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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Whales and Eagles

We are on the ferry again, leaving Juneau and going to Haines, AK.     This 4.5 hour voyage is much better than the earlier one.     We have snow covered mountains all the way and saw a glacier.  

This very small island is in the middle of no where.    There was not a home for at least 20-30 minutes before or after we saw it.     I am guessing this is a manned light house.   There is another building next to it (the roof is visible) as well as a smaller building on the lower level which I presume is a boat house.      I can't imagine how lonely and desolate this job must be.     

On to the wildlife.     We saw animals frequently on this cruise.     With the help of other passengers I learned that those small animals jumping out of the water are baby orcas.      There were also porpoises and a couple seals.

I'm not sure what this is, but we saw him several times.

Thanks to the ship captain and his loudspeaker, I know there were two killer whales frolicing along the ship.    I didn't catch the two together, but did get this shot.

Jaws, anyone?????

Once we arrived in Haines, we went immediately to the American Eagle Foundation  (they were closing in an hour for the weekend)       They have two eagles in residence that have been rescued and cannot be released back into the wild because of the extent of their injuries.

The backdrops are realistic, don't you agree?

After checking into our B&B, we ventured out to the area where I learned there are frequently eagles in the wild.      We happened upon this guy sitting in the tree by a lake.    For some reason he refused to turn around, but would occasionally turn his head toward me for a shot.

This area is a madhouse in a couple months.    When the salmon make their run, there are thousands of eagles converging on the area to feed   (along with lots of bears).     There are so many spectators that they run shuttle buses just to keep the tight road accessible.    Today, however, we only met another car now and then.

Another angle of this eagle.     I know we have lots of them in the Coulee Region, but this was still special.

At dinner tonight, we had a lovely window seat with a fantastic view of the marina, bay, snow covered mountains and as a bonus, an eagle flew by the window and perched on a piling a few feet away.    Thank you, Haines, AK.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Glacier Gardens

Thirty years ago Steve and Cindy Bowhay purchased land that had been part of a major mud slide.    They planned to open a nursery at this site.     While clearing the land, Steve had a misfortunate with a large land moving piece of equipment.     He became upset, and proceeded to take one of the dead trees and flip it upside down and slammed it into the ground.      Once he calmed down, he looked at the upside down tree and realized that it would make a great planter.

The rest is history.      These beautiful planted trees are made of trees that have fallen.    They shorten the trunks and plant them, upside down, into the ground.    Once stabilized, they add moss and good soil and them plant them with lush flowers.

Currently Cindy operates their nursery down the road and he manages these gardens.    According to the tour guide I had, Steve still plants almost everything in the gardens. as well as doing almost all of the other garden chores.    Truly a labor of love!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier was our destination today.      This is the closest you can get to a glacier without going by boat or plane.  

Reports that this glacier is receding are true, but it started receding in the mid 1770's.     Yes, 1770.    There are several glaciers off this ice field, and some are growing while others recede.     They get about 100 feet of snow over the field in an average year.      

Mendenhall Glacier is one of 38 large glaciers that flow from the 1,500 square mile expanse of snow and ice knows as the Juneau Icefield.

 These people look like they are having a great time!

This waterfall is huge.    If you look closely, you can see a row of people near the falls.    Yes, we hiked down there.    

It must be happy hour - I've found my ice cube............

Some of the ice chunks made very interesting shapes.    

We are being blessed with incredible weather.      Beautiful blue skies and temps in the mid to high 70's.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ferry to the USA

We took the Alaska Marine Highway from Prince Rupert, BC to Juneau.     It took the better of two days to transport us (and our car) back to the US.

Canada is a wonderful country, but my heart belongs to the Red, White and Blue !!!!!

I have to admit to being a little disappointed in the scenery on this trip.     I was expecting more drama and got beautiful, but boring after a while.     I even made a dash into a camera store in Prince Rupert for another memory card so that I wouldn't have to spend time in our cabin downloading my photos.     Not necessary...........................

Don't get me wrong, the scenery was  beautiful, just quite repetitious.

I did enjoy the other passengers,  though.    I met some amazing people and had delightful (and sometimes very deep) conversations.       Most of them happened on the outside walkways while it was cool, but had 100 MPH winds.    Okay, that may have been an exaggeration, but there were times where you had to work really hard to do a lap against the wind to get in those 10,000 steps.     The winds were harsh at times.

