Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mission Alaska: Ketchikan

Is anyone tired of the beautiful scenery yet?  I know that I didn't get tired of seeing it while we cruised.  Friday brought us to Ketchikan, another small town in what has to be one of the most beautiful states in the entire country.  Janet and I definitely focused on wilderness excursions so we disembarked the huge ship, walked a few feet across the pier, and boarded a 78' metal power catamaran for the trip to Misty Fjords National Monument and Wilderness Area.

We were told pretty soon in the trip that Ketchikan gets about 20 sunny days a year.  We were very lucky to have skies like this:

If I remember the narration right, the area was first "discovered" by Captain George Vancouver.  When I say discovered, I mean by Europeans since the Native American Nations were there long before anyone else sailed in. 

The narrator on our trip was phenomenal.  I could not begin to retell everything she shared about the area, the history, the culture, the eco-system, and the wildlife.  In addition to the naturalist, they also had a Native Artist on board who could speak even more about the Native Nation that populates the area.

In these pristine surroundings, every piece of the eco-system works together.  Nature's synergy is wonderful to behold.

I don't know if it  happens all of the time, or if we were fortunate to the extreme, but whales showed up again for our pleasure.

Isn't he handsome?
 Below is a picture of a place in the area called New Eddy Rock.  You can camp on it or get married at its base if you want.

Not that we ever tired of seeing whales, but Janet and I also hoped to see at least one bear while in Alaska.  While the boat motored around Misty Fjords, all of a sudden the captain told us they'd spotted a bear on shore.  Everyone ran to the starboard side looking for the critter.  We searched and searched but couldn't see it.  Finally, even the crew gave up and the captain announced that the bear had probably gone back into the woods.  Seconds later, a woman on the lower deck began to yell, in a broad Southern accent, "It's in the trayyy root.  It's in the trayy root!"  We heard her running, her feet clanging on the metal deck.  She pounded up the stairs.  "I saww it.  It's in the trayyyyyy rooot!"  She ran out and continued to yell while she pounded on the door to the captain's bridge. 

I stared at the damn tree root but couldn't see anything but branches, roots and dirt.  Finally I just zoomed in the camera as much as possible and started snapping photos.   When I later looked at the photos, imagine my surprise.  There WAS a bear in the trayyyy roooot.  (Look to the left of the room ball near the first big root.  You'll see it looking back at us. 

How gorgeous is this place?  Seriously gorgeous!

I don't remember the name of the little black and white birds with the red legs and feet, but they were cute.

Whales, bears, birds -- why not some harbor seals, too?  The ones on top of this rock outcropping were easy to spot.  The others were almost perfectly camoflaged.


See them?  There were a few dozen spread out over the rocks.

Figured I'd check out the video feature of my new camera.  I was amazed that I captured the Orca jumping. don't blink.  You'll miss it!

After visiting the last group of orcas for a few minutes, the captain really needed to return us to our ship.  We even passed another humpback without stopping.  Back in Ketchikan, we did a little shopping.  Once on board again, Janet went off for a massage and I shot some photos from the balcony.
Floatplanes are popular for getting around Alaska between towns that don't have many roads, as well as for sightseeing.  For my money, I'd rather be amid the scenery than flying over it.

Someone in Ketchikan has a sense of humor.

Pretty soon we were cruising away from Ketchikan and making our way back down the inside passage.  Tomorrow:  Victoria, British Columbia.


Monica Stecher said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip to my home state of Alaska, Mary Stella. It is one big bad ass of a state is it not! If you ever go again, you should see the interior, between Anchorage and Fairbanks there are enormous mountains. That's were you'll find Denali, or as I know it Mt. McKinley. The Kenai peninsula south of Anchorage is also awesome. My old stomping grounds pretty much extends from the Mat-Su valley down through the Kenai Peninsula. Thanks for posting pic's : ] - Braless Betty

Allison Chase said...

Your beautiful pictures bring back wonderful memories of our Alaska cruise a few years ago. Overused words like "awesome" really do apply there. Magnificent and humbling also come to mind. It looks like you saw a bit more snow than we did. We went at the end of June, and I'd say a month does make a difference.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Great photos, Mary. Alaska is one place I have not yet been to visit. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

London Mabel said...

I didn't catch whether you went on a float plane at all. If not OH NOES!!! You don't know what you're missing, the scenery is sooooo beautiful!! My parents live on Vancouver Island and sometimes I take the float plane over instead of the ferry, and even just for that short flight, gasp! It's so beautiful.

The bear looks like he's saying: Wha? In the tray? What's a tray??