Friday, 18 May 2012

Spring Flora of Alaska
Everyone was excited with the coming of the warmer weather.  With the trees budding and flowers beginning to appear it was a clear indication that the long cold winter was over and the warmer weather was certainly on its way.
Karen and Linda both had vases of tulips when we arrived.  Karen had put pussy willow with hrs.  I love pussy willow.  Karen had a tiny wreath made of pussy willow flowers and to me it looked like a bunch of tiny furry animal babies all huddled together.  Very sweet.

The spruce trees hold their leaves all year but the birch trees lose theirs in the wintertime.  It was still too cold for them to have leaves and I loved the tracery of the twiggy branches.

The moss amazed me too.  It was like a thick mattress and was spongy when you walked on it.

It was amazing to see a tree chewed down by a Beaver.  Real storybook stuff for me.

It Sitka we saw gorgeous big yellow flowers growing on the side of the road.  They were like huge yellow tulips.  Julie and I asked our Chilean taxi driver what they were but he didn't know.  When we got to my cousin Mike's in Ketchikan he told us they went by the very unromantic name of 'Skunk Cabbage' and that the bears loved to eat them.  On one forest walk we actually got to smell one and it wasn't a horrible smell, just a very sweet herby smell.

The bears also like to eat berries, and Salmon Berries were just beginning to flower.  Salmon Berries, Blueberries and Raspberries all grow wild in the forest.  As the berries had not set yet there was only the skunk cabbage for the bears to eat.  Needless to say we didn't see a bear as there still wasn't much food about for them.  The occasional early bear had been seen by others.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ketchikan to Hawaii via Seattle

We left a cold and wet Ketchikan and flew into Seattle for a quick changeover and flight to warm and sunny Hawaii. 6c to 28c, quick a difference!

The flight in and out of Seattle was spectacular and the volcanoes 100km to 200km South of Seattle were quite a sight. Photo shows the volcanoes Mount Rainier (closest) and Mont St.Helens on the RHS,( remember the big blowup a while ago) while another volcano Mt. Adams, (yes, 'Adams' Yvette), could also be seen.

We have a good view of activities happening out on the ocean off Waikiki. Surfing, paddleboarding, the submarine trip happening, (we went on that a few weeks ago), sailboats and cats. We enjoyed a swim and relaxed on the beach.

Can you believe the cost of this huge ice cream??.....................................$1.95!!

One more full day of our holiday left and a special 'end of holiday' meal tomorrow night.



Sunday, 6 May 2012

Jeff and Julie on the float of the plane in Misty Fjord.  With the pilot and the two of them out there I decided it was a little too crowded for me to venture out onto the float also, and Daryl had alredy decided he was not moving from his seat!
Pictures from Ketchikan

This is Mike and Carla's house which is just across the road from the water.  They overlook the Tongass Straight where the Inside Passage ferries come and go everyday.  Salmon fisherman fish from their boats just out the front of the house.  There are four big pine trees across the road on the water's edge where crows and eagles sit.  Yesterday we saw a whale out there too and this morning I watched an otter.

Jeff and Julie on the dock.  Carla's charterboat office is just over their shoulders.

Just about to board our float plane down at the harbour.

The Tongass Straight from the float plane to Misty Fjord..

A partly frozen lake high up in the mountains.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Ketchikan is cold

We are the coldest we have been this trip here in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan has 150 inches of rain each year.
It is raining today but just lightly, but it is cold.
Today is the first day I have wished I'd worn tights under my jeans, but I didn't realise until we were out and about.
This morning we went down to see Carla's Charter Boat shop right at the docks.  She opened up today, first day for the season to get ready for the first cruise boat which arrives on Sunday.
Several shops in Ketchikan aren't opened until Sunday.  Most of them are just setting up for the Season.
The ladies at The Silver Thimble quilting shop opened an hour early especially for Julie and  I yesterday when they saw us outside.  I was very happy with my purchases.

At midday today we took a sea plane flight to Misty Fjords.  The trip took 70mins.  We landed on the water in the fjord and Mike the pilot, Dad and Julie got out and stood on the float.  I thought it was tooo crowded out there to join them.  There were two other ladies on our flight.  The scenery was spectacular of course, but Uncle Daryl got a little woozy!
I shall send phtos after we download them.
Tomrrow night we are going to a Lumberjack Show.
At the moment a lot of the Touristy stuff is half price, or special deals for 'locals', so we are benefitting from that.
I think I'll finish now as this dining room chair seems to be going up and down!  I think it is motion sickness after my plane ride.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Jeff's Captain's Log - Ferry Columbia - thought I should share my comments on the ship.

