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August 12, 2005

Alaska - Part II


As we were arriving in Glacier Bay National Park, we travelled through quite thick fog which obscured the land that we were passing.  As we arrived at Margerie Glacier there was some clearing although the overcast remained.  The Park Wardens told us that because of the overcast, the blue of the glacier would show much more.  In the sun it is whiter.  We were very fortunate as the glacier calved (chunks broke away) 6 times during the 1 1/2 hours we were close to her.  In the picture above and the one below, the white breaking the surface of the water is the splash from one of the chunks that broke off.  This wall of ice is about 250 feet high above the water and about the same under the water.  


DSC_0011_editedThe glaciers in the mountains feed hundreds of streams and rivers that wind their way down the sides and into the bay.  We spent the whole day in Glacier Bay and saw 5 or 6 glaciers. 

On the way out of Glacier Bay we were treated to a visit of a pod of whales.  We watched them blow, surface and dive for probably 20 minutes.  One of them surfaced about 50 feet from the ship.  The Captain immediately threw on the bow thrusters to move away from it.  When whales are spotted the ships are to stay a specified distance from them.  Of course the captain has no control over where the whales swim so sometimes they do get very close.  This is where we now start to head south toward Vancouver.  

The next day, Thursday, we arrived in Ketchican shortly after lunch.  Ross says that he will never complain again about how hard it is to park the RV after he watched the docking of this ship.

DSC_0017_edited We walked around town a bit, stopping and talking to a few fishermen on the short bridge.  The salmon were running and there were probably 25 to 30 people fishing off the bridge.  We watched the salmon trying to navigate the rapids. A little further up the river, there is a fish ladder to help them past the falls.  Apparently, the addition of these fish ladders on various streams and rivers has greatly increased the success rate and thus the overall salmon population.

In the afternoon we went to the “Great Lumberjack Show” which was a lot of fun.  There were some great displays of skill – wood chopping, log rolling, tree climbing.  The picture on the left shows one of the lumberjacks chopping down a stump (tree) while standing on a plank about 6 or 8 feet above the ground.  The real loggers did this to get above the large root area and stump at ground level.

After the show, we walked up Creek Street, which was the red light district of Ketchican and is all built on pylons over the creek.  The houses are original and most have moss growing on them.  The part of Alaska that we have visited is considered temperate rain forest and Ketchican can get 100 inches of rain a year but very little snow.   We were told that if it wasn’t raining when we got off the ship it would be by the time we returned.  They were right. 


Friday was a sailing day as we headed back down through Queen Charlotte Sound and the Strait of Georgia.  There were wonderful vistas of the B.C. mainland mountains to the east and wooded mountains of the north of Vancouver Island.  We started seeing civilization before it got dark and as we sat at dinner that night there were lights on a continuing basis.  When we awakened on Saturday morning we were just arriving in Vancouver to dock.   We had a 10 AM disembarkation time as we did not have flights to catch etc.   Anyone with a tight connection schedule got off first. As the cruise had been in the US there were even arrangements for US citizens to go “in bond” to the airport so that they did not have to go through first Canada & then US customs.

We said our goodbyes to Barn and Shell and the rest of the gang, took a cab to the dealership to pick up our truck and head back to the campground to see how the trailer had fared in our absence  – and to do laundry.

Sunday, Aug 7th we are heading to Vancouver Island

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Ross at August 12, 2005 09:31 PM


I have been to Ketchican AL and it is a neat little town. I only got there once.
Look forward to any pics you have of my old stomping ground Victoria.

Posted by: Steven Graham at September 17, 2005 09:55 AM