Thursday, August 13, 2015

Alaska! Ketchikan.

To celebrate our 65 birthdays, Robert and I decided to escape the heat of Bakersfield, and take a cruise to Alaska.  Actually, I had planned for us to take the train to Seattle, rent a car, then drive back to Bakersfield.  When I told this to Robert, a clouded look crossed his face, and he said, "why don't we take a cruise?"...hmm.  Worked for know, I was all over that.  I found a Princess cruise that left from San Francisco, 10 days over two weekends, 4 days at sea, to Haines and Tracey Arm Fjord, which we hadn't visited before.  Price was right, mini suite balcony, no airplane travel, BINGO!  I booked it.  And discovered that you can now book spa appointments online, as well as personal training sessions, which I did immediately for the sea days.  Personal trainers were physical therapists, very safe exercising, and the facialist, whose name was Angel, belongs in heaven.  The dining was 3-5 stars, and I never once got glutened.  The chefs told me what to eat...we didn't go to eat, but it was nice not to get sick.

The sunset from our first night at sea:

Our first stop was Ketchikan, the rainiest city in the US.  Alaska's first city...logging and salmon.  Last time we were there, we went salmon fishing.  This time we opted for a rain forest tour.  It was big deal.  We were taken to a marina, outfitted with rain suits, (and the guy who fitted us should work in a women's clothing store, he was so spot on with picking sizes),

boarded a SeaHawk metal hulled (banana) boat, and started our journey to Betton Island, part of the Tongass National Forest, largest park in the US.

After a rainy, windblown, bumpity ride across a channel,
we stopped to view a bald eagle's nest, with three babies that were perched around the nest.  Until an eagle reaches maturity,4-5 years, it has dark plumage.  Females are larger than males.  The nest weighs about 1000 pounds, can go up to 2000.  Eagles mate for life.  If the male dies, the female widows.  If the female dies, the male gets a new mate.  In this pic, on the left, there is an eagle on the branch above the nest at 10 o'clock, and one on the right, about 1 o'clock.

This shows all three of's like Where's Waldo.  The third one is on the far right,
4 o'clock ish.

We landed on a beach with our naturalist, Andy, a young guy who roams the world...when the season ends in Ketchikan, he is a ski instructor in Steamboat Springs, and is learning to be a helicopter guide (we learned that Haines offers the best helicopter skiing).  Last year he skied in Japan...ah the life.  There were all sorts of urchins, starfish: 
 Very strange.

Andy led us on an old rainforest trail, which featured hemlock, spruce, cedar trees.  Berries and mushrooms.  The superficial rooted cedar trees blow over, and become new growth centers.  The natives would only strip the bark from the protected side of the tree, and used the hollow trees for canoes.  Bears hibernate in the covies the trees provide.  There are quagmires, ferns, moss, lichens (a fun(guy)gus and a(gal)lge took a li(ken)chen to each other...Alaskan humor).

We ate these berries.
Cedar tree. 

 Canoe tree.

Downed tree, with roots covered in moss and growth.

New growth from roots.


Andy in quagmire.


This is Fred, a two man hand "misery" saw was used for logging this tree.  It would take a whole day, back forth...  Now, when the logging industry receives permission to fell a tree, they will use a helicopter and chains to hoist it out of the forest...that must be a lot or wood to cover the cost.  Notice the bear cove, lower left?

Lush, lush, lush.

An Alaskan slug...yuk.

An upside down tree...roots growing on top of's crazy there! 

Rainbow bridge tree. 

We started back to Ketchikan, even though rainy, still beautiful. 

Oh, just another eagle. 

Hark, what could this be?  Just your basic nuclear sub refueling station...of course, the subs aren't seen, and no boat is allowed near it. 

Back in Ketchikan...because houses were built going up the hills (no flat land), the staircases, which provide the houses only access, have street names. 

Lots of seaplane activity. 

Tomorrow, Haines!


  1. Love it! Can't wait for the next installment!

  2. Enjoyed your photo tour, even the slug and the purple things!

  3. Enjoyed your photo tour, even the slug and the purple things!