Alaska Road Trip: Day 23

The ferry arrived in Petersburg in the middle of the night while we were sound asleep. The next port was Wrangell, but the stop was shortened because we had fallen behind schedule by a couple of hours. All passengers without animals were asked to stay on the boat. 

The Alaska Marine Highway allows pets aboard the ferry, but all animals are required to stay on the car deck in a vehicle or animal carrier. Every time the boat was in port, owners were invited to disembark and walk their pets. During the long sailing from Ketchikan to Bellingham, pet calls took place three times a day. It was fairly disgusting. Especially to non-animal lovers like us. Imagine rows of tightly parked vehicles, with dogs barking inside. And then everyone goes and lets their dogs out at the same time to poop and pee on the car deck, right next to all of the cars. Steve often went to our car during the pet calls to retrieve random things (camera charger, playing cards, microwave popcorn, etc.) I stayed up on the boat deck to enjoy views like this: 

We turned down another offer for an open cabin; by this point, we were feeling pretty confident about our set-up in the solarium. But we were a little disappointed that we weren't able to get out in Wrangell, since we were hoping to catch a glimpse of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park. It is America's largest national park, larger than the country of Switzerland! 

Instead, we took our time getting ready for the day. I sat with Adam, Kaleigh, and the charging electronics in the cafeteria while Steve took the girls to play in the arcade. We won't talk about how much money they spent in there, but there were gone for a long time. Long enough for Adam to teach Kaleigh about all of the mammals that were featured on the tabletop:

This was one of the numerous times on our voyage that someone came up to us and told us we had the most well-behaved kids they had ever seen on the ferry. This comment came from the cafeteria cashier, so I partly believed her. 

A few minutes later, a nice, older woman came up to us and asked us if Adam would like her chips. (The cafeteria served a bag of chips with all of the sandwiches.) Adam was pretty excited about that. . . if you can't tell: 

It wasn't the only time people offered us food. We usually sat in the front table in the cafeteria (because it was the largest), so other passengers passed us coming in and as they were clearing their trays. I guess they felt bad for us, with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Lipton noodle soup. We scored a few bags of chips, and then there was that one time that a woman gave us half of a grilled cheese sandwich. She was a nice lady, whose son happens to live in Clinton. (We had visited with her a few times, prior.) The sandwiches were large and came cut in two pieces; she told us that she couldn't possibly eat the whole thing. We accepted and said thank you. Partly to be polite and partly because yeah, I actually did prefer a grilled cheese sandwich to the instant potatoes and canned corn that I was eating. . . I just wasn't willing to pay seven bucks for it. The lady at the cash register laughingly asked me, "Did that lady just give you her leftover food? Does she think you don't have any money?" 

Even though we brought lots of groceries on the boat with us, we almost always purchased something from the cafeteria to go with our meals: fresh fruit, green salad, dessert, etc. We didn't have to, but I sort of felt like I should, since we were occupying a table and using the ice, microwave, plastic utensils, napkins, etc. If you really wanted to go budget, you could probably survive on all of the things the cafeteria provided at no charge: Saltine crackers, butter, jelly packets, peanut butter packets. But that would probably make for a long, miserable trip. 

By the time we arrived in Ketchikan, we were all very ready to get off the boat. We climbed aboard an incredibly crowded bus, where I scored the last empty seat and sat down with Adam on my lap. Steve was carrying Kaleigh and trying to hold onto Rachel's arm. Which made balancing with the hand strap hanging down from the bus's ceiling kind of tricky. Mid-ride, he "accidentally" knocked my iPhone right out of my hands and to the floor. Then he said something rude. So when Steve went to get off the bus with Kaleigh, I stayed on with the other three kids. I was really mad. 

We got off at the next stop and met up with Steve and Kaleigh at another impressive museum, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. I didn't take very many pictures because I was still bothered about what happened on the bus. And then I realized that I had completely misheard him, and that he hadn't actually said what I was mad at him for saying. Whoops.

So then I decided we could be friends again. We got a close-up view of one of the cruise ships.

There were lots of neat little stores along the waterfront:

We watched the float planes landing and reminisced about our flight around Mt. McKinley:

There were lots of neat wood carvings:

I sent Rachel, Lucy, and Adam to go run up this super tall staircase to get some energy out:

We walked under a tunnel, and I almost got hit by a car while trying to take this picture:

Steve told us that Ketchikan looked just like Vancouver, so it was okay that we were skipping that part of our trip. (Not okay with me. I have a three-day stay in Vancouver all planned out, and intend to go someday.)

My first time seeing someone skateboard down the sidewalk with a fishing pole and tackle in hand:

After so much practice, the kids became very proficient at posing for pictures:

And then it started to rain. And Adam needed to use the bathroom. And the public bathroom was locked, so we had to go to a Korean store. And then we needed to get change to ride the bus back. And then just as we were about to cross the street to walk back to the bus stop, we watched the bus pass by.

There was a moment of panic, but then I looked at the bus schedule on the sign. I inspected the bus schedule I had in my pocket. We were still okay. Another bus should have come in twelve minutes. But it didn't. Two other ladies joined us and unsuccessfully tried to hail a cab. We waited and waited, nervously watching the clock. Rachel and Lucy were terrified that we were going to miss the ferry. And after telling them over and over that the bus would come any minute. . . I was starting to have my doubts.

The two other ladies finally called a cab, and we happily shared it with them. The kids were relieved. And they thought it was pretty cool. It was their first time riding a cab. We were cutting things really close. We told the other ladies they were probably safe being late with us; the crew would certainly notice the absence of our four kids.

The cab dropped us off right at the ferry. (Cheapest cab ever, by the way.) As we ran down the dock, the passengers who were out on the deck clapped and cheered for us. It was slightly embarrassing.

(We later found out that after our arrival, after they had closed and secured all of the doors, one final passenger returned to the ferry, just seconds before our departure.)

When my name was called over the loudspeaker, Steve was certain that we were in trouble for our late return back to the dock. They were actually just offering us another cabin.

Final consensus: Ketchikan is a cool town. With an unreliable bus system.

Later that evening, a mandatory safety drill was held in the observation lounge. When we arrived, it looked like this:

Yeah, not very many people took it seriously. Maybe forty passengers trickled in; they were guided where to sit by these fabulous volunteers:

Rachel and Lucy were among the seven or eight kids chosen to demonstrate proper procedures for putting on life preservers and exiting the boat. It certainly made the safety drill entertaining.

The kids were rewarded with ice cream bars. And I slightly regretted turning down my invitation to be a volunteer. But someone had to take the pictures.

No pictures of the going-to-bed-routine. It was a lot of work. And sometimes people on the solarium tried to talk to me right as I was sorting through our bags and trying to coordinate the showering/pajama dressing/teeth brushing/going to the bathroom of four kids. Especially one older man who inched his recliner chair closer and closer to our circle until he was full on sleeping next to us. That sounds creepy, but he was just a chatty fellow. (And a close-talker.) He decided that we were best friends because he had hosted a foreign exchange student some twenty-five years ago. Which is clearly identical to our situation with Derrick. . .

Maybe we should have taken that cabin.


Kayli said...

Most everywhere is bigger than Switzerland. ;) But the trains and buses here are strictly on time--down to the second!

Had to laugh pretty good about the whole rude comment scenario.

Natalie B. said...

Annie is now a big fan of the blog, "Lucy, Rachel! Those are my favorite girls." Joshua did a big report on these last few cities so this is all pretty interesting!