Search This Blog


Adventure to Alaska: Terrace to the Alaska State Ferry

The Skeena River is one of the longest undammed rivers in the world and, approaching Prince Rupert, is so massive that we thought we had reached the ocean far before we actually did. 

The Skeena River approaching Prince Rupert

Check the map. The Yellowhead Highway skirts the Skeena almost the entire 144 km between Terrace and Prince Rupert. Snow-capped peaks rise up from the river valley on all sides with waterfalls dropping from top to bottom at every turn.  It is a sublime drive. 

The Skeena River looking upstream towards Terrace.

At a reststop, anxious to get out of the car and closer to the wide, wide river, we met the first of many interesting others. We still call them gray van because they were on a similar adventure, going sort of the opposite direction but in a gray Sprinter with the license plate "Gray Van." Ha!

Turns out gray van was on its way to catch the same ferry to Juneau and we would catch them on the boat for many future conversations.  We still call out "gray van" when we see a gray Sprinter van. 

We arrived well in advance of our 6:45 PM departure from Prince Rupert and spent an hour exploring Cow Bay, stocking up on snacks and drinks.

Cow Bay
On the ferry you are allowed to access your car twice a day and at ports-a bit of a shift for those of us who have been living out of our car for a month.  We opened up the trailer and the car and spilled all of our stuff out onto the sidewalk in a great big yardsale mess. I'm not sure we accomplished any semblance of organization or preparedness, but we tried.

At the Ferry Terminal we waited in one line, passed customs and then waited in another line.  And waited, and waited, and waited...

Waiting in Lane 5 to go through customs.
Alaska Ferry crews deserve a whole lot of deference...and time. They puzzle together trailers, boats, huge RVs and all different shapes and sizes of cars and trucks, plus walk-ups, to fit on the boat while still making all of those variations of vehicles accessible to drive off along the way at six different ports. 

With so much anticipation for our first ferry ride, and Alaska so close, we were impatient, though. It was SO HOT waiting in the car with not much to do.  The kids went out and kicked the soccer ball around, which sparked up a conversation with fellow soccer fanatics from Uruguay.  These Uruguayans were skipping their traditional trip to watch world cup soccer (women this year) in order to do the Inside Passage and tour Alaska. Big deal!

Growing list of interesting others: gray van, soccer Uruguayans. 

And finally were on the boat, throwing stuff from the car into our cabin, anxious to explore the boat, and watch the dock float away.

Tribe J-B leaving Prince Rupert

Dark didn't all. Not that we could go to bed anyway.  We stayed up late watching this whole new experience begin.

A pod of dall's porpoises escorted us out into the passage. We were on a ferry...for three days...headed to Alaska!  Adventure to Alaska phase two starts NOW!