Cruising Alaska: Part 3

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

Jumping at several small opportunities may get us there more quickly than waiting for one big one to come along. ~Hugh Allen

When we arrived in Ketchikan is was pouring. . .and it didn’t stop until we left.  There is a reason it keeps track of its “liquid sunshine” and it is because it is so frequent.  The wet season accounts for approximately 7 months of the year!  I wasn’t about to let the rain get me down.  After all, British Columbians are not strangers to rain.

I didn’t get to see the city itself.  That would have to wait for another visit but I was determined to see more wildlife, bears in particular.  Luckily I found a tour to Herring Cove where they guaranteed a bear siting.

Upon arrival we were suited with ponchos to try and prevent us from getting completely soaked but it could not do much against 3 hours of wildlife viewing.  The area was beautiful.  One of the things I admire about Alaska is their attempt to preserve their environment.  They understand the value of what is there.  Herring Cove was no different.  We moved over boardwalks so as not to disturb the wildlife below.  Our guides were extremely knowledgable and were able to tell us about the vegetation in the area and point out subtleties about bear behaviour such as how they mark their territory on trees and their feeding habits.  This area is known for its black bears.

It was then that we found this beautiful girl waiting patiently for some food.  She waited the entire time for the perfect catch and seemed undisturbed by all the rain.

The tour was great, especially since it is not open to the public without a guide.  That means that the crowds are limited and people are more respectful.  Fair enough.  People are not always the most aware or considerate of their surroundings.  We then passed an estuary that led us to a building (which appeared to be a sawmill of sorts) where there was a totem being carved.

We heard a lovely Tlinglet legend about a monster with a long nose that would kill and suck the blood of children.  The villagers trapped it in a large pit, covered it and set it aflame.  Before being destroyed the monster cursed the villagers and told them they would never be rid of him.  As sparks from the flames emerged, the sparks became little mosquitos which still suck the blood of the villagers to this day.  This was the story being captured in this particular totem.

Finally, we were able to learn about some of the birds of prey in the raptor centre.  The birds here are for study and observation.  They have been injured and/or would not survive in the wild if they were to be released.  It did give me some opportunities to photograph some of their residents such as a huge bald eagle, a barre owl, and a hawk.

As an added bonus, there were reindeer.  We were allowed to feed them one of their favourite treats, grapes.  I can only imagine the images of them in the winter, surrounded by snow.  It almost made me wish for the summer to end faster.

Finally, we were served some nice hot chocolate to get out the chills from our bones as we dried off and headed back to our cruise ship.  It was another amazing day in Alaska and I look forward to exploring more in the future.

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