Ferry Riding Through the Inside Passage

Leaving Haines, Alaska

The day of leaving Haines started off interesting. We got breakfast from the hotel and when we were finishing up, an older couple walked in. It appears, the guy had no idea on hotel served breakfast.

“Is this some self served thing?”

Then there was a discussion about hard boiled eggs. The woman offered him some and he replied,

“I dont like deviled eggs.”

But there wasnt any on the counter.

Once we checked out, Dad got a haircut, which was badly needed, and then we went over to the visitor center.

The lady told us, along with her life story, that we needed to buy ferry tickets online since the terminal was 4.5 miles away….a long way on a bicycle.

We went to the library for free wifi, but it was full of cruise ship people, which slowed down the internet.

Dad talked to a couple while I was making reservations. The man said,

“The cruise is nice because we dont have internet and arent in touch all the time.”

I find this ironic…because here he is sitting in the library instead of exploring the town using internet and on his phone….

We had lunch at the Rusty Compass. The food was good, but again packed with cruise people. We then went over to Fort Seward.

There are info panels around the old parade grounds which give insight to the history of the town and of the fort.

The ferry to Ketchikan was at 11pm so we still had a lot of time to kill.

We shopped for some food for the trip and sat on a bench for a while before going to dinner at Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery that sells Thai food.

We got Thai food, which was delicious and a Rhubarb fritter.

Now that we were further south, it actually gets dark at a decent hour so we headed over to the ferry while there was some sunlight (it was super cloudy). We finally had tailwind! For 4.5 miles, finally! Haha

We got our tickets and prepared for the night. So, for us, the best place to sleep (if you didnt pay for a cabin) is in the solarium, on the top and back of the boat. There are heaters so it is actually quite warm. However, others also think this is a good spot and we wanted to make sure we got there and plus, it was late at night so I just wanted to sleep.

Once we got on the boat, I grabbed my one pannier with my sleeping things and headed to the solarium while Dad coordinated the bikes.

I was able to find 2 lounge chairs and set up before several people came up and took the rest. Actually, one girl took 5 extra chairs to save for her “friends.” I quote friends because they werent really together just one girl from the group talked with her for a few minutes. It was kind of sad because an older guy wanted a chair, but they were “saved.” It took that group maybe another hour until they showed up. I say, saving seats only up to 15 minutes. Give the older man the chair.

Anyways, people also set up tents at the back of the boat. 11 years ago, when we took the ferry with our car, there was terrible weather and the tent people eventually gave up. Luckily for these ones, the weather was fine and they were able to stay dry

On The Ferry

We had one full day on the ferry. I didnt sleep so well due to people getting off in Juneau, banging around and talking, etc.

We think you can only go down to the car hold when it is ported so we also grabbed our food we left down there and other items for the day.

We mainly sat around and watched people, but we did talk to a few.

Near us was another bicyclists duo from Australia. They are going all the way to Argentina. Nice couple 😁

We also saw the German motorcyclists! If you read my past blogs you will know about these motorcyclists. We met them on the Tok Cutoff and then again at Destruction Bay. We figured we would never see them again, but here they were!

They didnt recognize us at first, but after we said we were on bicycles they did. To be fair, I was wearing my glasses.

They invited us for coffee, which later we joined them and had a lovely chat.

It was a pretty uneventful day besides some whales bouncing around near us.

Then dinner. We got dinner on board since it wasnt too pricey. Even though it was 7.30 pm there was still a line. Maybe because of the special of sirloin, which we got. Actually, we got the last ones 😆

Anyways, the man in front of us also got sirloin and this is where the fun confusion part starts.

There was a shift change with the cooks and the new one was trying to get organized with the orders- like who was getting what and what was already cooking. Well, the first sirloin, the man’s, was already done.

Now, there was a girl in line, but she probably was around my age, with pink hair. She was acting all cool because she is from Alaska and is going to visit her brother in Ketchikan that she hadnt seen in 3.5 years.

I think she must have said something to the man about his sirloin and the sides that come with it (baked potato, corn on the cob, and onion rings) because all of the sudden he was giving her the potato and corn (he never got the onion rings).

