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Old 02-15-2019, 01:17 AM   #1
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Alaska Ferries for this summer ...

Hello All,
If you are planning on coming to Alaska this summer, I suggest you make a reservation and payment as soon as possible. We have a new Governor who wants to balance our state budget this year so (I can only guess ) he can get re-elected. As a result he is talking about chopping out 75% of the Alaska Marine Highway System budget and to make ends meet, Privatize as much as possible. Sigh! Means rising prices.

We have been down this road before and before policy gets changed, cooler heads prevail. Hopefully will be this time too. My thinking is to get a ticket and perhaps you will be Grandfathered in with current prices. That said, keep your receipt and fully understand refund policies before giving them your credit card number.

I suggest if you are wanting to see Southeast Alaska, ferry one way and drive around the other... best of both worlds. Putting your vehicle and trailer on the ferries is expensive true but its not like you are going to do this every year …. or will you? Pretty fun!

Tom
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:27 PM   #2
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sounds interesting which ferry would we pick up- where do we leave from -if we drive up and ferry back. do you know est what it costs -by foot?
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:44 PM   #3
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sounds interesting which ferry would we pick up- where do we leave from -if we drive up and ferry back. do you know est what it costs -by foot?
Hi Ruth,
I'll give it a go here:


General Option 1: Drive Olympia to Everett and take Highway 2
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:45 PM   #4
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Would also like to know. Do you drive in/out via the highway from Skagway to the Alaska Highway?
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:24 PM   #5
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Hi Ruth,
I'll give it a go here:

General Option 1: Drive Olympia to Bellingham and take the Alaska Marine Ferry Bellingham to Skagway (3+days …. cannot sleep in your RV) Get a Ferry Cabin for an extra charge or sleep on the sun deck for free. Usually there are comfy lounge chairs to sleep on. People get on as early as they can to get a lounge chair and drag them around to set up a "camp site" and a place to store your day stuff. Generally, every three hours, you can go down to the car deck to walk your dog and pet your cat.... bring doggie bags. There is a restaurant on most ferries. Its a long interesting trip so to cut costs, on thing I bring up to the Sun deck is a cooler filled with snacks, breakfast and lunch fixings. In the cafeteria there is a microwave available. I 'cook' up instant oatmeal there for breakfast and make sandwiches etc for lunch (its 3 days). Then I like to buy dinner in the restaurant. Bring a good book, binoculars and be ready to meet lots of interesting people. Many times … especially early and late in the season there will be lots of young people jamming with musical instruments. No matter if you are an old fart like me, you will be welcome to sing along or play too and I have heard some incredible good music. GOOD VIBES!

Now once you get to Skagway, basically you drive to Whitehorse and turn left to see Alaska interior and the Yukon or turn right and head on down the 'AlCan' highway and eventually back to Washington State. Lots of destination options no matter which way you go. Getting a "Mile Post" would be a good idea - its a thick book that describes interesting stops along the road system. Recommend you get it well in advance of your trip as there is A LOT of information to look through.

In order to check fares, go to www.ferryalaska.com and click on 'reservations'. You wont be obligated but you can see prices. You'll find prices for walk-ons and vehicles. If you are taking your trailer you'll need to call in to get a price. They will want to know the total length of your vehicle plus trailer (hitched). They will measure you before getting on the ferry.


This is getting long and I'll post this and next other options.


Tom
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:22 AM   #6
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General Option 2:
Relating to the above option 1: Just for clarity …. If you get on in Bellingham, your next stop will be Ketchikan (Pop about 8000) - lots to do there. City is very lineal all along the shore line.

Next stop will be Wrangle (pop. 2500). Retired mill town, on the surface not that interesting to look at … BUT once you scratch a little below the surface, this place really shines. You can find garnets on the beach (buy from the local kids - legally they have been deeded to the youth), you can also find petrified tropical coral that (get this) came from Costa Rica where it was formed and moved north over the eons with tectonic plate movement. Check that out on an atlas!!! There are also old petrographs on the beach. The town is centered on the Stikine River … a large river and until fairly recently THE "high way" to the interior for ancient peoples … reason there is so much culture in this community. The saying … All that glitters is not gold …. is really true here. The 'gold" is the people … ask a few questions and show some interest and you will find out amazing things. Those who live in Southeast Alaska are really proud of their communities.


Next stop will be Petersburg (pop 2700) … a Norwegian fishing town and until recently the home to the greatest percentage / per capita of millionaires in the US. Good hardware and fishing gear stores. Both Wrangel and Petersburg are linear cities along the waterfront and they are small. The ferry stops for almost an hour where if you have a bicycle with you, you can ride the length of the town in an hour. Just be back before the ferry leaves or you will have to charter a float plane to catch up. $$

Next stop will be either Sitka or Juneau. Sitka ( pop. 8600) is the original capitol of Alaska and home of early Russian settlements as well as very powerful native clans (still). Native culture is alive and well here. Sitka also lands huge amounts of seafood - perhaps third largest largest landings in the US. In spite of being as far north as it is, Sitka has a climate very similar to Seattle due to the warm Japanese current being immediately off shore to moderate its temperatures. Sitka is stunningly beautiful …. real estate is very expensive but oh my what a place. Best check your ferry itinerary as I think north bound ferries skip Sitka and south bound ferries do stop there. Ferry service may be once a week. There is an all weather airport served by Alaska Airlines.


