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Old 06-27-2013, 12:27 PM   #151
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Ketchikan looks so much nicer in your shots - probably to do with the fact it wasn't either raining or looking like it was about to rain! We didn't make it to Creek Street on our visit, so I think that's a must-do for our next visit.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:11 PM   #152
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Ketchikan looks like a lovely village. Your cabin looks very nice, too. Can't wait to learn what you all see this cruise week!
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:50 PM   #153
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Great pictures from your Misty Fjords tour! And a great afternoon in Ketchikan!
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:10 AM   #154
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I didn't get a chance to explore Ketchikan at all, but liked the look of this town very much. I think you should have gotten that shirt for Lou. He could have worn it to greet the newbies on the ship. Love the peeks into the cabins. The ship looks quite comfortable and hospitable! That shot of the canoodling boots is hilarious!
Ketchikan was interesting - the Creek Street area is quaint - much like Frontierland, but it also has a large number of tourist type shops in the commercial section.

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I'm caught up again. I love the photos from the plane! Beautiful!

I literally laughed out loud when you showed the picture of the boots with your comment about hanky panky! Too funny!

I'm loving your TR!
Thanks - those darned boots did give me a start.

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Ketchikan looks so much nicer in your shots - probably to do with the fact it wasn't either raining or looking like it was about to rain! We didn't make it to Creek Street on our visit, so I think that's a must-do for our next visit.
Creek Street has lots of shops, some history, and some restaurants - it's worth a walk through.

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Ketchikan looks like a lovely village. Your cabin looks very nice, too. Can't wait to learn what you all see this cruise week!
Thanks, Cam - the coming week is interesting, for sure.

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Great pictures from your Misty Fjords tour! And a great afternoon in Ketchikan!
Thanks, Marnie.
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:13 PM   #155
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Week 2 - Day 1 - continuing on with this marathon report


The dynamics on the boat were a little different at the start of Week 2. 25% of the passengers had been on the previous week's cruise, so we were all familiar with how things worked, and somewhat with each other. The new group was, in general, younger than the previous one, and there were more family groups. There were even a couple of teenagers on board - it was obvious they hadn't picked this vacation, but they were well-behaved and had a good time.


There are no assigned seats for meals, and during the previous week, we all seemed to do a good job of mixing it up every day. While people still tried to do the same during Week 2, it seemed natural for people to gravitate to people they already knew. This made for a strange ambience, and several of the returning passengers commented that this group wasn't as "Comfortable" or as "Friendly" as the first one. I think it is just normal behavior when you put a bunch of strangers together - and by the end of the week, folks had come together more as a group. And, I'd guess the new folks weren't quite sure what to think of the "old-timer know-it-alls."


Lou and I are not particularly social, and neither are we anti-social We tend to go with the flow. Fortunately for us, some of our Australian friends from Week 1 were also on this cruise. They adopted us (or perhaps we adopted them?) and it added a lot of fun to this cruise.


I only mention the group dynamics, because it's something to think about if you choose to go on a small ship (or any other small tour).


Overview of the Week 2 Itinerary

We were returning from Ketchikan to Juneau, but we wouldn't be retracing our steps. This trip would cover the Western Coves of the Inside Passage. Here's a map that shows our route for Week 2 (although we went to Endicott Arm, not Tracy Arm, on the last day):




Sunday - May 26th, El Capitan Passage and El Capitan Cave


In the photos we received for Week 2, they included a Chart of where we went each day - a nice touch that I wish we had from Week 1:




Our destination was El Capitan Cave, the largest cave in Southeast Alaska. You can read more about it here if you're interested. We'll come back to the cave later, first a look at our morning.


I was once again up and out at 4am. We were still cruising towards El Capitan. It was really odd outside - the lighting was weird, and just kept changing for the first couple hours of the morning.


The pre-dawn water looked like velvet:





The moon was still out - when we had clear skies in the early morning, things always looked a bit strange when the moon and sun were both shining:





Perhaps the full moon was exaggerating the effect ...





Weird lighting over the snow-capped mountain:





Lou laughed when he poked his out the cabin door, and saw me taking a photo of the camera (this is one of the few times I used the tripod - could have left it at home):





Crazy Sunrise and Reflections





By 6am, it was getting very bright out:





It was amazing how different the water looked, depending on which way you were facing:





By 7am, I'd finally had some coffee and given up trying to capture the weirdness of the Alaskan light. But then ... Wildlife Sighting!!! Someone yelled, "Orcas on the starboard side."






Ummm, nooo ... that is not an Orca. It's a Dall's Porpoise. But, I was happy to get a photo of one, since I'd tried last week with no luck - they are soooo fast. While they like ride the bow wave, they don't do it in a nice leisurely fashion like the dolphins do in Florida.