Yes, this was fine and nice, but the new cook was confused and thought the man was giving Miss Pink the sirloin or that she too had ordered a sirloin. The old cook tried clearing the situation, but Miss Pink was inputting how she was getting his sides. Meanwhile, after waiting 15 minutes for the sirloins to cook, Dad and I were making it known that the next 2 sirloins were ours and that the man had the 3rd or rather first sirloin from the grill.

Eventually it was all cleared. The man got JUST the sirloin. He gave basically his whole meal away. I mean, if he truly just wanted the meat, then ok fine, but there were less complicated ways, such as giving it to her at the dinning room rather than in line at the cafeteria counter. It just seemed like Miss Pink took advantage of him. There are some other factors that make me think this such as he was moving so slowly and took longer to respond to people/actions than average.

Finally, Dad gets his sirloin and I go up to get mine.

“I didnt mean to make that so confusing.” Miss Pink said.

“Yeah, well, you did a good job of it.” I replied.

Maybe I shouldnt have said anything, but she really was not helping the situation at all.

She turns to the man she was talking with behind her in line,

“Should I say anything? No, I’ll just keep my mouth shut. All these people coming here. I’m from here.”

Clearly, she thought she was taking the high road, but I was definitely curious to what she would have said to me. How did she know I am not from Alaska, maybe I was? There are some other things, but anyways, she made me laugh and I kept calling her my pink haired girlfriend just because to me, the situation was ridiculous rather for her, she probably views me as a rude person.

Later, that man was eating just his meat all by himself. It made me sad and a bit angry at Miss Pink.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Day 1

We arrived in Ketchikan around 5.30 am. We sat in the lobby of the terminal for the sun to rise a bit more and then went to the Mcdonalds near our hotel, Super 8.

We had breakfast and then were able to check in early! It was strange checking in before they did cleaning.

There is a free downtown bus from the mall next to Super 8, which runs every 15/20 minutes.

We took that to the visitor center and got our weekend situated. Fishing the next day, walking tour this day, and going to see some Totem Poles at the state park the last day.

Behind the visitor center desk are many tour operator desks. We stopped at one and booked a fishing trip: Ketchikan Charter Boats.

The visitor center gives out walking tour maps so we followed that through the small downtown. The big thing right now is salmon runs, but Ketchikan is the salmon capitol.

You can pick up the creek where the salmon runs at Creek Street, which is infamous for prostitution and other vices. There are several houses or buildings that have historical plaques commemorating the hardworking women and dames.

Here as well you can see some seals ready to eat salmon.

We followed the river around and eventually made it back to Creek Street.

Ketchikan is a pretty touristy town due to the cruise ships. They can have 7 in town at once. That is a lot of people. Apparently in the winter, it is pretty dead. There are a million of visitors a summer.

Ketchikan is also interesting due to the diversity. There was a strong Chinese and Japanese population, but during World War 2, Filipinos were imported to fill the void caused by Japanese concentration camps. So there are a lot of Filipinos and Filipino restaurants.

That evening we went to Gold Pan Pizza, basically across the street from Super 8, for dinner. It was delicious and the staff were high school students, but incredibly nice and professional. The main student, Seth, gave us breadsticks for free since e are travelers and then a free cookie skillet with ice cream. I wish them all the best!

Day 2

Today was the day for fishing! I was a bit of a skeptic. Ive only gone fishing once, but it looks and sounds so boring. My opinion hasnt changed too much.

Our fishing time was from 12 to 4 basically. 4 hours of fishing.

When we signed up it was just the 2 of us, but we ended up being joined by 2 more people: a father and young son who appeared to have done more fishing than Dad and I put together.

How it worked was in a rotation fashion. The captain put out 4 poles, which also confused me. I thought we would be holding our own poles the whole time, but he set them up on the sides of the boat at different depths and we just sat inside and waited. By this, we could have went on any day, rain or shine, because most of the time we were inside the cabin.

