I got my flippy floppies! See here if you don’t get the reference. So we’re on a boat from Haines, AK to Prince Rupert, BC and it’s awesome. Too bad they shut down all the bars on Alaska Marine Highway Ferries earlier this year, because the ice machine in the cafeteria was a Hoshizaki. But at least we have a tiny little cabin where we will spend our two nights.
Sarah and Steve are going to Juneau so we get to chat with them for the first few hours as we stare out the windows looking at the sea and hoping for some animal life. And before long we see some fins popping out of the water. They’re so straight and tall I think in my head they must be a side flipper from a whale because they’re not triangular like shark fins, or swooped back like dolphin fins, and then Steve looks and says all casual-like, “Those are orcas.” They are orcas! And they’re so cool. There’s a whole pod of them and they keep popping their dorsal fins up, which are insanely big and straight up in the air. Don’t let any terrorist Sea World employees tell you that orca dorsals flop over in the wild. They don’t. They stand straight up like an army commander ready to shout in your face.
Shortly after the orcas left, and for the remainder of the trip to Juneau we saw a bunch of humpback whales. The first ones we saw kept flipping their tails up in the air and splashing down on the water which was amazing. The guys closer to Juneau just kept breathing right next to the boat and thus splashing puffs of water up into the air. The only whale I’d previously seen had been one lone spray at Ocean Beach in SF, so this was a very gratifying end to our Alaska trip. And there were rainbows, of course.
We were stopped in Juneau for a while so we went on shore to check it out and fill our bellies with more than boat cafeteria food. On an always trustworthy Catlin recommendation, we went to Tracy’s King Crab Shack and got the Combo plus an extra leg. This includes a cup of tasty crab chowder, four little crab cakes (that look like chicken nuggets but are much tastier) and two big king crab legs. It was so very tasty as only fresh king crab can be. This is what a moose would look like if it had a baby with a king crab. And it would definitely taste delicious too. After dinner (and before dinner), we had a drink at the very cool Alaskan Hotel and Bar. It’s the oldest building in town, hailing back to 1913, and it looks very prohibition-era inside, with a down home, local dive bar vibe.
Heads up, if you are taking the ferry and want to go to downtown Juneau: Unlike the cruise ships, which dock right in town, from the ferry terminal, you have to take a twenty minute taxi which is expensive (like $35). Find other people to go with, or at least people going to the airport so you can share. And on your way back make sure you book your taxi hours ahead of time, because if a flight is arriving within an hour of when you want to be picked up, you will have to wait ages for a taxi.
Luckily, we made it back to the boat before it left, and went to bed in our tiny bunk beds (I got top bunk!). The rest of the ride was not as eventful as the first day was, unfortunately. We saw no more wildlife, and didn’t get off in Ketchikan because we didn’t want to spend more money on taxis. We got up at half past four to get off the ferry in Prince Rupert, BC and waited in line in the rain and the dark to go through customs. The rest of the next few days were not exciting until we got to the Jasper National Park in Alberta. There’s a highway that goes through the Jasper and Banff National Parks, called the Icefields Parkway, or Highway 93. It’s very beautiful and highly recommended. The Icefields are glaciers that have receded an incredible amount in the past hundred years. They have signs up from very close to the road, all the way to where the glacier currently stands, showing how far out it had reached at various years. Here we are on the glacier:
Unfortunately, we didn’t check on the internet to see when the campgrounds in the park closed, and they all closed the week before we were there. This was terribly annoying as we didn’t realize until we drove by five of them and they were all closed. We were forced to stay at the only hotel for hundreds of kilometers and eat at their expensive restaurant. We could have cooked our dinner on our camp stove in front of our motel room, but that feels a bit white trash, doesn’t it? We were also kind of happy for having stayed in the hotel when we awoke in the morning and it was frosty outside. We continued down the Icefields Parkway and headed towards the USA. We saw this pretty lake on the way and I took pictures.
Oh, and we saw an elk!
If I could figure out how to put a video on this site you could listen to him bellow to a friend, and dig his antlers in the ground and shake his urinating willy all over the place. It was pretty funny but you’ll have to imagine it for now. Anyway, that’s all I have for Canada: receding glaciers and elk pee.