Tuesday, September 10, 2013

adventure of alaskan proportions: glacier bay and ketchikan

I'm almost done with these recaps, I swear!

The alarm went off at 4:45am on Wednesday morning. Lu and I threw on some warm clothing, got some coffee, and made our way up to the deck to catch the sunrise. And boy am I glad that we did..

After working really hard (aka taking a hundred slightly different pictures of the same sunrise) we decided that we had earned a nap. Though, is it really a nap when it's almost 6am? After a few hours of sleep we emerged ready to watch as the ship cruised through Glacier Bay National Park. Upon walking onto the deck, this is what we saw:

Crazy, right?! We were told that since since the air quality is so good, things tend to look close when in reality they are miles away. We were also fortunate to catch the glacier as it was calving, which is when huge chunks of ice break away. It happened too quickly to snap any pictures, but I will never forget the loud BOOM of the ice hitting the water. Even from six miles away it was still a tremendous sight to see. 

On Thursday we docked in Ketchikan and unfortunately our good weather mojo did not join us. It was overcast and with intermittent rain. It's not that surprising, considering that Ketchikan has 300 days of rain a year. I don't think i'll be moving there anytime soon. We hadn't made arrangements for an activity, so Lu and I decided to wander into town and ended up on a bus tour. On our first stop we watched salmon as they swam upstream and even caught a few Bald Eagles and their babies. If you're ever trying to spot a baby Bald Eagle, point your eyes to the almost highest spot and look for something that resembles a golf ball. I'm not kidding - it worked for me! I have a few pictures of the eagles, but they're super zoomed in and look a little wonky, so you'll have to take my word for it. 

We also made a stop at Saxman Totem Village - named for Samuel Saxman, a Presbyterian school teacher who died while helping to find a location where members of the Tongass and Cape Fox tribes could expand their communities. Saxman Village was established in 1894, and is home to (among other things) 29 authentic totems that were moved from their original location in the 1930s. Our Tlingit tour leader taught us many interesting facts - the one I liked the best was about shame poles. What better way to guilt someone into settling a debt than to create a totem pole with their face at the top? Seward has his own shame pole because he attended a potlatch at the village without returning the favor. Tsk on you, Seward! Totem poles can also recount legends, family stories or important tribe events. Regardless of their purpose, they're amazing works of art.

Our tour included admission to Dolly's House, which was, back in its day, a brothel. At this point, I'd be surprised if there was a town in Alaska that NEVER had a brothel or a red light district. After we walked into the house, the employee gave a little spiel about the history. While doing so, she looked at Lu and I and said "make sure you come talk to me when I'm done with this." We looked at each other and could not figure out what she could possibly want to see us about. Turns out that one of the displays held one of the first vibrators. I'm not sure why, but she was pretty sure that we'd be interested in that little tidbit. And you know what? WE WERE. 

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