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Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Wednesbury, UK
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Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Hi everyone.

Settled on the long version for the title for now!

Just started out on this years main road trip, and sitting awake at 3.30 am PT, I thought I'd start posting my live as it can be Trip Report thread.

Bit of a twist to this one as involves a trip up an All American Road you can't drive on, the Alaska Marine Highway, through the Inside Passage.

I will try and post a daily trip report here and keep up and link to our usual blog as best we can.

That will spend on wifi and how much we are taking advantage of the long daylight hours. Also, hopefully, I'll find time to put something together more complete and detailed for the TR sticky at the top of the forum, once we get home.

Rough outline is, taking 25 nights in total.

Fly to Seattle and drive to Port Angeles.

Ferry to Victoria,Vancouver Island.

6 nights on Vancouver Island.

Ferry to Prince Rupert.

AMHS ferry to Haines.

Then 12 nights on route back to Seattle, via Whitehorse, Skagway, Stewart, Hyder, Smithers and Bella Coola, finishing with a couple of nights in Seattle. I'll give more detail as I write about the route and specifics.

I'll post each day as a separate post, and any questions or comments, feel free to ask.

Ok, let's get on with Day 1.

Wednesbury, UK
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1. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Day 1. London to Seattle and on to Port Angeles.

Having spent the day before doing all the pre-trip chores, which appear to be taking longer each time ( think it's a lack of enthusiasm, and being distracted by TA, rather than a more diligent effort at homework), we left home at around 06.30 am for our drive to Heathrow.

No problems, easy drive, and by 10am we had checked iin and paid for our extra bag ( more about this later) for our Delta non-stop flight to Seattle. Delta was busy with a lot of transatlantic flights, so wait in line was relatively long to drop the bags.

We then had a breakfast, did a bit of shopping and boarded. The flight took off on time at 12.35 and made an nearly on time arrival at Sea-Tac, at around 2.20 pm.

First time on Delta, and I must say they were fine. Cabin staff were very friendly, food was ok for economy on any flight, lots of drink runs, and entertainment system fine too. On that basis we would consider them again.

We passed through immigration in record time, and by 3pm were boarding the shuttle to the consolidated rental facility.

Car Rental.

I had had a few concerns about who to rent with as the car would be spending a fair amount of time on ferries and making the long drive back from southeast Alaska. A few rental companies and brokers appeared to have some ferry and driving area restrictions, Dollar especially ( restrictions to southern BC according to the local depot info),but a bit of reasearch indicated Alamo, Budget, and Herttz were fine for what I was intendiing.

I eventually booked with Hertz at the best price in the new year sale. Budget/Avis were probably the logistic choice as they have more depots both in a Canada and southwest Alaska, but price won out in the end.

Obviously, all carry the standard US no gravel roads restriction, and whilst the main routes we are taking are now paved, there will be possibly, maybe, be a bit of rental agreement flexing later in the trip!

As it was, the extra bag meant we ended up with an upgrade from a mid-size SUV to a standard, but I negotiated it for free with the guy in the Gold Rewards kiosk, and left in a Dodge Journey, at about 3.45pm.

We drove south on I-5, cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (no galloping with this version and toll free headed west) and then made our way via Wa16, Wa3 and the US101, with occasional views of the Puget Sound to our right and Olympic National Park to our left in the glorious Spring sunshine, arriving at around 6pm to Port Angeles.

We would have quicker but for a 15 minute wait to allow the Hood Canal bridge to raise and allow a ship through.

We checked into our hotel, the Red Lion right near the Black Ball ferry terminal and with views out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca from our room. We had stayed here previously in 2001, and other than being a lot busier it looked much the same as. I rememberd. A quick trip back out for some shopping at Walmart east of town off the 101, a refill as gas will be more costly in Canada, a drive through ATM for some $, then back to the room for a repack.

By then it was around 9pm, so we decided after watching the sun start to set, to try and get a little sleep before the ferry ride to Vancouver Island tomorrow (well today now) and our drive to Tofino on the west coast.

Blog link to follow.

Edited: 01 June 2014, 12:36
Wednesbury, UK
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2. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Day 2. Port Angeles to Vancouver Island and Tofino.

As per usual on our west coast trips, we were awake nearer to midnight than midday, so we spent a couple of hours blogging and stuff, before we started to get ready. I loaded the car, a fine workout in itself given the amount of stuff we are lugging around, and it must have been the envy of all the early morning joggers milling around the car park.

