The day finally came for us to get on the ferry. We were asked to get there two hours early but in typical fashion we got there two and a half hours early. Yep, we are those people. We took Phoebe on a walk up and down all of the lines in order to tucker her out.
We got our tickets and other passengers started to arrive. We ended up being the only big RV on this ferry so I thought that might be in our favor. The ferry employees directed on a few cars and then it was our turn. This is no Seattle ferry, my friends. The Alaska ferry people were expecting us to back down a ramp onto the ferry and make a hard right turn (while backing) to get our sixty foot long selves onto the platform on board. We were promised that all of the employees were highly trained, friendly people who were going to have no problems getting us onto the ferry. What we ended up getting was a first timer and a whole host of out of sync team members.
My mom started her backing but the new guy was having trouble getting us lined up and then we hear a STOP! And here comes another team member saying that the new guy needs to turn on his radio so that he can receive instructions from the members already on the ferry. Suddenly, we see an older man walking over asking us if we’d like him to back us on, since he is a professional. Well, okay. What a relief - little did we know that this gesture came with fine print.
He hopped in, we hopped out, and Phoebe looked panicked. Only for a minute and then she sat looking out the window as the man backed the RV and truck down into the ferry parking area underneath. There were a few hiccups and apparently a tense conversation between the older man and the new guy but other than that, we were on. We kissed Phoebe, tucked her into her crate and ran upstairs before I lost my nerve.
Oh wait, I did actually lose my nerve. Once we were finally settled, I bawled. Less so because we were leaving Phoebe, ironically, and more because of the reaction of the people that were “helping” us get on the ferry. One guy was relieved because he thought it would take us an hour to back on - and many people were huffing and grumpy and it was not at all like it was described to us beforehand. I plopped in a reclining chair and tried to take a nap most of the way. Due to the fires we had zero visibility. It was extremely disappointing because we had the feeling it was stunning but we couldn’t see much farther than the boat.
It finally came time to get back in the truck and get the heck off this ferry. Not before of course, receiving an exceedingly intense lecture from the older man who got us on the ferry in the first place. Initially, he seemed to be giving pointers, but then it accelerated into harsh words, deep concern over hurting others with our “inexperience” and ended with a bit of a misogynistic undertone. I stood there nervously laughing and my mom’s head nods indicated to me that she was about to explode. Fortunately, we kept it together and declined his offer to get us off of the ferry. His anger seemed to come out of nowhere. Maybe it was boiling as he passed the time but it was certainly startling and odd. We were told many times by not only the ferry people but by other people who have been on the ferry that this experience is HARD. That is why they have trained people to help you get on and off. Our situation was, apparently, extremely rare and we are grateful to hear that we may have a drive on, drive off ferry experience going back this Monday.
Phoebe survived and there were no accidents or barf anywhere. In typical fashion, I worried for nothing.
Our time in Juneau consisted of quite a few walks and breathtaking views (as much as we could see) but I think the ultimate highlight was our whale watching tour. If my personality were ever to translate to an animal, it would probably be a humpback whale. They are solitary animals that are incredibly altruistic. They range in size from 45 to 65 feet. They make a long trek from Hawaii to Alaska every year. Hawaii is for mating and giving birth and Alaska is for feeding. I can’t remember all of the numbers but I do remember that babies consume 7lbs of food an hour while they are young. Wow.
We saw five or six whales, some porpoises, sea lions and eagles. Porpoises, according to our guide, are not as easily playful as dolphins. They want you to work for their love. Well our captain apparently knew them well because as we hung over the front of the boat, porpoises started to jump and play and splash water everywhere as we tried to keep up with them. It was out of this world.
We also got to witness a sleeping whale who grumbled and groaned for us to keep it down. Our guide never heard those noises before and was super excited to witness it with us. We met Bunsen the baby humpback whale and saw a handful of stunning tails. It was wild and I’m so glad we experienced these beautiful animals.