We’ve all heard that native Alaskans have 100 words to describe snow. I wonder if they also have 100 words to describe gloom. Because so far on this ferry trip into the Alaskan panhandle we’ve seen light gloom, dark gloom, deep gloom, and everything in between. Gray is is the dominant color up here and its shades depict everything in sight, from the slate-gray water to the pigeon-gray sky. Even the decks and walls of our vessel, the M/V Malaspina, reflect some middling tone.
Not that I’m complaining. People who complain are jerks. In fact, the gloom seems oddly apropro. Now, don’t get me wrong: it would be amazing to see some blue sky, some snow-capped peaks. But the gray has its place too; it sets a wonderful mystical and cozy atmosphere for the trip. When it’s raining and blowing outside there’s nothing better than relaxing, all cozy and warm, inside the ferry, day dreaming about the adventures to come.
Now, winter in these parts means short days, maybe seven or eight hours of daylight at the moment. It’s dark by 4 pm. Combine that with the inclement weather and a 68-hour ride on the ferry and it means a lot of time spent inside. Thankfully we came prepared. I’m traveling with an old friend from college and his girlfriend: Mike and Lauren. And they both put a lot of thought and a lot of effort into preparing for this trip. We’ve got 37 board games, no fewer than 940 new release movies, half a used bookstore’s worth of books, ten tons of groceries, and not one, but two, differently-sized jamboxes for when the dance parties break out.
And that’s just us. The ship itself is laden with amenities. In addition to a full bar, a cafeteria serving solid, hot meals, a movie theater, a reading room, multiple decks, lounges, solariums, and viewing rooms, there’s hot showers, vending machines, puzzles, a piano, and two guitars. Needless to say we have lots to do.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the constant rumble of the engines and the occasional sideways list of the floor I’d forget I was even on a boat at all. I’m used to boats being small, cramped things where space is at a premium and every object on board has 12 different uses. But this ferry is downright luxurious in comparison. In our cabin we’ve got four fairly-comfy bunks, a separate sitting room, an en-suite bath, and we’ve even managed to jury-rig our starboard-facing windows into makeshift refrigerators. This morning I took a hot shower and the stall was big enough to turn around in without accidentally deploying 50 hidden compartments. It’s a wonderful way to travel.
To be continued…..!