Alaska 2023

Day 18

July 25

  I'm always amused at what 'hospitality' considers a bar of soap and what a real bar of soap looks like. I guess if you are bathing really small midgets their version would work okay. I'm glad that I brought my own soap along for this trip.  
  Getting up is a real challenge and I am glad there is no one else in the room. When it hurts bad enough, all you can to is either puke or yell so I yell since I don't want to clean up the puke. But I manage to get cleaned up and decide I'll try to walk a little bit before I head to breakfast.  
  It sure looks like it could be a rainy day but I'm inside so at least I won't have to put on my rain suit.  
  What better way than to start out a good breakfast with a good cup of hot chocolate then ...  
  follow it up with a good omelet, bacon and taters.  
  Not only is the food and service really good, it comes with an incredible view from my dining room window.  
  I do proper justice to what is laid out before me then head back toward my room.  
  The call goes out that we can go down to the car deck for a short while if we need to get any additional items. I remember that I left a breakfast burrito in my saddlebag and figure I'd best retrieve it while I can. It might just get really 'ripe' in the next 3 days and start a life of its own.  
  The views from the the ferry deck are ever changing and pretty fascinating to me.  
  I manage to get a shot of this ferry's bell but I don't get in trouble this time as I did on the last ferry.  
  The mountains just seem to go on and on and I realize there is no way to reach them unless you fly or take a boat to them. The ferry serves the towns along the way that can be reached by no other mode of transportation. It still seems strange to me that the capitol of Alaska, Juneau, cannot be driven to - it's either by water or by air if you are going there.  
  I really enjoy the view from the stern as the ship structure blocks most of the wind so it is quite peaceful. It is also where the 'camping' area is located with a shelter on top for those that want to camp and not rent a cabin onboard.  
  Since I can't sing and can't dance and it's too windy to haul rocks, I wander around and talk to other people on board. This is Rick and Susan from California enjoying their vacation. I also meet a full time turkey farmer that has retired and his son is now running the farm back home.  
  I meet Singh, a computer wizard who worked for Google for while and is also a motorcycle rider. He's into development using neural networks, large data and artificial intelligence so we have some interesting conversations since computers are also my background.  
  Along the way, the US Coast Guard practices some helicopter maneuvers around the ferry.  
  I also strike up a conversation with a feller and his friend from Canada. He worked his entire business career with IBM until he retired. Since the last part of my previous job was managing a large scale IBM computer system, we enjoyed sharing 'war' stories from that particular time.  
  I even get a chance to see a pod of Orcas playing in the ferry's wake as we move along.  
  It's just a lovely day to talk to folks and learn their stories and just chill for the day.  
  As we make our way south, I am really amazed at just how close we get to the shore. Cruise ships usually take the 'outside' passage where the open ocean is on one side and the shore is on the other side. Here we are always surrounded by land as this is know as the inland passage.  
  For lunch I decide I'll try the onboard snack shop and I get some of their clam chowder and wee bit of sweetening. It's very good and just hits the spot perfectly.  

Our first port of call is Sitka which has a very interesting history. It was originally settled by the Russians in 1799.

Sitka was the site of the transfer ceremony for the Alaska purchase on October 18, 1867. Secretary of State William Seward had wanted to purchase Alaska for quite some time. While the agreement to purchase Alaska was made in April 1867, the actual purchase and transfer of control took place on October 18, 1867. The cost to purchase Alaska was $7.2 million, at 2 cents per acre. Sitka served as the U.S. Government Capital of the Department of Alaska (1867–1884) and District of Alaska (1884–1906).

I was originally going to get off and explore some of the historical sites in town. But I figure I'd better stay put on the ship and give myself some time to heal.

  After a while at dock, we leave Sitka behind and continue our journey south.  
  These look like commercial fishermen heading back to Sitka after a day of work on the water.  
  This makes me wonder just where does that passage lead to and what would a feller see if he ventured down that way.  
  Once again I am amazed as to how close we get to the sides of the channel. It's not like the this ship, the Columbia, is a small runabout. It is 418 feet long and 85 feet wide and capable of carrying over 130 vehicles and over 450 passengers.  
  As the channel opens back up we pass another commercial fishing vessel on it's way back to port.  
  I get a nice view of where we have been ...  
  and then a nice view of where we are going.  
  I'm back to the main restaurant for supper where I meet Eric and Teri as we wait for the place to open up. They are moving from Juneau back to Columbus, Missouri where they are originally from. They graciously invite me to join them at their table and it is a delight to share the evening with them.  
  After supper, I wander back out on the deck to catch sight of the sun as it slowly sinks below the mountains.  
  The rest has done me much good, as the pain level has really dropped. For that I am very thankful as I try to ease into bed with as little drama as possible. Once again I hunt for a position of comfort for the evening. I settle into it and I am quickly sailing into the Sea of Dreams in short order.