… aboard the the MV/Malaspina still resonates in my mind. Considering the size of the state, Alaska does not have many roads for vehicles. Coastal communities make up for this with the Marine Coast Highway and a fleet of ferries. These workhorses carry walk-on passengers, vehicles, and cargo to small communities and villages sprinkled among rugged inlets, fjords, and islands. They tread their way through channels so tight the captains depend on tides for adequate draft to avoid running aground. They muscle their way across choppy, rolling bays spilling into the open sea. Engines throb through fog so thick even a nightmare seems transparent. Sea lions bellow challenge to the long single note of the fog horn.
More than the physicality of these stout boats is the chance to rub elbows with sourdoughs or folks living in Alaska year round, cheechakos aka green horns, seasonal workers for the salmon industry and tourist onslaught, Native Alaskans, and even an occasional tourist. It’s similar to riding a neighborhood bus around a city with its out-of-the-way places, crusty characters, and smorgasbord of lifestyles. Not for the delicate or the picky tourist but just right for the intrepid traveler.