Kantishna, AK to Juneau, AK to Bellingham, WA
The only way to drive from Kantishna to Juneau is... back the way we came... through Canada.
We were originally scheduled to spend the night in Fairbanks, but we drove through to Tok. Again, we stayed at Fast Eddy's. This time our room looked like it was from 1978 complete with a yellow floral bathroom. It had rained all day and it was cold, so a warm, clean, and dry room was great - no matter what decade it was built. After an early wake up, we drove all the way back through Whitehorse, Yukon and on to Skagway, AK. We even made it with a day and a half to spare.
Skagway is an old mining town turned tourist town run by mainly the cruise ship companies. It's the home to the historic Moore House and the White Pass railroad. The Klondike National Historic Park and the Chilkoot Trail are also in Skagway. One day, I hope to hike the Chilkoot Trail.
If we missed the ferry going out of Skagway we'd have to drive back... not to mention lose a lot of money. The ferry was one of those things we needed to book before we left in July because we'd have a car. Car space is really limited on the ferries... especially since common cargo consists of giant tour busses and RVs.
We arrived extremely late one evening on our ferry from Skagway to Juneau. After a refreshing night in a comfortable motel room, we met Moni (a Juneau native that we met in Denali) at the ferry terminal. She picked us up, took to breakfast, and on a tour of Juneau. Moni is a nurse with a never-ending blonde ponytail who calls everyone kiddo. She was completely Alaskan wearing her Xtra Tuff wellies. Juneau is a rain forest and if you ask Moni, she'll tell you, "Juneau invents rain".
We drove Glacier Highway which runs along the harbor to downtown were we went to the Rookery for breakfast. I'd highly recommend a stop even if its just to see the amazing art that pays homage to Alaska. Downtown offers many cute artist shops for the 20,000 cruise tourists that visit daily in the peak season. Juneau ports receive up to 5 cruise ships at a time, each one with 3,500 - 5,000 tourists per ship. Off season, Juneau has a population of 35,000. Real estate is crazy expensive in Juneau and most of Alaska. The government owns approximately 80% of land in Alaska.
We ventured through Tongass National Forest and we visited the Mendehall Glacier - along with 47 other tour buses. We stopped at Deharts (a Juneau institution) convenience store at the marina. We gathered snacks for our upcoming few days on the ferry and watched two guys load a (very large) deep freezer into the back of a truck like it was child's play.
After Deharts, we headed over to the Shrine of St. Therese. The atmosphere was completely serene and calming. We walked the Labyrinth of Merciful Love then headed back to the ferry terminal. Our 4 o'clock ferry was delayed, but not too long: it arrived to collect us at 4:30 looking like a mini cruise ship with a garage door.
Moni (along with several other people we've met) says I should write a book about this journey. Given that I'm not a writer, I doubt that will happen. (I mean, lets be real, it took me 3 months to write these last two posts about the trip. If you told me to make an Excel spreadsheet about it, it would be finished tonight.)
We drove into the ferry which is easier said than done with a metal grate floor. We checked in with the purser to collect our stateroom keys and deposit our belongings. The stateroom has bunk beds, a sink, and a tiny porthole - with little room for anything else. (Including me... I had some vertical challenges while trying to sit upright on the top bunk.)
We headed onto the dinning room for a dinner of fresh Alaskan Halibut with steamed vegetables. We also met Chris, an older widower, who has traveled the country by train, ferry, and car making friends and adventures along the way. Chris has a red, round face with a deep voice. He looked every part of South Dakota farmer wearing a red plaid shirt, Wrangler jeans, Cabela's ball cap, and a zip up fleece. He introduced us to Raven Song who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 1976. She was one of the first women to through hike the PCT. (There is some disagreement if she were the first or not. And as my grandma always said, believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.) But it's no doubt that she's been breaking barriers for women since she was young.
When she was 16, she applied for an exchange program on St. Lawrence Island. St. Lawrence Island is in the middle of the Bering Sea and only 36 miles from Russia. The exchange program was only for men. She applied anyway. She still visits her Yupik family on the island and helps with their summer hunting.
She still advocates for women, but for healthcare and access to information: like research outcomes of wifi and cell tower radiation and their influence on cancer, mental illness, and wildlife and environmental changes. She also spends time in her small cabin near the PCT, Raven Song's Roost, where she acts as a trail angel for many through hikers every year.
After this, I slept a lot and read two more books before arriving in Bellingham, Washington.
Day 52 (Denali to Tok) stats: 325 miles, 0 (new) states, 0 (new) NPS, 82 Subarus
Day 53 (Tok to Skagway) stats: 491 miles, 0 (new) states, 1 NPS, 42 Subarus
Day 54 (Skagway) stats: 0 miles, 0 (new) states, 1 NPS, 11 Subarus
Day 55 (Skagway to Juneau) stats: 5 miles, 0 (new) states, 0 (new) NPS, 10 Subarus
Days 56 - 58 (Juneau to Bellingham) stats: 7 miles, 0 (new) states, 1 NPS, 236 Subarus,
Running stats: 8,773 miles, 13 states, 33 NPS, 3,406 Subarus.