Wednesday 6th August 10:00 p.m Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
I jumped off the ferry in Ketchikan at around 3:30 p.m. That particular ferry was due to continue south at 4:30, but there was another one coming through at 1:00 a.m and I thought it'd be worth giving myself those nine hours to look around Ketchikan. Nine hours turned out to be about seven hours too many, and that's even taking into account the half hour walk into town from the ferry port! I don't quite know what to say about Ketchikan. It's a popular destination for the fat white cruise ships, but what do the passengers find to do in town? Buy tshirts and tacky souvenirs? I don't know. I had met an interesting guy on board the ferry. He's fresh out of prison after a long long stretch, and is returning to university to study criminology. He got off in Ketchikan as well, for a quick look around. He shouted me a beer at a pub across from the ferry port, and when he returned to the ferry, gave me twenty dollars towards my project. I lashed out on a five dollar phone card, and chatted to Mum for two hours.
I did find one interesting place in Ketchikan. There's a stream running through town and it's full -I mean full- of salmon. There's a salmon ladder built to help the crazy fish swim upstream for their spawning. I sat crouched by the stream for an hour, with my camera pointed at a small section of rapids, waiting to snap a salmon jumping. Every couple of minutes, a fish would launch itself out of the shallow water and over the rocks. Can you imagine how hard it is to capture that split second, or how many photos I took to end up with one shot like this one below? Can you spot the salmon?
By eight o'clock, there was nothing for it but to return to the dockside bar. I chatted to CeCe, the big Mexican barmaid, and kept myself awake with coffee. It'd been a poor night's sleep on the ferry. I'd gone to bed after midnight, and it took some time to fall asleep, with the vibrations of the boat through my head. I'd woken during the night, as a wind storm caused havoc with some of the 'tenters'. Then the foghorn had woken me early, leaving me with around three hours sleep. CeCe closed the bar at half past ten so I dragged myself across to the deserted ferry terminal and promptly fell asleep on a hard plastic chair.
"Sir! Sir! Are you catching this ferry?" A hand was gently shaking my shoulder. Shit! Don't tell me I'm nearly going to miss another ferry. Half asleep, I clutched my bags and ran out the door, fortunately in the right direction. This ferry was very different to the previous two. Where the others had a nice big 'solarium' at the rear of the ship, this one had what they called a solarum in the midst of the ship. You could choose between one area which was too hot, too stuffy and too noisy, or another area that was open to the cold gusty wind. Both areas offered unobstructed views of the suspended lifeboats. I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept like a baby.
The ferry was slowing for its approach to Prince Rupert by the time I stirred. Between the lifeboats, I could see that we were still sailing through islands, smaller and flatter than in Alaska. Back in Canada! Farwell Alaska; I'll miss you. I was first off the boat, hurried through the carpark and stuck out my thumb. Every vehicle from the ferry passed without stopping. An hour later a local guy gave me a lift into town. I walked to the highway and stood there for another hour, before a furniture removals truck stopped. The driver had a houseful of furniture to drop off up the road, and his workers had let him down. That was Monday. It's now Wednesday and I'm still travelling with Brian in his furniture truck.
I'd severely underestimated the distance * not again* from Prince Rupert to Vancouver. I had also underestimated how beautiful the drive from Prince Rupert to Prince George would be. In the early parts of the trip, we had some beautiful glimpses of the snowy peaks, and later the landscape flattened out into gorgeous rolling hills. We drove six hundred kilometres Monday, and nine hundred kilometres yesterday. That's gotta be a good ride by any standards! Monday night we slept in the truck just short of Prince George. Brian made a hammock for me in the back of the truck, with a couple of tie down straps and some blankets. I slept quite well. Last night, we got a hotel room in Langley, outside Vancouver, and ordered a huge feast from room service! I tried to connect to the internet through the phone line in the room, but I think the connection was too slow and everything timed out. We're on Vancouver Island at the moment. Brian had a delivery here, and we missed the last ferry back to the mainland, so were forced to head the pub. I hate it when that happens! We're attracting quite some attention here, both wearing uniform overalls and me tapping away on a laptop. I'm starting to feel a bit self conscious, so I might call it quits with the journal, and enjoy the evening.