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KETCHIKAN; AND, FINALLY, ALASKA!

Ketchikan, AK

I liked Vancouver.  A lot.  In fact, its on my places to go back and spend some time.  But after all, this was an Alaska cruise.  So, when on the second morning, we docked at Ketchikan, it really felt like we had arrived in Alaska.  I am not sure that a cruise is the best way to see the “real” Alaska.  With nearly 600,000 square miles, our largest state is more than twice the size of our next largest, Texas, where they supposedly make everything big :-).  But it may be one of the best ways to get a taste of Alaska.  Ketchikan is a quintessential Alaska port/fishing village.  Originally known for its salmon canneries, Ketchikan has done a good job of integrating the cruise ship, tourist trade.

Cruising was new to me, so I naturally did some homework before we booked our cruise.  I learned that the Alaska cruise experience is a bit different from the “caribbean” cruises I had always heard so much about.  While the cruise ship amenities were certainly all there, the Alaska experience is much more about the ports of call than the on ship experience.  As such, every port has learned how to capitalize by offering “excursions.”  Most of them can be arranged through the cruise ship line, but most of them also will deal with you directly, often at a substantial discount.  So planning the cruise involved determining which of the ports had the most interest.  Unfortunately there were more ports of interest than could be covered on a single cruise.  I would have liked to see Sitka and Haines.  But some choices had to be made.  Skagway (mainly because of the White Pass Railway — more in a later post) was a “must,” as was Glacier Bay NP.   I also wanted to see “Creek Street” in Ketchikan.  I couldn’t find a trip that included both Sitka and Ketchikan.

Aleutian Ballad

Our “excursion” was a trip on the Aleutian Ballad, a Bering Sea Crab fishing boat, ala “The Deadliest Catch,” that was refitted as a theatre-style demonstration boat.

While the program was interesting, the real highlight of the trip was a detour into waters owned by a native Alaskan tribe to see eagles nesting on an island.  Onboard the boat, I had an opportunity to photograph in-flight eagles in a way I am not likely to ever have again.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and certainly, one of the photographic highlights of the trip!

Eagle in Flight, Tongass Narrows, AK

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7 Responses

  1. Beautiful eagle image. Extremely well captured.

    • Geoff: Thanks so much for your kind words. It was one of those “f8 and be there moments.” The Eagles were not advertised as part of the excursion and I wasn’t really mentally prepared for what happened. So I probably missed more opportunities than I captured. There is nothing like good, thoughtful preparation.

  2. It’s great to read some of the details that go along with the photos on your site from the trip. The Aleutian Ballad…….very cool! We are big Deadliest Catch fans in my house so I recognized the name right away. Looking forward to hearing more…………

    • There was quite a story to the Aleutian Ballad. It went down in a storm and all the crew survived, but they had a very close call. The ship was essentiallly wrecked, but was salvaged and then re-fitted for these excursions. Both the presenters had spent time on real Bering Sea fishing vessels — and both extolled the virtue of a warmer job on flat water with regular day hours :-).

  3. Nice to read this so soon after my business trip to Anchorage (and environs) and to Ketchikan. I was fortunate to have a weekend and almost five hours each night after my classes to wander around and shoot. I was limited by the amount of time I could drive (on the weekend). Most of the excursions start May 1 and I left May 1. Especially glad you got to see bears. I couldn’t get to them, by car, from where I was – or at least didn’t see any in the places I went. We live in an incredibly diverse country, full of beauty. But this is one of the highlights worth considering for a photographic trip – despite the cost. Hope to get back someday – either on business or on my own.

    Excellent photos as always.

  4. Hey big man……These Alaska photos are awesome!!!!! Great job. You are rocking these days. Keep it up

    Rich

    • Hey Rich! Hope you are having a great holiday weekend. Thanks. Its easy when the subject and light conditions come together. Can’t wait to see you — and the North Shore — in a couple weeks!

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