One of the men I met was a retired coal mine worker from Onalaska, Washington.    When he told me where he was from I had him repeat it just to be sure I had heard him correctly.    Yes, Onalaska.     The founder of their city was in the lumber trade, just like our Onalaska.     It appears our towns were founded by the same person (although I am not sure of this, he seemed pretty certain).  

Another gentleman I met on the deck  was fascinating.    He had apparently traveled much of the world, but really preferred Central America.     We must have talked for an hour.    When I asked him what he did for a living, he said "just call me an entrepreneur".     He preferred to leave it at that.     Oh, the stories I could spin about this true gentleman.

This beautiful  home was on this tiny island and it was many many miles from any community.     It seemed really odd.     The owner must really like total solitude.     No electricity, water, sewage, etc.   Not the life for me, but to each his own.

The only glacier we saw on the trip......

Yes, I did speak to women, also.       Again on the deck, I met a young woman who had moved to Ketchikan, AK two years ago and loved it.     She lived in one of those areas where you have to be 100% self sufficient.    She was lamenting the lack of rain (which is unusual).    She depends on her cistern and it was close to dry.     She gave me a lot of information about the winters and the eagles here.     She said that when the salmon are running, the eagles are everywhere.

We did, however, see a few whales and several baby orca's.      I will give you my best shot  (the other 76 are similar at best).     The young orcas were having so much fun, but as we know of young humans, they are very very fast and playful!

Okay, not a great whale shot, but it's the best I have - sorry

We have arrived in Juneau.......

Monday, May 25, 2015

Prince Rupert

Today we explored Prince Rupert.    Found a great place for lunch, Dolly's Fish Market.    We split a bowl of clam chowder and a smoked salmon panini.     Good choice!

We are scheduled to catch our ferry to Juneau at 10 am tomorrow.     Guess what, we find out today that for some reason it has been changed until 5:30 pm.    Thank goodness our hotel advised us (they received an e-mail)     We received no notification!      We drove over to the ferry terminal and they confirmed the change.     At least we picked up our tickets, got our car measured,  did our forms necessary with INS and picked up our luggage tags for those items we will take off the car to our stateroom.    They still want us to check in 4 hours before departure.     That's going to be a boring, do nothing 4 hours, but what are you going to do?

Our next agenda item was a hike.     We decided on the Butze Rapids overlook.      This is a great hike to a spot in the river where the incoming tide will push back the river water resulting in reversing the rapids.      We were not there at an optimal time, but it was a great hike   (okay, a couple hills more than I like, but it gave us quite a workout)

To me, the highlight of the hike was the incredible walk through the rain forest.     I hope you like my favorite shots..............

These white flowers grew everywhere, including up tree trunks.

Does anyone know what this plant is?     The leaves were 18-20 inches in length and they grew prolifically in this area.

Same plant, see all the things like what you get with a Jack in the Pulpit.    Any ideas what this is?

The first few plants I saw of this species, I thought the bud was a flower, but later I saw that they were more leaves bursting from the bud.

This is the river and rapids where the reverse tide happens.    A lovely area.

For dinner RJ found a pub with an incredible view of a marina and the harbour.    (I miss the features of my phone to photograph and send locations - we will enter Alaska tomorrow so I can again show you pix of my meals etc. after we get into Juneau.    Don't think I'll get much reception on the ferry)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Driving to Prince Rupert

Our drive today was beautiful.     The clouds persisted, but the snow capped mountains peaked out often enough to keep me in awe of the beauty.

The First Nation Tribe of this area used this narrow opening to trap trout to smoke for the winter months.    

RJ amuses himself while I am shooting by catching up on the local history of the area.    As I stated yesterday, this area is not really set up for tourism, at least not to the extent we are used to in the U.S. They do have informative posts like this, but the pull outs aren't marked and it's pure luck to slow down in time to pull off.    

The Milepost 2015 helps a lot, as long as I am paying attention to where we are.    There are no mile markers on the road, the Milepost gives you distance to the last "major" town and the next "major" town.    You get to figure out where you are based on this information.        I have my trusty packet of post-its to mark where we are when I do figure it out.

Yesterday we followed a four car funeral procession for 40 minutes.    Finally there was a passing lane so we could respectfully pass the procession.     Less than 10 minutes later we stopped to I could take a picture and, yes, they passed  us.     Oh well, it just meant that we could stop as often as we wanted since passing lanes were infrequent in this area.     The total time we followed them (at half the speed limit) was over two hours!      It's really nice to travel at a leisurely pace and not let events like this upset your day.

Tomorrow we have a "free" day to explore Prince Rupert.