Alaska Report #5… A Whale of a Ride

The ferry ride to Wrangell was the best (for me) for many reasons. Not the least of which was that I caught my first-ever glance of a whale's tail (several of them!) sweeping up out of the water. Until then, I had seen a bit of back and fin rising up and over, almost like a giant wheel rolling by. Or a blast of mist as one came up for a quick breath of air and went down, again. Once--at night--I even turned in time to see an entire head of an Orca pop up behind us to watch as we passed by.

I have also seen many of the small white Beluga whales that frequent the Cook Inlet in Alaska. I am always looking for whales. Even when I fly in airplanes, low over water, I am looking for them. Which is why I am embarrassed to admit that I did not recognize my first glimpse of that whale's tale for what it really was. This because I was so busy watching antics of the ducks and birds we were passing by (it was dusk, and dinnertime for most wildlife) that I thought I was looking at some giant eagle that had picked up a fish too big to carry and was floundering. Can you believe that? Too true. 

But then I saw a back and a fin, and a spout of steam, and--"Oh, my gosh, Shale--come and see!" They were all over the place. We saw them all along that particular passage. But try as I might, they were always too far away, or the ferry was too bumpy, to catch them on video. But I'm going to show you a picture from tour guides, to show you exactly what we saw. It was all very exciting, and one of the high points of the trip.

After the sun went down, however, everyone settled in for the long voyage. We had a sports team of high-schoolers aboard, along with many of their families. You could tell they were old hands at this form of travel, as they spread themselves all over every nook and cranny of the the ferry. Lots of family groups sitting in stairwells, while toddlers enjoyed running up and down cabin corridors, and one had to step over many sleeping forms to get to the vending machines if you wanted a snack before bed. 

Meanwhile, Shale and I got a lot of work done on our respective agendas. It was marvelous, really, to think one could continue a work schedule in the middle of large stretches of wilderness, with absolutely no towns, or villages, for miles and miles. But I did have one amazing incident during this time, that proved to me--beyond a shadow of doubt--that here is nowhere on earth where the good Lord cannot get in touch with you. Because in the middle of the night, with no cell phone or Internet service--I got a voicemail from a family member who needed some immediate prayer. I tried calling right back, but couldn't get through. But I prayed. Which was the important thing.

By the time we came back into civilization, the crisis was over. But I knew I was meant to get that particular message, and lend my prayers to others. Something that went a long way in convincing me that no matter how far one wanders, for any reason, one is never out of touch with the Lord. More importantly, I will not miss anything that He wants me to participate in. Even if I have to tap into "heavenly circuits" to do it. 

Probably one of the most important lessons I've learned out here.

Thank you, God.

Tomorrow, we dock in Wrangell: gateway to what is known as "deep north."

Hugs and blessings,


(who is waving hello to my good writer friend, Clare Revell, over in England, today… "Ahoy, Clare! Alaska is a fascinating place to send a character to for a bit of adventure… even if they have to come all the way from Headley Cross!)


  1. What an excellent adventure you're having. I adore whales and to see that tail in person. WOW! Wish I could tag along. I'm in search of my own ferry but alas, there are few here in Hoosier Land. Please wave hello to all the creatures for me! And yes, God isn't limited by cell service. How awesome we serve The One Who Is Everywhere! Thanks for posting, Lilly!

    1. Karla, if I ever get good enough at photography to actually catch one of these creatures on video (at least close enough to know they're alive), I will be tickled pink. But it always amazes me how they can out-swim, out-run, and out-watch us at every turn. And, yes it puts a whole new "light" on everything to be traveling with "the One Who is Everywhere." Thanks so much for sharing it all with me!