Saturday, May 31, 2014

Prince Rupert to Ketchikan

Frustrated...yesterday I had the post already to go and erased it when making final adjustments. So here I go again. Let me start back in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

As we enjoyed getting acquainted with the town, we captured photos of some of the murals and art.

The wolf is one of my favorites.

Cow Bay

This part of town is called Cow Bay because when the first herd of cows were brought to this island there was no dock for unloading so the animals had to swim for shore. Where they came onto the land was named Cow Bay.

A totem or crest pole in the town square.  It is hard to really capture the beauty and meaning of these poles.  Each tells a story of part of the history of the First Nations people of the area.

Prince Rupert Harbor

      Crab pots waiting to be put in the water.

       One of the freight liners waiting to come to port to be loaded/unloaded.

Butze Rapids Trail

Our days in Prince Rupert were rainy and cold but we decided to hike anyway and went to a spot called Butze Rapids, a place to see more of the rainforest and to watch the tide reverse over the falls.
We loved the trail that took us through bog, forests and along the shore of the bay.

     Labrador Tea

    Salmon Berry

     When we got to the end of the trail, we found this sign!

Finally, the Alaskan Marine Highway

It seemed like forever since we started saying we are going to Alaska, but here was the day, May 27, 2014.  

Waiting in line to board.

The Matanuska ferry is named after a major glacier in Alaska and our voyage was the 3100 trip!
We got to enjoy a piece of the cake made for the celebration.  The captain cut the cake to start the party!

     Above and below are some of the sights as we traveled along.  (We did see several whale spouts, one rounded back of an Orca, and two large groups of porpoise swimming and leaping incredibly fast alongside the boat.)

     Arriving in Ketchikan! Tourism has taken over as a major source of income in this town known at one time as the "canned salmon capital of the world."

There were many large cruise ships in the harbor and were amazed that so many people were in this town at the same time.  It gave it quite and international flavor.

Our camp site on Clover Pass.

Our friends who have traveled this way before us encouraged us to get off the ferry at a few towns and spend some time enjoying the culture.  We took their advice and decided to spend five days here.  We arranged to camp at Clover Pass.  Our site was right on the coast, so when we were in the campground we got to watch for whales, seals, eagles as well as the local mink that lives in the rocks of the shoreline.

    Here is our site. See if you see at least six eagles that are in the picture above.  Smile!

    We have seen more eagles in a 24-hour period than I have seen in all my years put together.
They are literally everywhere.

     One of the sights at low tide.

Walking in the Settler's Cove SP.

    A new bird for me - an American Dipper feeding along the bottom of the shore of the stream.

There was moss on everything and the trail was board walked almost exclusively.  We had a hiked a trail like this in New Zealand (Stewart Island) that was almost all boardwalk.

A visit to the town sights

  We wanted to see this area where it is said that every house was at one time a house of prostitution for almost fifty years.  We were told by "Dolly" that there was 100 men for every woman in Alaska, so it was a very prosperous business on Creek Street.

A beautiful salmon statue along Ketchikan Creek.

Next we made a visit to the Southeastern Alaska Discovery Center to learn more about the life of the First Nations people and the Tongass National Forest.

We found this display at the Center and thought it was quite an illustration.  We have just begun, starting on the small narrow strip covering part of the Carolinas.  Today we take our next step as we get back on the ferry and head to Wrangell for an overnight there.

Last night's sunset.

In a few hours, we get back on the ferry and head for an overnight in Wrangell. It is hard to share all the special moments, but hopefully you can get a flavor of this area. The eagles are flying around us right now, the Harbor Seal keeps popping up, and the fishermen are loading the boats hoping for a good day on the water. Time to pack up the van and head off ourselves!  We send you our best!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ferry to Alaska is Next!

We made it to Prince Rupert yesterday in order to be ready for the ferry to Alaska.  We didn't want to take any chances of being late, so we took a couple of days and did a lot of miles!  It has been rainy since we arrived, so we are enjoying a cozy day in the van, reading, writing and soon will start some movie time.

When we last posted, we were in Sumas, WA with some kind and neighborly folks. Dan the manager was extremely helpful, and others around us friendly and welcoming.  Our closest neighbor was John and his pup, Brandy.  John shared his homemade smoked Chinook Salmon with us and fixed a door handle part that had slipped out of place.  All he would take in return was a big "thanks" and a promise to pass on the kindness.  Thanks John.

As we waved goodbye, we were grateful for the visit in Sumas. All the errands complete as we headed for the border.  As we arrived at the booth, the stern-faced guards asked the necessary questions and decided we were okay to pass along.

Off we went down the highway, never quite knowing what to expect, and soon were surprised by a caravan of circus trucks moving in our direction.

Tone couldn't resist a photo like that.  Soon we traveled through country scenery that looked like it came right off a calendar. 

Much of the early miles going north in BC from Abbottsford toward Prince George followed the longest river in the province, Fraser River.  We passed places like Hell's Gate where the River narrows dramatically, and the Boston Bar, a favorite fishing spot early on of folks from the states.  We also went through seven mountain tunnels and enjoyed the fact that the River, the railroad and the highway found the best way through this valley as we all moved along together.

We stopped at a little town called Cache Creek for the night. The next day after breakfast at Cheryl's Place ( thinking of Tone's sister ) we headed for Prince George.  

We had a chance to capture a picture of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Headquarters building there.

It was starting to rain and the driving was a bit tedious, but it was still early in the day so we pressed on. After we passed through Prince George, we found a site at a campground on Fraser Lake, about 100 miles east toward Prince Rupert.

         The lake the day after the rain.

The monstrous carved bear was fun, and as always was rewarded with a friendly pat!

A wonderful surprise happened for me during the night when I was awakened to the call of a loon!  It was a wonderful experience that did leave me a bit homesick in the morning!  Latona and I walked to the edge of the lake and were rewarded.

The next day, we decided to go a far as we could toward Prince Rupert.  It is impossible to describe the beauty of this route as we traveled through the snow-covered peaks, saw our first glacier in BC, and marveled at the beauty of the high lakes, meadows and waterfalls,


    The edge of the glacial shelf is partially visible in the valley between the two peaks above.

 The River rushing in Moricetown Canyon inspired these photos. At this point, we have left the Fraser Valley and entered the Bulkley Valley which we followed for many miles.

As we traveled we noticed that many of the buildings we saw were made from logs, either pine or white spruce.  

    And we noticed small wooden churches nestled in little towns.

We recorded several other things we noticed: there was almost NO litter along the roadsides, almost no For Sale signs anywhere, and within one ten mile stretch, warning signs for Moose crossing, Elk crossing, and Deer crossing. One could only hope! 

 The province also provided many many Rest Stops all along the roads we traveled. This is one of the smallest ones we found.

We pushed through the day and made it to Prince Rupert around six in the evening and found a suitable spot for a few days.  We saw two deer, one fox and one black bear along these final three hundred miles.  

It was good to arrive, have a resting day or two, and anticipate getting on that ferry, and entering Alaskan waters.

It has been a long, long road and sometimes I wonder about the miles we have yet to cover and then I stop and try to realize that it is the journey that counts.  Each day is a gift, and we will try to embrace each one we are given! That is, in reality, all we have.

PS.  Latona is having a catnap as I write this post!  Smile!