The captain was ok. He needs to retire. He has done this for so long that it is second nature and he has forgotten that it is the majority of people’s first time. He eventually offered us coffee and when asked by the other dad for his son, water and soda (drinks are included in the price). He also didnt really detail how to fish. All I know if that you reel, but as I found out, there is more to it.

But when there were no fish on the line he was less grumpy.

So the boy started first then me then Dad then the other dad.

Boy got a fish. I actually didnt want to go next so I could see how other people did it, but I was next.

The first pole to go, the fish escaped once I touched the pole. The second pole, the fish escaped once I touched the pole. The third pole, the fish made it towards the boat, but then escaped. The captain blamed me saying I pulled too hard, but I literally was just walking backwards (copying what he told the boy todo).

Again, the captain didnt explain the rules well, and so people were confused on when turns pass on. So when the next pole went, I was urged forward, but the captain coughed out,

“No, you are done.”

The dads proceeded to catch fish.

I felt like it was the time with the Thresher sharks in the Philippines were I wss the only one on the boat that didnt see them. Except now it would be I was the only one who didnt catch a fish. And for me, catching was bringing it on the boat, not close.

Also, I dont really consider this fishing because we just had the poles there and waited. I didnt do anything. Seems silly and pointless to waste money on this.

HOWEVER, I did manage to get a fish on the boat 😁 and I became happy. I just wanted to catch one fish. It was a pink salmon, but it was turning green meaning it was a male ready to mate.

I think Dad also caught a pink salmon.

The boy’s second round was a HUGE success. His fish was like 3x bigger than the rest of catch. It was amazing.

In total, we caught 3 pink salmons and 3 cohos or silver salmon.

The dad only shipped home the big one and another one. So Dad sent home the rest to my grandmother.

The second fish Dad almost caught, the captain had to cut loose because it was already loosing its scales meaning it was dying.

Though there is a happy ending to this story, I think it is best that I stay away from sea creatures as I dont have much luck with them haha.

Day 3

A friend of Dad’s cousin lives in Ketchikan so we ket up with him for the morning. He drive us to Totem Bight State Park and then we got lunch at one if the restaurants outside downtown.

The park is small and I was having some claustrophobia issues with all the tour groups, from what I assume are from the cruise ships). There arent that many infi panels, but it was still interesting.

We actually stopped at a beach before lunch to let the cousin’s dog run loose. I have never seen a dog poop so much. She went 4 times. It was hilarious.

We had fish and chips (salmon version) for lunch 😋

We didnt really do much the rest of the day. Had an actual rest day of watching TV and eating grapes.

Leaving Ketchikan, Alaska and on the Ferry

This ferry trip was uneventful. It was quite gloomy all day so not as enjoyable as our first ride.

We bummed around and eventually found some books to read. I finished mine, but Dad took his with us (it was a book exchange thing).

One thing that was funny was, on the Denali Highway, we stopped at Tangle Lake Inn for lunch and there was a woman there from Massachusetts. She was a bit annoying, but I ignored her as I devoured my delicious blueberry pancakes.

Well….she was on our ferry! Incredible.

We just keep seeing people!

Apparently our ferry arrived late. We arrived around 10pm maybe 10.30, Im not sure (back to Pacific Time, we were suppose to arrive around 9pm, but Im not sure if that was Alaska time or Pacific) and pedaled to the campground, which was about 500 m from the port. You go through customs at the port.

The office was already closed so we just picked a spot and set up our tent.

By the time we were in bed it was almost midnight.

Prince Rupert, BC, Canada

We paid for the night and the next night before finding breakfast.

The ferry to Port Hardy leaves odd days in August and we got to Prince Rupert on an odd day.

We ended up eating at West End. A cool Mom and Pop place with delicious food!

It took me 2.5 months to get to Prince Rupert from Shanghai 🤣

Deer just walking the streets.

Prince Rupert, though a small town, has the makings of a large city with Walmart and brand supermarkets and fast foods.

We stopped in the Walmart for the bicycle section, but was told it is no longer in season. 😢

There is free Wifi all over the mall as well.

Dad had a nice conversation with a local man who said he dresses as Santa Claus during the season.

