End: Petersburg AK.
As the ship glided out of port, the adrenaline crash was sinking in. Making new friends, all of whome are adventure junkies, we sat and talked until the sun rested behind the horizon. With a little crazed idea, Dirk, Evan and I decided to sleep on the deck of the ship. Winds howling and the cold almost unbearable, I kept under some shelter as they tested the elements out in the open. The smell of exhaust, catalyst number one to my sea-sickness, I flipped over to smother my face in my makeshift pillow.
The sun happened to be the first thing I stared at after waking up. Not a bright thing to do as I was instantly blinded and grumby after the fact. We were still on the water, moving among the small islands and traveling at a leisurely pace. The view was amazing. Mountains met the water. Green pines and white caps. Once my camera was turned on, only the batteries failing could end my trigger happy session.
The ship made It’s second stop of the route on an island named Wrangell. Sleeping through the first stop, I missed a chance to explore for 30 minutes as the ship sat in port. Granted it was around 2:30am when we docked, I want to take advantage of every chance to experience the new region. Evan and I jumped off board and quickly walked around the town. A fishermen’s town I thought as we cut down the main drag. Old wooden convenient stores and houses lined the street, dipping and bending with the road as it hugged the coast. Boats and nets sat on driveways and hung from racks, decorative in color. A quiet town that erupts with activity with the coming of summer. The Sun’s warmth brings life to the sea as the ice retreats and opens up passage for so many animals. The fishermen flock in for a cut of the prize and the tourists follow. Alaska bursts into life.
Arriving in Petersburg, we grabbed our bags and headed out. Excited we were climbing further and further north, containing our joy was out of the question. The town was filled with fishermen. One of the biggest communities of fishermen in the passage, the docks flowed with activity. Boats of all sizes and shapes hugged these floating walkways, bobbing with the tide.
Hungry and in need of information, we headed into town. A grilled halibut burger called my name as we walked past a restaurant. As this is one of the main fish pursued in these waters, I had to give it a try. As I sank my teeth into it, no more than five bites were needed to destroy the burger. I felt sad, so I filled up on fries and gained my composure once more. Later we found our selves at the information office of Petersburg, chatting and learning about the area, the representative pointed us in the direction of a campsite. Some 7 miles down the road and back in the interior of the island, throwing the thumb was now my first instinct. We had some time to catch up on blogs and planning when we retreated into a WiFi hotspot. Time ticked away, slipping from our grasps and minds. It quickly became a quarter til four and we hustled to make it out the door. Our campsite of choice was about to close at four and we began to sweat. Along the way I kept my thumb out, desperate for a fast ride up the road. After being denied several times and running out of time, I turned to wave down one last car. I threw out the thumb and she slowed beside us, I couldn’t believe it. Walking up to the rolling down window, I stated were we needed to go and she smiled saying get in. This is the moment our luck pulled through and we met Helena.
A Netherlands woman whome lives in the beauty of Alaska, Helena was nothing but nice. Rather than going to the campsite, we were invited to camp in her yard overlooking the channel. I just couldn’t stop smiling with all the excitement. When we were almost screwed, no place to sleep and the camp closing, we happened to cross paths. Luck was there watching and I couldn’t believe it.
On the way to her house she showed us streams that would fill with salmon as they returned upstream. Pointing out roads and trails, places eagles sat and the berries that can be picked off the bush, we kept busy scanning the land. As we pulled in to the driveway I couldn’t imagine ending up in a place like this. A grand house over looking the passage we traveled north on this morning. As the hours passed and we woke from our nap on the deck, we all sat and talked. Treating us with our first Alaskan King Crab, I was in heaven. I could not believe how nice Helena was toward us. She even let us shower and wash a load of clothes before the night ended.
I sat back, the soft grass below. The day couldn’t have turned out any better, I am speachless.