A Travellerspoint blog

Salmon capital of USA!

Ketchikan, Alaska

rain 54 °F

Today was our last port, Ketchikan, Alaska's 1st City. It is so named because it is the first city you come to on the way north. It is also the salmon capital of the US. Ketchikan and Juneau are only accessible by boat or plane, there are no roads going into or out of these cities due to the terrain surrounding them. Ketchikan's downtown is built on what was originally the docks. They brought in fill and also built on stilts. It is bigger than Skagway, smaller than Juneau with about 14,000 year round residents.
Downtown Ketchikan

Downtown Ketchikan

downtown Ketchikan

downtown Ketchikan


The first thing we did today was go to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. It was a little hokey, but good fun and amazing lumberjack skills. As it turned our our team won the competition of sawing, throwing, climbing and log rolling.
Great Lumberjack show

Great Lumberjack show

More lumberjacks

More lumberjacks

entrance to lumberjack show

entrance to lumberjack show


Next stop was some clam chowder before we got on our Lighthouse, Eagle and Totem excursion boat. Yes, boat! Luckily it was a covered boat because we did have rain for much of the day today. The excursion was terrific! We saw at least a dozen eagles in the wild, 10 eagle nests, seals and a lighthouse. One of the eagles was fighting with a seagull for a fish! We went past many totem poles and Totem Bight State Park, the largest totem pole park.
Ketchikan Lighthouse

Ketchikan Lighthouse

Bald eagle on beach

Bald eagle on beach

Our tour boat

Our tour boat

Old floating houses

Old floating houses


This was our only rainy day, but it didn't deter us and we had a wonderful time. It is our last day in Alaska :(, as we head down the coast towards Vancouver on Wednesday. It has been a fabulous trip and while we are all ready to get back to our homes, we are also a little sad to see it end.
Rainy, windy and 50s today.

Posted by jcorilio 18:21 Archived in USA Comments (1)

A Capital Idea!

overcast 52 °F

We woke up in Juneau today, the capital of Alaska. After breakfast we took a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier Gardens. The Mendenhall Glacier is located, as is much of southeastern Alaska, in the Tongass National Forest. This time we were on land and able to get much closer than we had in the bays. It was amazing!! There were huge icebergs floating in the river from the glacier calving, but we didn't see it happening today. There are 38 glaciers that flowfrom the Juneau Icefield and the Mendenhall is one of them. There was a trail that brought us closer today and we were vey impressed with what we were able to see. The glacier was so blue it was beautiful. We were also able to get right up to Nugget Falls, which was an incredibly huge waterfall near the glacier.
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After the glacier we went to Glacier Gardens. It is a privately owned garden right next to the Tongass National Forest that has some beautiful and unusual plantings. We were also able to get some lovely views of the area from an altitude of 580 feet. The ride up the mountain was quite steep over handmade corduroy roads.
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Juneau, being the Capital, is a bit bigger than many other places we have visited, with a population of about 38,000. Most of the residents work for the government in one way or another.
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Our weather was like it has been recently, 50s, clouds, sprinkles, some sun.

Posted by jcorilio 10:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Cruising on down the Inside Passage

overcast 50 °F

It's been a few days because I haven't had any internet. So we spent the 14th on the train to Wittier. We had some wonderful views of Mt. McKinley again! We were able to see it for four days out of five that we were in the area. As it turns out only 30% of visitors get to see it at all! Boy were we lucky! It turned out to be beautiful for most of the day and we had a great ride. Unfortunately by the time we arrived in Wittier it was raining. It was pouring by the time we got on the ship, so we couldn't appreciate it all.
We are on the Island Princess which has 1900 passengers and 900 crew. It is a very nice ship and our cabins are great. We left about 8 pm and sailed on down towards the Inside Passage.
The first full day of the cruise we sailed into Yakutat Bay, where we saw the Hubbard Glacier. Wow! Glaciers are so impressive! The next day we continued south into Glacier Bay. This was beautiful sailing because were completely surrounded by mountains, many of which were snow-covered. I really loved it. Glacier Bay is a National Park and we had two park rangers join us for most of the day. They did presentations and a narrative from the bridge. We saw the Marjerie Glacier, the Grand Pacific Glacier and a number of others. There are thousands of glaciers in Alaska, but only 17 of them reach down to the ocean. These are called tidewater glaciers and are so amazing! The ones we saw are about 200 feet above water with 200 to 1000 feet below! We were actually able to see some calving, which is where pieces of the glacier break off and fall in the water. It sounds like a gunshot or thunder when it happens. The first night on board we had some rough seas, but since we have been in the Inside Passage it's been wonderfully calm.
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Today when we arose we found ourselves in Skagway. It is a cute little town, most of which belongs to the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. It is very historic with wooden sidewalks and an old mining town feel to it, all 10 blocks of it. The town was founded due to the gold rush, when men were trying to get over the mountain passes to reach the gold fields. There were two passes in this area, the Chilkoot Pass and the White Pass. Both were treacherous, so when the White Pass Railroad was built the town sprung up from it. We took the White Pass Railroad for a 20 mile ride up to White Pass, which is at about 3000 feet. Keep in mind that we started from sea level, so that was quite a feat for this narrow gauge railroad. There were 2 tunnels and 4 trestle bridges. One of the bridges was over a 1000 foot canyon! I didn't look!
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The weather here in Alaska seems to always include at least a little rain, and we had just a few sprinkles today. The temps were in the low 50s except at White Pass, where it was about 35! Sun and clouds again, with beautiful mountains all around.

