Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alaska Adventure: Ketchikan

Ketchikan was the last town we visited on our trip.  We didn't really have a set plan for the day, but we all knew that grandma desperately wanted to see at least one bear.  We skimmed through the list of outings we could book through the cruise ship that involved bears, and WOW were they pricey.  Also, none of them guaranteed that we would actually see a bear (many of the whale watching outings would refund your money if you didn't see any whales).  But this was grandma's trip!  Her dream vacation!  She wanted bears, and we wanted her to have bears.  We decided to wait and see what types of excursions were available when we got off the ship.

We scouted out the booths for different outings, and sent Uncle Randy up (expert bargainer that he is) to get the details.  The first one we looked at involved flying out in a seaplane to a watershed where there *could* be bears.  No guaranteed, sure thing bears. It was $300 a person.  We were hesitant.  Not just about the price, but also the fact that we'd have to get onto a teeny tiny plane.  Uncle Randy went to check out another booth.

The second booth was for an hour long trolley tour through the town that would take us near a fish cannery where there *might* be bears.  Still, no guaranteed, sure thing bears, but, the price?  $30. We decided to take our chances with the trolley.

The drive was pretty pleasant.  We got to see a lot of the town, and the driver did a good job of pointing out interesting things, like the IGA store where a baby bear decided to help himself to the produce case last year.

We even saw a bald eagle on the way!  We turned onto a dirt road, our driver parked the trolley, and guess what...

Just hangin' out, bearing around, probably munching on fish entrails.

Sure, we had to zoom in, but I don't think anyone minded.  Do you really want to get very close to a live bear??  Anyway, grandma got her wish! After about 10 minutes, he waddled away, and our group waddled back to the trolly.  The driver did a quick head count only to find that 2 people from our group were missing.  He ran back to look for them, but they were nowhere to be seen.  There had been a group from a bus tour hanging around the area, so it was likely that they got confused and ended up with them.  There was no cell phone service.  They were stranded in the Alaskan wilderness!  Ok, so it wasn't that bad.  There was another trolley tour scheduled to come out right after ours.  They were sure to turn up.    

  Another bald eagle

Grandma next to Thundering Wings.  This piece was carved by artist Nathan Jackson, who happens to live in Ketchikan.

After our tour we explored a bit on foot.  There were some really fun shops, especially along Creek Street. We also stopped at cute candy store called KetchiCandies (clever!).  Ed's grandparents used to own a shop that sold handmade candies (hand dipped by the lady you see above, along with other family members), and I love to hear stories about those days!  We picked up some chocolate covered Oreos (for Ed) and some chocolate covered pineapple (for me). 

We stopped at one last shop before heading back to the ship.  Outside the exit was a giant fake bear (we entered through a different door, and didn't see it before).  One by one we made our purchases, with grandma being the last one to linger in the ship.  The three of us quickly conspired to get her in front of the bear without her knowledge for a photo op.

(Uncle Randy, pointing at one of the balconies on the side of our ship).  "See that guy?  Don't you know who that is?"

"See him? Just stand right there, he's going to wave to you!  Smile!"


So, I guess we actually saw 2 bears that day! We passed by the trolley tour booth on our way to the ship, and decided to ask about our 2 lost group members.  They were picked up, safe and sound, by the next tour.  They claimed to have stayed with our group, but one of them apparently had dried mud up to their knees.  Mmm hmm.  Breaking away to get a closer look at the bear.  Lesson: just stay with your darned group, or you'll get left behind in the Alaskan wilderness!  And, who knows.  There might not be another tour group coming to pick you up next time!

The remainder of our trip was spent cruising along the Inside Passage to Vancouver, BC.  We saw more beautiful scenery, like this:

and this:

And!  AND!  We saw something else, something really special.


Because we were moving (unlike our first impromptu whale watch in Icy Strait Point), it was tough to get photos.  Ed did manage to get a pretty good bit of video though:

It was really a nice way to top off our trip.

Well, that's the end.  But wait!  I still have one more post to share about our ship, The Radiance of the Seas.  Stay tuned!  


  1. I love that ya'll worked to grant your grandma's wish!! My goal is to one day see a moose!! :)

  2. These photographs are absolutely amazing.