Yesterday we visited our first port, Ketchikan. The sea was like glass and the weather overcast. Ketchikan yearly rainfall is measured in feet, not inches a year so overcast is good. We joined our group for a wildlife and seafood experience. Actually we were a group of six. I was surprised that they didn't cancel the tour but it was great for us.
After a 30 minute bus ride, the six of us were dropped off at an interesting "resort". Located on the water, it has a few motel type rooms but the majority of accommodations were RV's and campers that were driven from all over and ferried over to the island. Some stay for a few days, many for the entire summer.
We maneuvered a steep ramp and boarded an open sided boat. Our first stop was beside a small island where a giant eagles nest was located. We could just see the heads of the chicks in the nest but Mom and Dad were clearly visible. With the enticement of small fish they swooped down close to the boat. What magnificent birds they are. A couple of juveniles tried to get a bite
but the mature birds chased them off.
Sonny, our Captain put the peddle to the metal and we roared across the water. It was good that there were blankets on board but even so it was very cold. Next stop was near a harbor seal rookery. We watched them, they watched us, we watched them.......... Very cute animals but on the menu for the Orca by sea and the Bears by land. Not a good place to be for a harbor seal.
Finally we arrived at the lodge where we were to dine. Again we had to navigate a steep ramp, this time up hill. The tide was dead low. When our group was together we were able to feed the Sitka Deer that came running for a treat. These are tiny animals and there was a buck, a doe and and fawn, all looking for a handout, I fed the buck and the fawn finally approached and licked my fingertips. So sweet.
Next we walked into the Tongass National Forest, a temperate rainforest, the largest national forest in the US. It was strangely quiet and we were inclined to whisper
or at least speak softly. We saw banana slugs about six inches long but they were the only animals we saw. Our goal was a gigantic cedar tree, forty feet in circumference and estimated to be 1500 years old. All along the way the ground was covered with mosses and ferns. A variety of moss hung from the tree limbs. It was an other worldly experience.
Now we gathered for an Alaskan boil. We sat at a table covered with newspaper and a large kettle of goodies was dumped in the middle. There were shrimp, mussels, clams, potatoes, corn, and Dungeness crabs. We did our best but there were a couple of items left on the table when we all had our fill. Nothing like sitting out on a veranda eating the best seafood with a view of the water and the nearby islands.
After a short but chilly ride back to the "Resort" we boarded our van for the trip back to the ship.
The was a great way to spend our first morning in Alaska.
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