wrong way. The ship is loaded from the side through a sliding door and we were too long to make the turn so we had to be jockeyed back and forth until the truck was in a full jack-knife position before it could slide by the outer bulkhead and pass into the belly of the ship. With all said and done, within 15 minutes we were in our assigned position and ready to go. I was pleased to find that this crew was well practiced and every move coordinated to perfection. As this trip would be overnight, we had rented a small roomette. Small was right, about 6 ft by 8ft estimated. The room door came within inches of the table which converted to a lower bunk. The upper bunk folded down over the top of the lower one. A ladder hanging on the wall was used to get up on the top bunk. There was no side rail. It could have been interesting in a rough sea. Although not spacious it was a far cry better than trying to sleep in those airplane-like lounge chairs or the outer deck chairs that did actually go flat. We had learned ahead of time that linen was not provided (you could rent pillows, blankets, etc. for a small additional fee) so we brought our own blankets and pillows. This trip exposed us to some of that marvelous scenery  Alaska is so famous for.  Huge mountains covered with snow, often forming glaciers, occasionally accented with puffy black clouds.  This part of Alaska is the wettest part of the state. Some of the towns actually have a Sun-day which can be any day of the week. It occurs when a store owner looks out, sees the sun, and hangs up a pre-made sign declaring "Closed for Sun-day".  I kid you not, they are that uncommon. At 5AM we were awakened by the loud speaker announcing our arrival at Wrangell. This was not a planned stop for us, so we stayed onboard. I did get a couple of pictures just to show that we had been there. Later on when reviewing the pictures I thought that this town was very typical of the small coastal villages that dot the southeast handle of Alaska. Around 7AM that morning we entered what is called "the narrows",  that is precisely what it is. The bank was not more then a 100 feet or so from either side. This is where all the wildlife can be viewed and the decks were filled with the curious and the smokers getting their first cigarette for the day. As we glided by an old dead spruce tree standing lonely on an island just big enough to hold it up we came upon a photo opportunity of a lifetime. There just a hand's throw away sat 5 giant American bald eagles; three adults and two juveniles all looking upstream, quiet and majestic, motionless in the mild breeze. It was a calendar shot for sure. The white headed bald eagle is the adult.  Juvenile birds are a solid brown in the body and do not have the white head. Getting off at Petersburg was another adventure. The same jack-knife maneuver, this time while driving backwards. Fortunately the crew was great and the exit was carried out with precision and in no time we were off the ramp and into town. We drove around for a while looking at the three available campgrounds, before selecting Twin Creek RV Park seven miles south of the city.

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