Friday, September 19, 2014

Foto Friday: Kayakin' in Ketchikan

Bald Eagles. Bald Eagles EVERYWHERE! Perfectly timed American symbol following the fourth of July
Day Nine: Ketchikan Sea Kayaking

Following the excitement and epic fun of the 4th of July in Skagway, Ketchikan was a great day to take it a bit easier and relax while mother nature did all the work. Except steering the kayak, mother nature couldn't do that and it seemed for awhile that I couldn't either =)

Kayaking partners!
The expedition we took involved a drive from the city out to the port. Along the way we learned that Ketchikan is actually n island and it literally only reachable by boat (or swimming). theres a narrow channel between Ketchikan and the mainland and even the airport strip can only be reached by crossing the water via ferry or a quick cold plunge into the water.

Once at the dock, we hopped on board a motorized boat to ride about 5-15 minutes out the the little island we would kayak around.

Our boat driver actually owned the tour company with his family and was very engaging and friendly, in fact, if I haven't mentioned it here before, all of our guides in each excursion were excellent and extremely informative/interesting people!

so serene
 Once on the boat, we could see all sorts of small islands and once we got out far enough we began to see the bald eagles. If you have never seen one, let me tell you, they are much grander and majestic than any picture can do justice.

Unlike ducks and other water-fowl, bald eagles do not have oil on their feathers that keeps them dry in any dive into the water.  Because of this they have to dry their wings after each dive, which explains the pose you see on quarters.
 We got to our kayaks and determined that I would steer since Rah has some chronic knee problems and sitting to steer involved sitting rather uncomfortably. Since my mom also had some recent knee issues, my dad steered their kayak. Now while my steering was less than perfect, I must confess that sometimes I turned wrong on purpose just to exasperate Rah (I mean, that's essentially my number one job as youngest sibling, and I take all my jobs seriously) =)

We were actually quite a good team and decided that in the final stretch of kayaking around the island, once we were just heading into shore we would race everyone. and we WON! We even beat the guides! But we did make sure not to tell them we were racing until after we had passed them =)
Sea-kayak selfie!

We ran into quite a few eagles and had a great photo op with the group when one of the guides volunteered to take some pictures of the group:

Like a B.O.S.S.

This eagle was eating a salmon, it was the closest one I saw and let's just say I'm glad I wasn't a fish

Other than eagles we saw a ton of starfish! They were purple and orange and we were even given permission to pick one up (provided we put him/her back of course). The water was cool and clear and since it was protected by the islands it was easy to forget it was salt water since it reminded me of a lake more than the ocean.

Starfish Sam and Me!
At one point, someone glimpsed a seal and another kayak had a salmon jump right into the side of their boat and then swim away!

The whole excursion was so serene and peaceful. We saw a deer and her fawn and learned that pregnant females will swim out to the islands to give birth since there are no predators for them out there. With our short trip we were able to glimpse into what made that area so special.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Foto Friday: Independence Day in Skagway!

B-OB crew posing with our fabulously awesome sled dogs!
Day Eight: Skookum in Skagway

So Skagway was one of my favorite days on our vacation.  Even though it was rainy all day, we were split up again for a good part of it and our specialty dining experience took foorreeeever, it was the 4th of July, I got to go on a helicopter ride, had my first experience OUTDOOR rock-climbing, got to "drive" a pack of sled dogs, hold two puppies, won the ship's Independence Day trivia (with Rah's help), ate a fabulous dinner. The only thing missing was fireworks (but trust me, I'm not complaining).

Since our excursion in Juneau was cancelled, we had to split into two groups for the helicopter, glacier, and sled dog excursion.

Here are the photos from my parents and Tony's trip:

It was actually a little rainy and this was the coldest place on the whole trip (even colder than the Tracy Arm), so luckily the kids went first and were able to advise everyone to wear a layer of rain gear and to make sure Tony was in at least 5 layers =).

Here are the photos from the B-OB Crew:
The newlyweds!

some nervous flyers

Our helicopter pilot Rustin (he was cute!)

We were joined in the helicopter by two friends who were touring together and were just teh sweetest ladies.  Because of the importance of weight distribution (we actually had to tell the tour company what we weighed although after a few days of the all-you-can-eat and ice-cream-all-day diet, I'm sure my guess was low), we were ordered to sit in specific spots and wouldn't you know, I got the best spot of the bunch, front seat outside!

Where I sat was PERFECT for taking pictures and videos, since I was surrounded by windows. THe views from the copter were INCREDIBLE:

Arriving at the Denver Glacier and sled dog training camp:


We got a tutorial in how to "drive" the sled. Essentially the instructions were:
(1) Don't fall off
(2) When the musher says "brake" step on the break.
Easy peazy! You better believe I was the first to volunteer to drive!
ready, sled-y let's go!
so much driving talent!
Rah driving!
And now, a bunch of pictures with the awesomely athletic delightful doggies!

There were two puppies at the camp, and let's see if you can guess the movie that inspired their names, the girl is Droid and the boy is Jedi!
Here's us with our lady-friend Droid:

B-OB +D crew!
this is what I posted for my 4th of July Facebook Post, #Murica

view of Skagway from the ride back
Rock Climbing Adventures:
Before we had to reschedule our helicopter ride, Rah & I had signed up for an outdoor rock climbing.  While she initially didn't want to do it in the rain, I convinced her that on this once in a lifetime trip, you gotta seize once in a lifetime opportunities. So even though it was a little cold and a lot rainy, we decided to go, and we had so much fun! We got to do two climbs and rappel from the 80-foot rock wall.
Our guides were part of the Alaska Mountain Guide program, and were all amazing!
before climbing
The first climb we did was called Skookum, which is a Tlintlit (Native Alaskan) word for strong. I'd say it's an appropriate climb for us =)
view from the top of Skookum
Rah climbing skookum
From the top of [unnamed route 14]
about to rappel
Conquered those climbs!

Fourth of July Celebrations:
The ship had scheduled a barbeque but the rain meant everything had to be moved indoors. Fortunately, they had plenty of decorations! Rah & I competed in the Independence Day trivia competition and threw everyone off by shouting out nonsesical answers (i.e. "In which city was the Declaration of Independence signed?" "ALASKA!" "Los Angeles!"), but we ended up tying for the win, thanks in a large part to our skill in guessing multiple choice answers.

before the great trivia challenge!
In our festive "America" gear, GO CAPS!