When does adventure begin? I’ve been pondering that question.
Did our Pan-American adventure begin in 2017 when the seeds of the idea were planted while we were in Peru; in 2018 when we bought an old school bus with dreams of renovation; on April 29th 2022 when we rented our house and moved into the bus full time; or, on June 15th 2022 when we boarded the ferry to Haines Alaska?
Whenever it started, we are well into the fray and there is no turning back now!
We have said our goodbyes with a twinge of sadness and extra long hugs. We have learned the nuances of bus life—sort of.
A kitchen full of salt and red pepper flakes taught us to never drive with the back windows open. Two broken glasses were a lesson in NOT forgetting to put the draining dishes away before driving. A broken two-gallon drinking water jug has taught us the importance of making sure everything is secured. We have learned the scary difference the correct tire pressure can make, and we’re getting pretty good at both the “what’s that smell?” and “what’s that noise?” games.
But for now, Tomas is tucked safely in the car deck of our ferry from Bellingham to Haines Alaska. Kevin and I are enjoying spectacular views from the deck and watching the wildlife.
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On the less “wild” side, I enjoy people watching. The most interesting range from the family in brand new “not-yet-broken-in” Carhart jackets, while they try to play the part of rugged outdoorsmen, their manicured nails and soft hands give them away—to the man with a pith helmet that must be from the 1940s whose wife looks like she would rather be in yoga class than on any sort of safari.
Then there’s the mother/daughter duo who must get up at the crack of dawn because both are in full make up with every hair in place before breakfast. And the woman who has never been seen without her oversized, overstuffed backpack on her back—I guess she has never seen the movie Wild.
Most though, are just middle-aged adventurers with guide books, maps and expensive cameras.
Me? I’m just doing my best to not look homeless with my wind burned cheeks and crazy hair. Not sure how I’m doing, but so far no one has dropped a coin in my empty coffee cup, so I take that as a good sign.
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On the wilder side, I have had the pleasure of seeing a couple pods of Orcas, their majestic slick, black backs arching from the waves before slapping their enormous tails in greeting.
Many porpoises have graced us with their cheery presence as they glide gracefully alongside the boat. I have overheard many discussions on whether they are dolphins or porpoises. Porpoise seems to be the consensus, so I’ll go with that. I saw the head of a sea otter just before he slid his shy self under the surface of the water and heard the barking of a sea lion long before I spotted him. I marveled as we glided past a buoy with seals piled on each other’s backs like a game of telephone booth I’ve heard about from the 1950s. They all turned and seemed to smile at all the cell phones and cameras pointed their way.
But my favorite so far—bioluminescent plankton. I know they are the tiniest of all the sightings, but they are technically living creatures so I’m counting them. I didn’t see them in the wake of the big boat but in a very different setting—the bowl of my toilet. Apparently, the toilet was ocean fed and flushing in the middle of the night lit up the bowl like a fireworks display against the inky black sky on the fourth of July. It definitely made peeing in the night an activity I looked forward to like I never had before.
All in all, living, and viewing, the wildlife is something I highly recommend! The ferry from Bellingham to Haines is a memory I will forever cherish.