Hello from Wrangell Island, Alaska. I'm trying to stay warm here in the public library while Courty's off watching bears eat salmon. She took the AnAn bear tour this morning. Me, I've seen bears.
We're camped for free in a USFS campground about 14 miles out of town on the only highway on the island. It--the campground--has a Tlingit name I can neither say nor spell. It's perched partway up one of the forested hills above Point Nemo, overlooking the Inside Passage. We're the only ones in the place. As I lay looking out the bubble window last night, a shooting star went past, completing the feeling of being in a magic place.
This entire coast of Alaska is part of the Tongass National Forest, which is a temperate rain forest (!) that stretches over 400 miles along the panhandle of Alaska. As you would expect, rain and fog predominate here, thus no need to ask what the weather is like today.
A couple of observations about Alaska that I don't think I've noted before; forgive me if I'm repeating myself:
1. Alaskans love espresso. That alone is enough to endear them to me. Any place big enough to have a parking space will often have an espresso kiosk. Not only that, they'll be happy to make me a decaf soy mocha without even a hint of a grimace. More sophisticated coffee peddlers have been known to act a bit snooty when I've asked for that. Not here. Yay, Alaskans!
2. Ditto for bakeries. In fact, Wrangell is the first town I can recall that doesn't have a bakery. Back in my home state, bakeries have become an endangered retail species but not here. Several places we've stopped have even combined my two favorite words in the English language in their shop titles: Espresso Bakery. Definitely not on my self-imposed super-strict diet (which I'm going to have to get back on one of these days), but golly, I'm on vacation!
3. Alaskans are not wimps when it comes to being outside in what only they could call summer weather. Case in point: this morning it's probably less than 50 degrees F. out. I'm wearing a lined fall jacket, earmuffs and gloves. And shivering. And sniffling. A fellow steps out from a place across the street in a tee shirt and proceeds to work outside awhile. On the Macho/Wimp continuum I know where I stand.
We're mentally ready to go home now and are thinking of routes back that will cut a day or two off the trip. We may cut out one of the ferry stops--Ketchikan--and go directly to Prince Rupert, BC, from here tomorrow. The only problem is that we'd arrive in P.R. at around 1 A.M., have to go through Customs, then have to find a place to spend the rest of the night at a time when most sensible people are asleep. We haven't decided. The schedule we actually have tickets for puts us in Ketchikan for about a day and a half, then has us arriving at the ferry terminal at 3:00 A.M. to catch the P.R. ferry. That's not a great alternative either, but at least it gets us there in daylight.
Now to some pics.
Our room aboard the ferry Taku. See also the last photo which somehow slipped to the bottom
Passing through the Wrangell Narrows. The channel in places is only slightly wider than the ferry. Picturesque, though.
Last night's campsite in the unpronounceable USFS campground. Tonight's too.
The view out our window. A ferry went by last evening, so that must be our route out down there.