The Alaska Maritime Highway System is a state-owned ferry system, providing water travel and freight-hauling services to the public. We took the ferry "Malaspina" from Haines to Juneau last evening and it was a great experience. We'd do it again in a heartbeat. Come to think of it, we will be doing it again, as we have three more ferry trips ticketed on our way to Prince Rupert, BC.
Getting the truck/trailer set on the ferry was easy. We showed up at the ferry terminal in Haines the required 2-hours early. Courty took our itinerary number to the ticket window while I waited in the truck. They assigned us a lane to wait in, I assume based on the length of our unit (ours measures 36' 3", which we had to round up to 37'). The only other vehicle in that lane was also a pickup and trailer combo.
A National Guard convoy was waiting for the same ferry and I wondered briefly if we'd be bumped to make room for it due to our classification as a "long" vehicle. But we were ushered aboard right after the convoy and ended up parked behind the lead vehicle. It was easy to maneuver inside the ship, even with the trailer attached. After staying in the truck until we'd been moved up to goose the vehicle ahead, we grabbed our stuff and went to find a good place to sit. We took seats in the forward lounge, which offered a view of more than 200 degrees centered on the bow. The scenery was the by-now-usual stupendous.
There's a cafeteria aboard. People seemed to enjoy their meals. We had brought our own meal and took advantage of an empty table in the cafeteria. No one seemed to mind. We also noted that no one seemed to mind if you violated any of the posted rules (no sleeping here, no saving seats, no luggage here, etc.). You'd think the result would be chaos but in fact the voyage down part of the Inside Passage went super smoothly.
It had just turned completely dark as we entered Auke Bay, the harbor for the ferry system. As you would expect, views of the harbor lights were as delightful as were those of the mountains and islands along the way.
We were the second vehicle off the ferry, and the 3.8 miles from the terminal to Spruce Meadows Campground went by with a zing. Before we knew it we were parked and set up, and were in bed by or before 11:30.
Today we went to see Mendenhall Glacier. The visitors center and the grounds surrounding it are delightful, a must-see if you come here. We'll probably go back tomorrow and walk some of the trails there. We took lots of pictures of the glacier and Lake Mendenhall, which didn't exist until after about 1930, when the glacier retreated enough that its meltwater filled the depression at its foot to form the lake. Pieces of calved-off glacier are floating around, making for good photo ops.
Tomorrow we'll move to the NFS campground there, Lake Mendenhall Campground. We drove through the camping area on our way back from the glacier and realized that if we had it to do over we'd have gone directly there from the ferry. It's a beautiful campground with graveled, treed sites, many of which are on the lake, and it's only about 2 miles farther than where we're staying now. If we'd only known! Dry camping will cost us $5 a night because of my Golden Age Pass, or as I like to call it, the Old Fart's Discount. They have showers as well as actual bathrooms. For RVers there's a section of the park that includes hookups for from $21 to $28 a night depending on how many services you need. The only thing missing is Wi-fi, but hey! Can't have everything.
Beautiful downtown Haines
The route out
The Mal easing up to the dock
I'm a sucker for lighthouses