Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On the Road

--Guest Blog by Matt on our travel to Ketchikan.  We are landed now and are back on the grid!  More posts to follow hopefully, this one was written mid travel.--

Hello.  Matt here. At this point, I suppose I am just a “guest” writer on the blog, but
we are both hoping to  post more during our time in Alaska. And maybe two writers means more info.  At the time of this writing (not so much posting, as there is no internet on the ferry) we are set to finish our journey in 12 short hours and arrive in Ketchikan in the morning.   Just wanted to get a couple thoughts in before arriving, as much has passed and even more will change with the rising of the sun.

In retrospect, the trip has been as good as one could hope for a six day, 3,000 mile (very rough estimate – to the point of being made up) journey in the middle of winter for a pregnant woman, her three children four and under, and her husband who had just come off 14 days of work.  Seemed like a good idea at the time, eh?  We left the Twin Cities last Monday evening after I finished work (which was mercifully quiet for the first time in a fortnight).   Temperatures were hovering around -15 or so when we set off at about 6pm.  They showed no improvement as we sprinted the sleeping children out of the car at a Days Inn a couple hours west of Fargo.  There are a lot of things that could be said about Jamestown, ND in late January, but “cold, flat, desolate” seem to sum it up for me.

After a short siesta, we were back in the car and headed West to warmer pastures.  We had planned on stopping in Bozeman the next night, but a poor forecast prompted us to continue on to Missoula.  This appeared to be the correct call, as anywhere from 6-12 inches of snow came down as we headed out the next morning through the mountains of western Montana.  Road conditions were suboptimal but not yet treacherous, and Wednesday was a shorter day to Spokane. There we stayed the night with Jason, Emmy, and their wonderful family.  Their son, Simeon, spent the better part of his life in Ethiopia with Simon prior to their mutual adoptions and eerily similar name changes.  We had the pleasure of getting to know Jason and Emmy on both of our trips there, and love them to pieces.  Just wonderful, welcoming people, and a night in their home was a great chapter to this trip.

The following day took us from Spokane to Seattle, where we spent the evening with my brother and his family.  All too short a visit with them, but the kids had a blast and we were able to catch up on life at least a little.  Glad to have them in the neighborhood (Seattle is a 1.5 hour flight from Ketchikan). 

Yesterday, we made the final road portion of this trip and hopped on the ferry from which I write.  It is part of the Alaskan Marine Highway, which runs from Bellingham, Washington to . . . well . . . really far away (I am not sure exactly how far down the Aleutian islands it goes, but anywhere there is far enough in my book).  Ketchikan, by contrast is the first stop.  A mere 37 hours later.  Out path follows the Alaskan cruise ship lines through the inner passage and the scenery is immaculate.  The ship itself may not be so valued, but it is indeed functional.  We have more room in our birth than expected, and the kids are enjoying running down the halls to the play room.  Still, I think all of the travel is catching  up with us all, as they are getting testier and our patience grows less by the day.  We spend more time in our room than expected for these reasons, as well as helping other travelers enjoy their own rides.  Still, the Alaskan Marine Highway is a fascinating experience, and I highly recommend it to those keener on experience than comfort (if you are the latter, you may want to check out Carnival or one of their competitors).  The ship is just fine, but in addition to the scenery, the real charm is the clientele.  Great stories are evident, and if we were more extroverted and not so consumed with our own sanity, I would love to find out more about what makes the folks sleeping outside on the upper deck tick.  Or the old guy adorned navy gear (although I believe one only needs to sit by him for a half hour to hear it, the guy can chat like nobody’s business).  As it is, we are like many on this boat, on board because we are on a journey of one sort or another.

Which leads us to tomorrow.  Oh tomorrow.  While the travel is always exciting and full of wonder, the real adventure begins when we disembark and find ourselves with “well, we’re here.  Now what?”. 

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