Monday, October 22, 2012

All Aboard the M/V Columbia!

I had really been looking forward to the ferry ride from Bellingham to Juneau. What I didn't realize until shortly before the sea trip was how much I needed to rest! The ferry presented the perfect opportunity for that. I basically had three nights and two full days to relax. Oh boy, did I sleep. 

I was fortunate to have my car loaded very early in the boarding process so I had first dibs on a spot up in the solarium. The solarium is an area on the top passenger deck where they have plastic recliners and regular chairs. It's open on one side (facing the stern), and the other sides and roof are all plexiglass windows. There are also heat lamps hanging from the ceiling so that it remains comfortable year round. Once we got into Alaska, the temperatures dropped into the low 30s, but sleeping in the solarium was still very nice. I had my thermarest and sleeping bag setup on one of the plastic recliners on one side of the solarium. I could wake from a peaceful slumber and look right out onto the sea and mountains from where I slept. The ferry also has cabins you can stay in- for a hefty additional cost, but even if they were free, I'd still stay in the solarium. The other alternative is to find a recliner in one of the indoor lounges and setup a sleeping bag there. 

There are a couple of dining options. There is a full-service restaurant and also a cafeteria/snack bar. I chose to stick with the snack bar for a few meals, but I also had food of my own that I brought on board. My friend in Bend, Oregon has a fridge full of smoked salmon that he caught and smoked himself. He gave me a package with I enjoyed with crackers and spreadable cheese. That food is so rich, I didn't need to get much more from the caf! 

Smoked salmon, courtesy of my friend, Bob

Unlike the other ferry I've been on, this one has a cocktail lounge. I enjoyed an afternoon Alaskan Brewing Co. mug o' suds here and read my book. the lounge was quite a trip. There was a piano and a few guitars for people to play. I bet there are some good parties in there from time to time. 

Kameko had to remain in the car the entire time. We were allowed to go to the car deck to tend to our animals a few times during the passage from Bellingham to Ketchikan (which was about 36 hours). I've been keeping her doped up because she seems a lot less miserable when she's on her Xanax. She's really been a trooper- for the most part. She's definitely had good days and bad days, but overall, I think she'll make it. 

We arrived in Juneau around 4:30am this morning, and I'm glad to be done with my journey. I'll be posting again soon about how I'm getting settled in. Until then, here are a few more pictures from the ferry trip.

Loading the cars

Bellingham, WA


  1. welcome to juneau! mark & sarah

  2. The recent entries are making me just a teeny tiny bit homesick for the Seattle area. Looking at the photos I can imagine just what the air must smell and taste like. There's nothing like a clear, crisp Pacific NW sunset or bright morning where you can see the mountains. Also: smoked salmon FTW.

    Regarding the kitty-xanax, do you think she will have a hangover or withdrawal symptoms when you stop giving it to her, like a person would? I wonder but hope it isn't too bad.

    Are there other people travelling solo on the boat? Did you meet anyone cool?

    1. I didn't have any time to stop in Seattle on the way to Bellingham, but I drove right through town on I-5, and it was really a cool scene with the skyline and all. It did rain most of the way from Bend up to Bellingham, though... per the usual.

      Kameko totally has/had a xanax hangover. I have a post coming up about the cat. Stay tuned.

      I did meet a couple of cool people on the ferry! I was a little but antisocial mostly because I was so tired and wanted to rest, but I met one of the AMHS staff that steers the boat, and he and I hung out a bit. There was also a woman I have a few drinks with who was moving to Petersburg with her family. There are always some super cool folks on the ferry. :)