Alaska 2012:
Day 9 - Ketchikan


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Alaska 2012: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Seattle] [Day 3 - Victoria] [Day 4 - Vancouver ] [Day 5 - Inside Passage] [Day 6 - Juneau] [Day 7 - Skagway] [Day 8 - Glacier Bay] [Day 9 - Ketchikan] [Day 10 - Inside Passage] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Empire Builder] [Day 13 - Empire Builder]

Thursday, August 9, 2012: Tom and Debbie joined Bob at 8:00 AM for breakfast in the Vista dining room. Bob ordered the very colorful English breakfast, which came with beans, much to Debbie's horror.
We were due in to Ketchikan at 10:00 AM, so there was time to enjoy the sail in. We approached Ketchikan from the north, but since it was overcast, we couldn't really tell what direction we were facing.
We passed the airport, which features plenty of places for seaplanes to land and pull up to a dock for passenger loading.
We also saw the ferry that carries passengers and cars between the mainland and the island on which the airport is located. It is this ferry that the controversial "Bridge to Nowhere" would replace.
There were many fishing boats coming and going as we approached the Ketchikan harbor.
Here we are! Ketchikan, Alaska -- or as Stewart and Susan dubbed it, "Ka-chicken."
This is the view from Doug and Susan's cabin.
Doug, Stewart, Debbie, Tom, and Jill had an 11:30 shore excursion titled Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure, so we piled onto our shuttle bus for the ride to the snorkel center. No, not this trolley, but it looks like it would be fun.
We saw the Aleutian Ballad, which was featured on the TV show, "Deadliest Catch." It has been turned into a charter boat for tourists with chairs on deck in front.
Duck tours are taking off all over the place, and Ka-Chicken is no exception.
We passed some colorful local establishments like the Asylum, ...
... and Burger Queen, home of the halibut burger.
This sign proclaims: "Welcome to Alaska's 1st City -- Ketchikan -- Salmon Capital of the World." Why, thanks, Ketchikan! We do feel welcome here!
Maersk! It was our first Alaskan Maersk photograph of the trip and we were getting a little nervous that we wouldn't have one at all.
We arrived at Snorkel Alaska's headquarters and changed into 7mm-thick wetsuits including hoods, gloves, and booties.
We placed our belongings in storage bags that went with us on the truck, then took a short bus ride to the snorkel site.
Once there, we got snorkels, masks, and fins. Jill also opted for a weight belt so she could try some free diving, since the wet suits are quite buoyant.
The suits were constricting and quite uncomfortable, but only until we got into the water.
It was a short walk down to the water. We passed raspberry bushes and it was tempting to pull one or two off the vine.
Our guides were Kaleigh, Matt, Billy, and V, and they gave us instructions prior to going into the water, lots of help getting on our equipment, and lots of information once we were in the water.
Even in only 6 inches of water, we were already seeing starfish.
We spotted a lion's mane jellyfish while we were getting our equipment on. Debbie realized that the unidentified round orange thing she had seen floating in Glacier Bay from 11 decks up the day before had been a giant one of these. Thinking it was just some brightly colored trash in the water, she didn't photograph it, unfortunately. These can get up to 7 feet wide, and the one she saw was probably 2 or 3 feet wide, or about the size of the jellyfish we saw in Morocco the year before.
This starfish was just sitting on the rock next to Debbie as she put on her equipment.
All suited up, we were ready to begin. The initial blast of cold on our faces in the water was a little shocking, but it faded within minutes. As the water slipped into our suits, it warmed up quickly and we were never uncomfortable. In fact, it was quite pleasant.
We followed our guides in a large group as we worked our way around Mountain Point.
There was lots to see underwater.
We saw many different colors, sizes, and shapes of starfish, ranging from 5 arms to many.
There was kelp everywhere.
It was easy to swim around and we could often find small fish hiding among the leaves.
Here's a shy, elusive little guy.
Here's a bigger one, but just as shy.
Another larger fish.
Three little ones.
