The laundromat in Haines was packed full of people who, like us, were taking the ferry because the road was closed. The lady running the place incorrectly told me that there were not laundry facilities on our boat. She was too congenial to be snookering us, so it must have been an honest mistake. Although it was nice to be able to pack clean laundry, the laundromat prices were mighty steep.
The laundromat also offered pay showers:
At eight bucks a load, you would think the dryer would be fast. But it wasn't. So we spent a lot of time at that laundromat.
When our clothes were finally dry, we went back to our cabin for another major repacking job. We downsized each child into one small duffle bag with four days worth of clothes.
Our next stop was the outdoor store. Steve walked in and bluntly said, "Tell me what I need to buy to take on the ferry." That man had no idea how much he could have taken us for, but he wasn't much of a salesman and lazily pointed to an aisle of camping gear. Steve purchased a camping pad for me and this sweet backpacking pack for Rachel. Well, it was bought under the pretense of being for Rachel, but Steve made sure it adjusted large enough to fit me since he stole my pack from me a few years ago.
We still had a few more hours before go time, so we went to dinner at Mosey's Cantina.
While we waited for the restaurant to open for dinner, we walked around the yard and saw dozens of perennial transplants and seedlings, whimsically planted in boats.
And we checked out the the vegetable garden in the back:
The flowers on the patio were pretty:
As was the view from the patio:
The decor inside of the restaurant was bright and colorful. For a moment, it felt like we were anywhere but Alaska.
When we caught a glimpse of the ladies in the back preparing things from scratch, we knew the food was going to be good. But we weren't expecting it to be this good:
Who would have thought a tiny town in Alaska would have a Mexican restaurant good enough to make Steve's top ten list. But it did.
As we drove to the dock, I tried to capture the majestic beauty of the inlet. I didn't do very well.
And then, with great anticipation, we saw our boat, the M/V Columbia:
Steve and I were still a bit apprehensive about the ferry. Even though we arrived well ahead of time (2.5 hours before departure), there were already dozens of other vehicles lined up in front of us for boarding. There was so much uncertainty about the loading process, where we were going to sleep, how we were going to keep Adam from falling off the deck railing and into the ocean, etc. Steve drove our car into the designated lane and sent me inside to ask all of our questions, the first being how to get on the waiting list for a cabin. The lady sent me over to talk to the purser, and we were put at the top of the list.
After I got things figured out, I went back to the car and traded spots with Steve. He took Rachel, Lucy, and a big load of our things to go find an area in the solarium. We didn't realize it was such a race to stake your claim! And since many of the passengers boarded the ferry in Skagway, the pickings were already slim. Most of the solarium was already claimed by campers who had reserved their area by putting their sleeping bags on white, plastic recliners.
It was obvious that many of the campers were veteran ferry travelers. Some had quickly reserved the area in the back, the warmest part of the solarium with the most protection from the elements. Others stacked their plastic recliners two high and positioned them to face the side windows for optimal viewing. Steve said he was lucky to find an area large enough for six recliners together; our spot was right on the edge of the covered area, most exposed to the cold/wind/rain.
He came back to the car and swapped positions with me again. Adam and I walked onto the vehicle ramp just as Steve was embarking with the Pilot.
The kids were completely giddy with excitement.
Because really. . . what could be more exciting than camping on a boat?
After getting ready for bed in the public bathrooms, the kids read books (that's Dr. Seuss on my phone) until they fell asleep.
It was still light outside and they were pretty fascinated with the whole concept of going to sleep on a boat. So some of the kids did a lot of reading.
We had asked a lady in Haines, the day before, if we were going to be cold on the ferry. She had told us the only time she got chilly was from the air conditioning. She clearly wasn't sleeping outside. It was cold. Steve and I did not bring sleeping bags on our trip, and the quilts we used in the trailer were packed away, almost completely inaccessible. (We had planned to sleep in hotels on the way home and didn't think we would need them. And yes, a sleeping bag would have been a good purchase to make before getting on the ferry, but we already have so many at home. And the lady had told us it wasn't going to be cold.) Note the ice on top of the solarium windows.
Steve and I had one pillow and one blanket between the two of us. I gave him the pillow and kept the blanket for myself. We repositioned our plastic recliners into a circle, with all of our belongings in the middle. Then we moved our bags up on the recliners and I slept with the three youngest kids on the ground inside of the circle, snuggled right close together. That gave us some protection from the wind and created some body heat warmth. It also seemed a whole lot safer, having Adam and Kaleigh right next to me. I was exhausted and fell asleep without too much difficulty. Steve stayed awake for most of the night, watching over us from his plastic recliner and reading.