What a great trip through the inside passage. It started with sightings of Humpback Whales with a backdrop of snowy peaks, then the adventure of having the ferry slide through narrow gaps between spruce covered gorges with a man at the front of the ship with binoculars next to the bell ready to warn oncoming boats that 'we are coming through'. The channel markers at times were barely wider than the ship and sometimes we seemed to be only 20 metres from the rocky shore, going through narrow passages the cruise ships just can't get through.

 The first cruise ship this season is now in the area somewhere so tourist season is here, we only had a few people on this large car carrying ferry and we mixed with the locals which we enjoyed.

 20 of us got off and visited Sitka, the old Russian capital of Russian Alaska, saw totem poles and walked through mossy rainforest, visited the site where America exchanged a M$7.2 cheque to purchase Alaska off Russia in 1867, just after the American Civil War, and had a great guided tour of Sitka, compliments of Tim our tourman. Have had showery weather in the SE as this area is a 160 inch rainfall area!!

There are incredibly high wharfs due to the large tidal variations here. An excellent trip.

Now in Ketchikan, had a great day trip with Mike today, highlight for me was the mossy rainforest, very beautiful.


This is the Solarium on the Ferry with all the backpackers in their thermal sleeping bags, sleeping under the overhead heaters.  Daryl is at the far end just about to go through the door .
Daryl and Julie in the lovely lounge.  Another ferry passing us by.
There were many islands in the Inside Passage and the water was so calm.

There were two murals, the other one was a bear.  There was also a great selection of framed photographs and paintings on the walls of the corridors.

This is our rickety ex-school bus that we caught into Sitka.  Downtown is 8 miles from the ferry terminal.  Only sbout 12 of us took the round trip into town.  The driver gave us a commentary.  It cost us only $12.

We went to do this forest walk and see some totem poles at the cultural centre in Sitka.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Sitka which was closed at 5pm, so Julie and I absconded to the Russian Christmas shop  which the lady opened for us escpecially.  The cruise ships begin on Sunday, so most  gift shops are just preparing and stocking up, to open on Sunday.  We were delighted to buy ourselves two gorgeous tiny Babuskas.

The gorgeous dining room on the boat.  We ate a very civilised dinner of Alaska Salmon, except for Jeff who couldn't resist corned beef and cabbage.

The Narrows is the tightest part of the trip.  It is a very narrow channel on the way to Sitka.  I heard an Indian American guy say  you could just about reach out and touch the trees.  We saw whales in the distance during the first part of our journey, and saw eagles and puffins and gulls.  We scanned the shore for black bears but no luck.  The waitress told us that sometimes you see moose swimming across the channel, but we weren't fortunate that day either.

We are now staying at Mike's with a gorgeous view overlooking the Tongass Narrows, which is part of the Inside Passage.
We loved the ferry trip.  We had a state room with double bunks and a bathroom.  So it was great to leave all our gear and go and sit in the lounge with windows facing front and sides.  It had a Cafe as well as a dining room, also a theatre which mainly played children's movies, a cocktail lounge where we played Take Two at night, and numerous drinks and snack machines.
If you don't have a State Room you can sleep in the Solarium on the top deck.  It is undercover with strip heaters on the ceiling.  It is open to the back of the boat.  There were about 20 people sleeping up there all rugged nup in high density sleeping bags, looking like big grubs or caterpillars.  Mostly you couldn't even see their faces.  Mainly they were back packers but Daryl and Julie talked to a couple about our age who even had an RV parked down below.  Did I say the ferry transports vehicles also?  You have to leave your pet down with your vehicle, but during the day they have certain times when you can go down to your pet,, feed him have him do his woopsy and clean up after him.  We stopped at Sitka for two hours so were able to disembark and join a little local bus that did a round trip into town for $12.  The driver was an ex-school teacher so took us to Totem Park , with totems carved by the Tlingit nd Haida Indians, where we did a quick forest walk.  Just beautiful.    and then to Castle Hill to see where Alaska was signed over to the American's by Russia.  Sitka was the old Russian Capital.  The Cathedral is of Russian Design but unfortunately at 5pm it was closed.  It's great having sunshine until 9pm.
We were not able to get off in Petersburg because we were only there for 45 mins from 6-7am.  A few dog owners took the opportunity to run their dogs off and have them leave a calling card in Petersburg!  Wrangell was also a quick stop but Jeff and Julie got off to take a few pictures looking back at the boat.  Haven't downloaded the phots yet.  Hope to ctch up with myself her at Mikes.  We've had no Mobile service or WIfi the last two or so days.