I’m writing this blog as I sit on the back deck of the MV Columbia, the largest in the Alaska Ferry Systems fleet, enjoying the scenery of the inside passage as it rolls by (although you will probably be reading this several days after the fact since there is no wifi on the ship). I must say God surely had a special plan when he created this piece of coastline because it is beyond beautiful.
I’m still in awe that I’m even sitting here to begin with. Although I dreamed of taking the Alaska Ferry one day, I thought that day would most likely be several years down the road. However because my parents weren’t to keen on the idea of me driving all the way from Seattle to Soldotna on my own they graciously offered to help cover the costs beyond my budget (because taking the ferry isn’t cheap) simply for their piece of mind.
The ferry officially departed Bellingham at 6pm last night but they requested that all passengers be at the terminal by 3, so my plan was to leave my house by 11:30 am, 12 at the latest. That plan failed miserably. After last-minute items thrown in the car, pictures and tearful goodbyes I think I finally pulled out of my driveway just after 12:30. Even though I had beaten “rush hour,” traffic was essentially awful the entire way. My plans to stop for lunch had to be thrown to the wayside which allowed me to pull into the parking lot at the terminal at exactly 3:05. I thought maybe I would have a chance to walk up to Fairhaven to grab a quick bite but the guy who handed me my ticket let me know I needed to get my car in line ASAP, so I did.
Considering my car was the last in line I thought I’d get out and snap a quick picture of the ship. I was gone from my car for maybe 3 minutes and as soon as I sat down a man came up and told me he was going to let me go ahead and go next (as in skip the dozen+ cars in front of me) because “that is one of the benefits of having a small car.” My first thought was that my car isn’t that small but I wasn’t going to argue and drove past all the waiting cars with a big smile on my face.
What happened next was awesome and terrifying. I rode in an elevator in my car y’all. It was the weirdest feeling. Very unnatural.
The ferrys’main car deck is on the bottom deck of the vessel however they do have a smaller car deck on the second floor and the only way in or out is by elevator. Weird.
When I finally got my car parked I quickly pulled my bag out of the car and rushed to the top deck to find a place to put my tent. From research I knew that the Columbia has two decks where you can place your tent, deck 6 or deck 8. The deck 6 area was already pretty full by the time I boarded so I headed up to the eighth and there was plenty of space. And you know what? Even though I’m sure it’s a bit windier than the other deck, I feel like there is a greater sense of community between everyone up here on 8. I like it.
I made friends quickly. People helped me set up my tent, I helped others set up theres and everyone became very fond of my roll of Gorilla Tape in order to attach their tents to the deck since there’s no way to stake it down.
After everything was set up we all had time to kill before departure and started to get to know our neighbors. I think the favorite question between passengers was “so where are you getting off?”
I was surprised, there are a lot of people on the ferry just for the ride, taking it up to Skagway then back to Bellingham. Sounds like an adventure.
At exactly 6 we began to pull out of Bellingham. It was a bit bittersweet knowing it was going to be my last look at Washington until at least December but the air of excitement on the ship was contagious. Everyone anticipated the adventures to come and as we sailed past the San Juan Islands everyone knew the best views were still ahead.
Stay tuned for day 2….