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We recently returned from an Alaskan Adventure Vacation. And by we, I am not talking about me and the girls/dogs. This time it was just me and Ken. A friend stayed with the girls.

We started with a very pleasant drive to Bellingham, had lunch with family and then boarded the ferry, part of the Alaskan Marine Highway System. The ferry was scheduled to take us up to Juneau with one stop in Ketchikan, via the Inside Passage. I’ve never been to this part of the world so it was going to be an interesting trip, hopefully with lots of wonderful scenery and wildlife sightings.

The first night out, the ship, the MV Kennicott, lost time traveling along Vancouver Island and the captain decided to travel through open water rather than the inside route. This was not nearly so scenic and the water was rougher. The crew told us that this almost NEVER happens. Oh well.

Later that day, a passenger became ill and we had to make a detour to Bella Bella, which was the prettiest part of the ferry trip. Lots of forest-covered mountains, narrow passageways between islands and peninsulas and overall good weather. We felt sorry for the passenger and his traveling companion because they were dropped off in what could be described as the middle of nowhere. And there was no ferry dock at Bella Bella so they were evacuated in a life boat.

Of course by then we were way behind schedule so the captain got the ship out in open water as fast as possible and we arrived at Ketchikan the next morning, not too late. We were only there for an hour before going on to Juneau, arriving on time on the following morning.

The ferry experience was nice, except for the open water route. It provided a slower, more relaxed way to travel compared to flying. The boat was not crowded with passengers and we had a chance to meet most everyone on it. We had a small cabin that was comfy enough with two bunks and a sink and the bathrooms were just down the hall. The food was better than cafeteria-style and not over-priced. We took breakfast and lunch food and bought our dinners. Beer and wine were also available. There were plenty of places to hang out and watch the world go by or sit and read in a quiet lounge. We had a tour of the engine room.

I would recommend the ferry to Alaska if you have the time for it. It took 2 1/2 days to reach Juneau and we could have gone to many other destinations if we wanted. All of the crew members were very nice and always ready to answer questions or give assistance as needed.

We were lucky to find Dead Horse Point State Park not busy. It is the most popular state park in Utah for good reason. It sits high above the Canyonlands National Park with incredible views down into the Colorado River’s winding canyon. The layers of rock are highlighted by the rising and setting sun. It’s a popular place with photographers and I saw a number of them with their tripods at sunset. After dark, the place had wonderful dark night skies. No ambient light in sight from our camp. The moon was bright enough that I did not need my head lamp to get around at night. And it was very quiet. After staying at RV parks near busy highways, it was a relief to be in such a beautiful place again.

 

For the second half of our camping trip, we went to Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. It is also at the mouth of the Columbia River but on the south side. It is an enormous park with lots and lots of paved bike trails and miles and miles of beach. Much of the beach is open to driving which decreases the wild nature of the place but there weren’t too many cars on the sand while we were there. The tracks were evident though.

The campground is a long ways from the beaches so we drove to them with the dogs. Some beaches are much less popular due to a high dune to cross to access the water. And the campgrounds cram a lot of people into a small space so they were noisy and crowded. We probably won’t go back to Fort Stevens. Oregon has lots of other nice state parks on the coast. This park is good for families and people that bring their bicycles.

In June we went camping on the coast starting with Cape Disappointment State Park in far southwest Washington. It’s a really terrific park and we recommend it. The camping area is near the beach for an easy walk. Dogs could run around on the beach as long as they were well behaved. There are two lighthouses and lots of trails. Bicycles would be handy for getting around but probably not with dogs along. It is the site of the North Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River. The jetty is currently being rebuilt and you can see a distant crane in one of these photos. It is used to lift just boulders into place. The jetty, along with the South Jetty in Oregon, is there to try to keep the shipping lanes open in the big river.

Sunrises and sunsets have been amazing this week.

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