Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ketchikan, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada



Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage and the state's southeastern-most major settlement.  It is known as Alaska's first city and the Salmon Capital of the World. (All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)



It is also a popular cruise route along the state's southeastern coast, as you can see from the number of cruise ships docked in its port when our cruise ship arrived.




As our ship dropped anchor in the bay and we waited to tender ashore, my first impressions of Ketchikan were a multitude of prop planes taking off and landing and many fishing boats navigating the waters.



We boarded the smaller tender ship and went to shore, where we picked up our excursion's tour bus.



Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, including some of the oldest ones in existence.  The historic part of town also has a multitude of colorful homes perched along the shore's cliff rocks, which have long wooden staircases leading up to their front doors.  If you'd like to learn more about the native cultures of Ketchikan and its history after colonists began setting here, there are some wonderful movies to watch on this link from the Ketchikan tourism web site.



My husband and I wanted our last excursion in Alaska to bring us into the Tongass National Forest, which covers most of southeast Alaska. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Coast Mountains and Canadian border on the east, the Tongass National Forest spans 500 miles of Southeast Alaska.  It is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world!  



We took a Ketchikan Rainforest Canoe and Nature Walk excursion.  A bus drove our group to Harriet Hunt Lake where we put on life jackets and maned a native style canoe. We rowed to the opposite lakeshore, enjoying the beautiful scenery.


There was a campsite located on the shore, where we were served a Native American style snack of smoked fish, clam chowder, bread rolls with wild berry jams and beverages.




Next, a guide led our group on a short nature walk in the rain forest, while highlighting the interesting vegetation and wildlife that lives there.




The lush forest floor was full of an amazing amount of thick greenery...



...so much large flora and fauna...




...and a canopy of large old-growth Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce trees.




The variety of mosses, lichen, and fungi in the rain forest were very interesting to see.





We were told that this fallen tree was now a "tree nursery" as seeds fell on its soft moss surface and began growing new trees, which will eventually anchor their roots in the ground as they grow.



Usnea Lichen, also known as "Old Man's Beard." was seen growing off many trees.




After our forest hike, we returned to the canoes and rowed back to the opposite shore and back to the bus.





Back on our cruise ship we again passed magnificent scenery as we sailed south to Vancouver.




There was a special treat offered to all at dinner--Baked Alaska Ice Cream!


Early the next morning our ship reached its final destination of Vancouver, Canada, where we disembarked for a bus ride to the airport. Someday we'd like to return to Vancouver and British Columbia, Canada, for a longer visit, but we had been away from home for almost two weeks and it was time to return to Colorado, as we missed our children and grandchildren!  



It's always a thrill to fly over Colorado and see the Rocky Mountains and the changing topography of our state. We were Home Sweet Home!  Thank you for following my blog all these weeks as I relived our Alaska Land and Sea Voyage that we took in June.  I'll now return to blogging about our adventures close to home.

For all Americans, I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving! Our family had much to be thankful for this year as my husband's cancer is in remission and our daughter recently had a successful emergency mitral valve repair surgery. We have been busy helping her in her recovery, but she is getting stronger every day and most likely by the new year she will return to normal activities. We are very grateful for the good medical care they both received and the prayers of many. Please continue to keep them in your prayers--thank you!


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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Juneau, Alaska



Juneau, Alaska’s remote capital, sits in the state’s panhandle, at the base of 3,819-ft. Mount Roberts. It’s a popular cruise-ship stop, reachable only by boat or seaplane.



A tram carries visitors 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to an alpine area with hiking trails, wildflowers, and views of Gastineau Channel. This is also the site of the Juneau Raptor Center, dedicated to local birds.


We took an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier located in part of the Tongass National Forest.  Mendenhall is located 12 miles from downtown Juneau, on land owned by the Federal Forest Service, which provides a visitor center, park rangers, trails, and year-round exhibits and educational outreach.



