Ferry from Prince Rupert to Juneau—Day 8 #MikeandTobyTravels

After the long day taking pictures of eagles and bears, tired and sunburnt, Mike was getting ready for bed when he got a massage that the aurora borealis was possibly visible due to a large solar flare—but he’d set up the previous night with no luck, and there was only a 10% chance the phenomena was going to be visible. Still, he took the extra time and pointed the camera over the silhouette of the surrounding woods, and we went to sleep in our snug little bedroom to the rhythmic clicking of the camera outside the window.

He woke me up sometime in the short dark. “Toby! It’s happening!” His voice was pressured and hoarse with excitement. “Watch out for mosquitoes and wrap up.”

I pulled on some socks and my hoodie, wrapped in a blanket, and stole out onto the deck, trying to be quiet because of the vacationers in the unit beside us. It was only about 2:30 am, but there was a lightening to the west, and after a few minutes of my eyes adjusting, I could just make out thin, wavery tendrils of green reaching up above the trees.

“I  think we just missed it,” he said. “I can barely make it out, now. Hope the camera caught it.” We were engulfed in a cloud of mosquitoes and no-see-um’s, and I had to spit a few out on my way back to bed, disappointed the northern lights weren’t more dramatic.

It wasn’t until Mike put together his time-lapse video that we could see how the aurora borealis had spun magnetic veils of purple, magenta and green across a backdrop of spinning stars, framed by the dramatic, jagged silhouette of pine-covered ridge. I gasped at the sight, and so did Justine and Mark when we told them the exciting news that the solar event had happened, and got the video to load. Doug, our neighbor from next door, came over to see, and we left with many hugs and promises to keep in touch and hopefully house-swap with the Cassiar Cannery folks in the future.

This happened. Bucket list accomplished.

This happened. Bucket list accomplished.

It was only a short drive to Prince Rupert, where we ate a sublime breakfast at the famous Crest Hotel. Our corner table had a huge view of the ocean we’d soon be traversing to Alaska, and we watched bald eagles flap by the fishing boats and barges, fighting over scraps like so many seagulls.


We had some brief and limited internet at the restaurant, and were able to upload my blog post and Mike’s amazing video while munching on halibut benedict (Mike) and a pecan waffle with bacon syrup (me). I had a whole pot of English breakfast tea, and between the sugary waffle and the caffeine boost I was ready to jog around town—but instead, we got in line for the ferry, and sat in the car for three hours waiting in line. I fell into a food coma, curled up in the front seat, as we listened on the van’s audio system to Sara Malia Hatfield’s riveting audiobook rendering of Twisted Vine, Lei Crime #5, which released today. I actually got tears in my eyes during the scene where Alexis Hale is grieving over her son’s apparent suicide. (Damn, Sara, you read good—and who wrote that scene? It’s gut-wrenching!)

“So, do you like Sophie Ang?” I asked Mike. She has a major part in Twisted Vine, and that book’s when I fell in love with her and knew I had to write more books with her as the major protagonist, hence upcoming Wired In and its planned sequels. “She’s my next big thing after Lei.”

“A computer tech specialist that looks like a model and does martial arts? What’s not to like?” Mike said. (That’s the response I’ve been getting from men. Women are a little intimidated. I hope I show enough of Sophie’s vulnerabilities to make her likeable in spite of her total awesomeness.)

Of course, I got out of the car to pee and was in the terminal when Mike got signaled to board the ferry, and I ran down the dock chasing the departing van in a panic—but he’d told the gatekeepers I was coming, and everyone waved me on, smiling, and I got to walk down the massive gangplank into the bowels of the biggest ferry I’ve ever been on in my life, getting a crick in my neck trying to see everything.

We’d booked a cabin since it’s a 20-hour journey, and looking around the tidy space with it’s neat bunk beds, square porthole view, and its own head, I turned to Mike. “We’re accidentally on a cruise, honey.”

“A Mike and Toby-style cruise,” he replied, and kissed me. We haven’t been on a cruise together—I’ve done a couple, one as a student, one with my well-to-do grandma—but Mike doesn’t like to be confined with a lot of people, overeating and enduring lines and canned entertainment, and truth be known, neither do I.

We explored all up and down the ship, for indeed that’s what it is—and eventually took naps in our little bunk beds and then got up for some overpriced food in the cafeteria, where we saw humpbacks breaching from the windows as we ate our salmon (me) and pork chop (him) and tried the chocolate meringue pie (not worth the calories or the price.)

Next stop, Ketchikan! And in the meantime, I’m reading Scott Bury’s upcoming Lei Crime Kindle World novella draft, Torn Roots. Great story so far.

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