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Published: January 4th 2020
The excursion that day was set for 10 AM, so the family decided to wake up at a more leisurely time. Appa went out early to run in the brisk air and nice little city. Pranav, Amma, and I woke up a bit later to walk around the town. After snapping a couple of pictures of various statues, totem places, and neat looking shops, we all convened to have breakfast, take a shower, and hit the road for the special event of the day. There was quite a bit of apprehension and excitement as we were signed up to ride in a seaplane to watch black bears feast on salmon. From the port deck, we were bused for 15 minutes to another area where there was a big hangar for the planes. This service is called Taquan Air Tours. There were many planes ranging small to medium size. Some can even carry upto 16 passengers or so. There was a tent outside the hanger area. Restrooms inside the building. We were shown safety video first before we even were allowed close to the plane. Folks from the bus were split into groups of ten and were taken to specific planes. Our pilot was a lanky chap with 16 years of flying experience. He seemed super nice. After a short run in the water, the plane took off. Everybody had to wear seat belts, like regular air travel. It was pretty smooth and did not feel any jerky motion. The plane flew in about 3000 feet. This is provided a great view of the ocean, the beaches and the land beneath. There were numerous inlets, shores and hilly areas along the way. It was truly a beautiful sight. Weather was perfect with few clouds and lot of sun. After 25 minutes of flying we landed in the sea near a shore. The seaplane taxied to a dock where we were escorted out of the plane. There was a tour guide waiting for us there. For the 11 of us in the plane, we had a dedicated guide to take us inside this island. His job is to give an overview of the place, take us to the bear viewing platform and provide some narrative about Salmon hatchery there. We walked for about 0.3 miles through a trail. This guide pointed us claw marking on the tree as high 30 to 40 feet. Bears have climbed the trees around. When turned a bend and saw the fish hatchery. To our right was the shore where the hatchery waters join the ocean. The eggs are produced in this hatchery and the fish is released from here back into the ocean. The salmon that comes back to spawn pretty much becomes food for the bears. There were at least 4 bears slowly walking around. There was thing one particular one, pretty much stood there near the hatcheries artificial waterfall waiting for Salmon to go up. This bear would eat the juicy part and discard the other parts as he was getting new Salmon by the minute. These are black bears but i bet they are bigger than normal inland bears in this region. We spent about 90 minutes in this area watching bears from the platform. We were able to walk around and get close to water as well. Bears don't really mind us humans. They were content eating Salmon. They did not even make any eye contact. This was an amazing once in a lifetime experience. Very content, we left the area back to the deck to get on our plane. To go back, we had a different pilot and a different plane. This guy very experienced as well. He looked and dressed like those WW II pilot. This plane was nearly 50 years old, but he said it was the most reliable make. He was nice enough to take us through a route, where we could see a sunken ship, bunch of sea lions sunbathing etc. We landed safely back and taxied to the hangar area. Bus was waiting for us to be picked up back to the ship. We spent some time walking around the downtown area after lunch at the ship restaurant. This was the last day for the shore excursion. After this, we will sail toward Vancouver. There will be one whole day at sea before we reach Canada early morning the following day. Ryan Ahern the pianist was back by popular demand. After dinner we watched him again. This type he played a combination of classical, Jazz, blues and rock. It was nice overall.
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