Just a few minutes later, and we saw whales in the distance:















We watched them for about 20 minutes, then continued on our course. We saw a few more humpback whales as we cruised:





The scenery was once again beautiful, as layers of fog rose through the mountains. It made it difficult to get clear photos, but there was an ethereal look to the landscape:










We saw several bald eagles, flying around, and even sitting on small islands in the water. They were squawking about something:





And then, I saw an eagle flying through the trees, where it landed near a friend - and they squawked too:










We arrived at the cove by El Capitan Cave after breakfast. There were a couple of groups going out to hike up to the Cave. Since there were over 350 steps to climb to get to the cave, I decided to pass. Here are a couple of photos of the hikers from the Un-Cruise photos shared with all of us:


One group poses on the stairs mid-climb - the Tongass National Forest is lush and green:





Once at the Cave Entrance, Forest Service personnel escorted small groups into the cave. I don't think there was a lot to see, but it would have been a fun experience:





We had an afternoon Skiff Tour, and this one turned out to be a good one


Our driver/guide was Mike - the First Mate on the Discoverer. Another very interesting guy - he actually worked on some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, working with the boats and some of the stunts. That was impressive, but then I found out he'd actually had a few parts in some X-Files episodes my favorite show ever! Oops, sorry for the off topic. He was also a good Skiff Driver and Guide


Not long after going out, we saw a sea otter. He (or she) just kept popping up and looking at us - so cute.





And, as we edged along the shore, we saw more bald eagles.





We didn't have any luck finding a bear, but we did have some more otter interaction. I will say, taking the photos of the otters, and even the eagle, from a bouncing Skiff was a challenge. Even when we stopped, there was still some movement in the boat.










We returned to the boat, to see some of the new passengers getting ready to test their kayaking skills.





I forgot to take dinner photos, but I remember we had salmon, and it was good. It was almost 9pm, and time for bed, when we had another wildlife sighting:





It was getting too dark for good photos, but we were all quite happy to have topped off our day with a black bear. No complaints today about wildlife - we saw Dall's Porpoise, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, Sea Otters AND a Bear. That may have been more than we saw during all of Week 1 !!!

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Old 06-28-2013, 12:27 PM   #156
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Wow, that was an amazing day of wildlife sightings!
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:41 PM   #157
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I was so looking forward to seeing your update - this entire trip is just amazing to me!!!!! What a wonderful day for wildlife!!!! That seems just perfect to me, the serene environment, calm waters and whales swimming near by!!! peaceful!!!
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Old 06-28-2013, 01:26 PM   #158
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Wow! This day was a bonanza of wildlife sightings! Every time a Dall's Porpoise appeared on the DCL cruise someone would shout, "Orca!" We never did see an Orca. Wonder if you will.....
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Old 06-28-2013, 03:00 PM   #159
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That first photo of the velvet water is AMAZING! You did a great job capturing the light . It looks so beautiful and peaceful.
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:27 PM   #160
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Great pictures with the different lighting! OH MY I had to show my husband the pictures of the bald eagles as they are his favorite!! He said NICE!!! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 06-28-2013, 10:26 PM   #161
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Awesome wildlife sightings! That otter is so adorable! He almost makes you want to take him home. And you topped of the day with a black bear! The bald eagles are so beautiful. for all the photos.
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Old 06-28-2013, 10:34 PM   #162
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Your photos have a way of bringing the trip to life. I can't literally hear and smell the sights. That first picture with the velvet water gave me goose bumps! I love all the wildlife!
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:41 AM   #163
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Wow, that was an amazing day of wildlife sightings!
It was a pleasant surprise.

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I was so looking forward to seeing your update - this entire trip is just amazing to me!!!!! What a wonderful day for wildlife!!!! That seems just perfect to me, the serene environment, calm waters and whales swimming near by!!! peaceful!!!
Thanks, Lisa - hope you are safely onboard your flight to WDW right now!

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Wow! This day was a bonanza of wildlife sightings! Every time a Dall's Porpoise appeared on the DCL cruise someone would shout, "Orca!" We never did see an Orca. Wonder if you will.....
The elusive Orca ... one of the guys, John from Australia, said to me every day - "Shazza - today's the day, there'll be Orcas today." Was he right? We'll have to wait and see.

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That first photo of the velvet water is AMAZING! You did a great job capturing the light . It looks so beautiful and peaceful.
Thanks, Roberta. I'd like to take credit, but all I did was get up early, stumble outside, and point my camera (the Point & Shoot one). Made it worth getting up early.

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Great pictures with the different lighting! OH MY I had to show my husband the pictures of the bald eagles as they are his favorite!! He said NICE!!! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Deb - glad he liked the eagles.

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Awesome wildlife sightings! That otter is so adorable! He almost makes you want to take him home. And you topped of the day with a black bear! The bald eagles are so beautiful. for all the photos.
It was a very good day for wildlife. I could watch the otters for hours.

