Friday, September 21, 2012

It's the journey not the destination...right?

Sounds sage enough.  I’d buy it.  Though, that wasn’t my tune a few days ago …

Another wise old saying is that the journey starts the moment you leave your door.  I think that’s horseshit. Well, at least, that isn’t quite the case when you live in remote places of Alaska, like, say, Cordova and your one and only mode of transportation out of said remote places of Alaska, like, say, Cordova, is the ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway, and said ferry keeps getting cancelled!

I think if you are stuck in the town you live in, like yours truly, your journey most certainly does not start the moment you leave your door.  That’s when purgatory starts. 

I was all scheduled to take off on the ferry Sunday morning.  But Mother Nature had other ideas.  That bitch.  The weather picked up to southeast 40 with gusts to 60 and the ferry was cancelled for both Saturday and Sunday’s sailing.  Ok, ha ha, all part of the fun of living in Cordova.  Right?

I’m a trooper.  I got up super sonic early Monday morning and was at the ferry terminal at 5:55 AM all excited to try again to get out. I showered, put on clean clothes,  had my coffee already made, a thermos full for the road, pasta salad I made the night before so I wouldn’t have to stop for lunch and other little snacks for myself.  Carefully packed the few remaining items into my car, arranging them just so.  Said good-bye, again, to my buddies and I was ready to travel.  My high hopes came crashing down like a tsunami when I found out I wasn’t even on the stand-by list.  I was told I had a snowball’s chance in hell of making it out. The car had been packed for days and I was already out of bed.  What the hey? I had to try!  I couldn’t get a confirmed reservation for another 8 days!

I waited and waited and waited.  For an hour and a half.  Finally, I was told to stage in Lane 2.  This is a good sign.  The ferryman pointed at various cars and told them to load.  I’m so close!  First this one, then that one, then another 20 minutes or so later ferryman said “Sorry.  All full”.  Meh.

I was sure I was going to get out, if nothing else, by sheer will alone!  Deflated, I slogged back to the terminal to rebook my ticket and was told that there were a lot of people ahead of me who had been trying to get out for the past 10 days!  But, that I now had a new confirmed reservation for Thursday, 3 days away. At least I know now when I’ll be leaving.  And, looky, that’s the one and only window of decent weather.  How lucky for me.

In the mean time, Cordova and Prince William Sound continued to get pounded by storm after storm.  The ferry was cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday.  As my dad would say “The wind blew, shit flew, and no one could see for an hour or two.”  The wind did blow, I think we had gusts to 50 or 60. We got 20 inches of rain in three days; there were flood warning and high wind warning everywhere.  Luckily, most of Cordova is on a hill so not much flooding.

I woke up at 5 AM Thursday morning with little hope.  The tree branches outside bumped and thumped against my window all night, letting me know that the forecasted weather window did not arrive after all.  Demoralized, I got up anyway, didn’t shower, didn’t pack a lunch but just dragged myself down to the ferry terminal only to confirm what I already knew.  Cancelled.

This was starting to get old.  I mean, how much stand by to stand by can one woman stand?  My friends from down south tried to console me “be patient”.  It took all my will power not to tell stick it were the sun don’t shine.  It was my Cordova buddies that gave me the best advice a gal can get at 8:30 in the morning.  Start drinking.  Ha! Now that’s advice I can sink my teeth into!

I spent the day rethinking my travel plans, reviewing my other travel options (turns out, I didn’t have any), and pretty much beating my head against the wall.

However, managed to get to bed early and again, woke up this morning (Friday) at 5 AM.  Heard the same damn branches outside my window letting me know the wind is still blowing.  Debated a shower.  Threw on the same clothes as yesterday, made coffee but no snacks.  Tucked my remaining bags back in the car any old way,  didn’t say good-bye to anyone and slogged, again, back to the ferry terminal. There were cars lined up to get on, a good sign.  I parked and trotted through the rain to check in.   This time, I’m on the stand by list, that’s another good sign.  Ooh, number 3 on the stand by list…this sounds promising.  And the weather is starting to come down….

I get staged in lane 1 this time.  Someone checks my ticket.   Then finally, I hear the words I have been longing to hear all freaking week!  “Pull forward to the purser.  She’ll take your ticket then drive aboard.”  THANK YOU!

Me and my ass are finally getting out of Cordova after a long, emotionally arduous and torturous week of ups and down and going/not going and stand by to stand by is finally over.  I can at last start my 3500-mile road trip south!! My prayers are answered!

Wait, what?  What did you just say?  The Richardson Highway,  one and only road out of Valdez is closed due to flooding?  Shut the front door. 


Marguerita McManus said...

Wishing you safe travels. We will be leaving soon to and can't help wondering what the roads are like in Canada - if they've been hit with all these storms too. The AlCan was closed for a week near Watson Lake just after we came through in March this year.

Jen Pickett said...

Hey Marguerita! How ya been?

Once I got out of Valdez, it was smooth sailing. As a matter of fact, that is this week's blog theme:

There was a little construction along the way, but I never had to wait more than 10 mins. Only about 1 in 5 gas stations were open, same with camp grounds but you'll get by. You may want to exchange some money, I got hosed a few times on the exchange rate. But, the weather was nice, warm, (mid 60's +) and not much traffic.

Have a good trip!!