Sunday, December 24, 2017

Alaska: Ketchikan - Misty Fjords and Seaplane Tour

Alaska Post Links

We got lucky again on this trip. Ketchikan is usually gloomy and rainy. Today we had a mix of overcast skies with a few sunny moments. Score! Today 4 cruise ships were docked in the tiny town. Dave's mood was much better this morning as he disembarked with a Diet Coke in-hand and received no hassle from ship security. Our morning was going to be spent fulfilling a bucket list item for Holly: landing on the water in a seaplane. We had a few minutes before our excursion pickup and headed over to the Tongass National Forest Visitor Center for our Passport stamp.

Ketchikan had all the charm of a turn-of-the-century frontier outpost mixed with tackiness that comes with being a tourist destination. The city did have a few very nice art stores.

We boarded our bus for the short trip up the main road (Ketchikan is isolated like Juneau is) to Taquan Air. The company has been shuttling goods and people by air for over 20 years. We were assembled with other tourists into a tent for our safety briefing before being divided into groups and assigned planes. Our pilot, Jess, was in his late-20's and moved to Alaska from Florida. Dave won the dispersing the weight lottery and scored the copilot seat.

Our 90 minute tour would take us over the Misty Fjords National Monument. As we've learned on this trip fjords are inlets sourrounded by rounded mountains created by glacial erosion. As we were flying Jess would narrate every few minutes then play some appropriate song from his iPod. The mountains were beautiful from our high vantage point and Jess gave us several up-close moments with the cliffsides. Our landing was in a long narrow stretch of the inlet. On the nearby shore was a brown bear grazing on some grass. Jess told us he's usually hanging around this time of morning. We got to climb out onto the pontoon for some better photos.

Thankfully take-off from the inlet and landing back in town were uneventful. We still had a few hours left on our shore leave so we decided to quickly take the Ketchikan Walking Tour allowing us to see Creek Street (old red light district), The Totem Pole Heritage Center, a salmon ladder, and totem poles placed around town.

We had a decent lunch at Alaska Fish House - more fried halibut. After lunch we frantically ran around town trying to find the perfect ulu knife and stone carving of an otter. We did well on the knife: we found one shaped like a bear made out of bleached caribou antler. We found a nice otter carving, but the perfect one was back in Skagway. If you find yourself in Ketchikan spend a few minutes browsing the family-owned Alaskan Stone Arts shop/gallery. After an exhausting tour of the shops we met up with the rest of the crew at a bar called Sourdough. It's a first-class dive that happened to be steps away from our ship's gangplank. It's worth a visit for all the photos of boats that have run aground (common in this area with the fog and changing tides). Thanks to Sourdough we boarded 15 minutes before departure.

The next time we'd set foot on land would be in Vancouver. We enjoyed our time in Alaska and we experienced many new things along the way. As luck would have it some killer whales decided to show up on our side of the ship a few miles away from port. Perfect!

Alaska Post Links


No comments:

Post a Comment