Speaking of seasons, Prince Rupert receives rain all the time. So, Dad and I bought umbrellas at the dollarama.

We walked to the visitor center, which is located near the cruise docks. Yup, cruise ships come here too, but luckily not as much as Ketchikan so things are still normal.

We got a late lunch at Lee and Ann’s Restaurant, which offers Canadian and Vietnamese food. It is funny because other restaurants say either Western or Canadian and then whatever Asian cuisine.

Dad wasnt going to get Vietnamese, but when the waitress suggested one, he got it (me too). It was delicious and hit the spot after all the hamburgers!

We then got some food for the ferry ride the next day. We walked back to the ferry terminal to buy our tickets. The Alaska Marine Highway and the BC Ferries are in 2 separated buildings. There are plenty of signs pointing you in the right direction.

The woman was extremely talkative and we think it was because she was bored, but we didnt mind.

We were asking her a bunch of questions, but the only one she seemed to have answers for was the marijuana question. We were just curious how bringing it on board works since it is legal in Canada and other American states like Alaska. She said it cant cross international borders.

For the record, we dont smoke, and I actually find the smell really gross, but we were wondering on legality- things one talks about while riding 50 miles a day haha.

She proceeded to tell us how she bought some marijuana items and brought it on the plane such as bath bombs…..what?

We just had dinner in our tents, which was a sandwich and chips and called it an early night

Ferry to Port Hardy, BC, Canada

It was a pretty boring day. We had to get to the ferry before 6.30 am and so got there around 6 to board.

Unlike the other ferry, BC ferries dont have a nice area to put our bikes. Instead we were directed to the middle of the hold near the stairs where a bike rack stood.

The rack is for normal bikes. We did the best we could and straped our bikes together and against the rack to prevent bumping and jostling.

They apparently also let you lean your bikes against the walls or in front, but we werent told that till later.

BC ferries are newer than Alaska, but it really isnt for the comfort of the passengers. Meaning, there werent many lounges or seating areas to enjoy the view or be comfortable. It seemed the ship was designed to get more money from you with 2 restaurants, gift shop, cabins, and a private reserved lounge at the front of the ship.

Their outdoor seating is not heated and not well covered from the wind or rain.

We decidely liked Alaska better.

We finally decided to sit in one of the restaurants, the cafeteria because there was an outlet, table, and access to both sides of the ship windows.

We passed the time by planning the rest of the trip a bit and I watched 11 episodes of Narcos.

We had the dinner special, which was seafood pot pie and a side. Dad upgraded his fries for poutine fries. I decided that I will have a lot of poutine soon enough since Im moving to Montreal (stay tuned for Start of an Adventure #5).

Dad, enthusiastic for this 16 hour boat ride.

We impatiently waited the next few hours till arriving in Port Hardy.

They say walk on passengers wait until cars are unloaded. Dad thought we were breaking major rules by waiting with our bikes, but it turned out we were one of the last walk ons to get off so they all were waiting by the exit while cars were driving off.

As we got on shore, a worker warned us about an active female cougar.

Great.😳

We had a few miles to bike before the first campground and it was pitch dark. We arrived around 11.30pm. We, or at least, I am so used to it being daylight the whole time, this darkness feels weird.

And because we were set up for Alaska sun, we didnt have lights on our bikes.

It was a scary several miles for me. Luckily, most of the car traffic left since they disembarked first.

We stayed at Wildwood campground, which in the daylight, is quite nice.

We were reading the information by the office when another bicyclist shows up, but from a different path not the entrance.

“Hello, do you know how this works?” Asked Dad, wearing his headlamp.

“Yes. How about turning off your light?”

Dad apologized and asked her how the campground is set up again.

“Well, obviously the office is closed.”

I looked at her with such disbelief, yes thank you, I didnt notice…..as it is midnight….who would have thought?

“There is self registration, and when I was here last time….oh, well, that was in a car, but I drove there.”

She pointed. Basically, she had no idea.

We made due and took the first site we saw.

Setting up quickly, we fell asleep pretty fast.

Continued in the next post when we get back to biking: Vancouver Island!

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