Hazelton to Prince Rupert to the Alaska Marine Highway
The Usk Ferry
Today, Friday, we traveled to Prince Rupert to meet our Alaska Ferry for a one day and 8 hour trip to Juneau via Ketchikan, Wrangle and Petersburg. We are told we can leave the ship at each stop, if they are on schedule. We shall see.
The last 200 miles to P. Rupert surprised us. We anticipated snowy mountain ranges and winding roads but instead followed the Skeena River as it wound its way to the sea. On the way we passed by the Usk Ferry, a little one car engineless ferry that is fastened to a cable and uses the current to cross the Skeena to a small village on the other side. While not a novel idea—there used to be many such ferries on the Columbia River, for example—few remain.
We reached rainy P. Rupert at noon with a ferry check in set for 5:00 P.M. We found a great seafood restaurant, “Smiles Seafood Cafe” on the shores of “Cow Bay” in an area undergoing redevelopment. We never learned the background for the bays name but suspect a cow was involved. P. Rupert, a fishing and shipping hub, offered little for us in the rain so, after a Tim Horton’s stop, we headed for the ferry and were delighted that we could join the queue on the ferry landing. We popped open the Chalet, turned on the heat and settled in to await the Matanuska, our ferry north.
Waiting for the Matanuska
Vehicle loading was a choreographed affair; big trucks, Rv’s, trailers, cars of all types were sorted by destination—Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau—so they could unload in the right order at the correct port. On schedule, 8:00 P.M., we cast off and headed north. More on ship life later.
Thoughtlets on Coffee Shops: We have not seen an espresso shop since we entered Canada! While shops line the streets in Washington State towns, big and small, we have entered a Canadian coffee vacuum in Central B. C. How do these people live?
It’s not that they don’t drink coffee. Every Tim Horton’s is jammed with sippers of basic coffee. No steamed milk for this lot. The best designer drink they offer comes from a machine where they press a button and the drink comes out. Perhaps in this country of miners, loggers, farmers and truckers, designer drinks are for sissies.
We are not worried. In one day and eight hours we will be deposited back into the U.S.A. where they know the meaning of single tall skinny decaf vanilla latte, extra hot, no foam.
Sightings: In Canada, their one dollar coin is adorned with a Loon and affectionately called a “Loonie.” In the U.S. there is a chain of stores called “Dollar Stores.” In Prince Rupert we spotted a similar store called “The Loonie Bin.” Clever?