Alaska Cruise, Day Three – Ketchikan

Day three of our Alaskan vacation took us to Ketchikan, our first real port stop in Alaska. When Natasha and I first ventured off the ship into the town, I had this notion that we were in the Alaskan equivalent of 192 (which is where all the tourist t-shirt shops are here in Central Florida). I mean, the first building we ran into was the Tongass Trading Company, full of screaming eagle eggs and moose poo items, so you’ll forgive me for kind of thinking, “Oh, Alaska is just the same as everywhere else…”

So I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for our Native Village and Lumberjack Show tour as being very much more than the sort of cardboard tourist stuff I’m used to here. Wow, was I ever wrong! Our first stop was the Saxman Native Village, an authentic native village tour run by the Tlingit (which, for some odd reason is pronounced “klinkit”). The tour centers around totems and their place in the culture of the Tlingit. Considering that totems are not only art, but architecture, literature, and history, it makes them the perfect way to access the Tlingit culture. It’s kind of kewl to picture the storytellers of the Tlingit sitting down next to a totem pole and telling the story that the pole illustrates. The culture really takes on physical presence.

Natasha even got to dance with the local Tlingit dance group.

Our next stop was back in town, the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, where I learned why it’s okay to be a lumberjack (or jill) — something Monty Python never bothered to explain. So evidently I had completely missed the fact that there is something called Lumberjack Sports that shows up on ESPN from time to time. The lumberjack show is a chance for these athletes to show off their chopping, climbing, chainsawing, log-rolling, and furniture-making skills. Yes, it’s very touristy, but, I have to admit, when they cranked up the overclocked chain saw (called a “hot saw”), I had that moment of “Holy crap! Someone is going to lose a limb!” And, if you’re into male eye-candy, the lumberjacks are probably worth a look.

That night, as we sailed out of Ketchikan, we had our first whale sightings. These first pics are blurry, because I was shooting in low light and having to spin around to try and catch the whales as they surfaced, but they give you an idea of what there is to see. It really kind of amazed me that people go on an Alaskan cruise and spend a bunch of time on the whole 4-hour “dinner and a show” experience when nature is giving you a show right off the bow.  Our ship even had a naturalist onboard who was making announcements when she would spot interesting wildlife, which means we always knew when to rush up on deck. Much more fun than watching your poor waiters perform “Hot Hot Hot” with flaming desserts balanced on their heads….

Alaska Cruise, Day Two

Some pictures from the second day of our Alaska Cruise, as we slowly wind our way up the inside passage in British Columbia. We got our first hints of the majestic scenery that was going to become commonplace throughout the cruise. We also got to meet eagles, the first of many different kinds of wildlife we’d get to see.

Alaska Cruise, Day One

Natasha and I are shaking the snow of the Alaskan glaciers off after shipping out for a week of Alaskan cruising on the bonny ship Carnival Spirit. I just finished posting pictures from the first day on our Picasa site.

Visiting the last great American wilderness was awe inspiring! Truly, Alaska is an amazing place. Very early on in our trek, I realized I could just point the camera randomly, press the shutter, and take an amazing photograph. Visitors to Alaska are surrounded in natural beauty. And I found the people of Alaska to very much appreciate the natural beauty and wonder of their “home” state. (I use quotes on home, since many of our tour guides lived part-time in Alaska, and might not have been official residents, but you could tell they still felt a powerful ownership of that wonderful place.)

The first set of pictures in mainly of Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, where our ship departed civilization. It’s a pretty city that is undergoing massive construction in order to prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Just like our voyage, the really majestic pictures are coming later. I’ve geo-tagged some of the pictures in Google Earth if you want to see them on a map. (There’s a button to see the map on the Picasa web page.)

Between Natasha and I we took like 2000 pictures. (Seriously…2000… Thank goodness for digital cameras! The processing fees would have bankrupted me!) I’m going to weed through those to find the best and post them. I started filtering some of them during the cruise, but there were more and more good ones!

Enjoy! More to come….