SAT. 8/12 This was a day to take it easy and look back on where we had been and what we had seen. We had a survey to fill out about the trip. 9 prizes were awarded and I got one, a Holland-American Travel bag!!!
Note: have attempted to upload photos, but am not able to with this connection. Sorry
Another day at sea. 2nd morning with whale sightings. Can’t get any better than this. The day started bright and sunny, but, as we have heard many times, wait, it will change.
Today is our day to make a visit, but will stay onboard. We are went to Tracy Arm, as Glacier. As we approached our destination, we saw ice bergs that were incredibly blue. Now, please understand my view of an ice berg is much different from what we saw here. I was in the North Atlantic Ocean, chasing Ice Bergs. Even hit one. There were ice cubes, very large ice bergs.
As we approached Tracy Arm, it started to rain. But, who is going to go inside, where it is warm, when you are approaching such a site.
Tracy Arm was awesome. As we were able to depart, we saw at least “calving”. That is very large chunks of ice sheared off of the front of the Glacier. Wait until you see the pictures. I have a series of photos what show this process. What a sight. Doesn’t get any better than this.
I guess that Amazing and Awesome are words frequently used on this cruise.
FRI. 8/11 We arrive about noon. We tour the town on foot. They have 200 to 250 days of rain here. It was cloudy but no rain. Ketchikan is a salmon capital, has two fish canneries and huge pulp mills. We had a tour to the Totem Bight Park where we saw a number of poles and the Clan house. All the poles tell a story. We then went back and walked to Creek Street. This used to be a street for brothels. It is now full of shops. The houses are on stilts. One is called Dolly’s House which is now a museum. We even had an ice cream cone while strolling along the board walk.
The show Fri. night was called a Sentimental Journey. Before we went in we were out on Upper Promenade deck looking for whales. We did see two orcas near shore away from the ship. You could see them with Binos. Very few whales on this trip. Tomorrow we start for Canadian waters and home. We will cruise the Inside assage all day,
THURS. 8/10 Juneau, the capital of Alaska, again an isolated city except by plane and boat. The Gastineau Channel runs through down-town. There are boroughs in Alaska, no counties, no sales tax, became the capital in 1906. Fairbanks is the center of the state and Anchorage is the center of the population. Juneau is nestled between Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau. It was established in 1888. Large lode of gold found here in 1880. The mine closed in the 1940′s.
We will be going on a helicopter ride this morning. We will be going to Mendenhall Glacier, about 2 hours. It is pouring rain but that is nothing unusual and will not stop the flight. The views were fantastic in spite of rain and fog. We flew close
to the Juneau Ice Field. It was some sight to see the crevasses you read about. The blue ice and the depth of them is scary. We were given special boots to wear. They seem to have a special sole that gripped the ice when we got out of the chopper onto the glacier itself. What an experience that was. Of course it was raining. We had on our raingear, but guess what out came yellow slickers for all of us. As we walked across the ice pearing into holes for the blue color, we looked like the commercial that McDonalds had a while back with the school kids going to McD’s single file in their yellow slickers and boots. We wouldn’t have missed this for anything. I am sure some people thought we were crazy, but you only go this way once.
When we got back after flying over the V.C. below and following the Gastineau Channel and seeing Juneau from the air, we took a walking tour of the town in the rain. We saw the Red Dog Saloon, had a big Mac and coffee. We saw the capitol building, Alaska State Museum, court house and an old log cabin (the Davis Cabin) now used as an information center. We saw a number of eagles both in going to the airfield but also coming back. At 6:00 PM we set sail for Ketchikan.
WED. 8/9 CLEAR and off to Sitka by tender. We took a tour of historic Sitka and the Raptor center. Our driver, Duane Pierson, also a teacher, took us to the center first. We didn’t have much time here. Here they re-hab injured birds of all kinds from hummingbirds to eagles. Any critters are cared for if needed. About 50% are released into the wild. They come from everywhere. Those that can’t be released are sent to breeding centers allover the country. One eagle was sent to Millington, N.J. There are 4 species of eagles and 19 species of owls.
This center was started 15 years ago. It is supported by donations and cruise ship visits. No Federal money is available. U. S. Fish and Game does give support.
There were owls and eagles there being cared for.
Sitka has 9,000 people, 26 churches, average age of pop. is 25 to 30. There are 18 miles of roads and 17,000 registered vehicles. No way in or out except by boat or
plane. There are 3 high schools. 30% are Native Americans.
They get 100 inches of rain and 20 to 30 feet of snow. They have had 8 clear days including today, since May 23. The tide here is a 16 foot one (Pacific Ocean).
There have been as many as 6 Cruise ships in at one time. Sitka was the capital at
one time. It is an isolated town but does have a branch of the University of Alaska. st. Michael’s Cathedral is a focal point of the Russian influence when the town was the capital of the Russian territory.
We were lucky when we got on the tenders to see Mt. Edgecumbe. They have up to 90 inches of precipitation and occasional snow. On Castle Hill in town you can see both the Russian and American flag flying. We went to see the Russian Dancers (all women).
From here we went to Sitka National Historical Park where there are many totem poles which were a part of the Tlingit native tradition. Lots of fishing in the area and most of it goes to Japan.
There is a story which the “natives” like to tell. It seems that there a young man back in 1974, now a contracter, decided to play an April Fool’s joke on the town. Mt. Edgecumbe is a volcano. This young man gathered a bunch of old tires, took them up the mountain and set them on fire. The townspeople thought the mountain was erupting. He had to confess to his joke.
We arrived back at the ship at 3 and went to the Upper Promenade deck to loaf in deck chairs. What a life. We had hopes of seeing whales tonight but no luck. We did see a great show, featuring Chris Archer, a banjo player from Branson, Missouri. He was fabulous.
We are under way to Juneau to arrive around 5:50 AM.