A bazillion tiny ones. This was a huge school of shiny silver fish, but every photograph of them turned out badly. Please use your imagination on this one.
On top of the water, it was hard to tell who was who, but we're pretty sure this is Jill and Tom.
The kelp gardens look like this on the surface of the water.
Stewart held one of the anemonies the guides found.
V showed two of them to us above water, but noted that they are far brighter below water, and she was right.
This was a group of tiny orange anemones and blue mussels.
Jill put her weight belt to good use with a little free diving.
This many-armed starfish was happily clinging to this strand of kelp. We got really, really lucky with the lighting on this photo.
Above water, a sea slug was being passed around, so we held it for a minute.
Back underwater, we got a nice photo of one of the thousands of harmless moon jellyfish floating in the water.
Debbie followed a couple of venomous lion's mane jellyfish around. They're fascinating to watch and easy to keep at bay.
This guy was probably a foot tall from the top of his dome to the bottom of his tentacles.
Twice, cruise ships passed by and our guides shouted, "Cruise ship wave!" as the waves got near us so we could avoid being swept up against the rocks. Shortly after this, our camera became waterlogged and died, so we didn't get a photo of the lionfish we saw.
Jill, Doug, and Stewart were fortunate enough to see this wolf eel toward the end of their snorkel.
We got out of the water, returned our equipment, poured hot water over our heads to warm up, and claimed our storage bags. After a wet ride back to Snorkel Alaska's building, we peeled off our waterlogged suits, took outdoor showers, changed into dry clothes, and enjoyed cups of hot chocolate. While rinsing our wet suits, one of the staff was doing his very best Dobby impersonation: "Dobby loves Harry Potter. Dobby loves Harry Potter very much!" We declared it to be a great excursion and returned to the ship on another shuttle bus.
Back at the ship, Tom, Debbie, and Jill jumped on a free shuttle into town. The bus pointed out this sculpture of an eagle mooning us.
It looks a little less ridiculous from the side.
We hopped off the shuttle at Whale Park.
It's a tiny little park chock full of beautiful flowers, ...
... with a totem pole in the center. Susan had taken a different tour that day and had seen dozens of totems, which sounded interesting.
Across the street from Whate Park, we spotted Pioneer Cafe and decided to have a late lunch there.
Unbelievable! Ivar's chowder is served here!
Of course, we had to get a cup, thus marking the fourth time we had eaten Ivar's so far on this trip. (Will there be more? Keep reading to find out!)
We tried to shop our way back through town but really didn't find anything we wanted. Time didn't permit stopping for any Alaskan beer, no matter how enticing the neon beer signs were.
The mooning eagle statue looks much better from the front.
We passed more small restaurants and bars along the pier.
Like the other Alaskan ports, this one was designed to accommodate three or four ships at a time without a problem.
We had one last chance to buy a small souvenir for our shadow box at home, so we entered Talbot's, the very last store before our ship, and came out with a tiny whale tale sculpture.
We showered and joined our people at dinner. Susan told us about the tour she had taken and the bears she had seen. Bob and Becky had spent the afternoon relaxing onboard and didn't go ashore at all. We told all about how cold we weren't when we were snorkeling.
Members of our party spotted bald eagles several times out the dining room window, so we got this photo of one. He's in the center of this photo toward the top, identified easily by his white head.
After dinner, Jill exclaimed, "Where's my towel animal?" Look up, Jill. He's hanging right over your bed. Our cabin steward, Heri, and assistant cabin stewart, Hoho, did not disappoint.
We did a little more whale and seal watching after dinner from our balcony.

Another cruise ship followed us as we head back south to Canada.

Day 10 >


Alaska 2012: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Seattle] [Day 3 - Victoria] [Day 4 - Vancouver ] [Day 5 - Inside Passage] [Day 6 - Juneau] [Day 7 - Skagway] [Day 8 - Glacier Bay] [Day 9 - Ketchikan] [Day 10 - Inside Passage] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Empire Builder] [Day 13 - Empire Builder]

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