So Where was I? Oh yeah, I was getting on a ferry to Alaska. That was three weeks and a few thousand miles ago. Ah, the romance of the high seas... "Just give me a tall ship and a star to sail her by"... and all that. Things have changed a little. On a modern ferry to Alaska it's more like "Give me a massive engine and a even larger, resonant steel hull to bolt her onto." There is a huge amount of power in one of those engines, the entire ship is vibrating with it's exertions. White this is all very exciting at first, the thrill wears off after a few hours & you begin to wish for some place quieter. Yes, it's loud. And you have signed on for three days.
While it is true that berths with beds are taken by smart people who plan way in advance. There are many other comforts available on board a ferry for smart people who plan a little in advance and like to save money too. On one of the upper decks there is the "Solarium" an area protected from wetness by a glass roof and from coldness by radiant heaters. In this area people sleep in comfort in their sleeping bags on the many deck chairs or on air matresses they thought to bring along. On the more exposed decks people set up tents... In the interior observation decks people were sleeping in their bags on pads & air mattresses. Oh these clever people. Lacking these amenities, I somehow managed to get a few hours rest per night.
Taking a boat up the "Inside Passage" through British Columbia & Alaska is pretty swell. Island mountains on all sides, hundreds of inlets and intriguing bays... In a smaller boat one could spend months and months exploring all of the possabilities. But even on a large boat there is much to see. From fishing lodges where they set off fireworks to entertain the passing ferries (and the captive guests drinking beer at the end of a long day of fishing) to abandoned homesteads slowly giving way to the seasons.
In Canada, the lighthouses are still manned and you will see their complexes of white buildings with red roofs scattered along the coast.
When I was cropping the previous picture of the lighthouse complex I zoomed in and discovered that the ferry was being watched by the lighthouse keeper.
The cool damp climate allows for tremendous Moss beards to grow on some trees.
Contrary to my expectations, it seems there are not a whole lot of random backroad routes to go from one place to the next in Alaska. Most of the side tracks I found were up and back on the same road. I suppose it is different in the winter when you can sled over everywhere and the grizzly bears are hibernating.
Fortunately I didn't need to go down that section of road, the bridge is washed out. About a mile farther along, there were some songbirds singing in the woods, above is a snippet of the recording I made.
These seemed to grow everywhere at once and then are hard to find. These are the lacy seed clusters of the "White Dryad" (Dryas octopetala). They are a perennial plant that can be seen by the road sides... from a distance the seed heads appear as translucent mushrooms. closer inspection reveals a delicate structure. in spring they show small white flowers similar to a wild rose.
Another Alaskan backroad with a dramatic mountain backdrop. This is bear country... watch out! I made a recording at this location. It was really, really quiet... think wind through cottonwood trees.
Making a recording of bird songs, or wind through trees, involves sitting still and quite for extended periods... time enough to inspect, and be inspected by, yellow Alaskan critters.
Located at the edge of Beaver Creak, Yukon, Canada, the "Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church" comes across as a piece of folk art. It's proportions, particularly with the tree just outside it's door, are perfect!
Another view of the "Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church." Truly a wonderful piece of work!
There was another skeleton like this nearby... No Legs, no skull... Hmmm... In the Ozarks this would be considered the work of a poacher, quickly grabbing the meatiest portions.
Scattered along the Alaskan highway you will find a number of "opportunities" like this... outposts that were profitable when roads were rougher and cars were slower. Nowadays, the in-between stops are less needed.
A quaint scene in the Alaskan Tundra. Just watch out for those Grizzly Bears.