Alaska Adventure 2005 – Heading for the Alaska ferry

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Day 3

  • Friday, June 24
  • Seattle, WA to Bellingham, WA
  • 98 miles (Paul, Jeff, Scott, Trev)
  • 196 miles (Eric)

The day has finally arrived. After a hearty breakfast and a brief stop at REI to purchase flashlights, we head North on I-5 for Bellingham, Washington, the Southern terminus of the Alaska ferry system. Eric is not accompanying us to Alaska as his wife is expecting to give birth any day to their second child plus his new job is requiring his speedy return. So upon arrival at the ferry terminal, he announces his intention to head back to Seattle immediately. As the ferry is not leaving for hours, we tell him to hang with us for awhile but Eric says that if he doesn’t leave right now, he’ll be unable to resist coming along. Recognizing a man on the brink, we wish him a safe journey back to LA and good luck with the baby delivery.

We check in and are instructed to queue up near the ferry ramp. We join a number of bikes and a spontaneous motorcyclist reunion takes place. Bikes of all sorts and riders of all walks of life are present but we do have one thing in common. We are all off in search of big adventure and it’s fun to assess the approach each of us are taking to find it: solo or two up, dual sports, Gold Wings, old Beemers, state-of-the-art and aged sport tourers, Uncle Bob’s Honda CB1000 and a 1989 Harley Davidson Electra Glide with 165,000 miles on the odometer.

After bomb and drug sniffing dogs excitedly comb the vast parking lot with their handlers and come up empty handed, we finally are directed to ride aboard what seems more like an aircraft carrier than a ferry. In the center of the lower deck and over to one side, is an elevator large enough to hold a passenger car where two bikes at a time are lifted to an upper deck. We are then instructed to lash our bikes to the deck and to each other, forming what looks like a huge spider’s web with our bikes firmly caught in it. I wonder what sort of sea conditions are in store for us that would require such precautions. Hmmm…..

We haul our gear to the cabin I’ve reserved and then promptly set off for the on-board cocktail lounge for refreshment only to discover that it can’t open until the ferry departs the dock due to not having a Washington State liquor license. Good Lord, how bureaucratic! Don’t these people realize we are on vacation? We retreat rather grumpily to the open deck, admire the view and take a few photos while still tied to the dock. I have to admit after gazing for awhile at the sunlight dancing on the water’s surface, a strange sensation begins coming over me. I’m puzzled at first bit but I finally recall that this is the initial onset of relaxation. How marvelous! That’s a major goal of this trip and it’s only day one. Usually this doesn’t occur until day three after riding about 1,000 miles; a very good omen, indeed.

Once underway, the lounge casts open its doors and it quickly becomes jam-packed with thirsty travelers, who quite appropriately and with obvious enthusiasm, tackle the ample stores of the on-tap Alaskan Amber. The four of us break into a big group grin. The adventure is off to a grand start and clearly, this is going to be very cool.

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