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Dave and Jan's travels, day 4:
Ferry to Ketchikan

23rd May 1999
The fery ride to Ketchickan made a good start to our trip. Following our guidebook's advice, we queued early, then rushed on board and staked out a fine spot on the "solarium deck". This area has a roof and walls on three sides, with the rear open to an exposed deck. The exposed area gets quickly colonised by budget travellers with their tents, ductape substituting for actual tent pegs.  Those of us without tents grabbed reclining chairs and positioned ourselves in the covered area. This all looked perfectly fine in the blazing sunshine on the evening of 19th May in Bellingham.

Life in the solarium really made the adventure start. You're surrounded by a host of people, virtually all on long-term trips - hence the low-budget location. Many of these are college age or slightly older, some very nice, others rather earnest (these are slightly embarrassing because they might have been us ten years ago). One especially strange and taciturn fellow occupies a chair directly behind Billie's head.

Other people are our age or older. Naturally the guitars emerge as the sun goes down, but apart from that everyone is considerate, pleasant, and fun to be with. We have lots of conversations with various people, including two New Zealand girls, giant Andrew from Boston, and a whaleologist or whatever the technical term is.

And then there was Barnet woman. At first she seemed interesting, this woman from Barnet (a North London suburb, for our international readers' benefit).  She's three years into a lengthy motorhome tour of the Americas with her husband. Unfortunately, shortly after meeting Jan, she was into a lengthy blow-by-blow description of her itinerary, the details of the customs regulations that led her to buy three different motorhomes, an assessment of which states she hadn't yet 'done' (apparently a state is done if you sleep in it), and other riveting details. A solitary token question aimed at Jan (Where did you live in the US? New York..) set her off again, this time on a description of her brother's house in New York, its address (Did we know that the Empire State Building is on 34th Street?), and much more besides. After about 20 minutes of this monologue, she left abruptly, presumably off to terrorise someone else. Whatever happened to the art of two way conversation?


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Sunny days on board the good ship Matanuska (before the rains came).

Billie and Jan in the solarium, weather still holding, but clouds are gathering..... ......