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North to Alaska - Full Version - Day 54 (July 9)

Friday - Check-in time is 8 AM at the ferry terminal and, after a beautiful, sunny, smooth ride we arrived in Wrangell. During the trip we were educated by a U.S. Forest Service interpreter telling us about The Wrangell Narrows (barely wide enough for the ferry to get through), the Alaska Flag (designed by a schoolboy), Dead Man's Island (where the corpses of oriental cannery workers were stored in brine awaiting a ship to take them home for burial) and the town itself.

Wrangell is situated on the mouth of the Stikine River, one of the few transportation corridors from Canada through the coastal mountains to the Pacific, described by John Muir as "a Yosemite 100 miles long." The town, once too wild even for Wyatt Earp (he was marshal for 10 days before he resigned), was a staging area for 3 major gold rushes. It is the home of ancient petroglyphs, a children-owned garnet ledge, nearby Shakes Glacier, and Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, where black and brown bears compete over fishing rights.

We found our Alaska Waters RV Park to consist of 7 spaces, each of which was occupied by construction worker's trailers (they were working on a new harbor) and junky old trucks. The space we'd been assigned by mail (number 7), was full too, with an ancient camper apparently abandoned there by the last occupant.

After some phone discussion the "manager" (the owner's brother-in-law) came in with a heavy rope and towed the junker off to the side. The person using space number 6, an officer in the construction company, had connected both 6 and 7's electricity to a very large rig, leaving us none. We ended up with an extension cord and a water hose run from the office, while Garrett was supplied with electricity from the nearby workshop.

The "world famous" Petroglyph Beach, with more than 40 ancient rock carvings, some 8000 years old, was our next visit. Although there was an accessible boardwalk and viewing platform, we had more fun exploring around the rocks at low tide. After supper M & B went for a walk around the (industrial) neighborhood. Seeing a narrow path leading into the trees flanked by a "For Sale" sign, we followed it through dense, shaded foliage (tall trees, heavy clover-like ground cover, tall grass and vines), emerging on a flat building site fronted by a gorgeous section of beach. There was a big (4' diameter) log, where we sat looking out at the sunset scene with birds, boats, waves, mountains and clouds. Behind us the beach revealed hundreds of pieces of driftwood, an edge of colorful wild flowers, berry-laden vines, interesting rocks galore and it's own small collection of petroglyphs!

Thinking dangerous thoughts, we even asked at a neighboring residence about the owner (a Mr. Iverson) and wondered how much he wanted for it. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we never found out. What a magical, never-to-be-forgotten spot, sitting there in the golden light of late afternoon watching the waves roll in.