Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The North Country really begins in Southeast Alaska, the closest part of Alaska to the Lower 48. The ferries, collectively referred to as 'The Blue Canoe', connect this roadless area to the Lower 48, making it the longest public ferry system in North America.

It connects 14 ports and serves 64,000 people. Just getting to these towns has been a very real part of our adventure. The best reason to end our trip in the Southeast is its scenery.

Few places in the world have the spectacular views found here. The foreign tourists we have met on these ships have attested to this.

To get here you have to float or fly. Rugged snow-capped mountains rise steeply from the water to form sheer-sided fjords decorated by cascading waterfalls. Ice-blue glaciers that begin among the highest peaks fan out into valleys of dark-green Sitka spruce trees and melt into wilderness waters that support whales, sea lions, harbor seals and huge salmon runs.

More than anywhere else in Alaska, each city here clings to its own character, color and past.

 The Wrangell High School track team is returning from a weekend meet in Juneau-

                            -and slept on the ship last night as this is a two day ride for them.

They are running around Petersburg on the 1/2 hour layover here while we load our camper onto the ship. It's a nice break from the Monopoly game of the day.

                              We take our last look at Petersburg and say good by-

              -from the heated solarium where backpackers had slept the night before.

Passing between Mitkof Island and Kupreanof Island, the ferry threads it's way through the 46 turns of the 22-mile long Wrangell Narrows, which in some areas-

-is just wide enough to accommodate the state ferries. The channel ahead is 19 feet deep and just a little wider than the ship.

The city of Wrangell lies at the northwest tip of Wrangell Island on Zimovia Straight three hours by fast ferry or 32 air miles southeast of Petersburg, the closest major community.

It is the only Alaskan city to have existed under four nations--the Stikine Tlingits, the Russians, Great Britain and the United States.
                     It began in 1834 as a Russian stockade called Redoubt St. Dionysius.

Today it is a supply hub for outlying fishing villages and logging and mining camps.

                           With a population of only 1974, it is a friendly little town.

Although it is neat and clean, and the few merchants we talked with would like a cruise ship to stop, there isn't enough there to make it worth their while.

                                          We stopped at the very nice museum.

Saw Wyatt Earp's double barreled shotgun and smoking pipe. He was marshall here for 10 days before moving on to the gold fields farther north.

Billy Mitchel sent four planes through here in 1920 on their way from New York City to Nome to show how important aircraft could be in time of war.
They made the trip in 53 hours.

The Wrangell Sentinel is the oldest continuously printed weekly newspaper in Alaska. This is one of the original printers from 1902.

Chief Shakes Island features an impressive collection of totem poles and an excellent example of a community tribal house.



The first Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in Alaska.

It's red neon cross is one of two in the world that serve as navigational aids.

                   A walk along this nice beach revealed about 40 nice ancient petroglyphs.

                                  What could I be looking out to sea and be dreaming of?

--How can I get Judy to help me fix this thing up so we can spend a life at sea?

                                The view from our camp in downtown Wrangell.

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