Day 241: Prince Rupert to Nome
Yesterday it rained solidly in the City of Rainbows and today, although the downpour has eased, a watery mist clings to the islands as we embark on the MV Malaspina (named after Alaska's biggest glacier, 850 square miles in area), which will take us up to the city of Juneau. It is an American ferry, commissioned in 1962, and this is its two thousand and eighty second voyage up the inter-island channel they call the Alaska Marine Highway. There is not a lot to see from on deck, but there is a busy selection of mind-improving talks given in the forward lounge by representatives of the US Forest Service. The first one is mainly about how wet Alaska is. Learn More About Bald Eagles is promised later. The History of Alaska lecture pumps out facts relentlessly: Alaska is one fifth the size of the USA, of the twenty highest peaks in the US, seventeen are in Alaska, the Alaskan flag was designed by thirteen year-old Benny Bensen from Chignik and adopted in 1927.
Retreat to my cabin, away from all facts and figures, for at least three hours. After lunch I make a tentative sally out. In the forward lounge a young woman who looks like a square dance caller is talking about lichens. Up on deck, visibility is, if anything, worse. There is no one out there except a middle-aged Australian, leaning on the rail and gazing out at the enveloping veil of cloud.
'I've been looking forward to this for years,' he says, without turning.
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