Baranof Island has receded from my sight but not from my mind. At the ferry terminal several kind friends made the trip to the tip of the island to send me off—complete with snacks, hugs, and even a few tears. My heavy heart was lightened by our silly antics and their teasing of my bulging food sacks. During my stay in Sitka, I could often be found at the water’s edge listening to the waves or marveling at life below the surface. The water always felt healing, a refuge where the expanse seemed endless. Yet, a few hundred miles south from this island, the lower 48 awaited.
On the other side of my apprehension to leave lay the excitement of new adventure: the three day ferry from Sitka to Bellingham, Washington. Known as the poor-man’s cruise along the inner passage, most everyone waiting to board The Columbia—touted as the nicest ferry in the Alaska Marine Highways fleet—carried their own bulging food sacks along with dogs, kayaks, bikes, and more than a few brought tents. While I have not been on one of the big cruise ships, I imagine no one there boards with their own housing arrangements for the deck.