Posted by jcorilio 21:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Best Birthday Ever!!

sunny 62 °F

Today we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park. We set out at 8:30 am and returned at 3:45 pm. Once again it was spectacular!! I'm sure you must be wondering how each day could be so spectacular and even better than the one before, but it is true. I have run our of adjectives to describe the days! In Denali, cars are only allowed on the first 14 miles of the 92 miles of the only road in the park. After that you must either take one of the shuttles that run constantly or take a tour. Of course hiking and biking are other options. We chose the tour and it was awe inspiring!
Check out the colors

Check out the colors

Wow!

Wow!

More sights

More sights

River in park

River in park


The road started out being paved, but after 14 miles turned to gravel. It was like off roading in a bus. The scenery was amazing and it kept changing for all 62 miles of the park road that we rode. There were breathtaking switchbacks and 300 year old spruce forests.
Peaks in Park

Peaks in Park

Denali Mtns.

Denali Mtns.

Road through Denali

Road through Denali

Awesome Colors

Awesome Colors

Glacial River

Glacial River


Oh yes, and there was wildlife. We saw 2 mama bears each with 2 cubs, lots and lots of Doll sheep, fox, wolf, coyote and caribou.
Wolf!

Wolf!

Grizzley Bears

Grizzley Bears

The road!

The road!


The absolute best part was at the end of the tour just before we turned around. We drove around a bend and over a ridge and there, in front of us, was THE MOUNTAIN. It was awe inspiring. We had been watching it throughout the day as it started to come out and by the end of the tour it was out just about all the way. The sun was shining on it and it was glittering and sparkling and I can't even begin to describe how it looked!
Mt McKinley

Mt McKinley

Just WOW!

Just WOW!


The only glitch was when our bus broke down and we all had to get on another bus. Everything worked out fine, though, and not much time was lost.
Once again, the weather started out cloudy with sprinkles, and ended up sunny and warm with temps in the 60s.
So, my title says it all. Today was the best birthday ever! Oh yes, and Don bought me a truck.
We will be getting on the ship now and there will be no blog for at least 2 days, maybe more, so don't worry if there is nothing new for a while.

Posted by jcorilio 23:10 Archived in USA Comments (1)

North to Alaska

By train!

sunny 60 °F

Today was a traveling day, but it was wonderful! We took the shuttle into Talkeetna and there we got on the Alaska Railroad and headed north. We had these gorgeous Princess Dome cars. Upstairs was all assigned tables for the trip. Down below was our dining car, where we had lunch.
Front of train

Front of train

Our very first meal on a train!

Our very first meal on a train!


The train was very comfortable for our 4 hour ride to Denali. The views were absolutely gorgeous, changing from snow-capped to tree-covered and back again. Fall has arrived here with lots of beautiful color, mostly yellows, with some muted reds, as well. There were two bridges we crossed that took your breath away (yes, I looked!) and many river sightings. No wildlife sightings today, though.
More views

More views

Denali from Train

Denali from Train

Incredible mtns.

Incredible mtns.

Awesone sights.

Awesone sights.


We are staying at the Denali Princess Lodge right at the entrance to Denali National Park for the next two nights. The view from our window is Mt. Healy and it is just beautiful with rock and pine trees and yellow birch trees. This Lodge is a bigger compound than the Mt. McKinley Lodge with more guest room buildings, shops and restaurants. There are also other places here. There are a couple other lodges, some places to eat and lots of shops. I finally did some shopping today! It has taken me all these days in Alaska to buy anything! Now I'm on a roll!
Denali Princess Lodge

Denali Princess Lodge

The Lodge

The Lodge

Main building

Main building

Downtown Denali

Downtown Denali


We went to see the dinner show "The Music of Denali". We ate too much. It was a musical history lesson of Denali. Quite entertaining and informative.
Yes, we learned something!
The weather today started out cloudy again but cleared beautifully! The temp went to 60 again!
It really doesn't get any better than this and I keep saying to myself "we are in Alaska, we are really in Alaska"!
The blog site is finally working so I posted pictures in the two previous days and they should finally be in my photography on the main page. Actually they are not there, so you can only see the ones on the blog. Sorry!

Posted by jcorilio 20:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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