North to Alaska

Day 25

 

Man Overboard!!!!

 

Well, not really – more like bear overboard.

 

I slept surprisingly well last night – for an old man sleeping on a deck lounge – in the rain – with several broken ribs – although I would be delighted if my name comes up on the stand by for an available cabin.  Barbara, the purser, says there’s a pretty good chance one will become available before we get to Bellingham, WA.

 

I’m grateful I brought my camping gear – although some folks pitched tents on the aft solarium deck, I opted to just roll out my Therm-A-Rest and sleeping bag on a deck lounge.  There are large ceramic heaters in the ceiling which kept me pretty warm all night – the fine misty rain occasionally blew across the deck, but, all in all, it was much better than I expected.

 

When I got up this morning, I noticed that the little girl sleeping next to me had lost her bear during the night.  As she was still sleeping soundly, I quietly picked up her bear and put it next to her hand – hoping she would never know that her treasure had gone overboard to the deck.

 

There is beauty beyond belief along the inside passage.

Marine Highway System.

 

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I have never considered myself a cruise ship weenie, and I guess I justify this part of the journey – because they call it the Alaska Marine Highway.  Whatever you call it – it’s not a cruise – it is a journey through some of the most magnificent parts of America – and something you just have to do.  I didn’t plan to do this – had it not been for the accident in the Badlands I would have ridden every mile back to the lower 48 – but I have learned from this experience – that not all of America’s beauty can be beheld from the back of a motorcycle.  There are virtually no roads here.  After you land at one of the cities along the shore – you can perhaps drive 10 or 20 miles in any direction – but then the roads just end.

 

We stopped for a couple of hours in Sitka this afternoon – and I hustled over to the Sitka National Historic Site to get my passport stamped – although I won’t count it in the number of parks visited for the Iron Butt Association – because I didn’t ride to it on the motorcycle.  Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary site – with a spectacular walk along the totem trail.

 

I stumbled upon the Sikta Lutheran Church – a delightful place with a rich Finnish heritage – and, since my wife is Finnish, spent a long time talking with some folks there about the Finns who came to this area as part of the Russian American Company – from Czarist Russia.  The sanctuary, unadorned, simple – yet elegant – in the Finnish style – with natural wood crosses and plain wooden pews – looks like it could have been floated here from Turku.

 

Thirty minutes out of Sitka, the purser called my name and assigned me the most beautiful two-berth cabin on the starboard side - outside with private shower.  Goodbye cheap seats – Hello Hollywood. 

 

I just keep having these rich experiences – because I had to change my plans – and find myself more and more “On Yukon Time.”

 

So to you and Iowa Sioux and Jacative, Malinois, Hampton, MA – I say goodnight from the M.V. Columbia on the Alaska

 Index, Day, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 thru 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32&33 34