We drove the short distance to the queue for the 08.15 sailing of the MV Coho to Victoria, and after a snack breakfast from a coffee shop as we waited in line, we checked in, paid the $77 fare and drove aboard.

The MV Coho set sail on time, and we enjoyed the start to yet another glorious sunny spring day, this can't be the PNW our waterproofs have come to know and love? Maybe it's just getting the average daily rainfall across our trips down to match the official one!

The crossing was smooth, and we watched the mountain peaks of Olympic NP receded in the distance as we approached Victoria, but saw no whales. The ferry docked on time after the 21 mile, 90 minute crossing and we disembarked, passing quickly through immigration and customs.

Victoria harbour is slap bang in the city, so we had a busy Sunday morning drive out, and this continued as we headed north on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1. This area of Vancouver a Island is the most populated, and it looked like they were all enjoying the sunshine.

We have briefly visited this area of the east coast of VI before so skipped stopping in any of the towns, apart from at each and every stop light and Bamberton Provincial Park, joining the BC19 around Nanaimo, and following this to Parksville, where we joined BC 4 to head west to the Pacific Rim NP area.

I had thought of routing via Sooke and Port Renfrew,to the south west of the Island, but at around 8 hours base drive plus stops, decided to keep that idea to myself! ; ).

At this point the traffic started to thin as the scenery started to improve to my mind. We stopped at Little Qualicum Falls PP, and took the thirty minute loop trail around the falls and forest. Then we continued to Port Albertini, leaving Cathedral Grove and other popular sites to our mid-week return to the eastern coast.

At Port Albertini, we stopped for lunch (which also turned out to be dinner) at the Bare Bones F&C shop. It is based inside a former church and gets good reviews. Well the reviews were right, and the fish in particular was excellent, the IPA I had with it not bad either. The portions were big and neither of us finished it all, costing C$45, including tip.

We then made a bee line for Tofino, following the winding Pacific Rim Highway as it passed through wonderful mountain scenery of snow capped peaks, clear blue streams and verdant pine forests.

Eventually, we reached Tofino and our hotel for the next three nights at MacKenzie Beach, on land belonging to the Tia-o-qui-hat First Nation, who gave us a warm welcome.

The 200 miles from Victoria had taken about 6 hours and we arrived around 4pm. We then unpacked, blogged, edited photos before deciding we were too full still for dinner so took a beach stroll to time with the start of sunset at around 9pm.

After a whisky for me and a wild cherry diet for Liz on the balcony to watch the last of the sun go down, we called it a day to try and reduce our sleep deficit, and get ready for more time out of the car tomorrow.

Wednesbury, UK
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3. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Link to the first two days blog is here.

wmtravellers.com/trip-reports/…

Wednesbury, UK
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4. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Edit.

With apologies to our hosts it's the Tia-o-qui-aht First Nations...........by the beard of Zeus, damn you iPad autocorrect, damn you!

Oregon Coast
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5. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

DH and I were talking about you just this morning, Valiants, and then tonight I find another "on the spot" TR from you :-) Looking forward to another good read!

Lewes, United...
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6. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Gosh, you've only just started and you and MrsV are vying for who gets to write the blog already! :-)

Great read, as per usual! Hope the weather holds.

SWT

Uden, The...
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7. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Great start! Thanks for posting. Yes I remember that horrible hw1 drive on VI and the scenic route to Tofino. That's where we saw our first bear ever! What's the hotel name in Tofino?

Wednesbury, UK
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8. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Hi all.

Must also apologise to the good people of Port Alberni as my iPad has given the town a whole new name in honour of a famous Italian footballer (used to play for AC Milan), don't ask me why?

h-B. Being talked about? Oh well, as Oscar Wilde said that's better than the alternative : ).

Tet. It's the Best Western Tin Wis Resort, we got a really good rate in a 48 hour sale last year, and for the money the room and the view are great.

As you can see, we managed to sleep in till 4am today, so I'll get a coffee and write up yesterday's entry.The Blog needs a bit of finessing as I wrote it up in a hurry last night, and Liz is doing that already.

Still got to decide what we do today, either something organised looking for wildlife or our own attempt to find some wolves on Vargas Island? Looks like a debate over breakfast.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

Great blog and posting!! Thanks so much and looking forward to the rest of your trip.

Sheffield, United...
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10. Re: Inside Passage to Alaska and back, live Trip Report and Blog

I've been waiting for this trip.

Good start and looking forward to more.