The glacier is a 13-mile ribbon of ice that flows from the Juneau Ice Field. which is a 1,500 square mile frozen plateau that feeds a total of 38 major glaciers. The Juneau Ice Field is the fifth-largest ice field in North America and is leftover from the last ice age.  Mendenhall Glacier has been in a period of retreat.  In fact, there were various markers that were placed on the lakeshore, and in the visitor center, that showed how the glacier at one time covered those areas in as little as 60 - 90 years ago!



It certainly was a beautiful glacier!






Double click on the photo above to enlarge it and read this informational placard.



Double click on to enlarge

Although there are many negative effects of the recession of the Mendenhall Glacier and glaciers in general, there are also a few positive outcomes. With the retreat of the Mendenhall Glacier, the Mendenhall Lake has formed. The lake has a unique ecosystem and is a nursery for a variety of fish including several types of salmon, Dolly Varden char, and cutthroat trout.


Click on to enlarge

In the ever-changing landscape of Mendenhall Glacier, even the Nugget Falls waterfall has moved since a 1952 photo seen in the placard above, was taken.



There is a 45 minute round trip trail that leads to Nugget Falls.




We were tempted to take the walk, but we knew our allotted tour time here would not allow it... 




...so we went inside the visitor center to enjoy the views of it there, as well as the other exhibits.


Double click on to enlarge

There were many informational placards in and around the visitor center...



...and beautiful examples of a forest reclaiming the former glacier land with the growth of flora, fauna, trees, and lichen.



Our next stop on our excursion was the DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Fish Hatchery.  

The goal of Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Inc. is to sustain and enhance valuable salmon resources of the State of Alaska for the economic, social, and cultural benefit of all citizens, and to promote public understanding of Alaska's salmon resources and salmon fisheries through research, education, and tourism.  At the Ladd Macaulay Visitor Center, we learned about the fascinating life cycle of salmon, their nearshore marine environment, and the inner workings of a hatchery through a variety of exhibits and commentaries.




The hatchery raises just over 130 million chum, king, and coho salmon annually and is designed to allow visitors to see the outside operations of an active hatchery.




There were many placards along the walkway by the freshwater pens holding the young salmon.  They explained how salmon eggs were harvested and fertilized, the stages of salmon development, the freshwater rearing phase, the saltwater rearing phase, and then their release.




Salmon are assisted in spawning to ensure their numbers are not depleted by fishing by men or wildlife.  

During the months of July through September, millions of salmon swim up a 450-foot fish ladder outside the fishery and gather into holding ponds until they are ready to reproduce, and the life cycle begins again. We were visiting too early in June to see this sight but the photos we saw of it are amazing!





We enjoy eating salmon and usually purchase sockeye or silver (coho) to eat at home, but we did try samples of all the rest during our cruise.  King salmon is especially rare and delicious!



After leaving the fishery our excursion bus drove to a beautiful forested area in Juneau and there, under tall pine trees, we were treated to an authentic Alaskan Salmon Bake and buffet.  




There were unlimited pieces of fresh wood fire-grilled salmon and many different sides to enjoy in the buffet, plus beer and wine for purchase if desired.



Everything was so good!



Back on our cruise ship, we soon set sail again and enjoyed gazing at scenic views of the Alaskan shoreline from our balcony.

Our last stop in Alaska was ahead--Ketchikan!


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I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

 Mosaic Monday, All SeasonsBlue Monday, Through My Lens MondayLittle Cottage Link Party, Blogging GrandmothersHearth, and Soul Link PartyYou Are the Star Blog HopGood Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialTravel Photos, Photo TunesHappiness Is HomemadeSomething Old Is NewOur World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesdays With A TwistWordless Wednesday on a TuesdaySay Cheese!,  Party in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayNanahood WWOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful Wednesday, Your Whims WednesdayWorldless Wednesday at Sky GirlWednesday My Corner of the WorldWonderful Wednesday Little Things Thursday,Thankful ThursdayThursday Encouraging Hearts and HomeThursday Favorite ThingsFriendship FridaysFriday Features Linky PartyFriday Photo JournalSkywatch Friday,Funtastic Friday Pink SaturdaySaturday Critters
Over the Moon Grammys Grid-Month Long Linky Party


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