Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde
(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from Blog Post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 1.”)
Part Two: Kelsey Bay, British Columbia to Ketchikan, Alaska
June 20: The Canadian ferry at Kelsey Bay depends on tides for its arrival and departure times. When we arrived at the dock under a heavy gray sky around 9:30 am, the ferry called the Queen of Prince Rupert was just unloading cars. We pulled into the parking lane to wait. They measured our rig. Including the Avion Camper and Utility body 1968 GMC Pickup, we measured 21 feet in length. They let us drive on at about 12:50 pm. The car deck is arranged for two stacks of cars on the outer edges. Campers, motor homes and small trucks park in the center lanes. We watched the closing of the car deck drawbridge, then climbed the stairs to the upper deck to see the bow lowered into place for the voyage. Next we went to our stateroom. David was glowing over “my own top deck.” He climbed up for a nap. Philip and I also had a brief nap on the bottom bunk. The dimensions of the stateroom precluded any possibility of sleeping on the floor, which we would prefer over a soft, sagging bed. The wash basin and seat reduced the area available.
When David woke up we went out on deck. The sky was full of clouds, but they were pretty ones. The air was mild, but we needed to be bundled up when walking the bow deck due to wind. We were excited to see numerous schools of killer whales, cavorting and spraying, emerging with high dorsal fins showing. We went in to dinner at 6 pm. The food was very ordinary but the service was good. The notable feature of this passage is the closeness to islands all the time. The islands are wooded with bare gray rock bases up to the high tide line. We finally got away from logging evidence but logs still occasionally floated by. We headed away from Vancouver Island during dinner and into the open ocean. Experienced a slight choppiness at times, but the whole voyage was generally smooth. Philip went out to the camper for the night to have more sleeping room. He said it was 70 degrees and too warm. Our stateroom was well ventilated. David and I slept well.
June 21, Monday: Over an ordinary breakfast, we visited with a young couple from Toronto. They were headed back to Toronto by way of the Prince George Highway. Before breakfast we had the experience of searching for David. We had left him in the stateroom to go to the car deck. He had gone down a stairway, made a few turns and couldn’t find his way back. We retrieved him via the purser, who called the room to tell us David was at his office. We went out on deck after breakfast: rain and a low ceiling. We were close to shore and coming into Prince Rupert. We were the first ones off the ferry after the big bus at 9:15 am. First we drove to the local museum, then out to a view point overlooking a tidal rapid, Butze Rapids Park. Dreary and rainy all day. Lunch and naps. On out to Prince Edwards to the pulp mill. Stopped for pics. Small fishing port, nets drying on dock racks. Back into town and down to the ferry dock. Still early but many cars already parked in line up. I baked cornbread for dinner. Rain began in earnest and continued hard all night. Drove to get gas and oil supply in town and then back to parking area for the night.
June 22: Philip woke up at 5:20 am, dressed and went to inquire about lining up for Customs. Turned out to be very routine. We passed onto the ferry Wickersham promptly. It was immediately apparent the difference in the way the two ferry systems operate. The Canadian ferry was immaculate, run with great efficiency and good service. The Alaska lines ferries were just the opposite. We settle down for the five and one half hour passage to Ketchikan, Alaska. David was occupied with Sesame Street Magazine until noon. We tried the cafeteria which was very poor, ugh. Weather continued wet with low clouds. Only a slight inkling of the high mountains along the inside passage. We were never away from the sight of land. We pass large and small islands and the passageway widens and narrows as we progress. At Ketchikan harbor the water had frequent jelly fish near the surface, pale orange and round.
The ferry Taku was at the dock when we arrived. As it pulled out we pulled in broadside to the dock with the exit door on the side. We were among the first to leave and drove onto Tongass Avenue. After getting our bearings and local information we drove right out to Saxman Village to see the Cape Fox Indian Dancers. They perform when a cruise ship comes in like the one this time called the Halia. We got there for the last two dances. Donations were asked for and we were appalled to hear that only $8.00 was collected from three bus loads of tourists. I bought souvenir leather doll pins. Next we spent some time at the adjacent Totem Park. A light rain fell but Philip took pictures anyway. In the yard of the Pentecostal Church across the street native forget-me-nots, Bachelor Button and wild roses grew in lush profusion.
We continued along South Tongass Avenue to the point where two islands just off shore caught our attention and stopped us. They were so like those we have seen in photographs of the Inland Sea of Japan, up-tilted strata, moss, bonsai conifers topping them. It was low tide so we could walk onto the smaller one. We broke out all of our rain gear. Philip photographed under the umbrella I held for him. David had a marvelous time exploring the tidal zone, pretending he was an Eskimo harpooner after whales, seals, dolphins, walruses, etc. On our way back he invited us into his house, a beautiful shelter provided by a huge overturned tree, the roots in a beautiful cross-work pattern overhead. Indeed, we entered a little room. He had found a piece of plywood drift, placed two rocks on it and offered us coffee. “The best coffee I’ve had,” Philip said. Literally and figuratively it was, our most hospitable moment so far.
We drove on out the road past the end of the pavement at eight miles. Beyond that we stopped for a photograph of a bald eagle perched on a snag. He was immature and wouldn’t fly away even when Philip moved close in. Soon we stopped at a wide pull off for the night and went to bed exhausted right after dinner. The drying line hung full of wet clothes. It poured hard outside as we fell asleep to the low roar of a roadside waterfall.
June 23: It rained hard all night. We arose at 7 am to find…
CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 3.”
Originally posted April 7, 2010 6:22 am