Next stop Juneau (pop 32,000)… capital of Alaska and the only capital in the states that you cannot drive to. To get here you either fly, take a barge or the ferry system …. well … oh yes …. Cruise Ships in the summer. Thanks to being a government (state and federal), medical hub for Southeast Alaska, and two, large silver and gold mines, it has a year round vigorous economy. There is lots to do here and like other Southeast towns, the people are the Mother Lode. One of the most interesting things we have here is a glacier that you can drive and walk to. Its spectacular! What a thing to have as a neighbor! Downtown there are the usual tourist trap shops but right in the middle of all that is a tram up to the top of the mountains towering over town - (nearly 4000' - forget the actual number) but on a clear day its amazing as you can see til the flat earth quits … well worth the expense. Right under down town is still the main gold ore body and the reason Juneau exists. Turn of the century, Juneau had the largest gold deposit in the world and I think still does. But there is a catch …. it also has a very low percentage of gold in the ore.... 3/4 ounce / ton of ore. Turn of the century the AJ Mine was also the richest and most profitable mine in the world because ….. of gavity. Yes gravity. The early mother lode was high enough on the mountain ( Mt. Roberts - right behind the cruise ships) that the miners could tunnel in horizontally to the ore body at say a few thousand feet elevation, load the ore cars and use horses to drag the cars to the exterior of the shaft where there was a horizontal shallow grade rail system that ran the ore + cars to a place that would dump and funnel the ore above the stamp mills. Then the ore would get a primary crush, then funnel down for a secondary and so on until the ore would be a powder, shaker tables would separate the gold from the ore and finally mercury would dissolve the gold and leave a concentrate. Gravity again took the concentrate to waiting ships at tide water and off it would go to be smelted. Many gold bricks were poured right in Juneau. I forget how many tons of gold was removed from Juneau's mines …. a staggering amount. Come up and find out.


Back to the Ferry heading North out of Juneau … your next stop will be Haines (pop. 1500) … architecturally there isn't much to look at in Haines …. BUT … It is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen. There are hanging glaciers (don't touch water and are of high elevation) right over town …. no they won't hit it if they fall but due to the clear air it looksa like you could reach out and literally touch them. On the drive out of town towards Whitehorse, Yukon Territories you will be driving through the Swiss Alps … or it will look like that. Spectacular spectacular!!!! Likely will see lots of Bald Eagles too …. usually a winter time exhibit where there maybe 30 or 40 per tree …. still with the Chilkat River all along the highway you will see plenty. A few miles out of town, in a community called Haines Junction, youll meet the most friendly Canadian Custom Agents you'll ever find. Whitehorse about 220 miles ahead.


Next stop heading North out of Haines on the ferry: Skagway (pop. 800) is a turn of the century gold rush town. Its small but wonderful …. mostly false fronted wooden buildings and is a National Park .. the whole town but uniquely is a working town. Meaning the shops are real and people really live there. Skagway was founded because that was as far north that ships could get. During the 1890's gold rush ships would drop miners of on the docks with all their gear for mining in the Yukon gold fields. The Canadian Mounties, worried about survival of the minors over the winter required each miner to take over a thousand pounds of supplies with them or no entry. The only way to get to the gold fields was by hiking over the Chilkoot Pass … a VERY steep and long verticle trail. Some miners thought they need a grand piano …. you can still see parts thrown off the trail. History is pretty interesting here. Its windy in Skagway and its said the name came from an Indian wording meaning "the place where one is not likely to breathe the same air twice."

Now you can drive a steep road up out of Skagway and after another Customs stop, will lead you to Whitehorse and the AlCan.

I'm getting tired so think I will write of more options driving and shorter ferries tomorrow. Hope I haven't worn everyones eyeballs out!

Tom
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:33 AM   #7
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sounds interesting which ferry would we pick up- where do we leave from -if we drive up and ferry back. do you know est what it costs -by foot?
Ruth, go to www.ferryalaska.com and click on "Reservations" …. you won't be committing your self at this point.

Foot no vehicle … this winter one way has been $450 from Bellingham to Juneau. Does not include a cabin or food. Trip takes three days. Should check as travel time gets closer. Ferry travel with vehicles fills up soon. Not as much of a problem by foot.

Tom
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:39 AM   #8
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Would also like to know. Do you drive in/out via the highway from Skagway to the Alaska Highway?
Yes Mike … there is a 2 lane road out of Skagway. It has a good surface and is a little steep and windy but not too bad. If you can handle the Rockies …. no problem (in the summer). The road out (Im guessing here - maps on my trailer) about 20 miles before the intersection for the AlCan.

Well, a little more accurately …. Skagway to Carcross, Carcross towards Teslin. Before Teslin you will be on the AlCan. At Carcross you can head North towards Whitehorse, also on the AlCan. Whitehorse has a nice performing arts center.

Tom
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:51 PM   #9
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In 2006 we drove to Skagway and took the ferry to Bellingham with stops in Juneau (2 weeks), Sitka (2 nights), and Ketchakan (2 nights). Spent a week in the Glacier Bay Lodge. The Juneau campground charged $10 a day to leave the camper in place while we were gone. We rented a stateroom for the overnight segments because they were going for half price after the ferry got underway. We had reservations for all legs of the trip, but I noticed the standbys all got on. I'd do it again before I would pay for an Alaskan cruise.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:35 PM   #10
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Sounds like you had a good time. I think the en-route stops you made must have really added to the quality of your trip. So glad you had a good time!

Tom
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