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Your photos have a way of bringing the trip to life. I can't literally hear and smell the sights. That first picture with the velvet water gave me goose bumps! I love all the wildlife!
Thanks, Amy. I'm glad to have the photos to remember the trip.

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Old 06-29-2013, 08:18 AM   #164
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Monday, May 27th: A Visit to Klawock, and perhaps some more wildlife




Once again, up before 5am (not on purpose - I just got up when I woke up), I was eager to go outside and check the weather and the landscape. We had been cruising all night, and were still in motion. I was up in time to catch the sun coming up over the trees:





The moon was also still up in the sky - I tried to take a panoramic view showing the sun and the moon, without success. Perhaps I needed coffee first. I did remember to take a photo of today's menu choices:





Back on deck, again the views were surreal:










By 7am, the early morning Yoga-ers were in full crouching tiger mode. We had a different wellness instructor on board this week, and she also held stretching classes each afternoon. I did go to those, and it was amazing how 30 minutes of stretching really helped the sore muscles.





After a delicious breakfast (bacon sammich for me ), we pulled into Klawock - a town of about 850 residents that is a major center of the Tlingit Culture. We were able to dock at the pier, and were introduced to our guides for the day. Victor had lived in Klawock all of his life and is currently one of the city officials. He told us about the history of Klawock, and also shared many stories about Tlingit Culture. He brought two young people with him, his niece Sidney and James, who had recently graduated from high school.

As we got off the boat, the water was amazingly clear, and Lou took these photos from the dock:










Fishing and tourism are two of the major ways the people in Klawock support themselves. The tourism industry revolves around people who come in for fishing and hiking trips. Commercial tourism built around the cultural aspects of the area is not currently a big business - our tour was arranged by the cruise folks. In fact, we didn't even see a single souvenir shop our our walks.





This is a salmon cannery that is no longer in operation. Klawock was the sight of the first salmon cannery in Alaska - built in 1878. As Victor said, "when was the last time any of you bought canned salmon?" As in other parts of the country, newer methods for preserving fish have made many canneries obsolete (we still prefer tuna in a can, but that may be habit and nostalgia).




Our first stop was to see a beautiful canoe, a gift which was made by a man in Seattle to honor his wife's parents. (In return, Klawock gifted a totem Honor Pole, which is displayed at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle - an important part of the Tlingit culture is maintaining "Balance.")




A close up of part of the beautiful canoe:





After learning about the gift of the canoe, we split into two groups. Our group walked to the Totem Park - this park is supposed to be the largest in Alaska, with 21 totem poles. I'm not sure if all of them have been restored or replicated yet - these were relocated from an early Tlingit settlement village. All of these are Mortuary Totems, so they each tell the story of the person who is being honored, and there is a place for ashes to be placed in the pole.














From here, we walked about a mile to see the Carving Shed. It was a beautiful day for a walk:









At the Carving Shed, they can make new totems, and also work to restore some of the older ones. Lou was quite taken with the totems, and took lots of photos:

























Victor told us they are trying to convince Sidney and other young people to stay in Klawock, but it's difficult, as they want to explore the world. Many from his generation do not speak the Tlingit language, but there is a now a concerted effort to teach the children. Sidney can speak the language, and her Uncle was obviously quite proud of this. Here, Sidney laughs with a couple of our folks. She was forthright that it is her intent to go away to college - she wants to study film making.




Sidney tells us about the Clan House, and James told us about the carvers. New totem poles are still being commissioned, and there is a backlog. The stories of the totems are personal, and can only be told by those who own the totem.




A new totem, work in progress:




We returned to the Wilderness Discoverer for a late lunch, before departing Klawock. It was an excellent visit, with a big assist from the nice walk and sunny weather. As we left, we passed a sawmill, another one of the industries that help support the area:




We cruised into Chatham Strait, where we were fortunate to see more humpback whales - No Orcas today, John!

































We watched the whales for more than 2 hours that afternoon - lots of beautiful fluke action. I kept looking for Ernie, but he was nowhere to be found


After a delicious dinner (Lou loved the duck), we watched a presentation on intertidal creatures, and called it a night. We continued cruising overnight, and this was the only time I recall feeling much of a rolling motion on the ship. Our destination was the Bay of Pillars:

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Old 06-29-2013, 08:53 AM   #165
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Again, the early-morning light is just amazing. It doesn't seem possible for water to look that soft and smooth-- and blue! I love the shots of the creatures at water's edge. That's the amazing orange color I was startled to see on the starfish. It's so great that you got to tour this town with local guides and to get a glimpse into Tlingit culture without having the village set up as a show for tourists, with souvenir shops everywhere. The totems are amazing. I wish that menu was on my agenda for today!
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