Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More Alaskan Adventures

In addition to our shore excursion to Scagway, we also stopped for whale-watching in Juneau and a bus and catamaran tour of Ketchikan. 

For whale-watching, we boarded a catamaran that provided us with binoculars and a brochure promising "humpback whales, Dall's porpoises, harbor seals, Stellar sea lions, bald eagles, and more--all in their natural habitat!"  The tour didn't quite live up to those promises, but the humpback whales were definitely in attendance.

It always began with a spout, and someone yelling "over there!" while pointing vigorously in the whale's direction.
Everyone would turn en masse, oohing and ahh-ing at the sight of the whale's back reaching up out of the water, quietly wishing, wishing, wishing, that its entire body would break forward in a full breech.
None of the whales ever did breech, though (it is apparently quite rare in this area), and we were left with the sight of the fluke flipping over and disappearing beneath the water.
But imagine if you were aboard this boat, below; that whale looks awfully close, don't you think?
The highlight of the excursion for me was the fact that it gave my daughters some time to hang out with my twin nephews.  Bayla took her role as cousin very seriously, offering 17-month-old Kiran lots of hugs, and dragging him back (gently, for her!) if he started to stray from our seats too far.
Another Alaskan excursion took us to Ketchikan, "the salmon capital of the world."  Our tour was called "The Best of Ketchikan by Land & Sea," but when we boarded our tour bus, instead of viewing the beautiful harbors, quaint streets, and interesting shops, the driver swept down the main road (the Alaska Marina Highway, I think?), and made just two stops.
First, we visited the Native Totems at Saxman Native Village.  Generally, I find totems pretty fascinating, and the guide did, in fact, explain all the various purposes for totems, and provide stories about several of the totems there, including one of Abraham Lincoln.  I think she simply wasn't dynamic enough to make the experience particularly interesting.
We barely had time for a quick stop in the restrooms and gift shop before we had to be back on the bus to head down to what remains of the George Inlet Packing Company, a now-defunct salmon cannery that operated from 1914 to 1958.
Just how defunct were the grounds?, you may be wondering.  Witness the remains of one of the watchman's residences:
We were ushered into a small room, where we watched a movie projected onto the wall about salmon fishing and canning practices of the early 20th century.  One might wonder, Who cares?  Who cares, indeed.  No one in that room did.  Least of all the poor children whose parents dragged them on this excursion because it sounded like a kid-friendly option for the day.
Mommy, wonders Bayla, below, why did you bring me here?
No, she didn't really say that.  The girls were troopers.  It was just a really weird place to call a tourist attraction. 
We watched the whole process of how the cans for the salmon were formed, and how the salmon was cleaned and cut to fit inside the cans, how the lids were placed on top, and then the cans were sent to be cooked, washed, and cooled.  The highlight of the tour for the girls (besides the hot chocolate at the end) was when they each got a genuine sealed can (full of Alaskan air, according to our guide, not salmon) to bring home with them.
The second half of the excursion--"the best of Ketchikan by sea"--redeemed the day, and gave us more views of gorgeous Alaskan scenery, as well as glimpses of an eagle and spawning salmon.
Below is our final wistful look back at Ketchikan from the ramp back up to the Disney Wonder.  We had to be back on board by 12:30, so we had no time to explore the commercial area of town.
But maybe, after all, the best tours are the ones that leave you craving just a little bit more.  Something to bring you back again someday!


lee said...

i just read through all your posts about your amazing trip. What a trip of lifetime, isnt that the first time disney salied to Alaska, how fun for your kids and with your whole family, glad your back

laurie said...

your girls really are troupers! what is interesting to adults (i would like to know more about the salmon canning, myself) is often not what kids want to be doing. i remember my parents taking my siblings and i to historical sights that, at the time, i didn't appreciate but wish now that i would have paid more attention. such is life!

Karenann Young said...

Great pictures!!! Makes me feel like I'm almost there!!!

VivJM said...

What a trip! Your girls are stars too :-)

Carin Winkelman said...

Alaska! How I would love to go there someday. Looks like you had a wonderful adventure.

Karen Isaacson said...

this kind of reminds me of the episode of the Simpson's where Bart's class goes on a field trip to the box factory. Thanks for the fun vacation postcard! sounds like a great trip overall.

Parabolic Muse said...

you had to leave by 1230 ?!? Wow. That's an early excursion! Those photos of the kids are really sweet. I think it's good that Bayla is a stickler for keeping the young-uns in line!