Saturday, May 26, 2007

But would we ever leave Ketchikan?

First, some housekeeping. You may wonder why my posts are 12 or more hours behind. This is because two things must co-exist in order for me to post to my journal. First, my computer has to be someplace where it picks up the ship's wireless network. The wireless access point is at the bow of the boat, while my cabin is at the stern. So I need to bring my laptop to the lounge -- and I need to do that when the lounge isn't otherwise being used for a formal presentation or something. Second, the ship has to be someplace where it picks up the satellite connection that provides internet access. This morning, for instance, my computer and I were hanging out in the lounge -- but the ship was in a very narrow passageway between two mountains, so there was no internet access.

I've taken to writing journal entries from my cabin at night, with the hopes of posting them sometime the next day when circumstances permit. (I've only purchased 65 minutes of internet access, so I've got to make each minute count. It's mostly running "automatic AOL" sessions, then logging in again to post to the journal.)

So. After the zip-line experience in Ketchikan, we piled in the van to return to the hotel and then board the ship. The "return to the hotel" part turned out to be the problem. We're tooling along the main road (a.k.a the only road) when we reach a line of about 7 cars stopped by some construction up ahead. (A worker is standing there holding up a stop sign.) No problem -- construction stops traffic all the time; we'll be moving along in a few minutes.

Except we aren't.

A few minutes pass. And a few more. And a lot more than that. Our guide finally gets out to investigate and discovers that some genius had decided to set off some explosives to excavate something for the construction -- and ended up blowing rock all over the road. And taking out a nearby power line. They were working to remove the rubble (and power line) so the road could be back in business. Right now, traffic was backed up in both directions. They expected the delay to last another half hour.

And the piece de resistance: One of the stopped cars ahead of us contained a woman who was bringing her passenger to the hospital (on the other side of the construction) and the passenger was getting sicker by the minute. They were working out how to bring an ambulance up to the other side of the mess and somehow carrying her over to it.

In contrast to construction workers where I come from, these folks were actually accurate with their time estimate. A half hour later, the sick lady had been taken to the hospital and the road had been cleared enough to let traffic through. As we drove through, we caught a peek at the destruction. While a path had been cleared through the rubble wide enough for a car, we could see mounds of rubble on one side -- and that it had crashed through (and taken out) the guard rail on the other. Serious mess.

We got back to the hotel in time for a local speaker (a Native American dude who told us about the Tlinget culture -- very interesting) and finally got on board the ship. A few cabins were randomly selected for luggage screening, and to our great surprise, our family was not among them. (The way things had been going, we pretty much bet on it.) Got oriented on the boat, unpacked, had dinner, and got some sleep.

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